Tag Archives: purpose

You gotta fight for your right to… what?

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Though violence tends to make me a bit squeamish, I devoured Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club this past week.  The vivid images he creates of fights, of the wounds inflicted, are easier to digest in words than they will be in images.  I am one of the few who has not seen the blockbuster based on the novel, though the big “shocking” revelation was ruined for me.  Despite knowing the secret of Tyler Durden, I fell into the world and lost myself in the violent freedom that is Fight Club.

The narrator drew me in with his utter restlessness.  There is nothing wrong with his life and, yet, there is nothing not wrong with it.  When he meets Tyler, his “life just seemed too complete, and maybe we have to break everything to make something better out of ourselves.”  There is a stagnation, albeit in a comfortable home and job, that can lead to insanity.  The apathy somehow is intricately tied to rage.  I say this not as some refined literary critic, but as someone who knows this. 

Typically a “guy’s book,” this one is so familiar to me.  Not in the blood filled basements and mayhem, but in the restlessness.  There is a deep need to release all that builds up in the ordinary life.  I have a gratitude for my life, appreciation for my fortune and blessings, but also a desire to break things down.  I don’t know if it is about power, or anger, or just a need to release energy, but somewhere in the most animalistic recesses of my brain, I can identify with that need to hit, to break, to destroy.  He explains, “If you’ve never been in a fight, you wonder.  About getting hurt, about what you’re capable of doing… Tyler explained it all, about not wanting to die without any scars…”  Now, I have perhaps the lowest pain threshold on earth and absolutely no desire to get into a physical altercation, but I understand the desire to know.  I understand what he means about wanting to feel it, to experience this moment in life, to see how you hold up.  I don’t know what my correlating experience might be, if not a fight, but I do know that this made as much sense to me as one plus one equalling two.

While there are so many brilliant things that Palahniuk wrote about, the other thing that has stuck in my mind is Tyler’s justification for Project Mayhem.  He explains, “You have a class of young strong men and women, and they want to give their lives to something.  Advertising has these people chasing cars and clothes they don’t need.  Generations have been working in jobs they hate, just so they can buy what they don’t really need.  We don’t have a great war in our generation, or a great depression, but we do, we have a great war of the spirit.  We have a great revolution against the culture.  The great depression is our lives.  We have a spiritual depression.”  I know these words ring a little less true since the War on Terror began and the economy took a dive, but they still resonate.  The war is divisive, not something the nation rallies behind like they did in our history.  The economy seems to breaking spirits, but not building character.  They are not drawing us together.  They are not mobilizing us.  They simply hurt, making life harder.  We want to feel passion, feel something is worth fighting for, or against.  We want to move, to be strong, to defend and protect.  We just need something to call us. 

So we fight.  Life is easy and comfy, even when it’s hard.  We move in slow motion and need anything to pull us into real-time, to be uncomfortable.  We fight the haze that covers our day-to-day life and want nothing more to see the sun, in its blazing, burning, blinding glory.  It’s a fight to live, instead of just exist.  I get that.  I understand the desire to be pulled into the moment, out of the past and future.  I want to know how it feels to stand when I think I can’t, to bear the marks of my battles for others to admire.  I want scars to prove that I went through it, I fought and took blows, but I came out the other side; I am stronger than anything they threw at me. 

“What I’m gonna live for/ What I’m gonna die for/ What you gonna fight for/ I can’t answer that…” –Bryn Christopher, “The Question”

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Not-So-Small Talk

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“And how can we live, never meeting you?”

“But you shall meet me, dear one,” said Aslan.

“Are–are you there too, Sir?” said Edmund.

“I am,” said Aslan.  “But there I have another name.  You must learn to know me by that name.  This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”  —C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

I have been thinking about this idea a lot lately, but this short article I read tonight confirmed my instincts: shallow is unsatisfying. 

I have struggled since graduating college with making friends that I truly and deeply connect with.  The people I met in school were not superior or smarter or deeper because they were college kids.  They did tend to be people working at understanding and  living out their lives with God at the center.  They were struggling with doubts and insecurities and disappointments, but they had a certain lense that they saw the world through: Christ.  Even those who did not believe the same things I do seemed to be open to looking, to seeking to know what it is that gives this life meaning.  This is not to say that the people I’ve met since don’t have this same drive, because I think, deep down, we all do.  It simply doesn’t come up.

I love movies.  I love television.  I like to shop and am trying to learn how to cook.  I read the news on occasion and have minimal knowledge of video games, sports and geography.  This can make for conversations that stretch far beyond the weather, which is always gorgeous, but at some point they stop satisfying.  At some point, something about the talks I had with people about God and our purpose in life, justice and passion, doubt and excitement as we began to understand more, they seemed to leave me full.  I was grounded and stretched in my own ideas and thought, challenged to put what I learned and discovered into practice.  I spent four years thinking about who my Creator and Redeemer is, who I am, what we have to do with each other, and my place among the rest of the world.  Big stuff, at times, but the stuff that fuels me.

The people I enjoy spending time with the most are those who venture into these heavier realms.  I know that I won’t always agree with what others think, and that religion is a personal, sensitive subject.  But it’s not even all about doctrine and ritual.  It’s the core questions that stir deep in all of us: who am I, really?  What am I doing with my life?  What is the point of all of this?  Those are huge questions with a million smaller questions hiding inside them.  I don’t mean to say that every conversation needs to result in a complete examination of one’s soul, but at times, it’s nice to leave the world of gossip and pleasantries behind.

I miss the talks that I used to have.  Very few people today talk with me about my passions, my gifts.  No one really asks what I have and want to offer the world.  No one asks my thoughts on social justice or forgiveness or joy.  I miss those times of really being asked questions, of dialogue that made me see myself and the other person in bigger ways.  As I think about this longing for deep conversation, I realize that the talks aren’t  necessarily even what I miss.

I miss God.  I miss having people share in my journey to know Him.  I miss being asked how I feel about Him and reminded how He feels about me.  I know that I can and should go to church to fill this void.  It somehow does not feel the same, though, without those close friends who knew me well enough to really dig into my life.  I just know that I love my friends from high school and my childhood.  No one will know me in quite the same way as those people who watched me learn ride a bike and drive, read and wear makeup.  I love the friends I have made recently.  They remind me what it is to have fun and enjoy living in the moment.  However, I haven’t loved people, loved God, loved myself, the way that I did in college.  I haven’t known what it is to be truly happy, loving, passionate, peaceful and generous like I did then.  I miss those days of seeking God’s intentions and desires for me and my life.  I recently have felt, as strong as the sun on my shoulders, the call of God to know Him again.  It may be sparked by the books I have read or the music I have played, but I feel a slow fire starting to kindle the passion I had for scripture, for prayer and for God’s heart for this world.  My heart has ached for the discipline of learning about Him, loving Him and others.  I want to be the person I was when I cared more about ministry than school or social status.  It’s scary when I think of how far I have pulled from that life, how little I think about the one who constantly seeks me.  It’s also a relief to know that at my core, in the deepest, most authentic part of me, I am still seeking Him.

 

“But everything inside you knows/ There’s more than what you’ve heard/ There’s so much more than empty conversations/ Filled with empty words/ And you’re on fire/ When He’s near you/ You’re on fire/ When He speaks/ You’re on fire/ Burning at these mysteries…”  –Switchfoot, “On Fire”