Tag Archives | faith

How living the same day over and over could lead to new things

Groundhog Day was one of my favorite movies of all time, so it was with interest that I read this particular article where the author attempts to calculate how much time Phil (Bill Murray) spent stuck in Groundhog Day, and concludes that it was roughly the equivalent of about 34 years.

Harold Ramis (the director) indicated that it was at least 10 years, so this probably isn’t a stretch.  34 years reliving the same day.  Whew.

And yet, as much as Phil may have seen that as a living hell, I see it really as an act of remarkable grace and fortune.  No matter how much he screwed up, the day was reset and he could start over with a blank slate, yet still remember the lessons he learned from the previous day.  It took years, but over that time he began to gradually morph into a different kind of person, one who looked outward instead of inward, and used the ample time he was given not only to become a better man, but a man who significantly expanded his horizon of knowledge and skills that often takes years to master (such as learning the piano and becoming an ice sculptor).

Those of us in the real world though only have a finite amount of time from which to spend our existence, and some of us do indeed experience our own version of Groundhog Day, living the same lives, doing the same things, day after day after day…

Except in our cases, by the time we wise up and start to realize how precious life is, 30+ years will have gone by that we will never get back again.  Once it’s gone, that’s it.  Unlike Phil, we get no do-over.

When I reflect on my own life, I realize, startlingly, that nothing has really changed for me in over 14 years.  I have the same job, same routine, same habits, same gripes, same complaints, same problems.  I’m a dog zipping around the same well worn tracks in a small backyard.  Is this really healthy?  Are we meant to become creatures of habit and stasis?

I do believe that we have a deep-seated need towards learning, creating, advancing and other things that give us a sense of achievement and accomplishment.  When we’re locked into a holding pattern though, each day the same as the one before, our minds begin to stagnate, becoming fat, lethargic and lazy.

There is something utterly fulfilling about forward motion, and likewise equally as depressing about remaining in stasis.

But what does forward motion mean?  Does it require a drastic life change such as quitting a job and moving to places unknown, or getting married?  Sooner or later the drudgery of life still tends to catch up, and even in new jobs and new families we can still find ourselves in constant stasis.

For Christians, one of the tenets of Scripture that so few can abide by is the persistent admonishment to STAND STILL (and see the salvation of the LORD).  To purposely cease from action and rely on God for dramatic changes of course in one’s life is probably one of the hardest acts of faith to follow through on.  Instead, I find many dismiss these commandments out of hand and move forward on their own, scheming, plotting, manipulating, and presumptuously believing every decision they make is sanctioned by God, without seeking His counsel, without praying, without any willingness to cede to His will.  To remain in one place, one spot, one boring moment in our lives that never seems to end is a thought that terrifies both Christians and non-Christians alike.

But what happens when that moment we live in, or more specifically, that day (as we see in Groundhog Day) is literally frozen in time beyond our control?  Are we forever doomed to stasis and a lack of forward momentum forever?

I believe that’s a question the film answers: ultimately, no, we’re not.  Even reliving the same day and trapped in the same mundane rituals of daily routine, we can still learn new things, forge new bonds, and continuously improve ourselves, our knowledge, and our skills, even if some of them might take years to master.  My mistake had been focusing on the routine, and using that to justify my complacency.  “Oh, my life isn’t going anywhere, so there’s no point in me trying to make the most of the time I have here on earth.”

It’s easy, too easy, for me to sit down and watch Netflix and just let my mind rot away, or endlessly check my emails every 5 minutes to see if the people I’ve emailed finally remember to stop being as rude as sin and get back to me.

I live next to one of the greatest cities in the world, and yet I look for every excuse not to visit.  I don’t take up a new hobby or visit new places.  I wallow in misery and depression because I’ve become so focused on wanting my Groundhog Day to END that I’ve lost interest in everything else.  I’m sick of the same old thing, the same old story, the same old problems, the same old day.  I fight, I rebel, and I look for ways out, often to my own detriment, and in the end I realize I’m fighting something I have no control over.  Only God can end my Groundhog Day, and if He chooses not to, then accepting that He is also a benevolent God, I must learn to understand why.  Is the monotony of life really the catalyst to my demise, or is there a lesson He wants me to learn from this (just as Phil had to learn), that would lead to my salvation instead?  By stressing over the things I have no control over, I am in essence telling God that I do not trust Him, that I do not believe His promises, that I in fact have doubts that He even cares or desires to change the circumstances of life in my favor.  And in all that despair I realized I was missing the forest for the trees.

