Skip to main content

We admitted we were powerless.

"For sin, seizing the opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it 
I died."
Romans 7:11, 13

I died in my dream last night.  I've had plenty of dreams where I almost die and wake up just before but this time, I died.  I was in some kind of open-frame aircraft and knew that we were going down.  Someone next to me was panicking but I felt overwhelming calm.  We were spinning and falling fast.  I remember holding my breath and buckling down in my seat, waiting for impact.
And it came.
I remember a bright and hot explosion, fire consuming the air around me.  And that was that.

I believe in the importance of dreams.  The Bible is full of stories where people were alerted by dreams or given input and direction through dreams.  And I can usually tell if a dream is significant by how vivid it appears in sleep and how long it stays with me after.  I can remember dreams from childhood.  So this one holds meaning for me, I'm sure.

That became more evident when I woke this morning and started reading Breathing Under Water by Richard Rohr.  It is a small book that walks through The Twelve Steps as it relates to our spiritual journey.  The first chapter, of course, is Powerlessness.

"We admitted we were powerless over alcohol--that our lives had become unmanageable." -Step 1

This feels particularly true to me after my dream last night.  Something within me is dying away.  Hopefully, my ego.  The last few years have taught me that my character is not much like what I thought it to be.  This sweet, compliant church-faithful is capable of deep anger, rage, hatred, pride, self-deceit, and self-indulgence.  I'm unmanageable.  I'm quite powerless to "be good."

Rohr points out that this is the human condition that we all face.  Regardless of our denial of it:

"The ego always insists on moral high ground, or as Paul brilliantly puts it, 'sin takes advantage of commandments to mislead me, and through obeying commandments--kills me.'  This is a really quite extraordinary piece of insight on Paul's part, one which I would not believe myself were the disguise not so common (e.g...

- Celibate priests focusing on birth control and abortion as the core of evil
- Heterosexuals seeing gay marriage as the ultimate threat to society
- Liberals invested in some current political correctness while living lives of rather total isolation from the actual suffering of the world
- Bible thumpers ignoring most of the Bible when it asks them to change
- A nation of immigrants being anti-immigrant, etc."

It's true.  As Paul said, I will use God's commandments to hit "sinners" over the head.  This is sin.
Obeying the commandments often "kills me" because I become so full of pride and bigotry that I am no longer obeying the commandments.  This is the irony of Christianity.  And then, in sinning, I am full of shame and self-hatred.  
Option 3 is admitting that I am powerless and choosing to let the ego die.  
Let it spiral down and burst into flames. 

I think I'm ready for that.  Damn, I'm not perfect.  I mess up every day.  My greatest sin is trying to project the illusion of perfection for the rest of the world.  My marriage wasn't perfect.  My kids aren't perfect.  I'm often tired of wearing a smile and just barely getting by.  
But that's okay.

Rohr challenges, and I'll end with this:  "No one likes to die to who they think they are.  Their 'false self' is all they have."

Describe yourself.  Now imagine letting that image of self die. 


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

What it means when a narcissistic pastor says, "I love the church"

I ran across this article while going through a rough place in my life.  It had profound meaning for me in dealing with some of the individuals in my life that have narcissistic traits. The article highlights the fact that when a narcissist says, “I love you,” he really means that he loves the way that you (fill in the blank): take care of his needs, focus your energy on him, submit, etc. Individuals that have been in relationships with narcissists often admit to feeling crazy, not recognizing the abuse while it was occurring, and to keeping secrets to cover for his abuse, infidelity, etc.  I wonder if this is what many people are recognizing in the #exevangelical movement.  Because as I was going through this article again, I began to realize that many of the narcissistic traits could be applied to the many pastors and men in church leadership that I have known through the years. Being in church ministry for twelve years, I became proficient at silence and lies to cover the behavior…

To "speak the truth in love" does not mean "reprimand"

"...speaking the truth in love..." Ephesians 4:15
Notice the "dot, dot, dot," before and after that phrase?  But how many times have you heard it as a full sentence?  Speak the Truth in love.  As a full sentence, it loses all context.  And how often is this phrase used as an excuse to reprimand another "in love" and tell them about their multitude of sins?
The New Living Translation has a completely different take on this phrase.  It states, "we will hold to the truth in love."  Now, that changes it a bit, doesn't it?  That makes the action about me and not about me acting on another.  
In context, Ephesians 4 is talking about the Body of Christ and how we must work to grow up and mature in the Lord.  "Then we will no longer be like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe..."  The work is for each of us to grow up and cling to the Lord's love.  
And what Truth are we clinging to?  It is the truth that we are d…

I visited a Mosque. And went to church.

Today, our local International Rescue Committee organization hosted a solidarity event at the Islamic Society of Wichita while their members were gathering for Friday prayers.  We stood outside, held signs, and let them know that we are with them.  That we are forthem.

But before the event I met my new friend, Ratna, for a tour and some lunch in the well-worn gym.  I was running a little early so I sat by myself on the concrete fountain in front of the building.
It was a beautiful day.  The sun was warming me.  I could smell the food cooking.  A suburban in the parking lot said, "Girl Scout Cookies For Sale!" written in white shoe polish on the dark windows.

Pretty soon, Ratna pulled up in her minivan, tagged along behind by her 5-year-old son with his bright blue iPad and headphones.  He was watching a Pokemon cartoon and was humming along to the songs.  Skipping as he went.  Ratna smiled, hugged me, and led me inside for a tour of their worship space.

It was a beautiful b…