Diary Page Eighty-Four
Still February 28, 2010 - throw me a lifeline save me...

Here's an example of needing to separate happiness from joy. I am quite happy in college. I am happy with the classes, the challenging ideas, the work, and the constant flow of learning. In all honesty, I am not in college or the sake of a job down the road. College is certainly a means to an end, but to what end? Will it make me a better Christian? Will it make me a better preacher of the kingdom hope? Will it make me a better friend, daughter, sister (or wife, or mother, if those things come to be)? It makes me a happy, but if my own happiness is the end result than it won't last. Happiness is gone the minute there is tragedy, or hardship, or you lose the source of that happiness. Joy is what lasts, because joy comes from Jehovah through the holy spirit. Joy comes from hope in Jehovah's promises, and the blessings of being one of his servants. I have experienced joy, but right now I would not say I am joyful.

Now if I were putting joy before happiness, would I have to stop going to college and focus on more important things? The danger is in being satisfied with happiness when I need joy to truly be a success. The other issue is with living up to my potential and being the best person I can be. Put simply, I need to be me. I can't identify with the drives that motivate other people. I can't march to the beat of someone else's drum no matter how hard I try. There are many times when I feel like mentally I'm not on the same planet as anyone else. The problem is there must be a bridge between me and everyone else, otherwise, I am not living up to my potential. I don't have a purpose for existing if I am completely separate from everyone else.

Over the years I've had a lot of struggles with feeling like what interests and motivates me does not interest and motivate others. I've tried to change my own interests and motivations to no avail. Currently my tact is to find ways to integrate what occupies me with what matters to the world around me. For example, majoring in sociology has given me a lot of "facts" to support the idea that the system of things is broken, and all the ways in which it is broken. Now, did I need to major in sociology in order to know? Well obviously not. But that's just my way. And I still feel vaguely uncomfortable with this. Like I am afraid that others will judge me if I start to connect what I'm learning in the secular realm with what I've learned in the spiritual. I have a driving need to integrate everything I perceive, but I worry that my focus is wrong.

I do know things would be a lot simpler if I could narrow my interests and focus strictly and simply on spiritual things. I just don't know how to do it, or even what that requires. What I don't know is if it would mean I'd have to stop learning so much (something I was doing long before college, which just organized my learning).

Now here's something that may lead me somewhere useful: a quote from a wise tv character - "shame is tricky because it makes you feel like you want to change and then beats you back down when you think you can't"

That is something I needed to hear although I still haven't fixed things yet. For an addict dealing with the harsh (distorted) mirror of shame maybe you turn back to drugs, alcohol, food, sex, whatever. We all cope with shame similarly, just some more deviantly than others. For me, I think a big part of how I cope is turning to learning in-depth about things I will never or could never do anything with (preoccupied with being an autodidact, to the point that I continue to rail against any formal education). Why? Just to confirm that only in the truth can we be set free? Why sociology? To confirm that the world is messed up? It would be one thing if I limited it to the hours I was in school and got my "fix" that way. But I spend 8-10 hours a day reading, researching, scouring blogs, etc. It's one thing to be curious, but I'm spending my whole life in a limbo of "learning"; accumulating knowledge to no end other than to know more that confirms the beliefs of mine that I am willing to deal with.

As I explained to my study conductor/mother when she asked why I'm not having my study, if I go back to studying the literature properly and engaging with life as a servant of Jehovah then I have to face all manner of things I keep thinking I'm not ready to deal with. And really that gets down to the things I am ashamed of. Shame is not a tool that Jehovah uses; guilt is useful, yes, but shame makes you feel worthless in the core of your being. But shame is driving my life.

How do I reconcile my image of myself as autodidact and my antipathy toward formal education with the fact that Witnesses are devoted to a worldwide education work and we are lifelong Bible students? This is a conflict that I've only recently begun to think about. Here I am, someone who LOVES learning and reading and researching in depth, and I also find the Bible and Bible-based literature to be quite interesting when I spend any time thinking about it. Yet I avoid the hall, the theocratic ministry school, the preaching work, and most times any formal studying plan. I can't reconcile it all because I'm wrong. The reality is that I don't want to have to change some things about myself that I know are ultimately harmful but they bring me some small amount of happiness every now and then and take little effort. And I would feel compelled to change those things if I made a serious effort at serving Jehovah and becoming an educated servant. And I am ashamed of all of that.
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From a slumber...Diary Page Eighty-Five