I got a chance to talk to a friend a few days ago—like actually really talk. The kids were in the basement with the husbands and we found ourselves alone upstairs, sprawled out on couches in the new, sticky heat of almost-summer. There were long minutes of silence in between our words when we even found ourselves drifting in and out of sleep.
We talked about how busy we felt, how stressful life can be, and how curiously difficult we find quelling the worries that plague us. We worry about our careers, our images, our kids. We worry about the nitrates in Subway sandwiches and the hormones in milk; we worry about overflowing piles of laundry and scuzzy dishes in the sink; we worry about funny looking moles and achy abdomens and how often we turn on the TV in order to get a moment’s peace. We also reflected on Time’s relentless march through our lives: Wake up, get dressed, find food, do job, find more food, clean up, sleep. Again and again and again.
And toward the end of our conversation, my friend said something that reverberated across the walls of my spirit: “Sometimes,” she said quickly, “I feel like I’m just here.”
And I understood her, because I’ve felt like that to. I’ve felt like life is happening to me rather than welling up in me. Days begin and days end and I’ve existed, but nothing has changed in me and I have not changed anything else. And there’s just enough grace in me to realize “feeling like we’re just here” is not the way things are supposed to be.
But how? How can life rejuvenate rather than drain us? I’ve got this sneaking suspicion that existence isn’t supposed to be groundhog day; we’re meant to sing new songs and not skip like scratched records.
But perhaps it’s less about finding new songs and more about listening with new ears. Because—newsflash!—the laundry isn’t going anywhere. There will still be dishes to clean, bills to pay, and butts to wipe. There will still be bosses who belittle you, technology that distracts you, and people who cut you off when they merge. Life will still be singing her consistent song—but it’s up to us how we choose to hear it.
Stress burdens us; worry relentlessly barrages us; anger jumps us and bitterness kicks us in the face. And monotony—the greatest life-sucker of them all—makes us feel as if “we’re only just here.” But what if we saw with different eyes and heard with different ears? Could the very things that drain life from us begin to fill us up?
I guess we can start by asking—asking for eyes that see and– as Jesus said– “ears that hear.” And by grace we will discover the new song we sing is really the Song that has existed throughout time, and we will finally have the ears to hear it.