Monday, June 23, 2014

Tell Me No Lies

Walk in the light, as He is in the light.
-St John

We would rather be ruined than changed;
We would rather die in our dread
Than climb the cross of the moment
And let our illusions die.
-W.H. Auden

Reality check: In every 10 minutes of conversation, the average person prevaricates, omits, exaggerates, and fudges the truth – purposefully lies -- right at 3 times. I am sure this number goes up exponentially for politicians, lawyers, and con men.

Many of our lies have to do with creating and maintaining illusions regarding who we are and what we are about. We have a family image, a workplace image, a church image, a buddies at the bar image, a social-media image, and an image of “my true self.” Maintaining each image depends on the stories we tell, the truths we hide, and the facts we fudge, to others and ourselves.

Of course, those people who still have a conscience live in fear that, at any moment, the cops (e.g., spouse, sibling, friend, workmate, bartender, private detective) are going to appear and bust them for all the cons they are running. And however intense the dread of exposure is, the fear of being myself is greater still. Such a waste of energy and the one life God has granted us.

Walk in the Light
I believe one aspect of “walking in the light” is walking in reality. We need to stop creating stories, images, and illusions that are in stark opposition to the facts of our inner reality. This doesn’t mean that everyone you know deserves a peek into your soul, only that you let you go of the cons.

Stop acting as if your marriage is to be envied by all when you know it is a mess.

Stop seeking to appear as Moses returning from Mt Sinai with the Ten Commandments, when just last night you were behaving as Simon Peter: “Jesus? Never heard of him, dammit.”

Stop creating personas that purposefully encourage illusions.

Stop pretending you are other than who you are right now.

Stepping out of the darkness and into the light begins with owning our choices, behaviors, feelings, and thoughts. Change and transformation will always elude people who refuse to fully accept and, where appropriate, divulge their realities to others.

“I’ve not been honest with you.”

This is how I feel.
This is what I am thinking.
This is what I did or am going to do.
This is what I need or want from you.
This is what I actually believe.
This is not really who I am.

Spiritual and psychological health requires that we own what is ours. We won’t experience true health, as long as we distance ourselves from what is true about us. O, that wasn’t me. That was my evil twin Skippy!  It’s only by owning the identity and environments my choices have created that I am empowered to effect true change and transformation.

Your mission this week, should you choose to accept it, is to do your utmost to walk in and portray to others the truth of your self. If you exaggerate to someone, go back to them and own it. If you tell someone a half-truth, go back and give them the whole truth. If you withhold information from people regarding your inner reality who will now be basing their decisions and relationship with you on an illusion you created, go to them, apologize, and lay it all out. And find someone you can talk to about the encantations you’ve been performing so as to  create all these illusions. Trust me. In short order, once you hold yourself accountable in this fashion, the temptation for adopting illusions and walking in the darkness of unreality will lose its attractiveness.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2014

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Keeping Your Buts Out of Your Confessions

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.

--James 5:16

Confession is not to be used as a means of deflection. “Hey, can’t you see I am hammering myself here? That means you can’t touch me.” Some people are like a puppy that knows he is about to be disciplined, so lies on his back. “Ha, Ha, can’t touch me now!”

Downplaying by comparison also has no part in an authentic confession. “Okay, I know what I did to you was wrong, but I am nowhere near as bad as those guys. Did you see what he did in my circumstances?” Right. You are only a run-of-the-mill offender. No doubt God and the offended will feel so relieved.

Along this same line of thought—Keep your “buts” out of any confession. Whatever you say before the word “but” will be negated by what follows your “but.” I know I was wrong but your faults tripped me up, I was so tired, hurt, frustrated, in a bad place, lonely, blah, blah, I was wrong but it wasn’t all my fault blah.  Not exactly oozing with contrition here, are we. All this is is a defense under the guise of a confession, seeking to mitigate the penalties of your offense.

The purpose of confession is not so that you can feel better about yourself, get your spouse off your back, or convince your constituents you are still fit for office. “Coming clean,” as an end game, is not a confession: it’s only a calculated admission.

Confession needs to be down to the depths of the offense. Asking you to forgive me for not keeping my promise to be on time to a party you were throwing is different from confessing that I betrayed your trust and stole from you. Too many people’s confessions of egregious offenses sound as if they merely stepped on the offended party’s toes. Confession minus an appropriate and genuine contrition leaves us mired in our offense and the offended wondering if we had a clue as to how deeply he was wounded.

Confession is to “each other.” This is broader than only confessing to the offended party. Here, James is telling us that confession includes having people in our lives with whom we lay it all out. I have a group of people in my life who know every fall, fault, flame out, and failure there is to know about me. It’s all too easy to go to God about my “issues,” but never confess to others. If God is the only one I confess to, how do I know if I have gone deeply enough? How will I know if I am actually being too hard on myself? How will I know if I am hammering on a smaller offense so as to hide from a larger one? How do I know if my confession to God-alone isn’t actually riddled with vanity and the fear of what others will think of me? And, James again, if I don’t share with others then there are no “righteous” people who will be standing with me, praying for me, and holding me accountable, as I seek to make amends and change my behavior or attitudes. If you don’t have such friends, pray for some. And in the mean time find a trusted minister or spiritual advisor with whom you can confess.

