Being Alive Is The Only Way To Know You Were Dead

The chorus from the song Cardiff Giant by mewithoutYou contains a sentiment which has played through my mind a lot.

I often wonder if I’ve already died.

I keep looking back to my late twenties and wonder if I died back then. I wonder if I squandered freedom.

Subliminally, I think I died.

Superficially, I obtained multiple degrees (family cheers), I got the start of a technically skilled career (society cheers), and I even materialistically helped stimulate the economy by buying a car with said start of career (auto-makers cheer).

Prepared during my late teens and early 20’s with my arsenal of bibles, books and blogs, I knew I was entering my late 20’s (and the rest of my life?) with Jesus centered ways pinned to my chest.

I had my worn down Blue Like Jazz book. I had my copy of Irresistible Revolution. My NIV bible had my notes in the margins and underlined verses. My blog roll was a who’s who of Christian blogging at it’s finest (and worst) of the mid-2000’s. Blogging’s golden years.

I put in the work I needed to position myself to be in the world but not of it.

Vocation would eventually line up, I kept telling myself. My degrees could be justified in several ways once I started doing the tough, missional like work in my field. And I was certain I would be volunteering for key places doing incredible community development work.

But I wonder if I died somewhere before.

Which death had I died?

A death for freedom? Or a death for fear?


Cubicle sitting and eating
Desk + Fast Food

Death is cunning because it just sort of slinks in and sits back. It really doesn’t have to do much after a nudge.

I didn’t account for cubicle sitting. Sitting and sitting and sitting. I realize in college and for the previous 25 years in my life there were things like recess or the end of the 45 minute class. Or even the class of physical activity in and of itself. The desk job life was nothing I prepared for.

Sitting at work all day and doing a job would lead me to medicate at the fast food line carousel. Enabled, ironically, by the payment received for sitting at the desk and doing work.

An additional 60lbs later, the outward manifestation of my death was showing.

I also didn’t account for brain drain and video game indulgence. I played countless hours of video games after coming home from work. The last thing I wanted to do was think more, so why not mindlessly button mash? Quick dopamine surges to the brain in the form of taking the imaginary hockey team you manage to the Stanley Cup playoffs for the third year in a row. Besides, healthier more put together people my age play way more video games than I do.

Another outward expression I had died at some point, pacified by a fake digital world.

I hardly needed to be coached about not buying a new car. Used will always be the best bet, if I even need a car at all. Financially it would make sense. But by the time I was done test driving the newest model car it wasn’t even logic anymore. New car it was.

More outward expressions I had died along the way. Shane Claiborne would be mad.

And there were the denials.

When leaving work early on a Wednesday a co-worker asked where I was heading off to. Instead of answering plainly “I’m heading off to worship band practice at the church I attend,” I would say “oh, off to something I got to do.”

Not only did ‘something’ satisfy the curiosity of my colleague, but it satisfied my dying state.

When writing up a meet the staff blog post about me, one of the interview questions was “Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us?” I said that I have been playing the guitar since the age of seven.

But why, over two years into this job, would something so central to my core be a surprise to my co-workers? Why would this be something I need to hide from people?

What a weird surprise. I had slowly killed the musician in me the more I justified the pursuit of a career.

I don’t think I have to wonder too much if I had died.

Right now death is pissed off.

I came alive again. I woke up slowly inside safe, small community talking about several of the above items, while they were happening.

Only when you are alive do you know how dead you were.

All that preparation ahead of time in my life prior to my late 20’s didn’t go for not. All that digging into who Jesus really is and how I am to navigate this world was deeply embedded in me.

The problem was I didn’t allow any of it to release. I was letting death deal blows while life suffocated inside.

But now I am alive.

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Life + Value

I am alive because the fast food line doesn’t control me anymore. The 60lbs put on is now 80lbs I’ve lost over the past two years.

The guitar isn’t just back in my hands, it never left, but it is truly a mark of worship to the God who gave me the ability to play in the first place.

My down time isn’t spent playing video games to decompress, but to continue self educating myself with books I’ve always wanted to read.

And death hates this so much.

I often wonder if I’ve already died.

Well, I did die.

But now. Now. I am alive.


I leave you with what the singer of mewithoutYou has to say about this song, not only what I took from it. It’s a song off an album about a circus train derailing in 1878. Hence why he mentions the animals in the following interview responding to Cardiff Giant:

“That song is a dialogue between the tiger and the peacock, both of whom stayed in captivity for different reasons. The tiger was very deliberate in remaining because of his sense of internal freedom regardless of external circumstances, but the peacock just feels kind of stuck. And the first time it’s the peacock saying “I often wonder if I’ve already died,” meaning a sense of having squandered her freedom—she missed the opportunity to escape and she’s stuck in this life that has no purpose or growth. And then the tiger responds in the second chorus saying the same thing, but it means almost the exact opposite—the tiger is wondering if the ego has been annihilated, if the self has been totally surrendered, and the tiger has been taken to some new, higher level of consciousness or reality. So it’s taking the same exact sentence and flipping it on its head.

I was the peacock certainly. Death had me trapped and was convincing me I squandered my freedom. Give up. You’re dead.

