As I’m writing this I look outside the window beside me to gaze upon the beauty of the bay side of Cape San Blas and there is a young boy returning from the dock with a fishing pole in hand. I have my headphones on and I’m listening to the collab edition of “Rodeo Clowns” by Jack Johnson and G. Love and Special Sauce (yes, thats a real band that I listen to). I took a run on the beach this morning, down to the donut shop to get a deep fried glazed croissant that I promptly brought back and put bacon on before devouring it. My wife is napping in the next room, our friends are still on the beach, and we have plans for Jumbo Jenga and s'mores with some new friends we met yesterday. To my left there is a cup of black coffee and 4 of my favorite cookies, biscoff, the kind you get on plane rides. There is literally nothing that I could add to this scene that would improve my chances for contentment. I should be completely satisfied and yet there is something inside of me that feels lacking. I cannot at this exact moment put my finger on it but it is there.
I am reading a book on this trip called “Ghost Boy” by Martin Pistorius which chronicles the life of the author who at 12 years old loses all control over his body and yet his mind remains completely in tact. He is locked inside a silent shell unable to communicate in anyway to those around him. Day after day he goes to the care center and sits. For years his father drops him off there and picks him up. He eats the same food for years, listens to the tv which is just out of his view, and sits, tied to his wheelchair unable to do anything for himself. He tells of how his need for constant care put an incredible strain on his family and drove a wedge between his parents that almost drove them over the edge. His mother was so broken that she asked him to die to allow for some reprieve from the painful life they were all living, and Martin heard every word but remained unable to respond in anyway.
I suppose as you read over these two scenarios you might be tempted to say “See Scot, it’s not so bad. You are in paradise while poor Martin was in hell! You should be so happy!” and in many ways I would agree with you. It’s a common practice to think upon others who in far worse situations than us as a means of overcoming our discontent. I’m reminded of the caricature of a child complaining about the peas on his plate and the mother who worked so hard to prepare them responding with something along the lines of “there are children in africa who would love to have peas!” as a means of coercing their child to partake. While this may be a quick way out of our funks I don’t believe it really addresses the problem. The problem that needs solving remains: Why do people who have so much remain wanting?
As we talk about being known, one of the areas we must address is that we need to know ourselves. It is imperative to stop and try to understand what is going on in my soul rather than just pulling out my list of third world country stats to get myself back on track. I need to know where that feeling of discontent comes from because if I don’t figure it out I’m liable to go grasping at anything and everything good or bad to correct it. i can only ignore that feeling for so long before it leads me to groping after things that can’t satisfy me. So, in real time I’ve been trying to assess where this feeling of discontent originated from so I could address it directly rather than running to more donuts, compulsive spending, or drifting down the beach to gawk at bikini clad women.
Sometimes this takes other people helping me, often it takes quiet reflection, but if i’ll look inward it will eventually surface. As you hone this skill you will find that you have 3 or 4 things that typically leave you feeling this way. Mine are usually that I am lacking intimacy, purpose, or that I am afraid.
As I sat down to write this entry I honestly didn’t know what I was going to write about. I was feeling disappointed in myself for not staying ahead like I had done so well at first. I’ve grown discouraged about the reach this blog has and the lack of speaking opportunities that have come from it and so I was feeling like I wasn’t succeeding at the purpose I set out to fulfill. Now that I can see where the lacking is coming from I can spend some time letting Jesus tell me the truth and fill me up so I don’t run to lesser gods, begging for them to make me whole.
So, next time you are in a funk and you don’t know why, take some time to assess what your feeling. What are your unmet needs? What are you reaching out for that you know will leave you wanting? Don’t just brush it off by thinking upon those less fortunate than you, deal with it and let Jesus speak into those needs in the way that only he can.