I have a confession to make. It is not pretty, and I wish I did not have to share it with you. But, I really cannot stand you not knowing any longer.
I have a wonderful life. I have a wife that loves me, we live in a very nice duplex with tall ceilings and hardwood floors, surrounded by books and kitties and lots of friends. We have a huge front porch where we sit in the evenings, watching the moon set over the city skyline. Our car is dependable and safe, something that was not always true for us. We never go hungry.
And despite all of that, I am still not happy – for I am a jealous man. My Buddhists friends say that suffering comes from our attachment to outcomes. In other words, I am doing this to myself. My suffering is of my own manufacture.
At the core of Christianity is the death of our own ego.
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.
Whatever. By that definition, as a man of faith, I fail – miserably.
I open my Facebook account this morning and see that a guy I know has published yet another blog post that is traveling throughout the social networks, getting tons of comments, +1’s and ‘likes’. I read the post and think it trite, pabulum, really. Why do people read this crap, I ask myself.
But the reality is, while it might be trite, it is not crap. It is well written, he has an obvious following and he works hard at his craft. He plays to his audience and he does it well. The problem for me is not that he is successful – it is that I am jealous of his success.
Or that guy who started a nonprofit about the same time I did, but who courts evangelicals – using all the right code words- and as a result, gets invited to speak at all the big events. That guy drives me nuts. But in reality, he is not the problem – it is me and my frustration that while he flies all over the country, speaking to huge audiences, I am sitting in a crack house, talking to a sex worker that got beaten by a bad John. He is praised and lauded, and I struggle to keep my bills paid and to get $2 bus passes for homeless men so they can work today.
But, you will tell me, being there for the sex worker is important. It is real.
Oh yes. It is all of that. It is real as hell.
The ‘unfairness’ of it bugs the shit out of me. Because, deep down inside, I want to be lauded, I want to be praised; I want to be patted on the back. Because I am human.
Intellectually, I know that my work is valuable and good and all of that. But, in a world that heaps accolades on celebrities, that lives on the soundbite, that praises authors and packs stadiums to hear how you can have “your best life now”, it is easy to feel like a failure.
Like a nobody.
Like a nothing.
Even when I know that I am not. And even if I am, it’s not the point.
Because none of this is about me – it is about embodying Christ to the world.
I just wish I were better at remembering it.
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If you liked this post, you might enjoy my newsletter Confessions of a Street Minister.