But I’m the tiger now. Death got me for sure. But it never got me internally. Death can’t trap me anymore. I am surrounded by too much life, life abundant.

 

Take The Depths Too

You want me to be something
Other than the disaster I am
With none of the side effects of
Losing regrets I’ll never see completed.

There is a constant sense of
Moving along without self inflicted burdens,
Yet born out of terrors are the exact
Words we all desire of me.

So come, rescue what’s left if you want,
But please, for the sake of
Sacredness within all we see and feel,
Rescue everything, take the depths too.

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Convalesce

It’s day 366. It’s not a leap year either. It’s simply day 366. Or day one.

And today at the gym the song Convalesce by Wolves At The Gate came on in my headphones. These lyrics penetrate my soul deeply.

The song title is enough to make me weep. Convalesce. A word meaning to recover gradually after a time of sickness.

It’s the chorus stinging the most:

Show Me your sorrow My love
This burden is the milestone ’round your neck
Convalesce and I will bear, bear your shame

Jesus bears our burdens. He bears mine. My shame feels exactly like a milestone tied around my neck.

It’s the beauty of this chorus’ melody and structure. The music is nearly perfect to me. It’s the message too that packs the punch where I need it.

It’s Jesus saying: Recover gradually son, you were sick, but I got you. Show Me your sorrow, I really love you. I’ll even take your shame with Me. But this milestone, this burden, this weight, this torment, it has to go. And I’ll take it. Recover gradually son. I love you.


It’s day one. Not just day 366. In fact, it doesn’t matter what length of time it’s been for me or for you.

The only thing I know for certain is the thing I’ve known since a child. Jesus has me, He has my burdens, He has my shame.

Convalesce.

Heal.

Narcissistic Love

Love overwhelmed me. And I found myself crying in my car in the church parking lot.

Like crying crying. Not whimpering. Not onion chopping crying. But pent up emotions and trials and bewilderment and disbelief crying.

It was the culmination of all the events of my past year packaged into one heavy question I asked out loud in tears:

‘God, am I narcissistic to believe for one second every seemingly unrelated, earth-rattling event which occurred in my life over the past year happened because You love me? Can all these debilitating events be in rhythm with the incredibly joyful events, married to each other in order to finally capture not just my attention but my heart?’

It broke me. And I think that is the point.

I was begging the question in the most relational way possible as the tears flowed. How could God be utilizing the actions of others to breakthrough to me? It struck a nerve because I was trying to convince myself God shouldn’t be including other people and their circumstances just to usher me deeper into His embrace.

God loves me? When the fact manifested itself in multiple wake up calls, love dissolved into the innermost parts of my soul. And the fight was on as I was saying out loud in the car ‘God loves me? How narcissistic of me! All these things happening to me, involving others, crashing me down or lifting me up, all of it can’t be happening just to refine me so I fully trust God! That’s so self centered.’

I was fighting with a strong either/or. Either all this is randomness occurring while I attempt to piece my life together. Or it’s all happening because God loves me so much. I was finally breaking down with the ramifications of the latter. Yes. It could all be happening to draw me close to Him. Which means God loves me. Always has.

And it really left me in a heaping mess when I realized this is not a narcissistic love. He loves you too. He actually does. If you lean in a bit to Him, you’ll notice the Light cutting through the darkness so it can be with you.

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Bridges Of Scars

My math was off. By four.

I posted a couple weeks ago how I felt like I was 21 again. But as of today I am back to 17 year old me in high school. Back when weighing in the 180’s was the norm. For the first time since high school, I dropped back into the 180’s!

Measuring weight is one thing, and I am floored I accomplished this.

But the change in my energy and emotional well-being is the highlight. My energy level is off the charts right now. My ability to focus. My creative energy. It’s all here again.

Maybe it’s here again. I mean, it’s been so long I may have forgot what it was like to feel healthy. Or maybe the feeling is more of a rewarding sense because there was much to overcome, in contrast to 17 year old Dave just living off being young and athletic and indestructible.

See me in the before shot from 2013? I can’t see me. I provide this not as a before picture but as an in-the-middle-of picture.

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2013

Back then I was very aware I was not myself. I know a statement like that would be totally different if I had been heavy my whole life, but I hadn’t been. I had a past version of me to reflect on, a goal to get back to. My prior youthful athletic self was enough of a sample size to know I wasn’t myself.

I am closer to me right now. I want to live fully into the person Jesus wants me to be, the person He made regardless of my situation. He redeems everything. He leaves nothing to waste. He’ll even take dark seasons and turn them into the very best light.

I’m convinced telling my story so others can realize they are not alone in their pain is exactly how Jesus will be using my out of control weight years.

I’ll build bridges made of my scars to you.

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2017

But until then all of our scars will still remain, but we’ve learned that if we’ll
Open the wounds and share them then soon they start to heal,
And as long as we live, every scar is a bridge to someone’s broken heart
And there’s no greater love, than that one shed his blood for his friends.” – Thrice, For Miles

 

As Yourself

I am 21 again.
A decade coma is lifted.
There is life again
Where there was death.
The trick to it trails
Off the tongues of
Even the greatest theologians.
Focus on the last clause,
The sneaky backend of your
Occupation’s mission statement:
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
————–
As yourself.
————–
As yourself.
————–

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