When I was a teenager, the idea of “experience” was aggressively pushed onto me. The only way I could grow up and enjoy life, I was taught, was to get a lot of experience. It would make me a mature, responsible adult. I went on to rack up a lifetimes’ worth of experience all around the world, and now that I look back at it all, I see that it was a waste.
In 2007, I backpacked for six months through South America. I started in Ecuador and snaked my way through half of the continent, eventually ending up in Rio de Janeiro to celebrate Carnival. During that trip, I met hundreds of people and saw countless exotic sights. I drank in dank bars and had deep conversations with dozens of Australians about nothing. I went through six years of experience in only six months. Where is that experience now? How does it help me today outside of the specific task of taking a road trip?
If I were to write a memoir of my life, the most prominent lessons would be knowing how not to live, what not to do. I was floatsam on the river of Western culture and yet gained nothing. I traveled, developed worldwide notoriety, and “explored my sexuality” with female partners who wanted to do the same, and yet I’m firmly on my way to forgetting most of it. You could argue that knowing what not to do is valuable wisdom, but was it worth half my life?
When those who control the culture tell you to gain experience, what they’re really telling you is to gain experience with sin. They certainly don’t mean experience with prayer, going to Church, and understanding the Bible. Instead, they want you to exercise your sin muscles and develop addictions to money, lust, and achieving a level of status among other worldly people so you can convince yourself that they will all gnash their teeth in your absence, but experience is just a code word for sin, and the more experience you participate in that is disconnected from God, the more you please Satan and his efforts to condemn your soul.
I see experience as a shovel. Every time you embrace the world for a new experience, you dig out a chunk of earth from where you stand. The hole around you gets deeper. There is no pause between your experiences, or else you’d wonder why you are becoming surrounded by dirt, and by the time you get exhausted from all the digging, you find that you’re stuck in a pit of worms that your shovel can’t help you climb out of. Some people keep digging, because all they have is a shovel, but soon the pit becomes a chasm. There is no escape, and as you dwell with the worms, you look at the shovel and feel a sense of disgust. It wasn’t the tool of your salvation that you thought it would be.
If while in the pit, you see experience for the lie that it is, and beg God for help, He will lower down a ladder. You start the climb, nervous that the ladder will fail you. You step over the first rungs (prayer) and gain confidence that it will hold. You step over the next rungs (the Bible) and feel a brightness in your soul unlike you’ve ever experienced before. You can finally see the top of the pit, and then you step over the last rungs (the Church) until you lift yourself out and step onto firm ground. You crane your neck over the edge to look down into the pit and marvel that it’s so deep you can’t even see the bottom. You begin to lift the ladder out, and realize it’s as light as air, and you take it with you because you know it will come in handy for an even greater ascension to come.
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