“Wait 10 years, life will happen, and we’ll see where your fire is”
…said an older Christian to me.
After a day of talking with several non Christians about Jesus, and experiencing such joy from their attitudes about life and their search for God, I had the unfortunate (or fortunate) opportunity of talking with an older Christian for over an hour, telling me story after story of his misfortunes with the church and with ministry. And out of those misfortunes came that sad prediction of my life.
He won’t say it but he was miserable. And in that misery he wanted to question and quench the fire he saw I had in my walk with God. I never imagined that I had to fight so hard in a conversation against a spirit of unbelief and joylessness in someone who claims to know Jesus.
This is something I would like to judge him for but I realize that this is something I have to fight in my own life.
Jadedness is a disease, not a physical one, but one that targets the soul and eventually manifests in the physical. I feel its sting the older I get. Jadedness is trying to rob me of my faith in God and in people. Almost in every negative experience, it asks me, “Is God really good? And are people really worth loving and trusting?”
In life, I have victoriously answered, “Yes!” and watch my heart come alive. Yet often, the answer is “no”. And with every “no”, my heart shrinks and shrivels. Seeds of selfishness are planted in me. And my attitudes and demeanor about life begin to change for the worse. Yes, with every “no”, jadedness thickens its poison.
What is jadedness?
Jadedness is the dissonance between hope and experience.
It is when our idealized hope in something, whether we are aware of it, is robbed by a negative experience of that thing which we have hoped in.
People get jaded about authority from poor parents. Women get jaded about men from the sexual or physical abusers in their life. The broken-hearted gets jaded from romantic relationships from too much heart brokenness.
Christians get jaded too. If jadedness is the dissonance between hope and experience, we suffer from perhaps having too much hope as we are a people who are informed by the hope offered from the scriptures. We see and hear from the Bible of an amazing reality in the kingdom of God, and our hearts get filled with faith and hope.
And then… we go to church.
People are mean there, judgmental too; pastors are hypocritical; leaders are prone to selfish ambition; service is a show; they’re greedy, they molest children; hate the world they are supposed to love; they appear one way on Sunday and another on Monday.
And then worse, our experience of God is different than what we expected. My sick mother passed away–I thought prayer worked? We suffer while obviously-wicked people around us thrive. Our life spins and turns in directions–I thought Christianity was for our joy? In times of trial, God appears silent and unengaged (key word: appears).
You can always tell a jaded Christian and what they are jaded about.
The evidence is found in any given subject when the spirit of that conversation focuses more on “what’s wrong with things” than “what’s right with things?”. You can tell because the spirit of their conversation, with or without them knowing, is aimed at bringing your joy down.
This is not a condemnation of people who are jaded, although in some instances it very well might be an appropriate form of a wake-up. People are jaded about things often because they are victims of things. That is an undeniable fact. If someone were to share their life’s disappointments, it’s not helpful to simply correct: “Stop being jaded.” I get that.
But can we at least agree that it’s not good to be jaded? We need to see that even though disappointment has robbed us once, jadedness continuously robs us.
When I think about faith and jadedness, I think of Jesus’ words which correct the jaded trends of my heart:
“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus sees greatness in childlikeness. To believe, to hope, to trust, to see with a sense of wonder, not disdain or disappointment, and to see things without judgment or distrust like a child would is what makes a person great. We are to “become” like children, a message he spoke to twelve, not disciples, but adults, an indication that this transformation is possible.
Childlikeness is not ignorance. It’s not forgetting or pretending certain disappointments didn’t happen. It is seeing hope in the midst of that, God before and beyond that, and not letting a poor experience of a person, people, ideas enslave us in the idea that all resemblances of that person, people, or ideas cannot be trusted and cannot be changed into His likeness.
You see, jaded people are miserably stuck. They are stuck in unbelief, disappointment, and hopelessness. If the change we produce around us is an overflow of the reality that dwells within us then the only change jaded people produce, in whatever area they are jaded in, are those things–disappointment and hopelessness.
You cannot assign jaded people to be world changers. It is like assigning sick people to heal sick people, or dead people to raise dead people. If the devil can’t kill Christians he will immobilize them with the disease of jadedness. Better to instill faithlessness and have them wander the earth useless than to kill an on-fire full-of-faith Christian.
If we think we are doing God and the world a favor by being jaded then we need to be corrected with a revelation of who Jesus is. Because the difference between the way that jaded people operate and the way Jesus operated is miles, miles, and miles apart.
Jesus was and is full of joy, faith, and childlikeness. He saw the world through the lens of redemption. He did not go “Well, humanity has really disappointed me and hurt me, so I’m just going to avoid them, distrust them, hate them, give up all hope of them, and tell others how much humans absolutely suck”. No, he believed so much in their redemption that he became flesh, and died on the cross to redeem them. Hebrews even writes that it was his joy to do it.
To believe like a child is to align ourselves with God’s kingdom because the King of that kingdom believes, sees, and hopes. You will not find a happier or more joyful person than God.
God is not a positive thinker. He does not ignore pain, disappointment, or trauma. He is infinitely hopeful because He is infinitely confident in his ability to make all things work for good. He is not deterred by people’s failures, the brokenness of communities, or the world’s fallenness.
God is not jaded…
God is the antithesis of being jaded about anyone or anything. Even in the midst of miserably fallen and damaged world, the life and message of Jesus screamed, “There is but yet hope.” Jesus never taught what he did not live, and if Jesus told us that we are to become like children, it indicates the way Jesus lived his life–like a child.
If you are jaded, this is me trying to get you to see the pains of jadedness. It is not your parent saying, “get your life together.”; it is your doctor saying, “you have a sickness, but if you get better, you’ll truly live and let others live.” It may not be your fault that you became jaded, but you do not have to persist in it.
Your life is being robbed by your past and the devil is snickering away because as long as the seeds remain, you remain ineffective, disoriented, and honestly, far from the heart of God.
You are more than your experiences. And God is majestically greater than the disappointments that you’ve had of him. And my prayer is that a revelation of Him would break the chains of jadedness that keep you from being a wonder-ful (full of wonder) person.
Okay, enough about you.
I feel that I have to pray this for me. And if this is you, then join me in this prayer:
Father, I pray that you would break the jadedness of my heart in every area. That you would break the pain and the damage of the trauma that caused that. That even now, the Holy Spirit would fill me with divine perspective of what you thought about that situation, or that person, or those people, or that organization. I don’t want to stay in the place of hopelessness and not believing that those people are people you love and want to transform. I don’t want to stay in the place of where the world around me is made dull by the jadedness of my heart.
Wonderful Father, I pray that you would fill my days with wonder again. I pray that you would fill my eyes and my heart with faith. I pray that you would fill my soul with fire. That I would be a person bubbling with joy and hope, not cynicism and disappointment. I pray that you would break the pride that keeps me in any cynicism.
Father I pray that you would make me like a child again. No matter how old I am, that I would receive heavenly transformation to see life anew–as you see it. Redeem the past of my life and use it to bring redemption to the world around me. The world does not need another cynic, it needs the message and life of Jesus, the One who lives in me.
So let me rise and never fall. And so be great in your eyes, as you are making me more childish and more kingdom-like every day.