Why Not You? Why Not Today?

why not you?Image courtesy of blmiers2 via Flickr, under Creative Commons License

Today someone is going to move a little bit closer to realizing their dream. Why not you?

Today someone is going to spend a few minutes doing something that no one in the world is making them do, but that will change their life forever. Why not you?

Today someone is going to face their fears, ignore their lack of confidence, and go for it. Why not you?

Today someone is going to be rejected and choose to keep going anyway. Why not you?

Today someone is putting down their excuses and picking up their efforts. Why not you?

Today someone will begin to take himself as seriously as others take him. Why not you?

Today someone realizes she needs to stop waiting for more confidence before she sticks her neck out, and that confidence, in fact, grows by doing just that. Why not you?

Today someone will realize that she has always been her own worst enemy and that if she’s not on her own side, who will be. Why not you?

Today someone will finally realize that the big random check is never coming, the lottery number is never getting pulled, the pot of gold isn’t falling out of the sky, and success in life is directly and proportionately related to hard work, courage, and the number of times you are willing to be told “no” and still keep going. Why not you?

Today someone will realize time is precious, it’s all anyone is ever given, it’s never enough, and what you do with it is, in the end, all that will matter. Why not you?

Question: Why not you? What obstacles are standing between you and the life you want?

I’m not okay, you’re not okay, and that’s okay

burned out lightbulbImage “Failure” from PixelPlacebo under Creative Commons License

Nobody is okay

Do you ever get sick of the fakeness of society how everybody walks around like everything is okay?  I have never lived anywhere but in America, so I don’t know if what I observe and experience is unique to American culture, or Western culture, or if it’s more of a humanity thing. Most of us walk around acting like we’re okay, but in fact, nobody is really okay. I sometimes feel like my greatest ministry in the lives of people is more about saying “me too” than anything else.

“You feel insufficient sometimes, like there’s something fundamentally wrong with you? Me too.”
“You have doubts and wonder whether God is there, or if there’s even a God at all? Me too.”
“You care deeply for your spouse and children and wish that you could connect with them better? Me too.”
“You didn’t feel like coming to church today? Me neither.”
“You’re bogged down by your fears and wonder if you’re ever going to accomplish your dreams? Me too.”
“You feel like people probably wouldn’t love you if they really knew who you are? Me too.”
“In spite of your struggles, you still somehow manage to be basically happy and wonder if that’s okay, if you should be doing more? Me too.” 

Add your own  here:_______________________________________. “Me too.”

In many ways I’m not okay and you’re not okay. That’s okay. That’s what it means to be human.

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The Endless Machinations of Ego

I think Richard Rohr is one of the best writers and teachers of Christian spirituality on the scene at this time. He sent out a meditation today which, in my opinion, is his best encapsulation of the endless schemes and machinations of ego. Spirituality is never more dangerous than when it is used to furnish the cavernous mansion of ego. Rohr writes,


We don’t teach meditation to the young monks. They are not ready for it until they stop slamming doors.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh to Thomas Merton in 1966

The piercing truth of this statement struck me as a perfect way to communicate the endless disguises and devices of the false self. There is no more clever way for the false self to hide than behind the mask of spirituality. The human ego will always try to name, categorize, fix, control, and insure all its experiences. For the ego everything is a commodity. It lives inside of self-manufactured boundaries instead of inside the boundaries of the God-self. It lives out of its own superior image instead of mirroring the image of God. The ego is constantly searching for any solid and superior identity. A spiritual self-image gives us status, stability, and security. There is no better way to remain unconscious than to baptize and bless the forms of religion, even prayer itself, instead of surrendering to the Substance Itself. First stop slamming doors, and then you can begin in the kindergarten of spirituality. Too many priests, bishops, and ministers are still slamming doors.

In the name of seeking God, the ego pads and protects itself from self-discovery, which is an almost perfect cover for its inherent narcissism. I know this because I have done it all myself.

