Tuesday, November 22, 2005

My Stupidity

When I was young I had an affair. I can’t tell you why it happened. Lust doesn’t explain it. I can’t think of a rational explanation. What I do know for certain is that I don’t regret it. In fact, I’m thankful for it. It helped make me who I am.

It’s ironic but, I’ve learned more and grown more from my stupidity and bad choices than I have from my twenty-plus years of formal education. The affair was brief but the lessons have remained.

First lesson: I have no reason to be self-righteousness. I’m imperfect and I know it. My grandfather on my mother’s side was a holy roller. He passed on to my mother an unhealthy and unreasonable view of religion and life which she passed on to me. I was raised to expect perfection in myself and in others. My affair destroyed that fantasy. Fortunately, this affair occurred prior to the twenty years that I was a pastor and I view it as part of my preparation. It enabled – and enables -- me to see people more realistically.

Second lesson: I thought of the young woman frequently for about two years after I last saw her and it was several years before she slipped from my memory. It’s easy to become attached to people but it’s difficult to end attachments. Brief friendships or brief enmities can have long lasting effects. This has caused me to pick friends carefully and to be cautious how I relate to others. Physical wounds heal quickly, Emotional wounds may take a lifetime.

Third lesson: I can’t tell you how or why the affair happened. It wasn’t a conscious decision. It just happened. I was a young male and it has been my experience that many young males are still learning to become human. That’s my only defense. It’s sad that we are often so quick to ruin a young person’s life for one act. I’ve learned that drugs, alcohol, indiscretions, petty theft and many other bad choices made by young people should be approached with compassion, forgiveness and magnanimity. Young adults need time and positive examples to emulate. Given time and encouragement, they will learn and mature.

I am no longer young and I learned some lessons from my act of stupidity. Now, I am older and I’ll continue to be stupid and continue to learn, but, this is OK. I like my life, I like it very much – the good and the bad, the wise and the stupid. I wouldn’t give up either part. Both make me feel alive and thankful.

10 Comments:

Blogger Thom said...

Thanks for the posting. After 30 years i am still trying to resolve a couple of the stupid things i did.

11/22/2005 08:56:00 AM  
Blogger Buffalo said...

Seems to me if someone is doing something right, without having learned it right by screwing up, it is accidental.

Most of the things I've done in my life that other would say were screw ups I look on with pride.

How ate up is that?

11/22/2005 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger Gaye said...

This is why I love reading you; getting to know you. You're teaching me that acknowledging my mistakes is a good thing; beating myself up over them is not. And the relationship concept is exactly the way I feel, but find that most people don't--it's easy to form attachments, but difficult to end them because the emotions remain. That's why I love your concept of relationship navigation and phasing them out on a good note. Teach me more...

11/22/2005 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

it has been my experience that many young males are still learning to become human

I've said similar things about kids of both sexes and perhaps felt that I shouldn't, so I'm glad you said what you did.

11/22/2005 01:41:00 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

Thank you for sharing that. I like your straightforward style of writing.

11/22/2005 03:11:00 PM  
Blogger Bonita said...

I think everyone entertains the idea of loving someone else while they are currently in a relationship; but it is always idle speculation. I always viewed the people in the other persons life - his wife and children, and I knew I would not cross that line, no matter what. I did not want to create hardships for others. I didn't want to take what was not mine to have.

11/22/2005 03:35:00 PM  
Blogger Larry said...

This is a good confession, Paul. I had very similar experiences in my youth, more than one of them. They all contributed to making me who I am (and like you, I like who I am). As one young women said, when I confessed an indiscretion, "God will turn it to glory". At the time I thought she was just speaking subjectively, but now I know she was right. God uses everything that happens to us for his loving purposes.
Even jail time, believe it or not. Maybe I should say he does as we permit him to.

11/23/2005 07:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've come here from Gaye's blog, cause I saw you as such a wise man, and this post is another reason for me to think that! :D

It's interesting the point of view you've showed. We're imperfect so it's no use (and so frustrating) to expect perfection. But, don't you think that we should approach it? I mean, we'll never reach it completely, but don't you think that it's good to go that direction? I'd like to know your opinion on this :) But anyway, this is a great post! I'll be reading your archives ;)

11/23/2005 08:25:00 AM  
Blogger Trée said...

Another great post Paul. Happy Thanksgiving. Travel safe.

11/23/2005 02:56:00 PM  
Blogger I_Wonder said...

Gerard, I agree with your perspective on perfection -- "it's good to go that direction." I think in terms of process and progress rather than unattainable perfection. I prefer to ask myself "Am I in the process of moving toward perfection? Am I making progress?" I have two grown children. As a father, rather than measure their distance from perfection I tried to assess the progress they were making since the last assessment. For example, on a scale of 1 to 10 they were at 2 and now they are at 4 which means they are learning, maturing and progressing. Wonderful! To me, this seems preferable to saying "they are now at 4 and 10 is still a long way off."

So, yes, I agree, we need a goal to give us a direction but i like to look back to see how far I've come.

Thanks for your question. Of necessity, my posts must be kept fairly short which means they always leave loose ends and contain statements that beg to be challenged, clarified or questioned.

11/23/2005 05:38:00 PM  

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