not enter the Kingdom of God as a little child shall never enter therein."
Curtis loved riding his Razor scooter. Coasting down a hill, the fresh wind whipping his face reminded him of seashore breezes. He would slalom down sidewalks as though skiing down mountain trails.
There was only one problem. Curtis was an adult.
Inside his emotions soared, fantastic and free. But who could see inside him? All hat others could see is a ridiculous-looking grown man riding a little kids' scooter. Whenever he spotted another adult, his gracefulness collapsed into self-consciousness clumsiness. He'd put his head down, hoping they wouldn't recognize him.
Curtis knew very well the severe penalties for childishness. In adolescence Curtis had lingered too long in the no man's land between child and adult. He still remembered the verbal strafings, the mocking laughter which descended .like shrapnel from the lips of the "mature". His own growth cocktail had been an unusual mix, long on academic advancement but short on physical and emotional development. So in high school Curtis had found himself in classes together with Herculean youths with rippled arms, who regaled him with friendly suggestions, served with a snicker. "Hey Curtis, you should start drinking beer, it'll put some hair on your chest." At age 40, Curtis still had no hair on his chest, nor did he drink beer. It didn't matter, he'd married a Chinese,and most Chinese men had even less body hair than he did. He'd had four children too, though probably even that wasn't enough to prove his virility. He imagined those Hercules today, and wondered if they had grown beer-bellies.
He could still see that same smile, whenever he passed a high-schooler on his scooter.
On one early-morning ride (he rode early to avoid being seen by other people) God spoke gently but firmly to Curtis' heart. God revealed to Curtis that, just as he rode his scooter, so he walked his faith. Self-consciousness and fear of appearing ridiculous governed his faith-life. He could be completely spontaneous and free with children, but with adults he was guarded and inhibited. When his 4-year old daughter Ellen lost a toy, he would pray with her: "Jesus, you know where Ellen's toy is. Would you please show us where it is?" He was surprised how many times the missing item turned up within minutes, or even seconds. But if his wife lost the car keys, he was too self-conscious to do the same thing. He did pray, but silently "She'd think I'm silly if I prayed out loud", he felt. When his children fell down and came crying to him for comfort, it was so natural for him to ask Jesus to touch them and take away the pain, just like He touched so many hurting people in the Bible. Without fail, the child was comforted and soon forgot the injury. But more often than not, when adults complained of back pain or headache or upset stomach, he would say nothing. "They would just think I'm trying to be religious", he reasoned to himself.
Curtis often pondered issues faith, and wrote many essays on devotional and spiritual themes. But he rarely showed them to anyone – not his pastor, not his friends, not his family, not even his wife. He could not endure the prospect of their weak and insincere praises like, "Oh, that's very nice". He didn't try to write 'nice' things, he wrote to grab people by their shoulders and give them a good shake. So instead of risking relational awkwardness, he placed his essays on the internet under a pseudonym, hoping that one day he would be "discovered".
Father, deliver me from self-consciousness!
©2001 CrossPollen. CrossPollen
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Last Revised: August10, 2001
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