What if I've got nothing left?
Truly, there are times when I feel like I am completely irrelevant. This world is operating at one level, content in itself, and yet it never finds a use for me. A place where I belong escapes my grasp. Having the answers everyone else wants to hear become a shallow attempt at living. Striving to help a system that values production over people becomes impossible to work for.
What value do I bring to the table? It seems over and over again I am unappreciated. Couple this under-appreciation in vocational matters with those areas where I do feel connected and energized (which there are), but have no means to support myself. I'm at a loss for this.
I see people become inspired, awakened, or simply challenged at conferences or meetings in which, if I am honest, I am rarely moved. Then, in the same day, I am deeply moved by a song lyric, story, or movie which makes little sense to an outside observer. I've even been finding the thing that moves me defies easy classification within a particular traditional belief set.
I'm tired of people acting so certain that their way of life is the right one, and thus if only everyone would get on board with them this world would be better. Yet in the same discourse, their stances obviously speak against others in a way that inhibits or contradicts their very position. I don't mean to say there is no truth, because I know there must be truth.
What if this truth was just beyond our grasp? But why?
I'll admit that when it comes to God, I wonder that if He truly desires a personal relationship, why is it so hard to discern his voice?
"Just read the Bible."
"Have enough faith."
"God's ways are mysterious" (used in a way to suggest no questioning of a traditional teaching but yet seems to be inadequate in even a cursory reading of Scripture)
I'm not looking for platitudes like those above. I just want life to matter. I don't even need to succeed, or be recognized, but simply to be accepted, faults and all but with the understanding and the self-reflection to know I have faults that need correcting.
I want to exist with people who embrace each other, with no pretense of needing to achieve anything other than to acknowledge God as Lord of life.
After all, what do we really think we are accomplishing with fancy light-show worship services or even social justice systems that throw money at trying to eradicate poverty or injustice while allowing us to sit back in our recliners?
But on the other hand, we must act somehow. If the services or programs are genuinely attempting to grow relationships with each other and with God, then who am I to judge?
I pray, honestly, that I not judge the actions of others.
I just want to belong somewhere, with people who know me and in which I am not pigeon-holed into some type of achievement or cog-in-the-wheel of a organizational machine.
I'm done with that. I've got nothing left.
But I've got everything to give.
I want to be there for others in whatever way that I can.
To help a couple change a flat tire on the road. To listen and provide an encouraging word (if I even know of one to say) of a struggling friend. Hopefully, to help others become educated in understanding themselves and our positions of finite beings with finite understanding. This world has beauty, and so does humanity. God put this goodness in the world, and even though we often usurp or rebel against goodness in the false pursuit of other things, selfishly, can we not also recognize, deep down, that these pursuits are simply a salve on an open wound?
Earnest, open, pouring out of our hearts is essential. Acknowledging the belief and the doubt that reside side-by-side in our hearts is necessary. We shouldn't delude ourselves into thinking we believe well enough while we know that we struggle with our own belief. "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!"
For me, I can answer such questions with two approaches to God. The first is to deny that He exists and then that life ultimately is just a short spell of something called life but that has not lasting meaning. Perhaps the most important thing in this life would be to be happy, regardless of others, and to have a catchy epithet on your tombstone.
The other option, and it is the one I cannot forsake, no matter how much I struggle, is that there is a God and this God is loving and created us all out of this love. I heard someone say that love cannot be forced or coerced, and I agree. I can't make anyone love me. I can make someone like a persona, to be used for fame, power, or money, but I cannot make them love me.
Luckily, in the midst of my existential quandaries, I know I am loved. I have a wife that although we have a difficult schedule, we do get each other. Life can be difficult, but I know this love has bound us together because we sit there, realizing that we can be frustrated or distant from each other, and yet resolve in the midst of our stubbornness that we can come back together, giving up a bit of ourselves for the sake of the other.
Are we perfect? Not in a million years...but it is a perfect expression of love covering a multitude of sins through the common bond of fidelity we have to each other. In a way, we have to recognize our own expectations and place them aside so as not to judge the other. (whether being messy, not getting a honey-do item finished, or spending enough time listening to their day's stories)
This is also where I recognize the blessing I have in finding a church in which people are real and bond together. It is a church that systems come second...people remain the focus. Again, I'm sure it isn't perfect. Life can be messy as long as we continue to have to determine if we are acting in selfish ways or mutual respect and interests. But week after week I have learned to love people who don't get upset when church services are not completely in a succinct hour and fifteen minutes. Rather, they care and take the time to know each other.
It's messy sometimes. Prayer becomes real, in the brokenness and hopefulness that is life.
They encourage me, because I feel so out of touch with the world many days. Under-valued and under-paid. Skills and possibilities stuck in the rat-race that is sales and the American Nightmare (oops...should that be American Dream?).
I know it isn't about me. Life is so much more. So much bigger.
But in this life, is any single system of though, belief, or order above the inter-relations with other around me? I'm starting to realize it is not. All I can do is love.
Outside of love, I've got nothing left.