I dove into a lengthy debate with myself recently following a guest blog I wrote for the truly captivating Dawn Pier. To get a good sense of the whole debate, I invite you to first click here and read up. I continue the discussion below. WAIT! Don’t click away because it seems like too many words. Dive in here and you’ll won’t have missed much anyway. I think it’s worth thinking about, a little bit anyway. Read on:
So the question is: Did we EFF up, or are we EFFed up? For all of you still holding out for option C, I AM NOT EFFed up and HAVEN’T EFFed up EVER, please check back when the angels wings have shriveled up.
Let’s continue to the discussion and try it a slightly different way: If I wreck my knee my playing basketball, I might say, “My knee is EFFed UP!”
No problem. It’s a fact. The rest of me and my OKness remains in tact. But if we change that around a bit it suddenly becomes a serious moral flaw and everything goes to hell in a handbasket. To wit:
“My ___ is Effed up.” Fill in the blank with words like anger, greed, racism, relationship, soul, attitude and our OKness is somehow comprised. We judge ourselves. We know others will judge us as well. We do it all the time, where one action defines a person. And this where Dawn and I agree. We are not what we do, even though what we do often colors how people view us and whether we are considered a laudable person or a scoundrel. People want everyone on clearly chosen teams. Bad actors, over there. “Good” people, over here. You can change teams, but you can’t be on both. Thems the rules and we have social media to SCREAM it home. “OMG!!! DID YOU SEE WHAT ______ DID? #asshole”
Life doesn’t work that way. We are all scoundrels to some extent or in some areas and all capable of being good to some extent and in some areas. Life is really hard, so I suspect we are all just doing the best we can.
Let’s take a notable scoundrel like Bill Clinton. His lack of discipline with women nearly ruined his presidency, but his standing as a global thought leader has been rebuilt. Rightly so. He may be the most adept politician of our age. We struggle to accept that when it comes to women, sex and self-control Bill Clinton is pretty EFFed up, but he remains a quality person, despite it. He’s flawed, very flawed (I’d say he’s pretty fucked up in a charming kind of way, to be honest), but still a person of value.
The same could be said for most everyone: MLK, Nelson Mandela, JFK, just about any sports star or movie star you can name, etc. People can be really good in some areas and really flawed in others. They are Effed up. Yet they spend countless time being coached how to hide all of that behind their “brand.” We demand our sports stars be good people too, even to the extent we simply want them to hide all the crap we don’t want to see. We beg them to continue the fantasy.
But when we consider who is most qualified for a political job or even the job as starting quarterback, we talk so much about character it drowns out the qualification. It’s an irrational way to elect the leader of the free world or choose a QB, for that matter.
Do you really care of your brain surgeon is a bad mother and cheats on her stay-at-home hubbie? Hell no. I want her to wield a scalpel like Mozart plays the ivories. The rest matters not a whit. The same can be said for so many jobs and roles and yet in choosing people for everyone one of them, we almost always assess character as if we can know if from the cursory view we have of people.
That’s EFFed up in my opinion. Because those that hide it better will do better and be liked better.
OK, after more than 2,000 words on this subject I’m well aware I’ve forced it into places that are somewhat indefensible. Some people are EFFed beyond repair. Some disqualify themselves from a future activity. I get that. Some are evil. A QB who is such a scoundrel he’ll end up in prison isn’t a wise investment. There are exceptions. But most of us aren’t that exceptional. We’re just people. And we are a mess but loveable and have value in some areas and stink in others. There’s no shame in that.
At long last, this is my point: In admitting our EFFedness, we become less so. We are more open about it. We get help. We begin to see the destructive patterns and put in U-turns on the road paved to destruction that we’ve gone down so many times before.
As an addict I know I’m EFFed up. Something is seriously wrong with me. I know this every night at 9 p.m. when I crave chocolate in a way that is just bat-shit crazy. I’m not entirely wired right.
But I admit it. I deal with it. I diffuse it through relentless truth, with others and with myself. In admitting this flawedness, I become less flawed.
Nothing in this world is so wonderful as coming before God with all our EFFedness laid to bare and knowing my creator loves me even still. That’s grace. It’s the grease that turns the wheels of this world, rather than the grist of the mills that destroy it. It’s what is woefully missing and why so many of us our fearful of our flaws. Fear of our flaws makes us more judgemental of others. It perpetuates the lies and the brokeness we all feel to some extent inside. It’s why I think this world is broken right now. It’s devoid of grease. The gears are bound up with us caught in it.
We are left to the live the script of our lives instead of our real lives and we are so, so very alone in our flaws.
I return to Jesus, who by reputation is the only person who isn’t flawed. Jesus told us two simple things that make all the difference to me:
Do not judge, or you will be judged, he said.
Uh, no thanks. I don’t ever want to be judged again. I’ll not play judge either.
He also said, “The truth shall set you free.”
I am EFFed up, but I’m pretty wonderful, too. I am loved. The truth of all of this has set me free. That’s what make me wonderful.