Tuesday, January 29, 2013

High standards and "The Good Life"

It's 2013!
It's 2013, and I've been reflecting on past years.  On the outside, many people would say I lead a fairly sheltered life, but those who know me know better.  No, I don't run around the town, get high, or play poker on the side, but I would say that the "quiet life" can be anything but.  I've lived within 100 miles of where I was born for the last 18+ years, have moved with my family 3 or 4 times, and we've stayed together.  Living in a small, historical, town, walking-distance to the steady job I've had for over 4 years. This was our second Christmas with three young foster children, and we've still kept the tradition of going to the Christmas Eve Service, opening gifts, then breaking into the stockings on our way to Grandma and Grandpa's house.  Never gotten arrested, never touched a cigarette, never wore a mini-skirt, and never even had a boyfriend, for that matter (and that by my very own choice).  And it's not simply that I'm not the wild sort, I'm pretty conservative.  Singing in choir, regular at church, and even take an intense Bible course in place of the "less demanding" Sunday School. I really enjoy it!  I graduated early from home school, (though not without a little stress,) and have my sights set on a Bachelors of Nutritional Science or Psychology, though I must say I haven't applied yet, and don't know if I'll be accepted.  Little bit of a nerd? Yes.  A sheltered life? Maybe...  It depends on what you mean by sheltered, and whether you think it's a good or bad thing.
 Truth is, I may be a pretty innocent legal-adult, but I don't think I'm naive.  I've had my bouts with sickness, and nearly died a couple years back, went through some major depression, and had some repercussions.  I'm pretty healthy now, but that's not all.  My brother - 5 years my senior and my idol at the time - left for a life of drugs when I was 7. We've gone through financial trouble, though God provided wondrously and we never went hungry or didn't have a place to live.  I enjoy running, and some other sports, like down-hill skiing, zip-lining, and ice skating.  I thoroughly enjoy watching murder mysteries, and I almost got a tattoo to go with my 5 ear piercings.
 So what is the difference? Where am I at that other's might not be, and why am I content not to rebel when I have to pay for my own car-insurance and babysit squirrely siblings?  Because I really am very happy. And that without a boyfriend, which most adolescents couldn't imagine!
 I believe that one doesn't have to take part in the immoral to understand the immoral.  Sure, I'm not perfect, but even though my "sinning seasons" have taught me a lot about life, they always do so with with the leaving-behind of another little scar. Us humans can't go through life without wounds and scars, but to know which are necessary and which are sadistic... that is an art!
 So how for the belief that it's a healthy experience to date and break up a couple times in one's teen-age years? Sure, it makes for a better "honey, don't do what I did because..." later on, but I've always thought success stories were better examples than the "do as I say, not as I do (or did)" line.
 Many of my friends have dated and had their hearts broken.  I don't see how that is a valuable life-experience!  Disappointments and failures that teach us about the nature of life will come without us indulging in our carnal desires before denial comes to teach us our lessons.
 In fact, dating skews people's vision of love, I have found, or at least it does for teens. (By dating, I mean going out together, alone or as a couple, and enjoying each other, to whatever degree, because you "like" that person.  I'm referring largely to teen dating.)  Saying that dating and breaking up is a good experience and teaches you about life is like telling a kid to overdose on their meds because sometimes life sucks the morning after, and they need to know that before someone else shows them.  Like I said, leading by example is usually best!  I've found that staying out of the cloud of "educational" emotion that leads to sadness and heartache allows one to see what's going on for what it really is.  Looking in from the outside may not serve to show the little details, but it will give you an outline and a synopsis that those on the inside may completely miss.  Again, just because I haven't taken part in a lot of the things other 18-year-olds have, doesn't mean I wouldn't know what to say or do in certain situations - I've met many interesting characters, and helped teach a children's Bible club in the worst neighborhood in our state's capital city.  I don't giggle and look away when a guy smiles at me. I do have guy friends, but I don't play around with them.  I probably even know them better than one who dates them would, though I keep our relationships casual.  I'm more open in conversation than most people I know, though I make it a priority to keep my speech clean.
 I hope to date/court, get engaged, and be married someday, but to be honest, as many times as I've given in to wishful thinking and wanted to "go out," I'm glad I haven't.  Keeping my mind clear of the mess so many people put themselves into without riding out their emotion first has saved me time, money, and sanity. I'm not in self-denial, but I'm all about self-control.  I know what goes on in this world, and it doesn't shock me; it saddens me.  This is why I'm glad my parents "sheltered" me, and provided me with sound teaching, all while letting me develop critical thinking skills and make my own decisions.  What 12-year-old girl is going to go tame on the makeup, or keep to herself when that really cute boy is in the room, or say no if "everyone else is doing it?"

 Often high standards and "self-denial" (as in denying one's self some of their carnal desires, not denying one's own self and tendencies) will make someone happier in the long run. That is what teaches kids about life! I can honestly say that, even through the atrocities that have happened to me, and the "quiet" life that I lead, I have "the good life!!!"

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