We’re still waiting for our son to be born (due last Friday). Between Shawna’s remarkable discomfort and our live’s perpetual state of limbo, I find myself getting easily irritable and restless. This manifests in different ways. I’m so grateful that our elderly neighbor who lights up every morning at 6am outside our bedroom window isn’t able to hear my thoughts. He'd have called the cops a long time ago and I'd be waiting for our son's birth from a jail cell. Waking up that way is a bad sign for how I’m doing internally.
It really isn’t him who’s driving me insane. It’s my self-centeredness. I’m so eager to meet our son and to see Shawna be a mom (with a body she feels comfortable in again) that I begin focusing more on my eagerness than I do the things I’m eager for. The emotion becomes the focus rather than the focus that produced the emotion. It’s backwards and quickly turns my being eager into my being anxious and irritable.
(Side note: Speaking of being irritable, to all parents reading this, please refrain from the impulse of thinking you have the perfect advice for me or need to educate me on the difficulty of sleepless parenthood. I don’t know what it is about having a pregnant wife that turns everyone around you a doctor, psychologist, and sociological genius, but be we must find a cure for this epidemic! Thanks. And I love you.)
Culturally, the word “sensuality” is usually understood to be addressing mere sexuality, but it is so much more than that! Sensuality is more like a mental condition. It’s the over-identification with our senses (sens-uality). A “sensual person” is one who measures the value of people, places, and things according to how they relate to their senses and how they make him/her feel. It is the shallowest and most self-centered level of thinking (believe me, this is something I'm really good at).
Ephesians 4.19 gives an incredible diagnosis for the root cause of sensuality:
Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality…
Sensuality is the absence of sensitivity. For instance, when I’m grumpy toward my smokey neighbor, it’s because I am overwhelmed with how I believe he is “making" me feel. He is then reduced to being a cause, and I am reduced to being affected. I am completely insensitive to who he is beyond what I am feeling right now. I’ve lost all sensitivity and been given over to sensuality. This robs me of being able to hear others and God, because listening and hearing require sensitivity.
Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life, and life more abundantly,” but we often behave as if we’re afraid that an intimate relationship with Him will rob us of living full lives. That is the condition of sensuality having its way with our faith.
Sensitivity enables us to love our spouse, children, neighbors, and even enemies because we’re capable of being sensitive to them, beyond how they relate to us. Christ wants to teach us how to live with transcendent and infinite sensitivity to a loving “God of all who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4.6)
So, when I find I'm being grumpy or agitated, I try to remember to ask myself, “What am I being insensitive to?”
As I ask that now, I realize that I am being insensitive to an immense joy residing in our house and lives. I think, I often confuse excitement as anxiety. It’s not worth continuing to do that any longer.
(Continued side note: Thanks again, parents!)