To the man who’s feeling the pressure of raising kids even though he doesn’t feel adequate, I hear you.
To the man who’s buried under the suffocating weight of debt, I hear you.
To the man who’s mistaken himself as the provider, I hear you.
To the man who’s trying his hardest to succeed at work because it validates his desire to be known, I hear you.
To the man who’s afraid of his greatness because he’s comfortable with good, I hear you.
To the man who’s been consumed with the anxiety and fear of cancer, I hear you.
To the man who’s lost one of his heroes to suicide, I hear you.
To the man who’s relying on alcohol because it feels like a way to cope with the stress, I hear you.
To the man who’s let his heart follow his eyes and his mind to places they shouldn’t wander, I hear you.
To the man who’s lost in fantasy sports and entertainment but doesn’t realize it, I hear you.
To the man who’s felt the pain of infidelity, I hear you.
To the man who’s convinced himself that approval is an adequate substitute for purpose, I hear you.
To the man who’s smiling at church yet feels immeasurably far from real faith, I hear you.
You may or may not be this man.
But I know this man.
Because this man was me.
Peel Back the Layers
For years I didn’t talk about these things. Most people don’t. But more important than talking or writing about them is the necessary work of breaking free from them.
Our truest selves lay buried beneath layers of circumstantial junk. To adapt, we cover up the junk with a false self—a version that’s slightly different from the real thing. This allows us to comfortably hide from what is real. It seems easier to live in the Matrix than to be freed from it.
But there is a moment when the desire for more outweighs the comfort of the familiar. The moment when you look in the mirror and see what is real hiding beneath what isn’t. It’s scary and you rationalize why it will be easier to ignore it. But the choice remains.
You will choose to get on with the work of discovering who you are and why you’re here, or you’ll choose apathy and fear. It’s freedom, or slavery. There is no in-between.
Will you let God peel back the layers? Will you let Him slowly chip away at the exterior to reveal the real you?
The Pain of Freedom
Most people say they want freedom, but freedom doesn’t come without the cost of pain. Whether it’s the child being freed from its mother’s womb, a nation being freed from tyranny or us being freed from the false self, true freedom involves suffering. But beyond the suffering is the excitement of progress and achievement.
C. S. Lewis describes the process as follows:
“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was jut the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know — if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away…”
If you’re courageous enough to step into this, my best advice is to make sure you don’t go at it alone. The pain is so unbearable at times that you will need someone to shoulder it with you. In my own journey, God gave me a friend and a mentor in Kevin Adams. I can’t begin to describe my deep appreciation and gratitude for his wisdom and guidance.
I’ve never climbed Mount Everest, but that’s the picture I get. No man or woman goes at it alone. When they first sought The Summit, they relied on Sherpas—indigenous people who were experts at mountaineering. Kevin is a sherpa of faith. He knows the terrain because he’s lived it. He understands the pain because he’s felt it.
To reach your final summit—your truest self—the thin air and severe conditions will be painful. Sheer effort and resilience will fail. Only then will you realize that the final summit requires the ability to fly.
The Real Self and Flying
To the man (or woman) who feels buried under layers of junk, you need to know that God doesn’t make junk, He only makes genius. First you have to ask yourself if you truly believe that. That’s a matter of faith. Then, you have to ask yourself if you’re allowing your circumstances to bury your genius. That’s a matter of honesty.
So to the man who’s buried in junk, I hear you. But you’re not alone. And, you have a choice.
If you’re willing, you’ll find that underneath the junk is a set of wings.