“The Philosophical Life” | Pastor Robert Perez
Throughout my life, complex choices I’ve made have cost me loving relationships and strained my finances to precarious places. All along I’ve been convinced that I’m driven by purpose (for business, my art, my family and for God) over the comfort of easy living. Mistakes and missteps have too often caused avoidable and unnecessary harm, along with other choices that were required by a chosen difficult path that caused harm unintentionally. The reality is the pain of sometimes losing what I loved by consequence. Sacrifice really hurts.
Is it all worth it? How much can a person endure before it’s too much and they need to run back to safety?
The Christian answer is enduring anything and all of it to fulfill your destiny, because God has willed it and is watching over you. Jesus endured terrible suffering to fulfill his purpose, as God had prescribed. The Apostles along with countless other followers also endured, unto death, the choice of a Christian life.
Starting a business is tough. Being an artist is monumentally tough. Being a Pastor is tough because wisdom is not easily attained, let alone communicated. Success can and does happen. I’ve seen my share, but like all of us I require much more, financial and otherwise. At moments I’ve flogged myself and shouted, “What have I done?” Only to be followed by a state of calm knowing that it was probably inevitable given my chosen paths.
In this state is when the enemy is most potent, when you’re vulnerable and uncertain. Their whispering voice says, “You fucked it all up, give in.” Other whisperers say, “Stay the course because you have chosen this life and it has chosen you.” Then it flips on you and says, “See, you’re an arrogant asshole. Unlovable because of your unfettered ways. Who are you to command success and cause so much chaos in the process?”
Like Gollum from “The Lord of the Rings”, the mind and heart spin round and round with continuous contradictory thoughts of elation and pain and righteousness and sorrow.
Is there an ultimate truth that can assuage ill emotions and set right the heart and mind? What if the choices made are indeed poor and what is lost is truly tragic? Is truth a cocktail that inebriates to dull the hurt by illumination or is it the cause of the pain? Does the truth set you free?
Is pain inevitable? Yes, it is, but also joy.
The pain and joy of all mighty decisions come with consequences that most likely cannot be revoked or altered. Once your belief system germinates a will and your actions become manifest, you cannot easily stop the process, if at all. This is true of many human decisions because your philosophical beliefs, not the ones you emptily mouth, but the genuine ones that are built into your bodily and spiritual makeup, guide you into the light or into the fire or into complacency. It drives you like an energy source that animates your limbs.
Inner philosophy is what makes great things happen, and sometimes, the detestable. Philosophy causes a psychological state of determinism. “This is what I believe and thus I will act accordingly.” We see it in real time in the political space. Unfortunately for some, it makes them do horrific things that make us wonder how they can be done by anyone. These people need real help. For others, it drives world altering innovation and fantastical achievement in the arts, sciences, technology and in human wisdom.
The enemy of God is trying to get you to believe in nothing at all, a life completely devoid of personal philosophy. The emptiness is then replaced by distractions and entertainment that masquerade as living, only you’re watching it and not actually living it, so you never quite realize that you’re empty. You receive a steady “drip drip” of temporary faux happiness, but no genuine state of peace or joy. In the extreme, evil is very willful, whose philosophy of destruction makes for a mighty, albeit defeat-able, foe.
Some will say that for most people living a good and simple life needn’t be a poor one to decide. True, if your philosophy dictates that decision, not because you’re forced or because your will and choices have been extracted from you. The hard to make and endure philosophies that go against the norms of everyday people, even if it does good, are some of the hardest to wrestle with. The desire for comfort is always calling for you.
Endure. Never give up. Overcome. Believe. Atone. Make the right choices, and ultimately, succeed in God’s plan for your life.
Which brings us back to the first question, “What adversity, sacrifice and discomfort should you endure before you turn against your philosophy?” This is not an easy question to answer because that “philosophy” may be harmful or beneficial. It is as individual as a fingerprint. If indeed it is good in nature, I say, stay true.
“The Philosophical Life” steps outside the acute lens of Christian thought to include a wide range of ideas for enhancing our understanding and lives. Self-help is a process of discovery and engagement. It starts with quality ideas put into action to promote well-being and goodness. We are all complex beings in Gods universe.
Image: ©Artist Robert Perez