Past Imperfect: Let It Go

randomlychad  —  February 12, 2014 — 2 Comments

We all have pasts of one sort, or another. Living well does not mean denying those things, nor does it mean being crippled by shame.

There comes a time to “let it go.”

In recovery, I learned that we are only as sick as our secrets. This is undeniably true. Secrets held onto have a way of festering, of eating us up inside. Maybe it was something we had done. Maybe it was something done to us. Something said about us.

The reasons we keep secrets are many, but there is freedom to be found by letting go…

At the top of the list is shame. By confessing, we cut the Accuser off at the knees. He doesn’t have ammo to shoot us with. He can’t shame us for that which is no longer hidden.

Remember, “it was for freedom that Christ set us free, therefore no longer be entangled in a yoke of slavery.”

One the many means of contiuing entanglement is simply believing the same voices we have always listened to. Whether that’s a parent, grandparent, friend, mentor, peer, what have you.

We do ourselves no favors when we continue to elevate the same old voices over what God says about us. A good place to start is Romans:

“Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Make no mistake, friends: the mind is the battleground, where each day is either won, or lost. My advice you is: “Choose you this day, whom you will serve.”

Will it be voices that tell you to hide, that you’re no good? The voices which seek to shame you into silence?

Or the voice which says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock?”

The choice is yours.

Let it go.

The Monuments Men

The Monuments Men is a new movie starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Bob Balaban, Jean Dujardin, Cate Blanchett, and Hugh Bonneville. Set during the waning days of World War II, it is the story of an unlikely platoon of men tasked with recovering, and restoring, works of art stolen by Hitler’s Nazi regime. Positioning itself as an epic among the likes of Saving Private Ryan, it is nevertheless a tale that takes place in smaller, quiet moments. Going in, we do not know much about the Monuments Men, other than they are scholars, professors, art historians, architects–men who love art. Despite this lack of back story, we learn who they are by what they do.

They characters are revealed by their respective actions. Though they wrestle with it, struggle to come to grips, each believes the mission is one worth dying for. That these monumental works are worth preserving. That by keeping culture alive they are keeping hope alive.

That by preserving history they are safeguarding the future.

Though it is somewhat disjointed at times, with abrupt tonal shifts, this movie brings home the high human cost of war. Not through the horrors of the concentration camp, but rather through small moments (a character hanging a painting in an empty apartment, never to be occupied again by the people who left it).

It is a journey worth taking.

Go see The Monuments Men.

Just Jesus

randomlychad  —  February 5, 2014 — 5 Comments

I didn’t see the Creation Debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham last night. It’s not that I wasn’t interested; rather, I was working. From what I’ve gathered about it, it doesn’t appear that any minds were changed.

Ham claims the authority of Scripture for his position, and Nye science. Thus questioning Ken Ham is akin to questioning God, and in questioning Bill Nye the Science Guy one risks the withering scorn of the scientific establishment.

Why are things always so rigidly dogmatic? So binary, so this–or that?

There’s no room for nuance. No room for debate, really.

Yet science and faith are not mutually exclusive. God gave us brains to use them. As Chesterton said, the “point of having an open mind is to close it again on something solid.” And chew!

If we believe that God is truth, then all truth is His truth. He doesn’t lie. If we observe that it takes light, well, light years to reach us it simply stands to reason that the universe is old. The further we look out into the universe the further back in time we’re looking.

I’m not threatened by this.

And neither is God.

God, in preparing a place for us, knew well in advance we would need fossil fuels…

But this is all really secondary. In fact, I don’t care what you believe about how we got here. I really don’t.

What’s important. What’s indeed number one with a bullet is what you make of Jesus, and what He did for all of us. Whether you want to be a theistic evolutionist, young earth creationist, old earth creationist, day-age creationist, proponent of the gap theory, intelligent designer, eater of bok choy, etc. it’s no skin off my back.

Because none of that is central.

What is is Jesus.

Just Jesus.

Your convictions about origins are not now, nor have they ever been, Gospel. Simply put, we have an enemy who loves nothing so much as to divide–to sow the seeds of discord–wherever and whenever he can.

He gets us majoring in the minors, while Jesus stands off to the side weeping because, somewhere along the way He and the Gospel, have been forgotten. It’s rampant throughout the world, but easily identifiable:

When, and where, ever we are more committed to an idealogy over and above the Gospel we’re missing it.

As for me, just give me Jesus.

How about you?

To say that I’m a fan of technology is akin to saying that Captain Ahab was mildly interested in a certain white whale. Tech isn’t just my job, but my obsession.

My first smartphone was a Samsung Blackjack. It horrible battery life, a small screen, and ran Windows Mobile 6.something. I hung onto it until the iPhone 3G was out. I mean what’s the sense of upgrading from a phone with 3g to one without (the original iPhone)? Am I right?

So I waited for the 3GS.

It was, after the Samsung, a revelation. It was a pure joy to use. Until it got glitchy (between the two of us, my wife and I went through 5 3Gses–all replaced under warranty).

