If you've ever read a book like A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken or The Giver by Lois Lowry and got something out of them, then you probably believe that a boring, safe, emotionless life does not reflect the beauty of a messy, imperfect, sometimes risky one.
It's the highs and the lows that make life so extraordinary.
It would be easy to distort my meaning here and confuse a complex and rich life with a complicated and dramatic one. I often meet people who expect their lives to play out like a movie or book. Because of this expectation they set out to complicate their lives. They create the drama. When there isn't something very exciting or dangerous, adventurous or difficult going on in their lives, they get antsy.
Have you met these individuals? The girl who picks a fight with her boyfriend because she's bored with him, the guy who runs away from commitment because he's scared his life will end when he says "I Do," or the parent who jumps head first into a midlife crisis that includes a new religion, new body, and new car because they can't handle the quiet of their childless home or the failures of unclaimed ambitions.
When things aren't exactly how they imagined they would be, they sink into depression. When things are going well, they're bored. Simplicity is anything but a virtue and I fear in the end that they'll only ever find disappointment in the quiet. If you live your life in this way, I think you will find it very difficult to find contentment.
The point of the stories (one true and one fiction) mentioned above, is that--were we to live in a controlled world without decision or emotion, we'd lose the richness of life. We'd be safe, and we might not feel pain, but life would lose it's depth and purpose. Both of these stories are filled with a lot of pain, there is no doubt about that. But neither harbor an ounce of regret or any desire to give up the joy that would also disappear were they to erase the pain.
I'll admit, there was a point in my life when I'd experienced so much pain that numb felt really nice. Feeling nothing at all was altogether preferable to the pain I woke up with everyday. And for awhile, I relished in feeling nothing at all. But, I knew I wanted more than that out of life.
Life is messy because we are all imperfect. Life is difficult because we are all different. Life is beautiful because we can be redeemed.
We are selfish, unique, imperfect people all trying to live in the same world together. But it is in this life that we learn sympathy, perspective, beauty, love, discipline, and sacrifice. The risk comes in when we become willing to give up our happiness for the sake of others or for the sake of our calling to serve a Savior. Life isn't just about the pursuit of happiness, it's also about the pain of growth, and the willingness to sacrifice. The adventure is in the beauty all around us, even in the peaceful "boring" monotonous moments. It's in the faces of your enemies and neighbors, it's in the mountains and in the steel office building.
The goal is to experience life--tragedies, celebrations, and all--with contentment and purpose.
*Artwork care of www.shebreathesdeeply.com whose blog inspired this post.