By Stephanie Farrier
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the one most dear to you. You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are – no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.” – Matthew 5:3-5 MSG translation.
Have you ever been at the “end of your rope?” Maybe it’s resembled something like an anxiety attack—the fear of an impending doom so horrific, you feel it coming on like a sneeze. Maybe you’ve mourned over losing someone or something “most dear to you.” Perhaps it was your own sensibility or the comfort of a long-term relationship. How did you respond to those circumstances? Certainly, you didn’t consider yourself “blessed” or “content.” In fact, it might even be fair to say you went into crisis mode, wracking your brain for a solution or spiraling down a path of one bad decision after the next, especially if you’re an “avoider,” like me.
Anxiety in this generation, mainly among millennials (I know, I hate the term too) is actually quite common. A study done by the American Psychological Association (APA) concluded that millennials continue to have the highest reported stress levels than any other generation. The reasons range from social media, and job hunting, to social anxieties and the current political climate. Still, the verse suggests that there is something deeper that contributes to our stress—our need to have it under control. Many of us, whether members of the faith or not, are crossing over into a different age both literally and psychologically. Some of us may feel burdened by the pressures of life, responsibilities and our inability to handle them—an ability we once had great confidence in. Some of us may be realizing that we don’t know what we thought we knew, or that what we thought we knew is somehow incomplete. That’s a lot to not know. Because of these things, we might question our very own identity and the value we bring into the world.
The truth is, there is no clear-cut answer in dealing with these issues. You’ll enter a position at work where you’re not sure what you’re doing, you’ll begin a beautiful relationship only to realize you don’t know how to love properly, and as it relates to the second part of that verse, you might even end up losing those things. What the text seems to suggest is that it’s okay to not know, and it’s not the end of the world to be without. In fact, coming to this realization is the moment when you are blessed. In admitting that, you are inadvertently allowing yourself to be “embraced by the one most dear to you” which the verse interprets as God and allowing his sovereignty and omniscience to influence the situation. Surrender in this sense is a difficult two-part concept. On one hand, it is to admit our own limitedness which suffers a major blow to our pride, while also requiring an acceptance of loss. On the other hand, however, doing this seems to give us the answers and the comfort that we didn’t know we had, because we didn’t—it was given. What is born out of these two realizations is contentment “with just who you are, no more, no less.”
Where you stand on the religious spectrum comes secondary to the fact that things, positions, possessions, and people don’t make us who we are and that breakdowns are in fact part of what make us human. One could even pose the argument that because we have the capacity to breakdown at all suggests we are indeed not self-sufficient in and of ourselves and there may be one greater than us to help facilitate the reconstruction process. It’s interesting, but then again totally practical that a building must be torn down to some extent for renovations to occur, perhaps it is not so different with us.