While I must relive my own Groundhog Day for a season, that is time given to me to improve my life, get healthier, and prepare myself accordingly for when a new day finally arrives.  But above all, it is time needed to learn faith, by learning to let go of the things I cannot change and the doors I cannot open on my own.  If the life of living Groundhog Day should teach me anything, it is that I should learn to live in the moment, rather than worry about what will come tomorrow.  And even if that moment happens to be trapped in a day that endlessly repeats itself, it is still a moment worth living.

Marriage: The bell you can’t unring

I stumbled across a series of videos called Divorce Corps that highlights some of the abuses of the divorce/family court system in America.  Here’s one of them:

One of the reasons I’m so nitpicky about dating and marriage is that if things go wrong, I leave myself wide open for litigation that could literally drain my finances till they ship me off to the nursing home (or the looney bin, whichever comes first).  I simply have no defense for it (unless I was possibly rolling in tons of money and had a private jet that could take me to a country with a no-extradition treaty).  It also underscores the dangers of dating single moms, where men not only expose themselves to the risks of lifetime alimony, but also to paying decades of child support for children that are not theirs.

I’m still amazed at how I continue to be accused of being selfish for my reluctance to put my head on the chopping block at the behest of women who enjoy the benefits of a legal system that favor them at least 7 times out of 10.  I don’t believe I’m being selfish here, but I do believe I have a very healthy sense of self-preservation.

The reality of modern marriage has forced a cultural expansion of men who have become noncommittal, not because they’re ALL unwilling to be faithful and settle down, but because the risks have now absurdly outweighed the benefits.  One has to use razor-sharp intuition and top-notch vetting to avoid those women who at first might seem sweet as sugar and harmless as doves, only to morph into demonic hellspawn that will rain down nuclear fire on men for the most trivial or nonsensical of reasons.  (Our marriage just isn’t exciting anymore!)

As I contemplate the merits of marriage I wonder if I’ll ever be able to completely trust whoever I’m with.  Is it really possible to experience true love in a world where a loaded gun is perpetually pointed at my head?

That reality has helped me understand why we’re seeing an ever growing demographic of bachelors and players/pickup artists.  Short-term flings are not merely a quick way to experience sexual gratification and an artificial sense of romantic love without actual commitment, it’s also the safest way.  They simply have too much to lose otherwise.  Actions do indeed have consequences, and the actions of a feminist crazed society has wrought a lopsided divorce system that has all but ensured men who value commitment will become an endangered and perhaps even extinct species.

It’s tragic that most women will do nothing to change this, and even fail to connect the dots.  Compounding things even more is their notoriously fickle nature, by making their emotions the sole and authoritative arbiter of all that is right or wrong.  They FEEL, therefore it IS.  If they FEEL love, then it IS love, but if they FEEL unhappy, then that is also so.  Those who live this way will only stay in a marriage for as long as they FEEL happiness and love.  If they no longer do, they will not hesitate burn it down and salt the remains, then move on to their next emotional high.  Marriage for them is not a commitment for life, but an emotion.  How could we ever truly trust people who behave this way?

Too many women (and men to a lesser degree) let their emotions dictate their actions, yet the mark of wisdom is to recognize this pitfall and learn how our actions can dictate our emotions instead.  This is why it makes me so uneasy to see women who no longer “feel” a certain way about a man just… give up.  They don’t focus on the actionable nature of love and trust in its power to restore the feelings they so crave.   In short, they lack both patience and faith.

As a Christian, I have to accept that the true measure of love (and the romance that springs from it) will only be found to be genuine when it endures a fiery testing.  Romance is wonderful and something I crave beyond measure, but it masks the harsh realities of how much work it takes to build a successful relationship, work that takes both time and sacrifice, something very few people are willing to give.

