Tag Archives: passion

Beside myself

Have you heard the expression “I was beside myself”? Have you used it? What does it mean? What are the implications? I need to lie down to contemplate the enormity of this enigma!

I found some definitions: “To be ‘beside yourself’ is an idiomatic expression indication extreme levels of emotion, usually negative ones such as frustration, anger or grief.” Or, this one: “It means experiencing extreme joy. ‘Beside’ was formerly (15th through 19th centuries) used in phrases to mean out of a mental state or condition as ‘beside one’s patience, one’s gravity, one’s wits.’”

So there is a good ‘beside yourself’ if it means joy, and there’s a bad ‘beside yourself’ if you’re really ticked off. When’s the last time you were ‘beside yourself’ and how were you feeling?

It’s interesting (at least to me) that there is a biblical reference with this phrase. In Acts 26, Paul appeared before the Roman governor, Festus and King Agrippa. As Festus listened to the impassioned witness of Paul, he exclaimed: “Paul, thou art beside thyself!” (KJV)

Festus evidently thought that Paul was crazy. To the worldly mind of the governor, he wondered how anyone could risk so much to gain so little. Paul didn’t see it that way. He had written to the Philippians: “For to me, to live is Christ; to die is gain” (1:21). In some of his final words, he told Timothy: “I have fought good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. And now the prize awaits me …” (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

If you’re going to be beside yourself, shouldn’t the reason have high stakes? Can you think of anything more critical than setting your sights on eternal goals? If I’m going to be beside myself, I want it to be worth it.

William Wilberforce must have been ‘beside himself’ His holy discontent was the slave trade. His campaign to abolish the horrid blight of slavery took twenty years before the passage of the Slave Trade Act of 1807. He wasn’t finished. From 1826 until 1833, he invested so much effort and energy that he had to resign from Parliament due to his failing health. The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 abolished slavery in most of the British Empire. 3 days after learning of the passage of this landmark legislation, Wilberforce died. He, too, kept the faith.

The next time you feel like being beside yourself, make it a worthy cause.

Just how old are you?

A man received a phone call from his grandson to wish him a happy birthday. In the course of the conversation, the boy asked, “Just how old are you?” The man replied, “I’m 62.” There was silence for a moment before the boy spoke: “Did you start at 1?”

Life isn’t always measured by length of years but by experiences. A little girl was quizzing her grandmother about how things were when she grew up. Grandma responded: “We used to skate outside on a frozen pond during the winter. I had a swing my dad made out of an old tire; it hung in the front yard from a big oak tree. We rode a pony our grandfather bought for us. We would go out to the woods and pick wild raspberries and blackberries.” The girl listened in wild-eyed amazement, trying to take all this in. At last she said, “I sure wish I’d gotten to know you sooner.”

Some people do their best stuff later in life. Some start early. Some find their rhythm somewhere along the way. Susan Boyle at 48 was an unknown until she stepped on the stage of “Britain’s Got Talent” reality TV show. She sang: “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables and brought the house down. She launched her singing career that night. Laura Ingalls Wilder, of “Little House in the Big Woods” fame, didn’t publish her first book until she was 64. Grandma Moses didn’t start to paint until she was 76.

The Bible is full of stories about men and women whose accomplishments exhibit the possibilities of time – not chronos, time measured by seconds, minutes, hours, or years, but kairos, time that refers to opportunity or the right moment. What time is it for you?

Moses was 80 when God called him to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. Caleb was 85 when he asked to be given the hill country in Canaan. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were young men when they refused to bow before Nebuchadnezzar. Esther was a young woman when she became queen. Joseph was 17 when his world was turned upside down. Jesus was 12 when He amazed the teachers and scribes at the Temple.

So, just how old are you? And what are you going to do with the rest of your life?

Carpe diem!