I probably don’t have to tell you that life’s really tough, sometimes.
I’ve done so many posts about pain – about depression and anxiety, about feelings of hopelessness, about when life throws things at us that we’re not ready for, about what we’re supposed to do when we literally have no idea what to do.
And my first reaction, honestly, is to go hide away in my room and look for a distraction.
It’s awkward to admit that, but it’s true. I want distraction over comfort, desperate feelings over peace, extremes over hope.
It’s…messed up, perhaps, but don’t we all have our different coping mechanisms, at times?
Enough about me. This post is about so much more than me, it’s about us, and more importantly, about focus. I don’t want to make this a ridiculously convicting post that’ll make you feel guilty so you’ll go live your life better. No.
This is about humanity, about our collective problems, and what small things we can do to make a world of difference.
My family sees me as very introspective, and I assume many of you that know me or read here regularly would agree. I think. I look inside myself. I analyze. I feel. I examine. And I do it all over again.
I’m not saying whether this is good or bad – it’s part of what makes me me.
But there is a point that we approach wherein all of our thinking becomes our focal point, and instead of focusing on relief, on solutions, we focus on simply the problems, and teach ourselves that’s the way things go.
We fix our eyes on what is wrong – and forget the One who makes all things right.
We focus on our distress – and forget about the peace that passes all understanding, that comes through knowing Christ.
We look at our depression – very real and genuine, truly – but focus on treating the symptoms without getting to the root of the pain.
When we talk about our pain, we often look to dull it. We fill our lives with social media, with Netflix, with full schedules and excessive gifts at Christmas and jobs and friends and food.
But when is that enough? When does that fix us?
I could be blunt, direct. I could shout, “THOSE THINGS WILL NEVER BE ENOUGH FOR US!” and I’d be right – but that still wouldn’t fix the problem.
Here’s our dilemma: we all long for something greater than ourselves, some sort of meaning to our lives, a hope that fulfills us even at our lowest of points.
And as Christians, we know in our heads that we have that hope, but we don’t always feel it.
So we turn to the immediate distractions instead, knowing that they won’t satisfy, ultimately, yet seeking after them anyway because they’re tangible.
But we come up dry.
Movies conclude, parties end, food gets eaten, gifts become boring, we all eventually have to return to our normal lives.
But what if we lived lives that didn’t require us to escape to feel fulfilled? What if we lived lives with meaning and purpose, even in the pain? What if we learned to trust God, even when things aren’t as we imagined?
This is something I’m learning slowly, slowly, day by day.
I’m learning to make Jesus my focus – not just at Christmas, not just when life’s easy and I love it, not just when I’ve run out of entertainment. But in every moment.
When He is my focus, I can find joy in the midst of pain – not because I enjoy being uncomfortable, but because my contentment rests on something so much greater than temporal struggles.
When He is my focus, I am not doomed to be sucked into ceaseless hopelessness…because He is my anchor of hope that keeps me from sinking.
When He is my focus, life isn’t always bright and sunny and beautiful – but in my pain, I know that all things will be made new again because of what Christ did on the cross for me.
When He is my focus, I can know that I will never be abandoned, even when I am undeserving of His love.
I know this doesn’t make our lives painless, I know it doesn’t get rid of the struggles, I know it doesn’t fix things fully.
But what it does do is remind us to stay grounded in the truth, to see our identity as fixed in Christ, to find joy in the unchanging, marvelous nature of God and how He relates to us.
And maybe that’s the small step we need to take. Choosing to trust God rather than fall into fear, choosing to fill our minds with truth and fixate on Christ rather than on our circumstances, choosing to see God’s love as real and tangible in our lives rather than some foreign concept.
Today, I choose hope, even if that means keeping my pain.
I choose joy, even if that means contentment rather than bubbly happiness.
I choose to accept who I am in Christ, and not who the world tells me I am.
And today…that’s making all the difference.