You have recurring issues in some area of your life?
Are you fighting an addiction?
In the words of Bob Newhart… STOP IT!!!!
(You should probably watch that Youtube video… pretty funny:)
That should be the world’s shortest blog post…
I wish it were that easy, I really do. I asked my amazingly optimistic and strong dad how he quit smoking all those years ago. His reply? “I just quit!”
He’s funny that way but he’s experienced quite a bit of pain in his life and has always had responsibility for people and yet remained fairly unstained by the weight of criticism and nasty things people can say when you have the nerve to try and help them. I guess somewhere along the way, and personality-wise he decided he’d rather focus on the positive, hence the “I just quit” part.
Maybe he’d tried to quit a bunch of times and maybe it was hard but we don’t really like to talk about our weaknesses do we? It’s easier to own and focus on the positives but how often do we own and evaluate the negatives? I think we’re afraid to.
Our fear of being vulnerable and authentic in our culture is what keeps us bound up in addictions. There are times that God can break addictions and surely we need His help to overcome, but often we try to use His power yet not respect His ways.
His way is community. His way is the body of Christ. The church.
His way is not what we do when we isolate ourselves and try to deal with addictions in private. How often do we say “When I clean this thing up by myself THEN I’ll be able to have a better marriage, THEN I’ll be able to submit to my boss, THEN I’ll be able to be holy enough to connect with God!” But if we would evaluate our past failure and have the courage to look at the problem as it is maybe our conclusion would be a realistic one?
We weren’t meant to live alone. We weren’t meant to walk alone. We weren’t meant to battle alone.
The book of Ecclesiastes says “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.”
“When he falls…”
That should be a fair indication of what happens to all of us. The thing is that we’ve been playing the game by the wrong rules and we’ve been losing. I don’t like losing.
Actually one of my personality traits is an insane competitiveness. I took an online test that was fairly accurate but also shocked me for some reason….until I talked to my wife about it. Turns out she wasn’t surprised that Competition came up first. Turns out she wasn’t surprised that my personality is ideally suited for start ups and turn arounds. I’m quite fearless about most things and love the challenge of an impossible situation or hard conversation.
Underneath it all is this assumption that I’ll probably win in the end anyways no matter who or what I’m facing. For the more soft hearted reader I apologize for destroying your quiet admiration of me and my kind ways. I wish I was different than I am some days but I’ve had to get comfortable with the truth: I was made for something specific. I am driven. I will not stop because I don’t know how to. It never occurs to me to walk away when it gets tough.
My weakness is obvious so I’ve surrounded myself with smart people who fill in the gaps. When they talk about what they’re good at I listen. I don’t understand why feelings drive many people’s behaviour so I need help processing how they feel about things from people who understand that better than I do.
My other weakness is that WHEN I lose, when i fail, when I fall I don’t know what to do other than put my head down, get up and attempt the same thing again. This might work in most areas but it doesn’t work when I’M the problem.
Addictions, long standing problems, relational issues sometimes confound me. I can argue the same way with Erin that I did the last 10,000 times, get nowhere with it, and try it again in another ten minutes. Paul the Apostle said in a place “I don’t understand myself” and I think that’s my problem.
I deal with people and if there is one overriding frustration it is trying to work with people who think they understand themselves and me when they don’t. When your first assumption or evaluation is flawed so is everything else that comes after. The long and short of it is this:
Some people are never wrong (in their own minds).
These people shatter before they break. What they don’t understand is that all the moral or personal strength in the world doesn’t mean a thing when the world falls on you. God’s personal vendetta is to break you and mould you into something that the world desperately needs: a vessel of His love. You are not the source you are only the vessel.
We are simply too proud and independent for that. These two things meet in the middle and destroy our chance to change and that’s why we get stuck in life-killing issues, that’s why we don’t gain the traction we are desperate for. Pride and independence.
The Word of God and community are His tools for making us into what is useful in the world: a flexible and humble vessel. I am constantly shocked and irritated by how most Christians don’t approach life from this point of view. Sadly, pain is the only answer for the transformation.
I live with the constant knowledge that five minutes of the right kind of pressure and I would walk away from the God I love, from the wife I love, from the children I love, from everything. “How can a preacher say that?” Because I’ve experienced pain that can do that. Anyone who thinks they wouldn’t do the same thing just hasn’t walked through the valley yet. Honestly my revelation is what qualifies me as a leader and connects me with sinners. I am tightly tied to the fate of imperfect and weak people because I am one. It will never again be “Me and Them”, because I AM THEM. The vision I carry is not my own so I hold it lightly yet with a tenacity to fulfil the mandate of the Lord who bought my life.
Will I fail? Yes. Will I fall? Yes. Will I disappoint you? Yes. Will I disappoint God? Yes. Am I capable of making a disastrous decision? Yes!
Now that we’ve cleared that up I’m no longer trying to win the approval of people or present an image of perfection I’m incapable of attaining there’s only one thing left, to trust in the power of God for it all and in His mercy when I need it.
Funny how pain makes us realize we don’t understand ourselves that much after all. More accurately, we don’t understand or appreciate our weakness.
The truth is that our weakness is what connects us to people.
If we’re never weak maybe we’re not connected like we think we are?
Is it risky? Yes. Do people try to make a noose and hang you with it?
Do it anyways.