Tuesday, April 10, 2007

P4E.018 I'm Dying

A friend recently challenged me. He said he sensed no struggle in me. He wants to see my struggle. I seem arrogant to him, like I have all the answers. He wants to know that I'm vulnerable. This really had an effect on me and led to a bout of soul-searching, introspection and self-examination which caused me to write down some things I was feeling a few days ago:

I'm dying. I'm 50 and the realization of my mortality is setting in. Melancholy, gray clouds hover above. I'm realizing how I truly do love some of the things of this world. My wife, my sons, beauty, music, nature, art, languages, animals, architecture. Somehow, I'm just now understanding why people write poetry. I ache. I hope and pray that the things I love in this world are just a glimmer of what the world beyond is like. That they are a shade of what that true reality is.

I focus on the heart of God. My surroundings are dissolving. I see their relative importance fade, dissolve in the light of the heart of God. There is truth. I cower and despair at the magnitude of it. Awestruck.

I'm dying and it makes me sad. People talk about "having no regrets." I have regrets. All of the unfulfilled dreams. The time wasted on trivialities. The spiritual damage and destruction that I've wrought. I wish I'd been more gentle and kind to my wife and children. Less arrogant and judgmental. I wish I'd been more compassionate and empathetic to those around me. I wish I had tried harder to understand others than to be understood. I'm scared. I question my own beliefs. Is what I "know" truth? What is "truth?"

I'm comforted knowing that God is God. Sovereign. His will be done. I feel like I'm falling into the heart of God. Being subsumed into Him. Becoming one with Him. Is this what it means to die to myself? It's exciting, but scary. I cling to what I know; to my senses, to the world. It occurs to me that what I see is not a true reflection of what is, unless I look with spiritual eyes. I know I will be better losing myself and becoming part of Him.

I feel torn apart. I long for God and to be godly. It's an inconsolable longing because I'll never be like Him. I fall. I get up. I fall. I get up....

It's been a few days since I wrote the above. I've overcome some of the melancholy expressed, but I'm still a little exhausted by it. And probably better for it. Who knows what lies ahead?

Thanks for being there...Kim


  1. I think this is a real struggle for we who are comfortable sharing our opinions. We want to give to the world (which is good), but we forget that the world wants to give to us, to be listened to, received.

    So, you are dying, and I don't know whether to cry or congratulate you. Dying is never easy, even if the purpose is to bring new life within.

    And, a question for you, if you don't mind me asking... did you come up with the word "arrogant," or did someone else mirror that for you? Curious. It's a word I've been thinking on myself lately, in relation to me, but I'm wondering if it's the real description of the problem.

  2. Thanks for the post, LL! I did not come up with that word in this case. But, because my wife and I regularly attempt to minister to hurting married couples, the concept of "humble vs. arrogant" repeatedly comes up.

    There is so much here that, for me, seems to be wrapped up in my learning more about the "Emerging Church Movement" (ECM).

    Part of the ECM's rejection of fundamentalism has to do with the perceived arrogance and judgment of fundamentalists.

    What I think is meant by "arrogance" in this case is:

    "What I know is true. It's logic is irrefutable. I do not value your point of view, where you come from, what you bring to the table, or what your personal experience is. What you think and feel is not relevant. Truth is immovable, set in concrete and unchanging, etc."

    I recently saw a very interesting post that seemed to address this in an indirect way:


    Thanks again for commenting!

  3. Kim,

    Sorry to hear that you are feeling melancholy. I left a msg. over at David Fitch's blog asking you why you feel melancholy. Question answered! Lol. But...I think only partially? Because you hinted over at his blog that it had to do with the split between fundamentalists and the ECM...??? You indicated there that your melancholoy in relation to this split was related to the lack of humility of you fundamentalists, but you seem like a pretty cool dude.


  4. Kim, Great thoughts here that resonate with me.

    I especially like your thought about this involving being drawn into the heart of God. While scary this is life-giving though this life is always resurrection life for us and results in death in ways in us that are not like God and therefore not really human.

    Arrogance carries with it a sense of having arrived or being better than another. Certainly neither is the mind of Jesus we find in the gospels who is ever pressing toward the goal of the cross/Father's will and is meek/gentle and lowly/humble in heart (Matthew 11).

    Great thoughts to think on. Thanks, Kim.

  5. Kim, thank you for fleshing out how you see arrogance.

    This brings up ever more questions for me... what kind of forces conspire to make a person arrogant? Is a person irretrievably arrogant, or can some kinds of experiences alter this trait? If I am arrogant, what is my purpose in relationship (why do I bother?)...

    So it is, my mind just always keeps looking at the next level. I hope it doesn't bother you that I look to you to travel with me and explore?

  6. LL, Funny enough it was your posting "Subfused", in part, that got me started down this road. So, you and I can definitely be partners in exploring.

    I think my definition of subfused is a force that advances arrogance. There's a detachedness that is necessary. Seeing others in a separated, dis-united, adversarial way causes me to believe that my thoughts and ways are better than theirs.

    I recently looked up the definition of "dehumanize." Interestingly, it has a military aspect that seems relevant. The military makes efforts to dehumanize the enemy so that they are easier to kill. I think I do that to some degree with those towards whom I display arrogance.

    I believe that our American culture plays a part in developing arrogance in us that supersedes whatever our Christian culture is saying to contradict it. Our American culture vaunts the values of individualism, self-sufficiency, self-reliance, self-confidence, self-esteem, self-improvement, etc. With all of this emphasis on the self one cannot help but think that "my ideas, thoughts, actions, words are more valuable than theirs." Couple this with the (unrelated?) fact that America has become a super-power in a little over 200 years and one can understand why America and Americans are viewed as arrogant in other parts of the world.

    I think that my own experiences create grooves (maybe "ruts" is a better word) in my brain. These ruts are deepened every time I have a thought that reinforces a previous thought. Pretty soon my beliefs and values are established so deeply that I can't see anothers' point of view. What I can't see I don't usually value very highly.

    I don't believe that a person has to be irretrievably arrogant. Just recognizing that I am helps; is half the battle.

    This is where I believe that the pursuit of Christlikeness is essential. To the degree that I die and He lives in me, my arrogance dies and His humility lives in me. This is not about being perfect, but the sincerity of the pursuit. When I realize that it is not possible for me to overcome my own arrogance, when I acknowledge my weakness in this area, when I get to the point where I recognize that year by year, month by month, day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment, I need a Savior, God can begin to work in me to replace arrogance with humility.

    Having said all of that, I have some questions for you, LL. Is there someone else who is close to you whose arrogance you are mirroring? Are you frustrated in relationship because you believe someone else who is close to you to be arrogant? Are you checking yourself (like any good Believer would) because you see it in someone else and it's killing you? Just a thought... Kim

  7. Wow... what a deep explanation of arrogance. I particularly like the military reference... dehumanization as a force (a feeder?). Also, the idea about ruts. (So maybe a good anti-arrogance experience is one that shakes us free of our ruts? What kind, I'm not completely sure, though surely a spiritual nudge or push from the Holy Spirit might help, as you begin to imply.)

    And funny You should ask about "mirrors." In fact, I'm working on writing a piece that uses the same term... but the other way round. It's not me mirroring someone else's arrogance, but others mirroring mine.

    I struggle with the term because it has an insidious side, and I think that I am not purposely "arrogant." Thus my question about forces. In myself, I believe it is the desperate sense of self-protection that comes into play (based on a difficult upbringing). But perhaps there are other things too. I'm still trying to sift through it... which explains my curiosity here.