Monday, October 15, 2012

Introduce a little anarchy

This may sound a bit bizarre to some, but it's something I've been thinking about a lot recently - and it's just how valuable and even necessary a bit of anarchy and chaos can be in our lives.

One of my favorite movies is The Dark Knight. I just think it's brilliant in every sense. Once again this may sound weird, but one of the characters in the movie I have come to respect and even somewhat admire, is the Joker. Of course he is meant to be a picture of absolute evil and is so insane he tells different stories all the time about the origin of his facial scars. Not to mention that he kills people for fun. I'm well aware of that. But I also think he has a very interesting psychological take on some issues.

One of the most powerful lines in the movie as far as I am concerned is when the Joker is talking to Harvey Dent in the hospital ward and he told him that all he sees around him are schemers, trying to control their little worlds and that all he does is show the schemers just how pathetic their attempts to control things really are. The stance he seems to have on the world is he sees what is on the surface and he doesn't believe it's the full picture, so he introduces chaos and anarchy to try to force people to show each other and themselves who they really are inside, under all of the masks. Obviously his methods of doing this are incredibly brutal and violent, and he has little to no care for anyone's life (not even his own) but I can see where he is coming from.

I think back on all of the experiences and all of the people I have connected with in my life and I can honestly say that the ones who left the biggest mark on my life, taught me the most and helped me to realize the full extent of who I really was - were more often than not, the really bad ones. When I first became a Christian, I would come across as the nicest guy who ever lived, always bowing down to everyone and never saying boo to a goose. This may have looked appealing to people but it was only ever a mask. It was never who I really was. The real me was buried deep within the mask - a dark, raging torrent of frustration, fear, anger and violence.

Throughout the early years of my Christian walk I always received lots of nice words about how much of a nice boy I was, etc etc. If only they knew the truth. God wanted to break through the masks and expose the real me so that I could change properly from the inside and live honestly rather than maintaining different masks all day long (which became incredibly exhausting). How did he do this? Through violent, turbulent and sometimes unrelenting chaos. Life did not get better after I became a Christian. It got ten times worse. I've endured stomach ulcers, months upon months of unemployment, abusive workplace environments and of course experiencing burnout last year. Throughout all of this unrelenting chaos, I've learned and grown more than I ever did when times were "good" and since going through burnout, I've learned so much more about who I really am. And I'm not the "nice guy" everyone - even me - used to think I was. I believe I am beginning to transform into an Agent of Chaos myself - but for the right reasons.

I've realized that in a lot of ways - Jesus was an agent of chaos Himself. Throwing tables around in the temple and verbally tearing strips off the religious leaders in public. He wanted to show them the truth and the deceit about what they were really doing, and He had the balls to be able to take the inevitable abuse that would come His way from those in power who don't like being confronted with something about themselves that they needed to change. He trusted and believed that He was doing the right thing to the extent that He was willing to risk taking abuse for doing it. I admire that immensely about Him and it's a side of God that few seem to speak about.

I've realized that there are times when there are pools of darkness in people's lives that quite frankly need to be stirred up. I've endured a fair bit of abuse recently from people and even had to cut some of them out of my life because I stood up for and said what I believed in, knowing full well it would create a storm of chaos in their lives which instead of facing internally and dealing with themselves, it was easier to throw it back at me. Sometimes the kindest thing you can do for someone is tell them the truth - even if it hurts. Jesus did that as well. People have also come into my life and told me the truth about things I've been doing and it's hurt, but I've realized that they were right and I've appreciated it. I've had to make a stand on a few things that I know some people don't agree with. But I strongly believe I have done the right thing and I'm prepared to take the heat for that.

Of course, you need to be absolutely sure you are doing the right thing when it comes to this sort of thing. Jesus certainly didn't chew out everybody. He was wise with it. He had the strength to fight anyone He pleased but the wisdom to know when to do it and when not to. To go all out of control and just destroy everything and everyone would be what the Joker would do, which is obviously far too extreme and by no means right. I've had to make absolutely sure I was doing the right thing before I did anything and I also had to make sure my own house was clean to begin with. It's been quite a scary experience as I'm venturing out into unknown territory by speaking the truth into people's lives and fighting for what I believe in, and realizing that I can survive their retaliation and even fight back if I deem it necessary. It's still something I am getting used to. But I'm much more comfortable with it now than I've ever been before and I realize that sometimes the truth is going to hurt others but if God wants you to say something and you don't because you're afraid of hurting their feelings then you're only hurting yourself and holding yourself back.

