Hidden torments sometimes yield tragedy. The world witnessed this earlier this summer when, within a week’s span, we lost two luminaries to suicide, fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain. I hate it whenever I hear that someone chose to end his or her life; it breaks me up thinking about their pain and remembering my own darkness of anxiety, currently held at bay.
The media coverage of these losses was grossly sensationalized, and I tried to avoid most of it except for a USA Today article by CNN analyst Kirsten Powers.
Powers admits to having considered suicide at one point, and explains the results of research she conducted examining the epidemic of depression in America. Citing an interview with Jim Carrey, she suggests one reason why more people are battling despair:
If only we get that big raise, or a new house or have children we will finally be happy. But we won’t. In fact, as Carrey points out, in many ways achieving all your goals provides the opposite of fulfillment: It lays bare the truth that there is nothing you can purchase, possess or achieve that will make you feel fulfilled over the long term.
The star of Dumb and Dumber knows wisdom beyond measure: Success doesn’t satisfy. It can’t deliver on its promise of happiness, at least not in a lasting way.
I know this is true. I believe true joy is found in Christ alone. I work hard. And I try to use my gifts as best I can—making it my aim that whatever my hand finds, to do unto the Lord.
And there’s the rub: unto the Lord. My striving is justified because I’m “doing ministry.” I can extend, and re-extend, and re-re-extend myself to outstretched capacity since much of the labor I’m undertaking is for the purpose of bringing the hope of Jesus to others. I’m shining this li’l light of mine for all its worth.
Sin can be like that, apparently. Shiny and brilliantly devised.
Yet by peeling off the veneer, God is exposing a heart that has misplaced its treasure. I’ve fallen for the mission of Christ and forgotten to love Him. I forget who I am, lost in the self I create.
Funny how theology sometimes boils down to Sunday school tropes. Even more laughable—the fact I need a command to tell me to love:
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
Obedience is better than sacrifice.
All the list-checking and goal-nailing in the world can’t satisfy like a relationship with the One who saved your soul. As Jim Carrey rightly asserted, nothing we buy or earn will fulfill us, because fulfillment can only be found in what Jesus bought and secured: communion with our Creator. Augustine sums up this truth:
Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.
For where my heart rests, therein lies my treasure.
Cover image by Natalie Collins.