Leveling Up

In another lifetime, I wrote scathing social and political commentary. In fact, it’s still viewable on this site when it began in 2010. Then, I was a part of prideful, independent critical thinkers. Wolves compared to the unthinking sheep of the world.

I imagine everyone thinks along a similar line…

I’d written two books about it: one a compilation, the other all me. For fun, I went back and talked to my younger self about what he wrote. Young Ronin wasn’t completely wrong. 

He just hadn’t gone on the journey I had.

2010-12: political and social commentator. When Ronin (younger me) was born. I look at the Facebook commentators and conspiracy theorists online now; even the language is the same as I used then.

Thanks, Facebook Memories, for the reminder.

2012-13: armchair warrior. Read all the defense books, taking martial arts classes—”Expert.” The Dunning-Kruger Effect was in full swing these three years. 

2013: I grew into my name: Ronin, Stoic, and Prodigal. Ended the year as a Samurai. (I think of it as starting out in Avengers like armor with Ronin kanji on the shoulder pads the previous year, to a simple t-shirt with it on the sleeves, to no branding) That’s just my mental image.

Then my life fell apart, and I started following Jesus. However, I never lost this knowledge and experience. 

2014: Gap-filling servant, apologist, student, and evangelist. What I studied shifted. Cracks in my knowledge were filled. 

2015: I searched for a purpose: to help the broken, challenged, and the unsure to live for Jesus. I’ve focused more on the last two in hindsight. My personal goal was loving people and actually making friends.

2016-2019: I focused on leadership, becoming a better one, yet never feeling like one. I usually don’t feel competent enough for a long time with my personality, but when I do, it feels effortless. 

Now my focus is being a dad. 

As I age, I feel like I’m less than I was. The 2014 version feels like the best version of me. Actually, so far the 2021 version is the best. I keep leveling up. I was a know-it-all, all-mouth back then; then experience came to me. The knowledge is applied and now second nature, so I don’t realize it.

The late 2013/2014-2015 version was very hungry for God, though. I miss that.

The thing is, you don’t lose what you were. It’s there to be tapped into. Except now, with experience, it’s become wisdom. 

So if I don’t take a course of action, it’s not because I’m an unthinking sheep. It’s because I’ve thought it through and decided against it. I can’t die on every hill or fight every battle. Nor can I waste energy being outraged and offended, or waste the time to fact-check every person’s opinion or news story.

Pastor Tim Keller put it like this: “Your future self will always see your present self as unwise and immature. That means, by your own standards, you are currently a fool right now.”

Chew on that.

Vance vs Ronin Part 1

Vance vs Ronin Part 2

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