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A Mad Hope

I've come to realize my life is a collection of me feeling woozy in various locations...


“I’ve come to realize my life is a collection of me feeling woozy in various locations.”

I told my roommate that as we walked into our friend’s coffee shop downtown and it’s true. You ever have days—or strings of days—from which it seems like you’ll soon wake up and return to reality?

I think pornography has drowned much of my life in a whirlpool of illusion and fantasy. Walking away from it has been very much a return to contact with reality. No longer do I hover above my life like a spectral observer, but I have returned to the full and rich experience of life, and life to the fullest, as Jesus promised us.

Life to the fullest does not subsist of some austral experience of floating. We do not float on like the musings of Modest Mouse, nor do we depart and drift away from reality like some dust in the wind.

Last summer, my favorite book ever became The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. He writes about humans in hell clinging to things that don’t really matter in the end. They cling onto things which are noting more than vacuous mist, and when the lights come on, they are simply closing empty fists.

“Hell is a state of mind – ye never said a truer word. And every state of mind, left to itself, every shutting up of the creature within the dungeon of its own mind – is, in the end, Hell. But Heaven is not a state of mind. Heaven is reality itself. All that is fully real is Heavenly. For all that can be shaken will be shaken and only the unshakeable remains.”

No book has more thoroughly shaken me to my bones and left my skin holding on for dear life. No book has so vigorously flipped me upside down and changed the perspective from which I see life, death, and the eternal value of all things.

Do I cling to the real; the things that last, and the imperishable? Or am I merely running after shadows and fog?

I think about this as I sit in this coffee shop. I’m feeling woozier than normal today (a state in which I should probably not be publishing any sort of writing but here we are…) and my removal from reality is in full effect. It may be my roommate’s haphazard driving, or the incredible amount of caffeine I’ve ingested today.

Sometimes, as a single man passing the midpoint of his twenties, this theoretical arrangement of heaven and hell doesn’t help when all I really want is a girl with two hands for holding and at least one functioning ear to hear my rambling thoughts.

The tangibility of heaven doesn’t bring much comfort to those nights where I’m so lonely there is a physical ache and I lie in bed starved for human touch. Sometimes our mad clinging to hope in the man of Jesus Christ doesn’t feel very helpful. I think this is why so many people my age are leaving the church.

We are very, very impatient.

Sometimes as we stumble through our daily routines and forget to emerge from our shells of anxiety and fear, we miss the very real things passing us by in this temporal world.

This life only happens once so make sure your eyes are open.

I think it’s hard to look for reality and permanence in a world where time exists. Today has pretty much happened, and as I sit on this half of it, do I look back on it with joy and satisfaction? A triumphant cry of tetelestai “It is finished!”? Or do I look back on another wasted day which could have been better spent attaching myself to things and people which will last forever?

Possibly the biggest danger of a pornography addiction is the fact that it will attach you to things which will blow away. Do you want to be real? When the world is shaken and only the unshakable remains, do you want to be among the ranks of the remaining, or do you want to blow away along with the worthless things you’ve attached yourself to?

Priority lists kind of matter.

The higher something is on your priority list, the more it infiltrates the rest of your life. It preoccupies your mind and runs through your thoughts like a fawn through a wooded glen.

I think the best way to examine our own priorities is to observe how we spend our time. The other day I was in a different coffee shop and overheard a conversation between two ladies. I didn’t hear the context, but what I did hear punched me in the n@rds.

“You’re supposed to make a list of all of your values and how you think people should live. Then, over about a week, you keep track of what you do every day and see how those activities line up with your self-professed values.”

This is exactly what Paul is talking about in Romans 3. Everyone is a hypocrite. Therefore, everyone is “a law unto themselves.” I think holiness is less about following a certain set of rules and laws, and more about becoming less of a hypocrite. (Maybe? Remember…I’m feeling pretty woozy today…)

I started writing two blog posts before this one, and I’m not so sure this one is much better. I have a lot of feelings inside me today; not so many thoughts. Sometimes it’s hard to filter feelings through the thin sheet of language and present them to another, but I guess this is today’s attempt. In summary:

Love God.

Love others.

And pray that today’s woozy feelings are reduced to a minimum.


5 comments on “A Mad Hope

  1. ok eth been reading around a little more here. I’ve no idea why you’re still single, but just wanted to encourage you that it could be partly because you’ve got big work to do. Not that you can’t still have a ministry after marriage (obvs), but time would be split, life would shift, etc etc. A thought I like to think is true for me, too. Keep up your work, good stuff!

  2. I imagine you get many replies so I’ll try not to bother with mine. I read your posts sometimes,when I get a break. This one seems to have you presented on a plate. I admire the bravery to write. It’s not easy, because one has to be true. I like that in you. That probably doesn’t mean much, since you don’t know me, but I still wanted to say it. You’re brave. I read it’s getting lonely out there, and I can emphatise with your struggle a little. Even after all that’s happened in my life, the hardest thing I find is still sitting alone at my table and having a drink with my buddies, loneliness and fear. (Wow… as I was writing it started raining really hard with rocks of ice…my country has the craziest weather!! ) I really hope for your happines to be full. And although I imagine you have a great deal of friends, since this is the only thing I can offer to the world, I’ll give it to you too. Whenever you want to talk, not to the world, put to one person, write me too. 🙂 Anyway, just take care, e !

  3. Sarah Aberer

    For being “woozy,” you are incredibly eloquent and insightful.
    I wish I knew you in person so I could pick your brain, bounce ideas off of you, and just share some of my own thoughts.
    I need some helpful advice for sharing Christ’s love on campus as newly appointed president of my university’s Newman Center.
    Reading this post, especially about the impatience of the 20-something’s in the church, I kept thinking back on my first year of college and the loneliness I felt. I longed for a companion (a good friend or a significant other); a like-minded individual with whom I could talk and share my never-ending thoughts and feelings of life and faith. I had to let go of many long-term friendships that turned south through loss of values by the influence of college life. I tried to get involved in some Christian-based groups where I thought I could find new, healthy connections, but it just left me feeling more empty and hopeless. It was a difficult year, to say the least. I asked God over and over, “why am I so alone?” and “what is my calling on campus and in this world?”
    Before right now, I hadn’t been able to answer my constant questions.
    Last summer, while in Poland, I received a pretty clear message from Our Father. He answered the question of my vocation in the church and how to bring others in or back into His fold; LOVE. All my life of begging for an answer and it was as simple as loving my neighbor.
    Maybe my loneliness and longing for friendship and love is God’s way of showing me what is missing in the world and why it’s so important to share it with others in His name.
    I don’t know how I am to love in action, but it’s a start.
    (I may have lost my point in there, somewhere, probably due to my own string of “wooziness” and exhaustion.)
    Even though I’ve never talked to you in person and the odds of running into you are practically 1/300,000,000 😟 ; somehow you have given me great hope, advice, ideas, and inspiration. I’m glad there’s people in the world like you!
    God bless!

  4. Wish my brain was as clear as yours when it’s “woozy”! 😊
    Seriously though, speaking as a single girl, you hit the nail on the head. It’s hard to be patient, to wait for what you want when others clearly have their HEA (happily ever after) and then tell you to just wait.
    But God…I mean aren’t you glad that He doesn’t leave us or forsake us? That He doesn’t say we could figure it out?
    For me, this year is a definite strengthening and coming back to what’s important, and it sounds like it’s that way for you as well.
    Thankful for your thoughts and praying for you Ethan.

  5. Pingback: More Than Immortal – ethan renoe

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