We had an interesting conversation the other day. It had to do with the different musical tastes represented by our family members. We decided, just for fun to see what state everyone would live in based on their favorite music styles. We have very eclectic music tastes around here. We listen to so many different styles from Celtic Woman to Bon Jovi, classical to way too loud.
Christian has rhythm in his blood. Ordinary household objects are drums under his hands, so we placed him in Florida so he could enjoy the rhythms of Miami. Addie is drawn to folk-y music so I guess she’d end up in Vermont. Kyrsten likes too many styles to narrow down so we put her in a motorhome so she can just travel from state to state. Justin would live in Hollywood, but not for the reasons you might think. He loves the beauty of an amazingly composed movie soundtrack, so off to California he goes. Me? Well Addie said I’d be in a church because all I listen to is worship music. Ha! So I’ll just pick a state somewhere smack-dab in the middle of the Bible Belt. Arkansas?
The funny part of this is that the states we’d end up in based on musical preferences are probably the last places we would truly choose to live in. But there we are.
So this led me to a train of thought (pun intended). I think that many of us find ourselves in different “states” of mind–places we didn’t think we chose, but we ended up here anyway. Just as we, in America, physically live in this varied group of fifty states we live in a varied group of mental and emotional states and set up camp. I’ll explain…
The first state is called Complacency. It’s a place full of folks who are somewhat satisfied with each day being the same ol’, same ol’. The weather is generally cloudy, but no one really cares. This state is known for it’s unseen and very dangerous quicksand called Ineffectiveness in which people disappear and aren’t seen again. Though the resources are plentiful, the people don’t produce much because they just don’t really care to.
Another state is called Control. This an extremely over-populated state. People flock from all over to this well-planned society. Though organized and efficient, it is also unimaginative and lacks excitement. Each member lives in a lovely box that is carefully designed, but from the outside each box looks the same. People here rarely if ever venture outside of their box to enjoy the wildlife, but spend their time collecting trinkets called Opinions which they love to share with everyone they meet.
The next state is Ignorance. Though no one who lives there will admit it, it’s really a pretend state. It was never a real state and everyone here knows better deep down, but it’s easier to claim this as their home state than to have to pack all their things and move. The problem is that when living here, they do things that hurt themselves and others they claim to care about. Things they never would have done living somewhere else. Somehow, it’s just easier to excuse here.
Next on the list is Confusion. This is a state that was not created by God (according to 1 Corinthians 14:33). Each member of this state is given a manual upon arrival that clearly states how to survive this place despite its frequent storms and natural disasters, but most never read it and wander about instead trying to make sense of it all without ever really accomplishing much. People often get lost wandering within the city there called Indecision.
A very popular state that is also used as a frequent getaway for residents of other states is called The Past. Somewhat of a novelty, everyone here walks backward! Most stay at home, lacking the courage to venture out since they can never see the brightness of the future, but choose to focus instead on the failures and hurts in the darkness behind them. A common city here is Pessimism where the weather is always partly cloudy and the lakes half-empty. Pessimists and people who live in The Past often relocate to our next state.
This next state is the only one to have two peninsulas that connect by a narrow bridge. In order to get to the second, you must travel all the way through the first called Despair. It’s a long, lonely journey often traveled backwards, eyes firmly in The Past. This place though not as barren as is thought by its travelers, is cold and dark so the beauty that could be is not seen or noticed. Some of its famous cities are Could Have, Should Have, and Would Have. Its capital city is named Grief. Once one travels through Despair they have the chance to continue on across the bridge into Hopelessness. This place is void of all beauty and living things. Once there, it is very hard to leave. Sadly, residents here have short life spans.
Narcissism is a very populated state. Here folks are happiest when they can stay in their houses made of reflective materials with fantastic acoustics so their own voices can be heard even better and more clearly. These people are always looking out their windows at their neighbors so they can be sure that they, themselves, are indeed better off. Although not a productive society, people here don’t mind too much as long as they are able to focus solely on themselves and their needs.
Insecurity is probably the largest state. Everyone travels through this state once in a while, but many stay and build permanent residences built on lies from the enemy. These lies are perpetuated through the media which has a huge impact as well as through the voices of people around them. Unfortunately these voices are deafeningly loud and are very difficult to drown out. Only one Truth silences them and once residents hear it, they immediately leave and rest in safer lands.
One of the most frightening of all states is Bitterness. Upon visiting, one would find travel very difficult as the ground is consumed with roots of varying sizes. These roots are known to seize folks by the ankles, and then eventually drag them down to their death. The roots were planted there by the first settlers, Pain and Thoughtlessness, and quickly grew out of control. Natives to the area hardly notice them anymore, but their faces and moods show the effects of living with this kind of strain. The only road leaving this state is called Forgiveness. Not to be confused with the super-highway Reconciliation by which people must travel in pairs. Forgiveness can easily be traveled by one and while on this road all wounds are healed.
A very treacherous state is called Addictions. It is characterized by holes. Oddly, the entire topography is made up of holes that need filling. Some of these holes were made in Insecurity, and some in Shame, and moved here. Some folks thought these dangerous holes were for recreation and they fell into them while playing. All the holes in Addiction are deadly and consuming and those who reside here really only have One Way out.
Now about that Way out. I’m sure these descriptions don’t exactly read like a travel brochure. I have such exciting news! If you find yourself living in any one of these lonely, bleak places, you qualify for an all-expense-paid trip to one of the locations I will explain in a moment. Surprisingly, you don’t have to clean up first, or bring any luggage. In fact, all baggage must be left behind! You don’t need to go to any station to board this train. It’s called Grace and the cost was a beautiful exchange made once and for everyone. It takes you to exotic and beautiful destinations such as Joy where laughter abounds, Peace where the sky and water are so blue and pure you can’t tell where one ends and the other begins, Hope, the promise of a beautiful future, and Forgiveness, the road that is rumored to be very hard work, but truly is just a choice to walk on the path towards Freedom, the ultimate destination.
So what’s the catch you ask? There isn’t one. Raise the white flag called surrender and Grace arrives. Grace paid for the ticket entitled Jesus, and all you need to do is understand and accept His love. Then just lay down all the baggage and pre-conceived ideas, be willing to leave every single thing behind that could get in the way of Freedom and jump on board. And don’t look back.