"Hey Jude" is one of the first two Beatles songs I learned to play on the piano when I was a teenager. I felt so cool when I learned to do that.
"And anytime you feel the pain, hey Jude, refrain - don't carry the world upon your shoulders. For well you know that it's a fool who plays it cool while making his world a little colder."
Those are some wise words. If you don't like the Beatles I'll still be your friend. It's ok. But just take a second and think about the whole premise of this song - Don't pretend to be anything that you're not. Don't make it harder on yourself by carrying a heavy chip on your shoulder. Don't let life take a chunk out of you by dwelling.
Where do I even start here?
I know a lot of stories from my own family that aren't mine to tell. They belong to other people. But let's just suffice it to say that I know some folks who have been deeply wounded - wounded so much so early that they find it easier to live secluded than to live out in the open - we're speaking emotionally here. And I know a lot of people - friends and acquaintances - who have endured circumstances so painful that they can't imagine trusting in who they really are . . . they can't imagine being themselves without a mask because somebody made them feel like they'll never be good enough. Or worse - like they're not ever allowed to be truthful.
Sometimes this happens because of real abuse. Emotional abuse. Verbal abuse. Physical abuse. Neglect.
There was a time, early in adulthood, when I learned some of that firsthand. My own experiences would be considered mild, I think, compared to the stories I've heard from other people. But they were enough to teach me something important - It's not crazy to tell the truth and it's not selfish to find help.
I learned it from someone who, unsurprisingly, had learned it for themselves at an early age - at the hands of somebody else. At the words of somebody else.
There's nothing left from that experience but the understanding that the Beatles got this one thing right - "You know that it's a fool who plays it cool while making his world a little colder."
We don't have to pretend for anybody. The things that hurt us really can leave a mark - a scar. It's alright to be honest about that. Who are we fooling? Not ourselves. Not God. Not our closest loved ones. They already know.
This song is so deeply personal to me. I can't really explain to you.
I was so nervous about recording it and playing it for keeps - I had dreams about it a week before we went downtown to record the "Life Cycles" EP.
Some things still bother me. Almost a shadow of what a feeling was.
"Surely we can put to peace all these things we could not be or make - see how we break what we should not take."
I know I've written about this before. But I can't overstate it.
We're not made of stone. We're not made of iron. We're humans. People. We are clay. We have been dust. We will be dust.
We bend and break.
Hey - I don't know about a fast track to healing for this kind of thing. I've seen people healed of medical ailments and I've seen folks find relief in an instant and miraculous way for lots of things . . . but not for this.
So I'm going to share the only answer I know. It's two fold.
1) We have to forgive other people.
That doesn't mean that I have forgotten anything that I learned. It doesn't mean I'm saying that it was right. It means that I am releasing my grip on somebody else's neck. It's not good for us to be connected by way of anger or resentment. I'll tell you the truth - I have said before that I've forgiven somebody when I really haven't, and that has only hurt me. It has only been a burden on myself. But if it helps you understand - in all the real forgiving I've done, I've reserved some safety for myself. I've been very careful to forgive as much as I can and then to stay meaningfully clear of people who I know aren't capable of being close without hurting.
2) I live by 2nd Corinthians 5:17 a lot of the time. It helps me to forgive myself and to love myself. To be understanding of myself. Because it's easy to be mad at ourselves for the choices we each have made.
"This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!"
I won't sugar coat this for you. The "new life" isn't some kind of Evangelical fix-everything-in-a-day-and-never-look-back kind of deal.
Not for me. For me, it's an every-single-day, long-haul, do-all-the-work-and-then-do-it-all-again kind of deal.
And I have some friends who have worked really hard to love me back to life a couple of times - people who have passed no judgement, have heard me out, and have told me the same thing over and over again: "You're a precious person. You're loved. You're thought of. This doesn't define you. This is passing. This is not the end or even half of your story."
Goodness. This blog post is all over the place. I can't write in a straight line most days, but I really can't write in a straight line when dealing with this subject.
If someone is being abusive to you, move away from it, get help, and know that there's nothing wrong with needing help.
I remember very clearly one of the most important moments of decision I've had in my human life - asking God to tell me what to do to help this person that I had tried so hard to love into wholeness. And the answer was: "This is not your job. This is my job. I'm God. You're not God. Get out of the way and stop struggling. Move out of this situation because no human being is responsible for saving another. That's my job." - one of the very few times I've felt and heard the voice of God in a clear way. And it was the right thing. It didn't feel right then, but now I know that it was.
Often we have to get some distance so that we can do the hard work of forgiveness. This is ok. There's nothing hateful or weak about it.
Tell somebody. Tell the truth. And know that it's ok to be who you are, even after this.
You're beautiful. You're precious. You are loved and thought of.