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Reflections on “Name”

“A tired song keeps playing on a tired radio…”

I never knew a radio could be tired, or a song. The English language doesn’t often make sense but anthropomorphization makes it even more strange. Poetry and lyrics stretch these ideas to their max.

Listening to the Goo Goo Dolls I wonder if perhaps this can’t mean something else; I feel tired all the time.

Searching deeper, I realized I play the same themes and hurts over in my life, either in my head or in situations I allow to happen or cause to happen. I’m playing the same tired song over this tired radio again and again.

I’d like to scream. Not like a loud, blaring sound but to yell my lungs out singing the songs of my soul. I feel stuck singing the same songs and I hate it. What can I do to change it? If this is what God has given me I should accept it. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.

“But come on try a little, Nothing is forever, there has to be something better than in the middle.”

Eternity is forever, and that will be better than anything on this side, but dammit this side has felt so long for 28 years already and I’m ready to go. I didn’t ask for what I’ve been given, and it’s crazy to think anyone would.

All I can do is sing songs that hurt, because mostly that what I know the best. Maybe it would be nice to worship with joy but I don’t have it. All I’ve got is staying faithful through the pain. I’d love to give God something else, but I can only return what I’ve been given. I can only sacrifice what I already have.

“Perhaps it is music that brings you joy, there is something that gives everyone joy?”

Perhaps it is, but mostly I am simply numbing the pain. For years I’ve been numbing the pain of losing my life, my childhood, my family, my innocence, my hope. I’ve tried just about everything I could do (legally) to numb the pain: alcohol, sex and porn, food, binge watching tv, hurting myself, working out. All I ever do is try to find something new to numb myself.

I know that I cannot keep doing this. Nothing this side of eternity will fix it. I hadn’t expected to end here, but I know that I have only one prayer to pray until this pain is taken away, one prayer request to make. Lord, take it away.

Running Away

Sometimes I leave people while wanting to be with people.

It is quite often that I find myself retreating. I call myself an Introvert, and perhaps it is true, but I’m not sure that I need to retreat, but instead I play out a scene I have acted in a thousand times by now. It’s a script I know well, worn and tattered in the pages of my memory and sub conscience.

Over the course of time I have reached out to others, perhaps it has been days, or a week, but I have done hard work of asking about their interests and hobbies and doing the work of building a relationship in some form. After this time, I begin to get tired and feel the need to retreat.

Sometimes I hold out for some time, and sometimes I leave immediately, but I will often go away for a time.

It isn’t that I need to be alone, I am not tired of people, I actually long for people during this time. The part I must play in this act is an emotionally challenging one, requiring desires that pull and put tension on actions, and the reverse of that.

So I retreat while feeling the need for people, because I have given what I can in emotional energy, and although I desire human contact, I cannot achieve it. It must be offered to me.

The challenge is that I must leave so that I can test who truly cares, who truly wants me, who will give chase.

Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander sings, “I want you to want me, I need you to need me, I’d love you to love me.” That speaks to me when I am like this. I want someone to want me. I run to see who will run after.

It is most interesting that this feeling of wanting to go away makes suicide a rather romantic idea, wondering who will truly care that I am gone. And while I don’t actually want to die, this idea looks like ultimate form of “running away.”

As I leave, I never try to put myself in a place where I cannot be found, but instead move aside to where I may be noticed, but where someone will have to come to me in order to reach me. It always seems obvious to me that I’m moving away because I need someone to find me, but it really isn’t obvious at all.

In the most interesting or ironies, many of my blog posts are in fact moments of “going away but wanting to be seen.” I can post my thoughts and feelings, leave it on FB, and wait to see who will give chase. I have a great need for someone to see me and say, “I really think he is interesting, I’d want him in my life.”

It is obvious what many Christians would say, God loves us, God chases us down, God comes when we run. He always does, this is true, but I also believe there is a need in each of us to be known by other humans, for humans to engage us and know us. When we miss this it does disastrous things to our souls.

So I tend to sit alone a lot with little energy to move or engage, but desperately needing someone to come to me, talk to me, hold me.

