I’ve learned some things about myself during these past few months, or so: I don’t enjoy being an adult, a middle-aged man with “more-than-middle-aged” insides. I really just want to wrap up, watch TV and have someone else take care of all the issues.
Of course, I’m overstating (surprised?)and the cold is sometimes more of an adventure than anything else, even kind of fun…sometimes. However, as a person whose job it is to look for life-lessons and push through to “get to God” in the center of things…I’ve observed some other lessons during the cold, cold months so far.
When the world is cold, your world gets smaller. Personally, I’m not prone to get “cabin fever”, I don’t just enjoy, but actually relish time spent in my house. But after a few days, even I notice that being cooped up in a confined space actually starts working on my body. I don’t stretch as much, I don’t move as much, my “world” is limited to ME and MY SPACE. Even with the internet, television and wi-fi…enough is enough. I crunch up, I don’t spread out. I walk, I don’t run. I hibernate. I “cocoon”.
I know that this kind of world is what many feel like ALL THE TIME. When the outside world gets “colder”, their world gets “smaller”. It’s happened to me, and it may have happened to you. Something in the world is unexpected, rude, and hurtful, when the world is “cold.”
So what is one’s natural response? I know that I crawl into a space that is my own: steady, friendly and safe. The outside world becomes something that can observe without having to experience it. However, slowly my “body/mind/soul” become cramped, atrophied, and begin to take the shape of someone who has never run, stretched, fought or soared!
The scripture has the wise concept of, “IN the world, but not OF the world”, this isn’t a specific verse, but a concept from John 15:19. It is an accurate concept, when looking at ALL of the other teachings of Jesus (who pushed us to live our love for HIM by loving each other, being invested in each other and even those who are against us). This requires being IN the world, and not sequestered IN ourselves.
I also find that when I stay too long in my own world, the rest of the world gets defined by my own “quarantined” life. And wow, doesn’t that define everyone who is “narrow-minded”, “entitled” and “judgmental”? And I ask myself, how do people acquire those above-mentioned attributes? I think that I’ve glimpsed a part of the reason. When one separates oneself from the world, the good AND the bad of it, then one starts to define the “rightness” of the world according to their own self-controlled (and not God-controlled) environment. Just like someone who has, for most of their lives, lived alone and likes to do things a certain way, have knick-knacks arranged in a certain order, and who is uncomfortable with “change”…anyone who separates themselves, from those who are NOT like them, will find a world not defined by God the Creator, but by themselves and their narrow confines.
“Cabin Fever” is an accurate term, I believe, to define those who “wait alone” for a better day… they “wait FOR the Lord”, but they don’t “wait ON the Lord” (as in “service to”) which is done by loving God through loving people (even to and including the “least”). Those who choose to be separated from people, through fear OR comfort, and just observe the chaos from within their controlled environment find their world isn’t the real world.
I believe that “cloistering” isn’t a bad thing in moderation. Everyone needs time to themselves, to listen to their own hearts and minds…because the more we honestly learn about ourselves, the more we learn about God. But, like everything, too much of that skews the reality of God and what the world is.
Don’t let the “cold world” (no matter the actual temperature) scare you into hiding. The world can be cruel, even in the midst of warmth and beauty. And we, as lovers of God, are sometimes (often) more quick to be offended by Godlessness than we should be. Godlessness and chaos should not surprise us, instead we are here to present the other side while treating even the Godless like the child that God sees when He looks at them.
Stay warm, pray for the Spring to come, and be IN the world…so that the world might be changed by God in you.