Having my way….

red-ten-speed

My mother always told me… wait, too cliché, let me start again. When it comes to bicycles my mother had two rules: wear your shoes, and don’t complain when you get hurt when you don’t wear your shoes (bike safety hadn’t been invented yet so there was no such thing as a “bike helmet” and therefore more concern for feet than head.)  I’m sure as I took off on my new red, hand-me-down 10 speed bike my mother hollered at me to wear my shoes…. but it was the summer of 82, my 10 speed was fast, and the day was warm and inviting. The freedom I felt on that fast 10 speed indicated that nothing bad could ever happen, shoes or no. I do know I heard her voice fading behind me exclaim, “Fine do what you want but don’t come running to me when you break your leg.”

One of the worst/best things a parent can ever say to a kid is “do what you want,” it sometimes is offered in response to “you can’t tell me what to do anymore!’  It never turns out well, but sometimes it turns into a lesson.

None of this was on my mind as I raced through the gears of that 10 speed (it had 10 speeds! that’s 9 more than my previous bike…) and sped off to “The Street.” I knew I should have had my shoes on, but the speed of the bike and the feeling of the wind blowing through the hair on my toes was intoxicating and liberating to the point of distraction. I sped on and was nearing “The Street” in mere minutes (rather than long minutes) I had traveled the distance and was preparing to lean into the corner to see my friends. “The Street” was where the houses were of a few of my friends since grade school, and since there was a concentration there and the rest of us were spread out, we usually gathered there to plan our days. On most days about 10 or 11 boys and girls would gather and have various adventures. Through the years the games changed from chutes and ladders to Atari, to kick the can, and on to drinking games. I’m sure many “coming of age” stories were played out on “The Street,” and for me it was also a refuge, a place to escape something that I was trying to block out, something I had no control over.

In 82, developmentally we were closer to monopoly than strip poker so our games were still pretty tame. As I rounded the corner on my 10 speed, leaning in heavily to keep my speed up I saw that everyone was near J’s house (names will be changed, to protect anonymity, if not innocence…. we were in our teens or almost there and innocence was fading already) and there was a crowd in the grass. As I raced closer I saw that the crowd was gathered around a game that J invented to get a break from the humid Houston heat.

J was in his yard on one side of the sidewalk. He had a bucket of water balloons at his feet. Our older friend (only by about 2 years) A was in the street on the other side of the sidewalk and he was sporting a large, plastic Frisbee and preparing to throw. The intended target, our other friend D, was on his bike up the sidewalk a little ways, but speeding closer to what J named, “The Gauntlet.” D rode as fast as he could up to the danger area between J and A. J readied a balloon, A pulled the Frisbee back to his opposite under arm as D picked up even more speed and passed between. D caught J’s balloon on the face where it exploded up into his eyes just as A’s flung Frisbee crashed into his ribs…. He wobbled and swerved but remained upright, no doubt thanks to the cheers from the neighborhood girls and other ‘Street’ kids.

“O.k.,” J announced, “ I scored a hit and A scored a hit so that’s one point each for us, but D stayed on his bike so he gets a point also.”

*I should point out that this is a different J than the one from the story “Stuck” and if you haven’t read that one yet we can’t wait for you, you’ll just have to go back and catch up on your own.

J’s games were always simple in construction and scoring, but didn’t always make sense. After watching a few rounds I saw that the thrower got 1 point for scoring a hit and 2 more if the hit caused a crash. The rider scored a point by staying on his/her bike through the “Gauntlet” and another point for each throw that missed. 5 points earned the right to choose a new position. Because we loved a challenge and didn’t have fully developed brains, our favorite position was rider.

My first turn throwing the Frisbee I gained a strike on the back of A’s head for a point. On the next turn I bounced the Frisbee off his knee and up into his chin, he wobbled and fell into the grass as he tried to look away from the impact of the Frisbee.

“That’s four points!” I stated and began to walk to my bright red 10 speed.

A immediately argued back, “No dufus it’s 3, a hit for 1 point and then a fall for 2. Three points Einstein!”

I presented my retort to J with my most convincing and mature argument, “Well, I hit fart face on the knee and then right on his fart face so that’s 2 points, then he fell like a bag of wet dog poop so that’s 2 more…”

My case was presented and a thoughtful look crept onto J’s face, it looked unaccustomed to being there and left quickly as J passed judgment, “He’s right, a double hit and a knockdown, four points!”

