Truths and Treats

August 20, 2009

Just come back to me…

So this morning I came back from a brief spiritual hiatus (a few hours) and of course, when I returned to God I immediately felt the weight of guilt, shame, anger, sadness, condemnation, etc… for the actions I had taken during that time period.

I felt that God was not receptive or responsive, and was disappointed in me, angry with me, ashamed of me, couldn’t look at me, etc.  But then I remembered what he said to me earlier, (paraphrased) “the worst thing you can do is to not come back”.

And then God opened my eyes to the most simple and ridiculous truth, hidden by the craftiest of lies…… God had forgiven me, so all of those feelings of negativity and judgment that I thought were coming from God were actually my own condemning thoughts about myself. God was not condemning me, I was. It was I who couldn’t receive myself, couldn’t look at myself, couldn’t respond out of paralyzing angst, it wasn’t God feeling that way. Looking back, I can recount a million times when I thought God was angry with me, but now I wonder if it was I who was angry with myself.

I think we assume that people (or God) will judge us for the same things we judge ourselves for. Everyone is their own worst critic. I think that’s the root of paranoia, believing that you have some weakness that others inherently know about (and will attack if given the opportunity). I think that’s why Jesus told us to “treat others as we’d like to be treated”, rather than just to treat others as we treat ourselves (that’d be a vicious cycle of abuse). And maybe there’s a secondary lesson hidden in that command.

Perhaps treating someone as we’d LIKE to be treated (as opposed to how we ARE treated) will actually show them how to encourage and love us better. For instance: A lot of my friends are better listeners now that when I first met them, because they’ve learned that listening to me intently is a way of encouraging and loving me (because it’s one of primary the ways that I encourage and love others). 

Jesus was huge on these ‘how to treat others’ examples.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you, now remain in my love… this is my command: love each other”.  John 15:9, 17

It’s a beautiful chain of events, a circle.  God loves us, and wants our love in return.  He treats us the way that he wants to be treated.  He died for us, and we’re told to love each other like that.  Husbands are told to love their wives like that.  That is how things should be.  

Unfortunately, that’s oftentimes not the case. I can admit, that I personally have never died for another person.  And God actually made Hosea marry a prostitute to show people how things really are.  This is how you really treat me, like we’re married and you’re still sleeping around. 

So I’m gonna take the hint.  Instead of judging myself through God and others, I’m going to love myself through loving God and others.


Just Come Back To Me

August 12, 2009

I couldn’t be anymore misunderstood if I tried, and I couldn’t be anymore misunderstood if I lied, and even the truth is misleading.
But instead of selfishly focusing on making others understand me, I’m tackling my own misunderstandings and am killing the lies that I myself give in to during the day.
While having deep spiritual conversations with respected friends, I’ll be slowly and unintentionally weeded out of the discussion.  I have very poor hearing regarding low decibals, so unless you’re standing close to my left side or have a high speaking voice, I will generally miss every other word you’re saying.  So I’m sitting there listening to their conversation, trying to catch words here and there, and when I finally do hear something clearly I will automatically want to jump in with my opinion, because my opinions on spiritual matters are what I am most eager to share with others.  I’ll wait for someone to finish a sentence and try to jump in, “I think…”.  However, sometimes they won’t stop to listen to me, they’ll keep talking right over top of me.
In my mind, someone is lying to me, and saying that my friends don’t care what I have to say.  Someone is lying to me and saying, that if my friends don’t care about my opinion, then they don’t respect me.  Someone is lying to me, and telling me that if my friends don’t respect me, then they don’t love or accept me.
I used to believe and give into these lies, never trusting anyone, always finding more lies and more reasons to validate the feelings.
But not now.  I will not give into these lies, because I know that my friends love me.  I know that my friends respect me.  I know that I don’t always speak loudly, so perhaps they didn’t hear me and didn’t know that I had something to share.
I have a friend who I chauffer around during the week, due to the fact that she has special needs.  When we’re out in public, she’ll say or do something that causes everyone to stare at us, I used to have mixed feelings about it.  I don’t mind being with her, or being seen with her, but she’ll frequently start singing very loudly, or speaking very loudly, or dancing, or laughing loudly for no apparent reason, in a quiet place where others are keeping to themselves, like a coffee shop.  This causes others to stare, and I would feel bad for disturbing everyone.
In my mind, someone is lying to me, and saying that my friend isn’t the most important person there.  Someone is lying to me and saying, that I should apologize for my friend’s personality.  Someone is lying to me, and telling me that I should care what others think instead of caring what my friend thinks.  Someone is lying to me, and telling me to subdue her faux-pas.
But not now.  I will not give into these lies, because I know that my friend is a beautiful and caring person.  I know that she gets excited to be with me, and I will never do anything to stifle that joy.  I will never try to change her joyful behavior, and I will always treat her as the most important person in the room.
I have been rather peaceful and content lately.  Although, I am given to depression, so now and then something will try to set me back.  For instance: not hearing from friends, my financial issues, my medical issues, my job issues, my career issues, my family issues, my love-life issues. 
In my mind someone is lying to me, and saying that I should return to my old crutches that supported and sustained my chronic depressive state… crutches like alcohol, smoking, self loathing, self mutilation, isolation, and co-dependency.  Someone is lying to me and saying that those things are much better and more satisfying than I remember.  Someone is lying to me, and telling me that God doesn’t have a unique purpose for my life, and that all my hopes are in vain.  Someone is lying to me, and telling me to abandon my music, abandon all of these life changing ideas that I’m given every single day, in exchange for a 9-5 job, and a place of my own, and health insurance.  Someone is lying to me about what a successful life should look like at 25.
But I’m not buying it.  I’m not buying into the lies that I should regress, or turn back to old ways that did nothing but destroy myself.  I’m not buying into the lies that I’m wasting my time on these dreams, because I know God has put them in my heart.  And although God has given me unique abilities, I’m not buying into the lie that I’m more or less important than anyone else.  and I’m not buying into the lie that God won’t come through for me.
And I’m not buying into the lie that God doesn’t always want me and love me.  And I’m not buying into the lie that I need to change in order for God to love me.  But I’m also not buying into the lie that I can love God well without changing my behavior.
I was praying the other day, and I was guilty and ashamed that I hadn’t spent as much with God that day as I had planned to…… but he said to me,

