Thursday, January 22, 2009

Apathy is easy, but expensive.

Apathy is easy, but expensive.

When I'm afraid of certain situations, I often try to pretend that I don’t care about the outcome. I insulate myself in a quilt of apathy, and tell everyone that will listen that I'm not really concerned about the future. Worse than that, I try to disguise my apathy with an air of holiness. Take the Stuff Christians Like book that I'm writing for instance. The other night I told my wife something like, "I don’t really care if it sells a ton of copies as long as God's will is done." She immediately called me on that lie, because she's great like that, but that thought is so deceptive. It's true, God's will is infinitely more important than the sales figures. I believe that, but because I'm afraid the book won't sell well I'm trying to avoid the hurt of that possibility by pretending I don't care now. And I've used the truth of God's will as a way to mask that fear in fake holiness. But in praying about that, in wrestling with the idea that I use apathy as an escape method, I realized something:

Apathy is easy, but expensive.

It costs you vulnerability.

It costs you honesty.

Above all it costs you hope.

And regardless of my fear, that's a price I am not willing to pay.

18 comments:

Ed said...

Thanks Jon. In my crazy world of losing my job, I've disguised my fear of the future by saying stuff like "God has a plan and He will provide, it's okay that the Big Corporation ripped my world apart"

I needed this message today.

wv: whsockle: How I felt when I found out I was losing my job. "It really whsockled me when my boss told me my position was being eliminated"

Brad said...

After the last comment, I have nothing to complain about, but I do the same with relationships - I tell myself I don't care about the outcome of important conversations or relationships and cloak it in spirituality. It's only in the past week I've started to address this problem. Thanks for the insight Jon

Anonymous said...

Here's what I've found, as I do this quite often: while it may save you face publicly, pretending not to care, rarely saves you any heartache in the end.

Anonymous said...

Perfect.

Paul said...

Apathy costs us the very essence of life itself. It costs engagement and genuine relationship with other people. It costs intimacy. It costs emotional maturity. Unfortunately, I know this from many years of experience. It's hard to finally start living at middle age. It's even harder to merely keep existing.

photoqueen said...

Jon, as usual, you are right on the money. Like Ed, I tried desperately to insulate myself with apathy after being laid off. Actually, it was a string of horrible (to me) situations - a failed ministry, losing my job, severe health issues. I've only just recently realized that I've stopped feeling...and stopped really living.

My question, though, is once you're in this mess, how do you get out?

jenn said...

This is something I struggle with. Thanks for this.

Funny how, when you try to insolate yourself from any hurt, you usually end up getting hurt even worse. It's so hard to retrain yourself though. To allow yourself to be vunerable.

katdish said...

Fake apathy is one thing. It shields us from losing face. Pretending we don't care about something protects us from looking naive and silly if things don't turn out like we'd hoped it would. And you're right, that robs us in so many ways. I do that alot. My prayer is that fake apathy doesn't turn into genuine apathy. Because I think that is much more sinister and creates a hard shell which becomes thicker in time, becoming difficult to break through -- either from the inside or out.

sara said...

This is so true.

My life feels like its up in the air and I feel so out of control. I either panic and try to take control of the situation or I get apathetic. It is scary to trust God. I feel like there are aspects of my life that are so uncertain, and I really appreciate clarity.

All of that to say...I think God is using the uncertainty to draw me close to him. In that place, I pray, he is taking away the layers of apathy and self-preservation. I want less of me and more of him, even if that means vulnerability, honesty, and pain.

Monica said...

I don't like to hear that other people are hurting, but I am so glad to know that I'm not alone. I do this all the time. My biggest problem is that I hate to be vulnerable. I really appreciate this post right now, because recently God has been working on getting me to be vulnerable to Him and to my friends and family.

Question for anyone: How do you truly surrender yourself to God's will (not use surrender as a cloak for apathy or shield from hurt), while praying with true faith that He will answer? I mean, in prayer, I believe that I should ask specifically for what I need, but I also want to be open to His will. But then I use that openness as a way of explaining why He didn't answer. Does that make sense?

Sylvia Goode Basham said...

There's a difference in apathy and having real faith. Yes, I care, but I don't carry the burden of the sales. We do what we're called to do....and we trust God with the results, even if/when we don't like them. If you're not at that point yet, I think God will allow hard things in your life to get you there.

crazybaldhead said...

Amen. I am just now suffering from coming out of about eight years of total apathy. The thing is, apathy is great while it lasts, but someone commented that it comes at the cost of emotional maturity and I am finding that to be very true. When I was younger I thought I was more mature than other people because I was apathetic about all the silly things they worried about, but now that I am coming out of that apathy, I don't really know what to do with my emotions. My friend even told me that I deal with my emotions as if I were a fourteen year old, which is about when I started masking my emotions with forced apathy. So apathy is great at the moment, but the longer you try to keep it up, the more it costs you. Good luck on the book Jon :)

Jules said...

Dude!

This is exactly what I'm feeling right now!
I have a chemistry exam in 3 hours, and distracting circumstances leading up to it have meant that I haven't prepared as much as I'd have liked. And how I perform has a strong bearing on what class of degree I come out with. But over the past few days, I've been telling myself that I'm not worried about the outcome, just as Jesus commands us not to worry about tomorrow, but really, I'm despairing of how I might do, and pretending I'm not has meant I've been horrendously lazy, instead of taking this opportunity to rest in Jesus, and trust to how he can help me with this.
Man, eleventh hour realisations are so welcome!

I should probably give my notes a skim through now :)

Paul said...

Monica, try asking for brokenness.

robyn blaikie collins said...

this is amazing jon. i'm sure that was hard to share... kind of... but you also enjoy sharing what's hard to share, so i'm sure there was some joy in that.

awesome that you have someone that will call BS on your BS, that helps.

i love this post.

Anonymous said...

How ’bout picking ONE day next week and write something FUNNY and light…

Life is getting to all of us… and I think we need a LITE-day…

Matthew W said...

Re: Anonymous, 1-22, 5:02 am:
That is so, so true.

Matthew W said...

btw, Jon, I must say that I am glad to see you reviving ProdigalJon and 97secondswithgod. It's good having a dose of seriousness to balance your humor. :-)