//for better or worse

[Note: I am not advocating ‘hiding your head in the sand’ or avoiding important issues. This article isn’t even about politics, although I use them as an example. I completely believe in being informed and able to hold an opinion on important issues. Carry on.]

A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with my friend Izzy. She’s one of those people who loves discussing conspiracy theories and politics – and I’m not. Fortunately, we have quite a few other areas where we intersect, and we can spend a lot of time discussing brain types, writing, or humanity in general. I forget the exact question, but she asked me one concerning politics. I told her that I was sorry, but I really hated politics. I have definite views on big issues, but in general, it’s something I really dislike. I was trying to word exactly how I felt about it, exactly why I attempt to avoid politics, and she said, “No, I understand. It makes your life worse, why would you want to spend time on it?”

                I had never mentally put it that way before, but it was true. Reading headlines and subscribing to political or news websites – those are things that I keep abreast of but avoid as much as possible, because they don’t improve my life in any way. They don’t give me more joy I can share. They don’t improve my mood. They usually don’t affect my life, and when they do, knowing the bare minimum has always been enough.

                Too often, we focus on things that make our life worse instead of focusing on the things that make it better. As a result, we’re frequently nervous, frazzled, panicked, rushing, and unhappy; because we’re constantly focusing on things that make our lives worse.

                I don’t want to settle for worse. I want my life to be better. I really do believe that one of the reasons I’m usually happy and content is because I focus on things that make my life better. Right now I’m listening to a peppy kpop girlgroup while drinking my morning cup of coffee and mentally planning what I’d like to get done today. I haven’t checked the news or bothered with any headlines, and most mornings, I never do unless something huge is in the works. I’m completely okay with that.

                Now some people, like Izzy, enjoy those things. They improve her life rather than making it worse. The better/worse ratio is different from person to person, but I would urge you to find the things that make your life better and embrace those while realizing the things that make your life worse and shedding them, letting them go.

                Sometimes, those things we thought were all-important really aren’t important at all; and sometimes those things we thought too insignificant are actually the most significant. Pick and choose. Better, or worse?

breakfast

coffee + toast with mascarpone and apricot preserves. better.

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23 thoughts on “//for better or worse

  1. I choose better. ;)

    And I get what you’re saying about not spending time on things that don’t improve your life, but I think at the same time, there are things we need to do to function in this world. Like school. :P Politics isn’t for everyone, but I think it’s something we should be a aware of (and it sounds like you are). I’m not sure that the bare minimum would cut it for me… I kind of feel like we should be well-rounded enough to know what’s going on (without immersing ourselves in it) so we can discuss it with other people in a manner that glorifies Christ.

    Jesus didn’t avoid the hard questions (e.g. give to Caesar’s what is Caesar’s). He knew enough to discuss it with other people. So I want to be like that.

    I don’t know. I enjoy politics (not conspiracy theories, but enough to have a discussion without going, “Was that right?” I like to be informed enough to have my own opinions and kind of guess what happens next). xD

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    1. Snap; I was hoping people wouldn’t take this as an ‘anti-politics’ article. That isn’t how it’s meant. I’m /informed/ but I choose not to wallow in it, you know what I mean? and like I said, some people really enjoy politics or are extremely interested in them, and that’s great – for them, that’s better. I don’t believe in avoiding difficult things, but I believe in keeping things that darken your spirit to a minimum.

