Thursday, September 24, 2009

Exhaustion and Joy

I am becoming increasingly convinced that C.S. Lewis had insider information about the Devil when he wrote Screwtape Letters. He spends so much time exploring the concept of our separation from God NOT being by humongous, over the top, everyone can see you are evil sin, but in the daily wearing down of basically good men and women. People who get warn down by the tedium that is life. We become numb to the Joy that is God to the point of walking through life as Spiritual Zombies. We systematically shut down, emotionally, spiritually and eventually even physically as we succumb to hopelessness that separation for God gives. It doesn't happen all at once, we don't magically transport to a place so unrecognizable from where we were that we KNOW that the shift has happened. It happens slowly and gradually, like the color draining out of the world, occasionally we may stop and wonder if we have less joy in our lives, but we will swiftly convince ourselves that it is simply just a momentary event, that all is well and we are just having a down moment.

At this point you are probably saying to yourself something along the lines of "WOW Connie, you should really get some sleep, this is depressing as hell!" Well, it isn't meant to be depressing but a warning. BEWARE feelings of numbness! Beware joyless painless existence! Beware the colorless tasteless drudgery of everyday life and the Zombification of our Soles!!! Look each day for the presence of God! Some days it will be seen in huge, Godly ways. Flashed across the sky in a rainbow, witnessed in a worship service that speaks to your heart in a new and transforming way, but some days it may be in the breath of a tiny sleeping baby or the laughter of old friends but it is there!

I have never been a person for whom joy comes naturally.  I tend to be negative and see the dark side of most situations first. For me it is a spiritual practice to look for the good in the world.  Now, don't confuse joy with happiness! Our dear Dr. Lewis has written a thing or two about that topic as well! But for me it comes down to this, if it looks like God, tastes like God and feels like God, then it is joy! Changing a dirty diaper does NOT make me happy, but the cooing and babbling of the baby I am changing is a joy to behold. Slaving in a hot kitchen for hours to prepare a meal for many who would have gone hungry is not always much fun, but the joy that comes with the knowledge that God has used you as a means of grace for even one of the people you have served is joy. 

Without going into any details (because God knows we all have plenty of details in our lives that we can fill in at this point in the story) each and every one of us, myself included, have a laundry list of reasons to tell the world to shove off and cover ourselves in a shell of protection in an attempt to stop the pain of everyday life. It is easier to be angry and bitter then to find a new way to love each day. It is even easier still to numb ourselves out with the distractions of the world and waste our lives in endless cycles of pain and happiness (get up, go to the job we hate, come home, drink a beer, watch tv, chat on the web, go to bed, get up and repeat) We have done nothing WRONG, point is, we have done NOTHING... 

Each day we face a world that may or may not throw something at us we are not are never sure of the circumstances in which you might find yourself living. Through our own actions, the actions of others, or simply because they happen, life can change on a dime to something we never expect and that can be good as well as bad circumstances! You could win the lottery today!! Point being, in ALL circumstances we can find God, we can see God's grace to carry us through whatever the day will bring and to bring us safely to the other side of each and every situation. Christ said in so many situation "don't be afraid" on the boat in the chaos and even in the locked room in which the disciples gathered post resurrection. Even in life's good situations we have the ability to rob ourselves of that joy because of our fear of when the situation with change, when it will end. We can get through anything, it may be fun or it may not be fun, but we will have the joy of God, and as long as that is the lens through which we see the world, we will NOT be afraid!

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