My problem: I encounter a tough situation in life, I cry out to God for help, the situation is remedied in some way or another, I charge back ahead with just me and my little ego crying “I got this, I know what to do now, see you next time, God.” And then, I get stuck, again.
The imagination seems to know no bounds in how it can make me or my problems much bigger or smaller than they really are. What is the point of the imagination, anyway? Can it be re-trained to behave in an ordinate sort of way, or is it best to muzzle it as much as possible?
The first thing is always to restate reality as I know it.
I am small and insignificant when I act alone. Even when I do act alone, like writing these words, I am benefiting from technology, education and genetics that are gifts and benefits I haven’t earned.
My time on earth is limited and will not be remembered. Even the most terrible and terrific players in history are barely remembered beyond their names and a few deeds.
I am incredibly special and important, or God wanted have bothered to create me. But, so is every other human being, equally.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what the rest of my life will look like. I have a nice picture of my family living in a quiet, university town that is not too big, not too small, not too liberal, not too conservative. I preach at a church that can be similarly described. I preach sermons that are decent, but not so good that I will ever be recognized as having more potential than being a modest, liberal Protestant who has some grounding in biblical history and languages. My wife works at the university library. Our two kids grow up attending a pleasant series of public schools that are among the best-rated in the state. They learn about voluntarism and giving back to the community. We do a little bit here and there to help others, and try to stay in shape, eat healthy and not wreak too much havoc on the planet.
I see things happening in the news and I think that there is no guarantee the next thirty years will be like the last thirty years in America. Americans have had it too good for too long, and they think they’ve got it bad because too good isn’t getting any better for them. Good enough certainly doesn’t come close to being what they want. I don’t know how things will go down in this election. I’m not a prophet. But I will say that if we are at a point in our history where we can nominate someone like Trump to be the leader of one of the major parties, we are surely not far down the road from having a real scoundrel for President, if it turns out not to be Trump. We like to talk about Obama or Bush or Clinton being the worst presidents ever, but we know absolutely nothing about living under a sloppy dictator. We haven’t even had it as bad as things were under, say, Berlusconi in Italy.
So, my future isn’t necessarily a bland, polite WASP-y one in some charming town where people aren’t too concerned about most of the craziness in the news. I may actually have to work exceptionally hard into my seventies, and even endure poverty while hanging on to God.
The joy and comfort of relinquishing control of things that you never really had control of in the first place come in flashes. I don’t feel a great peace in letting go of the ego that pretends to have a say in deciding the next president. So, I spend a lot of time reading the news and worrying about the future.