Simplicity and Serenity

Simplicity and Serenity August 2, 2018

 

Thank you for putting up with my 1600 word rant the other day about simplicity. When I walked away from writing it, I continued to ponder what it is I’m really longing for, and I think the conclusion is this:

Heaven. 

Ultimately, I want life to be clean, free of weeds and dirt and snotty noses and sepsis and stress. Seems most of my life is taken up with trying to make a body work as it should, whether that body be my own, my son’s, my husband’s, or my mom’s. This year alone, we’ve had several surgeries. Last year, too. And come to think of it, the year before that as well. Then there are the “little” things, like trying to get Mom’s back pain to go away without wickedly brutal drugs like steroids. She has one leg an inch and a half shorter than the other, due to a car wreck she was in at age fourteen. For as long as I’ve known her (which I guess is my whole life, haha), she’s walked crooked. Exactly like she’s two different heights, because she is. So you can imagine what walking that way for over fifty decades might do to a back. It’s amazing, really, that she hasn’t had more problems than she currently does.

Anyway, my thought as we sat before the doctor who wanted to prescribe steroids was Why treat something structural with drugs she has reacted very poorly to in the past, when we could maybe fix the structural problem? So we got a referral to a podiatrist, who gave her a temporary orthotic and shoe lift, and BAM. Problem solved. When we walked out of the podiatrists office, the podiatrist and I stayed back to watch Mom walk to the front desk, and I said, “I’ve never ever seen her walk straight like that before.” By that afternoon, the pain was mostly gone. It has taken months of fiddling with the shoe lift, but we finally figured out just how many temporary shoe lifts she needs (it’s a lot!), and tomorrow hopefully, we pick up the permanent orthotic and lift.

Had the Fall never happened, neither would the pain or the orthotic or the lift. Probably not the car accident, either? I don’t know. Did Adam and Eve ever trip and fall and break a leg before the Fall? If they could’ve driven cars, would they have ever been in an accident that required traction, a re-break of their noses, and three months in the hospital? How perfect were their lives, exactly?

I don’t think they had to weed the Garden. I also don’t think they got drunk and injured one another, which is what happened in Mom’s car wreck – someone drove drunk and it ended with the loss of life and many serious injuries for all survivors. Drunkenness is a sin, and before the Fall, sin wasn’t a thing. It was a possible thing … but at least for some amount of time, life was Heavenly. No sin. No sickness. No stress.

With all the sickness and subsequent stress we’ve had in this household lately, perhaps all who abide here are great sinners. We are, of course. Even if the only thing we ever did was tell a small lie. For whoever shall keep the whole law, yet stumble in one point, he is guilt of all (James 2:10). There are degrees of sin. Some are worse than others because the consequences of them are worse, whether those consequences be felt by the sinner alone or by the sinner and those associated with the sinner. But sickness isn’t necessarily always due to the sick person’s sin.

The disciples asked Jesus in John 9:2 who sinned to make a certain man blind, his parents or the blind man himself. And Jesus answered that is was neither one. The man was not sick because the parents sinned or because the blind man sinned. Rather, he was sick so that the works of God should be revealed in him.

Typical Jesus. Blow everyone’s high and mighty idea to kingdom come.

Sickness can be used positively? 

How preposterous that must have sounded to their ears. Sickness is horrible! Evil! Nothing good about it, ever. But Jesus was right. Sickness does often bring glory to God and His works. And while I do love the fact that God can turn our ashes into beauty, I tend to not cherish the fact that I, and often my family members, are deep in ashes. In short, I am ready for the ashes to be turned into beauty. Yes, some of that beauty is shown and known in the here and now. But the fullness of that beauty isn’t going to be revealed until Heaven.

So in my quest for simplicity, for a low stress life not riddled with sickness and silly, empty endeavors, what I’m ultimately doing is longing for Home, aka Heaven. Does that mean I cease striving to make an illness better or to simplify so that my everyday duties can be cut down to a reasonable level? No. It just means that however euphoric and ideal it gets here on earth, it’ll never satisfy my deepest longings for complete peace, joy, and rest.

I suspect that the tension in the political climate is also due to the same longing. Everyone is looking for happiness. For peace. For rest, whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually. And too many expect the government to provide it. Want a cake for your wedding even though you’re homosexual? Tell the government they need to force the cake maker to do what you say. Want to be able to protect your family from dangerous intruders? Tell the government they better uphold the law of the land. We think that if our rights (define by ourselves, usually) are honored and respected and accepted, that we will be happy. But one look at feminism throughout the years will tell you differently. It’s never good enough. In the 60’s, women’s libbers said it’d be good enough to just be able to work outside the home. But here we are many decades later, where any woman can work outside the home, and now that right is small peanuts. Rubbish, almost. What the feminists want now is to be the President of everything and everyone, especially men — and if they could eventually obliterate men from the planet, that would be ideal. Sure, I’m talking about extreme feminism. But it demonstrates that once you get the Gimme Gimme Gimme Ball rolling, it’s difficult to stop.

The human heart is desperately wicked, the Bible says. It’s also empty. Void of satisfaction. Fidgety. Discontent. Mix all those factors together, and you have a recipe for conflict. Not only deep within the soul, but amongst one another. Perhaps this is why the Bible says there will always be wars and rumors of wars. We want what we want, we want it now, and we are (too) often willing to kill to get it. Granted, some things are worth fighting for. But it seems to me that much conflict could be avoided if we would tend to our hearts with great fervor, with the realization that, as the ancient hymn says, this world is not our home, we’re just passing through, our treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue. Or wherever Heaven is located, exactly. But that’s a whole ‘nuther blog.

For now, suffice it to say that our deepest aches and longings can only be soothed and met by Christ. The trials we encounter here? Perhaps (sometimes!!) we should fight for a better way. But ultimately, our trials are meant to drive us to Christ, and they will, if we allow them. If we don’t, we might do any number of things: Become a hermit (that one gets my vote!). Steal whatever we think we need to fill our void. Self-medicate. Put others down to help ourselves feel lifted up. Associate with a crowd of vagina hat wearing women …

The foolish possibilities are endless!

Or … we could pray and attempt to live out the wise, if perhaps overused, words of the Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can; 
And Wisdom to know the difference. 

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is; not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His will; 
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next. ~Amen

**Photo by Aurélien – Designatic on Unsplash


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