“So what are you going to do after you graduate?” Joe, the church sexton asked. He was sitting in his little room off the main auditorium and near the kitchen where every Sunday morning he had coffee and the Sunday paper waiting. Glen turned his head briefly before he looked again on the evergreens that shielded a view of the empty church parking lot. It was raining, not hard, but a miserable sort of cold, soaking rain. Church was long over and Joe and Glen might have been the only two people left in the building.
“Go to college. I thought that was required. At seventeen, I am not ready for college, but it seems I have no choice. My great uncle sits on the board or something and went to great lengths to get me in. To be honest, I should probably go to a local school, maybe commute to a community college for a year while I try to figure out what I want to do.”
“You sound like you don’t have any choice,” Joe said. But Joe knew Glen’s parents. Glen simply glanced at the man again before his eyes were drawn back to the window. It was finally beginning to rain.
“Not here,” he said, and he thought long about that before he added, “Of course, this isn’t the real world, you know.” When Joe said nothing, Glen began to explain.
“In this place everything is twisted and distorted.” Glen paused to consider his words. “Exaggerated,” he decided. “I mean, in the real world my parents were always hard on me. I might have wanted them to be more easy going, but I never doubted they meant it for the best and only wanted the best for me. Here, they are impossible. In the real world, I might have wanted more positive attention. Here, nothing is positive toward me and mostly they ignore me altogether. There, I may have felt like I got more than my share of blame for things, but here everything is my fault, even if I have nothing to do with it. Do you see?” When Glen heard no response, he continued.
“To be honest, I have begun to wonder if it is so much that things here are distorted as maybe just my feelings are distorted and then projected on my surroundings. It is like maybe I am the one who wants things to be easy and wants praise and wants to not have to take responsibility for my screw-ups. So here things get extra hard and I get only put downs and I get blamed for things even when I am innocent. It is almost like whatever I want, I get the opposite.” Glen stopped then to think and he thought Joe was being very patient by staying quiet.
“You know what I mean?” The question was rhetorical. “It’s like whenever I find something good they discontinue it. It’s like, I don’t know. Maybe God is trying to work on my insides. Maybe I am wanting certain things too much and others too little. Of course, if that’s the case, it is easy enough to determine what I am wanting too much. And it isn’t just my parents or my family, mind you. It is teachers, friends, everyone really. You may be excepted. I don’t know. You don’t really depend on me for anything and I am not over you in some way. And same in reverse, I mean you are not over me and I don’t depend on you, necessarily.” Glen paused. “Actually, that is not true. I depend on you to listen which no one else ever does, and I appreciate that more than you will ever know.” Glen tried to get back on topic.
“But anyway, it is easy enough to figure out what I may be wanting too much. The trouble is, there are two things about that. First, most people would just say I am wanting the good things in life too much; but there is nothing wrong with good things. They say life is a mix of good and bad, but all I seem to get around here is the bad. Is it really wrong to want some good things mixed in? Good times and bad times are part of every life, they say. All I can say is great! When do the good times start?” Glen took a deep breath before he continued. His eyes were damp.
“The other problem with that is I don’t have any idea what I am wanting too little. I know some Eastern philosophers say you shouldn’t want anything at all. I most strongly disagree. God made us with the capacity to love and want the one we love. I know we were made to love God and love our neighbor, to glorify God and do good for our neighbor. These things I am doing, they are in my heart, in my soul if you will, but still I get crushed, it gets taken from me, things never work out for the good, nothing ever goes right, and I still get kicked, psychologically crushed, crucified in a small way, I suppose. That seems to be the nature of this non-place I have found myself in. Pain and torment appear victorious and I can’t seem to break out or escape.”
“The truth is, there is no good here for me, not in my life, not that I have ever experienced. I don’t even know what a blessing might be. I can’t say as I have ever had one. About all I can say is what I keep saying over and over. I’m not dead yet, and I ask, why did God let me live?”
Glen heard a sound and turned around. Joe was rushing back in from the kitchen with an apology. “Sorry, I had to be sure the coffee was unplugged, and then the phone rang. You were saying? Your uncle got you into the college so you feel you have to go?”
“Yes,” Glen nodded. “That is exactly what I was saying.” He turned his eyes back to the falling rain and said no more.