Tuesday, September 16, 2008

To be... or to be more?

Maybe eventually I'll get to the age when I don't have this constant, pulling urge to go Where I'm Not. Everywhere where I currently "am not" sounds amazing. Occasionally I'll have a day or night where I feel perfectly at ease, comfortable with who I'm becoming, happy with where I am, content with the thought of not knowing what's around the bend. But more often, I am wondering what it would be like to lead another life.

This perpetual grass-is-always-greener phenomenon gets old after a while, and presents to others a sort of problematic instability.

A homeowner today said if she were me, she'd "go [live in Europe] in a heartbeat." I would have said the same thing to anybody who was in my position, but I can't just go in a heartbeat. I have student loans; I owe my parents money; I need money to live. I would need a job before I moved to Europe.

I don't want to constantly be changing with the seasons, but I think I'm addicted to change. I haven't stayed in one place for a full year since 2000, and I've liked that. There's no real need to settle down now, and I want to take advantage of my youth and energy. I so enjoy being close to my best friends and my family... But will I look back in ten years and wish I had done something crazy and rash and just been an adventurous twentysomething?

Probably. After all, the grass is always greener. And if I throw caution to the wind and end up financially insecure, I'll probably regret the "stability" I could have reached.

Funny, that. The economy is so awful at the moment that even stability is only an illusion.

JD was talking about freedom on Sunday, and how serving Christ is freedom even though there are restrictions. Freedom is not lack of constraints; freedom is living as we were meant to, within our constraints, like a fish being "free" to live in the constraints of water. If the fish were to escape to freedom on land, it would die. We all serve something, whether it's the Lord or a fear. JD said to ask ourselves to think about the future and find out what would scare us the most if it were absent in our future. My DC friends that came to visit this weekend said the idea of a relationship came to mind; for me, it was financial stability. A telling answer, no?

I pretend that I trust God with my finances, but how much risk have I ever put myself under? None, to be honest. I am not supposed to be foolish, but I am supposed to be brave. Where is the Wizard of Oz when you need him anyway? I could go for some knowledge of my decisions, courage to make those decisions, heart to love blindly and blissfully each step of the way, and a home to bring with me, to make me feel comforted no matter where I go.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Worshipping at the Altar of the Fun God, or What Would Neferheehee Do?

As I was driving home one night, the car in front of me had a 'vanity' plate that said "LV4FUN." That is a worldview statement, whether the person driving the car realized it or not.

We all are seeking what we think will make us happiest. And not just immediate gratification-- we all plan our individual pursuits of happiness. When we're young, we don't understand the concept of delayed gratification very well. We search for the next piece of candy or the next toy, with no plan as to how to approach that desire and then fulfill it. When we're older, we sacrifice a third of our lives for weeks and months and years to make money to fulfill our desires. It's the same pursuit as the child seeking a lollipop-- gratification-- but we understand the cost of reaching that goal. Hedonism is our life.

Now, what if we come to realize that the greatest, highest good, the "summum bonum," isn't sex or money or power or even fun (!!!), but instead is fulfilling our purpose and enjoying the most wonderful, beautiful experience in the universe? That's what is meant by Christian hedonism. Discovering that Jesus Christ is the consummation of every desire of our hearts and that the "delay" of gratification may be longer than a lifetime will explain the change in lifestyle. It's not that Christians are better people... it's that they have discovered what truly will satisfy and what is Truth.

To multiply your enjoyment of a beautiful sunset or a breathtaking mountain view, you want to share it with somebody. It's not nearly as good to go to an art museum or to a fun movie or to anything you enjoy by yourself. It's the sharing of joy that magnifies and multiplies it and propels us to spread the gospel. The gospel is that everything awful will one day be made beautiful; that Jesus has brought the answers our hearts' desire; that there's more to our lives than this often-ugly mortality.

There will be another life, another earth, and another body. We weren't made to be bodyless spirits; we were made to be a trinity of flesh, spirit, and soul. When Christ comes back, redeems the earth, and reigns here as King, we will again be that trinity. We'll have tangible bodies again that will look like us now, but 10000x better.

With that in mind, the Christian can live with a "finish line" just beyond the moment of death. Most people go through their lives trying to survive and trying to enjoy what they have until death inevitably ends their fruitless, pointless struggling. But we know the truth-- that there is a purpose, that there is a meaning, that there is a loving God who hasn't yet put everything right (He cares more about justice than any of us do!) but who one day will do just that-- He will be the perfectly just Judge who determines how things are to be, just as they were at the beginning, and now even better.

"Behold, I make all things new," said (and will say) Jesus.

So, now I can live not for immediate fun (although I still want to experience God's love and beauty and humor and community in fun activities, appreciating the blessings he has given me), but for getting to know Him better. He is the summum bonum, the highest good, the most fun thing in (and outside of) our ever-expanding universe.

"Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you." I want to get to know God like you'd get to know a new crush. Like you'd get to know your parents when you're finally old enough to appreciate them as humans. Like you'd get to know a generous mentor who has determined to treat you like a daughter and help you with whatever you need. But even better-- this is the Creator of the universe that created me and wants me to get to know him and love him as he has loved me since the beginning of time.

That is huge.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

This Dream Was NOT a Wish My Heart Made

Last night I woke up at 3:45am and thought that what I had been dreaming would be a wonderful premise for a movie or short story. So, I jotted down a few notes. When I got up this morning, this is what I could decipher of my sleepy handwriting:

Has anyone seen my m&ms?
Your daughter has them
But how she's not considerate; she's not like me
She's not your daughter
Psh- but I was pregnant and I remember her as a kid

I'm not lying. That's what I wrote/remember.

Moral of the story: Janel is NOT very smart when asleep.