Have you ever found yourself feeling like a totally different version of the person you set out to be?
It’s like the person you once were died and you just woke up to find your new self adrift. Like every light you ever looked to for direction and comfort in life went dark; everything you thought you knew about yourself and your purpose is gone or behind you in a ditch somewhere.
Maybe it was ongoing depression due to any number of reasons that can lie in waiting to derail us, or you found yourself being churned up by the rat-race-life-sucking-trap we call success, but all of a sudden you find yourself starting to feel very afraid.
What happened to the life you were meant to have? You were supposed to leave your job, start a business, get married and be fulfilled. You weren’t supposed to be a tumbleweed blowing around the wilderness for the last 3 years! Why do you feel both stuck and like you’re wasting your life by being stuck?
Your mind swirls from trying to make sense of why you can’t get your act together to why even the tiniest step feels like running a marathon, followed by another few days of being stuck.
In the midst of it all you’re bleating for answers, bleating for comfort and for more strength to get through it. It does nothing. You’re met with silence. Your anxiety increases and you just can’t seem to get a foothold on your own life.
I’m writing this because I personally know a lot of fellow people of various faiths who are facing this type of thing right now: depression, anxiety, worry, low self worth … you name it.
So I’d like to share something that helped me.
The other day I saw a video being shared around by some on friends on Facebook. The video was of secularist, Sam Harris talking about how so many people basically waste their lives because they act like they’ll live forever. That being aware of your finite existence should help us all not waste time and live fully. I found myself following along and right at the end of the clip he said something that helped me, something I don’t think he necessarily intended:
After listing a few things that might be wasteful of time, like bickering with your spouse, he said:
These things only make sense in light of eternity”
For some reason I immediately stopped and re-watched the clip. I felt such a deep sense of joy as I realised something so fundamental to the faith I claim guides my life.
It wasn’t that I shouldn’t be wasting my time, or that I should start policing my every activity in case it’s wasteful (or feeling guilty for “doing nothing”). I actually realised the total opposite: how I’d started to believe that I could waste my life. To the point that time itself – or my thoughts about it – had started wasting me.
I realised that I can’t possibly waste time because I exist in the light of eternity.
It seems to me that anxiety about not doing enough with your time/life really only makes sense in light of the finite.
If I believe I’m going to die one day and cease to exist, I can imagine that pressure starting to get to me to the point of being trapped by it. Knowing I should be doing more but getting stuck because it’s never enough; frustrated that I’ll never reach my “full potential”. I know this because that’s exactly how I’ve been living.
Regardless of whether I’m totally misunderstanding Sam’s point, something still clicked with me. The root of my frustration and helplessness most days has been based in never feeling like I’m fulfilling my day’s purpose, let alone my life’s! When I shifted into thinking in terms of eternity, I started to see all the things I’ve done, all the things I’ve learned, and I see purpose in them. Instead of seeing deadlines, I see freedom… to be who I am and that what I do here is enough because of Whose I am, not because of the time I have.
Sure, the swirling days may come again and I may suffer doubt about what I’m doing with my life. Regardless of whether I’m worrying about it or not, my purpose ain’t for here alone. It’s shaped for eternity, so neither time nor worry will have power over it.
As such, nothing goes to waste.
Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” ~ Luke 12:32