I made the determination long ago that a lot of things about ourselves that we fret about are usually relative. In other words, the severity of the issue increases or decreases depending on the circle of people it’s being referenced in. To be more specific, I consider myself an average-sized human male. I am 6’0″ and currently around 210 pounds (down about 15 since school started, just so you know). Around some, I am a pretty big guy. When I was doing play-by-play radio in college, I rode the bus with the boys’ basketball team. In that circle, I was a runt (especially between Damonn Fuller and Sibu Mabaso, who went 6’7″ and 7’2″, respectively). So, my “average” size becomes different, depending on your point of view.
Age is among those things that fits into this same category. To the students that I come into contact with on a daily basis, I am really old. I think it’s mainly because I remember days before information was at our fingertips, I couldn’t “talk” to you unless I opened my mouth (no texting), and (gasp!) status updates. When I go to meetings like the one I did last Wednesday (for TSSAA administrators), I am still one of the young guys, even though this is my 8th year as an athletic director. This is mainly because most of these guys either played football for Bear Bryant or basketball for James A. Naismith. I bring up age for a purpose – it is amazing the gap that has been created in the relatively small amount of time between when I graduated high school in 1997 and now between generations and what they experience on a daily basis.
We all have said or done things that we later (and sometimes really soon afterwards) wish that we hadn’t. This rings especially true between the ages of 13-21. Trying to fit in during your teenage years so that you aren’t an ostracized member of pubescent society, but not too much so you still seem “cool” enough to have your individuality is a delicate tightrope to walk. Along the way, we all misstepped – sometimes that meant saying something you had to back up, dating someone you wish you hadn’t, or just plain old embarrassing yourself. It’s a part of life. Experiencing those things happened to everyone, to some degree, and it hopefully came and went quickly and we grew from it (or at least learned how to avoid that circumstance in the future). That’s where this gap has caught my attention over the past several months.
I was talking to a parent of a teenager last night who basically alluded to that same thought – asking the question, could you imagine growing up today, where everything you say and do is played out over social media? This thought was especially enhanced for students at our school this week, as we played our self-proclaimed cross-county rivals in football. In the days before the game, students from both schools took to social media (usually Twitter) to “express” themselves. Students who had bible verses tattooed across the cover of their front page, used their accounts to use profanity, make sexual innuendos, or just be downright rude to other teenagers. It wasn’t a Milan problem, and it wasn’t a Medina problem, because there were plenty of students from each school represented in the dialogue. But, it’s a problem nonetheless. While I can easily think back to mistakes that I made growing up, I am thankful that they didn’t get the pleasure of going through the internet gauntlet that today’s do. Worse yet, is that today’s generation of teenagers don’t stop to think what words, thoughts, and attitudes are attributed to them, simply by what they have put out there in an effort to be funny, in an emotional reaction, or in just an attempt to fit in with the rest of the crowd. (By the way, Milan 44, SGC 13, but I won’t rub that in to any of my Medina friends)
This week, in our adoption process, we were taking our sweet time putting together the “perfect” profile book, knowing that the final product would sweep some birth mother off of her feet to the point that she would end her search immediately. Selecting perfect pictures, typing, editing and re-editing narratives about ourselves, and putting things in just the right order might take a few weeks, but the result would be worth it.
Through our agency, there is an online group network that will sporadically announce the opportunities that are out there. You might go a month and see one posted. . you might (like this week) see four in a week come through an email update. As we are strolling through completing a profile book, a new expectant mother has decided to put her baby up for adoption that fit within what we would be interested in at least applying for. So we go from perfecting something to Jaclyn working very hard on Wednesday, and then me skipping choir Wednesday night (sorry, Kevin) to edit and complete the book. We don’t have a hard copy to send her, but at least got the folks at Adoption Assistance to send her a link to our edited version of the book. And so now, basically, we have nothing to hide. This expectant mom, and those that follow her in the coming weeks/months(ugh. . years?) will see Jaclyn and I, read our story, meet our three minis, and decide whether or not that’s type of home and life they had in mind for the baby that they are giving up forever. And we thought our decision to adopt was hard!
Thankfully, she won’t find any pictures of me in an embarrassing state, of Jaclyn in way too little clothing, or stories or comments from either of us that we wish never existed. But, what will this generation be able to hide in the years to come? Or better yet, what will they wish they could hide?
Most importantly, how do we stand before the Father? He sees not only our actions that others do not, and hears the words that we think no one else hears, but he sees our heart and knows our every thought. One day, we will stand in front of God in order to give an account for that, just like those who take their thoughts to social media often have to answer to those they have offended. Trust me, your thoughts (and mine) have offended God. My prayer is that sooner than later, some expectant mother (whether it be the young lady currently giving us a once-over or not) out there finds us to be acceptable in her sight, and bestows the gift of life on our family. My similar prayer for me is that my heart and thoughts, as well as my actions and words towards others here on Earth are found as acceptable as a Christ-follower by the Almighty. (Don’t confuse this thought that I believe that holds my salvation, because God already holds that in His hands. I just want to be found faithful for the time I spend on this side of eternity.)
Psalms 139: 23-24: Search me, God and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way.