Striving and Satisfaction

We’ve all had good days, and we’ve all had bad days. We’ve probably all had days that went from good to bad, or bad to good, or stayed solidly somewhere in the middle. If anyone ever tells you that they’ve just had the worst day ever, tell them to visit Hiroshima or Nagasaki… or Auswitch… or Carthage… then hit them… preferably with something metal… ok, that’s probably going a little far. Don’t do that, but you get my point. Even though we should love overly dramatic people (thankfully, I can be one sometimes), it’s a ridiculous claim. Of course, on the other hand, the claim that you’ve never had a bad day is equally ridiculous.My day today went from pretty good to mildly bad and back again. I mentioned the other day that there’s a lady that I’m somewhat fond of, and I happen to know that she’s spending time with a friend of mine tonight… well, a couple of friends actually (which makes all of this even more ridiculous). Honestly, I know that what they’re doing is innocuous, and yet my satisfaction was ruined. Why? Very simply, I don’t know what she thinks of me. Now, here’s the ridiculous thing: Honestly, I don’t have a clue where I am romantically. I like this woman, but I’m really not sure if I’m ready for any kind of relationship, and I don’t know if I actually want to do anything about the fact that I like this girl. Nonetheless, my satisfaction is ruined because I’m not sure whether she wants something that I’m not sure that I want. This is the ridiculousness of humanity. The ridiculousness of me!

We all strive for the things that we want, or the things that we think we want, or even the things that we don’t really want, but think that maybe we should want, and when we don’t get them, or think we might not get them, we lose all sense of satisfaction. The thing is, happiness isn’t a choice. I can’t simply choose to be happy, or choose to be satisfied any more than I can choose to be orange or choose to be thin. None of these things are simple choices.

Our happiness is based on our desires, and our desires are based on the things we focus on. When my focus is on the fact that I want to be married, then I find myself unsatisfied because I’m not married. When my focus is on a woman, then I’m unsatisfied because she isn’t mine. When my focus in on wealth, then I’m unsatisfied because I am not wealthy, or at least I am not as wealthy as someone else. Thus, in striving to become I destroy my own satisfaction.

I lose all sense of the fact that I am who God has made me, not that he is finished (far from it in fact), and that I am who God is making me. I forget that he is what I should be striving for, instead of striving for all of the things that I see and want around me. Laozi, a Chinese philosopher, introduced the concept of Wu Wei, or ‘non-action’, though the idea might be better translated as ‘non-striving’. Laozi believed that the Tao was the essence of all things (obviously I disagree with him here), and that our only striving should be a striving to be in harmony with the Tao, and even this should not be a true striving. He believed that we should seek to be in harmony, and that when we were in harmony we would naturally do the things that should be done. That is to say, that we will do right without striving to do right.

Christians are commanded to abide in Christ, and when I truly abide in Christ, when I am holy, then my actions will be right. When I abide in Christ and keep my focus on him, then I find myself satisfied because he does not fail. When my focus waivers, when I focus on something else, then my satisfaction disappears. In striving to better myself, or to achieve my desires, or to meet arbitrary goals, I find myself unsatisfied because all of these things are dust. These strivings can never satisfy me, because these achievements are meaningless.

Do not think that I mean that marriage is a bad thing, or that to be wealthy is evil. This is not what I am trying to say. However, marriage without Christ is meaningless. Wealth without Christ is worthless. Christ is all things, and when I am in Christ, then I will be satisfied with whatever he chooses to give me. When I am in Christ, then marriage will be wonderful, if that is what he chooses to give me, and if it is not, then it will be equally wonderful to be single.

I think that I’ve probably botched this entirely, but I’m still kind of working these ideas through in my head. However, I think that Americans have generally lost all concept of being satisfied with what God gives us, and this makes me very sad.

One thought on “Striving and Satisfaction

  1. Pingback: Confucius Failed | Celibacy in the Modern World

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