I saw a Tweet the other day from a well known…. well…. Tweeter that said, “I get to work with the poorest of the poor and the richest of the rich. The contrast is mind boggling.” Now, nothing against that Tweet specifically or it’s Tweeter, but it really hit me reading it that this is exactly how our culture lives. Whatever gets us the most attention. That’s where we swerve, right?
There’s a psychological theory called “Basking In Reflected Glory” or “Birging” and the basic idea is this:
Basking In Reflected Glory (BIRGing) is a self-serving cognition whereby an individual associates themself with successful others such that another’s success becomes their own.
We love to be associated with what’s “in” don’t we? We see it in sports teams – “We finally won a championship!”. We see it on bumper stickers – “My child is an Honor Student.” and now we are seeing it in charity. Anyone getting noticed for doing something is immediately elevated in our minds.
Now here’s the tricky part, because I am by no means saying that there’s anything wrong with helping the poor, the orphan or the widow. Let’s read that sentence again. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH HELPING THE POOR, THE ORPHAN OR THE WIDOW. In fact I wholeheartedly agree with it, but I do think there’s a danger in refusing to also focus on “the in-betweens”.
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. – 1 Corinthians 13:3
Here’s the interesting thing. I’ve come in contact with some of the most “charitable” folks in Nashville. Folks being praised all over the Internet because of the work they have done in Haiti and Africa and even in downtown Nashville to feed the homeless. These people are constantly announcing how much they are doing to raise funds for this or that, being interviewed for different things, and all that’s great… until they refuse to look their neighbors in the eye because they are now somehow “celebritized” because of their charity efforts. They can’t be bothered by ‘the in-betweens’. They are too busy helping someone else, or pursuing their own renown.
Now, I know I’m not going to win any popularity points with this post and honestly, this is something that I’m currently struggling with because it seems a little backwards, but I think there is one current theme throughout the Bible and that is LOVE. Not just for the starving across an ocean, but for the checker at the grocery store as well. Not just for what will get you a write-up on CNN.com, but for also for the person that works for airport security who’s tired of people hating them.
What would your day look like if you started to focus on ‘The In-Betweens’?
The subject of “salvation” has come up in several conversations I’ve been in over the past week or so and I thought I’d see if I can bring some of that discussion here. I think it started with a Tweet linking to this article then it started some interesting conversation in the dressing room at a few shows, then home, then to coffee shops interrupting meetings.
So here we are.
According to the article, folks “shouldn’t ask Christ into their hearts for several reasons, but the gist of it is that it’s unbiblical and there’s no “conversion” that happens when you do so. Interesting.
Then I saw this video in the comments. It’s pretty intense, but it seems to follow along with that same thought.
The more I think on this the more I can see how us as humans need that defining moment in our lives to look back on and say, “I was saved on September 18th, 1994, and I’ve never looked back.” I can see that.
So my question isn’t really what you believe about all of this in detail. I’m wondering if there is an exact moment that you become saved? When do you believe that is? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
Remember the first time you saw that video? How original his voice was. How epic his piano playing was. And not just for a kid. But as a crazy talented human. Remember the originality of what he was doing? Here’s what makes me sad about that. Today, he sounds just like everyone else. Sure, the label with the most incentive ran after him, probably promised him whatever he wanted and then turned him into this. It’s not bad. It’s just not original anymore. It’s not a jaw dropping YouTube sensation. It’s a kid trying to sound like every other pop star out there. That makes me sad.
Now, I’m not knocking this kid at all. And I don’t know the first thing about his record deal, his incentives, his songwriting ability, or really anything else. But what I know is that what blew everyone away on YouTube was completely polished and buried in this new song. And that I think is a problem.
I might be taking this a little far but how many times has something truly inspired become commercial and when you take a step back and look, it’s nothing like it was when it started? I’ve been struggling for a little while looking for inspiration. I used to write songs and poetry, books and books of it. I used to draw. I used to paint. I used to play music. I used to be inspired. It’s not like there aren’t moments of inspiration throughout the day, but I’d be lying if I said most of my day wasn’t consumed by making it through with a clean inbox and my to-do list neatly checked off. So much so that there are times where I literally feel claustrophobic in my own skin. Some people call it selling out. Some people call it making a living. Some people call it hustle.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my job, and I love the projects I get to work on and the people I get to work with. And that’s why I’m desperately working on keeping the inspiration. I love to create. I love to see things differently. I’m not sure what the answer is. I’m not sure if there is one. You might be thinking that I’m a baby. And that’s okay. I probably am. But sometimes don’t you want to strip all that away and go back to being that kid banging on piano singing as strong as you can?
