The young man plopped in front of me as I sat on a bench waiting for a bus outside a store. “What’s up handsome?” he said. I know I am aging because my reaction was far different than the old me. I said ”How’s it going?” instead of ignoring him or getting angry.

He was joined by a couple of slightly older teenagers.

His buddies needled him, telling me he had been suspended from school multiple times. “I’m grounded,” said the put upon youngest kid.

.I asked the boy how old he was. “14,” he said. What came out of my mouth next surprised me.

“Oh, it’s good you’re raising Cain right now. When I was your age I was a nerd, a geek. I wish I had made more trouble.”

I told the boys that life goes by fast and you have to enjoy it. I told them that I knew they were young and an old dude like me telling them such things would not register.

“I’m sure you don’t get it,” I said.

“We get it,” said the oldest boy.

In reflecting on this episode, I realized that down deep I believe I have wasted my life being “responsible.” I have spent decades going to work, doing my job as well as I can (and then some), supporting my family, and avoiding difficulties.

Yeah, I have taken “some” risks, but nothing that would have landed me in jail. Mostly, the poor choices I have made have mainly affected me and mine financially. . I indeed have suffered loss in that realm.

I suppose I wish I had sowed more wild oats because it seems that my conservatism has not paid off. I don’t necessarily mean that I have not garnered a financial reward, although that would have bee nice. I mean that my lack of risk taking has not resulted in possessing a loving wife and adoring children.

My wife and have been separated for a long time and we hardly communicate. A couple of my kids don’t speak to me.

But, I keep pressing on. I am still “Mr. Obligation.” I suppose this beats being “Mr. Mayhem.” Heaven knows I have created enough chaos in my families’ life just by being me.

With the time I have left I wonder if I should just “let ‘er rip.” Get divorced; pursue the sweet young thing; reinvent myself professionally and personally.

This appetite for whimsy is most pronounced these days when it comes to, what else, a woman. This lady, and she is that, is something of an obsession with me.

I have hardly seen her for months, and now suddenly I am seeing her almost every day. When I do, I try to detect some nuance in her eyes or face or manner which will help me determine how she feels about me. It’s pathetic, really.

Today I ran into her, this girl who is half my age. She did not see me, but I made a point of inserting myself in her conversation with another woman.

Her face lit up. She told her friend how much she had seen me lately. And then she called me “bro.” I walked away hurt, feeling I had been friend zoned.

I even went so far to go on the Internet and try to determine what it means when a chick calls you “bro”. Thankfully, in essence, it means very little. It seems to depend on the context. I mean, what did I expect? That she would say “Hello dahling” in a public place with her friend? Again, I’m pathetic.

James Taylor wrote these lyrics:

I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain. I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end.
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend, but I always thought that I’d see you again.

This is my hope with her, that she stays in my life and doesn’t get taken out before I can do something about my passion for her.

I hope Taylor’s opening lyric to “Fire and Rain” doesn’t come true for me:
Just yesterday morning, they let me know you were gone.
Suzanne, the plans they made put an end to you.

Once I thought I read a Facebook post in which my damsel referred to packing up and moving. Although it was just a way to express appreciation for a nice visit with friends out of state, I got depressed.

When it comes to my “Suzanne”, I want to throw caution to the wind. I may be fantasizing, but I keep asking God to give this woman to me, and I am trying to trust Him with all the obstacles. Being married is only one of them.

Another problem is that I am not getting any younger. The only way I can handle my ardor for this lady is by trusting God one day at a time.

Won’t you look down upon me, Jesus, You’ve got to help me make a stand.
You’ve just got to see me through another day.
My body’s aching and my time is at hand and I won’t make it any other way.

I need courage to go after her. But I also feel the need to be patient and let God work. I don’t know if this is my conservative streak kicking in, or prudence from the Lord.

One thing I don’t want to do is mess with the Lord. I got that message watching the classic flick “Solomon and Sheba” this morning. I had never seen it.

It stars the overwhelmingly beautiful Gina Lollobridgida as Sheba. Understandably, Solomon (Yul Brynner) just about loses his kingdom over her. God isn’t happy.

After leading Solomon astray and getting stoned by Israelites, Sheba repents and turns to God. Solomon says, “Now you can be queen of Israel.”

However, Sheba has already decided to obey God’s command to return to her own land and spread His glory there. My take? Sometimes these crushes just don’t work out in a long-term relationship because God has something more important in mind: His glory.

In another classic flick, “Annie Hall”, Woody Allen ends the film by discussing the nature of the relationship with his love interest. As they depart after a long time with not seeing each other, Allen provides this commentary:

After that it got pretty late. And we both hadda go, but it was great seeing Annie again, right? I realized what a terrific person she was and-and how much fun it was just knowing her and I-I thought of that old joke, you know, this- this-this guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, “Doc, uh, my brother’s crazy. He thinks he’s a chicken.” And, uh, the doctor says, “Well, why don’t you turn him in?” And the guy says, “I would, but I need the eggs.” Well, I guess that’s pretty much how how I feel about relationships. You know, they’re totally irrational and crazy and absurd and …but, uh, I guess we keep goin’ through it because, uh, most of us need the eggs.

My desire for this girl doesn’t make any sense in my Christian world view.But I put up with my own craziness because I need the eggs.

Minimally, like Annie, my lady is a wonderful person and even if it doesn’t work out with her, I am privileged to have her in my life at the moment.

I suppose the closest I am going to come to raising Cain and causing trouble as I head into old age is to covet a woman half my age.

I realized this morning that this babe has become something of an idol for me. God could pose the same charge against me that he did with Israel in the Old Testament: “She put on her earrings and jewels went out to look for her lovers and forgot all about me.” (Hosea 2:13b).

I know though that like Israel God has fenced me in. I can’t fall out of the palm of His hand. So although I’m causing problems for Him these days, I’m fully aware that like Israel, he can transform my valley of trouble, one of my own making, to a valley of hope.


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