I’ve been wanting to write on this idea for a couple weeks now, I just haven’t known quite how to jump into it. It’s something I’ve been chewing on and reflecting on in my own life, and as I’ve explored I feel like I’ve come to some helpful conclusions for myself, which I would like to share with you now.
But first, here’s a quick update of what’s been up with me:
In June, I got to go out to LA to participate in a Common Hymnal writing camp, and see some family that I don’t get to see very often. I also got to reunite with my friends who are a part of Common Hymnal who live all over the country. I am enjoying these folks very much and I learn so much from being around them… not only about music, but about God and life… how to live it well. I also got to visit Seattle, and there was able to see one of my best friends Bobby and another brother Sion from Vancouver… both of whom drove ours to meet up… even if only for a little while. I also got to see my friend Caroline, who I went to high school with. She works for Amazon now.
Both of these trips were such a gift, getting to see these amazing places and reconnect with my friends from all different walks of life.
Traveling aside, my life right now consists of very similar motions daily. I’m mixing a lot of music right now, fishing up three records this summer as well as some live material for a campus ministry here in Athens called Wesley. I’m also putting the finishing touches on my own record, which will be my first full length release as Andrew Blooms. My days typically look like the gym or reading in the morning. Interns and the artists arrive around 10AM, we mix until lunch. Eat a great lunch. drink some coffee. Talk about weird funny stuff. Mix until the brains and ears are mush. Then meet up with some friends in the evening. Or like tonight, I’m having some time to sit and write. The summer here has a wonderful pace, since there are less people in Athens than when school is in… So everything, including myself, breathes a little easier.
Inwardly, I am in a phase of restructuring. The pillars I had built for myself - the ways I’ve carefully forged my identity around my efforts, image and my creations - have been crushed to dust… and I am no in a place where I “feel” I have nothing left to give. The things that used to work for me… the systems I’d created to avoid pain and to avoid reality have failed. I’m tired. My year has caught up to me. In some ways I have lost sight of who I am and what I’m about. Slowly, growing more tired over time. Tired of trying. As my friend Tom said to me last weekend, “I’m just tired of learning.” Boy do I get that. I’ve recently experienced some debilitating anxieties that have made it unable for me to lead worship or perform in front of people… A fear I never thought I would ever experience. I’ve been sick and exhausted, to a point where it’s made it difficult to engage with people as I want to. For the first time in my life… I’ve felt the inevitable - That I am limited. I am out of control. I am small. And time is moving.
But in some wonderful way, I’ve been stripped and left only with myself. Without the mask of the stage, without the mask of my abilities, and without the mask of seeming like I have anything figured. It’s brought me to a curious and wonderful place. It’s brought me to an honest place, where I’ve been forced to look at myself through an uncolored lens, a truthful lens. And the truth always sets you free. And this is the starting point from which I would like to share this idea:
The Courage To Begin Again…
As I think about the social pressures that I’ve grown up with and continue to feel as I grow up, I observe that we are all terrified of being wrong. We don’t want to feel wrong, we don’t want people to know we’re wrong, we don’t want anyone to call us out for being wrong. We don’t want to say the wrong answer, project the wrong image, or say the wrong thing. And as we grow up, there is this subtle pressure to become less and less wrong. As if when you were 18, you were allowed to be 50% wrong about everything, and if you’re 26 you need to have figured out enough stuff to be down to at most 30% wrong about things, and by 50 you’re supposed to be wrong about only 15% of all things. I’ve observed it all around me, for the longest time… That most people do anything and everything in their power to make sure nobody knows how much they don’t actually know. Not knowing the correct answer has become a taboo - an indication of a lack of faith, intelligence, or some sort of moral discipline. When actually, the humility required to live a life willing to be led and corrected, or “wrong,” generates the soil that is required for a significant life marked by forward motion, growth and most importantly - unconditional love.
I’ve found that the pressure to know exactly what we’re doing creates a paralysis and an unwillingness to enter into critical times of reformation, redesigning and redirection. The fear of being or appearing wrong to others actually keeps us from the healthy and necessary process of being humbled, reshaped, corrected and ultimately refined into a more purified image of who we are supposed to be. The fear of being wrong about things hardens the heart and doesn’t allow space for the process of pruning, which always is intended to make space for fuller and more beautiful fruit to grow.
I felt so passionately to write about this because I’m afraid I’m growing hard. I’ve felt it over the years… leaving college, entering the “real world” and starting my “real life” (which has actually been happening this whole time)… there’s this thing in me that is less willing to re-learn… less willing to return to the drawing board, to take a step back, to re-evaluate and be honest about what’s really going on beneath the surface - scared to death to begin again. It’s like I’ll be embarrassed or found out that I’m actually this hurting, terrified child trapped in a 26 year old body who actually has no true grip on anything in his life. It’s as if now, since I’m an real adult, there’s not as much grace to have taken a wrong step, had a bad season, been in progress on things or to have tried something that failed… But I’m in a place in my life where I’m looking back and finally allowing myself to admit, “wow, I was really wrong about that.” This place of honesty and sobering reality could only take place after all my idols and pillars came crashing down, leaving me with nowhere to hide. This is how I’ve been wrong for so long:
I’ve been wrong about motivations… doing things “for God” when they were really for me.
I’ve been wrong about my own righteousness… that behind close doors, I embody the very things that I judge in other people.
I’ve been wrong about drugs and alcohol… using these things to escape my reality and my pain.
I’ve been wrong about what’s important in life… that you thinking I’m amazing isn’t going to satisfy me truly.
I’ve been wrong about friendship… that my friends might enjoy me and that I’m afraid to loose them.
I’ve been wrong about my dad… that things might not be his fault.
I’ve been wrong about what love is… that it’s about serving and not just finding someone to fulfill my dreams and desires.
I’ve been wrong about what it means to be important… that it’s more important to serve and not be served.
I’ve been wrong about God… that He might actually love me.
the list could go on… I’ve been so dead wrong about so many things in life so far.
What I’m trying leave you with is this encouragement: Get honest with yourself. Be willing to lay everything on the table, knowing full and well that you will be wrong about most of it. It’s not about having a perfect life, and it’s not about only hitting the bulls-eye on everything you do. It’s not about people sitting around somewhere talking about how flawless and amazing you are. It is not about being right. This is about growing into who you were made to be. This is about holding the things in your life loosely - in a posture that welcomes the humbling work of the Holy Spirit to prune, correct, and guide you into new levels of meaning and usefulness. It’s about becoming true. It’s about becoming free. It’s about learning how to love. I’m at a place where I no longer see the use in pretending that things are not there in my life… The bad habits, the addictions, the anger, the confusion, the loose ends, the doubt, the constant and unrelenting tension between what I see in real life and what I hope is true about God… everything I’ve pushed under the rug for so long. I didn’t want to appear wrong. I didn’t want to appear weak. I didn’t want to appear like I was struggling. But if there’s anything I’ve come to know… is that we’re all struggling. And if we continue to struggle in the dark, we will never heal. So with this in mind, I beg the question: How will we choose to move forward?
Are you willing to be honest? Are you willing to return to nothing? and are you willing to be wrong? Are you willing to let all of your constructs fail… to begin at ground zero again, no matter how far along you are in life, welcoming the winter to see the spring? Are you willing to revisit all you’ve learned to say and believe with the courage to ask yourself, “Might there be a better way?”
What a vulnerable and beautiful place to be. As I type these last words, I am praying. That having read this you might not feel so alone in your journey upward… and that somehow you might have found enough courage to begin again.