Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Personal Mountains (04/06/16)

Revised 04/07/16
Say that a person took a theoretical test about the quality of their days (on a scale from 1 to 10) and they got the above results. Assuming that there is no interference between the actual quality of the day or by how the quality was measured, where would you think the person's perceptions of these days would fall? (If the graph is truly the quality of the day, not the person's perception.) Would the average person have a more optimistic view of their own life, or would the results show a more pessimistic view?

My guess is that most people would be pessimists, at least in this sense. Our society is especially good at tagging something as perfect and then finding fault with it. I think that kind of group pessimism comes from each of us into the group as a whole, and then the group pessimism enters each individual, like a cycle of pessimism.

Think about it- we naturally surround ourselves with the lowest points in everyone's lives. The books, movies, and TV shows we watch all need a point of highest action and lowest happiness, which is the climax. That may be why high schools give students such depressing books to read during one of the low points in their own lives- by learning about climaxes from books that are really good at them, we know how better to deal with our own lives when we really need it.

Also, if you want to argue that books, movies, and TV shows are a bad example of how we perceive life, consider the present-day, American church as a whole and as a metaphor. As we (as individuals) try to make our way closer to God, sometimes the handholds we think are reliable are weaker than we think, so we slip. The churches and pastors try to make a safety net at the bottom so you don't fall too hard when you can't hold on. They talk about forgiveness and tell you what to do when you mess up.

Is that okay? The answer is a definite yes! If I fall, I don't want to hit rock bottom, literally figuratively. (Literally, because it would be a rock, but figuratively because it's still in the figurative example.) I don't care if I have a helmet, mostly effective climbing gear, and complete confidence that I won't fall- if there's any chance of me falling and hurting myself, I want something or someone there to save me, and I get this through Christ and the church.

But what about that equipment? Can we anchor ourselves in a way that it would take conscious effort to let ourselves fall? I think there's merit in that. We already have the helmet of salvation (Ephesians chapter 6), which I would say applies in this case as well. The harness would be the web of our actions, beliefs, and strengths that depend on our support but are also rooted in faith in Christ. Our lifeline, word choice intended, would be what is more out of our control, like our friends, family, and church mentors, and it is once again aided by God. I won't get into the debate of whether or not we can sabotage ourselves by cutting the cord, harness, and/or safety net, because that's a debate for another time.

*This comparison is also not complete in all senses. Don't confuse yourself with connections that don't fit because they weren't made to fit in the first place.

My point is that we as a community focus more on falling and stopping the impact than we actually try stopping the cause. We're too worried about the Valley of the Shadow of Death that we don't realize that we've climbed the Mountain of Life to avoid it. The mountain climb is what we need more than the lack of valley traveling. That may be when we're the closest to God- when we don't realize what we're doing right because we always have more that we're doing wrong.

In conclusion, we need to appreciate the good days and the good times more than we should worry about whatever Valleys we are trying to avoid. We need a church to be our safety net, our faith to be our harness, our friends to be our lifeline, and Christ to keep us alive and keep us together. It's okay to be saved at a young age and never lose the faith.

It's okay to be a Christian your whole life and never have to completely test the strength of the other things holding you up. You don't have to be part of the crowd that doesn't get saved for years or gets saved and has to come back to the faith. Learn to recognize when you're spiritually strong so you can fortify your own equipment and help those around you. Appreciate your spiritual mountains. Always try to come closer.

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