Today’s guest post is brought to you by Seth Haines. I first came across Seth’s blog while following the story of his son Titus. Seth is a true gentleman, a deep writer, and the kind of Christian I hope to be someday. After reading this guest post by him, head over to his blog and check out some of his other poignant writing.
Welcome to a naked moment.
Today, I reckon it’s time to let you in on a little secret, and I won’t talk much about it again for a while. I hope you’re okay with that. We’ll call this a hit-and-run confession. I reckon I should tell you to “listen up,” or “pay attention,” but since this is a place of semi-permanence, I’ll just come on out with it.
I have a problem with lady liquor.
I reckon I could spin the whole story for you; I could tell you the moment when my drinking went from something resembling social to something resembling moronic. I could tell you about a sick child, or the pressures at work, or the burnout of living a typical American life, or the plaguing doubt that nags, that makes me feel like the finest of Christian frauds. The precise excuse for my over-indulging ways, though, isn’t really the point—not for this particular piece, anyway. The point is this—I’m not so much different than some of you.
Do you know this pain? Perhaps you’ve been stung by loss of the runaway father, the dead mother. Maybe you’ve felt abused by the church, or otherwise accused by it. Maybe the Christian clique had at you. Perhaps you’re friends turned tail. Maybe you’ve been singled out for your sinner’s ways. Maybe you’ve been abused, raped, or murdered in some small way (there are a million ways to die alive, you see).
In any event, I don’t suppose I’m special among you. I reckon there are more than a handful here that sing the hymns of the risen Christ on Sunday morning and drink, or eat, or spend, or puke, or sex, or systematically theologize their way into the icy numb during the rest of the week. It’s such a convenient escape from dealing with the underlying pain, such an awful comfort. Isn’t it?
I had a therapist once ask me why I ran to the bottle. He asked what I heard in the quiet moments. I told him that I heard the accusers, the accusations from all the perceived injustices. They were in the cave of the soul, he said. I know he is right.
Sit for a moment in the silence. Listen. Do you hear them, too? Are the accusers in the cave of your soul? Do you deal with their voices, or do you avoid them? Do you confess it to your husband, your wife, your friend, your therapist? Or instead, do you shrink deeper into your most favored coping mechanisms?
Don’t make a deal. Nothing to see here. No eyes on me.
Shrink violet, shrink.
Perhaps this post is all too much for you. After all, don’t we all feel alone in our out-of-placedness? Yes, maybe some of you were quite comfortable in it, and then, along comes this stranger here at Mr. Smucker’s place, and he’s confessing the same things I’ve felt for years. I’m here to tell you, you can hide behind your vices, pretend that I don’t see, but my vision is x-ray. I see through the drinking, the affair, the over-systematized theologies. I know that the thing, the addiction, is not really the thing at all. I know the addiction is a just a coverup, a ruse to hide the pain. And if you strip those ruses away, what comes screaming to the surface?
That’s right. The pain.
Ask yourself, in moments of clarity, of stone-cold sobriety, do you ask whether Jesus is a figment of your imagination, whether God is real? Do you have fond dreams of dying–not suicide–but of dying? Do you see the prospect of death as release? Do you lust after money and power so much, that you poor yourself down and skinny yourself up to try and assuage that guilt? Do you have so much money and power that it scares you, that you wonder whether you are the rich man who’ll sooner be screwed than enter the eye of the needle? Perhaps you love your spouse, perhaps you don’t, but do you know whether God loves you? Do you know whether he likes you? Do you wonder whether God will ever speak again, and whether he ever spoke in the first place? Do you wonder whether it’s just your noggin talking to you? Do you hear your accusers casting aspersions, telling you that you’re unloved, unworthy, a thing to be discarded?
I know that the pain makes you ask these questions. How do I know this? Because you are my brothers and sisters. Because I’ve heard these accusations. I’ve lived with them, and by-God, I’ll live with them again unless a better way finds me.
See, the truth is, you can see through me, too. Your vision is x-ray if you let it be.
It’s been decided for me—I’m moving from a place of addiction to freedom. How you ask? I’m not running from the pain anymore. Instead, I’m sitting in it, I’m asking how it feels, and whether it’s true. The process hurts, there is no doubt, and I know I’m not finished just yet. The voices in my soul-cave are myriad, and the guano in here is hip deep. But if I sit with the accusers long enough, if I ponder the lost father, or mother, or the haunting injustices, if I still my soul, if I pray that simple prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner,” something magical happens.
I hear the echo of something still and small. It tells me that no matter the pain, no matter the doubt, no matter the addiction, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20)
This is my naked confession.
Please take a moment and check out Seth’s blog.