Image by David Sweeney www.davidsweeneyart.com
I'm finding out what it used to be like to be my employee. I'm finding out what it used to be like to be married to me. How? Through what I'm now experiencing as an employee. Through how I'm now being treated. Why? I think there a couple of reasons. I don't exactly believe in the Buddhist theory of Karma. But, I do believe that what goes around comes around in this life. And, I also believe that God allows physical circumstances to teach us spiritual lessons.
There's part of me that wonders if God really does care about our circumstances in this life. Why do some people live long and some live short lives? Why are some healthy and some diseased? Why are some ugly and some beautiful? Rich and poor? Powerful and powerless? Upper class and lower class? Wise and ignorant? Why do the good die young? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do the evil prosper? Is there any meaning in this life? Who is John Galt?
Ultimately, I believe God does care about us, but not in the way that we traditionally have held. I don't believe that God cares that much about the physical world or our physical circumstances in it. He does not care much about our happiness. This is why I don't buy in to the prosperity ministries that are out there. These self-help, positive thinking ministries could only survive in a first world country like ours. They would have no place in a third world country and are therefore useless. Our circumstances are simply the backdrop through which God gives us opportunity to respond. In this sense, those who live uneventful, unchallenged lives are at a disadvantage, because they have less opportunity to grow. Those living charmed lives have their own set of challenges. What temptations do beauty, wealth, power and popularity bring that must overcome? We can identify with those whose lives are saddled with poverty, plain looks, mediocrity and just plain bad luck. We understand how people have the ability to grow through difficult circumstances. "Consider it all joy...when you encounter various trials..." But, the world and its circumstances are the media that God uses to refine us. To test our mettle. To provide us with chances to grow, to build character, to find out what we are made of, to figure out what is important in life and what is not.
Man truly is the cause of all that is evil in this world. His vices and greed and envy and selfishness cause violence and murder and war. We plot and scheme and cheat and steal and commit all sorts of torture and treachery. Many times it seems as though those who practice all of these evils prosper. But, the Scriptures caution the rest of us not to envy them.
So, what spiritual lessons am I learning from my physical circumstances? I'm understanding what happens to my spirit when I'm belittled. It's demoralizing. Deflating. Demotivating. I'm learning what my spirit feels like when I don't respect my leader. It makes me feel unprotected and afraid. It makes me feel unstable and uncertain. I'm learning what happens to my spirit when I am disrespected. It makes me feel small and defensive at the same time. I'm understanding what happens to my spirit when I'm picked on and bullied. I feel like it's unfair and senseless. That since it's irrational there's no way to respond in a way that will help the situation. There is no way to change the minds of those that matter in that world. So, why try? I feel very unappreciated. In short, I feel like my employees must have felt when I was the boss! I feel like my wife must have felt when I was the angry, frustrated, impatient, irrational husband that I was. I feel like my children must have felt to have a father like I was. And it doesn't feel good.
The value of going through these physical circumstances is that it give me a mirror to look at me. To realize that I can cause great spiritual damage to those around me. To feel in the depths of my spirit, these damaging emotions and understand that I have cause these very same feelings in those close to me is a haunting jolt of reality. It makes me want to do better. To strengthen my weak mind. To ask for help in the monumental task of changing my human nature. It makes me want to be the human being I was supposed to be. I don't want to be the cause of pain and hurt and fear that I used to be. God help me not to be that person, but to be better, stronger, more humane, more spirit centered, more loving and caring. Amen.