“I’m okay. I’m just tired.”
I don’t know what you usually say if you’re ever a bit tired and down and, truth be told, as you look around at our world and society, deeply disappointed.
But that’s what I say. To others and to myself at those times. I hope most folks don’t think of me as being depressive and depressing. I hope my tombstone has something engraved on it pointing to the real hope I absolutely believe is ours in Christ. But, yes, on some days, I figure that stone will say: “I’m okay. I’m just tired.”
Living in this world has always been tiring. And lots of people have had, and do have, things a lot harder than we do. I’m a wimp, and I know it. I should be far more grateful, and I know it. Which disappoints me in me a great deal.
No tribal warlord is hauling off my grandchildren. No “dear leader” is starving me so he can play with nuclear warheads. No sawed-off dictator is dropping bombs on my head and on daycare centers and hospitals while moaning to anyone who will listen (shame on us if we do) that he’s been seriously provoked and can’t be blamed.
“In times like these, it helps to remember that there have always been times like these,” a wise person once said. True, I think. But a lot of us do seem a bit more than usually tired. Stuff adds up. I hesitate to start listing much.
But, wow, when you think about it, in just the last few years… I’m talking about all of us here. Not even counting the individual challenges that come to each of us personally. Just a taste here. Serious racial strains and then riots, looting, and arson in summer 2020 in Oregon. Such behavior is never defensible. Then the mess at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. No way that was defensible; it was shameful and pathetic. Oh, and the 2020-21 ham-handed withdrawal from Afghanistan. Disgusting.
And the politics connected? Pathetic. People, including chief executives, trying to defend the indefensible are always pathetic. In the military, generals presiding over serious wrecks on their watch are almost always held accountable by some combination of reduction in rank and pay, forced retirement, etc. I wonder why at the voting booth we don’t seem to hold Commanders-in-Chief just as accountable. I love the cartoon where one of our recent presidents (I’d make it two, and provide two horses) is handed the reigns of a horse: “Here’s a horse, pard, and there’s the sunset. You know what to do.” If only. How lobotomized and spineless do our political parties have to be to rush us, one more time, toward a choice in 2024 that the majority of Americans greet with as much enthusiasm as the choice between a near-fatal bout of hemorrhoids or half a dozen root canals?
Oh, and I almost forgot (not really, but I’d like to) about a little pandemic. Brutal and 10 out of 10 on the stress-scale, even before it was politicized.
So, are we all tired and a little depressed? And maybe a lot disappointed because, for some reason, we expected better? Yes.
I need to listen to the late Dallas Willard, one of the wisest spiritual mentors I can imagine. He warned, “You have only to ‘stay tuned,’ and you can arrive at a perpetual state of confusion and, ultimately, despair with no effort at all.” Ouch.
So, what to do?
Tune in much more and much more often to God’s wisdom in his word than to society’s idiocy always in our faces. Focus on what is good and permanent, not what is maddening and fleeting.
It wouldn’t hurt to demand with our votes some combination of wisdom, character, and integrity from politicians, even as we often remind ourselves to “trust not in powerful princes, mortals who cannot save” (Psalm 146:3). The psalmist goes on to say, basically, that they die quickly and decay into dust. I admit to indulging in a grim smile when one commentator recently used the term “actuarial arbitrage,” making the not very nice claim that leaders of both parties wouldn’t be all that cut up if a blood clot or myocardial infarction solved their 2024 candidate problem in a way that required no courage at all on their part. Nope, not nice, but true, I bet.
Remember my Dallas Willard quote? Jesus himself told his disciples long ago, as he was introducing a great parable in Luke 18, that “they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” So, how not to become cynical and deeply disappointed? Jesus tells us where to “tune in.” Keep praying, he says. And on a much lower level, I might suggest that, once you’ve done the above, it might be good to call a friend who could use some encouragement. Or go dig in the garden or mow the yard. Positive change. Small, but real.
And, of course, we do very well to remember our true King and the kingdom that can never be shaken. His really is “the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.”
Oh, I so badly need to focus on that truth—if I want to have a healthy soul, the real and life-giving confidence of a child of God, and a much better epitaph than “I’m just tired.”
You’re invited to visit my website, and I hope you’ll take a look there at my new “Focus on Faith” Podcast. At the website, just click on “Podcast.” Blessings!
Copyright 2023 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.