A friend recently told me I was giving too much life to a situation I was chewing over. Of course, she was right. And the truth is, for all the energy I expend in worry, I will get no Life in return! We do that, don’t we? We give lots of energy— in the form of anger, unforgiveness, anxiety, or jealousy—to people and circumstances. We exchange pieces of our lives on problems that we cannot solve or situations we cannot change. We give our lives away—not in teaspoons, as Eliot said, but in heaping cups.
So I’m paying closer attention to the things I give life to. Maybe even more important, though, I’m also asking myself, “Where are you drawing life FROM?” Are you trying to extract Life from something or someone that cannot possibly give it? Are you drawing water from a dried-up well? As a Christian, I suppose I should pay attention to Jesus. He says that he is Water, Light, Bread, the Vine…Life. (He also said he was God. Therefore, go to God–the SOURCE–for things that feed your soul and give you real life.)
It’s so easy to draw life from just about anything BUT God: career, kids, romance, food, friends, jobs, wealth, fitness, hobbies, or even the next good time. All of those things are part of this crazy, joy-filled, tragic, and magical thing we call life, but none actually breathe LIFE into our souls. For that, we have to turn to THE Lifegiver. And I think we probably need to pay attention when we do find ourselves giving life to something that is incapable if giving life in return. When I find myself doing this, it’s a red flag: I’m looking for something that people or circumstances cannot always give–whether it’s love, forgiveness, justice, understanding, encouragement, acceptance, or affirmation.
Whatever it is, there is only one perfect Source for true Life-giving sustenance. That’s where I need to go. (Feel free to remind me!)
“I must confess that I am not afraid of the word ‘tension.’ I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.” Dr. Martin Luther King wrote these words in his now-famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”
If there is anything that can stir up tension, it is the truth—especially when presented in humility. Hemingway said that a writer’s job is to “tell the truth.” I don’t know about you but I find that to be a daunting charge. The truth? Do I even know the truth?