      Liked by 2 people

          1. “The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”

            ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

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      1. Ha ha! No, I totally got the point of your post. I just chose to pick on that point because I enjoy it. ;)

        But I totally agree that we shouldn’t needlessly dwell on issues that draw our hearts and minds to things that darken our spirits. <3

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  2. I really have mixed feelings about this one. On one hand, I get and understand not focusing on the bad in a pessimistic way (my grandparents are good examples of going too far and letting fear rule their life)…

    But on the other hand, this almost seems as if avoiding bad makes life better? And, I mean… I think there’s some things that it’s okay to just say: ‘okay, moving on’ in the news world. But on the other hand, I think there are times we have to be more than informed because politics sometimes involve things that are moral, Scriptural issues. Christ didn’t come to tear down Rome, but we are told to obey God rather than man, and sometimes a political figure might decree something that is anti God, and it is political, and as Christians we would have to be involved. There are some things where being informed is not… enough? And we have to fight those moral evils. It’s not enough to be against porn. It’s not enough to be against abortion. It’s not enough to be against abuse. It’s not enough to be against homosexuality. We have to take the Gosple out there and witness to these people and bring them the Light of Christ and bring them the Hope He gave us. In some ways, we have to admit life is hard, sad, and dark and that it’s not all joy. Christ said our life here would be hard… and that’s a good thing– it makes us yearn for the better world Christ promises us in Heaven.

    Christ didn’t get political, but He didn’t hide Himself from the world and do things that only gave Him joy. He had to focus on all of the bad that we are as sinners. It was His life here on earth, facing the worst and the darkest… and He did it selflessly to give to us despite how much we don’t deserve it. What if He had focused on just joy? What if He focused on what only effected Himself directly? We wouldn’t have salvation or hope of any sort. And Christ tells us to love our neighbours as ourselves… we are to be that Good Samaritan. Life isn’t about us and what brings us joy; it’s about what we do for others and hoping we can make a difference /for them/. And in that, we find actual joy.

    And it’s not that this means we get involved directly in politics; but it doesn’t mean we stay out of it. Life is a battle and life is a fight. We literally fight the forces of evil every day. Paul didn’t get political, but he appealed to Ceasar and he was brought before the governing authorities because the Jews got political on him. As a result, he bore testimony to those rulers.

    This isn’t me saying: go out there and blast politics. But politics can be very, very evil; and when they hurt innocent children or say God is wrong and homosexuality is right, it doesn’t mean we get political, but we can do our part to serve God and fight those evils in a God honouring way. If we were merely ‘informed’ about homosexuality and nothing more, how do we witness to these people who need Christ? Because we can’t lie. We can’t pretend they’re saved. They’re not. The Bible tells us that, and the most loving, selfless thing we can do is to lovingly witness to them and share the Gospel with them. We can preach and witness against abortion and do our part.

    Trust me. Politics make me sad. They depress me. The world makes me so sad, and it’s all I can do every night to go to sleep and feel okay. And I’ve never felt okay because I feel everyone’s pain.

    Or what about people like my siblings and I? We were in a hard, hard situation… and we had no escape. We were scared, and frightened… and we couldn’t turn it off or ignore it. It was our life. The only thing we could do was cry in the showers at night because people were informed and no-one helped us… until our Church was informed, and our church helped us. What if they merely stayed informed and did nothing?

    And it’s not that we wallowed, but we had no choice but to face the harsh reality of what was happening to us. We had to fight daily to not give up, to see that God meant this for our good, and to find a silver lining. We had to /fight/ just to find a single silver lining… and we went through SO much bad and my siblings and I are some of the most ridiculously happy and joyful people you can meet… and not because we shut out the bad. We see all of the bad, and fight it, and we still see that God is good and loves us and it makes the pain worth it because we belong to Him. We fight for Him. And we use our pain to help others who have gone through similar situations. God let pain happen to us so we could help others…! So that we could be a witness, and a light, and an encouragement to other people…

