"Let’s not meet for a drink /
Unless you come to take an oath /
And brother, please don’t pray for me /
Unless you pray for us both..."
It's pretty obvious when "relationship" is extended with strings attached. Nearness and intimacy are dangled in front of you like some sort of bargaining chip from those who think they need to save you. But that compulsion is fundamentally at odds with everything that actual, relational vulnerability means. Church culture familiarized us with this bait-and-switch and its huge disconnect between means and ends – the pretense of relationship when what's really being offered is fear. The unspoken desire is that the fear would grab onto you again and result in your conformity.
Why aren't you afraid anymore? Shouldn't you be? Shouldn't that fear define you? Or at least motivate you to delve deeper into itself? Why aren't you rejecting the part of you that is seeking freedom from the tyranny of fear? Fear is the best.
And should you defy expectations, not allowing fear alone to manipulate you, that's often when the guilt and shame comes in. When you cannot be paralyzed by fear, guilt and shame make for a powerful alternative. How dare you, you broken thing? It's no wonder you struggle with these doubts and uncertainties. You haven't behaved well enough, so now you're just projecting.
Being condescended to by someone who refuses to ask the questions you're asking is... frustrating. You might find that people will explain to you ideas and presuppositions that you not only already understand, but used to cling to yourself. As though you are suddenly unfamiliar, and that's why you've stopped maintaining their viewpoint. It's like they don't have any frame of reference for a deliberate, purposed change. There's no way for them to engage the idea that you have become different intentionally. And they don't seem to realize that they are the ones who lack understanding and experience in what they're so intent on speaking to with authority.
Considering a new idea is a sure way to get someone who's only ever held one idea to talk down to you.
But the thing is, it's okay to demand your own right to live deliberately and listen to what truly reaches you. To some degree, we're all flying blind. None of us knows much of anything. And fear does not make the core questions go away. It just hides them, turning the wellspring of any inspiration and wonder they might have carried into a stagnant pool of cynicism and disillusionment.
A persistent thread of doubt is worth pulling on. It might just lead us somewhere better. Or it might even lead us back with a new perspective that makes everything we've known real and meaningful for the first time.
But it starts with saying "no" to the fear, and everything else that manipulates and reduces us.
OUR TWELFTH EPISODE DANCES WITH THE THEMES AND IDEAS OF 'FINGERS CROSSED' – THE TWELFTH TRACK ON DEREK WEBB'S NEW ALBUM OF THE SAME NAME.
THE SONG ITSELF ALSO PROVIDES THE ENTIRE MUSICAL AND SONIC BACKDROP TO ANY PHONE CALLS AND CORRESPONDENCE WE ARE FEATURING THIS WEEK.
"...With fingers crossed / Fingers crossed / So much lost / With fingers crossed /
A plea for help / A double cross / The void beheld / With fingers crossed."
ABOUT SEASON ONE:
Derek Webb has described his new album, Fingers Crossed, as 'a tale of two divorces.' Our first season of The Airing of Grief Podcast dives into the album track-by-track, with each song providing the themes and musical backdrop for an accompanying episode. Whether you're new to Derek's music or a longtime fan, the topics discussed and the stories of our guests should prove themselves to be a compelling journey for any listener. Wherever you might find yourself on issues of faith or spirituality, there is room at the table for all of these voices to be heard and celebrated. Raw, real, and authentic, The Airing of Grief strives to be a safe place to strip away the pretense and really listen to the heart.
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