Is it just me or is life more tiring than it used to be?
Please, no comments about middle-age.
Besides, I’m not, strictly speaking, talking about physical tiredness. No, I mean emotional and mental tiredness. I mean the way in which so many around us are dealing with anxiety and depression, and at younger and younger ages. I mean the pace of life, and how we don’t really know how to rest. And I mean really rest. A deep, down rest in our souls rest. A rest from feeling like we have to be on all the time.
I think of someone who watches TV news for long stretches of time or spends hours scrolling through their Facebook feed, indiscriminately taking in angry posts, conspiracies, and drama. I think of people who very nearly can’t part from their smartphones for any length of time but are captive to notifications, likes, and comments sections.
We’re addicted to our devices and to social media, and we’re killing our capacity for empathy, compassion, self-awareness, and patience.
I also think of our nearly pathological need to keep “busy” pretty much for its own sake. Anything to occupy ourselves so that we don’t actually have to face ourselves and have our thoughts wander to more significant things: life, death, and everything in between.
French philosopher Blaise Pascal, in his Pensees, once wrote this: “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” True, that.
Our hearts and minds are like hamsters on a wheel, endlessly going round and round but never going anywhere—except making ourselves more anxious and more distracted and more discontented.
There was a time when I would feel oddly guilty about not being “busier.” It’s like I felt less important. Because busyness suggests importance. But I honestly don’t care anymore. I think doing less is a virtue. That not running around to endless activities is a virtue. That not filling up my kids’ calendars is a virtue. I look at people whose lives seem overcrowded and I know that, were that me, I would go nuts.
But maybe it’s just me.
Yet it seems to me that we’re failing to learn and to pass on what it means to be ourselves, to know ourselves, and, certainly, to know what it means to rest in the presence of our Maker.
Perhaps I am wrong, but I think there is a lot of fear in people today. Much unease. And, I think, a lot of loneliness and longing. Without solid footing, many just rely on their best guesses and opinions for purpose and meaning.
All I know is that we’re more than the sum of our activities and social media posts. We’re creatures made in the image of God with dignity and value. We have a Creator, One who designed us to be human beings not human doings. One who loves us before we lift a finger or open our mouths.
And we know this because this God came here, to this world, his creation, entered into our humanity, in order to tell us and to show us.
In the Bible we have these words which tell us about Jesus, who is God incarnate:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For everything was created by him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities- all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and by him all things hold together.Colossians 1:15-17
Listen to that again: All things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and by him all things hold together.
There’s your reason for living. There’s the explanation for your existence. Right there. In the person of Jesus.
This same Jesus also invites us to find rest from busyness, from weariness, from all forms of self-justification, from all anxiety, by coming to him:
Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.Matthew 11:28-30
I think it’s true that life is more tiring than it used to be. I think our world is tiring. I think people often feel this enormous pressure and obligation to go along and try and keep up. But Jesus, I think, invites us to something different. That’s the life I want. I’m learning to live into it. What about you?