Saturday, April 14, 2012

At the End of the Rope


If you are fatuously in love, and that love is being returned to your complete satisfaction, you won’t want to read this. You won’t believe it, and it would do you no good anyway. You may have forgotten your isolation. This is instead for those surreally forlorn; isolated, just now, within their relationships and beyond themselves.
In just about every sense this message is for every single one of us—at one time or other. We all come to the end of our rope. In the still small spaces of the night or the gleaming generous glitter of the day it strikes. We feel isolated.
This is the state of knowing we’re alive but feeling rather dead. It’s living abandoned in a world designed for connection. It’s pretending that we’re succeeding when there’s nothing left behind the smile and pretending has fatigued us indelibly. Our isolation feels unique.
It’s not unique.
***
We know there is no just reason in complaining—that ‘nobody listens anyhow’—but how can life be reconciled in joy at all times? It goes against the grain of realism. Even the ancients (especially the ancients) knew it!
But, as Christians, we’ve been grounded in the stoicism of ‘consider every trial nothing but pure joy’ and we feel guilty, even ashamed, to get it wrong. We hate ourselves for failing God, even when God implores us that grace is eternally sufficient despite how we might feel.
And our anxiety increases the more self-aware we become. Much learning about ourselves comes at a price. A closer relationship God brings possibly more pain. Everything we feel is ever more real.
And so we shelve our goals of learning for a soul-soothing denial, because it’s more comfortable there and the anxiety shrinks. But then there is less of ourselves than ever before. What is used to decrease our anxiety increased our sense of isolation. We just can’t seem to win.
***
The isolation of existence impacts all. We feel condemned in a moment, with the rest of our lives still ahead of us. There is an answer. One answer. God is that answer, but even God won’t rescue us from our sense of isolation, for that is what draws us to God.
The end of our rope comes. What was is no more. We have come to the end of ourselves. At the end of ourselves, though, is God. Isolation draws us into his loving grasp. This makes our lives no easier. God is there when the truth is hard.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.

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