Sigh Not So

By

It’s a dangerous thing to be alive, where temptations to think we’re better than others are everywhere. Temptations to believe we deserve more, ubiquitous. Sinful pride is part of our awful inheritance, even when we’re depressed.

Sometimes I think it’s all about me, that even my failures are more important than they really are, or ever could be. It’s the smoking gun of pretended sovereignty, of usurpation. I sigh, denied.

And my sighs are the song of selfishness thwarted. Sighs pour forth from the fancy mouths of make believe monarchs, kings detecting treason in every ordinary frustration. Everyone is out to get the selfish man, because everything is about him.

I sigh because I’m a thirty-four year old man and crying in public is bad P.R.

If I sigh, a defeated, surrendering soul, I am blessed.

If I sigh, a frustrated king, an idolater whose god just did nothing again, I am a moaning idiot. I am slapping back at the gift-hand of my Father.

Who am I? Good question.

It’s the only question and only the right answer will serve.

Because from that answer I know my story and the danger then is in forgetting. We are skydivers all, but there is such a thing as a parachute. Remember?

Sighs are so often the evidence of my forgetting. They are the heaving woes of wounded idols. They are the crying out for water now, bread now, a return to the slavery of Egypt now.

But, though I am often a forgetter, I am never forgotten.

That makes me happy.

Don’t forget to remember who you are and remember not to forget it. And never never ever ever be redundant.

Speaking of redundancy: When my brothers and I were kids, my Dad had one instruction when he dropped us off anywhere. He would always say “Don’t forget whose boys you are.”

A good word.

Whose child are you? The answer to that question, for those in Christ by grace, is a sigh of relief.

Be relieved. Be happy. Sigh not so.

 

 

 

 

Images from Alan Jacobs, The Gospel of Trees

 



32 Comments

  1. Stacy Grubb

    I’ve very literally been sighing all day…the moaning idiot kind. This is a reminder I don’t feel like hearing, but really did need. I feel resentful that you’ve posted this, but only because it’s true and I can’t always handle the truth. I might pretend I didn’t read it for just a little while. Being a moaning idiot is my comfort zone. But I won’t be able to ward your words off for long and that’s the devil of the whole thing. I want to feel forgotten right now because, you know what, I’ve been wronged and I’ve been overlooked and I can’t figure things out. I don’t know if that’s truly accurate, but it feels counter-intuitively good to believe it right now. I like being bitter and then crying about it (probably also bad PR for a 30 year old woman). I’ll thank you later, S.D.

  2. JJ

    As a friend so wonderfully said to me years ago, which angered me greatly at the time but which I smack my forehead with my palm now because they were so right, “JJ, the world does not revolve around you.”

    Sigh. They were right. And I’m glad.

  3. Hannah

    “But, though I am often a forgetter, I am never forgotten.”

    Beautiful thought, Mr. Smith. Funny how posts on the Rabbit Room seem to always come at the right moment. Huh.

  4. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Good words, Sam. Since we have received the Spirit which is from God, and all virtue resides in him who lives in us, our primary “job” now is recognizing what we’ve received and stepping out on the eternal Facts. In Christ lives everything of God, all God’s fullness; in us lives Christ. Therefore in us lives everything that God is; we are literally filled full of the Trinity (Colossians); we are named and natured with the name and nature of our Father in Heaven, partakers of the divine nature.

    Problem is, first off, we don’t know these things; we let the world determine our identity, and try to get fullness from Doing. Secondly, once we know them, we forget. The great thing, though, is that we can say to God, “When I forget my name, remind me,” to quote the Proprietor.

  5. Tracey

    Nice, “But, though I am often a forgetter, I am never forgotten.”
    I do agree…and although we often feel alone we never alone. We just allow the world to block our feeling of connection with the Divine, but God has never- for even a second- broken that connection. It is always secure and waiting for us to partake and enter into. Through connection with God we find our authentic and higher sense of self, the one that God intends us to be….It is our own ego and the noise of the world that interferes, shutting us out from the communion we could enjoy. Making us feel separate, isolated and alone….individuals all pursuing selfish agendas instead of collective members of God’s community on earth working for peace and justice together.

