What Is Life About, Anyway?
I’m not asking this question in an “I have no meaning in life!” kinda way. I may be working through my identity and what to do with myself and where to go from here, but I know the ultimate, you know, LIFE thing is God’s plan. Whatever the heck it may be, I know He’s got one. I’m just waiting for it.
Meanwhile, I have good days and bad days, so I’m allowing myself to ponder questions about my life. I guess I would describe what I’m going through to be deep rather than dark. (And I don’t mean “deep” as in, “oh my, that Bethany has some seriously profound wisdom rolling through her brain these days!”. I just mean that it’s real and kinda vulnerable stuff for me. But anyway. Enough disclaimers.) So even though I know some of the answers to some of these questions, I’ll write them out just because, well, I can. Buahaha! (Keeping it lighthearted. Or evil. Whichever you prefer. BAMBLING!)
Is Life For Others?
All my life I’ve wanted to help people. It probably comes from who I am as a person (definitely a supine), mixed with the fact that I know helping people is what God wants and loves for us as humans. I’ve always wanted to have friends so I could be a friend. Always wanted to raise a family so that I have someone to be there for for life. Always wanted to find some way to serve where I can be of use and make a difference, whether it’s big or small.
I joined New Life and was a vital part of a team for 2 years. I felt like I had something important to do there, that I was able to make a difference somehow. And even before that, when I was home and helping out with the middle school youth group, that gave me the chance to do something for other people. It was an opportunity to focus my energy in a non-selfish way, and I felt like I was where God wanted me.
But right now, I don’t really have too much of an outlet for that kind of thing. Nor do I know if I have the energy and strength to pour myself into other people right now. At least not as much as I know that I want to. The little that I do for other people… it feels tainted by neediness and wanting to be recognized for what I do. And that just makes me feel more selfish.
The reason I’m not worrying about that being my main focus right now, is that I know I need to take care of myself before I can pour all of myself into someone else. And so I know things will get better, and eventually I can start giving more of myself to others. But the lack of it makes me feel guilty a lot of the time. Which leads me to my second question.
Is Life For Me?
So I’m supposed to be taking care of myself, right? Put the oxygen mask on my own face before I try to save everyone else. (Thanks, “Mom’s Night Out”.) Alright, that’s all well and good. But what does that entail?
-Is there a line between giving myself time to heal and just being lazy or complacent? Where is that line, and what’s the difference?
-Should I feel guilty for being by myself a lot of the time?
-Am I supposed to always be doing something “productive”? And if so, what counts as productive?
-Should I seek social interaction for my own sake, or for others?
During my free time, sometimes I spend it cleaning, sometimes out for walks, sometimes watching new TV shows or movies, or reading or Facebook or whatever. And clearly, some of that feels more “productive” than others. But it’s about me, right? If I’m spending the time by myself, what does it matter what I do? Can’t I just do what I want? What counts as “productive” and “healthy”, and what difference does it really make?
My own answer, instead of leaving all these questions open like they were a week ago when I wrote them, is as follows. If I am finding my life to be complacent and unsatisfying because I feel like I’m getting stale or lazy, than I have the freedom to do something about it. I don’t have to do it because someone tells me to, but I should do it because I know I need it. If I would feel more satisfied by cleaning the house than checking my Facebook, or by taking a walk instead of watching another Dollhouse episode, than I should do it. Not because it’s all about me, but because I have my own sense of what is probably ok for me versus what is better. I don’t have all the answers, but I do know myself. And if being “productive” makes me happier, than by golly, I can be productive! And when I’m just overwhelming myself with “stuff I have to do”, than it’s time for a break without a guilt trip. Either way, the choice is mine, and the consequences will be mine, both good and bad.
Well, Really Life Is About God. But How Does That Help?
Glorifying God is what life is about. Ultimately, entirely. Whether that comes from taking things a little slow and resting up emotionally and spiritually, or whether that means jumping into ministry wholeheartedly to share where God has me.
The thing is, God is awesome and big enough that He’s glorified no matter what I do. He’s glorified when I try to live for Him, and somehow, miraculously, He’s glorified in my mistakes. So, once again I ask myself, what does it matter what I do? If it’s about God, what can I possibly do to make His life better? Nothing! He’s already perfect. I’m not supposed to think of Him out of obligation, because I’m not ruining His life when I forget Him. He’s not depending on me. He gets along perfectly fine without me.
But… there’s still a reason why God has a RELATIONSHIP with us. Whether it’s entirely for our benefit (because clearly the perks on our side are fantastic, what with the whole our-souls-being-saved-from-destruction thing) or all for His enjoyment/glory, you could debate. But the fact that it’s a relationship changes it from a “what do I have to do?” question to a “what do I want to do?” question.
Again, NOT that it’s all about what I want! Please don’t think that the conclusion of my blog is
that I know what’s best and that it’s all about me. That’s why this 3rd part is in here, to counteract that part of life.
Because as I’ve walked with Jesus, our friendship has grown and I now WANT to make Him happy. I have a heart like His, and I know that, even though my messing up does not leave a void in the heart of God, that when I do things for or with Him because I love Him, that it brings Him joy and pleasure. Something happens there, where He is still the same God but my actions make a difference in our relationship. And maybe it only makes the difference for me. Maybe it’s just that my doing stuff for Him makes ME happy. I don’t know how He works; trying to figure out God is like trying to smell the color 9. (Thanks, Chris Rice.)
But somehow, He’s the answer to my question about what life is about.
How does that apply to me practically right now? I’m not really sure. But this is a revelation I had this week that kinda sums up my view on this.
I never feel like I’ve been good at studying Scripture. But the importance of knowing the Scriptures has been continually emphasized to me by several sources lately. Sometimes I say, “Well, I don’t know what to study or read; the entirety of the Scriptures is so daunting, so I should just wait until I decide how to do it”. After all, I don’t want to be reading just out of “obligation”, right?
Actually… who cares?? What does it matter if I make reading Scripture a pattern because I feel like I should, instead of waiting until I “want to”? If I’m gonna feel guilty about it, it would be better to feel guilty and read the Bible rather than feel guilty and NOT read the Bible, right?
So!!! I am going to read through several books of the Bible all at once, by picking a different book for each day of the week (except Sunday). Starting this week:
I’ll read one chapter a day minimum. I’ll journal about it if I want to, but even if I’m tired and “just going to go to sleep”, I will at least read the chapter. Because I want to soak it in. I want to KNOW the Scriptures. I want to know what it says. Maybe there won’t be verses that “speak to me” very often. Maybe I’ll journal only silly, rambly nonsense about the passages. But at least I’ll be doing something that I know God loves. And I know, even if I can’t give a reason practically why it made a difference that day, that it is good to do.
So, IN CONCLUSION!…
If all I do is just try to make it from day to day (working, watching movies)…
While taking time for things I enjoy (blogging)…
Caring about others whenever I can (letter writing)…
And trying to stay close God (Scripture reading)…
While making Jesus a part of all of it…
Then I feel like I’m finding a reason to live. I want to know God even more. I want to be better at understanding Scripture, and at hearing God’s voice. I don’t want it to be just about me, or about obligations, or even about everyone else. I just want to spend the rest of my life with my Best Friend. And that’s what my life is about.