Last week I shared a new framework for both faith and works by illustrating how peace fizzles out if we don’t apprehend and apply our creative impulse. I know this didn’t satisfy very many of you, so let me add a bit more to the soup.
What if we are doing our best to apply faith to our life’s work and it doesn’t bear fruit? Have you ever felt as though all your striving in life has been in vain? How many endeavors simply don’t work out? Are failed relationships, failed business, and lost opportunities all just a waste of our time?
As I write this I can access the visceral feeling of angst, pain, anger, and frustration that is common to all of us. In a nut shell it is the experience of trying and failing. If we gave our very best at something and it didn’t work, then what is left?
Sometimes the story of Thomas Edison’s light bulb failing 999 times is not enough. Sometimes we put so much of our lives into someone or something that when it comes to an end, it feels like our end.
- Do we pay a life coach to ratchet up our output and hold us accountable?
- Do we have our religious figures convince us that God must not have been in it?
- Do we entrust counselors to endlessly scour past events in hopes of finding the bigger lesson?
- Do we just say “Fuck it!” and settle for a life of under hoping?
All these solutions are software hacks. They don’t address the hardware problem. They are externals based in the past or future, not the internal reality of the present moment.
Our doing is always based in time, our being is not. If we gain our sense of being from our accomplishments then we build a false self that lives on the surface of circumstances. If our doing flows out of our being then we are free to surrender the consequences of our action because something qualitatively deeper defines us.
Peace is elusive because our hardware thinks it is quantitative. “If I can just get…”, or “Once…… happens I’ll be good.”
That which is qualitatively deeper is accessed via means without measurement. Quantitative assessment is counting. Counting is measuring one higher or lower and by definition moves us out this eternal Moment where all things are accounted for.
This might seem like a bunch of mumbo jumbo or double speak to some of my audience. My religious audience would like me to say this is about salvation, the Church, or their particular system of faith. I’m suggesting this is deeper and wider than any religion, scientific discovery, or that which is presently known.
We must move to the unknown or else our peace will not be the sort that surpasses our understanding (Philippians 4:7).
We can’t know it with the usual binary operating system. We know it in a poetic way. We know it like we know a tune or a dance. We intuit it. Deep down we know that we know that we know.
We can quantify a wave in the ocean. We can know it’s size, speed, force and much more. So long as we are focused on the water we will fail to realize that the wave is in the water and not made of water. Water enables us to see it, but it’s energy goes out beyond the shoreline. There’s more to the wave.
We can quantify a relationship. We can keep score of good and bad and measure all we like and dislike. So long as we are focused on counting we will fail to understand the force of love. Love is the end of counting and goes beyond our feelings though our feelings allow us to glimpse it. There’s more to love.
The wave and love are one and the same. They are quantitative and qualitative, time and beyond time, word and flesh, and so are we. To experience well-being in the whole of life, or Shalom (what we call peace) requires that we see beyond everything. We need to recognize that our very being is not solely quantitative, but qualitative. It’s not either/or it’s both/and.
Religion is a scorecard. Love says “Where are your accusers?” Science says only that which is measured is real, Love says “You are my child, in you I am well-pleased.” To be qualitatively deeper is to live from a place that doesn’t measure us and differentiate us from everyone and everything. Deeper moves us toward union–Divine union.
From this place we have true peace. From here we are compelled to act because we participate in the wave of love. Since we no longer need the outcomes of our deeds for our identity, security, or validation, we are free to surrender them and live in peace.
This is living from the true self, transparently grounded in God.