I have been a pastor for 18 years. During most of that time I was a teacher of religion. A few years ago I decided I needed to teach Christian spirituality, which is to depart from merely teaching the mechanics and beliefs of a religious system (however good and important and valuable they may be) and move towards teaching time-tested ways of experiencing God personally. Rohr’s words above should be read and studied and contemplated until their meaning becomes perfectly clear because he is right. To slam doors is to continue to fortify the ego. Slamming doors can be understood as all the manifestations of ego — anger that we excuse as justifiable; attempts to force our opinions, ideas and perspectives on others; attempts to force others to change; verbal, emotional, and physical manipulation; endless clamoring for attention and validation from others, along with the depression and discouragement we wallow in when those attempts fail; constant cravings for recognition; comparing ourselves against others; feeling superior to and inferior to others; turning to things like food, substances, and pornography to comfort ourselves — the list is endless. All of these come out of the machinations of ego, and of all these religion is the most dangerous.

Religion is the best possible cover for ego because it hides itself in the things of God. Under the guise of religion I can try to force you to do what I want to because what I want and what God wants are synonymous. I can manipulate you into changing because the change might well be good and necessary and so I can justify any means of getting you to do it. I can whine and complain about whatever I wish and then simply claim I’m not yet spiritual enough to be able to control myself. This is especially dangerous because it looks like humility but it is simply ego finding one more way of justifying itself.

All of this is the endless scheming and machinations of ego. It is garbage.  Shit, as Paul called it. Ego simply has to be faced down or it will continue to be the controlling factor behind everything we do and say. Like Rohr, I know this because I have spent most of my life — even my life in ministry — hiding behind it. Not intentionally. Ego depends on us never seeing it for what it is because as soon as we do we realize it is a shadow — a sham — a falsehood. It is only when we get a glimpse of the ego that we realize for the first time we have lived our entire lives, spiritual and otherwise, in the matrix. And as soon as we see the matrix for what it is, that is the beginning of the end of ego. That will feel like the scariest and worst thing that has ever happened to us, but it is in that moment that — perhaps without realizing it — we have been taken up into the freedom of God.

A call to read less of the Bible

Many Christian people don’t worship God, they worship the Bible. I assume the same is true of other sacred books such as the Koran, the Torah, and the Bagavhad Gita, although it wouldn’t HAVE to be this way. A particular set of circumstances have risen up in the US to bring about this result. But that’s another post, and one that would be really boring to most of my readers.

The point is that Christians are not to worship the Bible.

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I’m in hell

I’m plumbing my kitchen sink.  It’s the worst, hardest, most frustrating thing I have ever done.  Seriously.  I know these days it’s popular to speak in the most extreme terms possible:

“That was the greatest movie ever.”
“That test was the worst.”
“I have a headache that is killing me.”

Please don’t think I’m doing that.  I hate this with a passion I’ve never hated anything before.  I even hate it beyond any interest in finding some kind of spiritual point in it, which I usually manage to do with most things.  I hate it to the point where I’m sitting on my kitchen floor almost laughing sometimes (one of those evil laughs like you hear in the movies), because it is a better alternative than crying, ripping my brand new counter-top apart, yelling at one of my girls, getting really, really drunk (which would make it even harder to fix the sink), sticking my head in a blender, etc.

Funny how suffering is relative.  I know some people right now who are literally suffering the worst thing that could ever happen in a family – the slow, horrible death of one of the family members.  I realize that compared to suffering like that, what I’m going through is barely worthy of mention.  Okay, it’s not worthy of mention at all.  Normally that realization would put my emotions in proper perspective.  Not this time.  All I can think about is that no matter how much that situation sucks, plumbing my kitchen sink sucks too.  I  know it doesn’t suck half as bad, or in anywhere near the same way, but that doesn’t change the fact that it deeply, truly, genuinely, sincerely, completely, thoroughly sucks.  [For those of my church brethren who are offended by my use of the word, “sucks,” please accept my apologies.  It blows.] 

Tomorrow I will again spend the day in the official “standing on my head” plumber position.  (Of course you don’t know this, but it’s the position from which I’m typing at this moment.)  Who knows, some of my family members might even have to start reminding me to say no to crack. 

If you know what I mean.