  6. Mike

    I sit here, tears streaming down my face, sobs of grief making it hard to keep my fingers on the keys. The grief, because I can’t seem to remember who I am; because I spend my days sighing; because the throne of my heart is so often occupied by everything and everyone except the One who does not disappoint or bring dissatisfaction. Who am I to sigh…?

    Oddly enough, this rabbit trail began with Andrew Peterson’s “Harry Potter, Jesus, and Me”. What a conflict for me. I discovered Andrew’s music a few months ago when I heard “Dancing in the Minefields” and my heart broke. Broke with sadness because my wife and I struggle so greatly and I wish it was so much different. But, the sadness was coupled with an even greater amount of Hope that I so often lose. And it was harder than we dreamed but I believe that’s what the promise is for. I forget about the promise. I forget that it’s about laying my own life down. I forget why that’s possible. She and I will be there, some day, dancing. So, I break still, every time I hear the song. I started listening to more of Andrew’s music and discovered a gift from the Lord, wrapped up in music that sings to my soul and words that speak to my heart. I have not before found an artist’s work that so greatly overwhelms me. So truthful. So worshipful. So much an expression of the things in my heart. It could only be from my Father. (Thank you Andrew, brother, for being faithful to allow God to use you in this way.)
    So, today I discovered Andrew’s website, and… Uh-oh. Harry Potter. Jesus. Andrew Peterson. I decided to read the post, if only because I feared a great disappointment coming and I wanted to face it head-on. I have avoided Harry Potter because of the evil I sensed there. And, I still will. However, I understood the growing conviction I felt as I read, when I got to the part: “But listen: we’re free to enjoy the good and the beautiful, even from the most unlikely places. We’re free—and this is huge—to look for the light in people (and things!), to give them the benefit of the doubt, to laud their beauty, to outlove unloveliness–in short, to love as Christ loves us.” Love. And, freedom in Christ. The problem isn’t that some people enjoy things that I think are wrong, it’s that I don’t love them anyway. It’s that I try to steal my brother’s and sister’s freedom. It’s that self steals my own freedom. I have spent the last few years un-learning the legalism I was taught growing up and this hits like a battering ram to the last vestiges of it. Intolerance is not combated with tolerance, as the world teaches us. We don’t need to be tolerant, we need to love.

    So, at the end of the post Andrew mentions The Rabbit Room. Seems a fitting place to end a rabbit trail. So, I go. And I see this line: “It’s a dangerous thing to be alive, where temptations to think we’re better than others are everywhere.” I can already sense the danger of reading further. I’d better do it. You know, when it comes to dying to self, the application of “kick ‘em when they’re down” is a good thing. Ouch. I am a king. I detect treason in every ordinary frustration. I have a fancy mouth… Wow. The “who am I to steal freedom” I was feeling earlier is now coupled with “who am I to sigh”. It’s good to be humble. And, as Sam Smith points out, “who am I” is the deeper question. I realize I am not quick to answer. I could tell you all the things I know in my head about who I am, but what would my heart say? Another thing I’m learning, to speak with my heart and not with my head. Jesus is in my heart. I have a better chance of speaking the Truth if I speak from my heart. My head is full of opinions and false truths. This is where my sighs usually come from. If only they came from my heart. Romans 8:26, in The Message, says: “He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.” My sighs are the evidence of forgetting, and sometimes not even knowing in my heart, who I am. Also, the evidence of not forgiving. As Sam says, “It’s a dangerous thing to be alive,” and besides the temptations, we also incur a lot of damage from this fallen world. It all needs to be forgiven in Jesus’ name.

