Monday, September 25, 2006


I started writing the religion/politics post. Really, I did. I have it saved in "draft" form in the vast server-filled brain of Blogger. But I started getting into the background and the arguments and I just...stopped. I couldn't continue at that moment. Truth be told, my heart wasn't in it.

That phrase has been hanging around my head for a while now, a few months at least. "My heart isn't in it." I had to stop today and ask myself, "What is there in my life that my heart's really 'in'? What stirs me?"

It's a short list.

--I like reading. I really do. It's one of my favorite things. There are times when all I want to do is sit in a comfy chair and read all day long. I commented to Jess earlier today that I wish that were my job. That would make me happy.

--I like baseball. The Cubbies make me sad, but aside from that, I get a lot of enjoyment out of baseball. It thrills my heart. I love going to the ballpark, and would do so every day if possible. There's something special about the crisp lines of the diamond, the green of the grass, the crack of the bat hitting a line drive, and the crowd's roar chasing it.

--I like sitting outside in the shade on a day like today, and feeling the cool breeze sweep over me. The simple pleasure of sunshine and blue skies. The restfulness of natural sounds, without the blare of car horns or squeal of cell phones.

--I like hearing complicated stories. Seeing plots unfold, characters revealed and peeled like onions. I have been watching a lot of "Lost" lately. I'm enjoying that quite a bit.

...Like I said, it's a short list.

What bothers me a bit, though, is what's not on that list. Work. Family. Faith.

I don't think it's that I don't care about these things. That's not the case. It's just that these things aren't providing me a pure joy, because they're too heavily tinged with duty. Work is an obvious duty. I wouldn't edit documents all day for fun--at least, not these kinds of documents. (Not that I expect my job to be playtime, or that I'm shocked that it's not.)

As for family, I have to confess that I worry more about how to schedule enough time with them so that they don't feel slighted, than I do about enjoying the time I do have with them. I worry about making other plans, because I don't want to upset my mother or make my sister cry. And when I do spend the whole weekend doing something else, I feel guilty.

The worst of it is, I feel like my faith has become duty-bound. My relationship with God has drifted for a while, without a clear direction or course being steered (at least not by my reckoning). And lately, practically all of my spiritual thoughts and reading and study has to do with what I can give to the Bible study I teach. It's all focused on them (as it should be, to some extent). But I feel like I'm starting to reduce my faith to a job I prepare for and perform every Sunday morning. I put on the Sunday School teacher face and say the Sunday School teacher words. I listen attentively. I sympathize. I hear prayer requests. I "be an example." And once I walk away on Sunday evening, well, 'mission accomplished.' In some way, I feel my relationship with God slipping into some form of proxy faith, something I maintain in order to function the way I need to in order to meet my Sunday responsibilities. It's not my faith anymore. It feels like my faith "for the sake of" these others.

And, like these other things, my heart's just not in it lately.

I used to be a man of grand emotions and deep feeling. I used to be so affected by everything. I could express myself better, could write better, could allow myself to feel. But I don't know. I'm getting emotionally numb. I've shut down the better parts of myself in order to function in the day-to-day, and I think I'm starting to get brittle around the edges. Dried out.

My heart's feeling stony these days.

Look, I'm not looking for a life full of rockin' good times and no responsibility. Give me a little credit for being sensible enough to know that work is work, and it is rarely if ever fun. That having and taking care of responsibility is part of maturity, and that it should be pursued instead of avoided.

But there's gotta be something more going on in my life. I can't spend my life in such a way where the highlight of my week is some stupid hour-long TV show on a Thursday night.

I want my heart back. I don't know what happened to it, what I did to it. But I want this to stop. I want it back. I'm more than willing to let it be wrenched sometimes, to let it bend and break, to let it be bruised and scarred, but it's got to feel something sometime. That's what I want for myself--to really feel something.

Lately, the most I've been feeling is an evasive sense of loss. And what I've lost may simply be myself.

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