“What do people benefit from all the effort they expend on earth?” King Solomon, one of the wisest and richest men in history, asked this daunting question. Daily I talk with men, women, teenagers, and even children, who in one form or another ask the very same question.
Inevitably, feelings of futility will find us at one point or another, simply because there are days when “living” is an exhausting ordeal. In counseling we use terms like “mid-life crisis”, “burn-out”, and “chasing the dragon”. Such feelings can easily lead to depression and anxiety. Which in turn can take us anywhere from insomnia to severe mental illness.
Around six years ago I was a second year grad student, a full-time maintenance man, and a new father. Life was moving unbelievably fast, and I’d bitten off way more than I could chew! I started to become anxious to the point I was extremely moody. Everyone and everything got on my nerves. My gut check came early one morning while I was trying to feed my daughter. My wife needed sleep and I was acting a poor substitute. Trying to get the bottle warm and calm a fussy baby on 3 hours of sleep is not good for anybody! I had a breakdown and threw the milk bottle across the room, causing an even bigger commotion, which resulted in my wife running in to see what had happened. I was embarrassed, defeated, and humiliated. Feeling convicted of my mental relapse into anger, I apologized to my wife and daughter and hunkered off to bed.
Even today I think back on that moment. When I’ve got too much on my plate, or I’m having trouble telling people “no”, that moment reminds me of what’s important. That to an extent there are many things we do in this life that are futile, and not worth worrying over. I took that next semester off from school, instituted a schedule in my daughter’s feedings, and changed my thinking to prioritize what’s important.
If you’re on the knock down, drag out, roller coaster of futile feelings, you can do something about it. There are many times in life when we need to revisit our priorities, our schedules, and our relationships. In the long run, doing so will help you to evaluate your life. There are many futile things vying for our attention, but we don’t always have to choose to invest in them.
Questions for Reflection:
Are you expending any effort in your counseling sessions, or in your life, for that matter? Are you living life with a purpose towards change?