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A Cautionary Truth (not a tale!) Part 1

In the song, Merry Go ‘Round,’ the songwriter reveals the world as an unending ride of hopelessness where people spin around in an unending cycle of lies and broken promises.  Reality itself has become muddy - grey by its dishonesty.  Sadly, they have stopped hoping for anything better for they have been broken down by the monotonously repetitive ride (lies) of the world that nothing will ever be better; which many eventually just accept as reality because getting off the ride seems either too hard; or impossible to conceive.  With acceptance (resignation) now in place, the ‘will’ to survive requires a partner.  Enter: distraction with a myriad of devices and techniques to lull us all asleep.

Merry Go ‘Round’


Same hurt in every heart.  Same trailer, different park.

Mama's hooked on Mary Kay.  Brother's hooked on Mary Jane.
Daddy's hooked on Mary two doors down.
Mary, Mary quite contrary. We get bored, so, we get married.
Just like dust, we settle in this town.
On this broken merry go 'round and 'round and 'round we go
Where it stops, nobody knows and it ain't slowin' down… This merry go 'round.

···

Mary, Mary, quite contrary.  We're so bored until we're buried.
Just like dust, we settle in this town.
On this broken merry go 'round.
Merry go 'round.

Jack and Jill went up the hill.
Jack burned out on booze and pills.
And Mary had a little lamb.
Mary just don't give a damn no more.


Like many of us, these men and women have succumbed into believing in their own powerlessness and ‘go through the motions’ just as zombies do; who cannot participate or taste of life; who know no joy, no reward, no rest.  Are we ‘dead’?  No. Not yet.  This is why God refers to us as the ‘walking dead’! 

You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside; but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.

And God was speaking to the teachers of the time!  Is there nothing better we can teach others than stillness, submission and decay?  Is there no way to overturn the cycle of hopelessness and lifelessness as revealed in the song; or God’s observation of man (woman)?

Stress caused by pain or worry is a brooding heaviness.  In this world stress seems inevitable like a storm’s path we can’t avoid or outrun - no matter how hard we try.  It can feel either like lightning in our brains; or make our minds foggy.  It can make our ears ring and it can cause our stomachs to feel queasy.  Some feel stress as though a heavy rock has been placed in the middle of their chests.  Ignoring it doesn’t seem to be a remedy either.

It is no wonder that people fail to recognize the signs of a heart attack or stroke when they hit.  Many people are living with these symptoms of dis-ease every day.  Stress has a top position in our lives; it has weight.  It has become our CEO; our overlord.  It represses the peace and joy, the lightness and security we all want to feel in our lives.  It is under this crushing weight of imposed burdens (sometimes by the self) that we create so many distractions for ourselves.  We are attempting to cover-up our own distress through self-comfort; while ignoring our symptoms even at the expense of others.  

It was when Moses obtained the Ten Commandments from God that the Law was made clear to the people of then.  The Law was etched into stone (upon their request) and now those who said they knew the Law (the Truth) could no longer excuse or justify their lives and their misdeeds by feigning ignorance.    Were they angry when all their ‘excuses’ for bad choices were crushed?  Yes, because this was not the Law they had asked for.  They wanted to continue making bad choices without being ‘called’ on them; like someone in a game who knows the rules but tries to get the win by cheating anyway. 

Centuries later Paul reminded us that we should be thankful to God because, ‘He has given us victory over our own sin through our Lord, Jesus Christ.’  He was (is) the living Word and no longer a carving upon a rock.  As such, He lived out the Truth so that all might see and do the same and have Life.

Paul said, ‘The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law’.  How does this relate to the pain we experience emotionally, as well as the pain in our chest, our head or our stomach? We too, who have had the ‘remedy’ revealed to us, must apply it in order to fully heal. 

Is God punishing us with these symptoms?  No, they are merely signs - the consequences of our wrongful choices.  Even so, with all the bad choices we make He continues as the Good Doctor to provide us with healing in many forms. One way is through doctors and medicines. He has even provided us with a built-in alarm system notifying us when something is not right and in need of our attention in the form of pain. 

Imagine your life is like a sports event.  Pain occurs like a flag on a play notifying us that an offense has been committed and that the action must stop; or the omission must be dealt with.  In a game the ref suspends the ‘play’ because he has determined that something outside the rules has occurred and that this infraction must be dealt with before the game proceeds.  In paying attention to the error, he slows down the game.  Temporarily stopping the action is the first step in making the game ‘potentially’ safer for everyone.  Yes, potentially.  Because the players still have free will.  Will they listen to his rules and adhere to them in the next play(s)? 

Spectators watch with great interest to see what will transpire as the game gets going again.  Too many penalties or time-outs would slow down the action; but real fans would likely stay till the end.  ‘Die-hards’ we call them.  Does our interest in sports extend to our own lives or the lives of others?  Are we die-hards in our love for others? 

