Monday Morning Confessional

“Blogging is not writing. It’s just graffiti with punctuation.” – Contagion.

I confess to some ambivalence about blogging today. I confess that I am not entirely convinced that what I’m doing at Paperback Theology is making the world a better place. I think this is a very normal thought to consider, and I bet most people ask these questions about their chosen profession. It’s a healthy thing to ask.

The first time I ever wrote a song that I really cared about I was 25 years old. It was called Equal to the Fall. Before that most of the writing that I had done was an attempt to carve out a space in the world in which I could live… an Enneagram three doing what we do. But this song was different. I wanted it to matter to others the way it mattered to me. I was passionate about it. I shared it with everyone I could. I spent every dime I had and went into debt getting a demo of it made. That song got my band a record deal, it opened doors that I’m still walking through. Nearly 1000 shows as a band, bunches of radio hits, playing for hundreds of thousands of people, touring all over the country… that song was big for me.

I confess that I have always regretted the way we produced Equal to the Fall. I really don’t like it at all. To this day I can hardly listen to the song. The song was written on piano, it was a piano driven song – that’s where the musical hook was and all of the energy – the soul of the song. I let the producers talk me out of keeping the piano part on the final mix. It was a mistake.

I confess that I think my problem was that I didn’t know who I was as a songwriter and performer. I felt like I was cut from the Rich Mullins cloth, they wanted me to be cut out of the Tom Petty cloth, so that’s the way we went. It was a fun direction, but I’m not sure that at the time, it was really me. Rock and roll is pretty fun, so I can’t complain, but I do always wonder what would have happened with music if I would have done the heavy soul-searching, figured out who I really was and then stuck to my guns. Every young artist needs production help and somebody to give them a cohesive sound. I’m grateful to folks like Paul Ebersold and Skidd Mills who did that for me, but it would have been much more productive if I would have found my musical center before we put that record out. In the end, I think they were right. Rock & roll was probably the right place (not adult contemporary stuff like Rich did), but I was not able to really own in at the time.

Here’s my confession. Just as I had to go through years of figuring out who I was musically, I think that I’m still trying to do the same thing with my writing. For better or worse, this blog is the space where I am attempting to figure it out. It’s harder than I thought it would be and I’m still not convinced that I’m any good at it. I know that there are things I write here that I will regret later on. There’s no way around it. Nevertheless I really love writing. I love the book projects I’m involved with, the articles, I love the daily challenge to come up with something to say here. I love that I get the chance to share it on a wider stage. Sometimes I post things here and feel about them the same way I did when I wrote Equal to the Fall nearly twenty years ago. I confess that I will keep going because I want to find my center – in terms of writing – and I don’t know any other way to work it out.

I confess that Jimmy Johnson won the NASCAR race yesterday and I’m pretty stoked about that.

I confess that I’m pretty raw from some rough emotional things that happened yesterday – things connected to my need to achieve, and desire to flee vulnerability through perfectionism. I confess that I didn’t hide and showed up to be my vulnerable self in every situation. I confess this feels like real progress for me.

Okay friends… that’s my confession. Maybe it’s time for you to make yours!

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  • I confess that I had a wonderful time, yesterday evening, listening for
    the 3rd or 4th time to Dallas Willard talking about being yoked with
    Christ (“the easy yoke”), participating in the life of the Trinity, and
    bringing the kingdom of God into this world. I confess that while
    sometimes feel considerable dissonance with him (both philosophically
    and theologically), I really feel a profound sense of kinship with him
    as I listen to this talk and the others on this page:

    How to Live Well: Eternal Life Begins Now.

    I confess that I felt similarly edified, this morning, as I read these lines by Mark Nepo:

    “…history is the humbling story of our misbegotten inflations, and
    truth is the corrective story of how we return to exactly who we are.
    And compassion, sweet compassion, is the never-ending story of how we
    embrace each other and forgive ourselves for not accepting our
    beautifully particular place in the fabric of all there is” (from “The
    Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life
    You Have”).

    Good news, friends–the kingdom of heaven is at hand! 🙂