I’m fat. Fat enough that doctors have placed me in the “morbidly obese” category.
That means, if I don’t change my ways, I’ll die from something directly caused by my weight. My weight has been a struggle since about the 6th grade.
My most recent weight gain was significant and it was associated with a medication I was taking. It’s obvious enough that for the past six months, someone has commented on it almost every single day.
If you’ve never struggled with weight, you just don’t know what it’s like. It’s not as easy as just “doing better”. Food issues are something close to alcohol issues for an alcoholic or drug issues for an addict. Food issues involve really dark places.
My weight has led to serious issues of how I perceive myself and my self-worth.
I've lots and gained probably about 600 pounds in my life. I’m good at losing weight. Unfortunately, I’m better at putting it back on.
Which leads to feelings of failure.
I’ve struggled my entire life with self esteem issues. I have never thought I was good enough for just about anything.
A healthy portion of my formative years involve a misguided rebellious streak involving various sordid tales of immorality, alcohol, a little pot, and various and sundry other poor decisions.
It’s probably hard to believe now, when you see this pudgy, nerdy, older-looking-than-he-really-is-guy in front of you, but I was once the life of the party. My fellow hard-partiers would actually cheer when I came into the room. This provided a nice alternative to my self-imposed feelings of inadequacy. Thanks to one particularly embarrassing encounter, I left that lifestyle behind.
But I never left the feelings of inadequacy. I struggle intensely with self-worth and self-doubt. I am prone to bouts of depression. I’ve accepted the fact that my self-esteem will be a life-long challenge.
I don’t generally believe in myself. Almost never.
I can be lazy.
I’m generally very unorganized.
I’m generally cranky.
I’m prone to temporary and intense “phases" of interest. I get REALLY interested in something – a specific kind of music or movie, usually – and I go full-bore crazy, learning everything I can about it. I watch documentaries on it…I buy every album I can get my hands on…I read books on it. Sometimes, in the case of blues music, I stay with that interest. Sometimes, in the case of old-school Kung Fu movies, I remain mildly interested and sell about half of the books and movies I bought. Sometimes, I lose interest as quickly as I gained it and sell EVERYTHING I bought. Which makes my wife furious.
I don’t do good at keeping in touch with people.
I hate talking on the phone.
I have a bad relationship with my father, which breaks my heart. But, which, I have yet to be able to motivate myself to do anything positive about.
I bite off more than I can chew sometimes.
I argue too loudly.
In fact, I’m almost always too loud. Always have been.
I’m a bad manager of money.
I’m a horrible manager of stress.
I get overwhelmed. And then crazy. In fact, my over-crazy, over-stressed alter ego has a name: Spazzy McGee. And when he rears his head, stand back.
I beat myself up when I don’t need to.
I’m wasteful of resources…I use too much soap, too many paper towels, too much shampoo, I use toilet paper to blow my nose instead of Kleenex, etc.
I am woefully undereducated Biblically. I’m reminded of this periodically by people in the college ministry I lead.
I don’t pray as often as I should.
I curse more than most folks probably would say is OK. And to be honest with you, that’s the least of my concerns about my walk with God.
This thing of being Biblically uneducated messes with my head a lot. I’ve been reading the Bible more than ever before lately to try and remedy this.
In spite of all these things….there are a few things I CAN say:
First off, I completely, freely, and whole-heartedly admit that I am a mess. But I’m God’s mess.
I love Jesus. I’ve been down roads that I shouldn’t have gone. And I know with all my heart and mind that because of my travels, it makes grace all the more sweeter.
I can remember the actual day – it wasn’t as long ago as you might think – when the true meaning of grace hit me. I was at my mom’s church. And I “got it”. And I chose it. And I laid all these imperfections down. And allowed myself to become His mess.
I have a beautiful family. And I have a few friends who truly care for me. I have a crazy dog who’s my good little buddy and loves me unconditionally. I have music to get me through good times, bad times, and everything in between.
