This morning, I find myself listening to some Peter Gabriel music. I’ve always loved his music and enjoy listening to it on YouTube when I can.
I started this morning with Digging in the Dirt. I had not heard it in quite a while and I forgot the power of the words. When he talks about finding all the places of hurt, it reminded me of life at the present moment.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a sad emo boy wailing to the world. I have a great life and a wonderful family. I have the life, in many ways, that I always wanted. It’s not perfect, but I sleep at night content.
Having said that, I have areas of my life where a lot of hurt has been buried by time, denial and various methods of medicating my feelings. I have been digging through the areas with the help of a trained professional. For reasons obvious to those that know me, he or she is not a member of my denomination.
I get upset sometimes at things my wife or kids are doing. My feelings are out-of-proportion to their actions. Knowing that helps contain my reactions, but the feeling are just as strong. Sometimes I get really tired of all the intense emotions I get. I feel burned out.
I’ve found that I was created this way and it is not due to some error on God’s part. I may not always like it, but I can choose to embrace it. The fact is, that I am passionate about a lot of things. I have attempted to embrace something akin to Buddha’s Middle Way, but attempting to deny a good thing placed into me only causes more pain.
Being passionate doesn’t entitle me to yell or otherwise be a jerk. Wheaton’s law still applies, not just online. Being passionate is also not an excuse to tune out those with whom I disagree. Being passionate simply means that I care a lot. Expressing that care and concern with energy and respect is not a sin, a crime or an extreme. It is who I am and it has taken me a lifetime to come to terms with that.
What does this have to do with the song?
I think of the verse that says “The man of God avoids all extremes.” Some translations say that the man of God embraces both extremes. Either way, this verse has been a cudgel I’ve used in the past to whip myself into believing that I am caring about something more than I should. I’ve told myself that I am being unspiritual and unhealthy when I get passionate about a particular person, place, thing or idea. It is a misuse of the Bible, primarily due to the fact that it is being used as a weapon against a person, in this case, me. As the apostle Paul said, “We do not wage war against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Eph 6:12
I was trained to use the Bible to create self-inflicted wounds and to wound others. The intent was to help ourselves and others with sin, the method, however, left a wake a broken lives. I WILL NOT BE BROKEN.
I hurt others by making them feel stupid and morally corrupt at the smallest things. Again, misinterpreting “iron sharpens iron”, I justified this in two ways; I treated others as I treated myself (Love you neighbor as yourself) and I wanted to help them be more godly (Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.) Looking back, I am surprised how easy it is to create an endless loop of self-referential verses to justify just about anything.
What I did was wrong. Those who trained me are also wrong. Jesus made clear that he would not break “a bruised reed” and that he was “humble and gentle of heart.” The situations that require a rebuke are vastly and tremendously outnumbered by situations that should be handled with asking questions with a compassionate heart. I have to pray through this quite a bit — the old patterns are so hard to shake, even after more than 10 years of effort, prayer and fasting.
I grieve for my sin against others and my lost innocence.
The battle continues, but not against myself. I am grateful for the help of many to see life in a new and freeing way. I am happy to enjoy my life and look at all the good things I have despite my circumstances. I can have joy because my God-given passion for life is no longer being used against my soul, but for the encouragement of others. I’m not perfect, but I am free.
The next song in the queue was Solsbury Hill.
So much there, but let’s just say that I have thought about the connections I should cut.
When illusion spin her net
I’m never where I want to be
And liberty she pirouette
When I think that I am free
Watched by empty silhouettes
Who close their eyes but still can see
No one taught them etiquette
I will show another me
Today I don’t need a replacement
I’ll tell them what the smile on my face meant
My heart going boom boom boom
“Hey” I said “You can keep my things,
They’ve come to take me home.”