With all of this I wrestle with the idea that, as a man, I should lead in building a relationship. There is an idea that it is my job to reach out to a woman and be the one to make the move. I’m not sure if that is true or not, but it still makes me wonder how I will ever find a wife if I cannot continue to engage for long periods of time.

So I sit on my own waiting for someone to break into my life and see me for who I am, see me how God sees me. Because I am quite awesome, and it is quite worth it to come sit down with me.

Abandonment

You see, everyone leaves me somehow, in someway, at some point, so I am just waiting for God to do the same, even though He never will.

I hit myself today. Have you ever seen a movie where someone just lands their head into a wall a few times in frustration. There’s a scene where Michael Scott does this in The Office, I don’t remember why. That’s me today.

Life is empty on the weekends much of the time, and it’s oh so much worse in the winter. I can’t even go do something outside myself. Trapped inside and nothing to do, no one to see. Phone, as per usual, silent unless I reach out first. If someone does reach out, they want something from me, not just me, my presence, who I am.

People will come into my life every-so-often and change this briefly, but they always leave. That is what I am wrestling with today.

Abandonment.

I’m coming to terms with various abandonments throughout my life and how that impacts how I live today. My parents’ divorce, my mother’s emotional unavailability , moving as often as we did, a couple of really hard breakups, friends moving away, emotional separation from so many people that I don’t ever truly feel connected anymore. How does that effect how I live and how I worship?

It’s taken a long time for me to realize that I believe God will leave me someday. I know that isn’t His character, and I know it isn’t true, but I act in accordance with that believe and not what I know to be true. You see, everyone leaves me somehow, in someway, at some point, so I am just waiting for God to do the same, even though He never will.

It’s kinda frustrating. God has said to me, “You can’t drive me away,” and yet, I want to just to prove my own experience right. It’s stupid.

And yet, with God sticking around, people still leave. Just last week someone who I had been growing close feel they needed distance from me, and though they know nothing of this wound, that decision has reopened this scar and I’m dealing with loss and abandonment afresh. What should I do, stop trying? I barely try as it is, I’m so afraid to be hurt and have so consistently been hurt that the risk does not seem to be worth it.

One of the biggest challenges is that I know God shows His love through people, and I am patiently waiting for God to bring someone into my life who will show me His commitment, even imperfectly. Through all of this, my inclination is still escapism. Leave the area, don’t get close to people, isolate at all costs and only invest if you have control of them sticking around somehow (which we never do).

In my mind, no one will ever commit to me, and somehow that includes God. I’ve never seen it any other way other than in my spiritual life, so it’s hard to imagine it. Everyone leaves, just because God doesn’t leave should not mean that I should struggle through this life, maybe it just means I should go home. I really and truly don’t want to keep struggling for relationships that never work. My heart is shattered and I keep walking. How strong I am, and no one realizes.

New hope arises, and is quickly dashed to pieces by the fickleness of man.

So I’m not sure what to do, because I don’t have the strength to keep trying to build relationships. Even in my work, which is all about building relationships, I find it nearly impossible to move forward because all of these people will also leave.

It’s not like any of this is terribly uncommon, I realize that everyone deals with these things. I also think that there are specific ways I have been injured that make these challenges even more tiring, saddening, and hope-crushing.

I think that the hardest part, however, is that no one realizes any of it. I’m not sure many people realizes just how badly I need to be held. I just started getting weekly massages and while that is great and all, I’m realizing that just having another person touch me for an hour is worth the money, and the relief for muscles is totally secondary. I ache with literal pain in my chest for someone with arms to scoop me up some days, most days.

Then someone comes into my life, not realizing any of this, gets me used to them and comfortable with them, and decides to leave. Again, and again, and again.

I don’t want to die, but I want it to end. Is this all life has for me on this side of eternity? I wish I could reject your joke, and choose the better for me, going home to be with the Lord. I’ve found the Lord’s people are a poor substitute.

Learning to be Micro

I want to go far.