Now possessing 5 points, it was in my power to choose a new position…. All faces were on me and bright with anticipation as I proclaimed, “I will go through the Gauntlet!” (as if you all didn’t see that coming)

I walked with somber determination (I didn’t know what that was yet but I still walked with it) over to my gallant 10 speed steed. I picked it up and resolutely (I probably knew what resolute was because I had been breaking New Year’s resolutions for a few years now) moved toward the starting position.

The crowd spoke up to honor the chosen, “Hurry up princess, we don’t have all day!”

Of course we did have all day because it was summer and we were 12, but I hurried anyway. I estimated the distance available and decided that by the time I got to the danger area I could be in speed 3 or 4 out of my available 10. (have I mentioned this bike had 10 speeds? 10!)

I straddled by trusty red 10 speed and began to pedal toward destiny, greatness, and a big puddle with bits of broken balloon floating in it. I decided in my head that I would get through ‘The Gauntlet’ by leaning the 10 speed heavily to the right as I balanced low to the left to provide the lowest profile target to J and D.

J readied his balloon, tossing it to himself a couple times to estimate the weight and heft of his weapon, D took a couple practice coils and flings with the Frisbee. I speed closer and closer to the large puddle that was the danger zone and as J and D started to throw I executed my lean. Hands tight on the elegantly curved handlebars, knees bending at riotous angles to keep my torso low, bare feet quickly slipping off the wet pedals… wait, slipping?

Birds bolted from their perches as the neighborhood was pierced with a terrifying screeching that I realized was coming from me. When I stopped tumbling (and screeching) my friends rushed over to check on me, some were so overcome with concern they hardly laughed.

After untangling pre-teen from ten speed I did a quick assessment for damaged parts, luckily my gleaming red 10 speed was fine. My left leg on the other hand had about six neat little gashes on the inside where my leg slipped between the frame and scraped the large chain-ring (the big sprockety thing the pedals attach to.) The gashes were long but really superficial and weren’t even bleeding so I was surprised at the sudden silence and white faces of my friends. I was just about to call them a bunch of wussies when I saw that they weren’t looking at my leg, but instead at my right foot.

(*If you have a week stomach and don’t like blood in your stories you should skip on to the part where I get home to my mom. Us morbid folks will catch up.)

I looked down at my heal, it must have gotten caught in the spokes or the chain. The skin and flesh was surgically sliced from top down but was still attached at the bottom of my foot. A flap of flesh about the size of a tennis ball (if you cut the tennis ball in half) was hanging off my foot…. I couldn’t tell if bone was exposed because the whole mess was oozing blood. I felt the color drain out of my face (and into the grass.)

I looked to my friends but most were looking away in horror (they’re the same one’s who are skipping ahead while we read this.) and those who weren’t looking away were looking pretty sick so I knew I was on my own to get home….

I picked up my bike and swung my leg over being careful not to bleed on it (the bike, my leg was already covered in blood.) Gingerly I placed just the very toe of my rebellious bare foot on the pedal. The ride home was much slower and much less exciting as shock was wearing off and pain was settling in. I could feel that the flap of skin was a tiny Ahab on Moby’s back, waving every time my pedal raised and fell (please tell me you all have read your Melville, we don’t have time to wait for you and I’m really proud of that metaphorical reference.)

Only in this metaphor Ahab is splattering my leg with blood with each wave. (and splattering the street a little bit too)

I fought off the pain and most of the tears as I rode home slowly, caution was no longer to the wind and had settled firmly in my mind. I rounded the corner to my street and saw my house through wet eyes.

**O.k. you who are faint of heart can start reading again but you missed a really cool reference to Moby Dick.

I got home and walked in the front door and stood in the hall so I wouldn’t get blood on the rug. I was afraid to tell my mother, not just because I had a huge bloody “I told you so” all on the back of my foot, but also because she hated the sight of blood. My  pain took over my fear to tell my mom and I opened my mouth to calmly call to her, but when my lips parted I found myself screaming, “MOM! HELP!”

My mom can running, looked down and immediately started dry heaving and ran away…. Crap…

She wasn’t gone for long and came back, still dry heaving, but with a towel (not one of the good ones obvioulsy) “Ulp, here, ulp,” she handed me the towel, “Put, ulp, this on it. Uhggh ulp.)”

