The Gospel of Pressure...
The Gospel of Pressure.
The Gospel of Power.
They both get the same results. You can crank out the same product either way. The one comes through killing yourself, the other through dying to self.
I feel like I’ve spent a lot of years killing myself to do the right things and to do things right. Even when I don’t know where I will get the energy to pull something off, I’ll dig deep and make it happen come hell or high water. You hear how important it is to trust God, and even feel like on some level you do, but when push comes to shove, and it always does, we all know where that piece of theology goes…right down the drain into the sewer with all the other excremental facades of theology we hide behind.
Pressure starts at an early age. You have to perform to get the treat. You have to sit still and pay attention to get the “quiet seat” award. You have to push yourself to get on the “honor roll”. You want to please your parents and this internal pressure to perform to get their attention and affection kicks in almost instinctively. You don’t want to let down your coach or your pastor or your friends, so you pressure yourself to pull it together and pull it off. Needless to say, there is a lot of pulling and pushing according to this way of life.
You see what turns heads. You know what gets the “ata’ boy”, the “good job”. You know what you have to do to keep the peace and make the cut. No one needs to teach you how to live a pressured life.
Stress is another word for it. This tightness of the shoulders, twisting of the abdomen, sometimes even a lump in the throat. The restless mind keeping you awake at night. The occasional panic attacks brought on by this nagging sense that you’re behind, forgetting something, or unable to perform in accordance with expectations. Sometimes it comes in the form of a brooding anxiety that whispers that something is missing, wrong or simply not enough. And for me, I’m finding that each of these side-effects leads me to the same cause…pressure.
“Pressure to do what?” you might say. That’s just it. That remains nameless and faceless on most days, refusing to be identified. When I can identify and locate the origin of the stress, I typically don’t mind feeling pressure—that seems normal. I have to get my sermon done by 5:00pm…that seems normal and I’m ok with feeling that sort of pressure bearing down on me.
But the pressure that is crippling and life shortening.is the kind that can’t be traced and placed. It isn’t so much a thing as an unwritten rule that hovers over you. An unspoken expectation that follows you around ready to pounce on you should you stop for a breather. It makes you feel like you’re about to be found out and labeled a fraud. It tells you that you’re out of your league, over your head.
I don’t always know how to describe it, but it’s there. And the thing that makes matters worse is when there’s an oil leak into the ocean of my faith. When the pressure is attached to my relationship with God, it gets exacerbated ten fold. Instead of finding joy in delighting God, I’m living with a constant feeling like I’m disappointing him. The fear of disappointment runs deep, my friends, real deep. I hate the thought that God or anyone else will leave my presence disappointed. And that is probably the source of most of my pressure, because that is inevitable.
I will disappoint God. I will disappoint people. And I will most certainly disappoint myself. And the Gospel of pressure is perpetuated yet another day.
But my heart pines for power. I need power.