When I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God. – Psalm 73:16-17 (NRSV)
The psalmist has gotten their head all turned round the wrong way again. “I am envious of the arrogant,” they write. “I see the prosperity of the wicked.” The wicked’s lives seem easy, trouble-free. Always at ease, always getting richer. Bodies that are “sound and sleek.” No pain, the kind of existence the psalmist can only dream about.
Like a midnight Instagram-scroller, the psalmist has become hypnotized, seduced by the beauty, the better-than-you-ness of the performances they see before them. They regret their choices, they bemoan their ugliness, they come this close to signing up for a multi-level marketing scheme. “But as for me, my feet have almost stumbled, my steps have nearly slipped.” All the work they have been doing to be kind, just, brave, centered, faithful, focused on what matters? Slipping away fast.
What would you do? When your perspective gets all warped and weirded, your head turned by shiny shams, how do you get yourself turned the right way round again?
The psalmist gives a biblically predictable answer: go to the sanctuary of God. Maybe that’s also your answer; church certainly should be the kind of place that reorients you, resets your perspective, reminds you what’s important. A good long run can do it too, for some people. Or a book. Or a friend. A prayer, a stretch, a therapist, a snuggle, a nap, a planting, a medication, a song, a creation. What’s yours?
And: do you need it now?
And: if you don’t need it now, know what’s a great way to not wind up needing it? Doing it before you do.
Help me get this head turned back around, O God. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is a father, husband, homesteader and preacher living in rural upstate New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.