Once again, it's been awhile since I've written anything. I feel like I say that at the beginning of pretty much every post. But I've been a little distracted I guess lately. When there's Greek papers to write, Royals games to go to, and laying around looking at the ceiling to partake in, it's hard to build up the desire to slave away at my keyboard for a few minutes. So I apologize.
And that's kind of what I want to write about today. Distractions. I've been thinking some about how we distract ourselves for a variety of reasons. Our minds don't have very good attention spans. We don't focus on one thing for very long at all. At times, we don't want to focus. At other times, we really desire to focus, but controlling our wandering minds is like caging a hummingbird hopped up on Mountain Dew. So tonight, I'm going to write about distractions. As per usual, I don't really have any conclusions or advice about anything. Just musings.
We don't like to feel bad. Possibly more than anything else, people desire to not feel bad. We want to feel happy. We want to feel content. We want to feel satisfies. But sometimes, life doesn't make us happy, content, or satisfied. It makes us feel the opposite. It makes us feel grieved, frustrated, and empty. And we don't like that. We resist it. It's like when you try to feed a baby some awful mashed vegetable that he doesn't like. He squirms and pushes and wails and does everything he can to prevent that dreaded spoon from being forced into his mouth. And when the world feeds us crap, we do similarly. We do everything in our power to keep the frustrations of life away. But sometimes they get shoved into our mouths regardless, and we have to figure out what to do about it.
So we distract ourselves. When something bad happens, we tell ourselves, "Oh, I'll get over it before long." When a friend is heartbroken, we vow to help him "get back in the game." When someone experiences the death of a loved one, we bring them a fruitbasket and take them out to a movie. When life hurts, we put anything else over it as a salve to distract from the pain. When there's a problem we can't do anything about, we sit in front of a TV playing Halo for hours. We pump music through our brains to drown out the voice of our own thoughts. We go buy some new outfit to rebuild our self-esteem. We sleep the day away because sometimes our dreams are more enjoyable than consciousness.
Thus, our problems are never really dealt with. They're just ignored. Those mashed vegetables for Baby might not taste good, but they're nourishing. And often, our problems and the bad things that happen in our lives are needed. But instead of swallowing, we spit it out because we don't like how it makes us feel. Maybe we're meant to hurt sometimes. Maybe it's good for us to realize that the world isn't all peachy. Maybe we need painful reminders that this life doesn't satisfy because it isn't meant too. I started reading Ecclesiastes yesterday. I don't totally understand what it's all about; I guess Jordan Reinhardt would be the one to ask about that. But in it, Solomon does a lot of lamenting about the meaninglessness of the world. Pleasure is meaningless. Success is meaningless. Work is meaningless. Even wisdom is called meaningless.
My heart echoes with Ecclesiastes sometimes. I look around and wonder what's the use of it all. So many things let me down. And it's usually not the fault of anybody. It's just how things are. And I end up going around generally hacked off at the world. If this is all there is, what a miserable existence it is. A great deal of the things we devote ourselves to don't last. Popularity fades, trophies rust, success is forgotten, and, unfortunately, even relationships don't always last. It's hard sometimes to wake up knowing that you have to undergo another day on earth, where "there is nothing new under the sun."
Minor shift in thought: In Luke 10, Jesus goes to visit Mary and Martha. As Martha scurries about trying to get the table set and dinner prepared, Mary, being quite the bum, chills by Jesus. If you've ever done any kind of service project in the church or with a youth group, you know what this is like. While you're busy working, someone else is standing around flirting with some girl or tossing a ball against the wall or whatever. So Martha, frustrated that all of the chores have fallen on her, complains to Jesus that Mary should be helping her, and he responds by saying, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."
When I read this a few weeks ago, it was like getting punched in the face. Or at least what I assume getting punched is like, because it's never happened to me. The closest I've come is getting headbutted in the jaw playing Capture the Flag. Irrelevant.
But when this passage did punch/headbutt me, I felt like it was talking straight at me. It was a time when I felt especially burdened and weighed down for a number of reasons, and I could sense God saying, "David, David, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed." I'm not a very good Mary. I wig out about things all the time. I don't just sit at Jesus' feet and let him speak into my life. Like Martha, I get distracted. And we all do, I imagine. And our distractions are probably much less respectable than Martha's, who was busy trying to serve Jesus.
And that's where this connects with the first part of this post. We get distracted from God by our problems. And as a remedy for those problems, we try to distract ourselves with whatever will take our minds off of the issue. We distract ourselves from our distractions. We're looking for a way to heal our hurts, when the whole time it's found in God. Only one thing is needed! But instead of allowing him to perform surgery on our souls, we stick a cheap band-aid on our wound and hope we'll forget about it. There are days that I think, "I just can't read my Bible and pray today. I just have too much on my mind." What a stupid, stupid thought. That's when I need to come to God most. I need to offer my problems up to him instead of hoarding them, hoping that they'll eventually just disappear or I'll forget about them.
Life seems meaningless. There are days when I have absolutely no motivation to turn off my alarm and roll out of bed. I wish I could just fast forward to the future, to a day when I might feel happy/content/satisfied. But that's not an option, so in the meantime I use whatever I can to distract me from how much life sucks, and I miss out on the one thing needed. I need a cure, not a distraction. And that cure is available. It's just hard to accept sometimes.