Every once in a while Colleen and I take our daughters to this “healthy” fast food restaurant in our city called Evos. They claim that since they bake their food instead of frying and use organic free-range meat, that eating there is good for you… I’m still not too sure. But we take the girls there once or twice a month to give Colleen a break from cooking.
The girls usually get the chicken strips and I get the Grass-Fed Steakburger. Like little children often do… my middle daughter, Emerson, usually waits until everyone else is done eating to begin picking at her lunch. At this point Colleen and I are pissed off and ready to leave, so we pack up her chicken strips and let her eat it in the car. She really enjoys eating theses strips so it is not a problem getting her to eat once we’re in the minivan.
And we go about our day.
Two weeks later I’m packing the girls into the minivan to go to Grammy’s house, across town, and Emerson starts digging into the cushion of her car seat. When I ask her “what the heck are you doing kid?”, she tells me that she is looking for her chicken strip!
I turn to Colleen for clarity, since I haven’t been in the minivan for almost 14 days, and she tells me that Emer has been looking for the chicken strip that she dropped two weeks ago when we left Evos!
At first I figure that my kids a maniac and I had better get her tested, but then I remember… well, shes only 3 years old; she really, really loves chicken strips from Evos; and it’s pretty normal to continue to search frantically, in some pretty weird places, when you have misplaced something that brings you joy.
In fact, I can totally relate to her since I had spent several YEARS looking in some really, really weird places for something that might bring me joy.
Let me know if any of the weird places that I looked for “the TRUE object of my affection” sounds familiar to you too…
– I first discovered masturbation around the age of 13 and thought that my life was SET… I would never have to look for joy again, since I had it right here in the palm of my hand! But this became very monotonous after a few months.
– I discovered girls at around age 14, this really filled a gap in my life (or I filled it). But being young and immature, we’d often argue about silly things and the relationships never lasted.
– I began drinking alcohol and stuff around the age of 17 (this is also the wonderful time that I began driving!). Being drunk was fun, but I hated hangovers and it really stopped me from training hard and performing well at football practice.
– Oh, and how can I forget about strength training and football! Although I still train with weights, I don’t even know who played in the Super Bowl last year.
– As an adult with children, I seek happiness in them… but this is pretty unstable since they whine and cry all the time. They poop themselves and break stuff too. Sure, they’re a pleasure to ‘have and hold’ but they really get under my skin at times.
As you’ve probably noticed… this list can go on forever. I can tell you about all of my failed relationships, businesses and hobbies that showed a glimmer of hope upon first sight but ended up being less than “the TRUE object of my affection.”
I have and will always be a “seeker”, one who is in constant search for the essence of life and reality, who I am and what I should do. I am never satisfied with the answers that one person, one book or one religion provides as ‘The Answer”. I really don’t even believe that “The Answer” exists!
But though out my searching I have come across some reoccurring themes, ideas, values and principles that point in the direction of “The TRUE object of my affection“
Growing up going to Catholic church I figured that God was some boring ritual that we had to perform every Sunday morning before we got to eat breakfast at IHOP. Jesus was the statue at the front of the church, and it was his fault I had to be there.
In college there was a group of Christian players that would meet a pastor every Wednesday evening for Bible study. I brought a Bible and followed them to class on more than a dozen occasions. I loved what I was learning about Christ and God’s purpose for people but I couldn’t understand why the Churches we were attending we so segregated. White churches, black churches, Puerto Rican churches, churches that were anti-this kind of person and anti-that kind of person, etc; never did I find a church which exemplified the unity that Christ demonstrated. (Yes, there are many unified churches… I just couldn’t find one at the time)
When I was in college, my brothers and I used to sit at the computer in my bedroom and download audios from Napster and listened to music all day long. One day we came across some audios by a guy named Allen Watts who was an English dude who studied and taught Eastern Philosophy and Religion.
