If you could save yourself, you’d save us all. -Ween
I love you, God—
my rescuing knight. A hostile world!
I cry to God to help me.
From his palace he hears my call;
my cry brings me right into his presence
a private audience!
I find myself safe and saved-surprised to be loved!– Psalm 18
A psalm is a song. David was a rock star and this is just one version of many stories.
Last night Steve talked about how God rescues us. He said living a life in Christ assures us we won’t get dragged out with a rip tide, as long as we don’t let pride get in the way and actually reach for the help being offered. Saving our life requires our active participation. A few wires got crossed as he kept talking about the way God and Jesus rescue and save. There’s likely an intentional difference between the two. When I think of the old testament it reminds me of spiritual infancy, legality, rule following and the initial fear of a really big, all powerful God. It was wild times back then; burning bushes, talking snakes, a naked drunk guy building a boat to hoard animals, rape, murder, foreskins. Without the hand of a magnanimous force holding everything together and sending us a great counselor we probably wouldn’t have made it out. It reminds me of recovery. If we’re lucky and hit rock bottom we go into some form of treatment where very skilled people tell us exactly what to do. We listen, write down and follow their prescription to the letter. We might even find ourselves telling other people ‘hey do this not that, you’re not doing it like he said, she hit me, uh, uhhhh, I’m telling.’ 12 steps, 10 commandments, hmm. We do it because in some way we were dying and these rules are rescuing us from our own personal hell. Psalm 18 is kind of like the first time we express gratitude to our sponsor; we’re super high on our new-found safety and much like David, find our self with a private audience standing there saved-surprised to be loved! Hi David. Along those lines, David talks about how his crying gets him one on one time with God, much like a newborn. I don’t know about you, but that describes me doing step work. It was the first time I’d faced the truth about my life experiences as an adult without codependence or a full time eating disorder to numb, blind and distract me. Of course we cry. It hurts.
Learning to follow rules is a good foundation to build from, like primary colors and the alphabet. David felt loved and that’s great for David but did he know how to reciprocate? A child can say they love us one minute and hate us the next. Their devotion is dependent on how close it is to nap-time or whether we’re telling them they can or cannot have the cookie. Our resolve in recovery is like that sometimes. I can practice boundaries, offer patience, compassion, maintain all the self-discipline with food unless I’m hungry, angry, lonely or tired. Introverts can be lonely in a crowd and get equally fussy from too much peopling. If someone has a particularly exhausting personality or I didn’t take care of myself, my patience is prone to pale and instead of giving in or staying cool, I bite. The good news is God didn’t expect us all to be saints so he gave us grace and Christ.
When Jesus came it was as if common sense and critical thinking were born with him. For many of us our healing work fills in the gaps of love, learning and skills which weren’t available in our families. I remember my sponsor telling me the dynamics of addiction can extend across four sober generations; meaning no one’s using but the relationships and attachment styles are all missing the same pieces. I call it Swiss cheese people. Love is essentially what fills in the holes but first we try stuffing ourselves with righteousness, achievements, other people, work, porn, hobbies, food, drugs, shopping, talking, sleeping, blaming; pick a thing and that’s the world. Jesus doesn’t come and fix it the way God did or the way a parent or an enabler does. God dropped the heavenly hammer, created life, the earth and skies, parted the sea; BOOM! I AM. You can’t top that. There’s no need but …I think sometimes people occasionally try? You’re fired! An enabler is anyone who does something for us that we could do for ourselves, regardless of our age, usually to fill one or more of their own holes. News stories about morbidly obese people rarely, if ever discuss the role of the feeder; the person who makes it possible for them to be fused to the furniture but still get fed, which is disabling them and will eventually kill them. Enabling is help that ultimately harms. There was a man from England who’d worked out a bucket and pulley system to order takeaway but he also employed visiting nurses. I suppose if you can afford it you can buy suppliers. Is that the same thing as buying followers? I know nothing about parenting since I consciously decided to never become one but it appears they’re expected to be all of the above and also blamed for everything. So that’s a tough job.
