Monday, April 27, 2009

Against Solitude

You may be wondering..."if there is a part one to 'On Optimism', surely there must be a part two, but then again, Jessica is apt to defy logic on a regular basis."  First of all, HUMPH!!  Second of all, yes, there will be a part two.  I just actually have to sit down and write it, which I haven't done.  This next entry is a small writing assignment I completed over breakfast last Tuesday morning.

Before now I have greatly commended solitude as something which I enjoy enjoying.  But there is a downside.  There is probably a downside to everything, but most of those downsides I would rather not think about.  I will acknowledge that it is good to be honest and realistic on some downsides, especially if in doing so I am kept or keep someone else from harm, one way or another.  

So it is with solitude.  I can tell myself, "Oh, yes, I can live alone in the middle of nowhere.  I would enjoy it; I don't need people."  But, for one thing, I would have no idea whether I was being true to myself by saying that.  I have never tried living completely alone.  It might be nice for a while, but surely I would get lonely.  A second point is that even if I don't need people...what if people need me?  Not to think of myself in such a great light or anything.  The thing is that nobody may actually be aware that they need me, but they still do, somehow.  If it isn't my direct help, then it may be at least some subtle influence or another.  My goal is to lead as many people to Christ as possible while on this earth.  That is really what life is all about; everything else is about having fun and/or surviving, and then surviving only to have fun, or to hang on to life for some odd reason.  Some do, however, strive for their own lives so they may continue to keep their children alive and protect their wives and things like that.  

But what is the point of living if, when you die, you go to heaven?  Why do even Christians value their earthly lives?  Why do we do things like eat healthily and organically and avoid other things that don't severely hinder our life's course if we are going to die anyways, and when we die we have eternal life in Christ?  Without the answer, it all seemed so pointless.  I guess if you don't believe in God or heaven, and you believe that your only life here is on this earth, and when you die you go nowhere, then it makes sense.  To hold on to your life here as much as possible.

But what about Christians?  And the only answer that has satisfied me is this: life is all about using where God has placed you, using the tools and gifts he has blessed you with to lead everyone possible to him.  To spread the Gospel; to give everyone the hope of eternal life, and the chance to live in their own heaven-on-earth.  

Now I get it!  That is why I have always been hearing things like "Do EVERYTHING to the glory of God!"  It's not some cheesy Christian saying that Christians say.  It is absoltely true.  

Thus, here is my argument: what good is solitute if it goes agains the meaning of life?  Even if it's solitude with only one's family, what is the point of living in isolation?  If it is to hide from economic crisis and an extremely overbearing and nigh evil government...why?  To grow one's own food that is without the poisons that the FDA requires to be in all they approve?  Good enough reasons, except...for what?  Why?  What is the point of trying so hard to survive, if you have no opportunity to preach the Good News?  It is selfish, really.  Why did I want it?  I wanted it for me, and no one else. 

Sure, I could justify it by saying, "Well, while I live out in the middle of nowhere all by myself, I will write books, and those can lead people to Christ."  And that may very well be.  And there is nothing wrong with a little solitude.  Personally I would love to have a little country cottage on rolling hills with giant oak trees sprinkled here and there.  But I would want it nearby to a community.  I may be introverted, but I need people just as much as anybody else.  God created us as social beings.  He knew Adam could not just live on earth by himself.  Adam needed Eve not just to be "fruitful" with, but also (and more importantly) as a companion on earth.

Therefore I am against solitude with all my heart.  Being alone occasionally and in small doses is fine, but isolation?  No.  We were not created for isolation.       

Monday, April 20, 2009

On Optimism, Part One

I have wondered, this past week or so, why I always seem to automatically look at the bright side of things.  It wasn't as if a year or two or however long ago I said to myself, "In order to be happier and improve my outlook on life, from now on I will always look at the bright side of any given situation."  It just happens; I just do.  And I have begun to think that the reason is some combination of events in my life thus far.  Vague, huh?  Let me try and explain...

When I was very young I would often go to my Grammy and Papa's (and then, Aunt Sue-Sue's) house.  Okay, I still do that, but for some reason it seems like I did it more a long time ago.  Anyways....whatever the occasion, other relatives would often stop by.  They would talk, and I would listen (I wouldn't look like I was listening, but I was, indeed).  I picked up on a lot of stuff, but one thing remains most prominent.  It was some celebration in the summer, 4th of July or thereabouts, and I was probably five or six.  Some guy-cousin or uncle, I can't remember, was explaining some long story to my Grammy as I had come inside the kitchen to cool off for a bit.  I can't remember what the story was, exactly, but I remember it being interesting.  After he finished telling the story, what my Grammy said next, while I filled up a glass of water at the refrigerator, was what has stuck for the past 13 or 14 years: "Wow...isn't it amazing how God always has a plan to eventually work out even the bad stuff for good?"  I meditated on this as I trumped back outside.  What if God really did?  I might have to wait a long time to find out!

It was a year or two later that I found out that this was a Bible verse (Thanks to Hide Him in Your Heart!), and like I said, it stuck with me.  I began noticing little child-like/childish things after a while.  Nothing huge, of course.  But I was always of the opinion that it was the coolest thing ever! (besides Beanie Babies and Juicy Juice, of course).  

