Jul 01 2013
Chicken Soup for the Unresolved Soul

There's a story about Bach -- or maybe it was Mozart -- and how, even as a little kid, he had to hear resolution.  He was in bed, upstairs, and someone was playing the piano, and that someone got distracted and stopped, just before the last chord.

J.S. - or W.A.? - couldn't stand it.  He tromped downstairs, pounded out the resolving chord, and then went back up to bed again, without a word.  He just had to hear it.

We're all like that.  I think about all the stories I've heard, and then all the ones I've lived, and there's the big difference:  We get resolution in the former, but the other just...lay...out there, somewhere, and, much as we pretend, there are no finish lines, no final chords, no official victories, no ends-of-story.  Not yet, anyway. 


I took the yellow bus home from our country school in St. Berniece, Indiana.  One day, I sat with my best friend's brother, Eric.  He was in second grade, I was in third.  We talked and joked about my lunchbox and a puppet I played with.  Then we got off at the bus stop in front of his house.

I stepped to the right.  But Eric ran alongside the bus, slipped, and fell under the wheel. 

Two weeks later, my mom suggested I go over to my friend's house, to visit him and his little sister.  She told me they probably hadn't had any visitors since Eric was killed, and may be lonely.  So I got on my bike.

Mark, my friend, and his little sister met me at the door, excited to see me - or anyone, for that matter, I gathered.  We laughed and played with a top on their hardwood floor.  It was one of those that spins and makes noise and lights.  I could see their mom in the back room, smoking a cigarette.  Staring at me.

We played for an hour, until she came in the room, and started screaming at me.  She said something about how all I was doing was reminding them of what happened to Eric, and I should get out, like, now.  Her kids were stunned, and started crying, and so did I, and I ran out the door and got on my bike bawling with guilt. 

I never went back.  And we moved away.  I don't know what happened to them.  When I think about that day - this is more than thirty years ago - I still get a knot in my stomach.  There's no ending to the story.  So it's a story I've almost never told.


Most examples aren't this painful, but almost all the "great stories" of my life are this way.  When I speak to people, try to motivate them, try to teach them, I pull a bit of a sleight-of-hand, presenting stories that are edited just-so.  They're not "untrue", they're just dishonest, in a pedestrian way, I suppose, presenting real-life stories like Aesop's Fables, with certain resolution, as though the story were over. 

(Maybe  -- I don't know, I'm musing here -- this is a reason why Jesus's stories aren't specific "victory" testimonies, they're metaphors of the Kingdom.  Maybe he didn't want a specific "Look-at-what-happened" story to ultimately get mis-used, or give the wrong impression.)

I tell about a smashing, eye-opening missions trip for some high schoolers, but I don't include the boring stories, or the stories where some kids just really weren't impacted, how that one inspiring kid wound up getting some girl pregnant two months later. 

I tell -- and hear --  "and then he became a believer!"-type stories, but don't include, " -- and yeah, okay, he's still battling addictions."


I read "look what our church is doing" accounts in newsletters, but don't hear the invariably messy follow-ups.  We get the "victory" stories over sin and depravity, but no one publishes books called, Wups, I'm Totally Messed Again.  Yet, that's where the stories of my actual life are.  We don't like our stories open-ended.  So we clean up our stories, and act like they're finished.

They're not.

I used to be a youth minister, and the conventions would feature one impressive guy after another, with remarkable stories about what happened in their youth groups.  It was really amazing!  Why was my youth group kind of a mess?  Why wasn't I inspiring anyone like that?  It was impressive!...until I realized I could pick and choose stories, make believe they were final, and, presto -- I'm awesome. 

And that inspiring day when Big Joe the Football Lineman cried and prayed?  Well, that was the end of the story!  But in reality, it wasn't.


We like resolution.  But we don't live in resolution-time.  Forgive me for ever giving the impression otherwise, that I believe myself fully resolved, fully arrived, somehow finished.  The story isn't over.

Not everything makes sense, not everything gets explained, not every story is inspiring and ready for Tony Campolo to tell it.  Talk about "inconvenient truth":  We're living in the in-between. 

