She’s Not Real, She’s The Spokes On A Wheel….

I don’t remember when exactly I saw her for the first time. It must not have been long after we had moved into our new house and I started going to a new middle school in 6th grade. All I remember is that the first time I saw her, I was knocked silly. She was my first crush. I fell hard and stayed that way for a long, long time. For many years, even. Sure, there were other girls that I liked in middle school and high school, but she always stayed right at the top. She was such an odd choice to have a such a massive crush on. She wasn’t the prettiest girl in school, nor the most popular, nor the most athletic, nor anything. Looking back now, she seems rather ordinary to me. You couldn’t tell a young teen version of me that, however. I had no idea what she was actually like, but in my mind I had constructed a personality for her. She was graceful, laughed a lot, slow to anger, thoughtful, and essentially, everything I wanted in a girl.

I dared not talk to her. I had nothing to say, but that didn’t stop me from rehearsing in my head over and over how I would ask her out. I had no clue what we would actually do if we went out on a date. I was a pretty innocent and naive kid. In my middle school mind, I’m not really sure I had any idea what was involved in “going out”, but I knew if it meant I got to spend more time with her, that’s what I wanted. If I passed her in the hall, I was doing good to mumble a “hello.” I never told anyone about her. I might disclose other crushes to other people (you know, girls were always asking you who you liked, out scouting for their friends, I suppose), but not her.

You would think that your first crush would eventually go away as you grow up, but she persisted. Even into high school, she was still #1 with a bullet on the top of my list. Chance (or more probably, God) didn’t put us in a class where we would actually interact with each other until near the end of my term in high school. By this time, I had been in and out of a couple of relationships. You know, serious ones where you held hands and stuff like that, so I wasn’t quite so tounge-tied around girls when it came time to open my mouth and actually speak. Here’s where the funny part comes in. As I talked to her and got to know her, I found we had virtually nothing in common. I wasn’t particularly interested in the things she liked. She didn’t really show a whole lot of interest in the things I really liked. In fact, while she was a nice person, it became quickly apparent that we really didn’t connect very much at all. In the course of a couple weeks, she tumbled from #1 to #200 in my mental list of “girls I really wanted to ask out on a date.”

Sometime at this point in my life, my wonderfully constructed mental image that I had carefully stacked together for some six to seven years was totally shattered and I was forced to confront some important truths about relationships. If I was ever to be in a real relationship (not the cute little “boyfriend”-“girlfriend” whatevers that were all that I knew at the time), it would not be with some person who was made up in my mind that had no faults and checked every box on my list. A real relationship would be with a real person with real faults and who wanted to be with a real person with real fault also. As I was about to exit high school and enter the college world, I carried with me the knowledge that teenage crushes were nice, but they wouldn’t get me anywhere if I was looking for someone to spend the rest of my life with.

After I graduated from high school and moved on into the college era of my life, I lost track of her. I’ve kept tabs with many high school friends and still visit with some of them every now and then, but she fell off of the table. I never saw her again after high school and don’t really know what happened to her after college. As the crush disappeared, I suppose it was best to let her disappear, also. You never forget your first crush, but I wouldn’t trade one day of an imaginary ideal for the reality that I possess today.

Starting from now and going backwards….

So, with the start of this new journal, I’ve got a whole metric butt-load of stuff to back-fill in it. I’d like to post all my stuff from my website here and work my way backwards (and wonder of wonders, have it all organized in a *database*, gosh!) So, we’ll start from here and instead of normal blogs, head backwards in time….

Face to face with a god

(I know I said that I was burned out on theological topics and that I was going to write about my romantic ineptitude from my pre-marriage days, but I couldn’t pass this up. Have no fear, I’ll be talking about my clumsy adventures with girls soon enough…)

A co-worker returned from a business trip this week from India. When he came back, he brought all of us gifts from the country. He handed the gift to me, a wood carving, and told me it was a carving of an Indian god. I paused for a second and studied it carefully. At that moment, I came face-to-face with a real, physical idol. So this is what tripped up the nation of Israel time and again in the Old Testament and eventually led to their downfall. This is what the Israelites wanted more than Jehovah God. It seemed so innocuous and harmless to me, a simple wooden carving. Now, I suppose the case is a little different here. People don’t actually bow down and worship this actual physical object like the Israelites did. This carving isn’t actually the god, but it does represent a god and Indians do keep things like this in homes, cars, and such believing it gives them good luck, or good favor, or whatever. But still, the parallels were in my mind. The wooden and metal objects that the Israelites craved, sacrificed and bowed down to weren’t all that different to this little wooden object.

As I put it in my backpack, I hesitated for a moment. I thought back to all my readings in the Old Testament and all the dire things that happened to people when they brought idols into their home. Was I in direct violation of some Levitical code that would bring curses down upon me and my household? I also mused as I placed it in my backpack that there were idols already in my backpack that were far more deadly than this little carving. The laptop …. the iPod … they both get far more of my attention and time during a day than the Word of God. I’m known to waste hours upon hours on the laptop doing whatever. I’m known to have an unquenchable thirst for music. I’ve written about idols before, but it seems to me that the devil has gotten to be a far better player at this game of distracting us from worshipping the true God and we do it without even needing to bow down to physical objects. We bow down to self-image, pride, reputation, you name it, but they consume us, occupy us and even when they let us down and disappoint us and leave us a shell of ourselves, we keep coming back to them one more time. We eat the lies of the media that tell us we must be popular, beautiful, funny, new, hip, and then become sick to our stomachs when those lies turn on us like too much candy. God help us from these idols.

In the end, I decided to keep the little carving and place it right next to my Homestar Runner figurines in my office. There were a couple reasons I kept it. First of all, I don’t believe it has any power at all, no more than the little Strong Bad figurine it sits next to (though, I do spend a lot of time at http://www.homestarrunner.com, so maybe I’m in more danger of worshipping Strong Bad….) no good luck, no blessings from a god, nothing. It’s just a wooden carving as far as I’m concerned. Second, it reminds me of India and of the plight of the millions of Dalit, the lowest caste of the Indian culture, a group of people that number almost the population of the United States. The Dalit are denied basic rights such as proper education, food, water, and are treated as less than people. Thanks to the Gospel of Christ, they are now being told that they have worth and are loved by the true God, and they are throwing off the shackles of their oppressive caste system and standing up for themselves. Visit http://www.dalitnetwork.org/ for more information. Third, it’s also a tangible reminder to pray for the millions, maybe even billions that are deceived by a religion that leaves them empty. May the Good News open their eyes. I feel those are all pretty good reasons to keep it.

On the other hand, if my house gets swallowed up by the ground, I’ll know I was wrong.

Jeff Holland, 4/22/2005