“the only thing worse than you leaving, is you not coming back.” 

He basically told me to NEVER feel bad or ashamed when I come back to him, just come back. 

Just come back to me. 

Just come back.

Chase This Light

July 25, 2009

I listened to Jimmy Eat World’s “Chase This Light” on my way home tonight (it’s a very ironic CD title, and you’ll see why).   It always reminds me of my midnight flight into Chicago.  I bought the CD right before leaving Thailand, and listened to it over and over on the plane ride.  I’ll never forget the sight of the city lights from above, looking down on them with such a hopeful heart.     

I read through some of my old Thai journals this week, and composed a song out of several old poems that I had written there.  Ironically, half of the song is about those city lights, and how my love made them brighter than the sun….  I wish I were looking down on those lights now, I know they are still as beautiful.

Oh how my priorities have changed, and stayed the same.  I will always be a dreamer, and no killing of dreams will change that.  Because a dream is an extension of one’s self, and it’s gain or loss can no more kill the dreamer than a solar flare kills the sun.  With every death, I will be as bright.  Take everything from me, and you take a handful of water from the sea. 

How many different ways can I say the same thing?  How many different metaphors can I use to describe the lights of Chicago, when the lights of Chicago are themselves a metaphor for something else.  On my new album, I am remixing/reprising many of the songs.  So that one song is followed by a completely different sounding song, which conveys the same basic concept.  Because I’ve found that the most effective way to communicate is to alter the style, until you learn what the other person’s listening language is.  And there are as many listening languages as there are speaking and body languages.  For instance, depending on what others find beautiful I may tell one person that Chicago lights are like a goldmine, and I may tell another person that it’s like looking down on Christmas.  The important thing is that each person knows that it was beautiful.

I personally, try to listen intently to whoever is speaking to me, regardless of what they’re saying or who it is.  Because it’s amazing how long a person will talk if you don’t interrupt them, and actually give them the time and attention to fully express themselves.  And this is true of most things in life, in regards to forgetting yourself long enough to dwell on something openmindedly.  The longer you dwell on something, the more it will speak to you.  And that is certainly true of Chicago city lights.  This causes me to do a lot more listening that speaking.  Not because I don’t want to speak, in fact I have a very firm opinion on just about everything under the sun, but because people so desperately need to know that they are worth listening to.  And to me, filling that need and giving my time to someone is worth far more than trying to wow them with any scholarly or experiencial knowledge.  Plus, I already know my own opinion, and it never hurts to learn someone else’s… even if their voice is a series of streetlights 50,000 below you.

This lack of speaking either causes me to pour all of my ideas onto God’s lap, because I can only keep so many good thoughts in my mouth before they come spilling out; or it causes me to just throw my thoughts at him as them come, knowing that I’ll die if I don’t tell them to someone who will truly appreciate and understand them.  My gosh, you should hear our social commentary, we could have a sitcom.  God and I are like the man and the robots on Mystery Science Theatre.  Luckily, he thinks I’m hilarious, really he does, otherwise I think I would be an aggravating pebble in his shoe rather than a playful feather tickling his glorious footsies.

For instance, he’s playing a joke on me right now, that trickster…   I borrowed Martin Buber’s “I and Thou” from my parent’s church’s library.  I got about half way through, and put it down for being such a slow read.  I mean… it’s a very compelling book, and the concepts are really admirable, but it just takes so long to read.  So I returned it, and in exchange borrowed “Spiritual Disciplines For Everyday Living”, which… I have discovered… quotes alot of Martin Buber (there’s no escaping The Bube).

I will never forget those beautiful fiery lights, nor the hopes that they sparked in my straw heart.  And though some dreams have burned, the love and hope live on in the dreamer.  So that where I am, the Chicago lights will always be (and be beautiful).