Wednesday, February 23, 2005
looking for refreshment
I bought some bottles of Amino Value this past weekend at Uwajimaya. When I was in Japan, I used to drink a lot of the stuff whenever I felt dehydrated / sick after running, or what was more frequent the case, too much from this particular family of potent potables.
Since my once-fit frame that was built in Japan has now been destroyed by the pitiful day exercises of shuffling around my house or to my car, I don't suppose I've been in dire need of any special drinks. But hey, amino acids are important! Don't just take my word for it.
Lately, I've been feeling the need to be refreshed and made clean, but not in the physical sense... purely in the spiritual. During this Lent season, while I've been contemplating my relationship to God and gauging where my faith is at this particular time in my life, I can still see the gaping gulf between where I am and where I want to be.
Many days, it can be as disorienting for me as it was in the year following my graduation from the UW. Old expectations and hopes linger, and it's almost as if the distance I feel from God grows with each passing day of their unfulfillment. I suppose part of me is feeling like I'm not "making it"... and not only me, but many of the people in my life who I care for and love, aren't "making it" either.
I'm not outraged about it, but I suspect that feeling has evolved into something worst... being bitter. (Ruth 1:19-21)
And I really wish I didn't feel that way sometimes.
The idea of "making it", the idea of accomplishing an ambition or achieving a dream, is as old as the founding of America itself. Our culture has even encapsulated the ideal in the catch phrase "The American Dream" - the loving spouse, the ideal job, kids, a community, house, car, dog, etc.
However, the painful reality of coming to adulthood (especially in these times) is that a lot of people are not making it, at least in terms of what "making it" used to be. One of the greatest American plays, Death of a Salesman, echoed the question of what it means to not "make it" (the writer, Arthur Miller passed away recently). Even recent favorite movies also address the same issues more or less... Million Dollar Baby and Sideways come to mind.
Willy Loman, Maggie Fitzgerald, Miles Raymond... sketches of facts that we don't want to acknowledge: For every millionaire or billionaire who hit it big starting a new business, there's thousands of people toiling in blue collar jobs who can barely support themselves, let alone a family. For every sports hero or Olympic superstar, there's a thousand has-beens wrecked by injuries, drugs, or missed opportunities. For every successful artist or writer selling a gazillion copies of their latest work, there's thousands of people writing or creating crap that no one will ever listen to or read.
But nobody wants to believe they're part of the thousands. Most everyone has deluded themselves in believing they're the one (watch any old American Idol tryouts for your dose of painfully hilarious, deluded, egomaniacs).
Of course "making it" is not just fame or fortune... it goes to something deeper, something less concrete. To me, realizing a dream, even the smallest of the dreams I secretly clutch close, is one step closer to "making it". It's been awhile since I've had the benefit of stepping forward, but I want to
But the cynical part of me, with a mind so fixated on what has happened in the past, is wary...
...and just waiting to laugh at myself if I end up thirsty all over again.
i think our cultural norm that quantifies "making it" is mistaken beyond any hope of being realigned properly. all religion aside, the modern, capitalist, democratic west has sold us a dream with some major holes in it. we bought it not because it seemed so appealing, but because there weren't too many compelling competitors. thus we're stuck with this narcissistic consumerized hedonism in hegemonic ignorance, patched with empty solutions that make us hollow as well.
this is where i'm convinced that the gospel must shape our worldview in a way that turns these cultural norms on their head. to "make it" must mean death to self and denial of our human inclination to acquire and accumulate wealth, approval, power, and glory for ourselves. this self-emptying is, of course, impossible. thus it drives us to utter dependence on the Other who lies outside of ourselves.
i, too, am weary of trying to 'make it.' but i'm hopeful that my worldview can be transformed enough to embrace a better dream, a more compelling vision, and a Person behind it all.
I agree 100%.
I'm not a proponent of wealth & health gospel... but I guess it's just hard sometimes to tell someone you've known for a long time who may be jobless, dreamless, and living a broken life that "Jesus loves you", without it sounding like pithy or incredibly patronizing statement.
Self-denial is tough.
word. that's why i'm also convinced that there's a whole more to the 'gospel' than merely 'jesus loves you'... you're right, it does sound pithy. so i hope our theology is deep enough to find resources and a perspective that goes beyond that self-help crap. indeed, it's tough. tons of ppl are convinced that religion is supposed to make us feel good about ourselves... anyway, thanks for the good thoughts.
"Preach the gospel 100% of the time...if necessary use words" St. Francis of Asissi (spelling?)
Anyway, our actions can make a difference in another person's life. But sometimes, they need to hear that "Jesus loves them" in a way that they can understand. There is so much to that statement that is hidden within the scriptures.
We talked in fellowship about if we can share with someone that, "Jesus loves them", but "I don't love them." We discussed that it is impossible to share with someone that Jesus loves them, if I don't love them.
We also shared that the good news is, when we try to love someone, it is not only us that loves them, but that God loves them. That's the difference between someone who wants to do something good for another person and the difference between a Christian who actually cares for the person that he/she's reaching out to.
It is said that "Action speaks louder than words." It does speak loud. But when the time comes, the "words need to tell about the actions." Jesus loves the person that you care about. But you also have to show that you genuinely love the person. To get past the person thinking that you're just a "nice person" you need to tell them about Jesus in a way that they can understand.
Anyway, it's kind of off 1 John chpts. 4-5. I actually was not present at the time when they gave the sermon, but I was fellowship when we discussed topics related to these. Anyway, just my thoughts...
Oh yeah...also pray continually for this person. Also get others to pray too. It helps when you're not the only one praying, but when there are more than one person praying.
^Thanks for the thoughts, Jon. Actually, some of the people I was thinking about when I wrote my post are already Christians and have been for some while.Post a Comment
I guess what I was thinking was that sometimes it's difficult to encourage others when you yourself don't feel encouraged.
But yeah... thanks! =)