One of the great testimonies to the truth of our faith is the fact that it works. I don’t like the way that sounds, but I won’t edit it. It’s pragmatism, but only, I hope, in the best sense.
I am 48 years old. I have been a Christian for 30 of those years; I celebrated my spiritual “birthday” on August 15th of last year. I bring this up to point out the fact that I now have a relatively long history of watching my own life and watching the lives of others from the vantage point of Christianity.
Here’s what I mean: Many times I have failed to obey Christ. His Word has beckoned me to live a certain way, to do a certain thing, and I have not heeded that way. And…like all other Christians, I have had my share of successes too – those times when I have heeded His Word, or, in the words of the West Point cadet prayer, “(chosen) the harder right instead of the easier wrong.” And over thirty years, I can unabashadly proclaim to a watching world that there is a blessing in following Christ (yes, even to a martyr’s death), and…not always, but often, there is great pain in disobeying Him.
I thought of this because this morning I read Denny Burk and considered a quote from feminist leader, Elizabeth Wurtzel. If you don’t know, in 1994, Wurtzel published the megahit, Prozac Nation, and did so at the tender age of only 24. As Burk states, “Wurtzel has spent the better part of her adult life living the feminist dream in New York City as a successful writer and Yale-educated attorney. Yet for all the fabulous accomplishments bedazzling her ‘fabulous’ life, she says this in a recent article for New York Magazine:”
It had all gone wrong. At long last, I had found myself vulnerable to the worst of New York City, because at 44 my life was not so different from the way it was at 24. Stubbornly and proudly, emphatically and pathetically, I had refused to grow up, and so I was becoming one of those people who refuses to grow up—one of the city’s Lost Boys. I was still subletting in Greenwich Village, instead of owning in Brooklyn Heights. I had loved everything about Yale Law School—especially the part where I graduated at 40—but I spent my life savings on an abiding interest, which is a lot to invest in curiosity. By never marrying, I ended up never divorcing, but I also failed to accumulate that brocade of civility and padlock of security—kids you do or don’t want, Tiffany silver you never use—that makes life complete. Convention serves a purpose: It gives life meaning, and without it, one is in a constant existential crisis. If you don’t have the imposition of family to remind you of what is at stake, something else will. I was alone in a lonely apartment with only a stalker to show for my accomplishments and my years.
I was amazed to discover that, according to The Atlantic, women still can’t have it all. Bah! Humbug! Women who have it all should try having nothing: I have no husband, no children, no real estate, no stocks, no bonds, no investments, no 401(k), no CDs, no IRAs, no emergency fund—I don’t even have a savings account. It’s not that I have not planned for the future; I have not planned for the present. I do have a royalty account, some decent skills, and, apparently, a lot of human capital. But because of choices I have made, wisely and idiotically, because I had principles or because I was crazy, I have no assets and no family. I have had the same friends since college, although as time has gone on, the daily nature of those relationships has changed, such that it is not daily at all. But then how many lost connections make up a life? There is my best friend from law school, too busy with her toddler; the people with whom I spent New Year’s in a Negril bungalow not so long ago, all lost to me now; every man who was the love of my life, just for today; roommates, officemates, classmates: For everyone who is near, there are others who are far gone.
Following Jesus…works. Not following Him…doesn’t. This truth is not only all over God’s word, but it is evident in the broken culture all around us as well.