3/30/2005

Cuteness and Depth

Samantha has a lot of cute qualities. For one thing, she has this adorable tendency to mix her metaphors. “There’s more than one way to skin a horse, Ben.” “Ben is my light and shining armor.” Another cute thing about Samantha is the way she can ask three questions in the space of ten seconds, and then look at you expectantly for an answer. She has a curious love of biting too, so you know you’re in her good graces when she’s gnawing on your shoulder. Of course, she could be doing that because you’re her flavor of the week. She has an odd tendency to eat the same food several times for a week or two, and then move on to something else for the week or two after that.

Surpassing all these in sheer cuteness, though, is the way she thinks in pictures. If I say to Samantha, “Ok, option A involves this much money, this much time, and this much effort, and option B involves this much of those same things, which would you rather do?” then it won’t mean anything, and she’ll want to know what I think (this creates loooong waiting periods whenever a menu is presented). If she gets a picture in her head, though, of what doing something would look and feel like, she’s sold.

Preparing for our honeymoon is a good example. Samantha had expressed two possibilities. In Ben language, the possibilities were a beach-type place (Caribbean) or a city (Shanghai). So, I figured we could visit Seattle and kill two birds with one stone.

Consider her reaction to my idea: “oh. That could be fun. I'm not really excited about that, though.”

Now consider what she said when she was expressing her Caribbean idea: “I can just see us relaaaxing (she puts a lot of emotion into her word pronunciation, too) in the suuun, with a gentle breeze blowing, looking at the bluuue water. ::sigh:: it would be so beautiful…” She moves her hands back and forth gently, as if the exotic scene is inches from her face.

The thing is, she wasn’t looking for just a beach and just a fun city. She had a PICTURE in her mind… a picture of, on one hand, a beautiful breezy day on a sandy island, looking out at bright blue water and surrounded by palm trees. In another, she was imagining a return to her family’s homeland of China, speaking in Chinese and shopping for authentic Asian foods and goods. Her desire for both of these ideas (pictorial visions, as I think of them) was based on the beauty of the vision, not on the technicality of “beach” and “city”. As you can imagine, Seattle is NOT on our list of possible honeymoon destinations anymore.

Samantha’s ideas have a depth and quality to them… they accept no substitutes. A beach in, say, the Caribbean is different than a beach in the US, though I could probably never appreciate it. The city life of Shanghai has far more vibrancy and significance to her than a trip to the Starbucks capitol of the world. Her ideas are special because they are deep and complete… the experience is good because all the nuances and details are good, too.

Her appreciation for completely good ideas (rather than just good ideas) is an encouragement for me in studying.

Yes, I did actually just say that.

See, if I want to seek real quality in my knowledge (especially of spiritual things), I need to have depth. I need my knowledge and ideas to be strong not just because they are good ideas (let’s have our honeymoon at a beach), but because they are backed by depth (gentle breeze, bright bluuue water, palm trees). When I discuss Calvinism, it needs to be supported by knowledge of Arminianism. When we talk about Habakkuk in class, it would be flat without a knowledge of Babylonian-Israeli history. If I want to praise God for his love and mercy, I had better also be able to praise him for suffering and discipline and wrath.

I think we all have that calling. While there’s no reason for everyone to be like me (the world has plenty of geeks already, thank you), there IS reason for Christians to seek completeness and depth. Don’t just experience God; learn about him. Don’t just have Christian friends your age; play with little kids and talk to old people at church. Don’t just accept what you’re taught; ask questions and work through a concept completely.

There’s a rumor going around that I’m smart. While I can agree that God has given me the gift of gab (also known as silver tongue syndrome), I don’t think I’m any smarter than anyone else. What I do have is a love of knowing things on a deeper level. It’s a love that helps me greatly in teaching… answering questions becomes a matter of sharing something I’ve questioned as well, rather than having a particular skill.

That’s just one area, though. For instance, I’m terrible at knowing people’s feelings or reactions to a certain idea. Poor Samantha has to put up with my callousness all the time. She, on the other hand, is much more acquainted with the range of feelings people go through when something happens. When my mom was diagnosed with cancer, Samantha already knew without even thinking about it how my sister would be feeling about it, and what my family would expect. I, on the other hand, barely had a reaction. I’ve kept such tight discipline on my emotions for so long that I’d forgotten how to allow myself to react strongly to something. Trust me, Samantha is opening THAT particular can of worms back up.

What I’m trying to say here is this; don’t just DO your life. Don’t just go to classes, study for tests, and find fun things to do with friends. Be deep. Cry with people who hurt. Question God with the toughest things you can throw at him. Struggle, fight, question, mourn. Be a deep and complete person. Why? Because you want to glorify God with your life… and God is easier to see in a warm sun, gentle breeze, and bluuue water than he is on a dinky beach in Seattle.

2 comments:

amanda said...

yeah I think Samantha is really good at sensing people's feelings. Anyways I hope you both figure out where you would like to honeymoon. :)

amanda said...

yeah i think samantha is very good at sensing people's feelings. I hope you both are able to decide a very good honeymoon location. :)