I think about Eric, his mom, or a thousand other people I've known, and I feel like I'm lying upstairs, and someone just left the piano bench, right before the C chord.  

I'd walk down and play it, if I could.

Jun 19 2013
If Jesus Had a Blog: I Told Nick that God Loves the World

 

WHAT UP...

Sorry I haven't been blogging much. VERY tired. There was a wedding, then I walked in the temple and... wound up throwing around some furniture. THAT was interesting. Ahem.

Anyway, I was up late last night. This guy Nick came by, and he's a religious leader, knows all the rules, etc., and I enjoyed talking with him. He told me he knows who I am.

We talked about what the whole "born again" thing is about, and I told him that God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life. I told him that God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

So now I'm off through Samaria. Planning to stop and get some water. I hope the trip goes "well".  (See what I did there?  "WELL"...? Okay, like I said, I'm tired.)

Peace.

posted 3/14/0029 at 10:26 a.m.

###

 

 

COMMENTS

 

Yeah. Heard about the temple thing. But I'm more concerned with what you told Nick.

God does not "love" the WORLD. The world is evil, and is going to burn. Maybe God loves His people, but not the world.  

Please brush up on your doctrine, since you have such a big platform. 

- Cynthia4Jesus


Jesus, your trying to be all love love love, but I think you're letting TRUTH slide. Here is what I object too:

"God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him."  

That totally makes people think they can just do whatever they want, and you are willing to look past it. Do you WANT people to sin or something? I don't think so, but this sure sounds like it. 

Do you think people will be all like "Oh, God loves me so much, so now I love him, and so now I guess I'll be a totally different person."  I wish it worked that way! Be realistic. Someone could read this and totally take it like that.

- Trent_G


This doesn't have to do with what Trent or Cynthia were writing about, but I'm just sayin:  I heard about the wedding you were at, and they served alcohol at it.  Did you know that?

- Concerned4U

 

Jesus, love the blog, usually, but the Bible says do NOT be conformed to THE WORLD. God does not love the world. 

Please put what you say in context with the Word of God.

Cheers!

- ChristLover23


Christlover, Jesus IS the very Word of God. The entire Bible points to him. He IS the Word. He IS the context.

Secondly, the "world" Jesus is talking about is everything - the whole created cosmos. The references to "world" elsewhere are often references to our culture that tries to destroy beautiful things, including us.

And God DOES love the actual world. He made it, said it was "good", and loves it. So maybe you should love it, too? 

He's going to RESTORE it. He wants to do the same with each of us, to give us a new birth, to start over. 

That IS the mission for his son. If He wanted to judge the earth and destroy it, he sure could've done it without offering himself in a rescue mission.

- come_on_people


OMG I LOST OVER 20 POUNDS IN FOUR DAY S WITH A AWESOME DIET AND U CAN TO. 

YOU SHOULD

JUST CLICK ON MY LINK AND SAVE MONNEY AND LOOK BETTER THAN EVER AT WWW.A2R23ASLFKJLAKJD.COM/AFOAFOSDIFAUSDIOA

- lost40pounds


OMG I LOST OVER 20 POUNDS IN FOUR DAY S WITH A AWESOME DIET AND U CAN TO. 

YOU SHOULD

JUST CLICK ON MY LINK AND SAVE MONNEY AND LOOK BETTER THAN EVER AT WWW.A2R23ASLFKJLAKJD.COM/AFOAFOSDIFAUSDIOA

- lost24pounds


OMG I LOST OVER 20 POUNDS IN FOUR DAY S WITH A AWESOME DIET AND U CAN TO. 

YOU SHOULD

JUST CLICK ON MY LINK AND SAVE MONNEY AND LOOK BETTER THAN EVER AT WWW.A2R23ASLFKJLAKJD.COM/AFOAFOSDIFAUSDIOA

- lost39pounds


You know, Jesus, I think I'm going to read another blog.  I appreciate some of your insight, but you make references to worldly things,and I thought this was a Christian blog.  I'm just disappointed.  We should only think of heavenly things.