I grabbed the flap with the towel and pushed it off the floor and back into place, then put pressure on the whole mess with the towel. “O.k. now what mom?”

*Oh, if you have a weak stomach don’t read that last part either.

My mom was looking away and trying not to puke (which was good because my stomach is week for vomit and I would have been standing in a pool of blood and barf otherwise.)

Mom swallowed down a gag, “Ulp, just hold it to see if the blood stops.”

She came up to me, eyes glistening with unshed tears and it was the perfect time for an “I told you so,” but it never came. Instead I got a firm hug and she said, “Honey I was so scared when you came in screaming and crying.” (I was absolutely not crying…) I decided to fill the empty space that was left by the absent “I told you so.”

She was hugging me close and I felt tears streaming down my cheek (hers not mine I swear.) I pulled back and looked at her, “I should have been wearing my shoes mom, I’m sorry”

“I know honey it’s ok,” and a tighter hug was her only reply.

We all stray from instruction and we all stray from His will. God lets us “do it our way” and lets us make mistakes. When we do there is often pain and always a lesson. But there is also something else, there is grace. When I find myself rebelling against Our Father and I feel the pain, I humble myself and cry out his name (sometimes in sobs) and He is always there for me with a lesson but never an “I told you so.”

When I face diversity whether from doing my own thing or from outside pressures I pray Deuteronomy 33:27 and know where my real refuge is and Who it is that brings the towels when I’m hurt (the good towels even….)

“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

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Victim or Victor?

green belt.jpg a little of each…

Victim, I am a victim, I was a victim. Like many words it starts sounding funny when you say it enough… Victim.

On Sunday (not this past Sunday but a Sunday last summer) I had ran about 9 miles on “The Greenbelt” a trail in Austin that goes along Barton Creek. Sometimes the creek even has water in it. On this particular Sunday the water was cool and cascading over the rocky creek bed as I ran along. My intent was to go about 4 miles but it was a beautiful day and I was pausing to jump into the catch pools along the way. Plus the rocky trail kept my progress slow so 9 miles wasn’t really that much.

I find that running clears my head, but I have so much junk up in my head sometimes that 9 miles won’t do it, not even 19 or 90. This was one of those days. My thoughts were traveling back 35 years to something that happened to me, something I still feel like I let happen, or even somehow encouraged. The run was amazing though and my thoughts were at least buried for a time. The next Monday morning in the gym I was still in this purgatory of pensiveness with my dark thoughts thinly covered with the memories of my nature run while I added weight to the bar for my squats. (bar on shoulders, bend at knees and waist to lower the weight until your knees make a 90 degree angle without going forward over your toes). My thoughts shifted to my coping skills, my need for attention and the things I would do to get cheap attention…. I kept adding weight.

I got under the bar, started lowering, and got to the point where it was time to lift…. OOOooops, something wrong, can’t lift it… duck, under, saved by crash bars to a loud and attention getting clang. I got out from under and looked at the bar, I had put on 90 more lbs than I could safely (or unsafely) lift. Deep in my thoughts of guilt and shame, while participating in one of the exact methods I use to squash the guilt and shame I had overdone it. Pride made me continue the workout, (everybody was looking at me after the crash so obviously…) I took off the extra 90, and even some more because my confidence was shot, and finished my squats ignoring the tingling in my low back. Workout done, full day of work, but at the end of the day I couldn’t move because my back was completely locked up.

Denial, I have been denying that I was/am a victim for over 35 years. My denial takes the form of building myself up through physical training for strength and self-defense, I tell myself I do it so that I can protect others and deny that it helps me to feel less afraid.

stong

Hoping that my back would just sort of… get better on its own… I went to work the next day. It was strange to not be able to move or to sit still…but that was the case. Dang, couldn’t  deny that I was injured, time to call the Doctor. After poking, prodding, touching my toes (very painfully but I’m not gonna not touch my toes when the Doc tells me to) and x rays, cat scans, and a nice diner’s worth of co-pays it turns out I had a bulging disk in my lumbar region…. The long run that exhausted my legs and the extra weight on the squats cause a little misalignment and pinch in my vertebrae…… Pain killers and muscle relaxers are terrifying to me because of my alcoholism. My doctor knows and prescribes…. Yoga. (stop laughing it works!) Upward dog and cobra pose to create a vacuum to slurp the offending disk back in its proper place. I got the pills just in case, but didn’t use them.