Searching the Internet, looking at cities, and watching the news nightly it is amazing that there is so much happening at any one given point in time. Cars race by on a local highway, to or from where, I truly don’t know. In the nearby city of Chicago and the surrounding metropolitan area millions of people are working in some way to provide for themselves and give their life meaning. Strange.

I’m reading a book on a Tuesday afternoon in November wondering who I am and where is home. Also strange.

Reading can do that to us, especially if we connect in some way with the narrative. We aren’t particularly great at noticing how often what media we are taking in influences our thoughts, emotions, and desires, but it does, and we let it. Sometimes we force it to, reading and watching things to help us be or seem to be the people we think we are or ought to be. It’s kind of daft, kind of brilliant.

I read to escape, to go somewhere else. My favorite books are of the fantasy genre, Lord of the Rings and the like. I love being transported to a new world, some place where all my expectations are completely blown away and where good always wins. I love how strong and brave the heroes can be, how utterly evil the bad guys are. It isn’t that way in real life, but when you read a fantasy book the bad guys are bad and the good guys are good and there isn’t always a lot of in between.

What I really love about reading is that it takes you to a big, open, far away new place, but it takes you there small. What I mean is, it doesn’t take you to a macro view of this new world, but takes you to an intimate and close relationship with a core group of characters whose actions impact the macro-narrative but whose thoughts, feelings, and desires you read and contend with in real time.

Reading brings me into a pre-built community. It’s small. I love it.

There are so many big things out there, so many places where you can get lost in a crowd. While I have been trying to figure myself out and learn where I fit, I’ve often looked at crowds of people in big spaces and wondered where I belong, how do I fit? Looking at things that way I have felt that I should pack up and leave, let go of society, and move to somewhere away from where I am.

I want to go far.

While I want to go far, travel far away to find some lost, mysterious thing that I am looking for, what I really want is to move small. I want to move into a closer community of folks who all know each other and see each other regularly, spending time at each others houses and living in communion through good times and challenges. I long for the small-town America feel of mom-and-pop shops, corner stores, local ice cream and knowing everyones names.

Reading about macro worlds in fantasy novels piques my curiosity for how these people continue to struggle together, work together, grow and learn together, and ultimately stay together in all things. Although I am transported to an entirely new fiction, a world created from the head of an author, what transfixes me in this world is the micro relationships, the smallness of the story.

In my mind, you just have to escape this world to get that. Utterly false, but I’ve taught myself to believe that by reading fantasy books for years.

What I truly need is to move small. To find a community to settle into, to care about, and to focus on. It’s necessary and good to travel, to expand our horizons and learn about other cultures. I believe that, and want to travel. On the other hand, what I really want is roots in one place, with one people, making a difference in a small way, in close relationships with those around me.

Perhaps we aren’t all this way, but I believe there is something inherent in human nature that makes us desire to create spaces for people. We don’t have villages and towns and cities and homes because we want to be alone. There aren’t many who want to live by themselves in the middle of nowhere, no, what we want is groups of people who are our people, and while that leads to trouble in many ways, it is the beating of our hearts to know that we belong. We have a place, a space, a group that is ours.

It’s hard to do that big, hard for us to feel belonging while looking at the macro. We need to zoom in, to get close, to get small, and to let our lives be micro. Wherever we find ourselves, we need groups of people in our proximity who care for us, are invested in us, and want to see us grow.

It’s taken me a long time to realize I don’t need to be somewhere else, but to focus smaller on where I am.

My Shame and God’s Love

Deep down I believe that nobody should be nice to me, and that includes God. I don’t deserve it.

Sitting in my chair, staring, and utterly upset with everything in my life, an inner voice echoes in the recess of my soul, as Job’s wife did, “Curse God and die!”

Oh, how I wish I could, inner voice echoing in the recess of my soul, I wish I could die.

This is one of those days where I want to give up, to let go and give in to the pain, hurt, frustration, and envy of eternal life. Letting this broken world go and ushering to a new place with no tears and glorious presence. I desperately want to not be alive here in this world, where all my own trying does no good. If I can’t make it better, I might as well die.

