Is it just me or are there more causes and criticisms than ever before? Oh, how I wish for simpler times. When there wasn’t such a need for instant information, when there weren’t ever-changing windows into others’ lives, when we weren’t voyeurs watching for something better than what is right in front of us. (When the temptation wasn’t so great to do all of the above).
Is it any wonder that children are happier and more content than adults? Is it any wonder that once young people are handed a smart phone they tend to become more rebellious, meaner, and depressed?
People poise ready to attack–anticipating being criticized and judged. People compete for attention and fame. People elevate their causes and their rights above compassion and empathy.
We don’t concern ourselves any longer with how our actions and words affect others. We shock intentionally, and more and more, just to get attention. Nothing is ever good enough for us. No ONE is ever good enough for us. We dismiss and discount and insult without a second thought whenever someone dares to disagree with us. This imperfect world will never satisfy–no matter how many times we protest, march, complain, fight, debate. And if we do win a court battle, if we do see legislation change, it will only pacify our greed for a little while, before we find another perceived weak spot that we feel needs to change so that our lives can be “fair” or “better.”
Whatever happened to contentment? The notion that things aren’t perfect but that it’s okay because that gives us the desire and opportunity to help, to contribute, to work instead of take. Not everything is supposed to be given to us—that makes us lazy and selfish. Instead of giving up on each other in friendships, marriage, government, communities—we’re supposed to give grace.
We elevate ideals above people. We obsess over problems. We go straight for huge issues that have already polarized a nation, instead of building bridges in our own communities—one relationship at a time. We yearn for change that may or may not prove to be healthy instead of acknowledging the goodness that exists here and now.
I want my kids to enjoy and appreciate this life. I want them to look back and say that their childhood wasn’t perfect, but it was good. I want to see them content in the life they are living now. I want them to be grateful to God. I want them to see other people as fellows and contributors to their current joy, not as battles to fight, causes to push or stepping stones to nebulous dream.
I want to look my friends in their eyes, hear their voices and remember their hearts. I want to remember that behind each typed word is a deeply considered thought and a memory, an experience. I want to listen to what they say, to pray about it and let the Lord work out the truth. I want to try to understand. I really want to try.
Yet, there is hope in this jar of clay.
One day I will be no more. Maybe my words will live on (this is one of my personal dreams), but they may not. But I do believe that I will leave a legacy, and above all I want it to be one of faith, hope and love. Tests will come and go that will shake my faith, but if it fails and disappears like a vapor, it was never faith. Jesus has proved Himself to be true and trustworthy, and although I am occasionally untrusting, I can always hope to see His hand move. I can always hope that one by one, lives will be changed and hearts will be changed when people know Him as Savior. I can hope that as people go from sin to righteousness, from despair to joy, from idolizing themselves to worshiping Jesus, that the world will be different. Love has been minimized to simply a feeling and an acceptance of everyone and everything, when in its purest form, it means sacrifice and elevating others’ needs above your own. This self-sacrificing, submissive and encouraging love is one that the world at large does not know.
The joy of Jesus is not a promise of ease. Christians are not meant to bury their heads in the sand and pretend like all is okay, like the world doesn’t have problems, that there isn’t true injustice. But we are meant to identify FIRST with Him and His glory. We are not meant to hold our personal banners and causes, our races and genders and occupations and educations above Him. All those things are subject to Him. All those things are meant to point to Him, to celebrate His kingdom and glory and His perfect love. We are meant to hold our banners up to Him and see that He is still higher. We are meant to walk through our struggles with Him leading the way.
Oh, that I could love and hope like Jesus. That is my deep dream.