Wednesday, May 6, 2015


Texting with a friend this morning, I wrote these words:

I hate everyone. Except you and Tony.

Shocking, isn't it? It is to me, in hindsight. That was a scant two hours ago, and I look back on those words and wonder who could have possibly said them.

Or felt them.

I went on to say:

I love you both because you're nice and I trust you. But I've been having a real pity party this morning.

I even hate the music I'm listening to.

I am ridiculous.

It's the truth; I am feeling this way, and it is ridiculous.

No, strike that; the feelings aren't ridiculous. But I am.

Lest that sound like even more of a pity party, let me explain. Something that is ridiculous is absurd. And those statements are absurd, because they are untrue. I don't hate everybody.

I don't hate anybody.

But the statement is expressive of the discontent and discombobulation in my soul, as I try to reorient my life. Don't we all do that, when spiritual or emotional vertigo sets in? We look outside ourselves, trying to find the reasons why, playing pin-the-tail-on-who's-to-blame. We focus on the other, the "everybody". We lock our hearts up tightly and lift the weight of loneliness as high as we can, purging the surface while never touching the groundwater.

Or we just lean into the noise.

I see myself doing that, over and over. I watch tv. When I turn off the tv, I open the NPR app and listen to today's interview on Fresh Air. I scroll through my Facebook feed. I read I open CNN. I get up and turn on the news. When I turn off the news, I turn on the radio. I check Facebook again. I refresh Instagram.

I binge watch House of Cards episodes until it's over, and I grieve the desperate lostness of the fictional characters like they were real.

I nod off at my desk at work, so I move into the lounge and legitimately sleep, hard, on the couch.

I do all these things, stuff this information into my eyes and ears, or escape into sleep, exhausted by it all.

And I strain to avoid remembering my own lostness, and the reality of my own life.

I'm a pastor, sure. And I love Jesus and I trust God. But in the midst of the reality of what can be a difficult life, and the truth of the power of my ego and tendency to be completely self-absorbed, I get stuck, sometimes. Lostness isn't just an indicator of where one stands in Christ; it can be a general malaise, a confounding darkness that does not discriminate.

I was gone, then I came home.

My suitcase sits, opened and half-empty, in the middle of the living room.

A basket of laundry - clean, bleached, unfolded whites - rests just north of the suitcase.

I missed connecting with a friend before it was too late (just temporarily) when I felt extraordinarily needy, and I am fighting resentment and self-pity.

Which brings up trust issues.

And a lack of focus.

There is chaos around me - literally, in a dirty kitchen and a cluttered house and an office desk loaded with piles of paper - and I am paralyzed. I can do nothing but walk out of the room.

There has been, I think, a massive recalibration inside my heart; one that has to do with parenting adults and teenagers and being needed and needing others and work and play. Life goes on without my presence, so what does that mean about my own internal motivation? As much as it pains me to admit it, my ego still rides roughshod over my empathy and my willingness to serve others. And I hate to say it, because I'd hate for anyone to think that I'm not a perfect pastor person, but it's the honest truth. There's a heck of a lot of ego tied up in my little life, still. I doubt the struggle will be reconciled this side of heaven.

There is consolation that you and I are not so far apart, really. Being human, we are all desperate to have our needs met. And it is there that I find a place to rest my faith, to be reminded, to literally be consoled.

I am working through it, all this junk. Trusting the process, because it has proven itself time and again before, I am digging in the dirt. The soil buried in my nails and the scratches on my palms don't scare me anymore, because I know that cleansing comes.

Consolation comes.

Charles Spurgeon wrote:
"Consolation is the dropping of a gentle dew from heaven on desert hearts beneath. True consolation, such as can reach the heart, must be one of the choicest gifts of divine mercy."
Consolation comes.

Email this morning arrived, with this message from someone who loves me, who cares for me, who has absolutely no idea of the current complicated surging in my heart:
The more we try to do things on our own without asking God to get involved, 

the more complicated life will be.
Consolation comes (with a side of conviction).

And reading Richard Rohr:
Doing what you're doing with care, presence, and intention is prayer, 
the very way to transformation and wholeness...
"When we walk, we walk; when we chop wood, we chop wood; when we sleep, we sleep."

Consolation comes.

In writing this, my own words prompted a memory of Peter Gabriel's "Digging In the Dirt".  Obviously, Gabriel worked out his issues in his art; the video created for the song is exquisite and resonant for anyone who has done the hard work of excavating the past to understand the present. The live performance is a raging explosion of emotion.

But the lyrics stand, without visual aids; even without music.

I'm digging in the dirt 
Stay with me, I need support
I'm digging in the dirt
Find the places I got hurt
Open up the places I got hurt

In the hard work we do in our own hearts, when we examine our truths and are unafraid to tear off the scab and get honest, we find consolation.

Or, to be more accurate, consolation finds us.

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