I used to have a real issue with wanting to be heard. I actually wasn’t heard, really. I felt not valid…unworthy.
My solution was to be louder in a figurative sense. I would go for quantity when it came to opinions. Tell it like it is. Yes, that would get me heard for sure. Except it didn’t.
It turns out that not only is what I say important in being heard, it’s also the timing…knowing when to say it and when not to say it. And timing requires listening…not for the short pause your counterpart creates in sucking air between sentences so that you can break in with your verbal insecurity. But listening so that what you say is spoken truth into a persons life.
In other words, if you want to be heard… start hearing.
One of the most memorable lines of any movie came from the film Usual Suspects, where actor Kevin Spacey, playing an evil mastermind disguised as a crippled simpleton, said:
“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”
This time, Hollywood speaks the truth. It’s easy forget on the soft couch of a sanitized life, but it’s true nonetheless. Recently I found myself unable to sleep because of crippling, physiological fear. I won’t go into the details, but needless to say there was a real and present something against me.
I know, it’s easy to point out the ambiguity of Scripture regarding Satan and conclude he’s a figment of imagination. But even if that’s the case, perhaps they were simply personifying that very real and present something that was against them.
All of this rumbled around in my head all weekend, and then this happened.
Evil is real whether we recognize it or not. Joining God in His victory over evil, however, does require a simple recognition of that real and present something against us.
(side note: check out Michelle‘s toasted pistachio ice cream…it’s like a drug.)
The cool thing about ice cream is that it has all kinds of varieties of flavors that you can try, while still having the same basic qualities that make it ice cream. I know, I’m not saying anything original. Just bear with me…I’m making a point.
To follow Jesus, you have to be willing to be changed. In a sense, it’s our goal to all be the same: like Christ. But I don’t think that means you can’t be your own flavor of Christ. God made you unique. There’s no one like you.
God isn’t wanting us to abandon who He made us to be in our pursuit of transformation. It’s OK to be like Christ in your own way.
In a prayer and devotion guide that I use most mornings, there is a section on confession. It asks me to search my heart for any unconfessed sin in my life. But really, if it’s that bad why would I need to dig around to find it? And isn’t it best left alone? Isn’t it good enough to give God the overview by declaring that I’m a sinner and be done with it?
A mentor of mine once said: “In every situation there’s something you can be sorry for.” Except when I’m right, I thought.
The truth is, though, that we haven’t arrived. We are still human. We’re still on this side of heaven. We make mistakes and fall short. This shouldn’t make you feel bad (because it’s a prelude to grace), but it should bring about a certain desperation for the One that restores. Yes, we should make it personal when we bring our sins before God; because grace is personal…and so is our relationship with Him.
Most Christmases my family breaks out a pinata…. yep, a pinata. What’s more fun than confusing the daylights out of someone and then letting them whack at an allusive paper mache animal while we all laugh at them? As I ponder, though, the whole scene isn’t too far off from what seems to be my life of discernment.
There are times when I know that I know that I know, but they are few and far between. Most times it’s guesswork with a varying degree of 10%-50% certainty.
How do you know what you’re doing is right? How do you know you’re on the right track? And why does God not make it clear…or is it me that cannot see clearly?
In this confusing state, I have found Bishop Reuben Job’s book 3 Simple Rules to be helpful: Do No Harm, Do Good, Stay in Love with God. If you can follow these you’ll certainly be wrong at times, but you’ll ultimately be right.
Upstairs in the spare bedroom, I’ve made a mess. Clothes are everywhere. Really, it’s a disaster zone. But here’s the great thing! I can just close the door of the room upstairs and pretend that the mess isn’t even there. Good solution…until I need to find clothes or go into the room for some reason.
Sometimes we treat sin the same way. We simply close the door of that room in our hearts and pretend that it isn’t there. We do this because we can’t stand the guilt. We have an aversion to it. And when we are reminded of that thing that we did wrong, we’re almost annoyed and offended that it has been brought to our attention.
Like the first time on the treadmill after a long winter break, it’s difficult yet worthwhile to bring our sin before God. But this is how healing happens. This is how the thorn of guilt in your side is removed.