You, Me, and Everyone Else in the World
It's hard enough being authentic in the internet age, but throwing spirituality into the equation can complicate matters further.
For example, where's the line between admitting weakness (so that others can offer prayer and support) and splashing your problems all over the place so that others will feel sorry for you (whining)? Where's the line between demonstrating joy in the midst of struggles (authenticity) and pretending as if those struggles don't affect you (fakery)?
I'll be the first to admit that I'm still figuring these things out and that the line may be different for each of us.
But I think I'm doing better at finding the line in my daily life than I am in my internet life.
It's always been my desire to bring a sense of lightness to my internet interactions. "Fun, yet not frivolous" is what I'm going for (although there's been some frivolity along the way...).
Unfortunately, it's come to my attention that I may have inadvertently painted an inaccurate picture, leading to the the mistaken idea that I wouldn't understand and/or sympathize with problems, since I don't seem to struggle.
We all stumble in many ways, says James. He's right, of course. We all face discouragement, failure, collapsed relationships, rejection, fear, temptation, and sin. We all make mistakes and bad choices. We all misunderstand others, ourselves, and God.
In short, we all struggle: you, me, and everyone else in the world.
Our struggles might not be identical, but that doesn't mean that they don't exist.
Struggles may come to all, but the good news is that the solution is the same for all: knowing Jesus can bring light into darkness, wisdom to the simple, comfort to the weak, strength to the failing, and courage to the timid.
When I struggle, the Spirit often reminds me of Jesus praying not my will, but yours. It's comforting to note that the Father didn't chastise Jesus for his agony any more than he chastised David for expressing his anguish in the Psalms.
My prayer today - a prayer for you, me, and everyone else in the world - is that each of us will echo the words of another psalmist, one who experienced spiritual anguish over being exiled from Jerusalem:
Deep calls to deep
at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
have gone over me.
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
Send out your light and your truth;
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling!
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.
(see the full chapters here.)
These words perfectly reflect not only the depths to which our souls can sink when our circumstances fill our vision, but also the heights to which we can be lifted when we remember where our hope lies.
I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.