The Relational Economy: Deficit Living – Part 3
- Tuesday, January 04, 2011
We "are being transformed into [Christ]likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit"—but we are not yet there (2 Cor. 3:18). We still sometimes feel empty, and that is okay. I defend your right to feel out of sorts at times, to confess that—life hurts. At some point or another we all live at a deficit.
Knowing this, we must "take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5). If you fail to take these thoughts captive, you may never rise above them and may never cease to be plagued by them. You may make that tenth pass around the dryer or that one more call to see if perhaps they "just forgot to call back."
Failed relationships do not exhaust the wealth of who we are, they are merely questions followed by answers—a "would you" followed by a "no." And that hurts every time. If you did not care, you would not have asked and if you care it hurts.
Some of you have written to me describing your own pain. My heart breaks for those who cannot help but feel the pain of life, the weight of failures and delay. One woman, Jennifer, wrote:
I'm seeking God but this time of my life is very hard for me and sometimes life feels hopeless. That may seem crazy to base hopelessness on something like not being married, but nonetheless that's how I feel. I'm a saved, young, attractive, educated, black woman, currently pursing my Masters Degree, but I feel like I'm the last person guys want to settle down with.
She has come to a point of honest confession and this is good. But take a look at the facts of her case. She confesses that, "life feels hopeless," but realizes that this is not reality—otherwise it would not "seem" hopeless it would be hopeless. She means there IS hope. She knows it. But at this point, since she cannot see hope or touch what she hopes for (a husband) her eyes are veiled in despair.
What she longs for clouds that which she has. The reality of what she has, she wrote, is her youth, her looks, and her education, all things that someone somewhere is lacking, perhaps longing for. Her list contains things that, in writing them, she understands are causes for praise, but, she feels as though she is the "… last person guys want to settle down with." This last fact alone shapes, distorts her view of reality. She has no idea what guys really want; she knows only what she "feels" and she feels unwanted.
What Jennifer needs, I suspect what most of us need, is the faith to believe that, despite circumstances, God loves us and is "working all things together" for our good (Rom. 8:28). At the end of the day it is not possible to predict when or even if Jennifer will get married so what she needs to find, what we all need to find, is that peace and trust that will allow us to enjoy even this bumpy ride.
Nice words I know. Hard living. The other choice is to wait with a sour spirit and bitter heart. Who cares if that is unattractive to someone else, it is a shameful representation of the "rejoicing" we are commanded to do "always" (Phil. 4:4).
To be clear, you are not called to rejoice THAT you are single but "in the Lord" (Phil. 4:4). This requires looking away from that thorn in your side, looking up, and offering thanks. The celebration goes on even where hope is deferred.
But, let no one berate you for being honest about the feelings you feel. If they are uncomfortable, God is not. As Christians we must be a people filled with joy and hope. This is the product of our salvation, the outflow of the Spirit's work in us. But, if anyone demands that you should always and ONLY smile, tell them that Jesus was "a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering" (Isa. 53:3). Remind them that our Lord was so overwhelmed at one point that he "wept" on the spot (Jn. 11:35). This should not characterize us. If it becomes your "normal" state of operation—please seek help. There is no shame in counseling.
Fortunately, Jennifer confessed that she IS living life. The issue for her is not paralyzing sorrow but "hope deferred. There is little remedy for hope deferred save patience and trust. We have "redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace" (Eph. 1:7). Listen for his voice and "out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being" (Eph. 3:16). Take all your thoughts captive and obedient to Christ "and my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:19).
Speak to yourself words of encouragement that fit your position in Christ and do the same for the friends around you.
It took years to believe and several more years to live these truths. I continually told myself, "Even if I hit rock bottom he is there and will cushion my fall." Then I took out my knife and began the arduous task of clipping the strings attaching my self worth to dating and relationships. I didn't suddenly get dates or get married, but I began to really live.
In truth, none of us operates at a deficit—we just live that way. We are not poor, it just feels that way. "I pray … that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints …expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:6-7, 3:16, Phil. 4:19).
Hudson Russell Davis was born on a small Island in the West Indies called Dominica, and this is only one reason he does not like cold weather and loves guava. He is a graduate of James Madison University with a B.A. in Graphic Design and earned a Masters in Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. Currently he is a Ph.D. candidate at Saint Louis University studying historical theology. Hudson has worked as a graphic artist and worship leader but expresses himself through poetry, prose, photography, and music. His activities are just about anything outdoors, but tennis is his current passion. He and his wife Rachel were married in 2009.
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**This article first published on December 28, 2010.
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