Forming Community and Dating: I don’t know how to do this…Essays, Featured — By Jordan Spina on September 14, 2012 at 7:22 am
I don’t know how to do this. I always thought forming community was easy, it was just a matter of being proactive; going to enough church potlucks and bringing brownies to your small group. It was about being present and playing sports and getting in there. I suppose that is all sort of true, but it’s not the easy thing I thought it would be. After having recently moved west to the California coast, I’ve had to test my theories.
When you’re 29, there are no clear guidelines, there are no organized playground games. There is no four square. You cannot just go out to recess and make friends while playing tether-ball. There are no “welcome to adulthood” orientations where men and women a few years older take you across campus to show you the ropes. There is no seminar on instigating meaningful friendships within a group that already exists without seeming needy or insecure. There is especially no senior center where on Friday nights all the people your age go to play bingo and drink prune juice. It’s a swamp of a life. You’ve been told there is a path, but at this point there doesn’t seem like much. The muck sucks up around your ankles even though you try to step on the moss. You’re trying to move quickly and make the progress you feel you ought but you’re afraid you’ll lose your shoe if you step too quickly.
We move to the job, the girl, the guy, the cause, the resource. We go because we can. Some of us let our bellies and beards catch up with our early male pattern baldness, making the process of adulthood seem more complete. Our child’s perspective of adulthood becoming more realized each day in the mirror. Like a painter switching to a roller after growing tired of painting a mural, life seems to get slapped up quick, all things the color of the need of the day. People this age can have kids, wrinkles, careers, a second job to accompany their second chin. They can also be broke, living at home, playing black-ops and Call of Duty on their mom’s floral pattern couch in the basement. Or still again, trying to play the player. Still hitting the gym as many times as possible–more in love with their own muscles than with the playful co-eds they plan on impressing at their night class.
Falling into a new life can feel like shifting sand. Each step only gives the appearance of movement but tells you very little about the ground upon which you trod. It usually does more to exhaust you than propel you into a good story . . . but that’s the hard thing about growing up, it requires effort. I think most of us thought we would just be adults someday. We thought we would have it figured out like we knew our parents did. The biggest problem with this is that we were right. We do have it figured out like our parents did, we just had no idea how stupid they all were. It turns out they were just guessing . . . they were doing the best with what they had.
I think I thought moving to a new community would be easy–like God would throw the pieces on the board like chess, and He would move me and my community around until we found each other. He did . . . kind of.
I mean, I find myself still looking though as if He’s brought me halfway, as if He placed the pieces on the board and did a few moves but is now asking me where I want to move. I’m sitting there looking at Him wanting for Him to stop playing around and move again so I can be like “Ya, ya! Nice one! Love it, keep it up!” But now He’s just staring at me like He’s just given me a command I should understand. He’s got that kind of half-amused smile you give a dog when you’re trying to train him to do something, and the dog looks back at you with that look, you know the one. It’s the one where the head is slightly turned to the side waiting in obedience but also looking a bit puzzled as if to say back, “You know I don’t speak English. Why do you do that? You talk to me like I should understand. Well I’m just going to try staring back at you . . . or try barking. Ya, maybe barking!”
I barked at God, but he didn’t move. I liked it when he moved the pieces. The game is more fun when I think he’s in charge and I’m winning on his merit. Can’t I just sit this one out?
And as for the other pieces, the ones I want him to move now, can’t he do those too? Can’t he take control there?
I’m annoyed and I’m tired, I just want it to be simple. I don’t want to play anymore. God should definitely just align the pieces and fix my problems, right? He has no good reason that I know of, so therefore, He might as well do it.
But I suppose this is what they call faith. I suppose it’s believing He controls the pieces but when He says move, it is His best for you, and in fact, His best for all. May we pray the chess pieces align, as much as we can do so before eternity.