But I can’t die. If the decision was made with wants I’d been dead a long time past, and there have been times I’ve been far closer to physically committing myself to suicide, but not tonight. I don’t want to take my life, simply to not have it. I hate it, but I don’t hate me. It’s an interesting dichotomy.

Thinking further about my life, I just get upset. I thought that becoming a Christian would solve my problems, but all it really did was reveal how broken I am, how utterly hopeless I am, and how lost I am. And, somehow, as I feel I am making my way towards greater health, God does not help me up to the summit but pull me back towards the valley. Beginning to realize something about myself, I proceed to try conquering it and find God showing me another stone I am carrying that I do not need. I think to myself, “Can’t you just let it be for one day? Lord, let it be and let me be for one day!”

He is not content to let us be. Love loves unto perfection.

I severely dislike God for it. I’m sure some evangelicals aren’t comfortable with negative feelings towards God, but they happen. We aren’t perfect, and He isn’t expecting us to not get upset with Him, he knows our frames, knows we are made of dust, it could be understood that he expects us to get mad at him. Job, though upset, did not sin because while He wanted to know, “Why, God?” He did not say, “You are at fault,” he simply asked, “Why?” And wished he hadn’t been born.

I relate to that.

In the depth of my soul there is a brokenness so debilitating and heart breaking that I wish it didn’t even exist. I wish it wasn’t an aspect of who I am, and I honestly can’t believe that I actually think this way! I became a Christian and Christ became my mentor, my friend, my confidant, my Lord, and my God, but deep down, I really don’t want his salvation.

When I pray, I don’t want to admit that I can’t do what I need to do. I don’t want God’s help getting me out of my mess of a life, and I certainly don’t want another person to help! Just considering a person helping me with something puts my back straight and makes me want to punch something. “How dare you HELP me? Who told you to BE NICE?!?!” It’s infuriating. Deep down I believe that nobody should be nice to me, and that includes God. I don’t deserve it.

An utterly false claim, sure, but completely true for me. In my heart I believe that I am not worthy to be assisted, helped, saved, redeemed, made whole or well, or healed in any way. I don’t prefer to stay this way, but I refuse to allow another to assist me, definitely God and especially humans.

I work with a campus ministry, and as a funded missionary who fundraises support I am obviously face-to-face with a huge fear. Even looking back at my first push towards funding and the support I received, while I was happy to get it and thankful for it, receiving support shamed me greatly. In some way I feel that I should not receive those gifts. It does not surprise me when people say no, and I have gotten to the point that I hardly ask for new support (though greatly needed) because I don’t feel myself as worthy, and I am sure that whoever I ask will say “no” anyway.

Ten minutes ago I broke down crying just imagining a fellow staff helping me, taking their time and resources to benefit me. In my heart I can’t take it and don’t want it, but in my head I can take it and do want it. I’m not sure how, but I feel so surely that I need the help, and equally as sure that it would be the end of me if I received that help.

Somehow, I also feel that I need to come across to those I ask to support me as confident and sure, and that if I show my fears and insecurities they will not support me. I’ve adopted this super business-like way of asking for support and it’s not me at all. It is unthinkable to me to let people know of my need. I cannot even consider saying, “my ministry is in need of another 15,000-20,000 to be completely funded and for me to be supported at the level I should be.”

And the crux of it is, I’m being paid the least I possibly could be paid because of my support situation and I like it because I don’t feel I deserve any more.

Isn’t that terrible?

I don’t want to ask for any more money because in my mind this confirms the worth that I feel I have. It’s become so twisted that I am doing something terrible to myself to confirm to myself what I believe about myself, and feeling that way I do something terrible to myself. Terrible.

But it isn’t just that I don’t feel I deserve any more pay, but actually feel so strongly that I don’t deserve anything, and that I need to contribute somehow or get out, that I want to leave society. My dream is to live on my own in the middle of nowhere, doing my own thing and being self-sufficient. It isn’t actually my dream, it’s just what I think I’d like because I can’t stand the shame of being so terrible, so worthless, bringing so little to society, producing so little, and being so terrible at so many things. None of those things are true, but I deal with all of those thoughts every day and I’ve convinced myself the only way to escape that is to run away from everything and everyone.

