No more taking pride in those bleak ‘Ecclesiastes’ moments!

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“The specific quality of faith is extraspective and in that respect is the diametric opposite of works. …….Faith looks to what God does; works have respect to what we are……,” John Murray on Romans

Psalm 131:2 – Instead, I have kept my soul calm and quiet. My soul is content as a weaned child is content in its mother’s arms.

I think I was approaching 50 when I started occasionally detaching and viewing myself and others around me in a kind of surprise.  I’d be at a red-light at a major commercial intersection looking at fellow drivers to the left and right.

drivers all together

 

 

 

 

I would start to wonder, “What is the point of life? ”  Now, don’t get me wrong; I was a Christian then, well-grounded in my Bible.  I’m just sharing how I was feeling.

Ennui animal

Soon I started going further down this ‘pseudo-sophisticated’ and semi-existential path.  It was a kind of mild depression. It had to do with the daily sameness of an ordinary life, thinking that there was nothing exciting to look forward to.  Maybe it was a kind of weariness of life.

I would even indulge in a bit of superiority in my own special ennui, knowing that buying new stuff  or going on a vacation wouldn’t satisfy me, like it would many of my mid-life peers.  I was one of those ‘deep thinkers who needed much more!’

I infected my husband.  He was in a similar boat in a job that brought no joy.  And when I named my feelings, my unoriginal term, ‘Eccleasisates Moment’ (as in ‘all is vanity’ à la King Solomon) resonated with him.

Not much good comes from all that introspection except for the helpful and salubrious-to-the-budget realization that spending money is no antidote to what is immaterial, namely a feeling.

Recently I have been helped by God’s word to me about taking joy in the simple provisions of life.  I have stepped down from indulging in those super-serious but unfruitful thoughts about the meaning of life.  More and more I am content to settle into and accept  what God says is the meaning of life.

If all life is a gift from God, no matter the form it comes in, then I am meant to live moment by moment with the anticipation that little kids have who are about to receive a treat.  God the good Father via His Spirit implanted in me is growing my feelings of love, joy, and peace.  He is giving me practice (through trying circumstances) to develop the habits of restful waiting, of being kind, of offering grace, of faithfulness in work, of  gentle words and responses to others and most of all teaching me how to control my emotional reactions to life.

Peace - Dove

 

 

So just as the Psalmist himself had finally realized, I am finally learning as a young weaned child of God simply to rest my head on Him.  It is enough to know that I belong to the Eternal God as an adopted daughter.  My good Father plans out my daily events and walks by my side to provide the helping hand and steadying I need as I depend on Him and practice keeping pace with Him.  Our Father is very much like Corrie Ten Boom’s dad who quieted her anxiety about an upcoming train trip and her need of a ticket. He assured his young daughter that he would hand her ticket when she was about to board the train.  So too, God – our Father will give us what we need when we need it, not before. I don’t have to know more than what He has told me and shown me today.

And when I start to fret about the seeming ordinariness of life, I try to remember that Jesus celebrated daily life by living it with bickering fishermen and complaining housewives and restless children.  He didn’t hang out too often with the Important People who were doing ‘big stuff’. He liked good food and physical labor and walking over hill and dale and camping out.  He celebrated with the wedding party and accepted people’s gifts.  He was a mensch.  May we be ones too!

Jesus and kids

 

When life feels blah

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I read a blog recently where the young 20-something author said that she appreciates loneliness & pain because at least she knows she’s alive at those moments.

Mike and I were savoring a coffee at one of Historic Waynesville’s ‘café-cum-curio’ boutiques when I asked him how he thought this gal might describe the OPPOSITE of her painful – but alive times.  He offered that maybe she lived depressed in the Ecclesiastes-type sense (Life is meaningless, even and ESPECIALLY after you’ve tasted all of Life’s goodies).  And that pain (perhaps she’s a cutter??) is welcome in the midst of the numbness of depression.

These reflections on pain, aliveness & deadness nestled themselves in the midst of some recent thoughts on ‘blah-ness’.

I’m a peppy, perky optimist 95 % of the time, but the other day I was feeling blah.  Zero perkiness as in “I’m excited about XYZ!”  I wasn’t excited about ANYTHING.

But, God be praised, because of some readings that the Holy Spirit has led me through in recent years, I was able quickly to remember and apply one of CS Lewis’ philosophies:

“The Christian says, ‘Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.”
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

When the blahs DO strike, we can console ourselves with the truth that SOON, we will be in a land where there are NO blahs.

In other words, there is NO need to be depressed about feeling depressed.  It’s part and parcel of living in a physically and morally fallen world. Our mental state is more connected to our physical condition than we acknowledge:

  • How did I sleep last night?
  • Do I feel fat this morning?
  • Am I constipated?
  • Am I worried about a twinge or a growing mole?

Our mental state is ALSO influenced by many temporary circumstances:

  • Will we be able to pay our bills?
  • What if our cat Leia doesn’t get better?
  • What if my new job is more demanding than I have anticipated?
  • What if Mike can’t find any paying clients?

Only by talking to ourselves and re-membering / re-hearsing / re-peating God’s truths can we hold on to the correct perspective so we can value the permanent and hold the temporary more loosely.

And the good news is that those moments when we DO feel alive/hopeful/ excited, they are VERY real fore-tastes of life to come.  They’re not meant to taunt us but to reassure us and make us long all the more for eternal life with the happy triune God.

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