by Mike Friesen.
Mike is one of my close friends. He’s a great writer, thinker, and theologian. He also works in a home for those with disabilities, and while we were talking last week, I asked him to write a series about what he’s learning. Enjoy. This is episode one. You can follow Mike on twitter here.
Recently, I was on a date with this girl. We were eating dinner, and we exchanged the normal pleasantries. “Where did you grow up?” “How many brothers and sisters do you have?” Five minutes into the date she asked me, “So, where do you see yourself in five years?” I did not know how to answer the question, so I sarcastically said, “Ahh, someone wants to know if I have my life together, huh?”
I do not think she appreciated my response. It’s cool. She is some other guy’s dream girl at this point.
I did not know how to answer the question for two reasons:
The first is, if you asked me when I was 21 what I was going to be doing at 26, I would not have told you that I would be working with people who have mental disabilities, writing a book, and moving towards getting a master’s degree in counseling. I thought I was going to be some hipster youth pastor.
The second reason comes from my experience with people who have disabilities. For people who have disabilities, there is no five-year plan for their lives. For them, they have ‘this weekend’ plan. For those of us who have a five-year plans, we get caught up in a restless anxiety that takes us away from the present moment. The guys in my home, the plans they have for their future revolved around ideas of fun, joy, and relationships, not success, ambition, and achievement.
We have pretty strict dietary rules in the house, so one of my guys goes home to his parents on the weekends and sneaks off to McDonalds where he eats greasy food and endless amounts of Mello Yellow. Both of which are not allowed at our house. For him, his future revolves around a playful rebellion that includes hash browns and caffeinated sugar soda.
Sometimes, I think we fantasize and worry about the future because we are filled with anxiety over death. We feel hurried to get things done because we only have so much time on earth to get things done. When we live out of this anxiety, however, it is not congruent with the resurrection of Jesus which reminds us that death does not get the last word. For Christians, as simple as it sounds, practicing resurrection can come in the form of putting the work down, being present and eating some greasy McDonalds.
Practicing the resurrection means not letting go of a future but letting go of a five-year plan. What the disabled teach us about the future is that the future is something that is good and worth enjoying. They teach us that our hope is not to be found in materialistic pursuits but in the simple pleasures of everyday life. They remind us that the best things in life are one another and life in front of us. The future is filled with fun and community. This is a great hope for all human beings.