Saturday, 7 April 2012

Ships That Pass in The Night

I was wondering about how often we make friends in work, on college and university courses, through other friends and sometimes even briefly at bus stops or at the supermarket and so on, and it got me thinking that we often make good friends this way and then we move on and never see them again.  In thinking about this, it got me thinking that so many parts of our lives are undiscovered, in the fact that we don’t give much thought to what can seem passing or irrelevant; I feel that much of our complex human nature can be found in such ruminations, if we only stopped and paused now and again, just to think about whatever is on our minds.

What is this human nature, why do we think so profoundly, why do we have the urge to create, or ponder deep issues, what is it in us that makes us yearn for things we can’t even express adequately?  I think that it is pondering and coming to terms with our extremely complex nature, the thought and emotions we sometimes have and the yearnings for understanding and to make sense of who we are and what makes us tick, that we begin to see there is more to us than meets the eye.  Human beings to some extent are motivated by their emotions, can be thrilled by emotions, or caged by them and often all kinds of people make decisions when they are in what can be described as an emotional state.  We can’t escape our emotions to a certain extent, and sometimes they can blind us to greater truths.  Some people are good at controlling them or masking them, whilst others are a slave to them and will act how they feel.  In some cases, it is good to conquer emotions and in other cases it is sometimes good to be guided by them too.

We were made for variety of all kinds; to eat a variety of foods, to experience a variety of emotions, to do a variety of different things.  Our imaginations can build whole worlds, even if those worlds are only in our head.  An animal can go through its whole life eating the same things, doing the same things, and perhaps thinking the same things; but humans were definitely created for variety and to be more than the sum of our parts.  It would be a boring world if we all looked the same and talked the same and ate the same food.  We can all learn so much from each other after all. 

Sometimes, for no particular reason, I can be thinking about things that move me in some way, for no particular reason at all and I can be carried off as it were on flights of fancy.  I think all humans drift off like this and get caught up in daydreams of one kind or another.  Much of what passes for reality for us as individuals could be part of an emotional state; what we love, who we love, what and who we hate, what we find beautiful, what we find worthy, what we dismiss as beneath our contempt and what we find that is of value.  I sometimes think we ascribe great importance to what isn’t that relevant at all and dismiss or play down what is vital to us as human beings.

When we go on holiday or planning to go on a holiday, we can even as adults get feelings of anticipation and excitement; I certainly do anyway.  The feelings when we’re walking alone on a beach in some remote place, or a forest somewhere or even when we are in a beautiful town looking at people and the shops and restaurants; it is hard to describe but I think all people need to value these moments, the moments of introspection and the moments of abstract thought and simple pleasures; it’s part of being human.

In understanding that we are often a web of complex emotions, feelings and abstract thoughts, we can begin to understand our wonderful complexity, the marvellous complexity of it all, the wonder that is a human being.  How can anyone think that the marvellous complexity of a human being is just an accident, a glorious accident no less, but an accident with no purpose?  When people ask for the existence of God, I could tell them to do no more than look in the mirror; you are the evidence for God!  No need for theology or preaching there.

Do you sometimes feel the weight of the world on your shoulders?  I know I do; sometimes anyway.  For whatever reason, sometimes I feel that everything gets on top of me and even interacting with other people, even my good mates, becomes a chore that I don’t want to face.  And like most people in life, I have things that I need to do and things that I want to do too.  I wonder whether other people think and feel like I do, or am I completely unique.  What is this human thing we are, these sad and solitary feelings, this urge to create, this urge to express our innermost being, this desire to communicate the deepest feelings we have?  In these yearnings, that I think all humans have, we can understand the complexity of ourselves and begin to comprehend the nature of God too.

At the end of the 1960’s there was a sense of questioning everything, questioning the validity of western culture and questioning the very nature of humanity.  The early 60’s was Beatles-inspired, poppy and black and white, and the late 60’s was a time when everything was in flux, a kind of transitional state; nothing was certain any more.  Pop music and pop culture began to be more in tune with what many people were going through and what people were thinking.  For a time, there was questioning, a sense of excitement and the idea that anything and everything was possible; there was a real sense of hope.  Of course, today we tend to view the naïve assumptions of the hippie culture as lacking substance and real depth, and we tend with hindsight to see it as transitory and part of its time and place.  All human created things pass eventually, however deeply held they may be or how lasting they may appear.

What if Jesus came in a suit and tie, and short cropped hair, looking more like a businessman; would we respect Him more?  Do we often judge people by the way they dress or speak or by how they present themselves?  I think we all do, even people who might consider themselves believers in equality and people not particularly prejudiced.  If a person finds someone else attractive and the person next to them not attractive, they are making a kind of judgement, the kind that if we are honest we all make or we have all made at one time or the other.  We all have people we like and we all have people we like less; in the same way we make judgements.  I don’t know God’s answer to questions like this but I am interested in finding out.  It seems to me that we should in all matters and as much as is humanly possible, treat everyone with the same respect and consideration that we would hope others would treat us with, regardless of whether we first like them or not.

In exploring our emotions and our deepest feelings, we might just come to some valuable conclusions.  For me this might be to understand that human beings are whole worlds of knowledge, of discovery, of love even.  Whatever, we are far more than we often think we are, that’s for certain.


  1. Some very interesting points here.
    I like the part about strolling on a remote beach, forest or a beautiful town. I have experienced all three, and I know exactly where you are coming from.

    About Jesus wearing a suit and tie and having his hair cropped short, looking like an English businessman, as you say. Would I respect him? That is indeed a very difficult question! I'm sorry to say this, but after some years of Media experiences, this image brings up visions of greed, big bonuses, hard selling, snobbery and general mistrust. Yet it is interesting that in his day, Jesus did dress appropiately, as a Jew. The Samaritan woman at the well immediately recognised him as a Jew, along with the Pharisees, who invited him to their homes - to them no Gentile could come near, not even the Samaritan. It was even suggested that Jesus, during his ministry, dressed as a Pharisee, a suggestion I find plausible.

