TD Jakes - Underexposed
Limited exposure causes limited options, which creates poor decisions. Limited exposure creates a mind that thinks you have limited options, and it ultimates itself in poor decisions, just exposure. Doesn't mean you're gonna buy into it, doesn't mean you're gonna move into it, doesn't mean you're ready for it, but just understanding that it is there.
I listen to people who've not been exposed. They say things about a particular city. "All the people in Dallas are like so and so and so". 5 million people in the MetroPlex, and you know how all of them are? Are you out of your skull? Do you know there are people who live in your city who live completely differently from you, that there are different communities and different philosophies and different ideologies and different things that different people enjoy, that they do at different times, and your opinion about this city is based upon your experience in this city, but your experience is not everybody's experience in the city? But when you're not exposed to much, your opinions are based on a tunnel, narrow vision. That's why it is dangerous not to be exposed to people outside of your circle.
I don't care how rich your circle is, how powerful, how influential, how competent, how capable. You can love your circle. You need to get out of it just so you can see how other people live and how other people think and how other people feel. It is educational for you. You cannot develop as a person if you live in a vacuum. You must be exposed to what do they eat? What do they do? What do they laugh at? So that your mind does not become narrow, and you live in a vacuum, and you start making decisions about the whole world based on your world.
Let's talk about being underexposed. One of the dangers of youth, one of the dangers of youth, and it's not limited to youth, but I'm gonna start with youth, is being underexposed. Under, being underexposed makes you make poor decisions. The first guy you meet, you fall in love, and you run around telling everybody he is the one for you. You haven't met but six people, and only one of them took you on a date, and now, you know you have the one. "This is the one I'm going to spend the rest of my life". How in the world can you know that this is the one when you only know seven people? So, you make a decision without proper exposure that you have to live with for the next 30, 40 years of your life, and then you outgrow your little bubble and start meeting other people, and you're looking over at Henry, saying....
Oh, some of you know what I'm talking about. You can't hardly even say nothing back to me, but you know the dangers of making a decision in the dark with limited information will lead to great frustration because you've never been exposed to the options that were available. It's better to wait. When I go shopping, I look at everything, and then I come back and buy. I go to every store. I look at what everybody's got. I back up and think about it, then make a decision because I hate to go buy something and walk down the street and wish I had bought something else. I would rather be exposed to all the possibilities and then make an intelligent decision.
Some of you think God hadn't answered your prayer. You asked him to send you a companion. You think he hadn't answered your prayer. He has answered your prayer. He's just exposing you. He's stopping you from making quick decisions with limited information. You aren't through developing yourself. You don't even know what you want yet. You can't even say, "I do," because you don't even know who you are yet, and God has to take you through some things where you come to yourself, and you understand who you are, and then you can decide what you want. You can't give yourself away until you know who you are.
Underexposed, you choose a vocation in college, and you decide, "This is what I want to be," and, all of a sudden, halfway through, you just say, "No. That's not it. I want to be something else," and then you go on a couple years, and you say, "No. That's not it. I want to be something else". You know why you keep vacillating? You were underexposed. The more exposed you are, the better your judgment, for the very first step to any turnaround is to be exposed to the possibility, "I could be different. I could live my life differently. I could weight train. I could exercise. I could change my body. I could do this. I could do it through exercise. I could do it through the way I eat. I could go over here. I could go over there," exploring the options. "If I can't grow it, I could sew it. I can buy it. I can mold it. I can make it," exposure.
Sure, people are gonna criticize it. Sure, people are gonna have something to say. If you're losing weight, "You're losing too much weight. You look bad now. Here's the tough questions. Here's the things that make us uncomfortable. Is it possible that you could be happier if you arrange your life differently? Could it be possible that the lack of exposure is robbing you of a happier, more full and abundant life because you are so stuck in a vacuum and so determined to fix the vacuum that you don't recognize that there are worlds outside of you, in your own city? I go to New York with my friends, and I go out to one of the plays and stuff, and I'll say, "Come on. Go to the play," and you know what they tell me? "We never go to play," right in the city with the Broadway plays, just don't go. It's not that they don't have the money. Don't have the mind.
