Gather 'round, kiddies. Let me tell ya a little story.
I was fourteen once, over twenty years ago. Man, when you write it like that, it seems so very long ago. When I was fourteen, I wanted to be like my favorite bands. Aerosmith had long hair. I had long hair. Guns N' Roses wore shirts from other bands. So did I. But, the guys from my favorite bands had something I didn't, and that was an earring. It was understood that, amongst the populous of teenagers into heavy metal, that a piercing in the left ear meant you were a rocker, a tough guy, or maybe a pirate.
A piercing in the right ear meant that you...er...liked show tunes, which was, among my friends, decidedly not cool.
Beyond all the "other people did it" syndrome regarding the piercing was that I thought I would look cool. I did NOT want it because other students had one, because almost none did. On my fourteenth birthday, my mom (yes, my mom) paid for my first piercing. I'd go on to do subsequent piercings myself, but this one came straight from the the Piercing Pagoda kiosk at Southwyck Mall. And there it was in all its glory, a long-haired fat kid with his left ear pierced in 1989 small town middle America.
Flash forward two years. Short haired, football playing type guys were getting their ears pierced. Included in this group were some of those who teased me regarding my piercing two years earlier. Obviously, a small metal stud in your ear meant you were a girl, even though I tried to tell them that a piercing in your right ear meant that. They didn't get that memo from Heavy Metal Central, however. They finally got the memo from Preps R' Us, though, that said left ear piercings were finally "in" in 1991.
So, to amp up my cool, I pierced my right ear, and then my left ear two more times. I would soon wear my Metallica shirts to a church I was invited to, and the rest was history. Two years later, all this stuff would seem normal, and flannel and long, cut-off jeans would be the new uniform, which I gladly donned. I fell into that naturally, and before the curve, as, like most lower middle class kids, all our shorts were cut-offs of old jeans. Flannel kept you warm in winter, and your dad probably wore it and handed it down to you, so you wore it, too. This was way before Eddie Vedder. Either way, I had long hair until I lost too much of it to pull off a long hair look. I stopped wearing earrings when I started interviews from my second church job. I no longer dress cool. I'm lucky enough to find clothes, any clothes, that fit. All the rock band shirts I want to wear don't come in 3XLT.
Understand that if I was thinner, not balding and not working at a church, my look would most likely be altogther different.
As Abe Simpson said, "I used to be with it, but then they changed what 'it' was. Now, what I'm with isn't it, and what's 'it' seems weird and scary to me." Except that I'm not scared of "it". Sometimes, "it" is what I like, not because I'm chasing after my youth, but because I just like it. My wife got a nose ring a while ago. She's not making a statement with it, or trying to reclaim her high school years, she just likes how she looks with it, and so do I.
But, what's great about it is that it's new. "New" for adults seems to be something that we're supposed to avoid. We're supposed to be late adapters. Not me. And not most of the adults that I spent time with. We're interested in "new", whether it's music or technology or even social trends. It keeps us somewhat intelligent.
There really is nothing new under the sun. But, as NBC told us a few years ago, if you haven't seen it, it's new to you. There is this great wonderment that kids and teens have because everything is new. One of the biggest problems teens have is that they grow up and think that they've learned enough. I've met quite a few adults who are in that exact spot, thinking that life, and God, have nothing more to teach them. They don't say it, of course, but they admit as much when they are resistant to change and when they won't discuss or debate.
The sadness of this is that God wants us to always grow, and yet we've created an adult culture in so many churches that says it's perfectly fine to not grow. In the film "Singles", Bridget Fonda's character says that age 25 seems to be the age where you find that time is running out to do something crazy. Sure, you can pierce things when you're fourteen, maybe even get your mom to pay for it. But try doing that twenty years later. Some people will think your going through a mid-life crisis, or that you've gone crazy. But, sometimes, you just want to do something different, and learn from the experience. And there's no better place to do something crazy, something new, than the kingdom of God.
Dig Abraham. Meditate on Moses. Old guys, both of 'em, who did something crazy when they were older. I read a comment on an article about U2 that blasted them for simply being too old to do what they do. But, as the song goes, "Age ain't nothin' but a number". That song was talking about being young, but it works both ways. When I really dug Aerosmith, they were already in their forties. I didn't even think about their age. Who says that U2's best album isn't ahead of them? Ageist elitists, that's who.
When God uses someone, he doesn't at all have a prerequisite of age or gender or race or even skill level. So, why exactly do we? And it's not just wondering why we have our prejudice for other people, but why do we have them for ourselves? Thinking that we're too young or old to do something crazy for God is our own creation, and sometimes an easy "out" to living out God's will. Don't let age get in the way of living, and specifically, living for God.