And perhaps not without good reason.  We all have our fallen traits, our besetting sins, but who can know what’s in a person’s heart?  I may improperly judge a woman to be wicked, wayward, backslidden, not realizing that God is working in her a heart to please Him and that she would be one of the rare few who would take her marriage vows seriously and work to overcome all obstacles.  And yet I won’t persevere in pursuing her because I can only go by what I see.  We do indeed judge according to the appearance, but unless we are given a revelation about what is truly in a person’s heart, it’s often all we have to go on.  It is why we constantly choose our spouses poorly all while rejecting those whose hearts have been refined as gold tried in the fire.  The world will discard this as utter nonsense, but those who profess the name of Christ have access to the throne of grace, where we serve a Creator who is able to give wisdom abundantly to all who ask of Him and is certainly able to reveal to us the nature of a person’s heart (if we’re willing to listen).

Could I ever personally find my happy ending then?  All I know for sure is that I simply could not survive in this world without the hope and trust that God will direct me accordingly.  If I don’t have Him, I have nothing: no faith, no hope left that I’ll ever meet a girl who is meant for me, and I would succumb to the life of a perpetual and secular short term dater who will never make that leap to secure the woman of his dreams.  For in his world, there are no happy endings.

Is the LORD among us, or not? Believing God for the impossible

One of the things that I’ve been doing lately was reading the many articles and blog posts about the state of marriages and relationships today.  While Christian singles have been all but abandoned by the churches, we also face a deteriorating culture that has ingrained poisonous ideas about masculinity and femininity into us, causing men to behave more like women, and women to behave more like men.

The net result is that our western world has become a veritable wasteland for any well meaning Christian who is seeking to marry a decent spouse equally devout in the faith.  To personally address this, I’ve read and received much advice about what I could do to make myself more attractive to women: how to talk, how to behave, how to dress, how to be more like a man, along with advice on where to look:  dating sites, singles groups, volunteering, going abroad and meeting foreign women, who to date, who not to date, what age range is acceptable, what age range is not acceptable, and on and on.

Most of it constructive, much of it sensible, but in all of that I kept wondering:  Where is God in all of this?  Is there an unspoken assertion out there that the LORD is sitting idly by while we continue to grope in the dark looking for that elusive pearl of great price?  Is He not a God of love and mercy?  Is it not in His power to make that search easier, especially as we draw nearer and nearer to the end times?

In my mind, I knew the truth of seeking God first before I could seek “her,”  but it’s one thing to know something intuitively, it’s quite another to actually LIVE it.

And while I was given a word and a vision, certainly enough to believe that there is indeed someone out there who would be my wife, the truth was, I didn’t really believe it.

I may have wanted to, but nothing I did afterward reflected this.  I simply did not live my life under the expectation that I would be meeting her soon.  Instead,  I wallowed in unbelief.

Many sins God will forgive, but unbelief is the sin that ultimately keeps us out of the Promised Land.  (Hebrews 3:12-18)  If He made a personal promise to me, then how can He reward me if I don’t believe it?

I was putting the cart before the horse.  I wanted to see something first, then I would start believing.  I needed some morsel of evidence to indicate that all was not lost, that despite the harrowing prospects of a single man my age, I could still end up happily married.  Just give me something, LORD, a little something to convince me she was real.

But the thing was, He did give me something:  His word.  That should have been enough.

And that’s when I finally understood: there’s a greater issue here than merely trying to find a wife in today’s climate, and learning to be more masculine.  I needed to believe God for the IMPOSSIBLE, and I’m sure you’d be hard convinced to find a more impossible scenario than the prospects of finding a godly mate in today’s world.  And yet this wasn’t about the impossibility of finding a mate and achieving a happy marriage anymore:  this was about my faith.

And our God, even our God is able to perform the impossible.  Even if I didn’t FEEL like it was going to happen, I still needed to ACT in faith that it would.  After all, faith isn’t about what you feel:  it’s about what you DO.

And while I feel my heart agonizingly ripping in half and sinking into the depths of despair, I have decided that I am not going to let my emotions dictate my actions.  Instead, I’m going to walk in faith, and trust God to do the impossible.   I will live my life as if she were just around the corner, so that when she finally does come, I’ll be ready to receive her.

Walk by faith, not by sight.

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