How do you get your inspiration back when it’s fading?
I was talking to Kristin the other day and had some pretty interesting ‘revelations’ about myself. Most of it probably too weird to post on here, but the main thing that stuck out to me is this. I already know that I am a very ‘black and white’ person. Meaning, things are either one way or they aren’t. I’ve always been that way. It might be good thing some of the time, but other times it’s really not. In the case that Kristin and I were talking about it’s more in the ‘not’ category.
See, I realized the other day that I am a ‘justice seeker’. I need to see something resolved. I need to see it ‘made to rights’. And when I don’t, it eats at me. It’s not that I need to see everything glossed over, but I need to see actual resolve. And sometimes that never happens. Sometimes the ‘resolve’ that I’m looking for, or the ‘justice’ that I have in my head isn’t ever going to happen. And then it sits with me.
I didn’t really realize this about myself until the conversation with Kristin. I’ve put myself in a place where if something happens to me, or around me, for whatever reason, I can’t shake it until there is “justice”. Now, when I say that, I’m not saying that I think it’s my job at all to ensure justice. I’ve never found it my responsibility to chase down evil-doers and make them pay or anything stupid like that. What I end up doing is just watching and waiting and driving myself nuts until what I feel should happen, happens.
Since when was it my responsibility to even care about justice? When did it become my duty, to watch anything followed through in anyone’s life but my own?
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. - Romans 12:17-21
There’s some black and white for ya. Sure. I’ve seen this verse a thousand times. And for some reason I’ve never applied it to my situation. I think it’s because I’m not one to actively ‘go after’ someone, or to “repay evil for evil”, but what is sitting there, waiting for “justice” doing? Who’s “justice”? Mine?
So yeah. It’s a pretty weird thing to think about, but how many of us out there are seeking “justice” when we should be seeing to “do right in the eyes of everyone” and let God handle the justice stuff?
Just some light Monday morning thoughts for you.
What do you think? Are you a justice seeker?
I’ve been thinking a little about sadness today. It’s amazing to me how many different levels of sadness there are. And it blows me away that no matter what level you are in, there are always deeper levels of sadness and, the natural opposite of that, more shallow levels. It’s not that these ‘shallow’ levels aren’t as sad. They are just different.
Today is the first day Kristin and I are realistically looking at taking our dog of 11 years in to be put down. He’s at a point where he hasn’t eaten in three days, can barely walk and doesn’t even lay comfortably. I’ve talked to the vet, they recommend bringing him in when we are ‘ready’. I’m not sure we’ll ever be ‘ready’, but there’s a sadness in choosing when to end his life. Sadness.
A friend I went to High School with is burying her dad today. He had a long bout with cancer and it finally got the best of him and he passed last week. This same friend has a sister 2000 miles away, unable to travel to the funeral because she’s having a baby. Today. The very day of her own dad’s funeral. Words can’t even describe the emotional conflict going on in that house. The mom unable to be there for the daughter as she’s giving birth. The daughter unable to be there with the rest of her family as they lay her dad to rest. The joy of new life, and the ache of saying goodbye. Sadness.
Seems like this life is full of it. And there’s no way around it. I wish I had some inspirational thing to write on here, but I don’t. If you’re a praying person, offer one up for our friends in California. I’m sure they could use it.
I have a scar on the inside of my calf where five equally spaced holes were punched. I can remember the exact place it happened. Every time I see these scars, I can picture the bike. I can picture the trail. I can picture being in the back of the group of friends as they rode off not knowing that the chain had fallen off my bike and when my foot slipped these sharp metal teeth dug into the inner side of my leg. I can even sort of feel that same pain as I looked down and saw that for some reason these five holes weren’t bleeding yet, just sort of traumatized holes.
Now, this wasn’t some awful bike accident. It wasn’t something that left me permanently injured and obviously didn’t take my life. I don’t think about it daily or anything like that. I’ve had hundreds of other bike crashes in my life. Some worse and some not as bad, but the scarring always reminds me of this one particular crash.
This morning I started thinking about the way that we interact as people and how sometimes the things that we do can sometimes cut someone so deep that no matter what happens we’ve left a scar. A scar that will always be there. They may forgive, they may not think about it every day, but on the off chance that something causes them to look at that scar, even the smell in the air when they were hurt comes flooding back to them and they can immediately identify with the moment they were hurt.
