I was in an existential funk: questioning my purpose, God’s plan for me, and the universality of suffering. Someone suggested as a solution that I should be more shallow. While I understood the spirit of love in which the suggestion was made, it was a funny thing to hear.
Besides, I’ve tried. I’ve wrapped myself in the superficial that society hawks. But when my closet starts to cram contents together, I am more interested in streamlining than another sale.
I am always telling my boys when they ask to buy something (that they already own four of) that it’s not going to fill them. I tell them God is the only one who can do that. Of course, this does little to discourage their desires. Still, I hope the message eventually settles in.
There’s nothing wrong with having nice things, enjoying a good sale, or a great pair of shoes, but the joy it brings is superficial, unsustainable, and nothing like the satisfaction we get from a relationship with God. Thinking about the work of mercy of clothing the naked, it seems almost archaic considering the number of clothes we all own.
I recently visited several thrift stores for an outfit for an upcoming ’80s fundraiser, and I was struck by the volume of clothes in these warehouse-size buildings. It was astounding. And while I understand that there are many areas in which this work of mercy still applies, such as a woman fleeing an abusive relationship, families who lose everything in natural disasters, poor families who can’t afford to replace their children’s outgrown clothes, and the homeless who lack proper shoes or jackets, I can’t help but think of clothing the naked on a deeper level.
What if it’s to clothe the nakedness of our soul with the regal garment of God’s love? What if it’s to cover those who are suffering with the balm of God’s mercy? What if it’s to armor ourselves in the teachings of scripture? What if it’s to wear the truth of God so that others may know him?
When I try to teach my kids that the material is not going to fill them, I am not just trying to get them to save their money, or be satisfied with their blessings. I really believe that things of this world will not fill us. And no matter what you consider your level of depth, I believe we have a longing that seems esoteric by the world’s standards, yet we still feel the ache of that emptiness. We were created to love, obey, and serve God, so this longing is innate. Maybe we try to fill it with busyness, professions, altruism, or pleasurable activities, but it’s really only satisfied when we are living in communion with God.
So when I go deep, I am not trying to make life more complicated than it already is or discount the joys that surround me. I’m searching for a deeper relationship with God. This may seem like a downer, but life’s greatest treasures rarely sit on the surface.
Copyright 2018 Lara Patangan