But it won’t get any better, and Love loves unto perfection.

I can’t get away from God and it upsets me so very much. I truly wish He would leave me to rot as the slimy, smelly garbage the I think I am, instead of wrapping me in white and calling me a new creation. New creation, Lord? Not if my broken brain can help it! My brain will convince me I’m the same kid who was told that if he didn’t do it right he shouldn’t even try. Still living that truth 20 years later. What a mess?

So I just cried over how much I don’t want help. I told God to go away, and he nudged me and let me know he isn’t going anywhere.

How desperately I wish He would leave me alone, the shame of it all is overwhelming.

Patience of the Father

God is so much more concerned with who we are than what we do.

Looking through the front window, the young man worried over what his father would say when he arrived home. This had been the third time that he had gotten into an accident in his fathers car, and he could not imagine that his father was well pleased. Father had been kind and forgiving the first two times, but this time the young man was sure that his father would be upset. He expected anger.

He considered how he might have changed the circumstances; paying more attention, not driving today and having a friend drive instead, not going at all. It was no use, he couldn’t change the past, but he knew his father could no longer hold back the anger must be coming.

He continued to fret, worry, and watch out the window. His father had to be home soon, but he couldn’t face him. Pacing the living room having not calmed his nerves at all, the young man decided to head to his bedroom and lay down. “Father will arrive when he arrives,” the young man thought wryly, “pacing won’t change that.”

After laying down in his bed, he waited. It seemed like hours, but it could have been minutes for all the young man knew, he wasn’t paying attention to the time, waiting until his father came to bite off his head. He only knew that he waited in fear and uncertainty of the future, yet certain his father would finally give him the what for. “Third time is the charm, as they say. Normally that’s a good thing, funny how for me it’s terrible.”

He heard the sound of the garage, of his father parking another new car, getting out and walking into the house. It was time, he knew, to face his maker. He had worried so much before his father had returned that it surprised him how calm he felt about it all. His father’s voice carried through the house, calling to him, asking him to come to the kitchen.

The young man hurried downstairs, he hurried doing most things, honestly. It led to mistakes but he could not contain his excitement most of the time. He had so much energy that he simply had to do things. He couldn’t help if sometimes that meant he didn’t do a good job, or wrecked a car. Taking the stairs two at a time and bounding around the corner, he reached his father in mere moments. Looking up at his father’s face, he waited for the dressing down he knew he deserved.

“How are you feeling, my son?” His father asked him, walking over to put a hand on the young man’s shoulder. “Are you OK?”

“Yes,” the young man said hurriedly, “I’m fine. How did it go?”

“Splendidly! Come and see the new car!” His father’s reply did nothing to assuage the fear within the young man. As his father led him to the garage, where a shining new car sat, a deep blue colored sedan with all the bells and whistles, he knew his father was only biding time. Surely, soon, he had to loose his temper. He simply had to. This was the third time this had happened!

“My son,” his father began, and the young man began to feel fear well up in the base of his belly, a knot forming and twisting until he felt it was so tight he might break. “My son.” He said again, looking at the young man with a face soft, the face he had always known in his father, not a face of anger but a face of love.

“You certainly did a number on the old car!” he said, laughing, “luckily it had great safety features, and you are all right. This car has even more! Side airbags, parking assist, and warnings when you leave the lane or drive too closely, or if someone follows too closely. I knew I needed that because I want to know you are safe. It would destroy me if anything happened to you, my son.”

The young man stood there, dumbfounded, as his father continued.

“We will have to go out together tomorrow to continue working on your driving skills, I’m sure you will be a great driver with practice! And, we can’t control everything in life. Sometimes accidents happen, and all I can be thankful for is that you are still here, still well, still alive.”

Somehow, for the young man, he had thought his father had a reserve of anger that would eventually come up, he didn’t realize his patience was so great. It must only be that the next time he wrecks a car that his father will loose his temper.