He taught us that “Tao”, a Taoist term meaning “The Way”, was everywhere, at all times, can not be destroyed, is constantly in motion, is always creating, is working in us and through us, and really can not truly be understood. This “Tao” was above human understanding, but we can learn how it works by observing ourselves and nature. (An interesting point, early followers of Christ did not call themselves Christians but followers of “The Way”)
We had never heard of God described like this before but it really rang true for us. This was a empowering depiction of who we were, who God is, and how He related to us. I adopted this idea of God, as The Way, described by the Taoists in a book called the Tao Te Ching written by a man named Lao Tzu.
Although this new depiction of God revolutionized my entire paradigm and set a powerful course for my life, it was NOT all that I had been looking for (although it is probably the simplest means by which one could navigate his was towards mindfulness and peace).
Being born and raised is a Judeo-Christian society along with all of the mental programing associated with it I was not satisfied marrying my wife in a weird Taoist place somewhere. Besides, who is really a Taoist? — I don’t know any. In fact, I think Lao Tzu would laugh and just say something really ephemeral like, “everything is married to each other and we are all married in the Tao”… sorry, my thinking is just a little too concrete for language like that.
Before getting married Colleen and I became members of the Bahai Faith. A religion founded by a man named Baha’ullah claiming to be a manifestation (or perfect reflection) of God on Earth, just like Jesus. In fact, Bahais believe that Baha’ullah is actually the “return of Jesus” that many Christians are waiting for.
This faith was, and still is, a very attractive means for me in discovering God’s reality for our lives due to the main principles of the faith, which are: The oneness of humanity, independent investigation of the truth, religion as a source of unity, equality of men and women, removal of all prejudice, universal peace, God’s progressive revaluation and continuity of “the covenant” beginning on Mt. Sinai through Moses, Jesus and now Baha’ullah… as well as a few other principles. — Finally, a faith that provided the conservative structure in practice that I so yearned for, and the pragmatic principles that was more unifying then the separatism I encountered in the Christian church.
Despite my love and admiration of the members of the Bahai Faith, Baha’ullah, and the Bahai principles… we have not been a part of the Bahai community for almost 6 years.
Today we attend a local church in St. Petersburg where I am learning more about living as God desires us to through the teachings of Christ. Like the early followers, I do not call myself a Christian… I am merely a student or disciple of “The Way” of Christ. I seek the mysteries revealed in his life and his teachings as an example for my choices and behavior.
My children are taught to love and trust God, and to appreciate his perfect manifestations, like Christ, by modeling their lives after their examples.
Currently, I am really enjoying the books and information on the practice of Historical Orthodox Christianity by Rob Bell and Ray Vander Laan. Both of these authors take into account the historical perspective of the Jewish people, Old Testament and The Gospels in order to shed real light on the meaning of these books and how they may, perhaps, be related to our current day and age.
Again, despite my current fascination with Christ and his life I am not handcuffed to ANY idea or theology. I am merely a passionate seeker, serious student and practitioner of what I know to be right and true. I don’t study simply for information, I want to understand and tread confidently in the direction of “The Way”.
This sums up my experiences with passionately searching for God, the REAL object of my affection.
It is my understanding that today most men either a) resort to adopting the faith of their parents and grand parents without question or retort; or b) never ask any questions at all, they merely ignore, reject and even abhor the concept of a god who may fill the emptiness that we all experience as we travel through life believing that we are alone.
Whether we admit it or not, we are all frantically in search of real joy… of a fulfilling existence marked by love, peace of mind, purpose and meaning.
In my experience this can only be obtained by a deep and evolving union with our creator.
I invite you to seek.
Find the path that most suits you as you look for clues and experience the joy of union while on your journey.
Whatever you choose to call it… God, Allah, The Universe, The Tao or “The Way” really doesn’t matter.
How you choose to search and practice your faith, really doesn’t matter.
The color of your skin, the type of head dress you wear, the language you speak, really doesn’t matter.
How you relate to God, your commitment to practice His way, the way you treat others and the way you see yourself though His eyes… this is what really matters.