I Can Only Imagine

We live in an interesting time when the scattered, random thoughts that we all sift through daily can be freely shared instantly with literally everyone we know.  Facebook status updates, Tweets – Lord only knows what’s hip and popular now that I don’t even know about – all of these not only invite us to share every little up and down in our life, they almost compel us to.  The fear of being silent is too great for too many, I suspect.  And while there’s rich irony in a pastor lamenting talking too much, there’s truth as well.

Daily scans of my Facebook friends never fails to yield at least one commiseration about the day, the week, the month.  I know I can count on certain people to complain weekly – if even in pithy and humorous ways – their current struggle to Just Get By.  I could probably set my clock by some of the comments, particularly on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
These are, by and large, successful people.  Their lives are filled with careers and children and the everyday issues of living.  Few if any of them truly suffer in the deepest sense of the word – at least based on external observation.  Yes, it’s hard to get up in the morning.  Yes, there are some work weeks that seem to drag on forever.  Yes, dealing with people is sometimes not the glamorous work it’s laid out to be.  We all have these moments.  We all have these fleeting thoughts when we briefly lament the harriedness of our life or day and yearn for the iconic deserted island where we can sip on a drink and listen to the tide wash in and out without any demands on us.
It isn’t that we don’t all have these thoughts from time to time.  It’s that we are able and almost compelled to share them with everyone we know.  This creates a climate in which our little struggles become highlighted, reinforced, rewarded with Facebook Likes and chipper comments of commiseration.  We begin to celebrate our exhaustion and our moments of weakness and desire for something different.  These moments cease to be small hurdles to be quietly resisted and set aside so that we can get on with the hallowed task of living.  They become enshrined as the epitome of our existence, the hallmark of our reality.  We begin to observe and celebrate not the moments where we are at our best, but the moments where we feel our weakest.
And, again, there are people who truly suffer.  But by and large my artificially expanded and maintained social network doesn’t have a lot of these folks in it.  Yet still they complain.  Regularly.  There are days when I’m tempted to join in.  
Veterans Day is a bit of a reality check for me.  Blessed to have been placed at a point in history between major armed conflicts, I was never drafted into military service nor did I volunteer for it.  It remained an option for me, one that I never chose to pursue.  But I consider people who didn’t have that option, or who selected that option intentionally, and it’s humbling in its perspective-giving.  
The thought of my grandfathers serving in the Pacific and European Theaters of World War II is amazing to me.  I can’t wrap my head around it.  Nor can I adequately understand the sacrifice of the men and women who serve in our armed forces today.  Who at barely 20 years of age encounter foreign cultures and harsh climates, language barriers and social taboos – as well as the active, deadly intent of all manner of enemy.  Who are shot at, bombed, ambushed, isolated, threatened – and yet who persevere.  Who struggle through bad days when they lose a comrade in arms to an IED or a sniper.  Who leave behind spouses and children as well as education and career tracks.  Who deal with more in a day than I have had to deal with in the last year – by pretty much any metric you want to apply.
Most of the veterans I know volunteered for service, but that doesn’t make the magnitude of their service any less impressive.  What it does do is place my days in perspective.  When I’m tired, when I’m feeling overwhelmed, when I’m feeling unmotivated.  What a luxury to be able to reflect on these emotional and physical states!  What richness that so many of us are so able to reflect so deeply on the character and nature of our tiredness, and come up with new and witty ways of sharing it with the rest of the world.
Please feel free to remind me of this post should I ever need to lament on a regular basis how crazy my weeks are, or how tired I make myself, or how badly I need a vacation.  It’s not the message I want to be known for.  It’s not how I want to define my own life.  And I pray it’s not how others characterize their own.  Be thankful & grateful for whatever exhaustion and inconvenience you’re dealing with.  Odds are more than good that your rough day is pretty mild compared to the day that lots and lots and lots of other people are dealing with.  
Put that in your iPhone and Tweet it.  

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