Samantha loved contentment. She loved the temporal now, but disdained the eternal now, and what’s tragic is that she was completely oblivious to this fact. A bourgeois existence pleased her, and gatherings, social events, people and nature thrilled and exhilarated her. She never investigated her true spiritual condition, although she professed to be in Christendom. She was spiritless, but longed for rich aesthetic experiences, and when she received them believed that they were signs of her union with God.
In this world we have hedonists and thrill seekers, introspective quiet people, lovers and quarrellers, but irrespective if you’re rich or poor, logical or creative, impassioned or bitter, you’re in despair, and the worst despair is the ignorance of despair. The false peace that lulls a deceitful heart, telling a terminally ill spiritual you that you’re rosy cheeked and healthy. And this false peace is found in chiefly two kinds of people: The hedonists and the embittered. The former live in a continuous state of pleasure and try satisfying all their desires and lusts. They live a life of wild, reckless abandonment and they’re happy, but here’s the mystery they’re secretly unaware of: If you peeled the layers of the onion, you’ll find that they’re just as sick as people who’re self-conscious and despondent. The latter have seen so much hurt, loneliness and bone-crushing pain, and develop a self-righteousness. You’ll find some of them in the realm of professing Christendom; others in other religions—monotheistic and polytheistic, and still others in even atheism. Their pain sadly gives them a false sense of entitlement and their motto becomes, ‘we’re good people,’ and this shroud of false gold envelopes them and when confronted, they become indignant. And this in one sense creates the self-righteous elder son in that famous parable in the Gospel.
Samantha had seen so much pain in her life; she’d endured many trials, and this gave her a false sense of entitlement. Jude wasn’t a good husband. He’d both verbally and physically abused Samantha so many times, but his veneration for her made her love him and accept him each time he came back guilt-ridden and wept and apologized. ‘You’re my angel,’ he’d say, and this kept the wheels of a rocky relationship moving, until the day Jude found God, and confronted Samantha with tears in his eyes, begging her to see that she was lost. This tilted their world upside down and suddenly the roles changed, and Jude found himself backed against a wall while Samantha hurled abuses and screamed and shouted.
Oh, the mystery of God’s ways! Who can fathom him? He gives the degenerate an introspective, self-conscious mind and the polite a mind that refuses to dig deep because it’s terrified. Jude needed to break the cycle of abuse and so he didn’t seek Samantha and sought God and found him in repentance and knew that another died in his place, that another took his sickness unto death upon himself.
But Jude’s conversion didn’t last because he returned to venerating Samantha, and then backslid. The intense love in his heart for Christ faded and he slowly stopped feeling altogether. Jude succumbed to fatalism. He was intensely aware of his despair, but couldn’t see God as a possibility anymore, just a necessity and this in many ways is a demon’s despair. And Jude slowly became twice the demon he once was, and the vicious cycle emerged again. But something was different this time. Jude both hated and venerated Samantha, and his veneration now was more of a conscious effort, and Samantha saw through this and couldn’t forgive Jude like she once did anymore. So while the old pattern continued, a new one of distrust paralleled it.
(Inspired by The Sickness unto Death by Søren Aabye Kierkegaard and The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller)
© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)