can't help myself...
"He saved others, but himself he could not save." - Bible
This verse has been bouncing around in my skull the last couple days. I fully realize what context this statement comes from and how unparalleled my life is in comparison. But the statement itself pierces something deep inside me today.
Namely, the feeling that I can help everyone else but myself.
Somehow, between helping others and helping myself, I'm missing something somewhere. I can help men, but balk in my ability to help "this man". I can deliver a message to the masses motivating them toward something, but when it comes to me rousing myself and charging the hill, I'm paralyzed and demoralized. I can help other marriages, but feel powerless and wordless when it comes time to engage my own. I can counsel others in their parenting pressures, but I feel so defeated with my own children when they aren't responding well. I can help others through depression and anxiety, but when it fills my insides, I have trouble speaking truth to it, or hearing truth about it in a way that sets me free. I can help the band of brothers at church to be valiant and vigilant, but when I'm battling my own temptations and tribulations as a man, I feel like I'm an easy target, the limping gazelle in the herd. My mouth lays claim to such lofty ideals, but my life lurches to catch up with my lips. Most of the time I'm preaching to myself.
Right now, I feel so impotent to climb out of my own baggage. If I'm not careful, I'll just redirect my energies toward helping others get out of theirs. That always distracts me from my feelings of futility and failure with my own growth by attaching me to the reconstruction of someone else's. I feel a false sense of security that just because I help someone else through their raging river that I've successfully forded my own. I've fallen for this cheap substitution before.
And I'm in the people business. People are my life. So I'm constantly reminded of the distance between what I look like in front of others and who I actually am. I don't think there's anything I can do about that disparity other than try to stay appropriately honest along the way, but yesterday was a prime example of how far from reality you can actually live on the outside when you're insides are convulsing with sharp pains, contractions...labor pains.
I'm not going to divulge the details here, but suffice it to say that my insides where nowhere close to where my outsides were living. I felt like I was in a different time zone, maybe a different ozone. I haven't slept well the last several nights because of inner tension, but Saturday night was even more sleep deprived. I wrestled with myself and my life and my family most of the night, tossing and turning, going downstairs to watch T.V. in order to try to redirect my emotional energy toward another subject, another narrative, than the one I was living in. I couldn't do it. I was so tired, but I couldn't sleep, and I knew that I had to get up at 6:00am on Sunday morning to go in a change my guitar strings and make sure things were set up for the day. I slept maybe--maybe--two hours before I rose to tackle the day. I felt like a shell of a man. And yet, there was so much riding on me in the coming six hours that I hadn't the time to grovel in my own gravel. "I must live above my circumstances. I must press through conflict. I must rise to the challenge. I must tap into God and let him live through me regardless of 'the kind of me' he's getting the chance to live through." And so I pulled myself together, and stepped into the roles that I get paid to perform--most of the time I'm completely there and loving it--making it happen. Totally and completely making it happen when almost every bit of who I am wants to just cry like a baby, run home and crawl into bed. I'm ashamed to admit that, but I can't live a lie making people think I'm something I'm not. I'm not strong. I'm not confident. I'm not indestructible. I'm just not.
And here's the kicker, the morning went great. People came to know Christ. Worship was unbelievable (the music part as well as the spirit part). My message landed in people's lives with power and passion. I could see the tears all over the place, you could hear a needle drop. I've gotten more emails coming off of yesterday's message than the last 5 weeks combined. Suffice it to say, God moved! But here's the kicker. I can do that. Isn't that scary? I can pull off stuff without actually "being there". Things on the outside can be going smoothly, ministry can be sitting in the lap of luxury, so to speak. And I can be imploding.
That just petrifies me.
But here's the only consolation. I can't life a hypocritical life--though I'm great at living a hyper-critical life...hahaha--I just can't. I will quit something if my insides aren't catching up with my outsides. I will drop my job like a bad habit if what I'm preaching, I'm not practicing at home in my private and personal life. That's why I'm filled with such inordinate alarm any time I feel incongruent in my holistic personhood. I just can't move forward until all of me moves forward...no child left behind, right? I can't make allowances for a life of compartmentalized living. I just can't.
And yet, here I am. I would love to be somewhere else or someone else today, even if only by writing in such as way as to come across more together than I am. But alas, I am me. And the "me" that I'm describing feels like he can help everyone else but himself today. I must write honestly about my life, I can do no other.
I wish I was more than what I am. I wish I didn't struggle so much. I wish I could pull it together. I wish I was more manly. I wish I was more godly. But wishful thinking, for all that it can accomplish, isn't worth much when it comes to seeing your life rightly. Wishing it was different won't make it so. The only way for me to change it into the different I want is to declare it as it is in the moment.
And in this moment, if you can believe it, I feel feeble. I want to help me like I help others. I want to help my marriage like I help others. I want to help my kids, like I help others. Why is this statement that was made to Jesus on the cross piercing me through today?
Maybe I'm missing something. If so, I hope the days ahead will reveal what, where, when, how and who.