29 August, 2016
Learning to thrive in a broken world
I don’t really trust people that talk about living “a full life”. I doubt their credibility and view them as naive.
To be frank, I’ve always thought of this kind of talk as absolute BS. I used to have a negative emotional reaction when anyone, especially Christians, used words like “living a full life”, “thriving”, “happiness”, “health and wellness” “being the best you”, “your best life now” or any other dumb cliche.
Some of my reasons for seeing this as dumb are justifiable skepticism, but if I’m honest, my main reasons are much deeper than that.
Where I’m coming from
Rewind a little bit, over the last 5 or so years I had become quite a negative and cynical person due to a long term battle with depression and anxiety, and this was linked to a whole host of other experiences – disillusionment and disappointment, a very complex and difficult family life, burnout and exhaustion, chronic fatigue and low self worth, to name a few. I hated when anyone said anything simplistic like “Just change your thinking” or “Believe in yourself”.
I was often infuriatingly jealous and angry towards people who I thought “had it all together”. Their lives seemed so damn easy! They cruised through school without getting bullied much, they learned how to be confident and successful very quickly, they smashed the HSC and university, and cruised seamlessly into adulthood, careers, marriages, independence, and success without any kinds of hurdles, crises, or any kinds of major setbacks.
Now, I don’t think that this person really exists, but to my young, hurting and angry self, a lot of people looked like this to me.
To make matters worse, I am a hypocrite when it comes to my faith in Jesus. For going on 8 years now I’ve been a Christian, and if you know me you know I’m not kidding around. Knowing God and living for him is why I live. Yet, I am a hypocrite. I am self loathing when God calls me to see myself as valuable. I am weighed down by a million burdens when God calls me to give them to him, and to rejoice in his love and care. I am crushed by anxiety when God calls me to give my worries to him. I am jealous and stubborn and vain, preoccupied with myself and impatient with the needs of others, yet at the same time weighed heavily with shame and guilt, when God repeatedly says all the time through his Word that I’m forgiven and accepted. Why should anybody listen to me when I say that Jesus is my treasure? The things I think about, the time and energy and money I spend don’t usually reflect what I want to reflect. My happiness is not based on God’s love, it is based on the fleeting whims of whatever is happening that day.
Life has not been easy, it has never been peaches and cream. So when I talk about living a full life, I don’t say that out of naivety of the harsh realities of life in our broken world. Some struggles won’t be over until heaven.
A paradigm shift
But there really are a lot of things that can be changed. I know now, there are things in my life that can be dealt with. I don’t need to live a life of bitterness, anger, anxiety or low self worth. While I can’t control the cause, and I can’t delete the fact that it’s here, I can deal with it now.
This really takes a whole paradigm shift – change is possible, there is hope, you will be OK. There really are some things in life that you do have the power to change. Once you understand who God is and who you really are, you can be equipped to start changing a lot of things and live a richer and fuller life.
Like many people in my age bracket and culture, I both didn’t understand how and didn’t believe in the why of self care. I didn’t think I was worth really investing in and didn’t see the value of stewarding good mental and physical health in order to improve my quality of life.
Yet now, things are starting to change. For a lot of reasons, which I will keep talking about the more I write, I’m starting to understand again what it means to really live.
I’m going to write about a lot of things, what I’m learning and also what’s happening. I’m in the process of overcoming a long battle with chronic fatigue, learning how to “biohack”, training for a 10K fun run in a few weeks, working part time, reflecting on what I’m learning, writing, making music, and starting to plan a little more long term. I’m getting past seeing life as a day to day battle and starting to really set goals for myself.
I’m learning how to live a life of joy, to see myself the way God sees me, and rest in the fact that his grace is sufficient to cover all of my sin and failures, and equip me to live a full life for Him.
This is a journey I’m on and I’m making mistakes along the way as I learn. But maybe you can learn with me and be inspired.
I look forward to it,
Grace for Failures is the blog of Carlin Doyle to encourage and inspire people who have gotten life wrong for a long time, and want to try and do things a little differently.