A Sermon Somewhere: The Grow-Before Beard

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This post is part of an ongoing series where I try to find hidden sermon illustrations lurking underneath everyday life.  .  .and fail miserably.

It isn’t easy being in my 30s.  I know I can’t complain considering some people I know are in their 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s and they don’t make any of that look fun.  But I still want to complain because somewhere over the course of the last 4 years I emerged kicking and screaming from my prolonged adolescence, an adolescence I am told lasted about ten years longer than it should have.  Suddenly I live in a world of meticulous financial planning, poopy diapers, potty training, poopy underwear, desperate and constant house cleaning, meal preparation, lawn care, screaming children and that horrible “R” word: Responsibility.

There is a certain imprisonment to it all, a frustrating lack of liberty that drives me insane most days.  So at the end of October in a desperate attempt to reclaim some semblance of adolescent freedom I decided to grow a beard.  Yes, things had gotten so bad that growing a protest beard seemed reasonable.

Actually, it didn’t seem reasonable.  The last time I tried to grow facial hair was over a decade ago and it didn’t go well.  So I didn’t really decide to grow a beard as much as I decided to not shave for a week and see what might happen.  I told absolutely no one what I was doing.  I would let grow what may, being certain that after a week of neglecting my razor, I would look in the mirror and be totally disgusted by the prickly face looking back.

But something surprising happened.  Right around November 7th, a week into my suburban rebellion, I looked in the mirror and wasn’t totally repulsed, just mostly repulsed.  But I wasn’t disgusted enough to shave quite yet.  I committed to another week.

Right around November 14th I looked in the mirror and actually kind of liked what I saw.  There was actually something worth keeping there.  To my complete surprise, this was working!

Now before you start accusing me of subjective self analysis, many other people agreed.  Suddenly people were commenting on it and telling me they liked me with a beard. The beard made me look “skinnier,” “taller,” and “more mature.” One person even compared me to Abraham Lincoln, which is an excellent costume idea for next Halloween.

They weren’t just trying to flatter me either.  I know this because for some reason my appearance and personality have never drawn flattering compliments.  They have always done the opposite, which is stir up “helpful but constant criticism.”

This was a new me and apparently a more likable me.  With no effort at all, in fact by being lazier, I had accomplished a more mature looking, respectable, presidential self.

My 2 and 4 year old loved it too.  One night as I tucked my daughter into bed, she looked up at me and said, “I like your beard.  Do you like your beard?”

“Why yes, I do,” I answered.

“That’s good because it’s awesome!”  My 2 year old son gave equal sentiments.

There was one minor problem though.  My wife apparently hates beards.  Granted I knew she disapproved of facial hair long before November but I reasoned she just didn’t like my puberty facial hair.  Certainly if I liked how it looked than she would come around.  And if others were raining down compliments, she would certainly fold.  Still, when I set the razor down on November 1st I made a vow to not let my beard be a catalyst for marriage failure.

My wife made no such vow and did not share the sentiment.  She made it clear in no uncertain terms that she wanted it gone and that right soon.

But I had successfully grown it out through most of November and could not shave early, especially since No-Shave-November is apparently “Prostate Awareness November.”  My handsome beard and presidential look were reminding men to get their prostate’s checked.  I was doing a public service and it would certainly let all men down if I quit early. By shaving I could very easily be the reason someone’s prostate killed them.

So despite my wife’s protests I held out until the 2nd of December.  After an afternoon run and a warm shower I stared in the mirror and suddenly ran into a very unique problem, how to get rid of a beard without an electric razor.  I couldn’t just sink $40 into one that I would only use once.  I live off of a pastor’s salary after all.  Instead I had to resort to a blade on a stick, or rather three of them.  It took a half hour, a painful and exhausting one.

What began as a desperate 30 something’s rebellion against the suburban machine, ended somewhat sadly as I watched my grow-before-beard disappear hair by hair into the confines of a sink drain.  I know how it felt.  I was also disappearing back into the confines of suburban drudgery.  But it’s not so bad down here.  After all, there has to be a sermon in here somewhere.

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A Sermon Somewhere: The Grand Canyon Is So Much More Than

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There is an old preacher’s joke that goes, “I don’t know where but there is a sermon in there somewhere.”  This series builds off of that by trying to find the sermons hiding beneath our everyday experiences.  .  .and failing miserably.

This post is a follow up/sequel to my post from last week about Bliss, ID.  In that post I claimed the people who named that patch of sagebrush in southern Idaho, “Bliss” were vastly overstating things.

Well, after dropping the boxes off in Utah, I kept going and went to see the Grand Canyon.  Let’s just say that the people who named that truck stop in the middle of tumbleweed, “Eden,” were not the same people who named the Grand Canyon.

I mean, GRAND?!?!

My piano is grand.

My dad’s mom is grand.

The Budapest Hotel is grand.

Video games about stealing autos are grand.

The Grand Canyon is nothing short of spectacular!

The guy who named it “The Grand Canyon” must have been an accountant or a lawyer.  Even then, I don’t know how even the most stuffy among us manage to keep their wits about them when they stand on that cliff and stare down at Phantom Ranch which is one whole mile below you.

That is not grand.  It is something much, much more.

Because when you stand there, looking at the huge expanse below you, everything else becomes quite pointless.  When you stand there, you suddenly feel like your life has been leading up to that very point.  Everything you have ever seen was just practice for seeing this.  And there is no point to ever look at anything else.  There is no reason to ever go anywhere else or do anything other than hike down to the bottom of the thing and then hike back up just so you can feel like at least you earned this wonderful gift from the heavens.

Heck, if the sun hadn’t set and the place turned all dark I would not have been able to leave.  Although even in the dark you could feel the greatness right below your feet.  You just knew it was there and that wonderful hole in the ground threatened to swallow you whole.  That is not so much a grand thing as it is a wonderful and incredible invitation to give your life to something so breathtaking.

So in the spirit of setting things right and with all offense to whatever moron named it “Grand,” I am suggesting we revisit the name of “The Grand Canyon.”

I have a few suggestions below to get the ball rolling:

The Absurdly Large Canyon

The Awestruck Canyon

The……………………………..Speechless Canyon

The Don’t Fall Off Or You Will Die The Best Way There Is To Die Canyon

The You Will Wet Yourself Canyon

The Jaw Dropping Canyon

The “I Need To Change My Pants” Canyon

The Most Amazing Thing You Will Ever See Canyon

The Canyon That Holds All The Other Canyons

No matter what you call it, there has to be a sermon in there somewhere.  I mean, after all, the thing is a mile deep.