Thursday, September 2, 2021

Keep Stopping.

 Few people seem able to stop their mindless doing. Myself included.

Listening to a story on my porch this morning, I started out simply sitting with coffee and earbuds. The story was powerful, interesting, simple, beautiful, and so on. Add every lovely adjective you can think of. Before long though, I desired to do more than sit there. Why was it so difficult to sit and be filled with this story? 

The story made me feel, made me alive in ways that not much else does. Sadness, regret over childhood woes, sympathy for those enduring hardship, sympathy for adults with problems, and a desire to live differently. I think that’s where the restlessness started. A longing for other, for better, for more.

But not more of the things I currently have, or what others have, or really anything I know the world says it can offer. I wanted more of what can only come by prayer, by actually living, by giving and loving and serving when it feels easier to just gain for myself. I wanted to make my life count, but I also knew the selfish desire inside that longs to fill my life with things that only rot in the end. I wanted something I knew I would fail at pursuing. 

My discomfort arose as I came face-to-face with the large disconnect in myself. One, I believe, that looms large and often hidden in our culture. 

With our lips we say that giving is a high honor. Give kindness, give compassion, give of your resources and energy to things that are important. But what do we do? We spend all day promoting ourselves, finding ways to maximize our time so we can get what we want and we think we need. We take great pains to make our lives enjoyable to the max. We sacrifice time with our children for the sake of having the money we think we need to give our children wonderful lives, by which we actually mean wonderful vacations, experiences, or a schedule full of socially acceptable activities.

We cannot avoid this ugly truth: we will always want more for ourselves. We like the busyness and distractedness of our schedules because then we won’t have to face this ugly truth or make any real change. If we can stay full, stay moving, stay looking at the moving target, we won’t have to look at the realities and hardships and destruction that actually fill our world and that sometimes fill our own hearts and homes. When our lives are just the right amount of hectic, we have more than enough to be concerned about and we can put off figuring out the truth about how we should be living until a later date, until a more convenient time. 

I am not deceived; I know I am guilty. I wanted to play a game on my phone while I listened to that beautiful story. With the level of sickness and trial we have recently come through, my emotions felt  too tender to fully engage in the story coming into my ears and through my heart. My pain is fresh, and his (fictional) hurt felt like my own. I wanted to cry, to wander off and yell, to find some sad child and make their life better. I wanted to DO something about all the sadness. But what is there really for me to do about all of it? All the doing God requires of me today feels dull, frustrating, repetitive. I wanted to do the REAL things that make an impact, not the unknown, unnoticed, undesirable things. 

If I am ever to really get through this problem in myself, and not just around it, I must face the reality that all the real doing has already been done, and will be finished at a time that I cannot control. All the ugly, terrible, unjust evil that has ever occured will be undone and utterly redeemed, but not because of my doing anything at all. I must wait and trust the One who ordains every moment. 

How does a person wait amidst all this sadness? How does one feel the weight of hardship in one's own life with the proper perspective? Why do I need to feel the weight of other’s as well? Maybe in the world we cannot see, I can actually take some of that pain from others, to help carry their unseen burdens. I find the weight so haunting that I become agitated and restless to where I either need to DO something about it, or DO something to be distracted. But as a lover of the truth, I’m having trouble justifying doing either of those things. I cannot just sit and let pain wash over me, but I also must.

I would much prefer to find an easier thing to do and avoid the unglorious work I suspect lies before me. Will I find the answer in writing what’s on my heart? Producing art that might someday become a success? Can I find it in just being home, available for my people, and doing dishes without biting my children’s heads off? Should I proactively seek ways to earn income in case my husband cannot go back to work? Should I just wait, rest, listen, and lean into those hard feelings that scare me, those emotions that I’m not sure fit inside me anymore, those emotions that seem immeasurable? If I sit with them long enough, will it change me for good? If I let them out, when will they stop? Will I have what it takes to do the real and valuable something I will be called to do? Even if it looks like a waste to the rest of the world? Or will I just forget the realities of those hardships and go back to playing on my phone again? 

Of all of these questions, I fear the last one the most. But do I fear it enough to choose differently? Do you?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your heart Joellen. I am also practicing at pausing and being more content with alone and quiet times. The fact you said "just" before your homemaking and parenting work seems to say a lot. I pray for us both and for all your readers to be led through the doors God opens for us and to have wisdom to number our days like Moses said in his Psalm.