Saturday, March 28, 2009

C'est La Vie

I always feel the need to have some kind of casual introduction to my blog posts. Something where I let you know what's been going on my life that is totally unrelated to what I'm really writing about. I wonder if this is an unwise practice. By the time you finish reading my meaningless space-filler, I'm afraid that you might have little interest to read any further. This present paragraph would lower my grade on any essay for school, for sure. But luckily for me, this is the internet, and any idiot can write whatever they want without concern of how significant or relevant it is. And you can do nothing about it, besides leave me nasty comments. In summation, I guess what I'm really trying to say is this: Michigan State beat KU in the college basketball tournament last night, and for that I'm very excited.

A while back, my roommate Charlie started saying "C'est la vie" pretty regularly. This is a French phrase that means "So is life." Charlie took a couple years of French in high school, and I think this is the only thing he remembers, except for how to say "I am not cheese." However, I'm not going to try to write that in French here, because I have no idea how the French language works and would decimate its spelling. Anyways, when we started saying "C'est la vie," I think it was mostly just as a joke and as a lame attempt to sound well-educated. If one of us gave a poor shooting display in basketball: "C'est la vie." If the ice machine runs empty in the dining hall: "C'est la vie." None of the causes of us quoting this phrase were in any way significant.

Lately, however, I've been thinking a bit about the idea of "C'est la vie," and it really is profound in a non-complex way. There are many things about life that I don't like, and I imagine the same is true of most people. We all have something that we would change. Maybe we have many things that we would change. Perhaps some of things are within my control, and some of them are beyond it. But so is life.

I often find myself thinking "If only...." If only this relationship was different. If only this event hadn't happened. If only I hadn't done that. If only I had said this. If only I was more like that guy. If only she hadn't gotten sick. If only timing had been a little different. If only I had more of that. If only, if only, if only. So we stockpile all of our regrets within ourselves, thinking that our existence would be just a little bit better if life had happened differently.

And then we hear something like Philippians 4:11, where Paul says that he's learned to be content no matter what the circumstances. And it hits us like a bowling ball in our guts. In a lot of ways, Paul had a pretty terrible life. He got beat up, ridiculed, ostracized, and eventually killed. At times he was running for his life with next to no possessions. And he was okay with that. He not only says "C'est la vie," but he says, "C'est la vie, and I'm all for it." Meanwhile, I whine and complain and stew because every little detail of my life isn't necessarily how it would be if I were writing an idealized autobiography.

I ran across Psalm 139 when I was in 8th or 9th grade at a time when I was feeling pretty despondent because of some situation, probably having to do with a girl or something. I honestly don't remember what it was, which I guess shows how important it actually was. But since then, Psalm 139 has kind of been my "Go-To Psalm." It talks about how God is always right there with us and how he crafted us in our mothers' wombs and how he knows all of our "anxious thoughts." One of my favorite Relient K songs, "I Am Understood?" echoes the same sort of idea: "You looked into my life and never stopped/And you're thinking all my thoughts/Are so simple but so beautiful/And you recite my words right back to me/Before I even speak/You let me know/I am understood."

Even now, whenever I'm feeling lonely or dejected or abandoned, I go to Psalm 139. The world lets me down. People let me down. Not necessarily because of any fault of their own. But the truth is that, a lot of the time, life sucks. Not because of anything anyone did or didn't do, but that's just the way life is. C'est la vie. But God doesn't let me down. He's the only constant person in the world. If everyone else in the universe decided that I was lame and they all left me behind in a ditch somewhere, God would still be there. When I have a crappy day and feel like no one cares, I can put my head to the pillow knowing that God still loves me. And in the end, that makes everything okay. Maybe that's what Paul's secret was.

If there were ever a blog post that I have absolutely no right to write, it's probably this one. It's definitely not like I have this figured out, and I can sit here and let my keyboard tell you how you can be more like me, because you probably don't want to be like me. Pretty much all my posts are about things that I struggle with, but perhaps this one more than others. I tend to overthink. And so when there's something that I don't like, I'll go around for ever brooding about it, feeling discontented and letting a constant stream of "If only's" to run through my mind. I'm generally hacked off at the world. And that's not a good thing, because the world is a beautiful place and I have a relatively awesome life and God takes good care of me. But it's awfully difficult not to wonder how life could be a little different. And we probably all deal with this a little bit. Discontentment is a universal wound. And because of that, maybe it's especially important for us all to be there for one another and encourage one other when life gets heavy. Because so is life. But fortunately, we don't have to go it alone.

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