    The tears have stopped now. I took many roads to get here, and some healing took place this morning. Thank you Sam! Thank you Andrew! Praise God!

  7. Mike P

    Thank you Sam. That was both beautiful and timely. No wonder I sigh so much.

    Mike- you are not alone, there are so many people who have stories like yours, and many that do not even realize it like you do. The unlearning takes time.

  8. Nick and Susan

    S.D.,

    You wrote “Sometimes I think it’s all about me, that even my failures are more important than they really are, or ever could be.” That sentence may has well have been in bold, red letters because of how it stood out to me.

    I messed up ‘big time’ earlier this week and have dragged that ‘failure’ around with me for days like one of Jacob Marley’s chains – forgetting that I can take if off (Eph. 4: 21-24) forgetting who I am and Who I belong to and that that failure was dealt with long ago.

    Oddly enough, the chain is off now and yet in much the same way that Eustace beheld his dragon scales, “Lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking”, I am tempted to look and think how ugly it looked on me and yet perhaps how it fit me better, because that’s what I was – that’s how I acted – like a dragon. But, (and oh isn’t that a delicous word sometimes!)…But, what did Aslan do? He dressed Eustace.

    I’m so glad you ended this post by saying “Whose child are you?”. The answer to that question gives me peace. I also loved what you wrote about your dad saying “Don’t forget whose boys you are.”. I finished reading The Dark Sea of Darkness out loud to my children this afternoon, and I had such a hard time reading the last chapter to them, even though I had read the book a few years ago and knew the story and how beautifully the first book ends. But, reading these last few lines today was more poignant than it was back then – (plus I try and do the voices – so I was reading out loud using a ‘fatherly’ tone – rather than reading in my head) which meant my eyes were brimming with tears when I got to this part.

    “Remember this: You are an Annieran. Your father is a king. You are his son. This is your land, and nothing can change that. Nothing”

    Susan

  9. Amber Leffel

    Mike – beautiful words. Be encouraged. There is so much Life in and around you, so much of that Hope that you mentioned – it is real, it is coming, it is True.

    And Susan – some of your words reminded me of what I read this morning in the first part of 2 Corinthians 5…

    “For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened–not that we would be unclothed, but that we may be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee” (vv. 2-5).

    God bless you, all!

  10. Tony Heringer

    First, I love Alan Jacobs – though I’ve not really explored his works. He is a frequent guest on Mars Hill Audio Journal and a very insightful dude (http://www.marshillaudio.org/resources/guest_detail.asp?ID=118 ). I know it was a footnote to the piece but WOW! The website that they’ve put together for Gospel of Trees is wonderful. I’ll definitely check that out again.

    Thanks for the post Sam and for all the follow on comments especially Mike – welcome to a very safe place to share you heart as you have so eloquently done. Even though you may not believe it, it sounds like you are already “dancing in the minefields”. We all step on our partners feet from time to time but we have to remember to keep dancing. Thanks again for sharing with us and we’ll keep you and your family in our prayers.

  11. Witmer

    Sam,

    I love the poetry in this post. Not just the great word choice, but how the great word choice allows you to say so much in a little space. Thanks for writing this.

    Mike, thank you for sharing your story with us. Your confession is what the Holy Spirit used to sharpen Sam’s beautiful words and thrust them into my soul. Your struggle is my struggle. My most active ugly sins, as well as my sighs, are due to my demand for sovereignty of my life. And those I wound the most are those who are closest.

    But there is hope if we “Don’t forget whose boys you are.”

  12. Ugly Biscuit

    I’m a Sigh-kinda-guy
    Guts and gear-Garry Nigh
    Would a sigh kinda guy
    Grope a Drip-Draggus Pie?
    When he knows that his prose about toes tarries often…
    And Sockston McLaughlin’s gone the way of the coffin.

