Thursday, October 31, 2013

{the difference between it'll be ok and it is well}

 photo Scan_zps2e928131.jpg Do you know how many things you could be worrying about right now?

I do. I've thought of every single thing, I'm pretty sure. And I could help you.

I could be the opposite of a therapist. An oppopist. A pessipist. An misanthropoppopessipist.

I could lay you down on the Couch and explain to you why you're not anxious enough. About germs. And your appearance. And your future. And robbers. And the government. And Alzheimer's. And people you love. And HUMANITY.


You could pay me thousands of dollars and leave with a complete awareness of every little thing that could go wrong, has gone wrong, absolutely will go wrong. I could help you analyze your life up until this point and we could pick out every moment that has defined you and brought you to this horrible, pitiable, hopeless state. I could be like the ghost in that Charles Dickens book that shows you your grave. I could take a petri dish and grow you a whole culture of icky bacteria from just the tip of your finger because you don't wash your hands well enough. But I digress.

You could explain to me why you're not worried about those things and I could laugh at you and call you naive. "Things go wrong all the time, every day, to everyone!" I'll say. "The world is sad. Everyone is sad. Even the happy people. You're no exception. You're doing everything wrong. Even if you're doing everything right, there are too many things that are out of your control. Your life will fall all to pieces. Probably soon."

And you're probably saying (in your head, so that no one overhears you talking to yourself and thinks you've gone crazy), "That's dumb. No one would pay to lay there and listen to you talk like that..."

But we're all our own misanthropoppopessipists. You lay on your own couch and let yourself talk. You know you follow yourself around all day listing worries. Maybe you're not as good at it as I am (or maybe you are) but you do it.

And the worst part of it is that we're both actually probably right. You're doing stuff wrong. Your life will fall all to pieces from time to time. Things, little and large, do go horribly awry, every day, and no one is exempt from that.

Your worries are not completely unfounded. I know, it does us no good to dwell on them, but I'm just saying: a lot of them are legit.

This comes up because I was thinking this morning about this baby I'm having. Because I think about him. He's a tad thought-consuming. And I thought about all the things that could go wrong right now, and all the things that could go wrong later. There are a stupid lot of things. I laid down on the mental couch for a session. And then I thought of that guy. You know? That guy?

He was a prominent lawyer who lived in Chicago in the 1860s. He got married in 61, had five kids, lost his four-year-old son in 1870 to pneumonia. The next year, he invested in crazy amounts of real estate. Then the whole "Great Fire of Chicago" happened and destroyed most of his investment.

Two years later, he decided to take his family on a vacation to England. His wife and four daughters went on ahead of him when he was delayed by business. Their steamship, the Ville Du Havre, was hit by an iron sailing vessel and 226 people died. Including all four of his daughters. He got this telegram from his wife afterward that began, "Saved alone..."

It's a pretty sad story. Awfully sad, actually.  But the part I really like about the story is that after his daughters died, he sailed across the Atlantic to Wales to meet up with his wife, and as his ship passed over the location where his daughters died he wrote that song, "It Is Well With My Soul".

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way// When sorrows like sea billows roll// Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say: It is well, it is well with my soul

So I guess I'm not trying to say that everything will be ok. I hate it when people say that everything will be ok. I mean, Horatio Spafford, the guy in the story, lost another four year-old son seven years after the boat thing. That's six. Six kids. And then he suffered a lot through mental illness and died. That's not very ok.

But it got me thinking about the difference between "it is going to be ok" and "it is well with my soul." One you can't say with any certainty at all, and one is a sure thing.

One means you'll be happy someday (at least until the next catastrophe strikes) and one means you have peace now.

One is kind of an empty lie that people tell to other people because they really hope it's true, and one is bursting so full of hope because it doesn't depend on anything you can or can't control in this life.

One depends on your strength as a person and one depends entirely on God's strength, which is good because I'm weak and I know it.

Anyway. It's a lot of thoughts for a Thursday morning, but I guess this means that my inner un-therapist is fired. It kind of takes the edge off of worrying when you know that even if every single thing went wrong that possibly could, it won't destroy you. Peace like a river. Good.