The Sweet and the Savory


Light is sweet, and it is pleasing for the eyes to see the sun. Indeed, if a man lives many years, let him rejoice in them all, and let him remember the days of darkness, since they will be many. All that comes is futile. (Ecclesiastes 11:7, 8 HCSB)

Humans avoid darkness. Just look at the street lights in a city, how late we stay up at night, where we like to vacation and the places we call “paradise” for starters. The last phrases and the sentence speak to a place inside our collective psyche about an avoidance issue we all share. Something I know after years of trying it every other way possible is that no matter how good we have it–decent job, nice house (not expensive just average), friendly family, and toys–we still have days of darkness.

Many days of darkness.

Lately I’ve begun to notice how often people post on Facebook about their dark times or poignant quotes related to them. The memes (pictures with thoughts written on them) run rampant everyday pointing to our thought life as the source of happiness and light-hearted living. Why? Because everyone is experiencing their share of futility and despair. I’m not focusing on the negative here just pointing out a truth as I see it–or fact as it is.

One of the few things I have gleaned out of being alive for 53 years is the ability to be almost fearless when looking at the facts. Don’t get me wrong, I still hesitate and waffle when confronted but eventually I prefer to just get my hands in the mess and deal. The journey from a bruise, cut or debilitating injury to healing takes time. The one fact which has stood out for me is that it takes time to heal from anything.

We accept the truth of physical healing as a matter of course while injuries done to the mind receive less sympathy–or empathy–unless we experience something similar. How many times have you heard someone say, “Oh just grow up and deal with it!” or “Grab yourself by the bootstraps and pull ’em up!” or “Time to put on your big girl panties and…” I dare say too often, no matter what the situation someone always has that “easy” answer in the shape of a formula that works no matter what the situation. The problem I find with other people’s answers is they believe (often wholeheartedly) their method is a one size fix all rather than something that simply worked for them at the time.

This brings me to the lesson I learned of principle working theory over method.

I am approximately the same size as I was in my 20s. As an example my waist remains roughly 33″ but definitely not 34″ unfortunately. Why is it unfortunate? Because I’m slightly more than 33″ but 34″ is too loose and I struggle to keep them up even with a belt. If I buy clothes, the shirts still fit but I must try on the pants ‘cuz even though it says 33″ it might be too tight and then it’s misery.

Solutions come with similar problems attached. Even though the gist of a situation might look exactly like something we’ve dealt with before one twist can make the flavor or outcome entirely different. God created the parameters of time and chance which runs off of a set of variables so vast no one really knows how to calculate them. Yet we insist on solutions in the one-size-fits-all category, attempting to force everyone through legislation, habits, a host of guidelines and social mores into a specific bag (or number of them) so we can deal efficiently. Religions do it, governments do it, cultures dictate it, society thrives on it and families die from it. The more I think about it the more I’m convinced one-size-fits-all is a form of laziness. I don’t care how industrious or ambitious someone claims to be categorization allows us the convenience of not thinking through all the variables in a situation and blaming the person for not being subject to conventional solutions.

On the other hand, just because we misapply the principle of categorization doesn’t mean that having categories is wrong. The evil isn’t in the category but the relentless assigning of it and hard-hearted refusal to allow people to be more than one. For instance, measles as a disease is in a category of diseases which act a certain way, affect a specific part of the body and results in a defined outcome with few variables. Native Americans died from it because their immune system had never confronted it before, yet even though in the European cultures people died from it exposure to it guaranteed a better survival rate. So to categorize measles as a disease which is incurable or deadly across the board would be inaccurate. To categorize it as one with dangerous possibilities is truth.

Jesus said once, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold… (Matthew 24:12 NIV)” Methodology is the darling of some of the worst atrocities in history. The Nazis were masters of the societal norms and governed “truths” which annihilated millions before they were stopped. The history of the world is rife with examples of one method winning against another and then proclaimed as penultimate way for the future. Until of course another way is brought by those who conquer the previous conquerors. And round and round it goes. Every nation which went undefeated in battle and conquered other nations used its victories to proselytize and champion its gods/God. The method the winner used became the standard until someone else thought of something to counter it, then the newcomer championed his gods. The callous hearts resulting from hardline methodology can be seen from religions to governments to business to personal interaction and family dynamics.

Pleasure seekers are never more intense about it than when the days of darkness abound. We call addiction a disease to ease the shame of it but most of the people I know who became addicted had other goals in mind when they began the downward spiral. The reasons are complicated so conclusions as to why and what caused the spiral are as many as there are addicts. However, we can get a general gist as to the trek into this madness of sorts by watching the trends.

Many of us just want to feel good–physically or personally, it doesn’t matter. We seek pleasure as a means of boosting our own view of life or ourselves or use it as a means of gaging success. I doubt that most people who end up addicted ever set a goal for it or had even thought about it much. Having worked and lived with many people who deal with addiction I can confidently say each one experienced something uniquely similar to everyone else.

The days of darkness come to all. Escape is not an option mentally though it might be physically. Just ask someone suffering from PTSD because of war trauma and you will know the truth of that. The only solution is healing; the only way to heal is to know what caused the trauma in the first place, and the only way to know that is to be aware, honest and willing to do the work it takes to go to the dark places of one’s soul.

Yet all is not lost for most of us since there will be plenty of days where light shines brightly. Solomon’s injunction to remember the light in our days of darkness comes as a warning against despair. We have life, therefore we must live it with everything in us. We have light in some form so must cling to the memory of it to sustain us through the dark times. At the same time we need to remember the dark days in the times of light so that we don’t get blind-sided when something crashes to the ground. Life is very unpredictable with so many people putting their two cents in the pot so our response must be caution in success and hope in defeat.


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