Exposure. It stops you from being narrow. When you start talking about enlarge your tents and strengthen your stakes, stop shouting, thinking that that's money 'cause you can be rich and narrow. You can be educated and ignorant. You can be wealthy and be in a vacuum and only sip tea and eat cucumber sandwiches with gumdrop people and never experience life, and, on the inside, there's something screaming to break outside of that circle and do something wonderful, but, because you live in a socially-acceptable vacuum, you never experience what Christ calls abundant life. He said, "I come that you might have life and that you might have it more," somebody holler, "more, more abundantly". You don't have to be an addict if you don't want to be. You don't have to be miserable if you don't want to be. You don't have to sit in your house and be bored if you don't want to be.
The first step to a turnaround is to be exposed to all the options that God has given you. He gave you the world, and you are living in a closet. He gave you the world, and you are living in a closet, a closet that you keep trying to straighten up, a closet that you keep trying to fix up, and you have worked yourself to death rearranging furniture in a closet. It's a closet. It is a closet. It is a closet. I came to tell you: your life and your experiences and your theology and your philosophy is all too small. Your God is bigger than you think he is. He can bless people who don't act like you and don't worship like you and don't wear what you wear and don't think what you think because he's God, and sometimes, God will bless somebody that you don't approve of just to show you that you can't control him like you control everything else. God will bless people who didn't follow any of your rules just to say, "I'm God. I blessed him, and what can you do about it"?
It's been three years exposing the world to heaven, and it blew their mind, and they said, "We were exposed". They tried to beat it out of them. They tried to ridicule it out of them. They tried to ostracize them, but once you have been exposed, people can never take away from you that that you know. Devil, you should have killed me before I knew it. You should have destroyed me when I thought that my whole world was a closet," but, as soon as you kick that door down and get outside of that narrow thinking group that you're one with, and you break away from all of your absolutes, and you're willing to get rid of your rule book and open up your mind and say, "Lord, I'm available. Teach me. Train me. Show me. Let me experience it". God would open up your life, and, when God opens up your life, your worship changes. Your praise changes. Your peace changes. You stop being claustrophobic. You stop being negative and down on yourself and petty and insecure. You stop gossiping. You stop fighting people. You stop bickering with people because earth is the Lord's, the fullness of the world and they that dwell therein, throw your hands up.
Shake your neighbor by the hand, and say, This is my year to live. This is my year to live. This is my year to live. This is my year to live. I'm gonna work on me. I'm gonna work on my life. I'm gonna have new experiences. I'm gonna to go places. Expect me to show up places that you wouldn't expect me to show up. I'm going to the next level. I'm ready to experience all that God has given me. I will not live my life in a closet. So, you've seen what the junkies do. See what somebody else can do. So, you see what the yuppies can do. Go worship with somebody else. Sit with somebody who doesn't look like you. You need to worship with other people. Aren't you tired of being stuck with the same old dry-mouthed, negative, rude, barren people? It's time to break out. God meant for us to get together. He meant for us to experience each other. He meant for us to cross-pollinate. You've been in a vacuum. You're bored to death.
When the Bible says, "Without a vision, the people perish," it simply says that, if you're not exposed, you die. You die, not outwardly. Inwardly. Your marriage dies. Your ministry dies. Your financial philosophy dies because you're not exposed. You can't be a married person and run with single people and have a healthy marriage. You need to be exposed to other couples and how they do things and what they do for fun, how they resolve conflicts. You need to be exposed to people who ascribe to different philosophies so that, when you're going through a crisis, you have some other counsel other than your single girlfriend who ain't got nobody anyway and trying tell you what you ought to do about your man. Somebody holler "Expose me"!
"But Bishop, I didn't get the exposure you've gotten. I didn't get this, and I didn't get that, and I didn't, I didn't get to go to college, and I didn't get to do this, and my father didn't really". So? There are people who've done marvelous things who had the worst disadvantages. In fact, most of the people who do marvelous, mighty accomplishments do it in spite of disadvantages. You know what? You know what? If you would let go of all of your absolutes and admit that you don't know everybody, and you haven't experienced anything, it will change you. I give you two Scriptures, and I'll get out of your way. Ezekiel went to the river of the Tel-abib. He was going down there to straighten the people out. The Bible says he went in the heat of his spirit. He said, "When I get down there, I'm gonna let them have it," and, when he got down by the rivers of Tel-abib, the Bible said he sat where they sat, and, for seven days, he was astonished, and he didn't speak anything because everything he was gonna tell them, when he got in their situation, he certainly recognized that it didn't work.