One of my least favorite things on social media are those posts of handicapped kids or dogs with pink eye that attempt to emotionally extort you into liking and sharing it as a way of proving to strangers you care about things. See this kid with no hand, I bet no will give him a like. Well if you don’t like him guess who’s getting unfriended, you soulless heathen. It makes me laugh but it’s also really sad. Empathy’s been reduced to assuming the masses have the emotional intelligence of kindergartners. We seem to treat empathy, attention, validation and concern like limited resources. In part I wonder about the connection between how fast news travels, how small the world’s become, how much competition we perceive, the quantity of sad stories we hear every day, compassion fatigue and our lack of a bigger vision or concept which would allow us to feel peace while literally looking into the face of human suffering. Pity’s not an empowering acknowledgement or supportive validation of reality. Quite the opposite. Insisting we show our concern is like the forced playground apology; as soon as the next recess comes, game on because there’s been no corrective emotional experience to go along with forced instruction. Thou shalt not lie, hit, cheat, steal. Why not? It’s working out for me. In the absence of real relationship they’re just a bunch of words. Worms! Roxanne. Worms! We have no context to support caring. Similarly we shouldn’t need to lose our hand, get a particular illness or inherit a trust fund in order to extend compassion towards the unique hardships and challenges faced by every individual. Love truly covers all. But this fear of scarcity seems to perpetuate the idea that we have to magnify our pain or our cause so it trumps the next guy as a way to ensure our situation gets whatever we think it deserves. Everything comes with a special qualifier; best, worst, highest, lowest, weakest, most. Back when I did groups my clients would sometimes rally around one person; Becky’s really having a hard time today because this, this and this happened so we should make all the groups about her. And yet, every parable Christ teaches offers a practically universal lesson. Meaning, we don’t need to make it all about one of us if we’re continually and collectively living from a place of love.
God’s love and power are endless because He is love, which is too big of concept to fully grasp. Maybe in the depths of meditation, play or dreams we catch fragments and experience those super high moments of huge bliss. A friend of mine said that’s also what coke is like. In Hinduism, anything that creates an illusion, like drugs or another selfish jerk disguised as a leading man from a Nicholas Sparks novel, is called a maya or veil. Being on the receiving end of that illusion is temporarily satisfying because we get to detach from whatever troubled reality we can’t manage or deal with and walk on sunshine for a minute. The illusion makes us feel good and is usually cheap, quick or easy; like wearing a fake engagement ring to our high school reunion. Hey there, fancy pants. Look at you! But when the ball is over it’s back to taking orders from the equally wounded, dysfunctionally insecure step-sadists. Wouldn’t it be great to feel strong enough to cut ties and actually reach for the life you’re burning to live? That’s the power of love. If God is our parent, the one who physically picks us up and moves us away from the fire, Jesus is our friend, the one who walks alongside us, looks at us and asks the right questions. Like a healthy friend, Jesus doesn’t judge us, kind of knows the mistakes we’ll make ( I knew you were gonna text him, but whatever, I love you.) and over time, being in that relationship makes us think twice about our actions and choices. He’s a good role model, so we watch him loving, teaching, feeding, guiding and accepting the prostitutes, murderers, capitalists and hopefully learn. Apparently people sought him more often than he went out looking for people, as if he knew and was confidently trusting of the world’s condition, it’s path to wholeness and his role in the big picture. Maybe he was always calm because instead of running around getting wrapped up in everyone’s drama he spent most of his time on the beach eating fish, talking to God and reading books. When a complex situation presents itself, we can follow a rigid rule like, White’s Only, or look into our heart and ask what would love, humane humanity, cerebral and aortic dexterity do? There is nothing more infuriating than skin-colored hate. Believing we’re loved, it’ll grow if we share it and there’s nothing to fear but our own ignorance, is the work of faithful restoration. Entire non-violent wars are being won this way. God loved us first and that love did indeed rescue us. Then he gave us the sacrifice of his only son so we could learn the rest of the love story. Coming full circle in our personal and collective healing means learning to receive, accept and then give back. Before Jesus was crucified he said “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, love each other.” xo