“I don’t have pockets in my shorts.”
That was the moment it hit me, I don’t fit in.
I was in second grade and playing on the handball courts– which, I think we can all agree, was the most awesome game ever.
I’m sure this moment at the handball courts wasn’t the first time I didn’t “fit in.” I was a pasty white kid growing up in sunny Southern California…I pretty much didn’t “fit in” from birth.
But for some reason the memory of the handball court is what sticks out to me. Maybe it was because at that point my elementary brain had developed just enough to be self-conscious of what I was wearing and what other people were wearing. Maybe it was because that was the first time I remember people staring at me, noticing the one thing about me that I didn’t want anyone to notice. Or maybe it was just because on that day I realized in a very real way that I wanted to be just like everyone else.
Unfortunately, this is where a lot of us still find ourselves today…“pocketless.” We’re conscious of the fact that we don’t have “pockets”…at least not the “pockets” we would like to have (or worse, think we should have). We covet other people’s “pockets.” We strive for our own “pockets.” We’re stressed about whether we’ll ever get “pockets.” We’re angry or depressed when we lose hope of obtaining our “pockets.” All the while our pocketless selves feel like we just don’t “fit in.”
Sure, our now “mature” minds “know” that we don’t need the “pockets.” People should love us and accept us for who we are and not what we have. And that even if we did have the “pockets” we want, it wouldn’t “really” make us happy. Heck, it would only be a matter of time before we had a new desire for some new “pockets” anyway.
We know all this.
And yet, we still want the “pockets.”
Why is this?
One time Jesus was explaining to the crowds what the kingdom of heaven is like. He said, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:44-46).
Apparently Jesus believed that the kingdom of heaven is so valuable that it’s worth sacrificing everything to have it. Maybe even our desire for “pockets”?
Now I’m not say we’re not in the kingdom of heaven if we still desire “pockets”…whatever that might be for you. I am also not saying that we’re definitely in the kingdom of heaven if we don’t have a desire for “pockets.”
What I am saying, and I think what Jesus is saying, is the desire for “pockets” and the desire for the kingdom of heaven are mutually exclusive. We still desire “pockets” only because we don’t desire (or desire very little) the kingdom of heaven. If we did desire the kingdom of heaven, as Jesus did, we’d be happy to live “pocketless.”
So how can we stop caring about/desiring “pockets”?
Step one, repent. Jesus says repentance is the only way we leave our “pocket”-demanding kingdom and enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 4:17).
Step two, follow. Jesus says, “come follow me.” Let Jesus lead. Be a part of his community. A community that celebrates giving away “pockets” rather than accumulating them.
Maybe you’ve done these steps before. Maybe it’s time to do them again…and again.
The desire for “pockets” isn’t bad, it just shows us the state of our heart. What do we want more, the things of the world, or the things of God? Where do want to “fit in” more, the kingdom of the world or the kingdom of God?
One kingdom requires “pockets.” The other, celebrates being “pocketless.”