First published March 28, 2013
I think we have been a sold a lie. Admittedly, a very charismatic, oui oui merci sort of a lie. One that captivates us, entices us and tells us in sing songy voice that life, in all of its glory, should come easy.
I don't know about you, but my experience of life so far has lead me to believe that this is far from the truth and that at times life is more like a pot of natural flavoured yoghurt as opposed to an appetizing three course meal of salmon, steak and soufflÃ©. The sooner we come to terms with this, the better.
I use to think that this was the year for me. Newly 25, I had finally arrived at what was said to be the golden days, degree in hand, experiences under my belt, finally at the optimum shade of blonde I desired, life was good. I had ticked all of the boxes, done my part, so where was that old Holy Spirit chum of mine to revolutionise my life?
I've ended up serving scones to sometimes less than ideal patrons, annoyed at myself that I am not content with what was supposed to be a self sacrificial act of decency to prove how good of a person I am.
Bored and despondent, I wonder what is with this discontentment. This restlessness that invades my soul on a daily basis, driving, pushing, pulling, demanding more. Life certainly isn't the Hallmark for Jesus greeting card I have been sold.
Instead of popping out in a beautiful winter wonderland of twinkling ice sculptures and talking animals, I feel as though I have got stuck rifling around in a mildewed, mothballed cupboard filled with old coats. I'm trying to capture something of a treasure, something that I feel I was promised, deserve even. Life, as it goes (much to my dismay), is not actually like that.
We seem to be so busy trying to seize some sort of sense of success, so afraid of feeling let down that we are missing the point. The point being that what we achieve and what happens to us, doesn't determine who we are. Our sense of purpose has to be greater than this, the search for our significance cannot be found in the transient, false face of instantaneous pleasure.
If we fall into this lie, this counterfeit that life should be easy, we are setting ourselves up to suffer the inevitable and unbearable weight of disillusionment when life is nothing but a bloody and bruised mess.
Our questions need to change, our feelings need to be subordinated to our values so that we become people that look to find the joy in nothing, that limp jubilantly through life in the face of the ordinary and don't expect any more golden platters engraved with our initials, serving up our life's purpose followed by lashings of glorious gratification.
I am irrational and impatient, I make mistakes and I swear often. I am easily discouraged, have fights over text and if I'm really honest, have very little grace for others, most of the time. I want life to be just, I want a sense of fulfilment in all I do and I live in a land of "when I have...I'll be happy".
I am mess. As we all are. This feeling of discontentment is less to do with the Holy Spirit not doing His part and more to do with me living in reaction to others and the situations around me. I am my own worst enemy.
There is something to be learnt in the lacklustre of life, something that we are finding hard to grasp. Perhaps our ringing questions shouldn't be about how we get ahead in life or feel a sense of achievement or the eyes of the Lord smiling upon us all of the time. Maybe our questions should sound more like, how do we find God in the mundane parts of our lives when we are bored and discontented and indignant about that?
How do we stay in a reality that God recognises and that brings honour to Him when we are ego-centric and greedy for glory? How do we come to terms with our disappointment with being found unsatisfactory when we are intolerant of failure and weakness?
When she's ugly
We need a paradigm shift to carry us through life when it gets ugly. We need to stretch and grow in our ability to endure the painful, tedious and exasperating moments of life without being thrown into a whirlwind of dissuasion about where we belong and who we are.
It is our job, as creative, contemplative and conscious beings to choose our responses to the seasons and situations we face in life. To determine to not be unnerved by anxieties, or fearful of losing our status and reputations and instead opt to be constructive in unleashing change and have compassion towards ourselves and others as we journey the highs and lows in community.
Anytime we give away our power to bring change by thinking it is someone else's fault or transferring our ownership, it is that thought, that resignation of being an authority in our own lives that is the problem.
We need to become a people that are focused on being proactive as opposed to reactive. One who understands that we do not ascertain who we are through our successes but instead, through the daily choices we make. And that really, we have a lot to be thankful for.
Instead of counting the ways that we do it tough, and trying to make our lives more sparkly with different shades of glitter polish, fad diets and great expectations, we need to stay present in our current situations, actively determine to seek out truth and humble ourselves enough to serve scones with delight to arduous people who never say thank you.
For if we truly believe that all is given to us through grace, then our great exertion to capture and bottle happiness as the outcome will fall silent to the beautiful, sometimes agonising wrestle with the process.
Here's to life when she's ugly and all she has to teach us.
Gemma Taylor lives in Auckland, New Zealand and is passionate about community, self awareness and good coffee. Having taught primary education for 3.5 years, she is now part of a collective who own and operate a cafe where she works, baking treats and making coffees. Gemma enjoys socialising, learning and writes for buoyancy
Gemma Taylor's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/gemma-taylor.html