I Do Not Belong to the World

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I am struggling to stay afloat — physically and mentally.

I share that, not for need of sympathy, but because it is likely that some of you are also dealing with feelings of stress, overwhelm, or anxiety. Right now, it is a challenge not to worry. It is difficult to repress anger. It is hard to find peace. If that is where you are, you are not alone. 

And…on top of all that is going on in our world, it is like 210 degrees in Arizona. Sigh.

This evening, instead of reading email, or planning for the upcoming school year I decided to read a book. I’m currently working my way through The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri J.M. Nouwen. It is the second book on my summer reading list. I love Nouwen’s writing and I was confident this would be a good one. So far I have not been disappointed.

Given current challenges, this passage stood out.

At issue here is the question: “To whom do I belong? To God or to the world?” Many of my daily preoccupations suggest that I belong more to the world than to God. A little criticism makes me angry, and a little rejection makes me depressed. A little praise raises my spirits, and a little success excites me. It takes very little to raise me up or thrust me down. Often I am like a small boat on the ocean, completely at the mercy of its waves. All the time and energy I spend in keeping some kind of balance and preventing myself from being tipped over and drowning shows that my life is mostly a struggle for survival: not a holy struggle, but an anxious struggle resulting from the mistaken idea that it is the world that defines me.

Do you feel at the mercy of the waves? Are you locked in an “anxious struggle?”

Nouwen goes on to say:

The world’s love is and always will be conditional. As long as I keep looking for my true self in the world of conditional love, I will remain “hooked” to the world — trying, failing, and trying again. It is a world that fosters addictions because what it offers cannot satisfy the deepest craving of my heart.

The current situation in our world has humbled me. It has been a harsh reminder that I am not in control. That I don’t have the answers. That I don’t know the pain and suffering of others. It has made evident the fact that I frequently seek acceptance and reassurance from a world that is broken and unable to offer peace for which I am searching.

I do not belong to the world.

Hang in there!