Tuesday, March 22, 2011

You Alone


"You Alone"

You alone must stand your ground
You take a life worth nothing and turn it around
You stand alone, yeah that's the deal
You have yourself to count on cause no one really cares

Another rainy New England night
At your wit's end with no hope in sight
You turn on Costello it's welcome to the working week
You're broke and cornered no one to call
On your shoulders the hardship falls
Yet something inside you stirs and you begin to smile

Faced with few options you look to yourself
And begin to decide that


Now the other side of the coin now hits
Optimism runs partner with it
The pendulum swings into your favor now
Cash in pocket you earn your keep
With security you now sleep
Your mandate never quit sustaining you

Got more options hit your stride and continue the fight


You alone...
You alone...
I've seen many people get lost in the fight
You alone...
Seen any others just get pushed right out of sight


There were others who were not as fortunate as us
Taken without warning all over from life to dust

Hey Greg Riley
This song is yours
Never forget you...

Comment:  The Christian in me reads these lyrics and thinks, "Hmm... this is pretty atheistic.  It is like the anti-Psalm 23. 'I have no shepherd.  I have to be my own shepherd.'"  But I think the song highlights something that is true and Biblical.  You ultimately are responsible for you.  Even if you have a Shepherd and depend upon His grace daily, as you should, this doesn't mean that you are an inactive child who crawls through life passively.  This song seems to be about a man who lost his job, and perhaps much more, and somehow managed to rise to the challenge and find his way through it.  But the truth is more comprehensive than that.  Ultimately you can choose to either be a victim or take your life and make it something, regardless of what happens to you.


I can't remember where I read this, but it is so true.  The true hallmark of leadership is the ability to reproduce yourself.  Or, I would add, the ability to produce something better -sometimes I think having two of me in this world might be a bit much ;).  A leader is a discipler.

Pain and Insecurity

There are lots of well-meaning Christians out there who write books and articles to help people just like me.  There are millions of them out there, telling people that they "just need to remember their identity in Christ."  I have to say... I was not aware, until I started looking, at the handful of buzz-words out there in the Christian self-help and Christian counseling circles.  You aren't "insecure" -you have "fear of man" issues.  You are an idolater, that's all.  You need to forgive to make sure bitterness doesn't take root.  I find there are just as many buzz-words in the Christian self-help/counseling world as there are in the pop-psychology world that Christian counselors scoff at.  There are just as many buzz-words and just as many canned solutions.

I think a lot of what is out there in Christian circles is really just not helpful at all.  In fact, all it seems to do is promote the kind of endless mental meandering that I love to do to avoid the suffering that is really going on inside me.  What could be better than to make my pain a simple theological problem with a theological answer?  That is right up my alley.  The problem is that I can remind myself of who I am in Christ all day long and it won't fix me.  It is good to know.  It is good.  But it won't just make my suffering go away.  It won't take away my inner bondage.  It won't take away the nerve-shattering pain that produces so much anxiety inside me.  It won't heal me.

And I can read books a hundred times that tell me about fear of man and idolatry and how I need to not focus so much on self-protection but instead on reaching out and loving others and how that will make things better, but it doesn't.  It doesn't make it get better.  Sorry.  It doesn't help.  Sometimes I think these well-meaning folks just try to cogitate and make up solutions to things that can't just be "solved" like that.  But it gives people hope, and some people, somehow, are helped by it.  Yet what is the number of people who are truly helped by that?  I haven't met any who have made any true and lasting change by remembering their "identity in Christ" or by "filling up with Christ" or "putting off their fear of man."

I think there is more honesty and true-to-life-ness in these words, from a blog I found, than in just about any of the Christian self-help books I have ever read.

"i carry on for the sake of being normal. no one can see this darkness inside me. no one can know just how insecure i am.  is it even called an insecurity if it's true? no one can know just how ugly i am, inside and out. ugly. that sounds more accurate than insecure. ugly. ugly. ugly sounds like such an ugly word. ugly. ugly. ugly. me. that's me. i'm ugly. ugly. uggglllyy. the more you say it, the uglier it gets."

That is what it feels like inside.  Maybe you will want to spiritualize it and say, "Ah.  This person is self-obsessed.  This isn't a 'self-esteem' problem.  They actually love themselves too much."  Great.  If there is even any truth to that, how does that really help?  How does having that answer really help?  I haven't found that it does.  I have been suffering and reading Christian self-help books and seeking counseling of all sorts for over a decade, and I haven't found that the answers, even if there is a shred of truth to them, are helpful.  I still remain stuck in myself.  I know exactly how that person feels.
The one thing that I see is this:  emotional pain, harbored within and not dealt with, feels ugly -it makes you feel ugly with an ugliness that cannot be described nor covered.  It feels like ugliness, blackness in your soul.  You feel like Gollum from Lord of the Rings.  You can't make eye-contact with people because you don't want to be looked at.  You don't want them to look through you and see the ugly -you don't want them to look through your eyes and see you, because you are too monstrous to look at.  Everything inside you says, "Don't look at me!  Go away!"  For some reason, it seems that some people don't process hurt and betrayal like this.  They can cope or keep it outside of themselves and get past it (or can they?  maybe they just suppress it).  But other people, like me, have it stick to them like glue.  It becomes my little inner prison, a black-hole inside.  It is like a weight on my soul, one that I desperately want to be rid of but one that can't be dumped as simply as deciding, "Ok, I don't want to feel hurt anymore, and I don't want to feel small and black and ugly inside anymore, and I want to let all that go."  I wish.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Real Love and Acceptance

In this world, many times love and acceptance in relationships looks like this: I love you if... I accept you if...  I want to leave you when you don't live up to my expectations or satisfy me, and I will only stay with you and accept you if you do this and change in this way.  You do the work, and I'll decide if I accept you.

God loves and accepts us like this:  I love you because I love youI do the work to accept you.  I will never leave you nor forsake you.

That is real love and acceptance.

I believe the most fatal mistake we can make is to live in this world without living in reality.  That goes with everything.  If I believe standing in front of a speeding truck won't kill me, I'm making a fatal mistake.  If I believe that I do not sin or that I can atone for my own sins by trying to be good, I'm making a fatal mistake.  And if I believe that I can live in this world without experiencing sin, betrayal, and rejection, I'm making a fatal mistake.  It may not look fatal on the surface, but it will prove fatal in time, as I shrink in fear and isolation and bitterness.  Reality mandates that every man accept the reality of rejection and learn to stand on his own his own two feet.