Friday, May 20, 2011

The Golden Child and the Has-Been

My teenage years might be characterized by a type of existential awkwardness. I was just in between, not a golden-child or a rebel child. I was just looking around for a place to fit in, but  I never really found it. Therefore, I did not have a hard time leaving high school. 
In my graduation gown, sometime in 1998.

When I got to college, I noticed that not everyone was in the same boat. I saw some still sporting their letter jackets and high school football jerseys. I played intramural flag football with a guy who was decked out head-to-toe in his high school colors, with matching jersey and shorts that featured his number on both. It seemed to me that most of my cohort got the message throughout the first semester; high school stuff is not cool in college. The letter jackets and “Seniors” t-shirts were replaced by college-related event logos and more fashionable attire. 
However, some of my peers seemed to have a hard time letting go of the past and embracing a new sense of identity. They ran the risk of becoming a “has-been,” a tragic title given to those who continually hold on to an unrealistic identity that is behind their developmental stage.  
In Matthew 10, Jesus told his apostles that they must lose their lives for him. He also said that they must love him more than they love their parents. This sounds to me like a pretty tall order. They are being asked to leave behind all that they know and move on to a different type of life. Many of them made the choice and followed, but some (such as the rich young man mentioned in Matthew 19) did not.
It seems to me that Jesus is suggesting that we move always forward in our stages of faith. Although we have spent years and years building up artifacts of our identities, they will inevitably be pushed aside, like your high school letter jacket. If one refuses to lose it, may be one could tragically become a spiritual “has-been.” Have you seen this happen? What do you hold that you need to lose to reach maturity?

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