Thursday, December 6, 2012

Of Heaviness and Hope

Someone asked me recently, "When you get up in the morning, what are the first thoughts that normally cross your mind?"

As I thought about my answer to that question, I recognized one of the themes of my life. I was 21 when a light bulb came on in my head and I suddenly realized I had the potential to create a black hole in my own mind if I did not demand absolute honesty with myself. This realization started me down a path I've never been able to get away from--thank God!

Every morning my mind does a scan--it does it at night too before I fall asleep--of where I am before God and in relationship to my fellowman. I cannot sleep if all is not clear. I don't function well in the day if my heart is not confidently at peace with God and others. I can live no other way, for I'm convinced that this walk of faith in Jesus Christ demands brutal honesty of me. I say brutal, because when I first started down this road, I found it extremely difficult to be honest with myself. It was easy as breathing to make excuses and deny reality, much simpler to just think the things I wanted to think and ignore or re-construe what I would rather not face.

“He lives most gaily who knows best how to deceive himself,” says Svidrigailov Debaucher in Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment. Does that not speak to the denial of reality--often to the point of foolish hilarity--we humans naturally pursue? (Fact is, most resort to drowning themselves in drink or in some sort of mind-numbing escape, because the hilarity diversion only lasts so long.)
In contrast, when we face ourselves and choose to live in the light of God-defined reality, we come to a deep sense of fulfillment and contentment.

But... that said, I don't think life can be perpetual happiness and joy for any of us. I experience--even with this bedrock of contentment--times of heaviness. I've been dangling on a ledge of mental slump for weeks. I keep going about the motions of responsibility and duty, but the mental numbness hangs around the edges of my mind though I push through it as best I can.

It's hard to produce something of value for others when you can't seem to pull your thoughts together. There seems nothing in particular I can put my finger on that would "fix" the problem.

However, we have spent a couple of years or more working our way through the book of Romans in Sunday morning Bible study, and something Paul wrote brings me comfort.

Romans 8: 23 "...we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body."

Paul says he groans for the redemption of his body... I know how that feels! I'm not alone in this aching! Aching for a day when the battle for my soul is won and I can rest... completely.

Paul goes on,  24 "For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it."

So, Paul groans... but he also keeps hoping and persevering... I read his words, and my heart beats a little faster. A smile starts to form... I must keep hoping and persevering!

And then I also remember... Jesus was made perfect through suffering. Should I expect anything else? Should not the path of following Him bring times of difficulty? Times when all I can do is cling to Him?

After all, I think that's where God wants me... clinging to Him. And so I cling, and hope, and persevere, and realize, I'd take this any day over gay hilarity based in false reality.