Every morning when I wake up (which usually means going through four alarms, not including my sister's) I sit up, a veil of tangled hair helping me transition to facing light and the world. Gradually consciousness returns to me like clothes falling upon the nakedness of a sleepy mind, chasing away the last confused shreds of a dream, sweeping drowsy fluff away with increasingly vigorous strokes of the broom.
And I'm up.
Maybe not the nicest way to wake up, but effective. Most of the time.
I think this threshold moment, the transition between sleep and activity, pretty much embodies the two recurrent feelings/states that make up much of my life. (When I say this, I mean what comes to mind when I ask you to imagine an ordinary day in your life, the way you get through countless days without blinking an eye. Obviously I don't mean that I spend most of my time sitting on my bed in a permanent state of stupefaction, on the borderline between asleep and awake. Come on. Captain America took less than five minutes to 'defrost' and get back to reality after being frozen for seventy years, so.)
The adrenaline rush of getting things done, being productive (or trying to,) having a hundred tabs open in your brain, finishing one task to start on another.
And then the feeling when you've finally finished your day and plop onto the sofa--or the floor--or any surface. Browsing Instagram feeds on your phone and thinking vaguely, I should shower--I should sleep--but I'm too tired, or is it lazy, I've been rushing around the whole day, let me just sit here for a while and be a complete bum. When you turn off your brain, you could say. My family has a term for that--lumping. Very expressive. The down time, when you suddenly get tired from trying and doing so much, and just want to be a potato. Basically the whole spectrum from healthy R&R to brainless crash-burnout-phone-zombie-Lump-Mode.
These are the two recurrent modes which characterize my day to day life, whether I like it or not.
They are also, however, the things I tend not to think about when I'm examining my spiritual life. Talk about the illusion of the spiritual/secular divide. I'll consider my prayer time, how many times I managed to do my devotions this week, whether I fell back into pet sins, whether I lost my temper or owed someone an apology...but not those parts of my life.
It was consequently not what I expected when Paul in 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13 draws the link between the individual's spiritual life, and (very 'secular') work, habits, and lifestyle. Search the Scriptures made this link explicit for people like me--Paul emphasized the importance of daily work and habits/life in the life of a Christian because it reflects his or her spiritual state.
They are not to be underestimated. Not to be swept under the rug and dismissed as 'not spiritual.'
Paul's usage of the terms "disorderliness" and "tradition" was not what I expected--something to do with addictions or lusts, doctrine and rituals, respectively. Instead, he uses those terms as characteristics of the way Christians' daily lives and lifestyles should be led. When I set myself the task of trying to define both terms within the context of those verses what emerged was:
disorderliness--laziness; selfish usage and exploitation of others; entitlement; busybodies; imposing on others out of pride.
tradition--humility, hard work, diligent in what is good, quietly being and setting a good example to others.
All these, Paul challenges us, are not abstract values, not constrained to the 'spiritual' component of our lives, but rather down-to-earth, constant characteristics of our day to day, everyday lifestyle. That I can see either characteristics of 'disorderliness' or 'tradition' in the way I work, in the expectations I have of others and myself, in the way I lump, even.
Our spiritual life isn't relegated to the minutes we spend reading our Bibles or praying each day, the way we run virtual lives on games. That those 'secular' parts of my day are not neutral, but are a continuation of what happens during my devotions. I was challenged to think twice on those parts of my day, the 'secular' parts when God is furthest from my mind simply because I didn't think what I was doing was important spiritually.
Maybe the very thought of having to see even those 'secular' parts of life in a spiritual light seems exhausting. The last thing you have energy to do. More self-examination and guilt-tripping and things to be careful about, oh my poor head, can I do this?
But Paul reminds us, both before and after his discussion of 'tradition' and 'disorderliness,' not to be discouraged...
"But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one...
Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ...
...do not grow weary in doing good."
2 Thessalonians 3
a small voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are
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