Notice that James writes of how healing comes with confessing our failures to each other. How many of us are suffering with emotional or physical infirmities because we are all twisted up by what we have hidden? I am convinced that many of those who are in and out of counseling, yet never seem to be free or healed, actually don’t need therapy as much as they need to go and reveal what is hidden by confessing what they have done and left undone.

Why is it that confession is so difficult for us? I’m sure there are a number of underlying reasons: pride, fear of consequences, and hardness of heart, come to mind. Yet I wonder if an overarching reason is our view of God. “Man, if I tell Him this, He is going to blow a gasket.” Helloooo? An unsuspecting omniscient God is an oxymoron. The New Testament revelation of God in Christ is clear. When we confess our sins to each other it is to and before the God who, like the father of the Prodigal Son, continually and lovingly looks for our return, when He will give mercy, forgiveness, and healing to the penitent confessor—and then throw us a party!  

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2014

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Golden Rule

Therefore all things whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. –Jesus

Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you.  –Wendell Berry

Newsflash: Doing Unto Others doesn’t mean behaving toward others as if they had the same likes, dislikes, desires, and turn-offs that you have. “But I love it when people smack me upside the head!” Doing Unto Others is more of a global mindset and attitude to guide our behaviors toward all people … unless we are full of self-hatred and then, please, whatever you do, do NOT, “Do unto others.”

Okay: How is it that I want people to do unto me?

I want people to be loving and charitable, not hateful or spiteful: to speak their truths in love, wanting my best far more so than wanting to Be Right.

I want people to love and accept me for who I am (not the same thing as approving of everything I do or say, by the way), and not to be constantly seeking to make me into who they wish I were.

When people hear wild and wooly stories of me, I want them to call and ask for my take, my perspective, and my experience before they blast me to kingdom come on Facebook or anywhere else.

If I do fall, fail, or flop, a helping hand would certainly be appreciated. If you don’t want to do this, got it. But if you can’t be a Good Samaritan, could you at least be a Quiet Samaritan?

I want people to respect my beliefs and feelings, even when they disagree or do not understand. It has always baffled me when people throw caca at all that I hold sacred and think I should be cool and calm with this. If I verbally abuse your spouse, children, or closest of friends, tell me: is it even in the vicinity of sanity for me to expect you to be all chummy with me? That’s what I thought.

I want people to not steal from me, not lie about me, and, please, don’t murder me, literally or metaphorically.

I want people to respect my unalienable rights.

I want people to relate to me as an individual, not as a statistic, a member of a sociological group, a cog in a wheel, or as a potential scalp for their lodges. I am myself, not “them.” I am a person, not a thing: a subject not an object.

Now, Wilson, don’t be a hypocrite: Get out there and Do Unto Others.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2014

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Looking Down the Barrel of the Same Gun

Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions.  

–James Madison

Have you heard the story about the waitress who told a gay couple to leave the restaurant and not come back? Driven by a need to further embarrass herself, she then zapped the guys with a gay slur. I am sure that all of this was said with the love of Jesus in her heart. Not. Anyway, once the word got out, gays took to Google and Yelp reviews seeking to make Big Earl’s Bait House and Country Store there in Pittsburg, East Texas, the most recommended gay bar in the state!

The food is whatever but the scene is simply TO-DIE.

This place is great…you can really get your freak flag flying here.

I’m a dude. I like dudes. And I appreciate a place where dudes can hang out together in dude-company.

It’s been days since I read this story but I still laugh, every time I think about it. “You don’t want ‘my kind’? Ok. Let’s see how you handle this.” No picketing of Big Earl’s but a kind of reverse Bait and switch. (Get it? Big Earl’s BAIT House… never mind.)

Of course, today there are an increasing number of people who are saying that, once you have decided that my product is exactly what you want, that I have to sell to you and, if I refuse to do so, the State must force me.


Then I say what is justice for the buyer is justice for the seller. If you say the State can force me at the point of a gun to sell my product to you then you should have no problem with being forced to buy my product looking down the barrel of the same gun. Goose: meet Gander.

When the State tells a business owner whom he must sell to, it is nothing short of stealing his labor and merchandise because they are being forcibly taken from him. However boneheaded, foolish, or uncharitable I believe the seller’s decision is regarding his choice of customers, I will not call for the State to wield its power and deny this person’s constitutional right to the Freedom of Association. If his customers disapprove of his choices, they can cast their votes against him by no longer patronizing his business and even take to thumping his ears on Yelp. However, once we allow the State to dictate whom the owner associates with and sells his products to, we have accepted a loss of freedom that opens the door for even more egregious losses for us all.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2014