Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"You've Lost Your Muchness"

“You’ve lost your muchness”.  These are the words the Mad Hatter speaks to Alice in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (2010).  After approximately a decade, she had been called back into Wonderland to slay the Jabberwocky.  There was conflict amongst the characters, and even with Alice herself, as to whether or not she, in fact, was the real Alice.

I wonder how many of us, if transported into our own Wonderland of celestial courts, and angelic presences in eternity would be confronted with the same issue.  Have we lost our muchness?

Has the little girl who wanted to be a doctor and now serves as the head of an HR department or administrative assistant to someone or other lost her muchness?  Has the little boy who dreamed of being a preacher, yet is now thriving financially as an attorney lost his muchness?  And what about you?  Have years of negative comments and toxic influences caused you to shut away your true self and rob of you of your muchness?  How many people in this world of 8 billion and counting are walking around living lives without muchness? 

Your muchness is not a title.  Its not a 6-figure salary.  Its not the right clothes, jewelry, or car.  It’s the substance of your very being, a conglomerate of one’s personality, dreams, aspirations, character, decisions, and more.  In short, your muchness is you who truly are. 

There are many reasons for having lost one’s muchness.  Some were born into unfortunate situations and passed through a careless state system until they reached adulthood without their muchness.  Some were abused until their muchness was beaten out of them.  Some were verbally and emotionally attacked until they no longer believed their muchness mattered.  Some have merely been overwhelmed by the currents of life that they allowed their muchness to be unknowingly swept from them while they tried to stay afloat.  How you lost it does not matter.  What matters is to get it back.

 So how do you get your muchness back?  You have to go back.  Back to before you received incorrect information about yourself.  Back to before you were verbally or physically abused.  Back to before you allowed vain aspirations and ambitions to drive you from what you yearned to be into someone you no longer recognize.  You must go back to your purity; your innocence and start over again. 

Maybe quitting your job or leaving your place of abode isn’t the answer.  Maybe you just need to change the way you live, instead of where and what you live.  Your muchness has more to do with you than with what you do. 

If you are a doctor or lawyer, instead of focusing on your extravagant paycheck, focus on the people coming to you for medical and legal help.  If you are a housewife, focus on how to make your dwelling an oasis instead of why it’s a hellhole.  Cherish your spouse like you did before you said “I do”.  Lavish your children in the love you first felt towards them at their birth.  Decorate and spruce up your home with the same enjoyment you did as when you first purchased it.  Look in the mirror and see the image of God instead of something that may not line up with the magazines and advertisements.  Change your attitude and your mindset towards these things, and the things themselves will be bound to feel and eventually exert a change themselves. 

Remember what God has said of you.  That He knit you together in your mother’s womb and knows your inmost parts.  That He has plans for you of good and hope and a future.  That He craves your presence as a lover craves the attention of the object of their affection.  If that does not aim you at your muchness, I don’t know what will. 

Only what God thinks and says of you matters.  It is nice to have the approval of man as well as a notable reputation, yet it is a definite second to God’s approval and opinion of you.  The level of you muchness should be His, not man’s.  And at times, it should not even be yours.  Oftentimes, we can be too hard on ourselves, or not hard enough.  We humans do not always get the balance right.  We curse ourselves for the things we cannot help, and excuse ourselves for the things we can.  That can certainly alter one’s muchness.  Our muchness standard should only be His. 

Once you gain your muchness, you must fight to keep it.  Rememeber it.  Make it known.  Without your muchness, the world is deprived of the spot and position that only you and your muchness should fill.  And should you die without your muchness, the grave becomes the largest composite of the world’s greatest treasures because, like you, many others have died without their muchness being exerted in life.  What a shame!  The world will never be able to see your muchness, unless you live it out. 

So I ask you: if you were transported into your own ethereal Wonderland, could you be able to say you’ve lived out your muchness?

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Pride.  It is the thick wet blanket that we think hides our flaws from the world, yet really showcases them to the world.

Pride was the downfall of the Montagues and the Capulets.  Pride blinded Napoleon to his inevitable defeat at Waterloo.  Pride was the true face that launched a thousand ships against Troy.  Pride was what seduced Melkor to divide from the Ainur and Ilúvatar’s set melody and create his own rebellious discord.  Pride was what would not allow him to remain peacefully in Arda after he’d been forgiven his rebellions (Ainulindalë from The Silmarillion).  And pride is what caused Lucifer, that son of the dawn, to lift himself up and say “I will ascend into the heavens! I will raise my throne above the stars of God!  I will site enthroned on the mount of the assembly…!  I will ascend above the tops of the clouds!  I will make myself like the Most High!” (Isaiah 14:13-14 emphasis added).  “I will, I will, I will!” is the dangerously ambitious cry of pride!

Pride caused the emperor to parade down the street in no clothes.  Pride caused Odysseus to defy the gods.  Pride caused Henry VIII to divide from the Holy Roman church and make himself the head of the new Anglican church.  Pride causes the marriage to die because the sum of the union is not valued as more important than the feelings of those who partook of the union.  Pride causes the pastor with no other source of income to “ball” off of his parishioners’ first fruits, tithes, and offerings.  Pride is the ugly poison that seems to have successfully infected every level, culture, and grouping of society.  With the disease so widespread, what can be done to inoculate our world?

