The problem with quick fixes, miracles, or healing is that they only require a short attention span. And not very much trust. I, however, am a fan of the quick work of God. I love it when He starts, and completes something within a month. I can wait for a month. I can even trust for a month. Continue reading
It’s hard to be led, when you’re still being driven
If you’ve ever tried to push a car with no driver at the wheel, you already know the problems of being pushed. There’s a reason that cars are towed from in front, rather than pushed from behind. But more on that in a minute. Continue reading
You know that guy. The one who hijacks a conversation the very second you mention anything that reminds him of that thing he’s been trying to convince the world about for the past year. You could be complaining about how there are two construction workers on the highway, doing the work of one guy, and Mr. PointToProve launches into a diatribe about how large government is a terrible thing. Not really related, but close enough for someone with a point to prove.
Are you living to prove a point? Are you waiting at the drop of a hat to tell someone about that thing that you care so deeply about? If so, I’ve got some very bad news for you. People probably don’t like hearing you talk about it. It’s not you, it’s us. It’s just how we’re made.
I’m not trying to bring anyone down, or anything like that, but my heart is for people to experience life to the fullest, and you simply can’t do that when you walk around with a millstone of knowledge that you’re waiting to drop around someone’s neck.
How do I know this? Because I was once the point man, and sometimes still slip into that role. Whatever I was going through at any given time, was my point, and it didn’t matter if what you were talking about had anything to do with it or not, you better believe it was coming up in conversation.
Being a Christian only made this worse. Now I had good reason to prove my points. Beacuse I was doing God’s work, and trying to make people better. Until I realized how broken I was. Hurt, scared, terrified of not being heard.
What kind of point can you try and prove when you realize that you’re whole life has been spent trying to gain people’s approval? About the only thing you want to do is shut up and not open your big fat mouth ever again. This phase doesn’t last forever, but you can never again start dumping your point all over a perfectly good conversation in total innocence again.
When I started to learn what it really meant to experience complete validation and really know what the love of God feels like, I stopped caring about proving points to people. I just wanted them to experience the same thing. That can turn into a point to prove in and of itself, but part of that whole experience is learning that people can not be bullied into experiencing true validation.
Are you living to prove a point? If so, it’s possible that you’re not really doing either.
I could write a really long post about how complex the human condition is and how messed up we can get because of stuff that happens to us during our lives, but I’ll get right to the point.
There is about 100% chance that sometime today, perhaps even while reacting to this post, you will do or say something that you think is perfectly normal, but is in fact a way of coping with something you feel because of something that happened to you while you were growing up.
Nice, right? But of course, we all want to say "Not me, I’m over <fill in name of event that hurt you here>". Sometimes we can’t even think what to put in the < >. We picture ourselves free and clear of the past, in control of our lives, and we just are the way we are.
But what if we’re not? What if I’m not just the way I am? What if I’m really better than I am? What if I’m coping with hurts from the past and I don’t even know it? And here’s what can really start your wheels turning.
What if other people can see what I’m really doing even if I can’t?
Where it all began for me
My unraveling began several years ago when talking to Rob, someone who saw right through me. I was telling him, half-joking, about how when i get on the phone with a company who has acted shady, I want to rip them a new one and MAKE them remember me. But then I tell myself "Who do you think you are? Nobody cares enough about what you say to make it worth while.".
As I told this little story to him, I assumed that he would chuckle and agree that it’s not worth unloading on a customer service rep. when they don’t really care what we have to say. But Rob pulled a 180 on me and got really, really serious, really really quickly.
He held up my car keys, and his car keys side by side. He said "Don’t you see that you want to tear into this person." as he moved his keys front ahead of mine, "and then you say ‘nobody cares what you say’", pointing to my keys, which represented what I thought came second. "But in reality, it’s the other way around. You feel as if nobody cares what you think, and that makes you want to tear them a new one, and MAKE them know who you are". At this point he swapped the keys to reflect the reversal or order, and I completely lost it. I burst into tears like a little girl and wept for at least 10 minutes straight.
That was my moment. That’s when I realized that I had been walking around like a puppet on a string. I wasn’t simply calling up AT&T and yelling at them because they suck at customer service. What I was REALLY doing was much deeper. Inside I was terrified that nobody would listen to me, that I’d be taken advantage of, and that they’d all sit there and laugh at how badly they ripped me off. So to make sure that didn’t happen, I called and tried yell my way to a position where they’d remember me and think twice before taking advantage of me again. And I just thought I was reacting to an errant charge.
Right now, what are you doing?
You’re eating lunch with a friend you haven’t seen in a while, you’re talking too much. What are you doing? Making small talk? Maybe, but what if you’re not? What if you always do this every time you feel as if you’re unsure how a situation will go? Talk, fill space, keep it moving. You think you’re just being conversational, but you’re really being fearful and controlling the situation.
You’re at the basketball court waiting for a chance to play. You think you’re being polite and waiting to be asked to join a team. But what if you’re deeply afraid of calling "next game"? What if by waiting to be asked, you’re really trying to fill a need for being needed?
What, Why, and Why
I have found that in the years following that event, there is a pattern that has emerged from the times I realize that another part of me is still being controlled like a puppet. It involves 3 little questions:
- What: What am I doing?
- Why: Why am I doing this?
- Why: But why am I feeling this way?
Here’s an example from above:
What am I doing?
Calling AT&T to complain about a bill they sent that I already paid.
Why am I doing this?
Because I’m furious that they’d try to rip me off.
But why is that?
Because I’m terrified that they are ripping me off and that no matter what I do, it won’t make a difference because no one cares about what I say or do.
Answering that second ‘Why’ is an entry point into some uncomfortable areas. The real kicker is that it starts a series of "Yeah, but why?" questions that would make any 2 year old jealous.
