Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Chief End Of Me

A few days ago, I wrote a post detailing my despair.

First world problems, for sure. But it is what it is, and I am in the middle of it.

I've had helpful conversations; I've sought fresh perspectives. I dedicated most of my day off to some much-needed self care.

And I had this thought one morning, unbidden, as I drove west on the highway that splits our county. Well, a fragment of a thought, really.

The chief end of man is....
....enjoy Him forever.

I lost the middle part, but the beginning and end were clear. Like so many things lately, I couldn't quite recall what I knew was buried in my brain. I thought, "John Piper? Is that Piper? Didn't he write that? And what's the middle part?"

I really didn't think it was Piper, but I knew it was something I needed with me. So, as most good Americans do when faced with challenging issues, I acted swiftly. At the next stoplight, I pulled out my iPhone and googled it.

It is the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and if fully reads as follows:

The chief end of man is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him for ever.

John Piper begins one of his books with this statement, and since I'm not well-versed in catechisms of any sort, I knew that the refrain of these words were buried in the time I spent in that book. Which book? Well, I still haven't googled the results of that lost memory, but I got what I needed.

I mulled that over a bit, and before getting bogged down in whether or not that truly is the chief end of man, I contemplated whether or not I was effective on either count.

Glorify God? 

Oh, I pray I am found faithful there. I strive to that end and I spend most waking moments seeking ways to do that, not only personally but in my vocation(s).

Enjoy Him?

That requires a bit of contemplation. From the pit of self-pity and despair, I don't see much enjoyment on the map - not of God or life or anything else. It certainly was something to think about.

A day later, I was driving - again - and in burst another thought. Again, unbidden, but I trust that it swam up from the depths of my subconscious because I needed it. It had to make itself known.

To paraphrase, I heard myself speak to myself, and it went something like this:

"Yes, you are going to die. Life is short. 
So how about you just have a good time from this point forward?"

It was my grandmother's voice, spoken with love and a twinkle in her eye. It was my mom, being matter-of-fact and truthful. It was Bob, with a hearty laugh and that gorgeous smile. It was my husband, with tenderness and love.

This is certainly no new revelation, and undoubtedly many of you readers made your way to this truth long before it stumbled its way into my brain. But the mere fact that the thought appeared helped me understand a bit more of what I was feeling. And thinking.

And fighting.

I still mourn the loss of my dear friend, Bob. I don't even realize it until the grief sneaks up on me and I find myself crying, or simply soaking in sorrow.

I miss my grandmother, too. I regret every day I didn't have with her because I was in the midst of a busy season of babies.

I still mourn the loss of my marriage to my kids' dad - even though its death brought life and new relationships and many, many good things. It is part of my history, and there are days when I am reminded of some of what was lost.

I mourn the loss of my kids' childhoods. It has happened so unbelievably fast, and now they are flying all over the country and driving cars and working jobs and planning lives and leaving.

And I think I am mourning the loss of my younger self; because deep in the midst of all this first-world angst, I believe there is a hormonal sea-change surging in me. I've never been one to write off bad or inexplicable behavior to hormones, but I've a strong suspicion that I am at the mercy of those changes. I think it's about that time.

With all these things, there are two sides. The yin and the yang, the good and the bad, the joy and the sorrow. And I wonder if that's the lesson of this season; that the sum of a life is in the coexistence of all that it's made of. I'm seeing things differently, from the New Year's Eve party to my role in my job to my parenting.

And there's room for it all.

So how about I just have a good time from this point forward?


spookyrach said...

A good time from this point forward? Absolutely. Wishing you the best of luck!

Brandee Shafer said...

I love your introspection: how you don't just let things lie murky within you (especially yuck). You are an amazing person. Make room on your calendar for me, if you can.

annie said...

Lovely work, Beth!

I had a friend write this to me "you have more self-awareness than most people I know, and sometimes it does as much to get in your way as it does to help you. (As does mine!) You keep watching yourself, monitoring yourself, and I keep wanting to say something on the order of, “Let it be, child, let it be.” Let yourself just be who and where you are."

It's an ongoing process but I hope you can continue to let yourself learn to be who and where you are, and to have a good time from this point forward! I hope I can learn it too!

Thanks for your honest sharing.

(You might want to check out my recent blog post...)

Natasha Stewart said...

Live! You represent so many woman an speak so many unspoken words. Thank you.

lorwhee said...

Your honesty and ability to speak the truth that resonates with me and others is amazing. I read your statement, "Yes, you are going to die. Life is short. So how about you just have a good time from this point forward?" and I stopped breathing for just a moment. I am scared, I can't stop life from moving so fast and I can't change the unknown future. So can I love now, in this moment without fear and live my life to the fullest as God wishes? I am going to just breathe and try every moment from now on. Thanks for the reminder.