As my life rolls on towards the inevitable chasm of thirty, I feel deeply conflicted. At 27 years of age, I have found a path of life that vibrates every molecule in my body at a frequency that one could only denote as divine. After many years of struggling through academia with fragmented mental health, the study of psychology has been a key to a lock I determined could never be opened. For the first time in my life, after a winter where surrender led me into the darkness to rediscover who I was, I have peace. A peace that does not deserve to occupy the space I call “Me.” And yet it does. It flows through my life like a river, carving its banks into the very patterns of my neurons. I never asked for it, and I never set out to find it. I simply oriented myself towards the truth, even when it hurt, and I began to see that truth in and of itself was not the catalyst that changed my life, but rather, it was the very essence that gave rise to my life. A life I had lost long ago.
At the same time, juxtaposed to my peace, I look back on many wasted years with a sense of shame. The gift of youth is sand in the hand of the beholder. In an innocent effort to grasp life, with immortality wetting the lips and miraging the mind, for nearly a decade of my life I watched sand fall through my hands as if that were life’s purpose. It wasn’t until I was able to see the beach from the grains, and that meaning was derived not from watching sand but from finding ways to use it, that life was wrinkled together into a mosaic of meaning.
I have lost time. Time that I will never get back. Forgetting about the selfish pursuit of knowledge, I have lost time that most people never have afforded to them. Time given to me that I had the privilege to waste, in a world where wasted time can often mean life or death. And that, more than any sin, more than any mistake, more than any failure, makes me feel shame. You may scoff on your vegemite on toast at this seemingly trite tale of woe, but I would dare you to scoff at the table of the 90-year-old or the person with terminal cancer or the person who lost a loved one with no trace of goodbye. To those with no time, time can often be so precious that to trade a life for a second would be a choice made in a heart beat.
I believe now more than ever, that taking up the responsibility of using time as opposed to watching it, in a way that compels you into the unknown darkness of your potential, is a choice of the highest ethical consideration. You have an ethical responsibility, to take responsibility of your time and see how much it grows you. But even further, I believe that in the taking up of time, in the responsibility of using it to build yourself and stretch yourself, you will find your purpose and your meaning. Take up your cross, and walk.
The truth is, shame is a poor motivator, but at this stage of my life, I have learned to take life for what it is, not for what I want. If shame can lead me towards that peace that I so deeply feel about my present, maybe it can heal my past. Not as the balm, but as the thunder and the lighting of Isaiah 6, where Isaiah stands before God, fully aware of who he is,
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
And like Isaiah, with hopeful surrender to the unfailing, unfettered, unbridled love of God, allow love to heal me, and turn my shame into my salvation. Allow God to take a coal from the altar, to anoint my lips, and bless all that I create with the time that I have…