Monday, October 29, 2007

A Seasonal Musing

I sure like this time of year. There's just something exhilerating about the seasonal shift and the vibrant color change. Part of what factors into this is also the "newness" with the start of the school year, and the anticipation that begins as so many look forward to the winter holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas. For me personally, I love October because lots of good things have happened in my life, in the month of October. I don't know if other people really pay attention to that sort of thing, but I've got my "really good stuff" month, which is October, and my "really bad stuff" month, which is February. For whatever reason, that's just the way it is. Life's little hallmark moments, I suppose.

For all the good things October and fall in general bring with it, both generally and personally, I had one of those "de ja vue" moments just briefly yesterday, about a time when I was young. It was October and I'd just gone through a particularly bad thing. In fact, it was the most emotionally traumatic thing I'd ever gone through, in all my 16 years of life up until that point, and like many 16 year old girls, I reacted with some pretty heavy-duty emotion. Rather than pulling up my socks and getting on with the business of life, I wallowed in self-pity and hurt for about a week. I purposely went for walks on cold, windy, rainy days, just to be miserable in the rain. I listened to a "power ballad" by my favorite secular band, over and over and over. I wanted to feel like roadkill, I wanted to cry, and I wanted to just be miserable. I felt like I was entitled to it. Therefore, miserable I was, cry I did, and wallowing in self-centeredness and self-pity was the name of the game for about a week. I only got over it when I realized my friends had stopped calling because they were tired of hearing me carry on about it. When you're 16, I guess compassion only goes so far before you get really tired of someone blubbering all the time about "poor me".

What struck me about remembering this yesterday is the idea that we're somehow entitled to feel and express that we're hurting. Now please don't misunderstand, when I say that I mean in an over the top, "what about ME, what about MY needs!?" sort of demanding way, without any real desire or implication that the person wants to do anything but go on about how miserable they are. We all go through difficult times, and it's a Biblical thing to express our burdens to those closest to us so that they can help us get through them. It's certainly not a bad thing, to let it be known that we're hurting, if we do it in the right way, and for the right reasons. What I'm referring to however is the next step beyond that, that leads directly into the "poor poor me, everyone feel sorry for me" mode, where folks tend to wallow in their misfortune or difficult circumstances. The pharmacuetical companies are unfortunately raking in the cash, due to people just like that. Some of these folks are on medications for this stuff, for years and years on end. Problem is, it never gets better for many of those people because the little pills they take don't allow them to get better, they only mask the pain, for a time.

There are all sorts of things we all deal with in life that hurt, and hurt real bad. The death of a loved one, divorce, betrayal, financial disaster, spiritual rebellion among children, etc. so on and so forth. None of these things are easy, and they all take the right approach to working through them, working through our own emotions and emotional reactions to them. For the believer also, a monumental amount of prayer for wisdom and guidance. With time and by God's mercy and grace, we get through them and we get back to the business of life and the business of living.

I have a close family member going through one of those "life's difficult seasons" and it's a most miserable thing for them. They don't want to be there, they didn't do anything to put themself there, and they desperately want to move beyond the pain and get back to the business of life, and the business of living (instead of just existing). I only wish I had a magic wand that could take all the hurt and pain away for this person. I certainly don't recommend walks in the rain and power ballads that only make you feel worse, for what you've lost. I certainly don't recommend the advice of pop-pyschology that tells us we're entitled to feel like garbage and we should desire to stay there for a while and wallow in it, and or pump us full of medications that make us feel better (see Pulpit Magazine's post today about a most important aspect of this)

Does it hurt straight to the center of our being, when we're betrayed? Of course it does. It also takes some time to deal with it, and to get from "there" to beyond "there". But the desire to stay in misery, to remain hurting, to continue to feel sorry for one's self is really nothing more than the sin of pride (it's all about me after all, isn't it?), and selfishness. Ironically, it is often the sin of pride and selfishness of another person, that may have set the wheels in motion for you to be in this circumstance to begin with.

Getting on with the business of living, the business of life, being a blessing to those around you... that's much more preferable than the alternative.

Yes, life IS hard, and yes, God IS good.