You cannot teach people you don't know. You cannot do it. You cannot do it. Until you have sat where I sat, you cannot sit in your ivory tower and tell me what my life ought to be like. You need to shut up teaching and just sit with me. He says, "When I was exposed to more, it changed all my absolutes, and, for seven days, I just sat there and started learning again and thinking again and experiencing again, and all of my absolutes were challenged because I was exposed". Some of the most exciting people to be around are people who've been exposed. God gave you life, not necessarily your life. He gave you life. You and circumstances framed your life. He laid everything in front of you. He told Adam, "You can go anywhere. Just don't go to this one tree. Anywhere else you want to go, it's your business".
Are you living your life to the fullest? You've never even seen recreation. Think of the things you have not done. This is your homework. I want you to make a list of the things you haven't done. I want to help somebody today. I want you to make a list of the things that you have not done. "I'm 60". I don't care if you're 79. I guarantee you, there's some things you haven't done that you are physically able to do. I want you to make a list of the things that you haven't experienced, the places you haven't seen. Start in your own city. Start with places you can get to on the bus. "I can't go to Japan". Go to the East End. Go to the West Side. Go to Plano. Go to San Antonio for the weekend. Come on, somebody. Live. That's why your marriage is dry rotting. You live too close. No wonder you argue all the time. You're living in that closet. It's too small.
A dog will bite his own tail if you lock him up too long. Make a list of the different types of people in your generation that you know that you've heard about but that you really don't know about, and start getting a better understanding of the diversity amongst all those people. Get rid of all your pre-judged attitudes, prejudices. Every time you meet somebody, decide, "This is a new experience". Don't make them a prisoner of what you experienced with the last person. I'm excited because your life is getting ready to get bigger, and, when your life gets bigger, your choices are gonna get better. Your life is getting ready to get bigger. Touch three people, and tell them, "Your life is getting ready to get bigger". This year, your life is getting ready to get bigger than it's ever been before. You're getting ready to go to another dimension and to other level. You're getting ready to be exposed to all kinds of new ideas and philosophies. You're gonna hear new kinds of music. You're gonna listen to different sound. You may get a taste of bluegrass and find out, "Whoa. I like that music". You're getting ready to go to another level.
Somebody in this room is coming out of the prison, out of the prison. Get me out of this prison. I've got to get out. I'm gonna close with this. Expose yourself to other kinds of people. I've got a few friends, and they might not know this, but some of my closest friends, the thing that I most enjoy about them is that they are not preachers. I mean, I got some friends that are preachers, but I really enjoy my friends that are not preachers. I don't care what they are. They can be butchers. They can be bakers. They can be candlestick makers. Just don't be preachers 'cause I am sick to death of sitting around with preachers who just talk about preaching and what's going on in their church and what's going on in their life. I can call them up, and I give a philosophy. I want to talk to a dentist, a hairdresser, a mechanic, a butcher, a baker. I want to experience something else. When all you hang around is people who do what you do, you get narrow. You get silly. You get stupid. You get boring. Get out of the box, and find somebody who does something different for you.
Meet new people, people I have little in common with. Meet people who engage in conversations that challenge you. Run the risk of saying something stupid 'cause you don't know anything about chemical engineering, and that's what they're talking about, but you might learn something. You might breathe. You might have life. You might be exposed. Go someplace where they're polka dancing. Go someplace where they're waltzing. Go some, get out of your closet. Find new ways to worship God. There are more ways to worship God than how you worship God. Learn how to raise your hand or clap your hands or appreciate an anthem. Suppose you get to heaven, and they're not having church like we do here. Are you going to not want to go? Suppose the Japanese are leading the worship service. Do you still want to go to heaven? Suppose the Africans are leading the worship service. Do you still want to go to heaven?
See, we have this little narrow concept. We think that God is an American... God bless America. Yeah, I pray God bless America, but God bless the whole world 'cause, if God just blesses America, and everything else goes down, that's what makes him want to kill us, when we start saying, "Lord, bless our generation. Bless". Who is my neighbor? Who is my, you've got to discuss. You can't just live in your box, saying, "Lord, bless my church. I don't want you to bless nobody's church but my church". Sure, you want God to bless your church, but bless churches all over the city. Bless other people's businesses. Bless other people's marriages so that I can learn from them and grow from them and experience them and so they won't be jealous when you bless me! Stand to your feet. I want to pray for you. You have a homework to do.