So I was continuing my now-ritualistic re-watching of Smallville--my guilty pleasure teen drama show (I think it's like my personal version of Twilight)--and something struck me. The characters in that show are actually good people. (at least in Season 1)
Not many popular stories today actually have that essential quality: good old-fashioned family wholesomeness. I hadn't really noticed it much when I originally watched the show because I was twelve at the time, and innocence was all I knew.
Now it's hitting me: this world is seriously screwed up.
I'm tired of hearing people whine and complain about life, throwing out profanities with every other breath. I'm tired of people spreading hate and mistrust, passing off their strife-mongering as "wisdom." I'm tired of people tearing down everything that's good, just, and honest only to satisfy their own anger and self-loathing.
I hate the fact that over the years, I've almost become one of them. When I was young, I was idealistic and hopeful. I honestly believed in doing the right thing for the right thing's sake. I believed in being unselfish, even if others weren't. I was a good kid.
I've been jaded over the past few years. I made the mistake of falling into the false promises of the world, and forgot who I was.
I don't know exactly why I changed. It might have been the fact that my dad died in 2004; I don't know. I know I changed a lot that year, and I thought that it was for the better. I matured a lot, and I shifted my priorities. But perhaps my priorities were shifted the wrong way? I think they may have been.
I've thought a lot lately that I don't feel myself; I think now I understand why.
But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."
While watching Smallville tonight, I recaptured how it felt to be me at age twelve. I don't know if I thought of myself as such at the time, but looking back now, when I was that young, I acted and felt like a child of God. I had a constant sense of peace. (the peace that passes all understanding?)
I felt that peace when my dad died, too, despite the fact that he was my best friend in the world and I'd just lost him forever. I honestly believe that it was a combination of God's amazing grace and the prayers of countless friends and family members. However, at the time, I, in my ignorance, had figured that the peace I felt was a sign that I was doing things right; that I was growing up and becoming my own person. Maybe that was the problem? I chose to follow my own desires rather than letting go and letting God do the leading. It wasn't a conscious thing; I had no idea that I was doing it.
I do remember that within ten seconds of finding out that my father had died (of natural-yet-random circumstances, for those not in-the-know), I immediately thought "what do I have in my life that's good now?" My immediate mental answer was the name of a girl that I had feelings for at the time. It was at that point that I thought that I needed to grow up and make my own family, because my current one was broken.
Not long after that, my mom told me that she had had a type of revelation: that I wasn't fatherless, because God would be my father.
I mostly ignored that, and that was a mistake.
I chose to follow my own desires, rather than do what was actually right. Whereas before I had always done the right thing just because I was a good kid, at this point I had changed. I stopped knowing what the right thing to do was, and started trying to figure it out for myself. It wasn't instinctive like it was before, and it wasn't me.
I want to go back to how I used to be. Honest, genuine, and responsible. (not that I'm a "bad" person now, but still.)
My grandfather (who was a pastor for many years) said something very interesting to me once: there's a difference between "love" and "like." Love is an action, not a feeling. It can be a feeling, but it doesn't need to be. You don't have to like someone to love them; you can love them by showing them kindness, patience, etc.
I think that in my youth, I had that "feeling" of love. I was a genuinely loving person because love was in my heart. I had a kind of intrinsic joy. I hadn't been jaded by life's struggles, and I didn't live in fear of loss. Nowadays, my heart is tempered too much by my thoughts; I have to pass everything through a mental filter. Well, no more of that.
I'm going to be different. I will not simply trudge through life trying to accomplish vague goals that I set for myself. I will be my best, not simply because I choose to be, but because I choose to be the kind of person that wants to be. It's a mindset, and one that I've forgotten until now.
For the first time in a long time, I think I'll sleep well tonight.