    And contrary to the British stoicism peddled by many newspaper journalists, we humans are blessed with a wide variety of emotions. Then again, we are the pinnacle of God's creation, certainly not some evolutionary accident.

    A great post.

    Wishing you a happy Easter.

    1. Thank you Frank. Yes, I am a dreamer and sometimes I tend to regard solitary moments such as walking on a remote beach as more important than things that are supposed to be important. We are all somehow pressganged into thinking certain things and accepting certain things are more valuable than others, likewise with people, some being seen as more important than others. If only we got off this and just dared to live a little instead.

      I just mentioned the bit about Jesus looking like a businessman as a sort-of interesting point. If Jesus came back to earth today dressed like He did back then, I wonder whether some of the well-to-do religious types would even let Him into some of their plush suburban churches?!

      Yes the old chestnut of British stoicism; I think we are all very complex and for me it's only God who can hold it all together and keep us in check.

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment Frank; this helps make my blog what it is.

  2. We are indeed a very emotional & feeling creatures. God has made us this way. He wanted us to have all these feelings and emotions to be part of our humanity and our uniqueness. I'm not too sure about the animals and other creatures, but I'm pretty sure they were not made to have the same acute and complex emotions within them. As humans, we do "think" with our hearts most of the time, and I guess we can talk the whole day of what are the pros and cons to that. I believe God has never intended for us to suppress our feelings but to control them. He has given us intelligence so we can think with our minds and feel with our hearts. If we only base our faith and trust in Him on our feelings and emotions, Christians will be in a lot of trouble. That's why we need to be anchored in Him alone and His truth always rather than base our faith on our emotions because our feelings do change every minute, but His truth don't change at all. Neither does God. He's the same yesterday, today and forever!
    Thank you Tim for this great post. I hope you had a great Easter. God bless!

    1. Hi Mara; is everything ok with you? God has created us I think to be in tune with our emotions but not that we should be a slave to them rather that we are the master of them.

      Yes I agree, we need always to understand as Christians that all problems, the way we feel, can be brought to perfect understanding when we let Him completely into our lives; there should be no area of our lives that are 'off-limits' to God; He created us after all and knows us better than we know ourselves!

      Thank you for the interesting comment Mara; your thoughts are always welcome.

  3. Hi Tim,
    Just been reading your post. When you ask if we would respect Jesus more if He came wearing a suit, my answer to that would be 'no' partly because the scriptures advise us not to judge by what we see. I don't think that I would ever be influenced by how a person dresses or looks physically. Even though there might be certain ways I might like to dress or look myself, they are just part of my personality, they are not done to influence. I do think we have to be careful not to be influenced by worldly expectations of how a person should look. I remember at the last 'inauguration' (I am not sure if I spelt that right)of the pope the commentator on the television said that if you didn't have a large limosine, you would not be allowed in to see him. I thought to myself 'If Jesus was to turn up here on a donkey, He would not be allowed to come near to the one who claims to serve Him.' Regarding emotions,God doesn't ask us to be without emotions but, as you say, He wants us to master them, Ecclesiastes ch.3 teaches us this.
    We all get times when things get on top of us and we don't want to be with people, there is nothing wrong with that. I think that is a time when we can 'be still and know that He is God' My life doesn't have to be busy all the time and, since becoming a Christian I have realized that there is purpose in everything that crosses my path.
    That's what I love about Christianity, it is a learning process that is able to bring us back, through God's word, to what we were meant to be in the first place and, even though it might be a slow process it can only get better. As long as I walk towards the light, it can't get darker.

  4. Hi Brenda; I'm very fortunate in having very good comments on my posts, that in some cases are posts in themselves.

    As you say, I also don't feel that I would be influenced by how a person dresses, but sometimes with the best will in the world we are sidelined and we can be partial to someone, rather than another person. Believing in strict equality myself I try never to be partial or even take sides; we must as Christians try to see every point of view, even if we don't particularly agree with a point of view.

    I don't have an axe to grind here but I picked up on what you said about the Pope's inauguration (I think you spelled it correctly!) and people not being allowed in without a limousine; that sums up worldly religion for me; in many cases it has become something it shouldn't be. Both the Vatican and the Church of England seem to be more about worldly power and influence and connections, than they do about a simple and humble walk with our Saviour. Yes, if Jesus is left out of the picture, what purpose all that religion in the end?

    Yes Christianity is a learning process; that's how it has been for me too. We are all students and we all need continual guidance towards the light.

  5. That part about respecting Jesus "more" if he was dressed in business attire hit home with me. I often judge others based on their clothing/appearance, unfortunately, and people who "appear" professional sometimes do get my respect more easily than the "unprofessional appearance" people. That's probably why I get so stressed out about my own appearance! Great post. Glad I finally got to stop by and read. :)

  6. Thank you Laura for the very thoughtful post; I think that we all make judgements about people; their worthiness, their attractiveness, their 'worth' to us in what we can get out of them, and so on. What's the Christian answer? I think we need always to treat all we meet with simple kindness and consideration as much as is humanly possible.

    Looking at your photograph, you do not need to worry about your appearance! I do understand what you mean though; I think women are under the microscope more than men when it comes to looks and presentation, although men are often judged in the same way too. Worldly judgement is cruel and always about, in the end, what that person can do for me, what value they are to me; God's judgement and mercy is more about the real value of us all, as human beings made very much in the image of God, whether it's a tramp looking in garbage cans or the President of the United States. Even the best of us make these kind of judgements, if we're honest.