Our Heads aren’t Suited for Our Hats

Heads aren't suited for our hats

“One very common form of the blunder is to make modern conditions an absolute end, and then try to fit human necessities to that end, as if they were only a means. Thus people say, ‘Home life is not suited to the business life of today.’ Which is as if they said, ‘Heads are not suited to the sort of hats now in fashion.'” – G. K. Chesterton

How many times do we do this in our life? We start out with what we think we want for our life. And then we justify everything else from there.

The trouble is that what we think we want is not always compatible with how we were made to be. It doesn’t always take into account our legitimate human needs or, I dunno, what God wants for our life. What we think is much too silently skewed by the cultural expectations that happen to be the fashions of the day. It’s these cultural expectations that may be the most dangerous because they are often the most subtle – at least to us. To us they appear to be a given – an unchangeable constant – because they’ve been a consistent part of our environment for our entirely short lives.

But these cultural expectations – these fashions – impact our entire worldview. We can’t imagine another way of running our families. Of educating our children. Of governing society. We can’t imagine a different definition of “success.”

The way we measure the value of a person or a friendship. What we think we absolutely must have or accomplish to be happy in life. In all of this, we are skewed by fashions that we far too often treat as finalities.

And it’s not just the big questions. It’s the little stuff too. That nagging need to be “in the know” concerning pop gossip or the latest TV show. The lie that says success in life must be measured by a professional career, power, fame or money. The peer pressure to be plugged in to every social networking trend or new piece of technology. How may hours per day we should work? Where we should work? How we should work?

In many ways, our modern-day lifestyle is not suited for us. But instead of changing our lifestyle to best fit how the human person was made and the family designed, we look for shortcuts or make tragic sacrifices to try and force the human person and the family into the lifestyle of our choice. We’ve got it entirely backwards.

If you don’t feel satisfied in life or aren’t experiencing the kind of lasting Joy that you know you were made for, perhaps it’s because you’re intent on wearing a Hat that simply isn’t suited for your Head. If that’s the case, no matter how hard and long you try, you will never be happy. Never.

[photo credit]

4 comments Add comment

Brian December 1, 2010 at 9:38 pm

These words cut right to my heart, Matt. When I am not living the lifestyle that God intended for me and my family I get discouraged, anxious and depressed. Much of the time we are not living as God intended, sure I may be a “good guy” and not breaking any commandments, etc… But I don’t want to be “good,” I want to be awesome… I want to set the world on fire.

The only time when I feel Joy and my anxiety and depression go away, and I am filled with hope, is when I am living how God intended. My problem is that most of the time I find it to hard to do that… I am so busy, so many things to do and I don’t have time to be quiet… and listen.

Questions to all:
1 – When you have kids, jobs and obligations how do you find time to be quiet and still so as to listen to God?
2 – When you are stuck in this lifestyle, how do you pull yourself out?

John December 9, 2010 at 8:41 am

A reply to Brian.

I’m saying this as a 24 year old with no kids so please excuse me if I go way off base.

It’s really important to have some level of prayer life, meaning designated times for prayer alone. That is not to say that it must be three hours a day. If you can pray the Angelus three times a day or just once and you pray it with all your heart, you will be able to feel the solace you desire. St. Francis De Sales talked abuot how people of different walks of life should expect their prayer lives to be different, i.e. a married man with children and work should not expect to have the prayer life of a monk and should not hold himself accountable to an untenable goal. So if you pray when you’re walking your dog or driving to walk or the store, that’s ok. Thank God for the opportunity and the desire to want to pray, even if it seems squeezed in.

Secondly, if you have time to volunteer with or without your family, do something that allows you to witness suffering. Christ is easy to find there and it will give you perspective.

Thirdly, eliminate anything that you don’t need. Make your life as simple as possible. A good example is tv or reading unnecessary news on the web. If this is a way you relax and recharge, then that’s good, but if you wonder why you spend your time doing something after it, try to eliminate it and see if you still maintain a good balance.

And just ask for God to help you. He will. He wants nothing more than that. He wants what is best for you. Just be honest with Him. He’ll be honest with you.

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