The first of January 2019. I have just got back home. In the last week I’ve played music in St. Louis, Marietta, and Atlanta, making some incredible memories doing what I love with people I’m falling more in love with. My entire back hurts from sitting in a car, driving, playing guitar, and jumping around like a crazy person last night with Family and Friends. But, with that,I feel so incredibly blessed. I am sitting even now, remembering to be deeply grateful for this amazing life and these special opportunities that I hope I will always perceive as gifts.
I wanted to share a few thoughts as we head into 2019. It is almost impossible to escape reflection and dreaming on the new year, as the renewing of the calendar beckons an invitation into the possibility of change, second chances, and a renewal of our very lives. My mind has been exploding with hope for the future, despite all of the uncertainties and pains that, I realize now, will always be a part of living. As I have been reflecting and taking an honest look into my own life, I thought I would share this one idea that I desire to pursue as I continue growing and living. I thought that this might be a beneficial contribution to the focussing in on forward movement, goal setting, and resolution that confronts us every Jan 1. And here it is.
I am coming to terms with my own deep brokenness. I am absolutely wounded. There are things that I simply cannot do. I limp through my life, and I always have. There are things about myself that I can’t look at. There are so many things that I wish were better. I have thoughts and desires that scare me - the kind that might make you scoot a few feet down the pew away from me at church on Sunday. And for so much of my life I’ve been running away from the mess I have created out of my life. I’ve been trying to shove all of the deep pain I experience into a closet somewhere, hoping that it might die on its own. But when you live a life constantly on the run or in hiding, you become numb to it all, and then you forget who you are. But somewhere in the recent weeks, my legs gave out. I couldn’t run anymore. It was like I had tried to run so far from who I really was that I found myself all alone, without any idea of how I got there or how I’d get back. And this is the revelation of the band-aid.
If we are not intentional in our lives about facing pain, sitting in it, accepting it, and surrendering it, we will develop a lifestyle that will cling to the nearest possible fix, no matter how cheap, temporary, or damaging the fix is. We’ll cling for dear life to illusions of freedom and anyone or anything who might ease the pain of our inner worlds. We start taping band-aids over the giant wounds we all have in our souls. And as we continue to replace the band-aids over our lives, the true injury only deepens, and before we know it, our lives cease to function as they were designed to. As I come to a clearing in my own woods, I am able to identity my own band-aids that I’ve been using to mask the deep pain that I have. I will busy myself to all ends, from sun up to the moment my head hits my pillow, avoiding all silence and solitude - knowing that in those moments I will need to wrestle with my loneliness and many insecurities. That’s also why sometimes I drink my way to a different version of myself, because he’s a little more free, funnier, and happier on the surface. That’s why I look at Instagram and criticize people for trying too hard or not trying hard enough. It’s all because I’m afraid to take an honest look at myself. It’s much easier to live in denial. But, I feel like there came a point in my life where the pain of pushing everything under the rug became greater than the pain that was deep inside. The shame of secrets and the shame of being one person in one room and different person in another - it all caught up to me. The truth had to find it’s way to the surface.
As I reflect on what I’m going through and think ahead to what kind of life I want to live, I have decided to renew my commitment. I’ve made a promise to myself to square up to the reality of who I am - all that is good, and all that is ugly. I no longer get to look at some things about myself and ignore the parts that I don’t like, because I know no more than ever that things don’t just fix themselves. I’m learning to love it all and have grace for it all. It’s weird, the more I’ve come to accept who I really am, the more I love myself, and the more powerful I feel over my vices. Grace is the most powerful asset I have.
And as I’ve processed, I’ve begun to identify my band-aids and peel them off. Not in the slow, careful way - but in a fashion that screams, “just get it over with.” This has looked like some hard conversations, goodbyes, new habits, and a lot of patience. It’s been silence - observing the beauty outside my window instead of watching Netflix, or driving without music, appreciating the sky or just the feeling of movement of the car. It’s been relationship - spending time with people and enjoying it for what it is, not needing every relationship to produce some sort of utility. It’s been taking a crap and leaving my phone in the living room and just being a normal, human being, who craps in silence without needing to be constantly distracted from my own life. Now, when I hear someone say something that makes me feel insecure or jealous, I take time with it after and seek the truth, not bullying myself for having those feelings in the first place. It looks like opening up space in my life to commune with God, hear His voice, listen. Like, really listen, as if my life depended on it. And I believe now that it does.
I’m identifying and exposing my wounds - ones that were left by my family, my failures, and my own dumb decisions. I’ve stopped hiding and trying to find the temporary fixes to my pain. And in the first moments of the wounds being exposed, the pain is tremendous. It’s uncomfortable, it’s shameful, as you are naked. But as I’ve continued to walk in that way, the wounds have slowly begun to heal. Truly heal, from the inside out. I feel like I have a second chance, yet again, to decide who I really want to be at the end of the day. I feel like a new creation. I feel the beauty in all of life and feel hope deep inside of me. The thesis is: God cannot heal what is kept in the dark. This is more true for me than it ever has been. So, going forward - may I live with a heart wide open with nothing to hide, no matter what it is. There is so much comfort knowing that each and every one of us is truly screwed up from the core, but what keeps me going is remembering the great journey, and that there is hope for a runaway like me. Hope for a joyful ending, a fruitful and worthwhile life, the possibility to change and grow, and the complete redemption of all that I have destroyed.
Here’s to the future, without band-aids.