Here we are stopped in our tracks, through no fault of our own. We’re homebound for the foreseeable future, connected only with the few we cohabitant with and the thousands we play witness to on social media. If you’re like me, the number of daily actions you take has been diminished, or replaced by other pursuits. Gigs have been cancelled. Expected paychecks will never come. You’ve been cut off from your community. And there is no end in sight.
This reminds me of the “force quit” button I often find myself pressing on my laptop when things are going awry. I can’t help but feel like that button has been pushed on the world.
And can’t we admit things have been going awry? You see, because of my two lives, I have one foot firmly planted in two totally opposed worlds and unlike a lot of others in society I don’t detach myself from those who think differently than me, so I see both sides on the regular. And what’s happening in us is inarguably ugly. Allow me to say that again. What’s happening in us is ugly. It is toxic. It’s eating us from the inside out. We are destroying ourselves with self righteousness and so-called progress, sure beyond a doubt that our side has it right. We are no longer willing to pretend to love those with whom we disagree or even tolerate interaction with them. So what do we do about it now that we are interrupted?
I propose we stop the finger-pointing and take a good hard look at ourselves.
My friends, I believe we desperately need to examine our values. You see, our values are the underpinnings of our actions. And here’s the crazy thing and the reason so many of us are disatisfied. “If our values are shallow, our victories will be empty.” -Stephen Furtick.
Emptiness. It’s a place that many of us need to admit we were living before this whole crisis hit. No matter how much we added to the resume, it was like there was a black hole sucking the wind out of our sails. And we would lay our heads down at night feeling the ache that welled up from an eternal soul longing for things we couldn’t even express. And now the things that masked that emptiness are suddenly gone.
Can you admit with me that no matter how much we achieve, it somehow leaves us feeling hollowed out a few days later? Like we gave something our all and we accomplished it but it left us feeling deflated once the momentary high was over? Francis Chan said it this way, “Our greatest fear should not be of failure … but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”
So what do we do? How can we determine what matters when we’ve been conditioned to believe a lie? How can we readjust if we’ve found ourselves this off-course especially in the midst of a such upheaval?
I believe we need to take a leaf out of Jesus’ book and get beneath our actions and start challenging our own values. He did this everywhere he went and wasn’t afraid to call people out for doing seemingly good things for the wrong reasons. I think we’ve done enough calling other people out. I think it’s time to call ourselves out.
So let’s ask ourselves why we do what we do? What is our motivating force? If our success, our fulfillment, our recognition and our personal satisfaction are the primary motivators in life, we may have found ourselves out of balance with our true purpose. What am I saying? I am saying we may be walking around with a false self on even if we are a supposed do-gooder. We may be living in an identity that we have adopted because of society or upbringing or because for a time it did provide momentary satisfaction. But this false self is not in line with our true self which can only be found in laying ourselves down for others.
Let me put it this way, are you ready to get to the end of yourself? Maybe the answer is a resounding no, but maybe, just maybe, all of this is conspiring to help us do just that. You see, all the true and lasting fulfillment that I’ve found began in that place where I stopped holding white-knuckle to my own desires and instead turned those palms upward to begin to receive what God had to offer. Maybe you are not sure about this, but what if this interrupted moment is a chance for just that sort of exploration? One that admits honestly that this hamster wheel of life is not working anymore (it honestly never was). One that admits that all we’ve worked for feels pretty vain and meaningless. Do we really want to give our life-blood, hearts and souls to organizations that will lay us off, let us down and leave us and those we love to fend for ourselves? Perhaps this is a wake up call meant to catalyze us into finding our meaning in something beyond what we do.
If this is where you are, I encourage you to get alone with God and a notepad and start to ask Him to show you your true self. You, the human being, not you, the “human doing.” According to Psychologist David Benner, “God is the only context in which our being makes sense.” If you’ll allow Him the time and space, He will begin to reveal to you truths about who you are in Him, and how the path to the joy you so desperately seek is the one He longs to lead you on. The one that is beside still waters. The path that restores your soul. The path that even though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death allows you to fear no evil. The path of peace.
In this season of forced interruption, my prayer for you is that you will surrender to Divine love and find within it your soul’s home. A home that will never kick you out, turn you away or leave you alone. It is here that we can embrace our truest identity in Christ which fulfills the deepest yearnings of our being.