Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Myth of Self-Sufficiency

This faith business is puzzling.

I often experience the reality of God's presence in my life in the midst of turmoil and trauma. I rarely experience the reality of God's presence in my life in the midst of plenty, peace, and prosperity. When really, really good things are happening in my life, I tend to take God for granted. When all hell breaks loose, I sense my need for God, and I eagerly seek His peace and comfort. And God delivers. It's happened to me many times. My external world may be falling apart, but I have known a peace that passes understanding. Don't try to make sense of that from a logical standpoint. It doesn't make sense. But I know what I know. But when I am living my comfortable, complacent, middle-class American suburban life, God can seem superfluous. Thanks for being there, God. I'll check back with you when the shit hits the fan.

I wonder why that is.

Right now life is good on all fronts. I'm surrounded by family I love, friends I love. My employer pays me a lot of money to do work that isn't all that difficult. Free CDs magically appear in my mailbox. I win the door prize at random drawings. Blessings are busting out all over on the writing front, and I'm being offered opportunities that ought to leave me shaking my head in wonder and amazement. I'm heading out on vacation next week. And it's summer, and the sun is shining. God? Sure, He can come along to the beach, too. Maybe He can make it sunny all next week.

I am not as thankful as I ought to be. And I am not as cognizant of God's role in this process as I ought to be. This is particularly true on the writing front. It's about time, damn it, I think. I've worked hard, and I've waited years for the rest of the world to recognize what I've always known. Is "genius" too strong a word? I think not. Well, okay, maybe. How about "literary stud?" Andy Whitman, Poet of the Prairie, Westerville's Wordsworth, the Shakespeare of Suburbia, Dostoyevsky with a Dental Plan and a well diversified stock portfolio.

The problem is, I really do think that way sometimes. There is an ever-present tendency to incorporate all of reality into the Kingdom of Me, to see all of these seemingly random events through a lens in which I am the star player in a tragicomedy whose subject matter is no less than Life, the Universe, and Everything, as told (in marvellously entertaining fashion) by Andrew J. Whitman.

It's bullshit. If I have gifts and talents, they come from God. If I have peace and prosperity, it's because God has allowed that to happen. If I have trials and traumas, it's because God has allowed that to happen. And if I have breath enough to conclude this sorry posting, it's because God has allowed that to happen.

Here's a prayer: Jesus Christ, Savior of the world, have mercy on me, a sinner. It's not a bad way for Dostoyevskys with Dental Plans to pray. Please forgive my foolish pride. Help me to recognize that if I am the author of stupid and ultimately meaningless Birdmonster album reviews, you are the author of life itself. Take my story, which I have written badly, and re-write me into something beautiful for your kingdom.

7 comments:

lucas said...

Andy, I've heard of you, read your stuff, supposedly been in the same room as you. We know the same people, but somehow we've never met. It's probably because I'm a Jimmy Buffett fan... Your post hit me like an arrow by the way.

Mark K said...

Andy,

Your post reminds me of Rom. 7. You are expressing the struggle between the Spirit and flesh. This is good; it means you're aware of the conflict.

God is drawing us to Himself. It's good when we feel that draw without suffering. I usually have to suffer before I think, "Oh yea, God."

May we all give in to the pull of God.

mg said...

that's a great prayer!

John Francis said...

'Kingdom of Me vs. Kingdom of God'

Good to see your transparent honesty, and to read your
confessions. You had me laughing with your 'dostoyesvky with a dental plan', and I resonate.

its true what you say, the spotlight is not the prize for a writer or a songwriter . let our prize be participating in the beauty and mystery of our Author.

I find it real hard.

Kyrie Eleison

one day we will talk again, Andy.

peace,
John Francis

Andy Whitman said...

Lucas, thanks for your comment. I'm pretty sure I know who you are as well, so I'll introduce myself the next time I'm in the vicinity. I see John M. all the time, but rarely at work (unless he's conducting a beer tasting/marketing study).

John, it's great to hear from you. I like your definition of the prize. Let's keep pursuing it.

Do you ever tour outside the eastern U.S.? Please come to Ohio -- Columbus, specifically. As you know, I love your music and the vision for your music, and I bet I could rustle up enough folks to make it worthwhile. There are enough folks in my church who would "get" your music to make it worthwhile, for that matter.

I hope the new album is progressing nicely. By all means, keep in touch, and I look forward to the day when we can talk again.

John Francis said...

Andy,

It's real good to hear from you too.
Columbus? yes.
Ohio is on the tentatively planned route for the fall tour.
Its being booked as we speak. Universities, listening rooms, 'alternative' venues, and yeah - I'd love to come to your church.
I'm interested.
Shall we discuss it further?

peace to you,
John Francis

John Francis said...

Andy,


You there?


Been tryin to reach you...
I'd love to come to your town this fall.

peace

John Francis