“Your mother and I are so proud of you, my son. We love you and want the best for you. We want you to know how loved you are, that no matter what, you are loved. All of the things in life are not as important as you are.”


 

So often, we believe that God will be upset with us for mistakes we make. That somehow what we do is more important to God than who we are. We believe this because we have been taught this. Even reading the story above, you may have been surprised that the young man was on his third accident, with the father forgiving even the first. I remember the first accident I had, my parents were very upset, and I was to blame. It seems natural and normal for us to consider fault when accidents happen, or when mistakes are made.

God does not act like our parents, and it’s more accurate to say that our parents do not act like God. It’s not their fault, they can’t live up to that, but they still fall short in that comparison. Where our parents and those around us will blame us for things we do, God is more concerned with who we are, and specifically that we are his sons and daughters. Sure, he wants us to not wreck the car, but he isn’t going to punish us with fear or anger, he spent all his anger on the cross. All he has left for us is love, even in correction.

The young man’s father took responsibility for continuing to teach the young man to drive, and this is how God behaves towards us. He lovingly continues with us until we “get it”, and even then he continues still, simply because he loves being with us. Too often we see God as distant when we are “bad”, instead of realizing that he is near in all things, again, simply because he loves being with us.

He isn’t expecting us to be perfect, the father knew the young man was not perfect, and in my mind this is because the father knew his own shortcomings. The father was aware of his reckless nature during his teenage years, or that he rushed his son to get a driving license without helping him best learn to drive in safety and care. Knowing his own shortcomings, the father extends love and grace to his son, caring more for the son’s being than his action.

God is so much more concerned with who we are than what we do. Many times, who we are is hurt and afraid, fearing our heavenly Father and mistrusting him. We see God as strict, as a disciplinarian, as upset or angry, yet we do not see how he sees our hurt, pain, and brokenness and loves us. He is looking into our souls and knowing why we do what we do far more than we know why we do what we do, and for that reason he forgives freely because he is binding up wounds not correcting actions.

We really get it wrong when we think we have to do certain things as Christians, Jesus came to mend and heal, “Those who are well have no need for a physician,” he said. The interesting thing is that no one is well. We are all hurt, all broken, all needing healing and redemption. It amazes God that we, like the Pharisees, focus so much on actions and not on God’s healing touch.

His resources are unlimited, his patience is unlimited, his love is unlimited. Our heavenly Father does not run out of what he needs to love us. He comes home with another new chance, and invites us back into learning and growing and being healed in him.

I’d like to think the father in the story is far more concerned with the young man’s view of his father than of how well that young man drives. God cares that we see him accurately, do we see him as loving, kind, caring, and patient with us? Do we recognize he is binding wounds, not correcting action? Do we go to him knowing that he will give us healing and grace for our hurts?

Space, Clutter, and Spiritual Formation

Sometimes, though, space wasn’t just used, it was overused. Often, it was overused.

Looking around the room, busy with a degree of use in the feel of things spread throughout, a fan spinning idly, churning air to create a sense of cool, and chairs enough in the small room to seat a dozen, he turned his eyes to the lake beyond the house.

He wanted to space of the small lake to open his mind and imagination to the soul longing to get out from his chest. It didn’t have enough room here to breathe, think, or let go, it needed to quiet, still and empty expanse of the water.

He considered places he had been, stayed, lived, and gone. He liked cities, but felt that being in a city was forgetting what lay inside himself. It was so busy, so crowded, so cluttered, that his soul shrank in the confines of a city street. “Who could be a person in such a place?” he muttered within himself, “who you are has no space to become itself.”

It was interesting to him that as he wrote about space and clutter, he wrote in short, snipped paragraphs. He was not taking the time he thought he should, perhaps it was the coffee, or the excitement of writing about something dear to his heart, but he thought maybe it was only that it is a simple idea. It isn’t necessary to tease out and play with meanings, only to tell what needs to be known.

