Survive or Thrive?

14 Mar

The title tells a choice we all must make. The adaptive powers of the human body never cease to amaze me. Humans can survive in all kinds of circumstances. The human body can go weeks without food and days without water. Our bodies are designed to survive, no matter what. (Of course, driving lawnmowers while intoxicated and eating tapeworms can still end up being fatal, so don’t go all “1000 Ways to Die” after reading this article.)

We can survive just about anything thrown our way. The problem is, despite surviving in a variety of situations, us humans aren’t thriving. Surviving and thriving are two different things, folks. Survival is a test of endurance. Thriving is a condition of well-being, of growing and flourishing. How many of us can honestly say that we are well? Sure, we all manage to force out a quick “fine” when asked how we are doing by a well-meaning acquaintance or colleague, but how many of us really mean it? If you’re anything like me, saying “fine” no matter what is a knee jerk reaction to years of being raised under an aura of forced civil hospitality. I often dream of telling people that I’m not really “fine”, that “I feel like s%*t today, thanks. My knees hurt, I have a migraine, and my dog is sick. My grandma has lung cancer and I’m flat ass broke.

That would be an honest assessment of my life. I’m surviving, enduring through life with a “same stuff, different day” mentality. Nothing ever changes, things don’t ever get better. Things get worse, but my standards keep sinking lower so I don’t realize just how craptastic my life has become. I believe that is the case for many people.

Then you read about people who are really thriving. You know the types. Maybe you even know those types of people in real life. The type of person who falls in a big pile of crap and comes out covered in gold. Those beaming Primal-ites with their ripped bodies, urging the world to purge their sins through bacon consumption (ok, if sin could be purged by eating a few slabs of bacon, count me in…this former vegetarian loves the fried pork strips.) The beautiful athletes that jog effortlessly at the asscrack of dawn in front of my house. They shout about barefoot running over the blare of their earphones and the sounds of minimalist footwear slapping the pavement. I sometimes fantasize about tying them up and force feeding them some Paula Deen-esque snacks…

Thankfully, I am sane and don’t really wish you fitness fanatics any harm. In fact, I secretly applaud you from my back porch.

The bottom line is, surviving is easy. Thriving is righteous. The Lord insures our survival according to His plan. He wants us to choose to thrive. Sadly, most of us are weak and live in the ease of the flesh. As C.S. Lewis stated in The Weight of Glory, “Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

What a statement of profound truth! I and many others are like ignorant children when it comes to food. “I want” replaces “I need”. “I need” becomes a feeble excuse to enable us to eat whatever is convenient or tasty without much thought required. Any guilt we feel about our food choices is negated by the feelings of satiety that follow the last bite (or gulp). We clean our plates out of obligation to the starving kids in China/Ethiopia/Hoojabooja. We justify a dinner of Doritos and 5 “snacks” of coffee a day because that’s what we like, what we want, what we can afford, what’s easy.

The Lord offers us a feast at His table. It’s the finest feast imaginable. Forget 5 star dining! The Lord’s feast is like 1000000 star dining! Yet we’re happy slumming it at home with a party pizza and a half gallon Super-Mega-Ultra Cookie Attack ice cream. The Lord offers us infinite joy…but we’re content with a full belly and an empty wallet because it satisfies us now. Who cares about later? We speculate that we are such complex beings that we require special foods in just-right amounts to thrive. In actuality, we need only to remember that living is more than just having survived yesterday and being in the process of surviving today. It’s about growing today and continuing to thrive for an eternity.

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2 Responses to “Survive or Thrive?”

  1. jessicasalaswrites 04/07/2012 at 12:37 am #

    Sarah, I’m just discovering your blog for the first time tonight. It’s brilliant. I relate to this particular post in a huge way. Thanks for sharing.

    • applecore 04/07/2012 at 1:38 am #

      Thanks a ton! It’s a very recent project with a friend – this is actually her post. She’s kind of the philosophy side and I’m kind of the health side but we go back and forth πŸ˜‰ So once we get on a roll with our billion drafts it will be a very broad spectrum of topics. I always love feedback too πŸ˜‰

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