Lately I’ve taken some time to reflect on a few things pertaining to this thing we call ‘life’, and it struck me that I think a lot of us (at least in the Western World), are chasing an illusion of it (albeit fed to us by ‘society’ from the day of our births), that does not really exist.
What do I mean by that?
Somewhere along the line, we were taught (whether consciously or subconsciously), that we have the power to dictate every aspect of our lives or how they will go – our goals, ambitions, successes, relationships…that all are within our ‘infinite’ power to direct and construct. As if life itself is merely a puppet whose strings are being pulled by us; as if we’re the ones in ultimate control. If we just follow certain rules, then ABCD will happen. I think this one of the greatest delusions of contemporary culture and modern society.
Although yes, our actions and approach to life will greatly determine how we live it, it is not the sole parameter under which life operates. Yes, getting a good education will leave you with a better chance of getting the dream job that you want…but that doesn’t mean that you will get it. Yes, it follows that once you get married to someone, providing you are a couple who wants children, you will try for them…but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to have them. [For the people who might be reading this post and ‘rejecting’ everything I just wrote, have patience, work with me, give me a little more time. I’m going to explain everything]. Some others might be reading this and thinking ‘Why not?’. The answer is because life is unpredictable, and as a species that (conversely to what we are taught to think) exist under its jurisdiction as opposed to the other way round, we need to start understanding that this thing called life has some unpredictable whirlwinds to fling our way.
But I think a lot of us don’t understand that. When bad things happen or we don’t get what we want, we take it as some kind of personal attack on our personhood, and blame the next best tangible thing on the list aside from ourselves, God. We get angry with a God (some of us don’t even believe in), and blame him for the breakdown of our meticulously planned lives.
Firstly, we live in a fallen world. Because of this, there is evil, and evil knows no rules, timing, or boundaries. We will all confront evil in some form or the other. For some this may be via malicious gossip and rumours, for others it may come in the form of the murder of someone they love. That is evil…not God.
Secondly, the bible says that “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5 v 8) What does this mean? It means that there is a being that 24/7 is looking for ways to destroy each and every single one of us, and plotting and planning to that effect. Not just in the spiritual dimension, but in the natural world too. So when bad things happen, or what I like to refer to (perhaps more accurately) as ‘the issues of life’, depending on the circumstance, consider the possibility that ‘your enemy’ is working behind the scenes to put you in those situations or railroad your dreams/hopes. However, it’s not always the case, which leads me unto my third point.
Do not fall into the trap of blaming the devil for every misfortune in your life or any stressful/difficult event that happens to you. It might actually be you and your fault/down to some reckless behaviour on your part (why are we afraid to say this?), and also the devil cannot be everywhere all the time. He is not God. He is not omnipresent.
Fourthly, we live in a society where we are so used to getting what we want when we want, and we’re constantly being fed the idea that we can have anything we want. Moreover, anything that sets itself up in opposition to these ‘rights’, throws many of us into confusion, hopelessness and anger, seeking who to blame, or falling into depression over why everything seemingly happens for others, but not for us. I think it is a very toxic attitude to life that is eating many people from the inside out, with bitterness and discontentment with life.
Life was never meant to be a fairy-tale, or a Goosebumps book where you get to pick the ending. It was never meant to be reduced to our simplistic human thinking and ways, and sold day in day out as something we can wholly control and manipulate to our own ends. Show me one person whose life has gone exactly the way they planned it, and I will show you a liar. But despite all of this, despite the overwhelming evidence before us that we are powerless to control certain elements of it, we continue to strive for a perfection within its framework that is unattainable and unrealistic, instead of embracing the realities of hardship & difficulties, and the ample lessons and growth that can come out of that. And in the midst of pining after what we didn’t get, or festering in bitterness and regret, we completely forget to cherish every second of goodness within it that we do experience…or we take it for granted.
To me, that is the purest way to live life. To acknowledge our limitations as humans beings within its structure, and by refusing to be deceived by the constant drivel of its grossly pimped up format, sold by people, media, institutions, etc, that many times are not even living the lie that they are selling us. To respect the inevitability of its highs along with its lows, and to appreciate and revel in each occasion for joy and happiness when they come, as if it were our last opportunity in life to do so.
Furthermore, as a Christian, the fact that no matter what terrible curveballs life may choose to fling my way, no matter what disaster, sickness, or misfortune…if ever my back is breaking under the weight of ‘the issues of life’, I can take comfort, strength and purpose in these words:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8 v 28
In all things, God is working for your good. As a good friend always like to say ‘God wants you to win’. Life may be an entity unto itself, but at the end of the day, God is greater, and that’s the fact that counts.