My excuse for ignoring this blog is that my life has been consumed with grad school. Now all that remains before graduation is one measly paper. But in an effort to ignore my remaining responsibilities, I return to this blog.
To be honest, I should have continued blogging regularly, especially during this last month. It was not but a few days ago that I returned from another trip abroad. In summary, I traveled to 5 countries (bringing my official international tally to 31 countries visited), I was on 14 flights (for a total of 75 hours in the air), and I changed time zones 10 times (my body still hates me). Though I rarely slept, the journey was incredible. Between the people, the culture, and the challenges it was an adventure for the senses, and also for the soul.
But tonight I have no desire to detail my experiences abroad. Instead I want to express a heart of discouragement, a heart asking the question of Psalm 42:11, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?”
There are many apparent responses I could give as to why it has been a discouraging period in life. For example, there has been a friend in my life who has been making poor decisions that are having hurtful and negative affects. Despite any advice or love I offer, or any consequences they face, I continue to witness a hardening heart.
Another example would be watching a friend struggle through major medical issues, which are a direct consequence of a former eating disorder. Months of my life were once dominated with hospital visits in support of this person I loved. Now life is hanging on a string.
Beyond these challenges, work has been a bit overwhelming. I have long consumed my life with what I do. Maybe partly to ignore shadows in my past, but mostly because I give everything within me to the commitments I make. I have certainly been increasingly successful, and my superiors would echo that sentiment with enthusiasm, but I am yet disheartened because the fruits of my labor have not been as ripe as I anticipated.
Though I could continue to bullet point item after item that is weighing on my soul, I feel that I am most disheartened by the lack of people around me continuing to follow Jesus and seeking righteousness. Don’t misunderstand me. I know that none of us is perfect. I know that I am far from perfection. And I think there is something beautiful about Jesus taking our imperfections and loving us still, loving me despite all of my inadequacies. But today the emotion overwhelmed me. I feel utterly saddened by a world so lost, by a world filling their empty void with girl after boy, a world that spits in the face of anything good.
Though I do not have answers yet to the emotion welling inside me, I am thankful that Psalm 42:11 does not end with a question. Instead it concludes with a certainty: “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” Let that be enough.
“He awoke each morning with the desire to do right, to be a good and meaningful person, to be, as simple as it sounded and as impossible as it actually was, happy. And during the course of each day his heart would descend from his chest into his stomach. By early afternoon he was overcome by the feeling that nothing was right, or nothing was right for him, and by the desire to be alone. By evening he was fulfilled: alone in the magnitude of his grief, alone in his aimless guilt, alone even in his loneliness. I am not sad, he would repeat to himself over and over, I am not sad. As if he might one day convince himself. Or fool himself. Or convince others–the only thing worse than being sad is for others to know that you are sad. I am not sad. I am not sad. Because his life had unlimited potential for happiness, insofar as it was an empty white room. He would fall asleep with his heart at the foot of his bed, like some domesticated animal that was no part of him at all. And each morning he would wake with it again in the cupboard of his rib cage, having become a little heavier, a little weaker, but still pumping. And by the midafternoon he was again overcome with the desire to be somewhere else, someone else, someone else somewhere else. I am not sad.”
― Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated