In reflecting on this difficult season, I’m reminded of the many difficult seasons of our lives. Whether your son had open heart surgery or not, you know what it’s like, surely.
Difficulty finds us wherever we go, and when we encounter it, we don’t like what we see.
We get frustrated when things don’t go our way.
We get mad when we feel like we’ve been treated unfairly.
But if we can’t account for the value of difficulty in our lives, we may waste our lives.
There is a mental shift here.
Our default setting is to live life trying to achieve and acquire the best life we can. That vision may be a vision of vacations, good food, resorts, pleasure and ease, or it may be a vision of power, fame and significance.
If your dream life is a world where everything goes your way, then difficulty will become a burden to you, and you will start to resent it and rush past it, and potentially become the worst kind of person: conflicted and hypocritical.
Conflicted because you know difficulty is necessary for achieving anything valuable.
Hypocritical because you will claim to not be selfish or lazy but will hate interruptions.
In that case, you will hold your nose long enough to work hard and achieve things important to you, and you will justify yourself when you feel hypocrisy set in.
It’s a haunting mental space.
But this vision of the dream life is never simple.
If it is healthy vision, it will be multifaceted and meaningful; it will be motivating and inspiring and enlarging.
If it is unhealthy, it will be focused on one thing or a group of things, a silver bullet you burden with the task of your happiness and which you blame for not making you happy: “If only I had XYZ,” you’ll say, and you will calm the tempest of your mind with a scape-goat, which usually ends up being those closest to you.
But the most compelling vision is probably the one given to us in the Bible; it’s a story about God taking ugly, broken people and things, and making them beautiful once more, in a fairy-tale way.
That version of the story isn’t told much at churches because a lot of American churches don’t read the Bible to courageously listen to what God is saying; they read it to find out how they can live a better life — but that is a column for another time and another place.
The Bible’s heroes are messy, broken people; in fact, there is only one character who is without blemish, and that is the lamb of God, the lion of the tribe of Judah. That character takes center stage.
And it is beautiful.
Made even more beautiful by the brokenness of the thousands of years of human history surrounding him and the brokenness of his own death on the cross.
This is the vision: what if life in the Bible were right and you were meant to live for the sake of beauty?
What if your darkness, brokenness, frustration and difficulty were meant to be dark fibers woven into the beautiful tapestry of your life?
If your vision of the good life was truly captured by this passion of making a beautiful life, what would be different?
You have the raw materials and God will give you the refining fire. But will you endure? Will you be bold enough to dream that beauty could be made from your mess, every day, every moment?
“A single thread in the tapestry, though its color brightly shines, can never see its purpose in the pattern of the grand design. ... So how do you measure the worth of a man: in wealth, or strength, or size — in how much he gained or how much he gave? The answer will come, the answer will come to him who tries to look at his life through heaven’s eyes.” – "The Prince of Egypt" soundtrack, "Through Heaven’s Eyes" by Brian Stokes Mitchell
Adam Setser is a financial advisor with Kerrigan Capital and Risk Management, 3543 North Crossing Circle, Valdosta. He can be reached at (229) 588-8448.
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