In My Own Way

I hope you’ll forgive that I’ve been so out of touch with my blog lately. Part of the problem is that over the last few weeks I’ve gotten busy out playing shows again and working on writing/pre-production for the new record when I’ve been back in town. It’s a bit inevitable that when I start travelling/writing/recording again after a nice long break, I still struggle quite a bit with balance. There seems to be a consistent tension between my time to myself for creating and my time with my family and face-to-face community and even now with time wanting to somehow keep in touch with the larger, more extended community that I might not even know on a personal level. The truth is, there is definite value to all of the above…but my unashamed first priority is to “the people to my right and my left.” The truth is also that there is plenty of time. The reality it seems though is that my default tends toward serving my own time at the expense of all the others. My intent is to balance those things well, but I tend to get stuck somewhere in between. My struggle this morning is the understanding that in all my efforts to “love well” here at home I still tend to fail at it a lot. I think a large part of it for me is the whole clichéd “love language” thing – where I tend to love people the way that I want to be loved rather than how they need to be loved (as usual, clichés are clichés for a reason). Ultimately, it just comes down to selfishness. The battle with self – against self – is really at the core of all struggle…of all sin. The great irony is that it seems that everything our cultural prophets preach is all about serving self…how I feel, how I hurt, what I want, what I need, my goals, my ambitions, my dreams, my hopes. The other even greater irony is that there does indeed have to be a profound level of self-awareness in order for us to truly embrace what it means to NOT serve ourselves. In other words, if I want to truly love well and serve the people around me, I have to know myself well enough to get out of my own way. I think that in order to “die to ourselves” we have to know what we’re dying to. I spent a lot of years in my life existing in a place of what I called humility and kindness and even self-sacrifice before realizing that my “versions” of those things were really subversive ways to get the people around me to respond to me in a certain way…to get people to like me. Yes, I was nice to people and maybe even did “good things” but I was well into my 20’s before I realized that, at the real core of it, I was less interested in how those “self-less acts” made the recipients feel than I was in how their response to those acts made ME feel. Not very self-less after all. Does that make any sense? I’m not sure that I’m communicating this very well…a bit stream of consciousness, I suppose. The frustrating thing on a day like today is to feel like in all this time, maybe I haven’t come quite as far as I thought. I say all the time that the core cause of Christ, in Jesus’ words, has very little to do with us, and most everything to do with the people around us, but I’m pretty certain today that it’s easier to say that than to live it.

Lord Jesus, my prayer this morning is that you would make me just self-aware enough to turn whole-heartedly against being self-absorbed. That you would teach me how to truly recognize the needs of those around me and to serve those needs with no expectation, no need for response. Maybe that’s an unrealistic prayer, but I want to believe that there is a way for the response of your spirit within me to be my only hope, my only expectation. Not because I can earn even a fraction of your favor or your grace, but because it is a celebration of that very favor and that very grace to serve you by serving the people around me.

9 Responses

  • jcop wrote on March 15, 2010

    I got it. And, I think you are correct. It's hard to be self-less to begin with, then after a while it is easy to get lax in doing so! It's a constant thing - I don't think we ever really "get it" just have to keep working on it. Very raw and honest blog ya got here. I think that comes across in your music and this is what people like about you. Just my humble, yet accurate opinion. :)

  • David Goei wrote on March 15, 2010

    Don't worry Mr Norman, sometimes if you do not tend that which surrounds you first, then when the time comes for you to need tending, we might not be able to reach you in time and you will have to rely on those who you have been tending to around you first. It's not selfish because I would not be able to help you unless you blogged or tweeted it and even then, what can I say to make any pain go away (unless God guides my words, then He can heal all things). Just read one of your tweets, am very excited at the thought of new song lyrics being posted up, love composing! And I hope you do not think badly of all 'cultural prophets' (unless you are being sarcastic and not referring to God's prophets), cos some of us are still trying to carry out the Father's will first and foremost.

  • Nora wrote on March 16, 2010

    Mr. Norman (feel like I shouldn't call you Bebo, even though I'm older than you), I first want to thank you for your gift of music to us who love to listen to you. I also like reading your very honest posts. I know 6 years ago when my husband and I adopted 2 boys from Russia (our only children) is when we both realized how much we needed to learn about selflessness. I personally discovered that after being a christian for over 35 years that i really didn't know how to love...I guess it wasn't tested until I got married and had children. A very good book comparing the love that we have learned (from the world) in comparison to God's Love; that I've just found, is one I think you would get so much out of. I realize your busy but wanted to share a great book. it's called "Equipped to Love" by Norm Wakefeild. Thank You Again for your awesomely inspiring music.

  • Lindsay wrote on March 22, 2010

    This isn't profound but I have noticed when my husband is tired and run down physically or mentally he does not love as well. I hope you are taking good care of yourself in the midst of all that you have to juggle right now. It is amazing how effortless it is to love and be patient with my family if I have really RESTED. In that way I think it is good to be selfish and say no to something or someone to be present for the people that have to live with you. Ya know? It is not as spiritually insightful as your post, but sometimes when I am hard on myself for not being closer to God, or blowing it in some way, I am really just tired. And my kids are 2 and 3 so I know what stage you and your wife are at...tired.

  • Megan wrote on March 22, 2010

    i wish words could express to you how much this fits what i've been struggling with lately. i had this shocking realisation about a week ago that in all of my 'loving well', i wasn't loving well. i was loving how i wanted to be loved and not meeting people's needs. and the kicker: i was getting upset that they weren't being receptive of my love! it was their problem, not mine, that they weren't receiving my "AMAZING" love. it's a hard thing to realise that all the work you have put into being self-aware and make self-evaluations have turned into selfish practices to make yourself feel better. this is a bold, courageous post that i'm so glad you shared. your prayer will be my prayer this week as i begin to look at HOW others need to be loved. i want to be all things to all men so that they may see what Christ has so richly blessed me with. i am grateful for you and your honesty. thank you.

  • Janet wrote on August 21, 2010

    I think to, though, that a big part of the struggle ( I fight the same battles) is that we beat ourselves up over it.....certainly more than God does. Once we realize that we are loving people on our own terms, the key is brush ourselves off and get moving in the right direction. ......if we don't act on what we've learned, no matter how clumsy, or forced it might seem, we leave ourselves wallowing in our own thoughts. There we can sit comfortably in what we know.....ourselves. :) Not so easy to do, but it starts with standing up, speaking up, or just going and hugging someone. May God give us the strength to act on what we know today.

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