I have an amazing daughter who looks at me with innocent eyes that see through to my core. She tells me to stop when I’m being too loud. She seeks my approval. She wants me to set an example for her. She forgives me when I screw up. She’s the coolest person I’ve ever met.
I have a wife who has literally helped make me who I am today.
I have a buddy who I walked a bad road with. And whom I came clean with, sitting next to Governor Bond Lake in the wee hours of the morning. And whom I found redemption with. We now walk a new and altogether different road together.
I have people who have played key roles in my development as a person and as a Christian. Some of their names are Otis and Dorthy Stark, Ben Van Hyning, Greg Groves, Bill Herring, Steph Thomas, Mike Ness, Johnny Cash, Joe Strummer, Pete Seeger, and Brennan Manning. Some of these folks know they’re on that list – some don’t. Some, I made a point to tell them they’re on the list. Some, I’ve never even met.
And I have an incredible group of young people who I’ve become friends with. In some cases, I’ve become family with. My relationships with them mean more to me than I could ever put into words and make you understand. They have played an amazingly huge role in who I’ve become over the past three years.
In spite of all these things…in spite of being a complete and utter mess (His mess!) I can tell you a few things that I feel good about.
God has broken my heart over the last three years for “the least of these”. This is a process that I feel is still in its beginning stages and I don’t know where it will end up.
I felt the call of God to get involved in something. Something that Wired was a HUGE part of making happen. And so I formed the Dirty Roots Revolution.
I say this with absolutely no pride and/or puffery, but I feel that the Dirty Roots Revolution – the messages I’ve shared, the work we do – is one time where I finally got something right when it came to listening to God and doing what He wanted me to do.
Every single minute of every single day, my disorganization, my self-doubt (especially), and all of those other negative things, threaten to derail the DRR.
But I fight to hold onto it. Better yet, I fight to make sure that I keep the reigns in His hands.
I’m not perfect. I wouldn’t even say I’m a good person. But I’m trying. I’m trying to be a good person. I’m trying to be a good husband. I’m trying to be a good father.
I’m trying to be a good Christ follower.
I’m trying to be a good Sunday School teacher.
I’m trying to be a good world-changing revolutionary.
I have a suspicion that I could probably be a fairly good leader if I could figure out how to get over myself, get out of the way, and give it all to Him.
And I’m working on that.
Cat Stephens said “to become what you must, you must give up what you are”. I’m working on that, too.
I am knee-deep in this thing called life. I find pleasure in riding life like a wild beast. And, while it breaks my heart sometimes, I’m continually stunned at how this worldly life is truly an awful, beautiful existence.
I am a mess.
But I’m your mess.
And I’m Kate’s mess.
And I’m Amber’s mess.
And, most importantly of all, I’m His mess.
I wanted to say all of this in hopes that maybe I could convince someone to believe that it’s OK to be a mess. It’s OK to be a complete wreck. It’s OK to not have it all together. It’s OK to not have a clue. It’s OK.
I know with every fiber of my being that Jesus loves me. I know with every fiber of my being that He should not. But I know He does. I don’t deserve it. I can’t repay it. But He loves me.
And He loves you.
And I – and you – will never – EVER – be any more perfect to Jesus than we are right this very second.
So quit trying to be perfect. Give up the illusion that you have a clue. Embrace the imperfections. And just BE.
Love Jesus. Love people. Try to be Him to people. Don’t be satisfied with where you are. These admissions of imperfections and faults are not an excuse. These things are not good. But they’re real.
Be real with yourself first. Be real with God next. Be real with each other. Don’t judge others for being real. Welcome it. Embrace it.
You’ve heard me say before that I believe we all think we’re living in some kind of reality TV show. But this is real life. As Tyler Durden says in Fight Club, if we don’t wake up to our humanity, life is going to pass us by. Joe Strummer said that we’re all here…alive in this same moment…sharing these experiences. We should enjoy them together! Struggle through them together! Bear the pain together!
We should do life together!
That’s how God intended it. We were never supposed to keep up any false illusions. We’re supposed to be real with one another. Be real with Him.