    Please, please, please don’t take this wrong. This isn’t judgemental. This is HARD for me to write, but I also consider you a friend, and I love you too much to not say anything. Believe me. I hate conflict more than anyone in the world… so much I let people run over me. This is the hardest thing to say; but I do care so much about you, and I care about you more than my personal comfort and personal joy. So, I hope you see that I mean this in love and that I’m a little concerned because this seems a little apathetic. And please know, I understand everything you are saying here. I /want/ to not care. I want to shut it all out. I want to ignore it. But everything in the Bible convicts me otherwise. I still have to go out and witness. I have to put others before myself… and I’ve never, ever felt okay. And I still fight every day to just feel okay. I don’t need fame or popularity or money… I just want to feel okay once. I just want to feel really, truly loved once… and maybe I’ll never ever have that here on earth because this world is fallen. Christ didn’t promise me a good life here, especially as a Christian. But despite how broken I feel all the time, I am actually, truly, sincerely, deeply joyful– joyful to the point that I sing to Christ daily to worship Him and thank Him for taking a wretched piece of trash and making it His own. I’m nobody, and a perfect holy God chose me to be His child. I don’t deserve it. I was nobody special, but it gives me joy because it glorifies Him, somehow, for Him to love me. And sure, people see me as a happy, bubbly, pure-joy-aholic. Nobody knows how broken I really feel or how lost or how lonely… but it’s okay. I have Christ. Christ is enough here on earth. He is my joy… and He gives me the strength to face all of the shadows, and still find joy. He gives me the strength I need to light up for Him, and I light up for Him despite the darkness because He loves me and I love Him, and He is worth all of the pain. He enables me to take in the pain of others and not wallow in it…

    And, you are oh so very, VERY right that people do wallow in pessimism. My grandparents hide tracts in their freezer for when the rapture happens and people steal their food after the rapture. They assumed Obama’s election was the end of the world (literally)… And, we made it through.

    And, people can and do get way too political about things. Christ didn’t get political, but politics can affect Christianity, and we have to deal with it there when those times happen.

    You don’t even have to publish this. I just… I felt something should have been said. And I’m not angry… or mad. It stung, a little– because we never had the choice to hide away from pain, and it’s all we wanted to do. I had a friend who was ‘informed’ of our situation, and she did nothing more. She was my best friend, and she didn’t do a thing. In fact, she blamed us.

    I understand if you’re mad, and you’re hurt, and you’re offended. I’m saying this only out of love and because I don’t think a good friend who loves you would clam up and not say anything about their concerns. And I’m not using love as an excuse either to just ‘say’ what I feel. I’d rather not say anything. I hate conflict. I hate it so much and I’d rather run; but I love you enough to do the thing I feel I should do. I get it if this offends you and I don’t blame you. But I was concerned, a little…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Pepper; I’m not offended in the least! In fact, I considered doubling the size of this post to in-depth explain everything I said, but decided against it (maybe I should have). I certainly don’t believe in turning a blind eye to issues – not at all. Bad things happen. We shouldn’t ignore them. (Goodness, the novels I write prove I believe this 100%!) I don’t believe in apathy – but I believe in focusing our attention on the good, whenever we can. On things that edify and uplift, as much as possible. If someone is in trouble, I believe in helping them and do everything I can. If a friend of mine is hurting, of /course/ I help to the best of my ability. This has nothing to do with that – and it wasn’t even meant to be about politics. I’m sorry if this stung you or came across apathetic – that definitely wasn’t my intention, and I agree with everything you said. I’ve seen many examples, though, of people spending their days offended and upset because they get involved in trivial, meaningless issues that do nothing but upset and anger them – and that’s what I’m trying to address. Not important issues. Not big things that we, especially as Christians, /should/ pay attention to. You’re an amazing friend and I’m glad you speak your mind. <3

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      1. As Leanna posted, “The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”
        ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
        – and that’s what I mean.

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      2. What is sad is that I recently found out that there are “fake news sites” set up as real with the primary intent and purpose to anger and upset people. That makes me upset because the intent to be manipulative and deceptive. I hadn’t even realized (well except for the “satire” site “the onion) that they exsisted.

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  3. It took me SO. LONG. to figure this out. I finally started getting rid of things (and people!) who made my life worse and suddenly I was so much happier. Funny how that works.

