Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Gluing the Whole Person

"Don't be so sensitive." It was a common comment. Rationality was on the side of those who told me this, but logic indicated otherwise. It was really pretty simple: If I have to spend my life learning to be a rock, why was I born a boy? Of course, I couldn't tell anyone else about this logic. Sensitivity is a good tool for discovering what other people don't want to hear.

What does it take to be a whole person? What aspects are missing? Everyone has their own partial take on the whole-person idea. Add up all the biases and you get enough pieces to assemble several people, none of them whole.

So, nobody knows. Psychologists stumble around in the dark, limited by the filters imposed by the person describing their troubles, and by their own school-imposed filters. We all work under a cultural bias toward a certain ideal person, which makes the picture even more muddy.

Pieces of truth, misapplied. To anyone sensitive, this should be as clear as a laser in a thunderstorm: Satan has been messing with our minds.

Take the earlier logic one step farther. It's logical that a whole human being would be alive in all regards: intellect, emotion, physical and all that go with those. The problem comes in cutting through all the fog, noise, innuendo, assumption and slightly skewed lies to... the truth.

Truth. A wonderful thing. Who has a sword sharp enough to cut away millennia of obfuscation? God Himself, and the first lie he had to deal with in me had to do with fatherhood. To me, a father is that primary voice in my head telling me to be intellectual, be stone-like, never admit hurt, train myself to ignore it and go on. The road to wholeness has a lot more obstacles than a misapplied father image. The Holy Spirit's light shines on those obstacles, which assume even more dragon-like characteristics than I saw as a child.

Now I'm old. I'm inflexible. Can't bend worth a damn. The Holy Spirit lights up a curve and I turn tail and run. Go find yourself another mountain climber, another adventurer who wants to bet his soul, his very self-concept on something as tenuous as...

A feeling. How do you know you're right? Some things can be checked intellectually; you can weigh a chunk of cheese, or read a book about the Battle of the Coral Sea. Depending on the complexity of the thing being measured there will be a fuzz factor, but you can get close. But how do you guide a life? Millions of songs have been written about a feeling called love, but they seem to be no good foundation for the real thing. So people are taught to either ignore their emotions, or go with the whim of the moment. The center way is left untravelled, because it's the truth.

We need all of us. God doesn't make junk. Would you go buy a new bicycle and then start tossing parts? Seat? Nah, don't need that. It's for sissies. I'll just stand up all the time. Gears? Don't need that complicated junk either. I'll climb on muscle power. Handlebars? Forget 'em. Steer by leaning. And brakes? Who needs to stop? If I stop, things just catch up with me. See how simple we can make life?

Simple, yes, but... is it a life? You can't steer, you can't stop, you can't climb without killing your knees, and then some other nut will come along and tell you you don't even need pedals, that you can do it all with your mind. Now you've been reduced to a vague cloud of something-or-other that does what?

Then we consider the alternative. A state-of-the art, 27-speed, disk-brake, full suspension lightweight mountain bike, possible only in the last few years due to constant development of metallurgy, careful engineering, iterative development and clever designers. You can go anywhere.

That may be the core of the whole problem. You can go anywhere. God looks as you and asks why you're stuck someplace. The whole world looks at you as if you're from Mars. It's better to hide the high-tech completeness and run around with three-quarters of your capabilities kept in a bushel basket, unseen. But it's safe. No damn-fool dreams or wild-hair ideas. Just keep going to work, wait for retirement, plan for death.

God makes the adventurer's life possible. Peter went out and walked on the storm waves with Jesus. Once started, there's really no going back, although I'd really like to. I'd stand and look back at Gomorrah until I died. Being a pillar of rock salt sounds really attractive: no worries, no hassles, and no need to hang onto God's freely offered hand as we face yet another one of those long-avoided childhood dragons.

We're not talking pussycats here. These are full-grown dragons that can, and have, taken me out for months of pain. Well, days of pain and then months of deadness. I learn my lessons well. Don't poke sleeping dragons. Step around them, or just don't go anywhere.

Jesus didn't live that way. He wasn't fearless but he know who his father was, and God gave him what he needed. This wasn't some syrupy ideal of God, a wonderful light-loving postcard God that's really made of a person's own energy. He's the God of the Universe, and Jesus lived to do His will.

Other people express God's will in other ways. We weren't made on mass-production assembly lines. Each of us was put together of specially chosen aspects. Attempts to standardize people do not come from God. Nor do admonitions to throw out this or that part. God made us whole and wants us whole and is willing to do anything it takes to bring us through the obfuscation and mud to the shining ideal He holds in his mind.

It's easier to toss things overboard. I'm a master of it. Jesus brings all that junk back.
"If I wanted it, I would have kept it."
"I want you to have it."
"Go find another sucker."
"You need it."
"Like I need another boss."
It's pretty simple after that. All he has to do is remind me of the last few years. One way is guaranteed death, of one sort or another. The other way looks like death--big dragons, mountains, howling storms, sharp rocks, and a very long fall if something breaks. In the past it has always been when something breaks, so I've never started the trip. Now I'm up there.

Failure really isn't an option any more. God won't let me fail.

What's really hard in this is explaining to others. I know what popular Christian culture says about emotions and self-examination. I've heard it all. I know I'm right. I feel it. That doesn't mean this path is for everyone. I don't expect everyone to jump on the self-examination bandwagon so that I can develop Larry Nelson Ministries and emblazon my name across the world. God knows what you need. He knows who you are. If you want to know, ask Him. He tells the truth through the years it takes to learn the answer in all its multifaceted, multi-level complexity. Only he is a sure enough guide through the weird country of the soul.

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