Life seems a bit like that too. Counterproductive. An attempt to move ahead with so much working against us. This annoying tension of good with bad, beautiful with ugly, wonderful and exciting and sacred and blessed with painful and broken and empty and bland.
One Sunday I am in a hospital room saying goodbye to a 90 year old friend who is hours from his last breath on this earth, and later that week I am at the same hospital, in a different room, welcoming a newborn baby girl who is hours from breathing her first. Today I celebrate a treasured friend turning 26, but yesterday I mourned the loss of her beloved Dad who would have celebrated his own birthday if he weren't in Heaven now. Come to think of it he probably did some wild celebrating there, but it felt seriously different, and seriously wrong, to be here on earth without him.
Most days I move so quickly I don't think about this stuff. But today I had the gift of sitting in LA traffic with the radio off and my mind just went there. How do we do this? How do we accept the aches of life and still embrace its delight? How do we love well and choose to be present when there are so many thoughts and worries and fears that war for our attention all the time?
Our world is one of instant gratification. Not the whole world, but definitely my world. This western one. Billboards, commercials, magazines, the internet, all of it constantly bombarding us with this idea that if we aren't happy something is wrong, and in order to fix it we need to acquire the new thing, whatever it is, that will make us feel better. It could be a new hair-cut, a new car, or a new spouse. "The most important thing is that you find happiness." That's what they want us to believe, because when we do, we will buy their product, or use their services, and ultimately our attempt at finding satisfaction will pay their bills and that's what this is really all about anyway.
Last night my friend told me about her brother's new truck. It's big and new and totally dreamy. So dreamy in fact that he was willing to take on the $800 monthly bills that would come along with it. Evidently the massive debt he accumulated didn't cause any stress because he was so stoked about driving his shiny new toy. But my friend told me that this past week he surprised everybody by confessing that he was actually trying to sell the truck. He said it wasn't worth it anymore because "the newness had worn off" and the cost was too high.
I heard a similar thing from my other friend's mom who left her husband and children to move in with her high school sweetheart that she had reconnected with on Facebook. It was a tragic and hell-ish, especially for her husband who was suddenly left alone to raise the youngest sons who were still at home. Eventually though she came back home, asking for forgiveness, willing to do whatever it took to fix her family. The newness of her relationship with Facebook guy had worn off and she realized it wasn't worth it. Thankfully their family has been restored and miraculously they are all thriving again.
C.S. Lewis said, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”
Even though the world wants us to believe that we are never meant to feel unhappy and that we need to do whatever we can to find some earthly thing that will make us feel better... I think they might be wrong. I think that this side of Heaven there will always be a place of emptiness in us. Not to torment us, but one intended to draw us to a higher place. It's a longing that can't be filled by another person, or location, or possession or hobby. It will never be satisfied by any earthly thing because it was sovereignly designed to be satisfied by Christ alone.
Jesus spoke tenderly in John 16:33 saying,
"I have told you this so you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart because I have overcome the world."
He has overcome the world. Simple truth. Enormous implications. I am to find my hope and peace in Him. It's not in my stuff. Or my man. Or my appearance. Or my hair. There is rich comfort that though we live in a world of annoying things like split end, we have a God that loves us so intimately He knows the number of hairs on our heads.
Placing my hope in a God who raises the dead carries me through days like yesterday, when the reality of death touches the deepest parts of my heart and all I really want is to hug my parents and tell them how great and brave and wonderful they are.
Life is hard. But its also tremendously beautiful. May we be people who accept the stuff that sucks so badly, while still having eyes to see the glorious sparkling magnificence all around us.
Thank you Jesus for a new day.
Happy birthday Hillary Salvaggione.
and the story He has written with her life.
"Those who look to Him are radiant, their faces are never covered in shame." Psalm 34:5