I’m not unhappy; I’m introspective. Last week’s trip down Memory Lane seems to have left the wrong impression. I wasn’t feeling sad after my reunion, I just didn’t explain things well enough. I enjoyed seeing friends and classmates and the place I used to live. I am just not a person who can come and go without analyzing my impressions, feelings, and responses to events. I spent a week ruminating on all that occurred, and the best adjective for how I felt is disappointed. Though it was difficult to see the changes in a place I had loved so much, my disappointment was primarily with myself. I really want to be a better person than I am. While those feelings don’t make me happy, they don’t overshadow the joy of going back and seeing my friends.
My tendency to analyze myself and the situations I encounter is the primary source material for this blog. I evaluate myself with a determination to mature and grow in godly character. As a person who struggles with depression, my introspection is colored by a gloomy lens. But I don’t think that my overall disposition is downcast. I enjoy rainy days and they seem to suit my melancholy mind-set, but I’m not an Eeyore! I am aware that my personality is a paradox, and I have begun to view that as a positive thing. The disconnect between my personality and my outlook is at least partially due to having God in my life. He is the Light that breaks through any gloom in my heart. He allows me to have peace and joy in the midst of disappointment and sadness.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world. . .is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
I John 2:15-17
I have come to see how God uses my outlook and circumstances to draw me closer to Him. At times when I have felt most dejected, His presence was clearer to me. In lonely times, God’s voice was the only one speaking into my life and situation. I didn’t need to push aside other voices because His was the only one I heard. Even if my perspective on my life is skewed, if it is pointing me toward God, there is good in it. The same is true regarding the related feeling of not fitting in. My personality, the effects of depression, and the circumstances of my life have led me to always feel like an outsider. It has only been in the past few years that I figured out how much this is related to my personality.
On the surface, I think I want to be like everyone else, but I am actually driven by a desire to be different. I am happier being unique. I don’t like to find myself on a bandwagon, and I shy away from popular trends. At times, I have missed out on good things because I don’t like to accept popular opinion. The unfortunate side-effect is that I tend to isolate myself. The upside is that it makes it easier to look to God instead of the world around me for how I should live. This is where my reflections from last week led me. If I am growing in faith, and loving God as I should be, then I shouldn’t feel like I belong anywhere in this broken and sinful world. This is not the home that I was made for.
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two.
If ‘to live is Christ and to die is gain,’ and if we are to be ‘in the world and not of the world,’ then I don’t want to feel like I belong here. It is not sorrowful for me when I am reminded that eternity with Christ is where I will truly be home. This is a joyful hope that I celebrate. I am thankful that God in His love and mercy has taken notice of me and pursued me. And He continues to draw me closer to Him, increasing my faith and hope. This is the miracle of the Gospel at work in my life. If seeing the world through gloom-colored glasses has helped me to be closer to God, I will praise Him for that. It often seems to be the case.
I am aware that I need to be careful, as these same same traits may also bring tendency toward certain sins. Circumstances that, on the one hand, draw me to God, may also cause me to hide from the world. I have to work harder to connect with other people and love them as God wants me to. This is the root of my disappointment with myself. As the TV character Monk used to say about how his mind worked, “It’s a gift. . .and a curse.” Most character traits have challenges to go along with the benefits. So, I am seeking to trade in gloom-colored glasses for God-perspective lenses. I want to see things the way that He would have me to. This is the bottom line for me, no matter what happens in life. I need to spend time in Scripture and prayer, so that all of my analysis and introspection is informed by God’s perfect viewpoint.