Then there was the iPhone 4. Sleeker, glass front and back. It was fun, but more of the same. Its limitations chafed.

So I jailbroke it.

This opened up a whole new world of themes, ringtones, hacks, tweaks, etc. My phone felt like it was mine again.

Until I updated iOS to the then-latest release. And then began the waiting. Again. For the savvy wiz kids to release a new jailbreak.

I got tired, and a little bored, with iOS. So I switched to Android. The difference was, well, like the difference between Mac and PC: dissimilar ways of doing the same things.

But, while Android gave me more flexibility–more freedom–this came at a price: the experience hasn’t been as fluid (or as stable) as iOS.

So I rooted my Droid to clear out carrier bloatware, and strip the phone down to closer to a stock Android setup. It’s certainly cleaner. More as it was designed to be.

Bear with me here, but this seems to be what God is desiring to do in our lives: He wants to root us, strip us down to what He designed us to be.

To bring us back to the purest essence of ourselves.

He wants to clear out the cruft so the purity of Christ shines through. This doesn’t mean we’ll all be Moto Xes, or HTCs, but we will be changed into His image and likeness.

Which will express itself through whichever theme He has skinned us with.

Have you let Christ root your heart?

'Dysfunction Junction: Cold Spring NY Photowalk' photo (c) 2010, Nick Harris - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

I don’t want you getting the wrong idea–I wasn’t beaten as a child. The spankings I got, I earned (helping your buddy try to burn down his grandmother’s garage, anyone?). I wasn’t a battered child, but I’ve got come to the conclusion that abuse is never just physical.

There are psychological, and emotional, abuses, too. And if I was abused, it was in this way:

I was ignored. One of my earliest memories is being told to go away, relax, unwind, watch T.V. And then later, when she checked on me, my mother was aghast to find me drinking a beer in front of Sesame Street. Why? “Because it wat daddy do.”

When I fell, got hurt, got a boo-boo, there was precious little soothing; instead, I was indoctrinated with the mantra “I’m alright.” Even though I most decidedly was not alright. They say the lessons learned earliest go the deepest.
And are hardest to overcome. I’ve been alright far too many times when I shouldn’t have been. Been okay in places I never should have been…

If my mother’s chiefest failing was practiced indifference–emotional diffidence, my dad’s was indifference followed by the bitter wash of sarcastic chasers. I would go from being ignored to verbally masticated, spit out, left to put myself back together…

And I had to be alright.

After their inevitable divorce, the neglect only deepened. My mom, of course, didn’t share her pain; instead, losing herself in work, she hoped (I think) to give others something she couldn’t give herself: an intact family.

And my dad? Our relationship was as defined in the divorce decree: I saw him twice a year. His second wife hated my brother and I…

Divorce touches millions of families. And my life, seen from the outside, may have appeared to be, while perhaps less than ideal, a privileged one. I was white, lived in Scottsdale, had a roof, clothes  food. In short, the basics.

It has taken me years to pin down just exactly what I didn’t have:

A sense of love.

Part and parcel with growing up latchkey was, I guess, a sense of parental guilt. There were precious few boundaries, and even fewer consequences. I was left to my own devices, to indulge in whatever I wanted.

It’s a wonder I just got into smoking, and not drugs. My interest in porn was labelled “healthy curiosity.” If my childhood was defined by anything, it was these three things:

Neglect

Pornography

And Stephen King

I turned inward because there was nowhere else to go, no one to go to. My mom eventually had a live-in boyfriend, who’s example, and idea of culture, consisted of pizza, cigarettes, and “martoonis” in front of the T.V. This was my exemplar of manhood.

I wanted to escape, but had nowhere else to go. My dad didn’t want me, my mom was too busy, and this is “white privilege?”

None of this was talked about. I had to navigate a broken family, adolescence, on my own.

Habits developed then have not always been conducive now to  building healthy attachments. I’m almost 45 years old, and still bitter about what I didn’t have. Why couldn’t I have a normal, loving family? Why don’t I have meaningful relationships with my parents, brother, etc?

For years, as a growing Christian, I thought it was my job to put up, shut up, keep the peace. I allowed so many unhealthy things to happen, so many hurts to go unaddressed. I want to let my parents off the hook, say they did the best they could…

But I don’t believe it.

That’s why I want so much to be done with them. I can’t seem to get past the things which they’ve done, or I’ve done in relation to them. I want to say there’s too much water under the bridge. I don’t feel listened to.

I want to be done, but can’t. Because…

Because God.

He’s the God of second, third, thirty-third, and seventy-times-time chances.

Because He’s given me chance after chance, though I’ve blown it time and time again, I can do no less. I have to try.

If there’s a lesson I’ve learned in life, it’s this: the things we like least in others are usually the things which dislike about ourselves. That hurts to admit.

I’m not perfect (far from it), and neither are they. They dealt with their own demons, as I’ve dealt with mine.

God help me, I’m willing to try.

That’s the best I can do.