We're well into resolution season at this point, and the truth is starting to hit home for so many - there are some things about yourself that just aren't going to change.
We make all kinds of resolutions about how we want to be different, and they usually revolve around exterior things. We want to take better care of our hair this year. Or maybe we're not going to Walmart in pajama pants this year. Or we want to lose weight. Or we're finally going to do something about that crooked tooth or our bent nose or our eyebrows that have become a singular eyebrow. Or we're going to stop smoking or drinking or getting high. What we want is to look better so we can feel better, and for most of us, the new year brings a new opportunity to invest more deeply in this sort of thing.
But what if that's not what life is all about?
We know that it isn't. If you asked us outright about some of these things, we'd tell you that we know they don't matter. But they matter to us.
When we talk about employment in the world, we come up against the same sorts of things. There are some persons I know who are embarrassed to tell someone what they do for a living because it doesn't seem like it's anything at all, like it matters at all. I think if the pandemic has shown us anything, it ought to be that those who think their jobs aren't anything at all are often "essential" workers. We need them. They ought to be proud of what they do; we all ought to be proud of what we do, whatever it is. And we ought to be persons who affirm and encourage others in that.
Or some will say that they just need more money, and they'll convince themselves that every well-paying opportunity is a good opportunity. For them, the bottom line is the top bill. It's the thing they want to be most true about themselves - they make good money. I saw recently where a well-known company is bringing a hundred or so new jobs to my town, and the reaction was split. Some said that this company does not treat their employees well, while others said that of course they do - they pay a high wage. It's impossible sometimes to convince a person that earning a high wage does not mean you are being treated well. All they care about is the money.
We have all these standards by which we judge our lives, and they come out in the things that we are proud or ashamed of, the things that we're most willing to change about ourselves (or at least try to change), the things we become so focused on and the truth is, we focus on them because of the way they're wrapped into one great big lie.
The lie works like this: the world has told us that these are the things that are important - our looks, our titles, our bank accounts - and in doing so, the world has taught us that these are the things that we should look at and if these are the things that we should look at, then these are the things that everyone else is looking at. So whatever we see and don't like about ourselves in these things are the same things the world sees and doesn't like about us.
And at our core, we all want to be liked.
It's not that the things we want to change about ourselves are not worth changing. There are some changes all of us can make toward better and healthier lives.
But what we have to guard against is the notion that these things are fundamentally who we are. That we are nothing more than this. There is nothing I have mentioned in today's post that tells anyone else in the world anything substantial about who you are. Nothing. There is nothing that reveals who God created you to be.
When all things come to an end, these things, too, shall pass away and you will be left with...what?
We call these measures "quality" of life, but they are no such thing. The true quality of your life is far, far different. You know this. You've heard this. But this week, I'm going to prove it to you. And hopefully, you'll never think of your life and all these piddly little things the same way again.
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