Aragorn: What do you fear, my lady?
Eowyn: A cage. To stay behind bars until use and old age accept them and all chance of valor has gone beyond recall or desire.
“It is very important to transcend the places that hold you.” – Rubin Carter, in The Hurricane
There are only a few things that have ever really scared me.
- The selfishness of my heart.
- That I might not be worth loving.
- That my love for others was fraudulent.
- That I might disappoint God.
- Injustice towards my children.
These have each taken turns possessing my attention, consuming my spirit. I have been, and though my spiritual muscle has been beefed up through use, continue to be vulnerable to them.
They come and go, in decreasing intensity, as my days go by. I hate them, but they have also become my friends, my most faithful allies in ushering me to my place, on my knees, before God.
But there is one fear that is ever-present. It eats at me consistently, and it is my best of friends, my most loyal ally in keeping the fire of love burning between me and my Maker. It stirs me to belief and action when I look it in the eyes, and it stares at me awaiting my attention when I momentarily ignore it to settle in and watch TV.
It is my fear of contentment.
There is a good kind of contentment. It is other-worldly, and captured by a verse in a book that chose me long ago, written by a man who has been dead over 2000 years, but is still teaching me: “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” – Paul, in Philippians 4:13
That contentment does not scare me. That is the kind I crave. A capacity to be and live the same wherever I am, with whoever I am with, in whatever circumstance, doing everything that I should do, no matter what, because of His strength.
It is the bad kind of contentment that I fear. It is captured by another verse in that book: “We do not want you to become lazy , but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. We want you to show diligence to the very end.” – Heb 6:11-12
I can see it so clearly, even as I sense most others around can’t, or won’t, mostly because they don’t have or make the time to acknowledge it. I feels a bit like Neo and his crew in the Matrix, surrounded by people living busy, hurried, even good lives, but oblivious that they are mindlessly subscribing to a system that is designed to keep them asleep… or content.
I fear being content with that system. The system woos me. It courts me. It invites me to submit, to comply, even offering to slap some Christian labels on me that I might enjoy, and just enough difficulty to feel like I’m a martyr for Christ, without really being one. It’s like it knows me.
But my fear of contentment keeps me going. It keeps me believing. It keeps me dreaming. It keeps me rebelling, creating, insisting, and moving. It keeps me loving.
I do NOT want to lose that fear, and I am in more danger of it than I have ever been, because I have the choice to make my current spot very comfortable, and that is seductive. But if I drop nicely into this system, and I allow use or old age to make me accept them, I would be dead already without even knowing it.
And ignorance would be “bliss”. That is why it is tempting.
But it would not be life. That is why I’m grateful for my friend… my fear of it.
It is very important to transcend the places that hold you. The only perk that I can think of that an actual prison has is that it is clearly visible, and its dangers overt and obvious. The invisible one that all of us live in, not so much.
I have no bow to tie this piece up with, even though it is Christmas. I write it as a warning, and it is not for you.
It is for me.