I didn't want to do it. Was never going to do it. Promised myself it would never ever happen to me because I hate it. But I did it.
I forced myself to take up jogging.
With my new life of travel, I find it increasingly hard to find a place to work out, but I need to keep getting my heart rate up and my body on the long, windy, often times slippery road to fitness. So it's either jog, or get hopelessly out of shape forever—at least until I get my new bod. Jogging it is.
So there I was yesterday, jogging through a neighborhood here in Rochester, Minnesota, listening to "Beautiful Letdown" by Switchfoot, when I was struck by the sadness. This particular neighborhood is quite upscale. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if a bunch of the Mayo Clinic doctors live here. Perfect houses in perfect yards in a perfect neighborhood. Most of them are 2 story and they are all built within the last 5 years. Nothing to get sad about here. Perfect homes must mean perfect lives, right?
Wrrrrrong. Jogging along about .5 miles per hour (hey, it was hilly and I'm just starting this jog thing), I thought about all those big beautiful homes full of empty lives. Lonely housewives. Workaholic husbands and fathers. Disappointed kids. Many homes probably dealing with alcoholism, depression, massive debt, affairs, and all the other things that people deal with. Really, I'm not being judgmental. These are the problems in every neighborhood in every town in America (and the world at large for that matter).
But what struck me as sadder than usual is the disparity of living in a perfect home on the outside, but a life falling apart on the inside. I mean, when you're in the slums in India, you expect sadness and desperation as a part of everyday life. But when you're living the American Dream, you somehow tell yourself that life should be different for you and your heart life should match your lifestyle somehow. You've been able to fulfill all your material dreams, why can't you make your heart full to enjoy it? The hopelessness and sadness must be immense in these lives and neighborhoods where effort and achievement still equal emptiness.
Actually, I know all of this to be true to a certain degree, because I've basically lived all of this in my own life at one time. I have been on the inside of the perfect facade. I've had the nice home. I've had the fantastic lifestyle. And I've had the empty soul that shared my living space.
And here's what I think. It was during those times of my life that God was able to sink the reality into my heart that this earth is not my home. There's something more than this and it can't be found in material wealth, lifestyle, or prestige. If anything, those things make a person even more empty just in the spiritual gravity they inflict to pull one down to the disappointments of this earth.
These days I have been learning to put my hope in God—trying to unfetter myself from earthly accumulation. Truly my heart is fuller and more at peace than ever before. In fact, learning to let go of what I once thought would make me happy has really been what I would call …a beautiful letdown.