In sports, they often ‘replay’ the action; sometimes in slow motion to determine the details of what happened during a particular play.  In this way coaches, players, refs and fans can move on to the next play better informed.  There is a great opportunity now for prevention:  to avoid committing the same errors.  That is a good lesson to live by as there will be more ‘live play’ not to mention fewer injuries likely.  But unlike the highly motivational and motivating world of sports, we tend to linger in our errors.  But in replaying our past errors we can establish new standards.  We can hold up everything we do to the Truth - the Way of Jesus which was to live and die Love.  His Love healed those around Him.  He was a living de-stressor.  Imagine Jesus walking onto the field of say, a football game.  Unlike a referee, He would not have to say a word because He is the Word.  Nor would there be another flag on a play.  All would be transformed by His Presence for He would not favour one side or the other.  ‘Time out’ His Way would bring clarity and peace – even if for just one moment, no one could deny the Truth, Peace and Love He revealed to them.

But our human nature is weak:  we can only be ‘good’ for so long before doing ‘the wrong thing’ again - even when we know it is ‘against-the-rules’.  Instead of re-playing our past errors in our minds so as to avoid them in the future, we re-make them over and over and over again.  We call it ‘falling’.  For example, ‘I fell with so-and-so!’ (meaning, sex); or ‘I fell off the wagon!’ (meaning, back into addiction.)

Saying we ‘fell’ is how we excuse ourselves from our misdeeds or bad choices; and how we mask our intentional refusal to follow the rules.  We cut ourselves so much slack.  In sports it would look like partiality (sympathy) for our favourite player who ‘tripped up’ on a play.  Protectively we might say, ‘It’s not his fault.  He probably tripped over a bit of loose turf,’ or ‘I think number 29 tripped him.  I hate number 29!’  You might even hear blasphemy (blaming God) in the stands where a player’s ‘fall’ or ‘error’ was an act of prejudice or disinterest by God and not the player’s fault at all!  We are the prejudiced ones.  We pre-judge the actions of others according to our own standards which can change from moment to moment.  Human opinion is always changing depending on who we like:  our friends, our family, our team; or who we don’t like:  everyone else.  But the Truth is the Truth.  It never changes.

We can be totally blind or even feign blindness to avoid dealing with what is plainly before our eyes (or within us)…the truth.  Jesus said, I am the Truth.  He is a permanent structure within us.  He never leaves the field, so to speak.  We are always in His Presence.  Let us never forget this.  Let us not fan our excuses by pretending that He is not ever-present, willing and ready to help us attain peace and happiness by revealing the truth about who we are and the ‘plays’ we make in our lives.  It may seem that He is always spoiling our game or slowing us down by blowing the whistle on our bad plays.   But just like the ref, He does it for our own good and the good of all the other players involved.  And at the same time He always highlights how much better we could all be with His Love as a new and permanent reality - so much more than a mere ‘game’ strategy.  His Love is powerful enough to help us overcome the fouls of the past. If we paid attention the first time, we could all save ourselves (and others) so much future pain and suffering.

At least pain is hard to ignore; it serves as a ‘silent’ messenger of truth, speaking more loudly than any words seem to.  In a game, even when the toughest athlete is injured, he can only withstand a certain level of pain.  It is not unusual to see players limping or being carried off the field (or ice).  It would be criminally negligent to let them play out the game this way.  It could lead to their further injury; and perhaps endanger others as well.  Unfortunately, we esteem athletes who can take a lot of pain; these are our heroes.  But unfortunately, we have seen the heart-breaking flip side of pain cover-up in the many ruined careers and untimely (early) deaths of athletes who in order to please fans and increase their fame or to earn larger salaries agree (or are forced) to push through their pain.  Must we be reminded that the ‘live’ action of the game is unimportant when compared to the actual lives of the players? 

So it must be in our own lives.  Masking our pain will never heal us.  We cannot play out ‘fake’ scenes to please ourselves and others without future consequences.  We must face what is really going on in our lives.  We must face the truth.  Only by facing it will we find the answer, the healing we need.  It is for these obvious reasons that pain should never be ignored and that it must be dealt with.  Subduing pain is not healing the injury directly; nor does it address the situation that caused the injury.  In dealing with it we help others to do the same.  When we lay out our lives, our mistakes, it paves the way (clears the field) for others to navigate the field to achieve their own goals (touchdowns).

And so, if we in our emotional or physical pain refuse the medicine, help or remedy provided to us, it makes us culpable for the lives of others.  Pain is a signal we should never ignore.  If we do, it can easily grow into a destructive force powered by pride or even lack of care on our part.  This is how we grease the machinery of the merry-go-round of life and perpetuate the ride by not being an example to those around so they may be spared the long road and achieve a quicker victory which is joy, peace and happiness from you having laid out your life for them just as athletes do in replays.  Don’t be shy.  Don’t be an armchair athlete when you can be a living inspiration to others.

 

 

 

 

 

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