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  4. An old teacher of mine, a retired police officer (who was fighting stomach cancer at the time but didn’t tell the class because he didn’t want us to go off into worrying over him or tangents) who had white hair cut so close to his head, that it looked a little like push broom bristles said this to me, and I never ever forgot it:

    ” It’s good reporting [of an event] if you can do something to help. If you can’t do anything to help, it’s sensationalism which stirs the heart up and gives it no outlet. It brings death. Real news will always include a way to get involved or help. Remember that. Don’t let em toy with you.”

    I’ve kinda lived like that; not turning my face away from the darkness if I can do something about it but also not looking at all of it full in the face all the time. If I can do something about it, then I engage the darkness. If I can’t, I look away.

    Others have mentioned balance and even picked out fitting verses about what we think about but I want to underline/underscore what Mirriam has said: you have a choice you do not have to engage in everything a friend or a loved one wants to talk about if YOU are sensitive to that darkness.

    It’s not unloving to go “Hey, look, I get that’s important to you but I chose to not engage in that fight. Or more fantastically ” Bully for you my son, bully for you for hitting that darkness but it is not for me” (of course you might not WANT to sound like Teddy Roosevelt but. . . why would you NOT want to be fantastic .. .)

    Not everyone is called to the same battlefront. And not everyone can fight at the same time.

    Yes, we live in a war zone. Yes, every day eternal decisions are being made. Yes, we are here for such a time as this. But this world is a gift and to not enjoy it while we fight, to refuse to hoard up sunsets and roses and waterfalls and kitten purrs and the scent of concrete after its been hammered by the rain and clever friends and witty coworkers and chocolate and amazing books and the sound of kids laughing is an insult to Yahweh.

    Maybe more of an insult to Him than refusing to acknowledging the evil that we let into His world.

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  5. I think it’s interesting so many people are taking this blog post as an anti-political post.
    But anyway, I do get what you’re saying. I’m the same way. I didn’t used to be this way, I loved a rousing debate. Since I’ve gotten older I’ve mellowed out a lot, and realized debates don’t usually help, unless it’s between good close friends. :) And now I realize to much of news or politics or facebook posts about such things just make me into an anxious depressed and angry mess.
    Which isn’t to say I don’t try to keep up, but I’d rather be happy than be 100% up to date. I’ll hear about it after everyone is done fussing. lol

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  6. I understand what you mean. I’m a very stressed out person, and I normally don’t remember to NOT stress out about things (politics especially, and I know that’s not the point of this post, but still).

    But I’m also torn because… I don’t know. This made me think about your books and I LOVE your books and you are an amazing writer and I love your characters and plots and your books are brilliant but they also are starting to have an effect on me because they are so dark, and I don’t LIKE so much reader-emotional-pain in books. I almost want a post from you explaining all of the darkness and pain and feels-shredding-ness in your books. XD I’m curious about why your books have turned this way and your reasons for it, I guess?

    (I almost don’t want to say this because I don’t want to come across the wrong way I LOVE YOU AND I LOVE YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR CHARACTERS. I’m just… starting to wonder about all the darkness and pain, and missing some of your older books that are more heart-friendly. XD …Gaaaahh, I’m saying this all wrong aren’t I. -_- I’m sorry. PLEASE DO NOT TAKE THIS THE WRONG WAY. D: <3)

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  7. I didn’t take this post as an “anti-politics” post. I am just like you in that regard Mirriam. I don’t understand, nor do I really want to understand politics. It’s like a foreign language to me. I prefer, or am content, with not knowing all the latest news, good or bad, everyday, week, or month. Yes, there is bad in this world…and yes, I am mature enough to know there are problems out there–there always have been, and there always will be–but I don’t need it to be in my face every hour of every day. I choose better. I want my life to be the best I can make it, I want to be happy.

    and exactly like Skye said in the comments! “you still see the storm, but you focus on that silver lining.” Thats beautiful!

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