- GO_NINERS49494949

 

Jesus, I agree with what you say, but there's way more to the story than just love. To say God sent you here but not to condemn the world makes for a nice story, but it misses the point.

I think you took yourself out of context.  Kind of lame.

cheers!

- jason


Jason, that makes NO sense. He meant what he said. He didn't deny the reality of brokenness, he affirmed it, by saying the world NEEDS rescued.

Your comment is kind of bizarre.

- Bob


Bob, you sure can be bizarre yourself. Seriously. Whatever.

cheers!

- Jason


What's up with people writing "cheers!" at the end of a negative comment, like that makes everything better.

its stupid.

cheers!

- TSmith321


That's neat, Jesus, but maybe talk about how the U.S. Government is watching you, since Big Brother BaFAIL Obama sees what you type here, or your emails. 

- 802Torber


BUSH STARTED IT, 802Torber. Or maybe you missed that, because your to busy watching FoxFakeNews or listening to stupid people like  Sara Palin because your to dumb to read real news.

- becka44


In point of fact, Becka44, Bush did NOT use drones against American citizens. What you are saying is ridiculus.

- TINA


jesus thank u for making me feel welcome and loving us and this place its hard sometimes i bet

i love u 2.

- horsegurl9

Mar 20 2013
The Krusty Sage: Your Kids Don't Need Your Stupid Success Track

 

(This guy keeps posting to my blog.  He's WAY krusty, and I, for one, am continually offended by him.  Who SAYS this stuff?  I admit I'm envious of his awesome beard and also that awesome chair.  But still.)


Your kids don't need your stupid success track. 

Quit signing them up for a bunch of garbage and racing them around everywhere, and then griping about how you "just don't have any time anymore to eat dinner together", blah blah blah.

You had time.  You gave it away, because you're afraid. 

Don't send them to schools that brag about their academic "rigor" (ie, "We'll load them down with homework so you'll think we're rigorous"), let them sign up for multiple sports and extra-curriculars and then complain about how hard it is to be a kid these days. 

It's possible -- just possible -- that's it's not so hard to be "a" kid these days as it is your kid.

Gasp!  But what if they don't get into a good college?  What if we don't sign them up for myriad art lessons and soccer-specific-weight-training programs in the offseason and dance classes and computer camps and calculus tutorials and the traveling baseball team?  How will we develop their skill areas?

You're not here to develop skill areas, pops.  You're here to develop character.

You can't develop character if you're crazy-busy developing stupid skill areas. 

But how will the kids' survive in the global marketplace?  And --

Right.  You honestly think they're not going to "make it" somehow if you don't hustle them around like the world's going to blow up in ten minutes?  You honestly think it's your job to impart career-training at all costs? Where -- honestly, where -- did you get this idea?

You think your kid will starve to death if you don't send him to a high-tech school with state-of-the-art laptops?  (Ooh, laptops!  Quality education!)  Like it's really hard to learn to double-click?  How did I figure it out? 

You're not here to develop skills.  You are here to develop character.  That means spending lots and lots of time with you kid.  You.  Not some hired expert.  You.

But my kid WANTS to do all this stuff, she loves her lessons and band and her sports and the homework and her job and --

Yeah, and when she was a baby, you let her diet consist entirely of Smarties, because she liked them, right?  Kids -- even teenagers -- are not often rich in wisdom.  Maybe you noticed.  Maybe this is why you are still rightly called the "parent".  They just might need you to draw an actual line, and model a life unmotivated by fear of fitting into corporate America, uncluttered by do-it-all-ism, and all about people.

But you don't understand.  It's today's society, and all kids just have these demands and there's no way around it, and it's just our culture these days, and --

And if our culture jumped off the Empire State Building...

You know, you COULD be counter-cultural.  You could help them avoid a crippling performance-perfectionism when they get older.  They might even choose lifestyles that eschew materialism for relationships.  Maybe they could value people over achievements.

Who knows?  Maybe you still could, too.