It’s been a hard couple of years.
I was ridiculously stressed at my job, only to switch positions and – four months ago – lose it altogether.
I’ve recently moved.
I’ve had a complex love life.
I’m dealing with the increasing physical affects of aging more rapidly.
My daughter has left childhood for puberty and preteens.
And my spiritual life has been in mostly valleys.
I guess I’m reaching that stereotypical point where a midlife crisis can be a real thing, and I’ve found myself wondering what my recent change of jobs means for my long term future.
I’d been in a place where I could see myself working until retirement, but now I’m presented again with a vast expanse of unknowns.
Is God trying to use this as a wake up call?
I’ve lost what joy in God I’d had and, if I’m being honest, I haven’t really ever had a whole lot.
The best I’ve found are very brief moments of joy; for the most part, my best periods in life can best be described as “content” – I’ve experienced some semblance of general peace, but never really an abundance of joy.
And that’s mostly because of me. I know the pathway to get to joy with God, but I haven’t really wanted to walk down it with full abandon.
Because I still believe lies that I’m not going to really find what I want in God alone, and that by going intently after God means giving up what I really want.
And because I’ve forgotten so much I already knew.
It strikes me how often I’m prone to forget important things about God and life I’ve known for a long time, and I think that’s human.
I was reminded of that this morning as I was making my early-morning commute to work.
I had a panic attack at my job yesterday, and I reached out to some friends for prayer.
One of my good friends also sent me a prayer he’s been listening to in the mornings which he said has been helpful, so, along with bringing some worship music with me, I listened to it today.
And it touched me, and I felt some things from God I hadn’t felt in a while.
I remembered that he does actually bring peace to my heart. And I remembered that losing myself in worship and focusing only on God brings glimpses of joy.
Because, the secret to life turns out to be it’s not about me. It’s not about you.
It’s human to lose sight of that and make life about ourselves, even if it’s in the guise of other people – family and loved ones.
Even when that’s the case, ultimately it’s still often (though of course not always) about ourselves, because we care more about how those others make us feel than we do about them in and of themselves.
I’d forgotten in my worries about what my future is going to look like and what I’m going to do with myself that, well…it’s not that that stuff doesn’t matter, but that it’s not the point.
God is the point. He is the focus. The life of living in his love is what life is supposed to center on. Entering into the eternal community of the Trinity. And having to do so in the company of others, the church.
And that often annoys me, because I’d much rather be on my own most of the time. I’m a paradox in that I usually prefer to be alone, but then I get lonely, but I avoid the community that would resolve the loneliness.
Community is hard. But a Christian has no choice but to belong to one – it’s a command. By nature, a Christian has to be in community with other people.
It’s a tough one for me, and not because I don’t have amazing friends (I do), but because social interaction in groups exhausts me, especially when I do fight the feelings (and they’re lies, because I know my friends) that I may be judged for being absent too long or any other number of things.
All these things I’m prone to forget, as we all are prone to forget so many important aspects of life as we get distracted by both everyday life and our own thoughts.
There’s a reason the oldest churches practice liturgy, a set routine to the Christian year and to worship services, and it’s in recognition of our need to remember, as well as in recognizing that by nature we are creatures of habit whether we recognize it or not.
Weather has seasons that are on repeat throughout our lives, and we live mostly according to routines that we fall into or intentionally develop, so the teaching of the Church follows the same pattern as the cyclical nature of life.
We need to be reminded of the truths of God that are central to defining what life is all about, and we need to immerse ourselves in the patterns of his life for us with each other in order to become fully who he intends for us to be, not only for his sake because it’s what he wants for us, but for our own, too, because what he wants for us is what is truly in our best interest and will give us the most peace and joy.
This may be my last somewhat-regular post for a while, as I intend to begin writing my first book. We’ll see what God has in store, if that vision will come to fruition. Check in for updates along the way.