I can still hear the opening to the soap opera Days of Our Lives. My mother enjoyed the show, and while growing up I may or may not have watched a few episodes. I don’t have anything to say about the show, except the opening line rings true, “Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.”
Since the last time I posted, the 2017-18 school was coming to an end. Now, we are only 9 weeks away from another school year being cemented into its yearbook. The months in between the last post and this one have been hard. This has been a challenging year at home. Likewise, this school year has been one of the hardest I’ve ever had in education. I’ve had extra jobs this year to help financially, but financially we have been under assault. We’ve had unforeseen medical expenses (ouch) and auto expenses (ouch x2). These external challenges have been rough, but the internal challenges have been truly fierce.
Fear and anxiety have grown exponentially this past year. Despite the war I’ve waged on my “old self”, I still resonate with Paul when he describes this good he longed to do, but didn’t, being overwhelmed by the evil he hated but kept doing (Romans 7). Whether it is fear of failure, fear of the perceptions of others, anxiety about tomorrow, the lack of peace is growing. Doing all the right religious things haven’t helped one bit. No real help has come by way of self-help, positive-thinking, psychology. It seems to me I have an idea regarding the real root issue, but dealing with it is painful and all-encompassing. The root is pride.
Over the past year, I admit I have done little to slow the insidious growth of pride. Scripture calls mankind to “not think more highly of yourself than you ought” by thinking of yourself honestly, and with “sober judgment.” (Romans 12) Pride, which my long-dead mentor C.S. Lewis calls the chief sin, has constructed a false view of self that is crushing me. I have come to see that all those “days of my life” should look rather unlike what I experience. Rather than not worrying about my life, what I eat, drink, wear, drive, do, etc., I spend too much time being concerned about the passing sand through the hourglass (Matt. 6). What’s sad about this current state of affairs is how pride manifesting itself in worry and fear not only causes unnecessary concern over what might happen tomorrow, fear and anxiety also rob today of its’ joys. I’m not the only one who hurts when this happens. My wife and kids feel it, too.
Only pride can explain the foolish expectations I carry internally that is shocked by the fact that my days, most of them, are painful, hard, and frustrating. Where did I get the idea that life ought to be different? By pridefully expecting life to be other than what it is, I waste day-after-day in frustration thereby failing to see the little joyful moments in the hourglass. When I pause I notice that in the blink of an eye, the time has moved from May 2018 to March 2019. In another blink of an eye, Christmas shopping will begin. All those days in between will either be experienced with gratitude and thankfulness, or pride, frustration, fear, and anxiety.
If pride undergirds my day-to-day experience, the sand through the hourglass will have a taint of nihilism to them. Like the writer of Ecclesiastes, I’ll see each day as “vanity, a chasing after the wind.” This is no way to live. Pride destroys the possibility of a relationship with the Creator as well as the possibility of a healthy relationship with creation. Humility, however, can enable me (and others) to give thanks for the many blessings so often taken for granted. Humility can enable me (and others) to rejoice always, whether in hell or high water. Humility can enable me (and others) to participate in the life of Christ, a life lived completely in the will and rest of God (Matthew 10).
May we learn to experience our “sand through the hourglass” with humility, not in fear and worry. May we learn to train our eyes to see the “days of our lives” with gratitude and experience the joy that will follow.