image by rob bye from Unsplash
continued from part 2
This is going to sound like a long rant on the woes of being grown-up, but I promise this is the last installment (was that just a confession? No, it's not a rant. There's a lot to be thankful for and a lot to enjoy and appreciate as well...but to be honest, what we're most conscious of are always the challenges. So here are a few of the things that were/are significant to me, in the hopes that you might find some encouragement if you're struggling with the same.)
As your time and mental energy are increasingly all taken up by work, what little that remains to yourself (after you add in family, church, friends, etc etc) seems incredibly precious. Whether it's a ten-minute pocket of procrastination, the evening after you get home, or the weekend, you feel entitled to spend it however you want, uninterrupted and undisturbed. I don't know if this is more of an introvert thing but I'm sure extroverts experience it as well, just manifested differently. This sense of entitlement has an understandable basis--you're tired! you were stressed out the whole day and finally you can relax!--but it's also self-centredness finding more reasons to justify itself.
This is life. It's not going to be any easier for you to be more patient and selfless. There's not going to be a "more convenient" time and context for you to be loving, when you feel more like it. Dying to self, living out Christ, and ultimately living without regrets, starts in the small moments, the small choices. Put the phone down. Give your full attention to the conversation. Your show can be paused. Listen. Live each moment, don't just recover from work.
As your time and mental energy are sapped, you tend to go for what's easiest, what calls for the least amount of energy. We're contented to settle for superficial conversations, for low-commitment relationships, to avoid anything that threatens to step inside our comfort zone or take more than its allotted amount of energy and time. I'm talking to myself here; this is a very valid temptation, and an understandable one, which I've found myself increasingly experiencing.
Whether that means avoiding
opportunities for deep (and maybe difficult) conversations,
addressing and dealing with needy moments (of our own or others,)
going the extra mile for a friend in times of crisis,
dealing with social issues and needs that lie outside our immediate circle or community (or even within!)
or challenging ourselves in growing spiritually and addressing weaknesses in our spiritual life,
superficiality is a very real temptation. I guess you could call it a form of laziness. There are times when you legitimately need distance/down time; but more often not dealing with it, procrastinating, or avoiding actually becomes more unhealthy.
And we've probably heard this before! We get disillusioned. People. Expectations. Dreams. Reality. Your past achievements which seemed so promising yet don't seem to matter much now, what you thought was your dream job, your ambitions which seem increasingly impossible no matter how much you sacrifice for it. Inhumane bosses. Unfairness or corrupted values in biased systems/institutions. Underhand behaviour. Unreliable, unreasonable people who have no qualms being selfish and inconsiderate, or simply take advantage wherever they can. Snakes, to sum it up in one heavily used millenial term.
It's so easy to respond by wallowing in the bog of cynicism (which promises that pulling others in will help manage your own disappointment.) Ah, wait till you're my age. Wait till you get your first REAL job. Don't have any expectations at all for other people or anything, that's the only way to avoid disappointment.
This is at stark contrast with a God Who has "given us richly all things to enjoy," isn't it?
Doesn't it contradict our professed trust in an Almighty God Who is working out His sovereign plan right now on imperfect earth, with all its flaws...just as He is bringing us all day by day closer to the perfected new heavens and new earth.
I've said this before but one thing I love so much about Christianity is its paradoxical ability to sustain the tension between two simultaneous but absolute extremes. God's mercy and God's justice. Man's depravity and our born-again identity as God's children. The helplessness/weakness of man and God's power in using us as His instruments. Even the flawed state of the world, and how God nevertheless hasn't abandoned us to suffer until it comes to an end--to an end preceding a glorious start.
Yes, there's a lot to get depressed about where we are. You don't have to look far, at all.
But because we can look Up, we have hope, to sustain us; to give us courage for the future, because we know what the end is. To give us courage for today, because He is with us; because each day is a gift, is an opportunity chosen for us--even, and especially, the tough parts. Maybe this is how we live out faith, by remaining hopeful and joyful...
a small voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are
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