Ordinariness. That is where I feel I am. The activities of today feel like those of yesterday and what I can expect for tomorrow. Nothing spectacular. Nothing to distract me from the ordinariness. Only sameness day in and day out. I’m not complaining, at least that’s what I tell myself. In many ways ordinariness is like being in the desert. And, if you have clicked on the link above, “About Curate Mike,” you will know I like the desert; it is a place where I can hear.
Life seems long in this ordinariness. I’ve been about the living of life for more than five decades and I’ve been reflecting on that lately. Periodically, over my life, there have been reports of an impending scientific breakthrough that would result life longer than the eighty-ish years we average. When those reports surface, I find myself wondering whether I would avail myself of such a life-extending “pill” were one to be made available?
But why stop with simply extending this life? Extrapolating out, what if a pill were developed that would stop the aging process where I am…would I take it? I’m still in good health and of reasonably sharp mind, and I’ve gained some wisdom from living a while; would I take the pill and stop my own aging? Better yet, imagine a pill that would return me to my peak physical and mental condition while I retain the wisdom I’ve gained…would I take that sort of “eternal life” pill?
I miss my home. I used to travel to Europe occasionally in a previous job. It was fun to go and see new sights and have new experiences. However, no matter how well I tried to fit in I was always an alien in a foreign land. So, after some time I found I missed my home with my wife and friends, and its familiar sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. But even all of its wonders and familiarity, even this place is simply not home for me; I’m an alien even here. There is an echo of a voice within me reminding me of a different home for which I long, the place in which I was really created to live.
And there is another reason I wouldn’t take that kind of eternal life pill. I find that it is wearying being me. I know what goes on within me that you can’t see (and what you can see is often bad enough): the radical self-centeredness; the thoughts and feelings of pride, greed, lust, intolerant judgment; wishing I were funnier, smarter, more athletic, more musical, better liked…perhaps you get the idea. And, in the middle of the night I am sometimes haunted by my past decisions as I lie awake. Sometimes people refer to this stuff as “baggage.” It seems the longer one lives the more baggage one accumulates. At least that is my experience.
As a Christian fellow I know that God has forgiven me and continues to forgive me for all this stuff. He takes the baggage from me and yet I still feel its weight; that is one of the tensions of the Christian life, I think. I’m forgiven, but I have to persevere in the battle against myself and endurethe consequence of feeling the pain of people I hurt. At this moment, in the ordinariness of life with nothing to distract me, this battle within me seems particularly wearisome; the old baggage seems especially heavy. And in this ordinariness with no distraction my dissatisfaction with myself becomes more acute. I can hear the echo of that same voice, the voice of God who spoke me into existence, calling to me to become who He created me to be. I long for that restful life.
Sure, I have hope in the ordinariness. As I have said before, I have the ordinary hopes of experiencing small, God-made changes in me and the great foundational hope of one day being a child of my Father in a way that I am only now through, or in, Jesus…that way of living seems heavenly to me.
But, to remain as I am now for all eternity, after all these years still being unable to change my basic character by trying harder…oh my, no, I do not want that. I remember not too many years ago when I didn’t even have Jesus in my life, which meant that my only hope of any changes in me came from my teeth-gritting effort and through gurus and self-help books…all of which had ultimately failed me up to that point…and, well, living for all eternity with only that hope seems particularly hellish.