Friday, April 20, 2018

Not Fitting In Part II

Today's excursis is the result of a comment PeteForester left on yesterday's blog:

"I'm going through the same thing, TB; a strange sense of disconnect from family, career, church, etc; a profound sense of burnout. I've prayed, and have gotten the same things back: "Trust in Me. "Rest in Me." It seems like a frustratingly vague answer, but when you think about it, trusting in God is the cornerstone of a fulfilling life. Everything else is secondary.

When you get an answer like this, you know two things; God is there, and you're exactly where He wants you to be at this particular moment. So go with the answer to your prayers, TB, and don't forget; Jesus felt disconnected at times as well... "The stone the builders rejected...""

The response I got today when I asked the question was no different than the one I got yesterday:  "Trust Me". Along with a second item:  "Accept where you are and what you are experiencing."

I know - at least intellectually - that Pete's answer is the correct one:  that God is in every situation, even this one, and that He has total control over the situation.  But emotionally, in my heart, things feel very different indeed.

We - and maybe I mean "We Americans" but perhaps this applies to other cultures as well - are fundamentally taught not to settle.  We should always be reaching and striving for more:  for more things, for more social station, for more improvement, for larger muscles, for better relationships.  To not do this does not at all bear the sense of contentment or even acceptance;  instead, it reeks of defeatism and laziness.  You at worst a fool and at best an underachiever.

At the same time, one has be careful about reading too much into the fact that the circumstances are occurring now.  Part of what makes something bearable - humanly speaking anyway - is that we have a hope that someday the situation will change.  Someday things will turn around - good heavens, is that not what God promised? (Ultimately yes; temporally, not necessarily - in case you were wondering)  That hope buoys us through the weeks and months and even years of the desert and dark valleys.  

But by thinking this we create the risk of putting boundaries on God and His ability to act.  If we look constantly for the time to end, we can become frustrated and lose faith when the situation does not change in a time frame such as we had "allowed" for.  It is one thing to go through a year of a poor personal close relationship or a crushing work environment or a disease; it is another thing when it extends to 10.
Today for practice, I tried the a rather Stoic philosophy style exercise that I have tried before:  "What if X never changed?"  What if the job, the career, the church, the relationship, the income, the sense of belonging - what if that all stayed exactly the same as it is today?  How would that feel?  Would I be okay with it?  I tried it with Pete's comments in mind - and it did help somewhat.  Accepting that something is happening and that (as God is in control) it is happening on His time frame, I could almost (at least for several seconds at a time) get over my anger or frustration.  It was a simple acceptance of the fact that it was the way it was because God desired it so.  

Two other things came out of this process as I sat and pondered them:

1)  Accepting that things are in God's will and are what they are can drive us to Him and Heaven all the more.  Ultimately all of this is a blip on the line of eternity; looking at the "okay" now can make me hungry for Heaven - if I allow it.

2) Accepting the situation as it exists  means accepting the fact that, possibly, I did not cause it.  Yes, I understand that much of what occurs in our lives is the result of our own actions, but I am becoming equally convinced of the opposite, that much of what occurs in our lives are not the results of our actions.  People pulling away or activities falling aside or a church that no longer wears quite right or a job that is a grind rather than the joy it was are not just because we made it that way.  Sometimes it is the result God intervening:  pulling those people or activities away or giving us a deeper or different hunger for a more authentic worship and sermon or causing drudgery to be our daily lot  may be in fact equally the inscrutable hand of God acting in our lives for reasons and ways we will only see in eternity.

And if I look at this as God actively moving in my life - even if it is in staid situations where everything seems to be moving away while I am standing still - suddenly I have a very different perspective indeed.


4 comments:

Glen Filthie said...

I don't fit in either TB. People are playing some kind of game and I'm the only one that doesn't know the rules.

My solution, while I await clarification from Upstairs, is my new job. I work for kids half my age. Everything I do, I do the best job I can possibly do. I don't care what I'm paid, I don't care about advancement, I only care about the job in front of me and the kids that gave it to me. I do the shitty jobs so they don't have to; I go in early and stay a little late. All I care about is them.

At home, same for my wife and dawgs. I'm told this prayer thing works... And maybe it helps a bit. I'm as lost as you are.

PeteForester1 said...

A while back, I had a profound "God experience." I experienced the true indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It indeed changed me forever. Time went on though, and I found myself asking God to take me back to that high place again, and asking why I was back in the low place again. His response was (I'm paraphrasing here) that I wasn't in the low place again. I had reached a high place, and was now climbing to an even higher place!

No, TB, we mustn't "settle." We must, however, use GOD's expectations of us as the yardstick by which we measure our progress and success. If we go by earthly standards, we will never be happy, as there will always be someone with more money, a bigger house, and a supposedly happier life. Only by aligning ourselves with God and letting Him work through us can we truly find contentment in life.

As Paul put it: "11. I am not saying this out of need, for I have learned to be content regardless of my circumstances. 12. I know how to live humbly, and I know how to abound. I am accustomed to any and every situation — to being filled and being hungry, to having plenty and having need. 13. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.…" Philippians 4:11-13

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Becoming more and more true for me as well Glen - I am working for folks that are all younger than I. I expect it to get more pronounced as the years.

I seem not to know the rules at all either, anymore. Not sure what they are, and equally not sure that I will ever learn them at this point.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Pete, I have never had an experience like what you are speaking (although I am good company - neither did David Brainerd). So maybe I am still waiting to hit the high place in the first place. But yes, using the right measuring stick and aligning ourselves with the right goals makes all the difference in the world.