sometimes themes just become clear--whether it's in a book, a movie, or your own life. and then you look back on so much that you have done, so many events that you have walked through, and suddenly you understand why. maybe it won't all make sense, but you begin to see that there is something larger at work in it all. you are learning something. and sometimes it takes a few things and a couple of weeks, maybe a couple of months. then there are the lessons that somehow seem to be the theme of your life, or at least perhaps this long season.
i wrote about a burden a couple posts ago. more simply put (in case it was too long a read for you ;) ), it was about how we are all "condemned to be free" to use sartre's phrase. my longing in response to that, was to just have someone wise to lead me along the way--a spiritual director. we all hunger for this guidance in our lives to some extent, though the expressions may be different. like this quote from a movie i watched recently, "parents have an unfair advantage over us. we want to believe them. and even when we don't believe them, we still just want to be with them." but i suppose sooner or later we are all confronted with our own freedom, and that no one can make our choices but ourselves.
no i suppose guidance is not such a bad thing, but it is never complete and it will never be enough to overcome your fears--no matter how much you trust your guide. even if God is your guide, and you believe you are close enough to him to be led every step of the way, i don't think he'd do it. he doesn't control us like that. in some way that wouldn't be loving.
i think a lot of times in my life i have been searching for the way to just break free of it all. to escape all the trappings that are created by...well, life. you can try to attach it more specifically to society, parents, culture, money, jobs, etc. whatever it is, the object is not really the problem. it is life. and it has its problems. there are things that are good to break free from--life cannot be one of them. and running away, in whatever form is not the answer. i feel like i've received enough grace to avoid that mistake.
ok let's bring this in. what am i really talking about here? i suppose it's all about commitment. maybe i don't have the wisdom to make the decisions that are before me, or maybe i do. either way i have to make them--and it's not going to help if i wait or when i'm older, because the decisions are before me here and now and they will just change. and you have to decide what it is you are going to commit yourself to.
because the fact of the matter is that at the heart of all of this is fear. the fear of "what if...?" all fear is rooted in desire, and this one is in the desire to do things right. i've seen enough of everything done wrong and the pain it causes, and i've set my life upon a course to learn how to do everything right. but the goal of life is not to avoid pain, or even to make all the right decisions. i've realized that i'm not afraid of pain (though i act on that fear so much), but rather what i'm really afraid of is meaninglessness. and the answer to meaninglessness is truth, which is found not in the answers but in the questions themselves. questions that lead to more questions.
long ago i learned that somehow it wasn't about doing everything right and to full completion, but just to try. the weight is too great if i think i have to begin with full assurance of what all will come of it. that's why i avoid goals, because i say to myself, "what if things change?" and this is a problem because i bind myself to what i set out to do, because anything less will be a cop out and a failure. otherwise what's the point of setting the goal in the first place? "i'm afraid of beginning because i don't know how to end."
these lessons just keep coming back up constantly in my life. they are the themes--because i just can't seem to remember them the first time? hope, not fear. gaze. try. it's not quite commitment--but it's the first step. i suppose you have to try to put yourself in position to make a commitment. i need to learn how to do this in the concrete. i can do this broadly, choosing to be with God through it all. it's the smaller decisions that seem much harder, because they are far less clear.
i'm not going to do everything right. i'm going to make mistakes. i'm going to hurt people, and myself. i have to accept that. that is part of life. and i must hope that people will afford me grace. and that the good i do will have more meaning than all the mistakes. that the night will not take my heart. that God will give me much when i gaze into him. that i am his beloved. then i will be able to chose, to commit.
if i had a soundtrack to this season of my life, i think it would be this. especially the first 4 songs.