Thursday, April 8, 2010

Let's Make a Deal?

People love "If...Then..." statements since they imply some kind of conditional agreement for what is supposedly an arrangement for achieving either mutual benefit or some sort of personal equilibrium. "If you eat your vegetables, then you can have dessert." "If I eat this super-size meal, then I should work out today." We all make these conditional arrangements with our families, friends, co-workers & ourselves everyday. Some statements follow a rational causality sequence and generally work quite well in everyday life. Unfortunately, some conditional statements have infiltrated how we interpret information, generate certain emotions, & even place unfounded hopes.

"If he looks my direction, then he's interested in me."
"If she talks about her lousy boyfriend one more time, then I'm going to stop talking to her!"
"If I buy lots of stuff, then I'll be happy."
"If I get rid of all my stuff, then I'll be happy."
"If people just liked me more, then I'll be happy."

I only know me, so here's my experience. Maybe yours is similar? I try quite hard to attach my actions to happiness, self-worth & general peace of mind. However, I've been learning lately that those areas of life really don't work with conditional statements. I can't leave my self-worth up to "if" I did the dishes or "if" I felt good about accomplishing a project at work. I can't place my happiness on "if" Boy X decides to glance at me or my peace of mind on "if" someone compliments my new shirt.

Recently while reading C.S. Lewis's 'Mere Christianity', I ran across a statement that made a lot of sense & tied in with what I'd been thinking about: "Comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it." No "if" in any conditional statements can ensure an ending of "then I will have comfort, be happy, & have peace of mind." So how to we achieve this all-elusive comfort? It can only come from unconditional sources.

For some this could be the unconditional love and support of a spouse or good friend. Some decide to unconditionally accept themselves. However, we as humans are somehow wired for conditionality, so anything involving people typically ends up with fragments of conditionality. Back to square one? Not really.

"Come to me, all you who are weary & heavy laden, & I will give you rest." - Jesus (Matthew 11:28). He will give rest to anyone, no matter what, anytime to whoever comes because he truly unconditionally loves all people, every single person. I appreciate that the action "come" has no qualifiers of "if you come to me trying to be a perfect person" or "if you come really really fast" or "if you come eating your vegetables." It's either "come" or stay where you are. For me though, I'm typically up for some rest.