Shame, I have shame, I am ashamed, I have been shamed, the things I do to relieve that shame just add to it. It’s like a black hole with infinite density and gravity that sucks everything I do into the pit…. The darkness calls to darkness to be fed.

Obviously I kept working out, because, attention and power. I have always craved attention, and it’s easy to get attention when you have muscles and I still feel like I have to build up my power and my strength (to help others… really!) I just added my yoga poses to my workout and everything was fine. I could go back to the weights (I really wanna say that the weights no longer had to wait… but I won’t because that’s too corny)

Fear, I have been afraid, I am afraid, I have fear. I’m afraid that it’s still happening to me, that I’ll continue the cycle, that I’m not strong enough to save anyone (including myself.) I’m afraid that people will judge me if they find out what happened.

I still get twinges in my back, I supposed I never really let it heal properly and I’m just managing the injury now. I do other exercises to strengthen that specific part of my back to cover the injury. I continue my yoga to help relieve the pain, and most days I’m able to forget that it ever happened.

Healing, I have never healed, I am not healed. I hide my victimization, deny it. I have lived in shame and fear of the truth. Fingers pointing just shoves it deeper, other’s righteousness just shades it darker…..

So, what’s the point? Right now the conversation has started. The words of a potential leader have come back to haunt him and the country has polarized itself over those words. Some of those words were vulgar and profane. Others out of context are quit tame. I and can and do and whatever and want are words we can use anywhere; in church, at school, in a library (as long as we whisper right?) but when someone in power puts them together to essentially say, “I can do whatever I want.” In the context of another person’s body or even their emotions it could possibly be the most vulgar thing anyone could say.

It’s not ok, but the conversation has started. Shame and fear will kill the conversation, which is why I am now standing with the victims.

Denial will also kill the conversation. Men who climb that high horse and point the finger and say, “How dare you sir!?!?” This will cause the offenders to run and hide, to go to the dark pit and refuse their actions. The world won’t change if only the victims come forward…… we won’t heal if the offenders stay hidden… a one sided conversation is a lecture, and healing doesn’t occur from a lecture.

So, I have talked about the damage I’ve done and the hearts I’ve broken. These were forms of abuse, of taking my power and (if not saying it outright) acting like I could do whatever I want. I admit it.

I have objectified women.

I have abused my power and not honored my responsibilities and I have let down friends and loved ones because of it.

I have let my anger rage at my kids until tears were flowing like rivers of shame and tiny bodies were shuddering in fear.

I have decided to stop.

Crucify me if you will (honestly, only one man was ever worthy of crucifixion and I am not Him) but I really don’t think that righteously denying our own guilt will help us heal.

Originally I thought I was writing this to confess to my offenses…. As I look through my blog posts I see that I have been admitting my wrongs, but I have never made the most difficult admission…. that I am a victim.

Men are supposed to be tough, strong, and able to get through anything. But I am weak (at this point I know I’m supposed to tie it back in with a cute phrase so…) and I’ve decided to stop adding weight to the bar. I can’t heal on my own and I need His strength and even more so His grace to heal.

When I feel so tired of carrying the weight of shame of what happened to me and what I’ve done to others I pray Matthew 11:28-30 and I offer my shame up to God.

Matthew 11: 28-30  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Trials of the trail….

swamp.png

Because of dyslexia sometimes I don’t know whether I’m facing trials or trails…. Then, if I step off the trail, there’s the trial of getting unlost….

Wow, dyslexia complicates things, if it wasn’t for my ADHD kicking I would analyze that topic, but ADHD is revving up (why are there two v’s in revving? It just looks weird, also double consonants are an issue for me) and reminding me of a time when I was really lost…

Everybody hang on, where headed for a flashback!

Wow, that was easier than I expected, everybody still here? Ok here we are in 1988 ish and we’re in the Army (I know… none of you signed up for this)

We were doing training for land navigation for both day and night. We were working in 4 man teams and had to find 5 markers using a compass, map, and what passed for intelligence. I’ll protect the names of my 3 companions by calling them privates Houston, Georgia, and New Boston (You should all be proud of me for maintaining the high ground and not making a joke about describing “my privates”) Private Houston was from Houston and I’d known him from when we signed up and we’d been together through basic and jump school. Private Georgia was from Georgia and grew up a few miles from our Post, and Private New Boston was the token New Yorker/Bostonian that appears in every military story. I don’t remember where he was from just that he talked funny (If y’all will read that last line in my semi-southern drawl it would be funnier.)

