Friday, July 22, 2005


Freedom of Emotion

"Only God makes life worth living." I've said it before. What makes this true? Lots of people say it.

Immortality is a popular theme in science fiction books. People kill everyone else in their attempts to extend their own lives by a day or two. I never have been able to understand their motivation; it is never discussed, but treated as a concept so basic that it needs no explanation nor justification.

If someone came up to me and offered immortality I'd turn them down. I never have looked forward to each day, as some do. I count any day a success that has no major pains, physical or of the psyche.

God offered me immortality, and I took it. As a side effect, however. The main issue for me, wrong-headed as this might be, has always been the hope that day-to-day life might become something more than a weary walk to some tedious destination, better than just counting days down until the one finally comes and I'm released.

Why is this? I've not looked very closely because I figured the result of messing with a system in balance would most likely be to destroy it... and I wasn't ready for the results. If the ending comes I want it to be clean, not to subject me to the mechanized ministrations of people paid to act as if they care. I've seen enough of this.

Side effects of immortality: God's ministry of restarting the dead heart. Where does depression come from? Probably as many paths to that as there are people, but one reason for mine, I'm learning bit by painful and confusing bit, is that I'm always telling myself what to feel.

Life run by rational fiat. If the mind says the emotion is justified, then I can feel it, but by the time all the processing is over with the event that started it is long gone. About as spontaneous as yesterday's radio program. There's no point.

God comes along and suggests a different approach, which starts from the assumption that he made me as I am. What logically follows from that? The idea that emotion is a normal part of a real human being. How about that? Logically being led to the point of realizing I have to turn loose of logic. This might give you some idea of why I've been so crabby for the last few months: the very destruction I've held away for most of my life is happening, and God, the one who promised to be my friend, is the one doing the tearing down.

God didn't promise to be a yes-man political friend. He promised to do what is right, one who would do whatever it took to restore life to my self-made desert. Why? Because it is what He does: bring life to whatever he touches, to the degree he is allowed. He hears the call of the desperate and zips in a tendril of help before the door slams shut in His face. By such fleeting touches He communicates his intent, plants seeds, waters with love, and waits for the hell-bent soul to realize his depravity and brokenness. Maybe the soul will reopen the door. He hopes.

Desperation is a good way to get the initial contact but it doesn't work for the long haul. There must be something sturdier underneath the relationship. I have to want to live.

I see little chance of that, but God is not the quitting kind. I've learned to quit before spending any more of my scarce resources on what has been proven, over and over, to be impossible.

Now I see hints of the possible. Look, folks! Progress, even when I resolutely ignore everything around me and just hang onto Jesus' hand. This, of course, brings its own reaction: people are going to notice this kind of change. Pessimistic, cynical Larry getting up with a smile?

God doesn't guarantee happiness, but he does guarantee authenticity. Once you start down the road of unawareness there is no stop until everything is wrapped in cotton and foam. Pain and pleasure both become impossible, the one sacrificed so as to keep the other at a distance, and which is more dangerous? Pleasure, of course, because it draws too much attention. Pain, everyone sees that. It just blends into the background of modern life. Pleasure stands out like a wildflower among regiments of cultured black roses. Authentic life requires real emotion.

I can trace the trail of learning back, each step I've made growing from the previous one. God is a quite astounding teacher. First getting my attention, then showing me how badly I'd managed my life in contrast to the "coincidences" he had arranged through the years I denied him. And then, day by day, showing me that even if his touch burns a bit it leads toward a better life. Each little lesson providing a reason to believe the next, little step by little step moving me into a country I no longer recognize.

It is a country that exists only by God's grace and intent. To back out now, retrace my walk to where I started, would hurt so much I can't even think about it, even when the pain of the present journey is more than I want to face.

Pain is a constant. Pain without God is just pain. Pain with God is... possibility. Hold his hand. Look beyond, believe, even as a child might, if his father is a good one, that the pain caused by pulling the splinter out of his hand is better and more brief than the pain which would result from the short-term idea of leaving it in place.

This may sound fatuous. God, you might think, has better things to do than smooth out the emotional life of one man, who would be better served by serving others. I'd suggest that you read some history and see how many good causes have been destroyed by the weaknesses that ran unrecognized within the members. God doesn't seem to be in a hurry. He doesn't dawdle, but he also doesn't push people into situations that will break them. People do enough of that already.

For me, the decision is easy to make. Change, or die. Do this God's way, or further living is an outlook so bleak I'm not interested.

I have been dilatory in blogging. I'm sorry. God is disappointed with this, but also understanding why. One reason is just not wanting to write, pull myself into a shell and forget the whole world. Another reason stems from that: not being brave enough to put these ideas out. Christians aren't supposed to be mavericks. Depression leads to just wanting to disappear.

How can I tell my story in a way that's believable? I have no idea. People will read this and laugh. "How can he take all this twaddle seriously?" Well, it's serious to me, and I'm still here so it must be a matter of some seriousness for my Father, too. If he were really bothered he'd do something, terminate the failed experiment. There are probably things I could do better, but in the welter of imperfect paths to choose I try to work it out.

One guide for that is my own weaknesses. Experience has taught me where I'm good and where I'm not so good. A book suggested that the areas where I have problem are my areas of strength because that's where the Enemy attacks hardest. Holding Jesus' hand is not only a good way to stay alive, but also a good way to gain improved eyesight. God will remove the tons of dry sand I heaped up on top of the gifts he gave me. The enemy is powerless once he's recognized, and he can't tolerate any kind of light.

Naturally, I shy away from weak areas. Once the rest of the world finds out where I'm weak, the attacks come. Experience, again. Shying away from weakness just perpetuates that weakness. So, the path God leads me on runs repeatedly through these areas of confusion, but each trip teaches me more about how to see. God takes the time to do things right.

I might prefer a quick fix. Just pump in some new emotion. The problem with that is that I would destroy it as I have destroyed the other gifts. No, he has to dig deep for freedom.

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