Now, I know Biblically we are supposed to forgive seven-trillion times or whatever, but I’m curious what your thoughts are on the scars. What do you do when something causes you to revisit that moment of pain and there’s nothing you can do but be reminded of the moment those scars showed up? Have you truly forgiven if these scars aren’t gone? What if someone has wounded you so deeply that you’re not sure you can ever fully recover? What do you do with the scarring?
Just some light Friday thoughts for you. Ready? Go.
My parents divorced when I was three… or four… something like that. I don’t know, I was little. Now that I’m older I know about some of the events that lead up to that divorce. I don’t know all the stories of pain, violence, infidelity, or whatever, but I know that it was a mess. Enough of a mess for it to need to end. And let’s face it, who doesn’t have a mess to some degree in their life? Anyone my age or younger knows the ripple affect of a broken home, abuse, neglect or things like that. Who doesn’t have drama from their upbringing, right?
But here’s where I start getting real passionate. I had a pretty amazing guy step in and take the roll of my dad. To this day he’s one of the closest people to me in my life. Does that mean I don’t have life-long drama from the handful of years that I was alive without him? Nope. Does that mean that I didn’t grow up with the ‘awkwardness’ of having two dads? Nope. Or having to be the decision maker of where I was going to live? Or what last names my wife and kids were going to have? But I’m going to be honest. I had a pretty great upbringing. It was safe, it was healthy, and it was exactly what I needed as a kid and now adult with my own kids.
And here’s the thing. We live in a generation of people looking for any excuse possible to blame their selfish actions on what we’ve conveniently named ‘Generational Sin’. I could blame any of my actions on the broken home that I came from. The dad that wasn’t around, the frustrations of Summer Vacations away from my friends, weirdness of having to explain who that guy is at my graduation. All that. I could sit back and not take ownership of any of it. And that’s exactly what we do right?
“This is what my parents did, so it’s natural.” ”I’m an alcoholic because my dad was.” ”I treat women badly because that’s what I saw growing up. It’s in my blood.” ”I’m a manipulator because my mom cheated.” ”I’ve got a temper that I inherited from my dad.” The list goes on. It’s the easiest out right? We want to blame our selfish, screwed up lives on something biological. It’s something we can’t change. It’s the way we are wired. Really? Let’s take a look. *I’ve added the “bold”*.
Jeremiah 31:29-32 (NIV)
In those days people will no longer say, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ Instead, everyone will die for his own sin; whoever eats sour grapes–his own teeth will be set on edge. “The time is coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers…”
Ezekiel 18:14-16,18-20 (NIV)
“But suppose this son has a son who sees all the sins his father commits, and though he sees them, he does not do such things: He does not eat at the mountain shrines or look to the idols of the house of Israel… He does not oppress anyone… He does not commit robbery, but gives his food to the hungry and provides clothing for the naked… He will not die for his father’s sin; he will surely live. But his father will die for his own sin, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother and did what was wrong among his people. Yet you ask, ‘Why does the son not share the guilt of his father?’ Since the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to keep all my decrees, he will surely live. The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.“
Well crap. There goes that theory I guess. Looks like I’m going to have to answer for myself when I treat my kids badly. Looks like it actually is my fault when I selfishly go against what I know is right. Seems like there really is no excuse for living like a jerk.
Okay, that last paragraph was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but you get the idea. So, I want to hear what you guys think. I’ve never really had an open discussion about “Generational Sin” and my opinions on it, with anyone but Kristin. She knows it’s something that has always bothered me, but I don’t know if it’s just me. The thing is, I don’t buy it. I refuse to accept the excuse from anyone that there’s some magical blood running though our bodies that causes us to not be able to control our own selfish actions. It’s not our great-great-great grandfather’s fault that we act the way we do. It’s not the chemical make-up of my DNA that causes me to treat people badly. It’s selfishness and sin. Bottom line. Unless I’m missing something in these verses.
So what do we think? I know it’s a little heavy of a topic, but I’m curious your thoughts.
I’ve had a weird couple of days. They’ve started out pretty normal, then moved quickly into really exciting and awesome, then both yesterday and today took a sharp turn into really frustrating and stressful. An absolute roller coaster. Have you ever had a days like that? I’m not sure how much I want to get into it on here just yet, but I will say this. I am unabashedly thankful for an amazing, understanding wife and friends with level heads when mine is far from it.
