About a year ago, I finished my Breakthrough Training. Breakthrough is a personal and spiritual growth exercise. You may have heard me talk of it prior or read about it on this blog. Check the Dr. Paul link to the right if you want to discover more. I recently had the privilege of being up at the completion of the last group to go through. It was exactly one year to the day that I completed my training. It felt strange to be in the exact same place where I found myself one year, almost to the minute, ago. It was and continues to be life changing.
I learned a lot about myself during those weeks. One of the things I learned was how I had shut myself off from the world, God, relationships. In the last year I have struggled at times to keep those walls in their crumbled state. It took a lot of work to smash them open and felt very raw in the beginning. Somehow the work of building them back up comes easier and seems more comforting and familiar than the work of keeping them broken down. But I believe I have managed to keep at least some semblance of a gaping hole in one place or another. The trials I have experienced in recent months in some ways have pushed me back into my armor, but I am trying desperately to take it back off as soon as I notice it is on me again. It somehow doesn’t feel like it works to wield a sword of humility. Kind of a paradox it seems. Swords of domination and black and white and coldness seem like they ought to work better. But my contract with myself from Breakthrough says that I will be a man of courage, humility, adventure, and passion. And since it is tattooed on my right arm, I better live by it. It also is the subtitle up there at the top of my blog.
One of the things that I woke up to was the meaning behind music, in particular the words. I have always liked just good rock music. You know the stuff with really rocking guitars. Not acid stuff. Just good strong rock like VanHalen, Alter Bridge, ACDC, BonJovi, and a host of others. Well of course not all of their songs are all that virtuous. But in recent years there has been a lot more virtue coming into mainstream rock. Bands like Creed and Alter Bridge would be in that group. Another is 3 Doors Down. Well these guys have a new album out. And a new song on that album is called, “The Only One You’ve Got.” It could be the Breakthrough theme song. I’ll put the lyrics here for you.
How do you know where you’re goin’
When you don’t know where you’ve been
You hide the shame that you’re not showin’
And you won’t let anyone in
A crowded street can be a quiet place
When you’re walking alone
Now you think that you’re the only one
Who doesn’t have try
Then you won’t have to fail
If you’re afraid to fly
Then I guess you never will
You hide behind your walls of maybe nevers
Forgetting that there’s something more
Than just knowing better
Your mistakes do not define you now
They tell you who you’re not
You’ve got to live this life you’re given
Like it’s the only one you’ve got
Memories have left you broken
And the scars have never healed
The emptiness in you is growing
With so little left to feel
You’re scared to look back on the days before
And too tired to move on
I don’t really know a better way to say where I was and what I have done and where I am trying to go. I didn’t even see how I was refusing to see things about myself. I didn’t even see the walls I had put up. And they were solid. And as the song says, I had “so little left to feel.” I didn’t feel much. And you know what was the strangest thing about all that. It was that I had convinced myself that I was in a virtuous place. I was running from life, from relationship, from feeling, from God. And I believed that I was better for it. That I was governed by the rational. By the scientific. By the sensible. And that emotion did not control me. But I was able to discover the lie I was telling myself and see it for what it is. I was able to see that avoidance and refusal and judgment are probably more often signs of fear and weakness and bondage than they are signs of morality and strength and humility.
I challenge those of you reading this to live by the words of this song. I challenge you to live with freedom and moderation. I challenge you to look at what you think is black and white and examine whether or not you are avoiding something by taking that position. I challenge you not to judge. I challenge you not to shame. I challenge you to offer grace to everyone, including your spouse and your kids (often the hardest to give grace to ironically). I challenge you to feel. I challenge you to achieve something you don’t have the strength, talent, and stamina to achieve. I challenge you to be quiet. I challenge you not feel sorry for yourself. I challenge you to not live by the shame others may heap on you. I challenge you to live with genuine humility. And I challenge myself to the same because I am so very far away from all of it.