Lately I’ve wondered if there’s time to become cool before June 20
I’ve never really had a sense of fashion, and no one’s ever labeled me hip. I’m a khaki with polo shirt kind of guy, no beard, no piercings; nothing that really stands out. For the most part I know my wife loves me and that’s enough.
But lately this little shame-voice inside my heart whispers that it’snot enough.
Yesterday I tried to read a book on Anabaptist spirituality while surrounded by about 600 magazine covers, and in particular about 80 magazines with men staring back at me. None of them wore a polo, and man were they attractive. (Talk about an unspiritual reading spot.)
Closer to home check out how cool my author friend Nate is; or this guy whose books I love and who has the perfect website. I’m a small drip coffee to their Triple, Venti, Half-Sweet, Non-Fat, salted caramel Macchiato with soy milk.
I know I know – who cares, right? I certainly don’t, and I doubt you do either. But that little bully voice apparently does, and I can’t turn him off.
“Authors are cool! Who do you think you are?”“You’re still the same dork you were in Middle School; no one cares what you have to say!”“Are you wearing hand-me-downs?”
Pathetic – absolutely pathetic.
That bully voice resonated with some deeply sensitive soul-wound still waiting to be healed. And I hate to say it, but every single one of us has our own shame voice that whispers lies into our heart of hearts. And every single one of us has some deep vulnerability clamoring for attention.
“All have fallen short,” says Paul – a truth I don’t think anyone has ever once needed to be taught. And so we pursue sports, success, or affluence (or apparently hipster fashion) to fit in and feel good.
All of which are dirty band aids we put on to treat the symptoms of what amounts to cancer of the soul.
As my June 20 book launch comes closer I’m committed to have these hard conversations with myself. In particular I want to continue the practice of solitude I started in Lent.
Todd Wynward believes that solitude is where we find freedomfrom the poisonous lies of culture and power to silence our shame voice. Where else but far away from those 80 photo-shopped faces, can we hear God’s voice of grace? He says in his book in our library, Rewilding the Way, “From solitude emerges identity and connection to the divine, assets unshaken by trends or shifting public opinion.”
Who doesn’t want more of that?
Let’s face it; it’s too late for me to upgrade my cool in a couple weeks. And you’ll likely never make enough money to satisfy your want; or find the perfect job. But there is time – and it’s likely right now – to respond to God’s grace with faith. You can drag that voice into the light with some unusual self-honesty, then let God’s voice inside you tell you the truth about your identity and connection to the divine, “God’s Spirit tells our spirits again and again that we are children of God.” (Romans 8:16)
Success or failure, cool or polo-proud, I am a child of God. And no one can take that away from me. Today I choose, and I invite you to choose, to ignore the shame voice. Instead trust God’s voice – you are lovable just the way you are.
This is our hope. This is our faith.
Pastor Marty Troyer