Circumstantial Joy and Relative Truth

I haven’t written in an eternity and I think it’s because I put too much pressure on myself. My brother is Levi the Poet after all and if that’s not enough, in the back of my head I always think I need to write about something super heavy and introspective to impress all my mom’s friends into thinking I’m mature and wise. 

I’ve always been an old soul and I grew up having people tell me that was something impressive. Like my aunt has always said, “Oh Bree, you’re so AWARE.” I’ve always prided myself on being “mature for my age.” But what happens when I’m just mature like other people are mature and it’s not remarkable anymore because the expectation is that other people my age be a certain amount of mature too. If anyone has read John Green’s, An Abundance of Katherine’s, you’ll get what I’m saying. In the book, Colin Singleton is a child prodigy, which means he learns things faster than other people his age. At some point though, this superior knowledge he had is found by the other kids too and then its not superior knowledge anymore. It’s just knowledge. So obviously in this analogy I’m Colin and I’m having an identity issue about whether or not my own thoughts are just thoughts or if they’re in any way helpful or whatever. 

Here’s the other thing. Everything has already been said, hasn’t it? I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that the whole world has just been really loud lately. Really, really loud. Everyone shouting about something or other with reasoning that says they’re standing for something. Arguing, the digging in of heels, one experience versus another, relative truths, inconsistency, shouting, typing, typing, typing, unfriending, blocking, TYPING IN ALL CAPS FOR EMPHASIS, never listening, typing, hiding, crossing arms, unwavering. 

I have all kinds of thoughts about all kinds of things but who cares? Mine is just another voice drowned out by clanging cymbals. Some of which I’m holding. 

It’s been quite the year. Chad and I moved home from Nashville last June to be closer to family and in the hopes of reconnecting with and investing in some of our old friends as well. That has definitely happened, but not at all in the way we expected it would. For one, we came home to shakey ground as it pertains to faith, and discovered just how many different pages we and many of our friends landed on over the past couple of years. We expected to jump back into this “iron sharpens iron” kind of situation, and that didn’t end up happening. In fact, we quickly realized that there were quite a few subjects we just couldn’t talk about anymore in the way that we used to, and it left us in the shallow-end of the pool with those people, feeling discouraged. 

I think the common themes to what I’ve been learning this past year are simple. 

It’s not about me. Truth is absolute. Joy is not circumstantial. 

In our world right now, it seems like there’s this overwhelming attitude of “my way or the highway.” Except how many people have how many ‘ways’? One person’s way contradicts another person's way and another person's and another. Self-confidence, self-care, self-preservation, self-worth, self, self, self. Agree with me, or get out of my life. Approve of what I do, or you’re hateful (or stupid). Challenge me, I’ll scream until you concede. 

The thing is, truth isn’t relative. Truth. Truth does not waver and adjust to our every whim and fleeting feeling! I can feel all sorts of things in a short span of time, yet by no means do my feelings and self-obsession dictate what the truth of that moment or circumstance is. I feel unloved. Yet I’m loved. I feel like this is right. Yet it’s wrong. Without truth, what is my anchor?

Psalm 1: 3-4, “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season. Whose leaf also shall not wither, and whatever he does shall prosper. The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away.”

As believers in Jesus, we are planted, rooted, anchored in the truth through God’s Word. We stand firm in the truth that goes beyond what we feel or desire, so that we have a solid foundation. So we will not be driven away or crushed beneath the weight of every obstacle and hardship or temptation. Rather than adjusting our beliefs to benefit ourselves through our circumstances, we are able to view our circumstances through the lens of truth so that even when times are hard, we have peace! 

2 Timothy 3:12-17, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 

There’s been nothing more discouraging to me lately than watching people I know and love turn away from the truth when suffering comes to them. It seems as though the world has more compassion, and that Jesus and His people are unsympathetic and hold unrealistic expectations. I know why it feels that way, but it’s not the truth. It seems as though the world is ready to hand over whatever temporary pleasure we seek with a pat on the back and a “you deserve this” in our ear before it sends us off to destruction. In the moment, that feels good. But just as a good parent presents boundaries for his or her child, so Jesus does because He loves us. Which brings me to this.

Joy is not circumstantial. Whether we are in a season of tribulation or ease, we can have joy. Whether we have all we want or think we need…or not, we can have joy. Whether we are able to respond to the call to righteousness out of true desire or we’re just barely able to bring ourselves to be obedient, we can have joy! We are not guaranteed a life of constant ease. In fact, we’re promised hardship. But we can cling to the truth and know that we are perfectly covered and cared for by the One who loves us more than anyone else could. 

I’m hopeful. I’m hopeful because no matter what happens—no matter what season my friends or family are in, no matter what I’m going through personally, no matter what’s on the news, no matter who the President is, no matter what, I can hold fast to the Truth and be confident in it. 

Maybe I’m writing to myself, or maybe I’m just repeating what others have already said. I know full well that mine isn’t the popular perspective, but I’d like to think I’m not alone in it.

Bree BarelaComment