Spiritual Insanity

A few years ago, a twenty-eight-year-old woman shared with me what she called her “unseemly struggle:” she was dissatisfied … with most everything. Growing up, she had simple desires for life: a decent husband, a nice family, and a moderate house.

restless couple

Soon after college she married a good guy; they both found jobs in their fields; they bought a nice house; and within a few years they had a healthy baby boy.

She had every significant aspiration she had ever desired. Yet she was restless.

So they bought a new car, repainted the house, added granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. They were promoted. Her husband got an MBA. She quit her job to become a full-time mother. It felt good. For a bit.

Soon she felt restless all over again. “Is this all there is?” She saw the same unease in her friends, pursuing raises, cars, promotions, and kids. Then she heard an Einstein quote,

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result.

She said to me, “I wonder if we’re all spiritually insane.”

It’s everywhere

We all know people who live frantic lives of fidgety discontent:

  • Mothers who push kids into piano classes; then the travel soccer team; then the chess club; then the school play; then A/P English. They are frenetic.
  • The young man always looking for the “right” girl. Like a serial boyfriend no girlfriend has satisfied, he keeps prowling, night after night.
  • The pastor who grew a congregation from 100 to 300 and now wants 500; or has 500 but wants 1,000. He can’t sleep at night.
  • The addict who does another line of cocaine, it feels good, but the feeling fades. Tomorrow he needs it again.

It’s easy to see frenzy in others. But what about in you and me? How often do we think, “If only my wife would stop nagging (or my husband would start doing dishes),” or “If only she loved me,” or “If only we had stainless steel appliances”?

But even if we could scratch that itch, how long before we start stalking yet another, elusive thrill?

The pause

The young woman told me that everything she wanted (or wants) continued (or continues) to fail her. Her marriage, family, and home were great, but she felt agitated. She said,

This time around, I’m going to pause in my discontent, rest in my restlessness, and simply reflect on what I most deeply need.

I told her she was a genius, on par with Einstein. She said, “Thanks! That feels great.”

(A moment later she said, “Oh no. The feeling’s gone.”)

Leaveable and bearable

Nothing in this world will ever finally satisfy. Because we were made for another world. John Newton said, “If we really knew the future glory for us, it would make the best times leaveable and the worst times bearable.”

There is a deep spiritual longing in our souls; we long for a satisfaction so rich that the very best times will be leaveable and the very worst things will be bearable.

It’s the future glory in store for each of us. And knowing that future—even knowing its existence—can bring us rest for our restlessness today.

And here I thought my greatest need was a stainless steel toaster.


P. S. Would you please help me? There’s something I can’t do myself. I need your
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