If you’ve been around this blog at all you’ll know I’m a pretty (for lack of a better word) sensitive person when it comes to negativity of any kind. Call it ‘thin skin’ or whatever you like, but I get affected pretty easily by other people’s actions which is not exactly an amazing attribute to have when you’re running a company I don’t think.
Over the past two days, I’ve literally gone from some of the coolest phone conversations with exciting opportunities followed up by some conversations that have left me speechless and, quite frankly, jacked up a little. I’ve gone from major changes in an awesome direction, to major changes in a hurtful direction and back again.
Mostly I’m just processing things, but right now I’m continuing to appreciate Kristin and all that she does for me and our family, appreciate friends that I can call and talk about these struggles and have them let me know it’s not that bad.
So that’s the deal right now. Sorry this is such a lame post, but I just wanted to let you all know where things are at. More to come on some of these more exciting things for sure. That stuff is going to be amazing.
Maybe it’s because it’s Sunday and I’m feeling “churchy”. Maybe it’s because I’ve thought too much about it. Or maybe I’m just being cheesy, but this busted tree got me thinking.
We’ve got two of these big trees in our front yard. Identical. They were planted (by someone else) at the same time and for the past ten years or so, they have grown together. They looked the exact same until the other night when a storm came through and decided to rip half of our tree on the right down. Kinda lame huh? Now after pretending to be a lumberjack I’ve got this little pile of wood and a half of a tree. The front is all exposed and all the leaves are on the back.
Now, I’ve had more than a couple people tell me what a bummer it is that the front of the tree is missing, rather than the back because that’s the part that everyone sees. That’s the side that we ‘represent’ our yard to the neighbors with. That’s what makes this tree look good. You see where I’m going with this don’t you?
Now, imagine if the back of this tree had been ripped off. It would look all symmetrical from the front. Matching the other tree and fitting in perfectly. No one would be able to tell there was any damage and we could all go on pretending that this tree hadn’t weathered a storm and continues to stand. The damage would still be there, it would still be half a tree, but at least the ‘public’ part would look good, right?
We love to pretend that our tree fronts are perfect don’t we? We love to show the public our full, leafy side. We don’t want anyone to know that we’ve been through it. Struck by lightning or pushed over by a storm. We don’t want people to see that we’re completely exposed if you just looked at us from a different angle. And you know what? Most people don’t want to even take the time to see that angle. They’d rather see the side of you that is symmetrical and ‘together’. Because then they don’t have to help.
It’s easier to drive through a perfect suburban neighborhood and see symmetry. See the fake. That’s what we show, and that’s what we are shown. Because it’s easier than accepting the fact that we’ve all had storms, and our front sides have been ripped off. And that sometimes all we are left with is a lame pile of firewood that we don’t even know what to do with because we have a gas fireplace that we never even turn on because it seems like a really stupid way to run up your gas bill.
What side of the tree are you showing the people around you?
So, Kristin and I were talking about this whole Tiger Woods fiasco the other night and one of the things that came up that we thought was weird was the fact that society is still somehow shocked by this whole thing. And here’s what’s weird. We live in a culture where every popular TV show promotes some form on infidelity. Some sort of “cheating” or “sleeping around” is promoted all around us. Desperate Housewives has been one of the top-rated shows since it’s premier and once a week I can’t even go on Twitter without getting a ‘play-by-play’ on who “The Bachelor” is having sex in a hot tub with. Yet, somehow we, as a society, are freaking out about Tiger Woods because of his “shocking behavior”. Come on folks. Are we really that shocked? Or is it the ‘reality’ that throws us off so much. Because it’s real life, with a real wife and real kids?
Maybe it’s the tarnish on his “Golden Boy” image that we are so fascinated by. Maybe it’s just the next level of entertainment for some. It’s like Desperate Housewives only with press conferences and lost endorsements. Are we that bored as a culture that we’ve got to run from one sad story to another like kids going through presents on Christmas morning?
To me it’s pretty sad that some schmuck who couldn’t live up to the commitment he made to his wife overshadows the tragedy in Haiti only a month or so later because he’s had a few months to think about how truly jacked up he is and wants to do a press conference about it.
But that’s how we roll right?
We’ll sit back and watch. We’ll be entertained by someone else’s cheating. Someone else’s tragedy. We’ll buy the People Magazine telling details that no one else knows. Because as long as it’s not us it’s okay right?