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.