I appeared to abandon the idea, however, as I took the rough ride into teenager-hood.  From ages 11 1/2 to almost 16, hormones started off on a bad nerve with me.  And if life seemed full of despair and desperation for me, I am a thousand percent sure that I made life complete hell for my parents.  At about age 14, I distinctly remember taking great pride in my decisive pessimism.  I was a pessimist!  I got angry about everything!  I really did, I am sure of it.  After all, I had to walk and talk the talk of my half punk/half grunge-goth "identity."  I thought I liked who I was, but in all honesty I have no memories of ever being truly happy and joyful at that time.  Every journal entry was mad at somebody because I wasn't allowed to do something, and contained many schemes for rebelling and plans for all I would "accomplish" once I turned 18.  

All of that to say firstly that I was horribly discontent and pessimistic, and secondly to apologize to everyone who was close to me during that stage.  I am surprised you all stuck it through, and commend you for it!  

But I suppose that, by the time I entered my Junior year, I had worn out most all of any pessimism I had been programmed with, besides the little healthy dosage left to make sure my life became dramatic at some points here and there so it remained "interesting."  I was far from through being resurrected from the depths of despair, but it was at that time that I joined my current improv group, and made some really good friends on swim team (before that, everyone I knew on the team was just a casual friend).  These two amazing groups of Godly people, along with the people I was already friends with at that time (those who stuck it through or stayed anyways, despite my entire existence being flawed at the time), and my wonderful family, dug me out of the hole I was in - by hand - and held me up to towards the Light; towards my heavenly Father.  Slowly, but surely, I have been changing for the better, with the help of them.  MOST importantly my parents, who never gave up on me and NEVER let me stray off completely to sell my soul to the world.  

Now I can see, though, that even as I completely and utterly regret those cursed year, wishing they had never happened, I can see that there are so many things that would not have happened and so many mistakes made later, were my wish to come true.  The consequences might be something as horrible as death or causing great shame to my family.  I may have gone off to college and fallen too far, without the desire for the help of godly friends or parental influence.  I might have never had the amazing opportunity of joining the Unintentionals.  Had I not been SO depressed at one point that my mother insist I join the homeschool swim team and swim all my frustrations out, I would not have the greatest group of friends on the entire planet.  And so much more!  

In other words, where would I be???  The outcome is unimaginable, even for me.  

So that, my dear friends (old friends, swim team friends, improv friends, and new friends....I love you all!), is one grand reason I am so entirely optimist all the time.  Even though something looks hopeless, I can almost guarantee it is NOT.  I wasn't hopeless, was I?  I might as well have seemed very much so; the 13-year-old  kid who dresses as grungily as she can and looks as angry as possible for her first therapy session in order to attempt to scare the psychologist off?  Yup, that is bad.  But now I am pretty sure my happiness level is consistently at about 98.5%, nearly all the time.  If I am not a miracle (not to sound full of it or anything) then I don't know what is.  Thanks so much, everyone, for everything!


Monday, April 6, 2009

This Morning

The clouds are still grey with a hint of blue in them.  The fresh dogwood blooms are dampened by the early morning rain, and are dripping and drooping towards the lush, wet grass.  Sparrows call and finches chirp, calling the sun out from the shadows where it sleeps.  The softest breeze kisses the pine branches enough to induce droplets to tumble down, and the maple branches dance as the horizon grows brighter and brighter with every call of the waxwing.  The colors of Springtime are now illuminated fully as the orange rays spill over the grass.  Yet the sun shrinks back.  A tossing wind stirs the branches now, and then stops again.  

I smell the wetness of the yard through my window as the sun attempts to show its face again.  But alas, it is for a mere second before it seems I only imagined the rays.  And then...light!  Beautiful sunshine!  Here to stay...but gone again.  

It is fascinating how every day seems to be the same, but then it is different also.  Each day something happens, and the next day I think differently of everything than I did the day before, after my dreams cultivate in my brain.  My opinions don't change much, for I am not some wet blanket or another.  But even one mild event in one day can change an entire outlook in the next.  A friend and I long for childhood again, dress up in long skirts, and go take a midnight walk, stopping only to lay in a hammok to gaze longingly at the stars.  We talk of the future, of hopes and desires, and we make promises to each other all over again.  Another friend writes and reminds me of the life ahead of me; how the key to it is to simply walk through the open door, no matter how daunting the doorway is.  A book I chanced upon finally makes it all clear, that my idleness and idolatry are in vain.  My family is proof that there really is no place like home.

The direction does not have to be 100% clear.  The end does not have to be visable.  Then how am I supposed to know what is right?  Instinct is as trustworthy as stranger's casual opinion.  But God is good, and he has blessed me thus far.  Just because I cannot see does not mean I am walking blindly.  It would be better to lose my sight altogether; it would make me more fully rely on my Father, and acknowledge that he is the only one who really has the true ability to see anything.  

Outside it has grown dark again, with only a hint of what brightness kept peeping out.  But perhaps today is a day for clouds, and tomorrow the sun with shine.  


Blog Widget by LinkWithin