Monday, September 29, 2014
7 Ways We Cope
"God loves you and has created you to know him personally. He offers a wonderful plan for your life."
These words, and the booklet that carried them, began my journey into spirituality. I had grown up knowledgable about spiritual things (or at least Christian things), but the things I had known had failed to hit my heart. These words began to paint, for me, what was an entirely new way to view the world and everyone in it. I was beginning to invite God into being the lens through which I saw everything thereafter.
But these words also began to grow in me an unconscious belief that this "wonderful plan" God has for my life would necessarily, though not literally always, equate with my happiness and health and fulfillment and well-being. Because I had a personal relationship with Jesus, I thought, I would be happier and more fulfilled. The void or gap in my heart would be complete. I would be made whole again; joy would be mine.
This was a nuanced belief. I was never under some utterly misguided notion that I'd be rich or avoid sickness or be perpetually smiling after I began a relationship with God, but I did believe life would get better. I believed I would be happier -- however you wanted to quantify that.
But, as I hinted at yesterday, this belief is currently a struggle for me. Life has not been "wonderful" recently, nor has it seemed as though God's plan is "wonderful." How do you deal with this?
1. Some refuse to let doubt enter. This feels dishonest to me, like a refusal to entertain the true feelings within.
2. Some "claim" their happiness and joy. This feels like a mask, like a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps kind of outlook. "I will be happy!"
3. Some just deny that life is hard at all. This feels delusional.
4. Some just develop personalities wherein they no longer feel anything. I know this temptation well.
5. Some just escape into a life-sea of entertainment. The difficulties force the escape. But our full hearts and full lives demand more than mere escape.
6. Others minimize the pain and hardships of life. "Consider the suffering in Africa" or something of the same ilk is a common phrase here. But pain felt and experienced, for me at least, should never be marginalized by a cheap comparison. Pain is pain and hardships are hardship no matter what or who you compare it too.
7. And others choose not to think about it. Think our modern-day western funeral. Let's prettify it up and make everything look nice so that the overwhelming horror and crusher of dreams that death is will be minimized. We don't even have to think about it if we make it look good enough.
And I'm sure there are many others ways the broken human heart has come up with to cope with the too-hard realities of life. What other ways can you think of?
I'd rather look for another route. If God exists, and if he has indeed begun a personal relationship with me, and if indeed his wonderful plan is on offer for me, something has to be mistaken about the way I think. Tomorrow I'd like to flesh that out a bit more.