    A Sad sack of salmon says he, says he knot?
    Nope he nevers
    Nots he nangles
    On a SefflaPorris Cot.
    With a Crispy Three Dekker
    And a Ted Dekker Tome.
    And a fold-over Sammy
    And Funyun-made home.
    And a dust-jacket moat huggin’ throat missin’ Heath.
    And that blond-headed girl with the gap in her teeth.
    Singing: Take a chance on me…

    My only defense is that I spent some time with Jabberwocky today plus two hours and thirty minutes with Harry Potter.

    Mr. Smith, way to smack a homerun my friend. Wonderful! I love the ‘redundancy’ bit. Priceless!

  13. Mike

    Thanks once again Sam for the reminder. I read this week that although Abram’s name may not have been written in the book of life, Abraham’s was; neither was Saul’s but you better believe Paul’s is. We need to remember that we have been given a new name, a new nature, and a new Man is being formed in us. We are known for the person we are going to be, actually who we already are, we just don’t know it yet.

    Welcome to the Rabbit Room Mike; at least that’s what we’ll call you until we learn your new name.

  14. Dan Kulp

    I’m older than you. sigh.
    And you grow a better beard. sigh.

    May your redundancy never be repeated, unless it is good and not bad.

    Thanks for sharing.

    “A man does not grow a beard on a whim.” GKC

  15. S. D. Smith

    @sdsmith

    Hey Friends,

    I’m just now getting to where I can comment, but am completely out of steam after a long day heaped on a stack of many other long days. But I wanted thank you each for such excellent and thoughtful comments. It’s no surprise, of course, to find such things here at the RR, but I’m thankful for them nonetheless.

    Thanks, Mike. It takes some guts to say all that. I appreciate your heart and join the others in welcoming you. Andrew’s music and writing mean so much to me as well and I receive so much goodness from it. I’m so humbled and grateful that these few words have been added to some other ingredients to challenge or impact your heart for good. That’s really wonderful to hear and I deeply appreciate you sharing it. Peace to you, in Christ.

    Again, I am so thankful for each comment and want to respond to each. I love the way posts in the RR are so often like a foundation upon which is built the better parts of the home.

  16. Linda Hartzell

    “Some words are like faces we’ve known long before, and some like new places to find and explore.” (from Words are Like Faces by Edith Baer, with illustrations by Karen Gundersheimer, a favorite children’s book that I unearthed long ago in the Lawncrest Library in Philadelphia, and haunted Amazon’s Marketplace till I finally found a used copy several years later, and when it came, discovered that it had been inscribed by the author!) Your words, poetry in prose, are both. Discovering this treasure, the Rabbit Room blog entries, this week has caught me completely off guard … my soul was hungry for them, and I didn’t even know it till I started devouring them. Thank you.

  17. Mike B (formerly just Mike) :)

    I added the “B” to my name so the Mike’s don’t get all mixed up… 🙂

    I want to thank you all for the encouraging words and the warm welcome! Mike P, Amber, Tony, Witmer, Mike and Sam, you have demonstrated God’s unconditional love to me as I shared what could have prompted a conditional response. I haven’t shared my heart so openly before in a format like this, and your response honors God and is what He wants from His church, His body, and it’s a refreshment to me! Thank you for helping me as I learn to be who God created me to be!

    I look forward to more challenging and truthful posts, Sam!

  18. Goodgame

    Sam, thanks for this wonderful, life giving post. Giving me a new, “breath of fresh air” kind of sigh today. And Mike! Brother – that was so beautiful. Thanks for spilling your heart out for us. Reading your words nourished me as much as reading Sam’s post.

  19. Becca

    “Sighs are so often the evidence of my forgetting.”

    I’ve read this post three times over the past week just because it was written so beautiful. But I needed it particularly today. Great work, Sam.

    P.S. When you get the chance, I want to know the theological implications of a hiccup.

  20. Becca

    BEAUTIFULLY! Darn it. I know that I wrote “beautifully.” ‘Scanning the rest of my post for a dismembered “ly.”

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