The other side of why
If you allow yourself to ask those questions, and don’t accept that everything you do just is the way it is because you are the way you are, you will find deliverance, freedom and peace beyond anything you’ve ever experienced. And a lot more strings attached than you ever imagined 🙂
Christians interpreted the movie "The Matrix" the way we interpret a lot of things. Because of our inexperience, and lack of understanding of what it really means to know God and abide in his love, a lot of us latched onto the most obvious metaphor the movie provided. Neo was supposed to set people free from the pretend world where people were unconscious slaves to the machines. Just like Jesus sets us free from our slavery to sin. And the fact that the "real world" was dark, dingy, full of pain and suffering, hard work, and constant danger, fit very well with a worldview that many Christians hold.
Sin is glamourous, full of color, bright, shiny, just like the pretend world of the matrix. But of course anything that glitters can’t be God, so the real world must be shades of grey and black with striving, and suffering everywhere. But hey, at least we’re not living in that awesome pretend world of sin anymore…
This is a twisted view of reality. The Matrix had it backwards. And a lot of us bought it hook line and sinker.
The reality is this. Sin is not glamourous, it’s not shiny. Sin is dark, it’s miserable, and it eats you from the inside out. Our life without God resembles more of the "real world" of the Matrix. No refuge, no comfort, just a confusing maze of tunnels and robots that like to try and kill us with their long tentacles. OK, so I made up the part about the robots, but really, we need to stop treating sin like "it looks so good but it’s really not". Take a look at someone who’s lived a hard life of sinnin, and see how glamourous they are. And the thing is, sin is not fake. It’s very real, and so is the pain and despair that come along with it. It’s a cursed land, and people who live there are going to have to deal with all that comes along with being separate from God.
So if sin is like the "real world" in the matrix, what does that make life with Jesus like? I have found that in the past 2 years, my life looks more and more like the fake world inside the matrix, except that it’s real. My world is brighter, more joyful, more peaceful, and I can leap from one building to another with a single bound. I honestly think that the colors of nature around me are brighter and more colorful too, but that could just be because I’m finally able to take time to look at them instead of living my life in fast forward always thinking about the next thing I’m going to accomplish.
This metaphor is far from perfect, but I hope that it makes some sense those who read it. Life after death to sin is not supposed to be a constant struggle, a dark world of grime and grease and robots. Rather, Jesus sets us free from a life that looks like that, and opens up the door to constant communion with the Father, and that kind of life is full, overflowing, and abundant. Maybe not always in the physical sense, but what we experience in Him does not have to match what’s going on around us.
If your picture of "the Christian life" has looked more like the Nebuchadnezzar in The Matrix, ask yourself if this is the kind of thing Jesus really died for. Sin separated us from God, and we’ve been miserable ever since. Did Jesus die so we could wake up to a life dirty torn clothes and cold metal beds? Or did he die so that we could wake up into a new world of uninhibited, unconditional love from our Creator?
I’ve always felt a little bit like prayer had no purpose other than as a ritual to demonstrate how much I loved God. I was certainly no expert in the in’s and out’s of Omnipresent and Omniscient, but I was pretty sure that God knew everything I was praying about. So naturally I often wondered, what’s the purpose of this anyway?
Am I reminding God of something he forgot about? Does he ever get a startled look on his face when I pray "God, so distant and powerful, I want to remind you about that thing that my friend is dealing with right now." He never actually answered me by saying "Oh yeah, that thing…. Don’t worry, I got it covered, thanks for reminding me….", so I always suspected it was kind of pointless to bring up stuff as if he didn’t already know.
But something inside me knew that there had to be a reason to pray for someone. We’re not alerting God of a situation he wasn’t aware of. He’s not watching our prayers like we watch the news to get the latest updates. He’s already ahead of us on all of this stuff, but there has to be some reason he wants us to pray.
In order to understand it, I think we have to look at what his entire purpose of creating us was. Relationship. For whatever reason, God keeps wanting to involve us in his will on earth. Sounds crazy, knowing how good I am at taking care of my own responsibilities, but for some reason he gives me the opportunity to interject my disfunctions into his divine will instead of just letting me sit on the sidelines.
So I think I’m starting to learn that prayer is not about waking God up from his power nap after church to remind him that one of my friends just got fired and needs a job. It’s about realizing that he’s already working in that person’s life, and all he wants me to do is agree with him here on earth that I want His will to be done in that person’s life.
"Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven".
Nothing ruins a good action movie like the main character drifting off into some daydream sequence, away in some peaceful place with his family……
When I watched "The Gladiator" with Russell Crow years ago, I was in awe. That’s the kind of movie that makes you want to be noble, to do the right thing, and in some weird way learn how to fight with a sword. Continue reading
There’s a saying in the software world "Good, Fast, Cheap, pick two". The basic premise is that you can make software that is good, and it’s done fast, but it won’t be cheap. Or it can be done fast, and cheaply, but it won’t be good. Or it will be good, and cheap, but it will take forever.
It seems to me that in our culture, there’s a widespread trend of buying lots of stuff, as soon as you can, for as cheaply as you can. This brings me back to the title of this post. Continue reading
Recently while Lori was away on a business trip, God sideswiped me with something I was definitely not prepared for. Throughout our almost 5 year marriage, there have been many times when I stepped out of the role of a husband and into the role of a teacher. Talking to her as if she was a kid who needed instruction. She would tell me how much this upset her, but I never really knew why. Continue reading
Waiting in line at Subway is not normally the place to have revelation, but I’ll take it wherever I can get it. I evaluated all the meat-containing subs, and was about to choose one of them, when I remembered what Lori had told me the week before. Processed, preserved meats have a connection with cancer. Continue reading