Many places are just as crowded and cluttered as cities, even though they are suburban or even rural. Bars, coffee houses, cars and homes are all stained with the debris that takes takes up space. He considered anything unnecessary as something that takes up space, most things were unnecessary, so there was, in his estimation, a lot of debris in the world. He cringed with every handout handed him in classes and work meetings, wondering where it would go, how would he file and keep it so it did not clutter his desk, and ultimately his mind.

“Homes tell us a lot about ourselves,” he thought, musingly. “Often, it seems, we feel a need to fill every space, every corning, every nook of our homes.” He didn’t know why people did this, perhaps it was a visual thing? He considered how this showed the need to not waste what was had.

Sometimes, though, space wasn’t just used, it was overused. Often, it was overused.

Papers piled high on desks, books stacked on tables and food that would never be used overflowing a refrigerator. Boxes of “just in case” items filled a basement, to be used once every decade or two, and cars were the same. Change piled high in center consoles, baubles dangled from rear view mirrors, trunks packed with equipment for some sport out of season 8 months of the year. Garages and sheds stored incredible amounts of things, often requiring a deft touch to close the door or park without scratching the car.

“Where do people live, with all this stuff?” he wondered, amused and yet also fearful. “Their soul has no room to grow.”

He knew that many people had tidy spaces, but busy lives. They cluttered their schedules instead of their living rooms, keeping themselves busy with meetings, appointments, to-do lists, and the idol of accomplishment. There was little in their home, little in their fridge, and their car was clean, but that was only because their time was cluttered and overused.  They lived as if they would not live if they didn’t do all the things, all the time, every day striving and trying and searching and pushing and wishing and hoping, and it stifled them. They were drowning in the clutter of their own life.

The truth is, he knew, that our outer life reveals the inner life, and if our outer life is busy and cluttered, so is our soul. A soul that is overburdened cannot possibly please God, because it can’t even concentrate on Him. Nor can that soul find peace, how does it rest when everywhere it looks there is stuff? “Let me look outside,” this soul says, but finds that there are many passersby to watch, “I will sit quietly in my chair,” it then begins, but pictures, books, papers and machines distract it. “I am lucky to even have this time,” the soul says to itself, as it considers its busy schedule, “I don’t often have to show my owner who he is.” It tries to give the person to whom it belongs some sense of being, but the man or woman rejects it and begins to busy themselves again.

He considered the only work that was truly worth doing was that which allows our souls to shape us into whom God has created us to be. God has given us His breath of life, His Spirit, and shapes us through that using our spirit, our soul. We cannot hear the subtle whisper during a rainstorm, and yet we distract ourselves incessantly with distractions galore. Why?

“Because our souls show us our longing and pain, which draw us into the Father,” he decided. “The Son treats these wounds, and the Spirit reveals them.” It isn’t easy to become still and let the inner tumult of our lives come to a rest, we are like shaken snow globes, the snow dancing around and looking active, and often beautiful, but hiding the image behind. Only as the globe rests, and the snow falls, do we see the house and snowman and kids ice skating on the lake. We cannot see ourselves with all this snow flying around us, we must escape this clutter.

Then we take 5 or 10 minutes to be silent, and find that nothing has changed, and why should it have? He wished people would take hours or days to be still, to begin clearing the clutter of their lives away, to free their schedules, to drive in silence, to want to hear God speak to them through their soul more than anything else. “God has made us beautiful, if only we could become simple enough to hear him tell us,” he thought.

He remembered when he began to let go of things, giving away his gaming system, giving away many of his clothes, and trying to let go of whatever he didn’t need. He knew that he was on the verge of another “life purge,” selling and giving away things he wouldn’t use and didn’t need. Golf clubs, multiple guitars, clothes, books that were read and wouldn’t be re-read, and many other things. His mind needed the rest when he looked at his things.

“Because,” he considered, “when there is no space in our lives, how much can God fill us with? If we do not have a place for what God wants to show us, we will ignore it.” He wanted to have as much space for God as possible, and that meant freeing up his time and space to accept it. That meant simplifying his life. That meant decluttering. It meant letting his soul grow and stretch to accept all that God had to offer, and that meant letting go of so much more.