During the briefing our instructors told us that we would have to find 5 points in total for the daytime test. Each team had their own set of points and the requirement was to write down the letter and number designation that could only be found at the actual point. We were handed an envelope, told to get going, get our points, and get back before dark.

Out in the woods Houston opened the envelope, he was second smartest and first most aggressive so he was in charge, “O.k. guys this one’s easy…” He read off the direction and distance, we took a reading with our compass, “Deckard you’re on point with the compass, Georgia, and New Boston you all are on pace count.” The pace count is when you know the approximate length of your stride so that you can count your steps to give an idea of distance (come on now! Y’all have been in the Army for three paragraphs now, I expect y’all to know that!)

I spoke up, “O.k. what’s your job Houston?”

“Team Leader.” His commanding tone and the 50lbs he had on me was convincing enough so we got going.

Our first point wasn’t really difficult to find. The higher ground in Georgia is dominated by statuesque pines that seemed to reach the sky (I guess they did reach the sky, even a short tree does but… whatever) and the pine needles kill undergrowth so it was like a walk in a groomed park full of quiet shade while the peaceful sound of our footsteps on the soft carpet of needles fell just short of drowning out the sound of Georgia counting his pace to himself (he was 4th smartest so I was moderately surprised he wasn’t in charge.) We could see the signpost after only about one and a half clicks but Georgia still counted the whole thing… when he got to 1750 steps it actually took him longer to count than to walk, officer material….

At our first point Houston looked into the envelope again and gave me the direction for the compass, gave Georgia, and New Boston the distance; about 3 clicks (I know some of y’all are wondering but afraid to ask what a click is… google it private!) and we got going. We were heading for the relative low ground and the majestic pines gave way to moderately majestic hickory, and those then gave way to decidedly unmajestic post oaks. Not that we had to look at the post oaks much because the under growth spread out and up and was intermixed with “wait-a-minute vines” which got their name because they grew long curved thorns and if you went through one or even brushed one in would grab your clothes (or skin if it could get the chance) and hold you up as if to say, “wait a minute.”

Our relaxing stroll through the park quickly turned into a trudge through, hot, humid, mosquito and thorn infested swampy heck (relatively far from hell but… it was unpleasant.) We trudged through three more points with no more incident than having to cut our way out of the wait-a-minute vines, during one such escape I asked Georgia, “Hey what’s the real name of these vines anyway?”

He looked at me like I was dumb, “Thehy’re cahld waitaminuht vaines…” *sad attempt at writing a Georgia accent, also I’m sure you’ve noticed how quiet New Boston has been, he actually never stopped talking but I can’t write a New York or Boston accent… so…

We were sore, scratched and sullen by the time we got to our fourth point and we were ready to just be done. We still had plenty of time to find the last point and then take our direction back to where the whole mess started. Houston gave me the direction and it was leading us into even thicker underbrush.

“Uh gawd we goatta go tru dat?”

Even though I wasn’t sure what Boston said (I told you I couldn’t write the New Boston accent) I could tell by his tone that I agreed with his sentiment. “Houston, is there a map in that envelope?

“Yea but we don’t really need it, we just have to go distance and direction.” His commanding tone had given over to a defeated cadence with barely any inflection so I acted on his moment of weakness and grabbed the envelope. There was a shallow ravine that only had a couple inches of water just to our left that was going almost the same direction as we needed to go so I was curious about the map. After a little time with the map, the compass, the previous distances and directions, I had traced out our path and found about where we were. I projected our current objective and saw that it should be just the other side of a clearing from where the ravine ended. Perfect.

It was at this point that, even though I was first smartest, I took charge. “Look guys, if we follow this ravine we will be out of the vines, won’t have to use the compass or keep pace count. This should take us right to the point we need to hit. The four of us would soon realize why you don’t let first smartest take charge…

I had failed to take two things into account; first, all the rain in Georgia mixed with the sandy soil made any map of a ravine a very loose suggestion of where the actual ravine may or may not be, and second, all that rain had to go somewhere. Our jovial romp splashing through the ravine ended not at a vast meadow of flowers with frolicking dear chasing butterflies…. It ended in a legit lake. Somewhere, across a half mile of water, was the point we had to find in order to complete our mission and get back before the time matched our moods (dark.)

