Did you ever feel fed up? Now I hasten to add I am not talking about when you are unwell, such as being tired or run down. I am of course not talking about depression, which is a clinical term which deserves both our respect and to be taken seriously. No, I mean that feeling of being fed up. The feeling of finding the daily grind draining. The feeling of being trapped in a routine that is far from life-giving. It’s the feeling that leads to questions like, what’s it all about, what’s the point, surely there’s more to life than this?
These feelings are often made worse by the myth or fable that everybody else, or at least most of them, are having a carefree life, bordering on the perfect. This notion of the ‘perfect life’ is often fed by Hollywood or in more recent times, by social media. We do not know how many shots were taken before the picture that is on Facebook was posted. I often hear people talk about their friends only to realise that they have never actually met them. They are friends on Facebook, which is lovely, but I wonder would it stand up to much, regarding actual friendship.
I think many fail to realise that the Lord does not want us to be fed up. I find it quite shocking that some people actually believe that the Lord sends us sickness or unhappiness in order to test us, or worse to punish us! This does not sit at all with God as revealed to us by Jesus in the Gospel. The essence of Jesus is that he wants to heal us. Jesus wants us to go free. Jesus wants us unbound, unfettered. Jesus has come that we might have life, and live it fully! So it follows then that the more fully we can live our lives, the more we give glory to God. In some ways life then is a bit like a cup of tea. It’s how you make it. I don’t know about you but I do not like a lukewarm or bitter cup of tea! Sometimes we forget that the person that is mainly responsible for our being fed up, is in fact ourselves. If we find ourselves regularly fed up we actually owe it to ourselves to at least ask the question, what am I doing to actively deal with this feeling?
I find it helpful to ask this question in three parts. If I am regularly fed up it might be interesting to ask how am I in relation to myself, others and God? Apparently many of us do not get enough fresh air, and fail to drink enough water on a daily basis. Imagine that, air and water, this is before we even go near our five a day! Many of us these days are conscious of trying to get our five a day and so keep an eye on our intake of fruit and vegetables. Imagine if that became ten a day! Imagine if beside the fruit and vegetable we put another five: fresh air, more water, one good laugh a day, a little period of prayerful silence and one good kind act for another. Surely it’s worth a try?
Air, Water, Laughter, Prayer and Kindness
As you can see none of these, either individually or collectively, need put a strain on the bank account or our energy. Imagine if this were to banish the feeling of being fed up. These, what we might call the new five, or the other five, would very quickly impact on how we are with ourselves and each other. However perhaps there is no greater place to bring the feeling of being ‘fed up’, than to our relationship with God.
I wonder how many of us here in the faith community of St. Matthew stop and think about our lives in relation to God? How many of us stop and ask this question: when the Lord looks at the faith communityof St. Matthew, of which by the way, dear reader you are a valuable welcome member, even if it’s only by association through this column, what does he see? I mean does he get stuck on our age profile, our numbers, our wrinkles, our shortcomings? Could it be that he sees perseverance, courage and faithfulness? Does the Lord know our story, individual and collective? Does he know every step of our journey to date? In his knowledge is he given, like so many of us, to frown, or does the Lord smile on us? Can we believe that the Lord looks upon us with a warm smile? Imagine that the Lord looks upon us and sees our repeated determination to be people of heroic virtue. I believe this.
In time to come when a history of these days is being written, especially the history of the Church in Ireland today, it will be said that so many of you reading this column displayed heroic virtue. It will be remembered that in the waves of consumerism, in the new paganism, there were people who kept on praying. It will be noted that in the Ireland of the new millennium, with all its secularism there were people who remained devoted to the Eucharist, and against all the odds tried to live it, in all its richness.