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Thursday, April 4, 2013

And So What?

I live with a lot of pain. Centered in the upper abdomen, it's debilitating, exhausting, and sometimes simply terrifying. It's going to kill me one day.

And so what?

Life goes on, whatever your situation is. Every day has 24 hours. They don't come back.

One can choose to make pain an excuse, but the days still pass.

This has been something of an epiphany - that it really doesn't matter. I had subconsciously thought that there was something ennobling about what I was going through, that far from being an excuse, my 'ordeal' was part of a higher purpose.

It's not. What's ennobling is not giving a damn about 'my suffering', and turning my eyes, hands, and soul outward.

Because that's where God's world is.

There is a downside risk to this point of view, of course. C.S. Lewis pointed it out, in the attitude of a centurion described by Tacitus - immitior quia toleraverat (all the more relentless because he had endured it himself).

Being unsympathetic to oneself leads logically to a lack of sympathy for others, and to a cold harshness that places deeds above faith; indeed, places deeds above humanity.

And it's something of which I've been - rightly - accused.

I think that the worm at the core of my theological apple is the assumption that "what's ennobling is not giving a damn about 'my suffering'". It's a sneaky way to claim moral high ground by placing myself first in line to be denied the comforts of sympathy.

In the end there may be no moral high ground. Both pathos and icy asceticism are poses, the former at least being genuine, while the later is merely a frame in which to insert one's own portrait, posturing heroically in dubious battle against an enemy of one's own definition.

Carrying this to its logical conclusion, the high ground is God's alone.

As it should be.

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