I have a confession to make… I’m a bit obsessive. When I find something I like, I try to submerge myself entirely in it. When the film “Hairspray” came out I watched it in the cinema every day for a week, I loved it that much! The “Pitch Perfect” soundtrack has rarely left the CD player in my car since it first arrived in January. And I’m the only person I know who has done a full Harry Potter marathon (all 19.5 hours) in one day. In fact the less said about my overly passionate feelings for Harry Potter the better, I might lose some readers if they think this is a blog about the wizarding world.
But it isn’t just books and films that I get obsessed with, its other things too. When I joined the gym I’m currently a member of, I threw myself into a new exercise regime, worked out hard every day for eight days and then monumentally crashed and burned, throwing up mid workout completely exhausted. When I was at school (and even at uni) at the beginning of every academic year and new term, I would return to work with such fervency that I would make endless notes and spend twice the expected time on any piece of homework… for about a week, before again exhausted I would realise that that approach to study was unsustainable.
So I’ve established I’ve got a bit of an obsessive/addictive personality and fall in and out of love with things quite quickly, so what? Why am I writing a blog about it? Well, being completely consumed by something for a short time is fine, but when it comes to exercise/ diet/ work/ self-improvement, if the obsession fades we can be left feeling exhausted, disappointed, feeling like a failure and beating ourselves up. This summer, as I’ve started a(nother!) health and diet kick I’ve been trying to balance my penchant for throwing myself into everything with living life on more of an even keel, allowing the obsession to ebb and flow without leaving me collapsed on the wayside. And if I’m honest, its really difficult!
Our society teaches us to live lives bouncing from one extreme to another. The country is either headed for total collapse or we are celebrating the Olympics/jubilee/royal baby and all that it is to be British. People are either complete nobodies or they are A-list celebrities. You’re on top of the world or in the pit of depression. No wonder I, and I guess others, struggle with finding a middle ground in life!
But what about God? Surely there’s no middle ground there, God asks for our whole lives, our whole hearts to be surrendered to him.. its kind of an all or nothing type thing. But how often in our spiritual lives do we go from worshipping on a mountain top, to meandering through the valley of darkness in the space of about three months? Its easy to feel good about your relationship with God in the summer in the midst of all the festivals, but come November when your soul survivor buzz has gone do we not sometimes do the same thing with God as so many January the first dieters do with the gym come February. A few years ago I heard someone say that some much older (wiser?) Christians were concerned over the emerging church (those under 25) because they were an experience fuelled people, creating an experience obsessed culture within the church. They questioned whether discipleship and spiritual discipline meant anything anymore when the younger members of the church were happy to pogo between mountain top experiences and wilderness encounters. Perhaps God is looking for more of a middle ground relationship with us. Perhaps true discipleship is knowing that you will still love and follow God on a mundane Wednesday in November, when life might not be brilliant but it definitely isn’t crap.
Let me sum all of this up and try to make a point. I’m by no means having a bash at being a passionate person, I am one of them and love people getting passionate and excited about things! I’m also not saying that it’s bad to go on a exercise/diet/health/work/self improvement kick, because of course it isn’t. And I am absolutely not saying that God doesn’t want us to take massive leaps in our faith or have experiences with him where we feel like we are on top of the world. I guess what I am doing is asking “what if?”. Throwing yourself completely into something is fantastic and if that excitement sticks, wow! But what if the passion wains somewhat and life gets in the way, as it so often tends to do, what happens then? Is there an emergency exit for safe disembarking, or are you just going to fly off the bandwagon and fall in a heap on the wayside? Do we not need to find a middle ground where we are able to live life on an even keel, allowing our passions to ebb and flow; allowing the messiness of life to happen without too many casualties and allowing us to rest, take stock and not beat ourselves up too much.
So today I pray for us all. I pray for the exhilarating, the soul crushing and the mundane; and that we would know God’s presence in all three. I pray that you would have things to be passionate and excited about and the courage to throw yourself into them, but I also pray that you would take note of your emergency exits, allowing you the opportunity of rest in the middle ground when you need it. And finally I thank God for being the constant in our lives, for being sustained, eternal and unchanging in a world that is anything but.
P.S. There is unapologetically no middle ground with the Harry Potter thing. That obsession is for life…always.