the shallowness of a victorious life

the shallowness of a victorious life September 7, 2013
the shallowness of a victorious life cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
by clicking on this image you can go shopping in my art gallery

How frustrating it is to talk with someone who is not in touch with their sins and their sufferings, their weaknesses or their wrestlings.

One of the most difficult parts of my job as a pastor was helping people get real enough to admit and embrace their humanness. If you can’t admit that you have a shadow, your depth disappears.

There’s so much I appreciate about positive thinking and the self-help industry. But if it lacks the honesty that there is suffering and evil in the world and in our hearts, then to me it feels as thin as a baby’s underdeveloped personality.

Everyone suffers. Everyone struggles. This is what helps make us fully human. Even beautiful. Even perfect!

At The Lasting Supper, we embrace our own and each other’s struggles.

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  • I view it like within Christianity there is this ideal of what a perfect person should be and anything deviating from this perfect ideal is a corruption of the ideal (viewed as sinful) and should be avoided or denied. Some of these “sinful” aspects do become sanctioned by the church if they are engaged within certain strict guidelines defined by the church. Others are deemed to always be sinful and to be avoided at all times. The problem is that many of these “sinful” aspects are really part of our natural human nature and to avoid (or deny) some or only engage in others within certain strict church guidelines makes us very shallow indeed. We become less human.

  • Karen

    This post is serendipitous. What I’m reading this morning with my coffee: a chapter entitled “The victorious limp” in The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. Manning writes about how projecting a perfect image keeps us from “reaching people” (and I’d say having real relationships) because other people feel the person with the perfect image could never possibly understand them.

  • Well done!

    Made me think of two things:

    (1) Reminded me of one of my favorite books “Flatland” by Abbott (1884). A social commentary then appearing prophetic once Einstein’s work came out. A very short but great read. There, women are lines and men are polygons. Actually, theists have been known to love this book, equating the sphere (a paradigm smasher) to the Divine manifesting as Jesus. Oh well, shows that all analogies are malleable. 🙂

    (2) And made me envision something many ex-Christians go through in reverse: they see Religion-Free folks as flat, but then get a different view (by taking off their theological glasses) and see the human filled out — lookin’ just like them.

  • Al Cruise

    The real trigger for their shallowness is when they use that famous 4 word answer for every problem ” you just need Jesus”. Usually told to you with a big smarmy grin. You drew that grin very well David.

  • Great illustration David. Thanks.

  • Worthless Beast

    “The brighter the picture, the darker the negative” – Something I heard on Batman: The Animated Series (episode about the origin of Two-Face).

  • Brigitte Mueller

    Question: how is it that you say this and then also say it is bad to say that we are “broken”?

  • Brigitte Mueller
  • klhayes

    Makes me think of a book by the late guru Debbie Ford called “The Dark Side of the Light Chasers” where she talks about accepting the good and bad parts of ourselves. We often get upset with people and give them a label, but we can act the same way. By embracing all of our characteristics we accept ourselves and become whole. She also explains that many of our bad characteristics can be used to helped us in certain situations and bad situations can help us learn about ourselves.

    She has you give names to your characteristics and talk to them. It might sound cheesy but it really helped me work out a lot of issues. She has you list a characteristic that is negative and lists how it can help you. I really learned a lot about myself.

  • Hello David you touch on an important point, namely the willingness of liberal Christians to recognize the reality of sin.

    Certainly many things conservative Christians brand as being sinful are not harmful in any way and just spring from their theological imagination under the assumption of Biblical inerrancy.

    As Jesus told us, morality can be reduced to two things:
    1) love God
    2) love your neighbors (including your enemies)

    and it is obvious we sin every day with respect to these two things.

    Generally I think that conservatives are right to point out that sin is real but they should let go of all their human Dogma (no matter if they’re in the Bible or not) and focus all their attention on these two commands.

    Only in this way could Christianity be the light of the world.

    Lovely greetings from Europe.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

  • Brigitte Mueller

    His grace is sufficient. But we remember that we need grace and forgiveness all of the time.

  • Brigitte Mueller

    Could you reply to this David?

  • In which context did I say this that you’re referring to?

  • Agni Ashwin

    Would you say that God has a shadow?

  • Brigitte Mueller

    Just a general context. You said it is wrong to say that we are “broken”; I would think it means something that you don’t like to say “sinful”.

    Personally, I think there is just one good way to talk about this, and it’s the “simul justus et peccator”,– at the same time broken and at the same time redeemed. And both completely, all of the time. Not in bits and pieces. Very multi-dimensional, all of the time.

  • Kintsugi.

  • mirele

    Kintsugi is beautiful work, thanks for mentioning that!

  • Brigitte Mueller

    Broken and fixed at the same time.

  • klhayes

    Just like a company says you need product X to be happy, cool, fulfilled, etc. It’s marketing.

  • klhayes

    That’s awesome. That reminded me of how I love to buy jewelry from thrift stores that have flaws in it. It has more character and depth with the flaws.

  • Livin

    Finally a post I can agree with 🙂 We are all sinners and messed up. The struggle is never over.

  • Eioljg

    Exactly. A friend of mine broke up with her husband, but I didn’t know a thing about it for 6 months, and then felt kind of foolish. I did ask her why she never said anything. She said that I seemed too perfect, so I wouldn’t have understood. Little did she know, during that very time, we were struggling. Of course, being an introvert, I don’t spread the manure everywhere, but I talk semi-candidly with very good friends.

  • Terri

    She didn’t spread the manure everywhere either. 😉 I’m reminded of the saying about a bar full of strangers being more accepting of our foibles than a church. That certainly rings true for me; church is not a place I go for human acceptance.

  • Kristina Skepton

    Thanks for posing this question – great food for thought!

    Kristina Skepton
    Founder, SeeingGod Ministries

  • Cecilia Davidson

    i’m going to be that person.
    If someone guilt trips you into avoiding living your life and making a mistake once in a while or being human, it’s not worth it. Grace and forgiveness do nothing if there’s nothing to forgive.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    There is beauty in being broken but it’s bad to obsess over this notion of being broken. We only see the cracks and not the rest of the picture.
    Perhaps that’s what David was getting at. I don’t know – maybe it’s my being an accidental Zen Buddhist.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    If God sees their shadow, six more weeks of winter.