High school is full of pivotal moments that you will remember for the rest of your life. One such moment I have been reflecting on some eight years later, was a frank judgment made my a classmate regarding picky eaters. She said: "Who cares if you like it? It's food, you eat it." This was revolutionary to me. This thought, so basic, had never crossed my mind. I remember my dad trying to tell me that I would grow to like Swiss cheese like he did (and sure enough, I did), and I was so incredulous. How could I grow to like something I had no plans of eating? How could I like something that tasted bad? Eating is really wrapped up with pleasure for me. I hate eating things that don't taste good. And eating things that DO taste good is one of my favorite things! I have cried over a lovely meal before. And, oh shame, I have written angry Yelp reviews in response to icky dinners. So from this perspective, it just didn't make sense that you could force yourself to consume something that didn't make you happy. This very idea seemed to defile the soul. But when my classmate put it that way I felt like I was seeing the world anew. Of course! Food is for living! Enjoyment is not the point, living is the point!
And maybe that's where I am right now. There are all these things I don't want to do. But, I do want to do them because I want to be well. I want to be whole. I want to be near to my Jesus. But, doing them is just difficult and unpleasant, and it seems to violate the soul to do something I just don't really want to do. (Maybe it smacks of hypocrisy, as well.) It doesn't seem right to seek wellness this way. But I think of the paralyzed man near the healing fountain and what Jesus asks him: do you want to be healed? I want to sleep like a log but I don't want to swallow the Nyquil. I'm standing over the sink with the dosage in my hand and a palate cleanser on stand-by, but I can't throw the medicine back. But I need to take my medicine. Not tasting bitter, yucky things is not the point! Medicine is for living, and living is the point!
But I worry also that I want wholeness, wellness for the wrong reason. I'm afraid that on some level I'm just chasing happiness. It's like that moment when my parents told me that dinosaurs and people lived on the earth at the same time, but then I watched Land Before Time and just kind of forgot about D is for Dinosaur. What I mean to say is, you can know something is true, but also forget about it while simultaneously believing that the opposite is true. And that's how I've felt about happiness. I've believed that the point of life is not happiness, and yet I've lived my life to make myself happy, not questioning the validity of my endgame.
So if I really believe the point of life is not happiness, that the point of life is Jesus, then I need to live that way. And I've been having a crisis about this, not just the past few months, but also pretty much my whole life, because I want to magnify Jesus with my life, but at the same time, it's hard.
If I'm honest, I want it to be easy. It's not easy.
But at the same time, it's not the big deal I've built it up to be in my head. How many times has my dad rolled his eyes at me pinching my nose with the Nyqiuil in my hand and entreated me, "Just take your medicine!" It's not a big deal. Obedience is simple and silent. It is without war. It just is. There is no hemming and hawing about what should and should not be done, there is no straining against the conscience. This is the gift of the law, that our task is clear. And even better, He equips us for it. It can certainly be difficult and unpleasant and that's why I don't want to do it, haven't been able to do it. But food is food, you need it to live. Obedience is obedience, I need it to live. I am not my own. I am His.
It's not Scripture, but I saw this video today:
And what strikes me about this is that the acts of the unsung hero are not difficult or amazing. He moved a plant over three feet. He gave an old lady some bananas. He didn't even talk to her! If that were me I feel like I'd have to ring her bell and have tea with her and learn about her life's story and her family and then give her something she really needs, not just hang a bunch of bananas on her door every evening, I mean, come on! But that's what keeps me from doing what I'm supposed to do. I draft a mental calculus of excuses and obstacles before I step out. The unsung hero just obeys. And conventional wisdom shakes its head. But obedience alone doesn't make the plant grow. The hand of the Creator gives our actions purpose.
I need to take my medicine. I need to stop anticipating how bitter it'll taste going down and instead step into the freedom of wellness and wholeness in obedience to Jesus. To do His will is to truly live.