Sometimes there is a need for anarchy. Sometimes God might call you to speak severely to someone even when the consequences of that could mean the end of a friendship because the truth will hurt them. But don't let the fear of chaos and consequences hold you back from doing what you firmly believe is the right thing. I realize people may well disagree with me on this post. And that's fine - I welcome your feedback.

Take care out there.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Finding a balance

When I was 21 and in my second semester at Faith Bible College, a good friend of mine shared with me that he was praying for me and he got the word "axis", which can relate to the word "balance". I didn't quite know what he meant by this word at the time, but it stayed with me ever since and only recently has it come to light what that word actually means for me personally.

When I was graduating from Faith Bible College, one of the visiting prophets was watching me playing drums. I was flailing around and beating seven shades out of them, as that's just the way that I play. Those who know me in person will agree with this :) He later came up to me and said that watching me playing was almost like watching a person with another person inside of him who was trying to get out. Once again, those words stuck with me and I never forgot them.

Since the revelation I had in August last year that has started to free me of the terrible mental sickness that has kept me tightly wound for 27 and a half years, both of these words have begun to make sense. Because of the oppression and fear that kept me trapped inside myself I was often known as "a man of extremes". Most of the time I was extremely passive to the point of willingly letting anyone trample me into the ground just because it was safer to do that than fight back and have something worse happen to me. Other times, depending on circumstances I would swing right to the other extreme and become incredibly aggressive to the point where I'd feel no shame in verbally tearing someone to shreds despite who was around me at the time. I often saw genuine fear in the eyes of the people who faced this sort of behavior from me.

It was like I was a pendulum and I was permanently stuck fast onto one side of the equation, as far to that side as I could possibly go - although occasionally I would swing as far as I could to the other extreme. In short - there was no balance in my life. Once I realized the root of my sickness and began to get well and find my place in the world for the first time - that pendulum is starting to swing again, back and forth between passive and aggressive, although when it swings back into passive I am not nearly as passive as what I used to be and when it swings to the aggressive side, I'm more capable of being in control of my emotions while still expressing anger and getting my point across without seeing red and exploding to the same degree that I used to.

As I continue to heal and become stronger emotionally, my emotional state of mind is swinging back and forth far less than it used to and I am moving towards the center point of assertiveness which is when I will be truly in a place of balance for the first time ever. I can see assertiveness as being able to be gentle yet firm at the same time and being able to get angry about the right things yet keep a clear head and not be fazed by the reactions of others to my expression of anger. I'm getting closer to this all of the time, and it's a good place that I am coming into.

It's certainly been an interesting journey even getting to this point. As I am getting more comfortable in my own skin and become more of who I was always meant to be, I am finding that my personality is quite different than I initially anticipated. I always saw myself as a super nice, supportive, quiet type of person but I am realizing that I am really designed to be a strong, no-nonsense leader with a softer side that can be used when necessary as well as the discernment to tell when to use which side of my personality. I used to terribly fear strong leaders and now I realize that the reason I feared them was because they were touching on parts of my personality that had been trapped and buried within my own heart and weren't free enough to come out yet.

Another thing that's interesting is seeing people's reactions to the "new me". Some people appreciate the strength that is coming through but others who are obviously used to having someone like me in their pocket to be walked all over whenever they see fit, seem to get quite annoyed at the fact that I no longer fit in their pocket and that they can't control me anymore. Often their response has been to cut me out of their lives. A few years ago this would have devastated me and left me begging and pleading for them to return because I was so caught up in relationship addiction. These days, it's just not the case. If someone doesn't appreciate the new me and wants me out of their life as a result - I just let them go. Sometimes I've even taken active steps to remove people I felt were holding me back for various reasons.

Coming into the place of balance through learning about who you are can be quite an intimidating journey as you find yourself having to face things in yourself and in others that you don't like and you often find yourself making tough calls, which are always difficult to make the first time round - but its a necessary part of growing into your own skin and becoming who you are created to be. You can't live on one side of the spectrum forever, occasionally swinging right to the other extreme when necessary. The healthiest thing you can do is ask God to help guide you to the changes you need to make in your own heart so that you can find your own personal place of balance and become the person you were always meant to be.