I just had a conversation with some one I admire greatly. This person lives their life with unmatched conviction and purpose. I often wonder what I would be able to accomplish if I lived with just a fraction of that passion. As we talked, I commented to him how much I admired this part of who he is. He responded to this by saying, “My focus has come from the threshing floor.”
It seems that out of the darkest moments of our life we gain the most clarity. The pain shrinks our vision, and brings focus to that which is central. What we may have thought was important falls out of focus, or out of the line of sight all together. All that is unimportant just seems to be stripped away. The ancillary issues of life fall like sandbags from the side of a hot air ballon. Now, it can get cliche at this point. “The cars, the house, the trips to Mexico, they just don’t matter any more.” And while that may be true, I wonder if those are the only things we hold to that are secondary in life. Is there a thing behind the thing that becomes more important after we have gone through dark times?
The easy answer is God. God becomes more important. But I wonder if that is even right. I wonder if it is not us in relation to God that becomes more focused through the darker times of life. I’m really not sure what I mean by this, as I am jus beginning to sort this out. But when I think about those in my life who I know who have suffered, I often count them as some of the most driven, focused passionate individuals I know. If I think about what has changed in them, I don’t think it is their perspective on God, rather it is their perspective on themselves, or on life in general, in relation to God. It is as if they realize they have gone through something tremendous unto something else tremendous.
Our culture is engrossed in trying to avoid pain. We fill our lives with things to distract us from pain or suffering of any kind. At the same time we are a culture medicated beyond belief. We are hopped up on psychotropic drugs to numb the depression of feeling as though we are without purpose and our lives do not exist unto something greater than ourselves.
So I wonder, can we discover with clarity our purpose and meaning while trying to avoid pain? Are the central issues in life able to come into focus if our vision is never sharpened through pain? Are we so medicated because we have not gone through enough pain to see any purpose or meaning behind that pain? Is it only in embracing the darker realities of life that we are able to correctly see us in relation to God, and thereby see our place in what He is doing in this world?