Life is hard for a lot of people I know right now.
My aunt, who is primary caregiver for her daughter awaiting a kidney and her husband recovering from a major accident, recently told someone she was burning the candle at both ends and in between. Hard.
Numerous friends are in the same boat as we are (graduated seminary with no job in sight) and while it’s some consolation to be together, if the boat you’re in is sinking, well, that’s hard.
Others are bearing unimaginable burdens. Hard.
And sometimes I just want life to be easy.
I want someone to cook for me. To clean my house. To watch my kids.
So I can, what? Read a book from start to finish without putting it down? Lounge to my heart’s content? Get flabby? Have a stress-free life?
Maybe. I don’t know.
I’m just a little whiny lately, especially where housework is concerned. I’ve never had a dishwasher, so I spend far too many hours of my life washing dirty dishes. And I’ve been trying to stretch our food supplies by cooking more from scratch, which is better for us anyway but also takes more time. (My husband gave me license to buy frozen breaded fish for our fish ‘n’ chips Opening Ceremonies dinner but I was too cheap to allow it. We had fish and breading in our house. Who cares if it overwhelmed me?) Ditto for hanging clothes on the line instead of using the dryer — takes more time but is better in the long run and saves on the electric bill. (But man am I more tired these days!)
Enough about my virtues. I could spend twice as long talking about my faults.
So I whine about how hard my life is.
And then I read something like this. And I remember that my life is not all about me. Or my comfort.
Then I read something like this, from the Book of Common Prayer:
Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.
Suffering, then joy. Pain, then glory. Jesus didn’t take the easy road. His was the hardest of all.
To wish my life to be anything else is to deny that I walk with Him, desire to be like Him.
It is against all earthly notions to want to suffer. I don’t want to suffer. Or face hardship. Or travel the hard road. Or be uncomfortable. Sometimes I want to be ignorant of the hard stuff and irresponsible in my response to the hard stuff. I want to shut my eyes and escape into a world where children aren’t hungry, marriages are happily ever after, and all is right with the world.
We know all too well that all is not right with the world, and we could spend endless hours arguing about what would make the world “right.”
All is not right with the world. At least not yet.
In Pixar’s WALL-E, one scene sticks in my mind like no other. Late in the movie, we meet the humans, who have abandoned Earth because life was considered unsustainable. They’ve been living in space doing nothing and they’ve gotten flabby and useless. But they discover that Earth can support life again, so the captain wants to go back. The ship’s computer tells him that he’ll survive if he stays on it. And here it is: The captain says, “I don’t want to survive. I want to live.”
Survival isn’t always easy, but sometimes it’s like life on auto-pilot. Just getting by, getting through.
Living isn’t easy, either. But it’s life.
And there’s something powerful and moving and inspiring about choosing to live, not just survive, even and especially when life is hard.
Life is not comfortable for me right now. But it’s life. And I’m thankful for it.
And someday it will get better. Maybe soon. And maybe not.
But it will get better.
In the meantime, I’m trying my best to choose life. And enjoy it.