“O.k. guys we just gotta go across, it can’t be that deep.”

“Aw nah, they gaht gahtahs out theah.” Georgia’s understanding of zoology was on par with that of his botany.

I really wanted to explain that American alligators ambush their prey on the shore, and that it would actually be more dangerous to walk the edge of the lake than to just go through but my credibility was shot, so around we went.  It was a wet, hot, and quiet trip. Even New Boston was silent (which was a good thing because I’ve already written too much accent dialogue.) We found our last point and got our next distance and direction and put Houston firmly back into the leadership role. We made it back before dark, turned in our points (all correct) and headed over to where the mess hall had brought us out hot meals.

While we were eating, the instructors were giving us directions for the night land navigation (that’s right troops, we aren’t out of the woods yet.) Our instructors said over and over, that in order to pass the night land navigation test we had to get back in three hours, one guy raised his hand, “What about our three points?” Get back in three hours was the response.

An idea was brewing in my head….

We got out into the woods after getting our envelope and we were walking toward our first point. Houston was carrying the compass because he no longer trusted me. It was so dark we had to hold onto each other’s LBE (basically like a fanny pack with shoulder straps) to keep from getting separated. We couldn’t see the map, couldn’t see the compass, and absolutely couldn’t see the steep drop off that Houston fell down.

“Aaaaaagghhhhhhhhgggghhhhh,” Houston’s scream (and mine also honestly) went on for what seemed an eternity and I was wondering how deep it was that he hadn’t hit yet, then I realized that I was holding him up by his LBE shoulder straps and that New Boston had mine, and Georgia had his. Houston stopped screaming, caught his breath, and started screaming more. “Let go! Just let go, I’m like an inch from the ground I can feel it with my toes.”

I was worried he was wrong and going to fall to his death but he was in charge so, I tentatively let go….

“AaaaaaGGUGUGHHHHHggggggg…..”

My heart jumped into my throat and then I heard him giggling… he was in a ravine that was no more than six feet deep.

It was at this time that I hatched the idea that had been brewing. (maybe I should have tapped the idea since it was brewing?) “Guys, they said about six time that we just had to be back in three hours, they never even said that we had to get all three or any points, just to be back in three hours. Let’s go back to that clearing, sit and relax for three hours and then go back and say that we just couldn’t find any of our points….”

Their tiredness got the better part of their judgment so they actually listened to me. We spent three hours relaxing and telling extravagant “truths” about women we dated, meals we ate, and cars we owned and then returned triumphantly to camp with ten minutes to spare. Our instructors were pleased, high marks all around and no mention of not getting to our points. Unfortunately one team decided to get all of their points, but get back 10 minutes late so we spent the remainder of the night doing push-ups, scissor kicks, mountain climbers, and about 6 other exercises for punishment…. But it wasn’t our fault, which was absolutely no consolation what so ever.

O.k. let’s flash back forward and reflect….

I was put on a path, the trial was to follow directions but I decided to try to take an easier way, I put away my compass and map and went my own way, I ended up in deep water. God is going to give us a trial, and it may be full of wait-a-minute vines and be uncomfortable but they lesson may be in the journey so we need to live it.

The other thing I learned is to listen carefully to the instructions and don’t put myself into a trial that He hasn’t given me.

I know I am on a path right now, a trial God has given me. Over the weekend I stepped off of it and instantly was in the deep water, only by listening to his instructions and calling a close friend was I able to get through the trial, and learn from leaving the path and become more mature from the experience.

It’s much like James 1: 2-4 reads….

 

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Winter Is Coming…

winter

Winter is coming, but I need to prepare for the heat. That’s not just because I live in Texas but it’s also because I’ve been feeling like a hypocrite. I feel the heat of accusation on the back of my neck. I am far from a righteous man (he lives like 20 minutes away from me) and I feel myself accusing me of hypocrisy all the time.

A couple of weeks ago my daughter (a blossoming young activist) posted something about men suppressing women and holding women back in several aspects of life, politics, economy, etc. I responded back that not all men do. She gave the most beautiful response to me then, that even well intentioned men do it without even thinking…. Suddenly I was hit with it… Wow, I did it, by responding to her to claim that not all men do that I was diminishing her voice. Dang….

