I’ve believed a lot of silly half-truths and lies thus far in my life. Like, when I was 5 or so, my brother and dad convinced me that I was going to spawn a watermelon from my abdomen like an alien from the movie Alien. Seriously, I was nearly in tears the evening after swallowing that first fateful seed. And while that’s a silly example, I think it has a lot to do with this idea of busyness I’ve been ruminating on the past few weeks.
Refocusing: it’s consuming
I’m grateful that my church has been as a whole walking through a refocusing, but focus can be a dangerous thought nowadays. Because focus is a way of life, it encompasses all parts thereof. So, my wife and I’ve been doing, well, just that. It’s pretty unnerving when you — I’m not including my wife here — wake up one morning and realize that you’re the emperor wearing no clothes, because this life of faith you claim to be living out is evident to very few people around you. To be more blunt, I don’t think my faith is evident in very much that I do at all. And that’s a very saddening realization; that is enough to make one rethink the way they do life entirely.
Watermelon seed lies
But why am I not living out the life that I claim to believe? It’s because I believe that by swallowing a watermelon seed, I will soon sprout a full grown watermelon. No, it’s not so simple as one lie that I believe whose undoing will “set me free.” That would be a lovely fairy tale, no? It’s a little more entangled than that, but at the same time I realize it isn’t. Bear with me.
The lies: I have to be liked
Admittedly, I love to be liked. I will do a lot for the sake of likability, or feeling like I am not rocking the boat. I’ve come a ways from where I was once, but this is something with which I know I will likely wrestle all my life to varying degrees. We all have a need to feel understood and loved, and I equate likability over time to both being loved and the idea that people have spent enough time around me to understand me and they haven’t left, so I must be lovable and reasonably well understood. But, this isn’t necessarily the case. Unfortunately, this brings me to the next lie.
The lies: I have to be lovable
Deep down, I believe I’m unlovable in some ways. I don’t believe I’m completely unlovable, as I’m certain even Hitler had some redeeming characteristics — like his charisma. No, I feel like the deepest, darkest parts of me are just plain ugly. The rest of me: fine enough. It’s those dark places, man. Eek shudder. Rather than be real with people, get vulnerable — maybe even to the point of what some would call emotionally or spiritually naked — and let myself see the truth that I’m not ugly at my core, I’d rather suffice for busyness and being shallowly liked.
Perpetuating the lies
I think I’ve just described the predominant use of social media. I have complete control over what I share, pandering for likes, seeking validation that my hollow persona is follow-worthy, keeping the world at a screen’s length away from me. I can perfectly tailor each post into a mannequin of the person I want you to think that I am, just for the sake of self-validation, but it will never fulfill. Because I myself can never be truly lovable at this depth of interaction. When I can always delete or unpost my last “transgression” I will never find satisfaction.
The lies in real life
I use social media because I think it provides an easy example, but what about real, everyday life? I think I prefer to hide the deeper parts because thousands of years ago Adam and Eve said, “We’re naked,” and God replied, “Who told you that you were naked?” Because knowing there is another way, thinking that we can live without authenticity or divine purpose, was always meant to be a stumbling block. We, I, was always intended to live life without the burden of what others might think of me, that I might be disliked, or counted unworthy. So, rather than seek fulfillment, satisfaction, joy, I settle for busyness because I need another fix of likability or some other surface-level validation; I run to pursuits that only waste my life and will never leave me feeling whole.
Living is the only affront to the lies
And this pursuit encompasses all of life. How I work. How I contribute at home. Do I know any of my neighbors? Do I care to? The way I attend church. This pursuit — chasing after Jesus who loved me first — will be the death of me. But it will be my death I am referring to the death written of by Paul in Galatians 2:20, whereby I might finally live. Ultimately, this way of living will at long last lead me to life. But to get there, I need to give up the perceived rights to be understood, loved, or that I need to protect my “rights” at all. Because I am. Already, I was before I was even born. (Psalm 139:13–16) That’s been the fact since the foundations of the world, now it’s time I stopped being so self absorbed and moved on. What next can I focus on? Oh, right. The thing, the One, on whom I was always meant to focus.
What this looks like, I’ll need to keep pondering some specifics. It definitely looks like praying more, because that’s just the way God gave us to talk to Him. I should pick up the phone more often, then. I’d say it’s a greater sense of mindfulness, but I don’t know how to achieve that outside of prayer. You’d be right to point out that spending more time in my Bible would also be a good step. As a third tangible, I think that more silence is in order. It’s great to talk to God, but I really need to work on my listening to Him. It’s just so difficult with the laptop, or the tablet, or the phone right next to me, though. What about you? What are you trying? Anything working? Anything not working? Other thoughts? Later, friend.