Part of the strength of pride lies in its many, varied manifestations.  There is ambition, which if misguided and unchecked, can morph into a hideous beast of terror (see Lucifer/Satan, Melkor, Sauron, King Saul, etc.).  There is also national pride which is honourable, yet if let run amuck, can transform into nationalism which has left an indelible mark on our world history thanks to World War I and especially World War II (see Hitler, Mussolini, Lenin, Stalin, the Vikings, etc.).  Arrogance is probably the most obvious form of pride which makes us despise those who lord themselves, their looks, their wealth, etc. over us.  Its despicable.  Another form is religious pride with which we are intimately acquainted with.  Religious pride is the incubator of the blinded zealots who declare “to kill an infidel is the path to Heaven” (Kingdom of Heaven), “may His blood be on us and our children” (Matthew 27:25), and “Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you” (Quran 9:123).  Yet, will all these types of pride, the most appalling is false humility. 

Having been surrounded by a Judeo-Christian community my entire life and intimately acquainted with the Evangelical church in America, I have almost been almost choked by the ever-increasing members wearing their false humility on their sleeves.  I know a man who preached like he was before 10,000 members; he ignored the 10 he had.  He bad-mouthed and belittled those under his pastoral authority and used them to his will because after all, he was better than them all.  I know of a young woman who spends hours in prayer, sings with the voice of an angel, and can command any pulpit with divine power, but she cannot and will not speak to the people she ministers to.  They will taint her body and her ministry.  Then she married the man aforementioned to produce a ministry completely founded and based upon a visiting anointing and false humility. 

I have seen a young pastor charm his way up through the ranks with his charismatic messages, fine appearance, silver tongue, and gifted presence.  He starves himself with fasting, keeps vigils when he should be slumbering, speaks prophetic words of deliverance, and yet cannot admit that he needs deliverance from his private issues himself. 

Yes, my world has been filled with pride ruling from the first lady’s roost, manipulating the prayer relationships, seeping through the pulpit, and stifling the atmosphere.  Yes, I know what pride looks like and its ugliest, most angelic form is that of false humility. 

But what do we know of pride itself?  We know that it comes before destruction and the fall (Proverbs 16:18), we know that it will keep our prayers from being answered (Leviticus 26:19), we know Leviathan (aka the “Kraken”) is the king over pride’s children (Job 41:34), and above all, we know that God hates it (Proverbs 8:13).  The greatest Kings of Israel and Judah struggled with it.  Saul lost his kingdom to it (I Samuel 13:1-14).  David’s kingdom suffered a plague because of it (II Samuel 24:1; I Chronicles 21:1).  Hezekiah set up his kingdom for destruction with it (II Kings 20:12-19) and Uzziah died of leprosy and ceased to rule because of it (II Chronicles 26:16-21).  Pride is a deadly sin indeed, so why would we seek to thinly veil it with pretended humility? 

We might be able to successfully fool man for a time, yet the true motives of our heart will ultimately always be revealed.  And even though we may act under a season of grace, God will always know our innermost parts, thoughts, and motives.  He sees the blackness we hide behind our toothy smiles, church hugs, and “I’ll pray for yous” we sprinkle at the end of each concern, turning us almost into pathological liars.  And pathological liars actually believe the rubbish they spew.

To be fair, many people act based off of what they’ve been taught.  As far as church leadership goes, they do not know any better.  And this excuse may work for the baby Christian who’s still taking milk and cannot stand or hasn’t been fully introduced to the meat of the Word yet.  But once we know, we can no longer feign ignorance. 

However, most of us know exactly what we are doing.  We are calculating and manipulative as to how we handle our appearances and the people we come into contact with.  We raise our hands the highest, sing our praise the loudest, pray on bended knee the longest, and give our offering envelopes [whether full or not, we’ll never know] the most often.  The goal is to make sure that no one can see through our facades of glimmering gold and shimmering silver. But once that plating is stripped craped away, all that’s left is a dull, cheap vessel.  And who wants that?  Certainly not God.  And if we’re honest with ourselves, we don’t want it either.

We want the reputation that’s worth more than diamonds, rubies, and precious metals, but we do not want the process.  We do not want to enter the crucible of holy fire that forces the dross to the top, only to be scraped off.  We do not want to experience the deadly pressure that shapes a lump of coal into a diamond.  We want to abort the process and arrive at completion, but this is not and will never be possible. 

Pride is a part of our human make-up.  Since we were created in the image of an Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent God (Genesis 1:26).  Pride is embedded in our very nature.  However, as the mere image and creation of God, we are not allowed to exercise that divine inclination because that is a privilege only allowed to God Himself.  We may take pride in Him, His works, and His arm (strength), yet not in ourselves.  We may boast of the Divinity that has chosen to make His home in our hearts, yet not of our person alone.  We may glorify Him for the miracles He does through us, as long as we do not accept the glory ourselves.  We may wear a diadem on our heads as long as we are able to cast it before His feet at the foot of His throne.  Pride is our privilege as long as we boast in Him, but it has no business being made our own.

