Lost. For those of you who chose not to read that sterling piece of blogger awesomeness, I brought out the point that we just now are understanding what the Lost castaways are TRULY on the island for. The central conflict has finally been revealed. All of the battles to this point were merely to get the castaways to this final point. They had to wade through layers of difficulties before they could fully understand their role. They had to develop the skills, grow as people, remove distractions. And now, with the finale upon us, they are at the place where they can do what they need to do - at least the ones left can.
Something hit me right after I wrote that post. That is a lot like life - especially our walk as a Christian. We get caught up in all nature of imbroglios, but they are not really what we should be expending all of our energy on. It isn't really the point. In fact, all too often, we get so focused on the minor skirmishes that we forget all about the main battle.
For example, I have been working very hard to change up my approach to food and health since January. To date, I've lost 67 pounds, 12 inches off my waist, several shirt sizes. I have jettisoned the foods that had me in an unhealthy grip. I am basically a different person. All of that is great. BUT, I realized the other day that I have made THAT my main focus for the last four months. It has been all about the weight loss and food efforts. As a result, I have found myself losing control over my emotions, my temper, my thoughts. I have been reading less. I have been praying less. I have been less attentive to my relationships with my kids and my wife. The house is more tense and more stressful. Why, exactly, would that be when things are finally going so well in an area of my life that I have always been defeated? You would think that I would be getting better as a person now that I was free of those shackles. That is what happened when I had to break previous addictions and habits.
The difference this time is that the food battle takes constant vigilance. When I was working to get past my out-of-control interest in movies, all I really had to do was NOT go to the movies. But with food, there is a constant stream of checkpoints. "Can I have this food? What can I have instead? I'm hungry, what can I eat? There is nothing here, what can I cobble together? We are eating out - where can we go?" Those thought begin to dominate. And while I have been very successful in this phase of my life, I have started to hear my family say things like "you are mad all the time."
So, now I am making more of an effort to work on my relationship with Heather. We are starting a study on communication within marriage - something that seems to be a major tripping up point for me. Summer is about to start (cringe). So I have to come up with things for me and the kids to do - so we don't replicate last summer's house imprisonment and subsequent depression. There are all of these different little skirmishes that I am trying to get a handle on. I don't want to keep dropping the ball in some areas while doing well in other.
However, like the castaways, I am still missing the point - even when doing all of that. On the show, they were off fighting The Others, trying to undo time shifting changes, warring with the mercenaries on the freighter. And they kept trying to get back home. Those were all necessary battles and worthy investments of time. But none of those were there true purpose for being on the Island. That's me. I am battling a bunch of things: my weight, my food choices, financial status, my thought life, my attitude, my temper, the way I speak to my wife and kids. Those are all necessary and worthy efforts. But they still aren't the main thing I should be addressing.
The fact of the matter is that the center of everything should be my relationship with Christ. I should be focused the most on that. Actually, it will help how I handle everything else. But, being completely honest, my relationship with Christ is at one of the worst points it has been in a looooong time. We finally got plugged into a church - which is helping. But I am not teaching any more - in school or in church - which means I am not needing to prepare anything for that. I'm not reading the Bible on my own very much. I'm not reading other Christian books right now - even though I have some on my shelf. It seems so hard to deal with all of that too, in addition to the other things. But, if I don't, I'll keep struggling with the other things.
I had hoped that this time in Tallahassee would help me to grow spiritually - kind of a two year retreat. And there are some great things that have happened in my personal growth. I have never had the kind of victory I have now with food, diet, and health. I have gotten closer to my kids. I have had to learn discipline and patience. But I also have felt myself lowering my goals for my life. So much of my life is getting through the day - keeping the kids under control, making meals, doing chores - and then getting a chance to chill out at night. I used to want to become the man that my wife respected the most in the world. (Copyright, Jeff Williams, FBC TT, 1999) Now I rarely think about that. I wanted to be a great example for my kids of how a man should live. Now I just don't want them to hate me when they grow up. It is like Sawyer on Lost desperately wanting to leave for so long, and then switching his goal to having a nice dinner with Juliet.
It is not easy. It drive me nuts when I read all these Twitter posts and Facebook status updates of people with these trite and simplistic platitudes about the Christian life. You read them and it looks like you just pop up out of bed and whisper some secret mantra to yourself and then go on your merry way, never to mess up again. I have never found that to be true. I have been saved for 32 years, and it never has been as easy as tossing out a fortune cookie message. It has been a constant war. I don't know if that is just me. Maybe it is. Maybe I'm just too in love with the world and my desires. From what I have noticed, I doubt that is the case, though. It is a constant battle. Just like a house constantly needs cleans and organized, a life needs constant upkeep.
I have already starting asking the kids what they want to do this summer. I want to give them a project - something to aim towards. At the end of the summer, I want them to be able to hold up the completed project and realize they actually did something worthwhile over the last ten weeks. For Josiah, he and I are going to work on developing his own original superhero and comic book. (He's very excited.) I'm still coming up with one for Natalie - but it will either be to have her make dinner for all us one night, or to create a summer scrapbook. (She loves to take pictures and to do arts and crafts.) Gabe gets to learn to sleep in his own bed. (He doesn't know this yet.) I think that my project is going to be to get my life onto the right track. That is going to include walking, doing exercises, losing weight, doing a study with Heather, reading the Bible more. But all of that is just part of the main goal to get back on track with God. That's what I'm on the Island for.