Friday, July 21, 2017

Why Am I Afraid To Tell You Who I Am?

Not many days go by that I don't think about writing and wonder why I can't seem to keep the simple act of journaling going. Some call it blogging. Others rambling. I just look at the whole thing as thoughts that come to mind while sitting not the porch drinking a tall glass of ice tea. Maybe the problem is that I don't really have a porch. I try to limit ice because I can't seem to break the habit of chewing the stuff, and I'd like to keep my teeth a little while longer. I've gone to drinking water so the sugar in the sweet tea doesn't continue to deposit pockets of fat around my midsection. All of that being said, I thought of changing the name of the blog thinking that would inspire me. Then I thought of drinking coffee in the den. One who is family gave me an awesome blue, distinguished looking recliner that would be perfect. New blog name ..... From the Recliner. Nope. That's not the answer.

In light of some recent events, I have realized that the reason I write for a while and then stop has much deeper roots. Writing is cheaper than a counseling copay so I suppose I should write more often before they send me off to some "retreat" for those who need to get their thoughts in order. What did I come up with as a reason? Thanks for asking and getting me back on track. When I started the blog years ago, I would share a funny story about my family or something that happened that day and then make a spiritual application. Reading back over distant recent posts, the obvious conclusion seems to be that I've not laughed a whole lot in the recent years. Pockets when life would be light became caverns that were darker than travel would allow. A few posts here and there based on some current event or some life experience would bring me back to the familiar place. Well, here we are again. So glad you joined me here. Keep alert to those who might be walking down the street wondering what we are doing here on this slab with no porch, no rocking chair, and no iced tea. Smile real back because appearances, after all, are everything.

Or are they. Appearances can be very deceiving. Someone said, "Don't judge a book by it's cover." others have said, "Beauty is only skin deep." (Though I have to admit I like the added portion that declares, "But ugly goes straight to the bone." Plays have sets appearing like buildings and landscapes but are simply painted art on pieces of canvas held together by wood and ropes. Every hotel resembles the nicest resort when you pull them up online. Have you ever pulled up to a restaurant and thought that your GPS must be playing a dirty trick on you? "Only eat at places with local license plates in the parking lot," my good friend Travis used to say.

Appearances attached to people often have different tags. Hypocrite. Fake. Fraud. Two faced. Add a few of your own. People who pretend to be someone they are not, scared to be found out for fear of the great cost attached to reality. We all know people who are not what they seem. Some we see from a distance. Others we see around town, across the aisle at church, in the grocery store. One we all know very well, and we see the person every single day. We know him - or her - all too well. Intimately actually. We see every fault and feel every pain. We know the person so well that we even know the kind of unmentionables he wears underneath those Lucky blue jeans. Stop for a moment. Find a mirror. Walk to the mirror. Look deeply into the mirror. See the ugly mug looking back at you. That's the one. Even what I think I see in that mirror is different from reality. I have more wrinkles, more fat, more moles, more everything than I really see. Unless I look closely in a moment of hosnestly. Then I see the truth. The biggest pretender of all lives in my house, sleeps in my bed, wears my socks, and uses my toothbrush. Most people think the big P on our front door represents the initial of my last name. Instead the big P reminds me that I am the big Pretender.

I don't mean to be the Pretender. I try not to be and pray about being different; nonetheless, the reality is less real than I would like it to be. As a teenager, I read a book by John Powell. The title exposed my fear. "Why Am I Afraid To Tell You Who I Am?" The answer in the book went something like this one: "I am afraid to tell you who I am because it's the only me I've got, and you might not like me all that much." Mrs. Armstrong would tell me that should not be in quotes because the sentence really is a paraphrase, but somehow I needed to set it apart. Need to check back in my Little Brown Handbook of Grammar. The question still wields its power over me. The truth remains that I, like most, hide the deepest parts of who I am and present to you the person I want you to think I am. That statement scares me the most because it means that in those moments when I am rude, sarcastic, too matter of fact, moody, irritating ..... (you get the point) ...... I have failed to mask the trash that I am trying to hide. Trust me, I don't like hearing people say, "You definitely know when Alan is upset about something. It's written all over his face."

This past Sunday, my Pastor preached about sanctification, the process of becoming like Christ. Holiness is a journey that all believers travel, and the honesty involved in the journey is a hard one that we can often ignore, until something triggers a road sign to force us to stop. Well, we as believers have had a huge road sign fall in our path this week. One part of me that I have never tried to hide is that what we Mississipi State Bulldogs call The School Up North has no positive thoughts in my mind. So as not to make this blog about the ills of Ole Miss, I'll just stop there. The shock that would even lead me to write the dreaded words Ole Miss is a common one this week. A vocal Christian coach has been very publicly exposed for the same sin we all commit every day. He portrayed himself to be someone he wasn't. Hang with me here for a few more lines. I don't know the coach by anything but reputation, so I can't speak to character. All I'm saying is that his situation has made me stop and think about the parts of my life I want to be different and the parts of my life that I wish others would never know. I want to be known for loving Jesus and loving His Word. I want to be known for being a faithful dad and husband and a man who works hard to be the best at his job with the integrity Christ demands. I don't want people to know that I get angry and hold on to the anger too long. Nor do I want people to know I get impatient with others. I'd rather people not know that I get tired of being around religious people sometimes. I'd like to keep secret that as a red blooded Southern man my favorite movies aren't about violence and that my favorite Saturday fall activity isn't watching a football game. Gone With The Wind and a John Grisham book will do me just fine. I'd rather these things stay hidden so I'm risking the fact that if I tell you who I really am maybe you will still like me after all. Why are Christian's afraid to tell others who we are? Could it be that because even as the press conference is still playing, other Christians are already tweeting judgement and condemnation on our souls. I'm afraid to tell you who I am because the only person you really are willing to forgive is yourself. My guilt is to be condemned while yours is to be overlooked.

The last blog I wrote months ago ended with Romans 8:1. I've been studying Romans 8 for the last several weeks. Interesting, isn't it? I don't like hypocrites. I don't like Ole Miss. I often don't like myself. I do love Jesus, and He loves me. "The law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:2. He is the only one I know who is always Who he says he is. As a light hearted ending in light of recent events, consider that the bells of heaven could be cowbells and the Grove the fallen Garden of Eden. Hail State.

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