This morning a friend sent me a copy of an e-mail I wrote to him ten years ago. That younger me was a lot deeper than I remembered. Here’s the e-mail:
I’ve been wondering what I hope to accomplish in this life, what I hope to accomplish with the stuff that I’m doing at the moment. Sometimes it feels like having a steady income, a home of my own and a wife that I adore - all the things that make life complete - is all so far away and I’m not making any progress towards it whatsoever. I’ve just to have faith that the Lord is guiding me and shaping my life. And between friendship with this world and the love of God, I must choose the love of God every time, even if it means a harder walk through the world. It’s not always easy though.
But the times where it’s hard, where doubts seem to plague me, where hope seems foolish, where I feel inexplicably sad and lonely are usually fairly short-lived. I can turn to the word and replenish my spirit a bit. But I feel a lack. A lack of genuine fellowship and a lack of a proper time for prayer. Most Biblical figures went through these same trials, most of them to a far greater degree. Just read Psalms or Job for an appreciation of just how desperate things can get. And they hung tough, they cried to the Lord, but never at him. At their most miserable and pathetic they turned to him, not from him. And their faith and temerity were rewarded a hundred times over. And they left their mark in this world, left an example from the past that still speaks us today.
Whenever you feel like you’re getting nowhere in this world, take a look at the people that are. Are they truly happy? Or do they merely purchase superficial trappings to imitate the happiness adverts promise? Aren’t they just ticking off all the trivial marks of ‘success’ one by one like a DIY project? How many of them know lasting contentment deep within their spirit? And how many of them are trying to fill an emptiness inside with a richness outside? How many of them have beautiful spouses and empty marriages? How many of them have no real relationship with their own families?
Can this be success? Can this be happiness?
Don’t look at those around you in awe and envy, they do not have everything worked out - no-one does. They merely pretend it better than others. Walk your own path, be true to your ideals and beliefs even when it seems foolish to others. They will be silently envying your character, your richness in friends and your easy contentment. Do not be fooled by their outer show, inside they may well be desolate and sad.
Remember this when it seems as if your life is tragic and you feel as if you’ve chosen the wrong path, regain your perspective, because in the morning a new day will dawn and your outlook will brighten with a renewed spirit, knowing that you walk in the love and righteousness of your Almighty Father.