Death, Taxes, and Other Transitions

9 06 2013

Serene TreeSometimes I think life is about transitions. We are born, but only after growing from one cell to bazillions and then transitioning from the womb. Then we transition from umbilical cord to milk. Then from milk to soft foods. From soft to hard foods. We get ready for school…you get the point.

It doesn’t stop when we are mature though. We go to a party. It might be the best party in the world where we meet that special girl. But it’s a party that has a beginning and an end. We transition to the party and out again. We spend time getting children, getting ready for children, and then sending them off. If we live stuck in any one moment our whole lives, we miss the rest of life.

I used to think life was about productivity. My job was to…well…do my job and get results and build my empires. Now, I believe God didn’t make life that way. He never did.

Think of it this way. Knowing what I know now, High School would take like 3 weeks. Oh wait, maybe I needed to date a bit more or actually enjoy a few things, so maybe 20 weeks. Still, knowing what I know now, almost every productive thing in my life would have taken like 50% or less of the time. Building that dotcom back in the day would have taken 30% of the time knowing what I know now, maybe less. Learning to love my late wife the way a man should love his wife? 20% of the time. Everything, far less time. In retrospect, this seems rather inefficient if what God wants is productivity.

It’s like that saying:

“Experience is a comb which nature gives to men when they are bald.”  -Eastern Proverb

It seems like we “get it” only after we don’t need to get it anymore. Again, if God merely wanted our productivity like the humans who are farmed out like in The Matrix, this seems totally inefficient. If God just wanted our productivity (even spiritual productivity), why then wouldn’t God just dump wisdom in our minds, like a great big data upload. From the start we get all that life experience and wisdom at birth and make us ready for action at the start. We could then get a whole bunch of crap out of the way by about age 22 and then spend our time having fun or worshiping Him, or producing if that is what we are supposed to do.

It isn’t this way because, in my opinion, life is about the transitions. It’s about personal growth. It’s about our soul. God’s goal is not for us to build that empire, but to give us the opportunity to pass through millions of transitions, each time learning what we need for a future transition. Sometimes transitions seem to come out of order, like learning how to flirt only came AFTER smoking hot Angel L flirted with me in English class in junior high. But maybe that is a part of the plan. Some things, however beautiful at the time, are not meant to be, because we are not ready.

Death, that scary thing we Americans try to hide and ignore, is one of those transitions. Hopefully we spend a lifetime, however short or long, getting ready for death. And then we transition. It’s said death and taxes are similar in that they are certain. To me taxes seem more like a chronic yeast infection than a transition. So maybe the similarity ends with their inevitability. Either way, death will come.

Ecclesiastes 3 says God set eternity in the hearts of men. We long for eternity. So why do we hide from its transition in death? I don’t mean we should seek out our death. FAR FROM IT! Instead, I try to become comfortable with death’s reality. When I was having a bad spell years back, I went to a cemetery and sat at the grave of a young baby girl who died of SIDS in our church. I was close to the family and the event when she passed. Sitting there, I felt a calm come over me, not because I was happy with her passing. I hated it. I felt a calm because I accepted a fundamental truth of life: we are and will transition…so don’t fight it.

Some people might find this topic, even the title of this post morbid.  Rather, I think that shows how far we are removed from life’s reality.  Facing this gives us an ultimate peace. I think becoming comfortable with death is the ultimate test of having contentment in life. It helps us to see life for what it is, vaporous and transitional, and maybe it helps us get ready for our own passing.

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7 responses

12 06 2013
Catrin

Indeed. You were a part of my salvation journey. I remember meeting you, and Rob, and several other very dedicated Christians at MSU, and realized “these guys are serious about their faith, and they’re no dummies!” It made me take another look. I describe my testimony being like a “fader” on a light switch; it was not a sudden light-bulb moment, but a slow, skeptical, investigative, and intellectual transition. 🙂 And the perspective gets clearer all along. I’m a long way from where I started, but I couldn’t set a firm date on when my “taking a look at Christianity” to “fully devoted follower of Christ” happened. 🙂

16 06 2013
Ben CaregiverRenew.org

Catrin, I am honored to hear. Thank you for sharing this all. I think life has tons of “faders” (truly, you are married to an electrical engineer btw). 🙂

My own faders in faith, legalism, morality, religion, love, hope, and many more have moved up an down with time. My life is set of morphing equalizer settings that ebb and flow with each day and month passing.

No doubt, some settings are more pleasing to the spiritual ear than others. I hope my life has gotten more simply and complexly beautiful with time.

-b

26 06 2013
Marian

Productivity is one of the most compelling idols of our culture. The more productive we are, the more control we think we have (another idol), and the more control we have, the less willing/able we are to lean into God’s hands and relax into God’s will. Rather, we wind up either battling or disregarding God, not relating to God in healthy ways.

Thank you for a well-written and thoughtfully considered post, Ben.

– aka Marian

27 06 2013
Ben CaregiverRenew.org

Thanks Marian. It means a lot. Productivity has long been an idol for me, so this post is at least part-confession. I grew believing I was only valuable to the world if I produced in school, in the family business and in life. It’s been an obsession really.

Living in Central America has shown me just how ingrained productivity is in our American way. It makes America rich, sorta, but we pay a drastic soulish price: distant children, unhappiness, broken families, hypertension, chronic fatigue, adrenal fatigue, and list goes on.

I only hope I have the humility and wisdom now to not succumb to the idol of productivity in the future, or more accurately, in the now. If I am honest I am not sure if I do. We shall see.

Best,
Ben

6 02 2014
Death, Taxes, and Other Transitions | africazim

[…] Death, Taxes, and Other Transitions. […]

6 02 2014
pegasus11

To the writer I thank you for your post and to everyone: may we find truth and in peace & love truly live this amazing adventure called life. This was an enjoyable read and I have posted it to others.

6 02 2014
Ben CaregiverRenew.org

Thank you. It’s 10PM, I am exhausted from days of getting ready to return to Belize where I wrote this post. It’s a great reminder of the calm that comes of my mind/soul in that country. It’s odd that in a country where death is far more apparent than in the U.S., I find more grounding in the natural process of life. I miss Belize and look forward to returning in 17 days. Thank you for nudge.

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