Yesterday, I happened to have a phone call with someone who is a bookkeeper for a very large company. He has a lot on his plate, including a staff he oversees and the impending tax season, not to minimize his also having a life and family outside of work. When I asked him how he was doing, his answer sounded slightly worn down, which was understandable.
I asked if everything was alright and he mentioned everything I just described, but then added that he has a retired friend who periodically stops by his office and inflicts a political discussion on him, which never goes well. The emotional toll of these conversations alters his day and he later called him to say that they couldn’t repeat these meetings any longer at work.
His worn out response to this interaction is a perfect picture of what I am seeing around me and feeling inside of myself. We are worn out, on all sides of the equations. It’s not my goal to communicate any political opinion or solutions. What I am seeking in my own life and hope to share in this ambiguous online community is a faith that transcends, embraces, and transforms circumstances.
I am not advocating becoming numb to circumstantial realities, but I am reaching to mentally and spiritually live with a breadth of faith, hope, and love that not only embraces our current plight, but also has the capability of vision to see beyond it and then think and live accordingly. I want to have a faith that informs my view and response to the array of life’s circumstance, rather than a reactionary mindset leaving me tossed and blown about by the wind of circumstances.
Jesus’ words and life exemplified this transcendent existence and Scripture expounds on it:
My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
– John 14.27
Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].
– Philippians 4.8 (Amplified Bible Translation)
Those passages evoke a faith that challenges how we allow our minds to wander. Do we allow circumstances and subconscious impulses to direct the wandering direction of our minds? As life comes at us, do we leave our understanding and perspective unquestioned while our fear and imagination run wild with our thoughts? Or, do we face our circumstances with a belief and understanding bigger than them, informing how we progress forward? What I’m asking is: do we take an active role in how our thoughts are directed and our minds, and so lives, are shaped?
I believe that God desires us to live fuller lives than as slaves to circumstance. As faith draws me beyond the borders of my vision in circumstance, it also draws me beyond my vision of others. Jesus always erased and dissolved borders; He reached beyond them and crossed over them, whether they be social or circumstantial. I honestly long to be a part of a community that lives this same way. I believe we’re closer than we ever have been, but we still have a long way to go.
How do we live in Christ/Love so deeply that what we’re experiencing or who we're around doesn’t define it, but rather, presents opportunities for us to express and experience it in new ways? I believe applying the practice described in Philippians 4.8 (above) to not only circumstances, but also to every single person we meet and our own selves is key.
Whatever is true, honorable, respectable, right, confirmed in Jesus/God’s Word, pure, wholesome, lovely, brings peace, admirable, of good repute in anything, anyone, and yourself, fix your mind on it. If there is any excellence, or anything worth praise, keep your heart and attention centered on it. This type of living requires intentional searching, seeking, knocking, and asking. Not waiting for these things to magically reveal themselves to us, but consciously choosing to have eyes that see it. Always.
When we increasingly become people who do this, the division between ourselves and others will be blurred, as will the division between us and our desired circumstances, because there is always, always, always something true, honorable, respectable, right, confirmed in Jesus/God’s Word, pure, wholesome, lovely, bringing peace, admirable, or of good repute, in all and through all.
She sees that her gain is good; Her lamp does not go out, but it burns continually through the night [she is prepared for whatever lies ahead].
– Proverbs 31:18