So that’s the normal type of hypocrisy, though unconscious I was thinking and speaking in one way but acting in another. Maybe that kind is worse, my chauvinism is so ingrained in my psyche that it slips out without me knowing it (eh hem, your Freudian slip is showing…).

I’m reminded of the old joke about the Preacher whose bicycle came up missing one day and he was really upset. He talked to his Deacon about how to go about finding the thief without accusing and thereby offending someone who might be innocent. The Deacon advised him to preach about the 10 commandments the following Sunday and really hit “Thou Shalt Not Steal” really hard and then watch the congregation for who looked nervous….

The fateful Sunday rolled around and the Preacher called up his Fire and Brimstone and was filled with the passion of the sermon. The Deacon was feeling the Spirit and felt the crescendo building up to “Thou Shalt not Steal,” but then the Preacher hit that one no differently from the rest, in fact if anything there was a pronounced diminuendo starting with “Shalt not Steal.”

After the service the Deacon asked him about it, “I thought you were going to really hammer ‘shalt not steal,’ I was ready for the Spirit! What happened?”

A sly grin turned up the corners of the Preaches mouth, “Well Deacon, I was going to, I was ready to call down the fire!”

“Amen!” answered the Deacon.

The Preacher stood up straighter and pounded his fist on the pulpit, “I was ready to call down the Brimstone!”

“Preach it!” exclaimed the Deacon.

“But then,” said the Preacher as his shoulders slumped and he softened his voice “when I got to ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery,’ I remembered where I left my bicycle….”

“Oh,” murmured the Deacon, and they quietly walked out of the church.

O.K. another old and slightly corney joke but it illustrates my point. We are all hypocrites in some way, because we are human. Look even saying, “we are all hypocrites,” is hypocrisy because I’m diluting my guilt by spreading it to y’all. Wow…. Hard to avoid the heat of hypocrisy….

I’ll tell you something else, I was once accused of acting like a hero to hide the fact that I’m a monster. It really made me mad and I shut off from that person for a while. How dare she?!?! How dare she be so right? Hypocrite!

I had even put on my facebooks one time that “I’m like a nightmare, dressed like a daydream.” I thought I was kidding but dang old Taylor Swift wrote that lyric on my heart (she has that way with me.) Seriously though, I am just about the most honest person you could ever hope to meet, except when I’m hiding my addiction, then I’m like Pinocchio but without the nose…. (did Pinocchio lie a lot or did his nose just grow when he did? For the sake of the story just roll with me and assume he lied a bunch o.k.? Thanks)

Who else could love someone like crazy and be totally devoted to her and do anything for her but lie right to her face for a year? No one but a hypocrite.

I would have fought a team of Chuck Norris ninjas to protect my love against any danger, but I wouldn’t or couldn’t fight my own addiction, which was the real source of danger for her. My addiction was such a sneaky ninja that I hid it even from myself. Hypocrite.

In my volunteer work we were sharing stories about how we found God, a kind and brilliant man whom I admire told us that he lost his wife and son within months of each other and his life was spiraling out of control when God sent out a lifeline. I was afraid to tell my story, how I let addiction crush me down to my knees before I finally surrendered… Hypocrite.

Now I’m writing this blog, and some people who know me, and know what I’ve done would accuse, “Hypocrite!” and they’d be right. I am a hypocrite, I follow God, and I continue to be a sinner. I’m also forgiven. I feel the heat, from without and within… but I know who is in charge of applying heat, and he would love for me to shut up and stop trying to spread the word, he’s applying the heat and telling me that I’m not worth it and that I should be too ashamed to tell people about how I found God…. Hypocrite.

 

Whenever I’m feeling the heat I pray and offer up my worry and my hypocrisy, I get down on my knees and try to sink my roots into my faith and trust in God. Jeremiah 17: 7, 8 helps me remember what do to when the heat comes….

 

Jeremiah 17: 7,8. “But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.  He will be like a tree planted by the water and sends out its roots by the stream.  It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.

Oh and confession here… this blog wasn’t originally just to help others who might be ashamed to find Jesus, it was to get the attention of the woman I hurt, and maybe soften her heart to me by showing her the change God is making in me… Hypocrite!