January 19

Addendum to “On Being a Misfitting Christian”

Having put down my thoughts in the original post, I’ve been able to reflect a bit more on the matter from a slightly different perspective.  Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

It may be that what has set me apart from so many others is not as much commitment as it was and is the depths of desperation that had possessed me so deeply in the events immediately leading up to the moment of my conversion.  I have said many times in the past that I had sought for meaning and purpose in life throughout my teens and early twenties and, having found nothing in life truly worth living for, had given myself to “drugs, sex, and rock ‘n’ roll” — the hedonism and nihilism mentioned in the earlier post.

The last vestige of hope remaining for me back then was the hope of love: of finding someone I could love and who would love me.  When that last rope of hope was finally hacked in two, I was set adrift.  I was free to do and be nothing in the meaningless experience I called life.

And then the hedonism and pleasures and distractions finally failed me, too, and I was truly in despair: a total absence of hope of and for anything.  It was into that despair that Christ sent me; it was out of that despair that He saved me.

But before that happened I had hit bottom. Hard.  In retrospect, I needed to.  I was emotionally and intellectually spent.  There was nothing that could prevent me from free-falling into absurdity and existential loneliness.  I was utterly helpless.

I had lost my life and had become lost in life.  The emptiness and desperation were inescapable and all-consuming.  I had no place to go and no reason to go.  Anywhere.  Life was silent and deafening, empty and overwhelming; echoes of an endless void within me.

But while there was nothing that could help there was still Someone who did help.  When Christ came along it was all-or-nothing for me because I had been and been to nothing and couldn’t survive there.  So it was all in all the time with Christ.  It wasn’t any moral or spiritual superiority that drove me to that point.  It wasn’t even extreme gratitude.  It was, once again, desperation.  Christianity had to be true.  If it wasn’t, then that was it.  Maybe insanity would have been all that could be left.  A Nietzchean solution.

And so I sold myself and gave myself and devoted myself and did every other thing I could think of to commit myself to my only hope in life.  The gratitude and the thankfulness came later.  Jesus had died for me – given His life for me – and I swore to give my life to Him as much as I possibly could.  And while that sounds real spiritual you must remember: my life was skubalon1 at that point; it was even less than crap.  My life wasn’t worth anything to me so giving it away was hardly a big sacrifice.  My life for His?  How could I not make that deal?  Give nothing for everything?  Really?

So maybe all of the above is part of the explanation, too.  I’m sure it’s not all of it.  But it’s an important part of it.

Maybe the men around me have never felt such deep emptiness and despair.  In some ways, I hope they never have.  Maybe they didn’t have to; I don’t know.  I can’t really explain someone else’s life. I’m still trying to figure out mine.

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1 The NT Greek word for crap, used by Paul in Php 3.8




Posted January 19, 2014 by Doc Mike in category "Pastoral Resources

1 COMMENTS :

  1. By Diana on

    You really made this clearer for me, Mike. I have always felt a little guilty that I have never hit bottom and have wondered how deep my faith could be, having never been held to the fire. In fact, I have a very strong Christian friend who regularly points out how little I have ever suffered Either for Christ or even at all. I have enjoyed great and even amazing good fortune-so far. Will that sustain me in the tragedies which might lie ahead? Tolstoy wrote of Ivan Illyich “…[his] life had been most ordinary, and therefore most terrible.” Maybe, like Ivan, I chose the ordinary life. I guess time will let me know.

    Reply

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