So if pride is the poison of society, the malady of the Evangelical church, and woven into the very threads of our existence, how do we overcome it?  In a word—humility.

This is not the false humility described in great detail above, no.  This is the power that shrunk from the vastness of the universe into the womb of a woman.  This is the submissiveness that feigned ignorance to be taught by those who He created before the foundation of time.  This is the meekness that shunned the help of the hosts of heaven, allowed the Lord of lords to be arrested by lowly men, the King of Kings to be tried by earthly rulers, and the General of Heaven’s armies to be crucified by flawed Roman replicas of soldiers.  That is the humility of which I speak.  With His tongue as the Sword of the Spirit, He chose never to say a mumbling word.  With the strength of all created beings at His very finger tips, He chose to be dominated.  With the government of the kingdoms and nations upon His shoulders, He bore the stripes for our healing.  This is the humility of which I speak.  The God of all creation, by Whose wisdom the earth was created and Whose Word the heavens were lightened, chose to step inside of time and accomplish our deliverance so that we could one day reign with Him. 

What is false humility to this?  The mere wraith whose feet are pierced by the hardened grass of reality (see The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis).  If you could choose between the rhinestone Cracker Jack ring or the Harry Winston heirloom, which would pick?  You would pick the heirloom, because the authenticity of the ring is what renders it its value.  Any appraiser, half-blind and dull-witted, could tell you the difference.  So which will you choose for your own life?  Pride thinly veiled as humility or true humility?  The choice is up to you.  But whatever choice you make, know that your identity, your assignments, and your very life will be the price you pay for your choosing.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I Will Try

So the other night I said something to a friend of mine that I should not have said.  This person is my closest and dearest friend.  They make it their business to go out of their way for me; they do the best they can to make my life just that much better.  In short, I wouldn’t be the woman that I am today without this person. 

Now, what I said to him was not inappropriate in and of itself.  And it wasn’t horrible as far as things go that can be said to another person.  But it was inconsiderate.  Very inconsiderate.  It was thoughtless, rude, uncalled for, and when it came out--although no intention to hurt the other person was involved--that didn’t change the fact that I hurt him. 

Now, in my defense, I had what I thought were a couple of good reasons—well, at least one—and the response I knew would follow didn’t seem to match the crime (utter silence for almost two days).  I spent the entire time focusing on how it made me feel, what it reminded me of, how much it made me want to cry.  Me, me, me!  My feelings were absolutely valid, yet in the swarm of my own valid feelings, I never stopped to consider his. 

Whilst telling him about his response’s effect on me, he had to stop me and tell me that I could not dictate his response to my actions.  I knew exactly what I thought about his response to my actions--especially after I’d already apologized to him—and I did not like it.  But who was I to tell him how to react to something that I did in the first place?  To be honest, that thought had never crossed my mind.  I was so focused on how my feelings were hurt, that it didn’t even occur to me how I’d hurt his. 

Someone who gives so much, so frequently, with no strings attached, is a giver by nature.  They do it because they want to.  They do it because they enjoy it.  They do it because they’re selfless.  Yet as giving as people like him are, they do have their limits.  And there’s nothing like a sharp slap of selfishness in the face of a selfless person to turn them off. 

In the past, I’d heard—mainly from my exes—how selfish a gal I could be at times.  And I will totally agree with them.  There were times when I flat out knew I was being selfish and would even explain why I felt entitled to my selfishness.  Other times--a lot of times--I would have what I consider a great excuse.  And in these situations, I’m never intending to hurt anyone.  But that doesn’t negate the fact that I always do. 

When it comes to the people we love, we shouldn’t always have to come up with a great excuse to make them understand how much we love them.  They should know if by our actions.  It should be unquestionable.  And for me, try though I might, it isn’t. 

Now, I can take a retrospective look and see how far I’ve come concerning my vice of selfishness.  Any ex of mine could whole-heartedly (and some grudgingly) attest to that fact.  But the more I thought about my little action, the more I realized the magnitude of the hurt I’d caused the person I love.  My little action might have seemed miniscule to you, and maybe you just had to be there.  But it was wrong.  It was very wrong.  And the more I think about the unintentional selfishness of that act, the more it breaks my heart. 

Have you ever hurt someone so badly that it hurt you because you knew how much it hurt them?  I know that’s a mouthful, but it’s the truth nonetheless.  I think in the process of maturation, we realize how our actions affect the other and that realization is a painful one.  Crushing actually.  The loved ones we hurt [usually] don’t deserve it.  Yet somehow it's always the ones closest to us that we hurt the most.  And it's in those hurtful moments that we realize how truly imperfect we are.  We realize that when we hurt our loved ones, we’re actually hurting ourselves.  

So what’s the solution to being imperfect?  Striving for perfection.  I know I’ll never actually reach it.  But at least I can try.  And that’s an effort that can be seen.  I may not always get it right, but I can try.  And when I try, those little unseemly, selfish tendencies of mine will begin to diminish.  And maybe one day, they’ll be gone altogether. That’s my hope; my goal.  But until then, I will try…