In 2005, the Terri Schiavo case was all over the news. For anyone who doesn’t know, Terri went into cardiac arrest in 1990 and suffered massive brain damage. She was left comatose and eventually remained in what is called a persistent vegetative state. In other words, she was on a feeding tube and had little quality of life. After fifteen years of routine, her husband was ready to take her off of that feeding tube, arguing that Terri would not have wanted to live life this way. Her parents disagreed. I remember sitting in class and being asked a blunt question by our teacher: What side would you be on if she was your loved one?
In 2005, I was much different than I am now. I come to that conclusion often, but I have never acknowledged it with quite this much capacity. My answer back then was largely against the grain. I’d say about 90% of the class agreed with the husband in the given scenario. I disagreed and voiced my opinion loudly and proudly. I suggested that I believe in miracles. I questioned back with what ifs. What if, with all of this technology, Terri’s state could be reversible? What if God sent someone to perform something beyond belief? What if there was hope? You see, I was a true Christian back then. I was all in for God and I had an imagination that rivaled a five-year-old’s, which is good to have. We have all learned over time that for the majority of us, responsibilities take away our adventure, rules separate us from freedom, and the world pulls us away from our tight grip on faith. These deductions have never been truer from where I stand.
Fast forward to 2015. Without this case originally coming to mind, my girlfriend and I were talking about children born into a vegetative state. Like my teacher ten years ago, she brought up a relatively similar debate and asked what I would want to do if my child was born with brain damage and couldn’t respond to what is around him/her. Without hesitation, I said I’d want to see if there was a place he or she could go to where people could provide better care than what we could. Really? REALLY?!?! Had those words actually come out of my mouth? The same person who definitively defended Terri Schiavo’s parents just one decade ago was now unemotional enough to send his own child somewhere to never be seen again? Wow. It may make you feel better that my girlfriend was not fond of the comment. She opposed it rather aggressively, and appropriately so.
A month later, which was this past Saturday, was my high school reunion. I didn’t go. There were many reasons as to why I wasn’t there, the bigger ones being that my girlfriend’s parents had my folks over for dinner and I was too broke to go out with my old classmates anyway. But, there was a part of me that didn’t want to attend because…I don’t even know who I am anymore. How could I expect my graduating class to recognize me?
I had come from attending church regularly and feeling the Holy Spirit with me each and every time, to attending church recurrently and telling my girlfriend on the ride home that I’m enjoying the message, but I’m just not being dragged into “the light” the way I once remembered. I didn’t want to force it. I’d never want to force a relationship with God. So instead I prayed, and if you’re wondering, I’ve yet to be provided with an answer. That’s okay, though. It will come, and I won’t stop going to church because I know my solutions are there.
But understand this…the main reason why I am writing this blog today: We are different now than what we were even just ten years ago. Time changes us for the worse. Instead of getting sucked into the word at church, we are swallowed whole by the demands of life. Work devours us. Being parents takes its toll. Stresses overwhelm us to the point of wanting to give up. It takes a strong person to fight back and run the right way, but we have to try. And, if it makes you feel better, we are never fighting this battle alone. We have to try to live like our children, who are much more innocent, much more persistent, much more imaginative, and much more wholesome than we are. Why? Because all of those traits are the epitome of what it means to live like Jesus, and living like Jesus will bring you back to the old, better you.