I am not defined by what I am not.

I read those words late one night last fall. They screamed at me from the page of the book, Velvet Elvis, by Rob Bell.

Rob Bell is the founder of Mars Hill Church in somewhere-or-other Michigan, I think. He has a series of short videos called Nooma, and he’s written some books. Evidently he’s somewhat controversial in the Christian community because of some of his post-modern church rhetoric. If I knew the definition of “post-modern church rhetoric” I’d explain it to you, but I don’t. Here’s what I do know: this book spoke to me, like it knew my name, the specific circumstances occurring in my life at the time I started reading it, put it down, and then picked it back up months later. It wasn’t like the generic way a daily horoscope talks to a person either. I started reading this book last summer and then put it down. For weeks. Then during one of my all-night pain benders the thought came to me, “Go finish reading Velvet Elvis.” I picked the book up and read:

Without pain, we don’t change, do we?

Get it? Pain caused me to go back to the book at the point I’d left it weeks earlier, when I really wasn’t doing the fibromyalgia flare….sounds like a dance, don’t it? I think I like that, in a warped sort of way. Living with fibro is like dancing with the devil. It waltzes into your life one day, grabs you by the arms and spins you like a top, relentlessly. The dance goes for hours, days, weeks and then….disappears, if you’re lucky. And when you’re not looking it crashes into your world again to take you for another spin. At some point you start getting a little bit jumpy (Starman movie quote there) wondering when it’s leaving, if it’s leaving, or when or from what direction it will return.

So anyway, I’m reading along and Elvis hits me between the eyes again.

I am not defined by what I am not.

It’s a new year and time for new definitions. I look at my life, at the people in my life, and wonder about some of them. Specifically I wonder about the ones who like to define me by what I am not, as in “I am not a vocal soloist” or “I am not a housekeeper, good, bad or otherwise.” And I wonder about the ones who will preface their definition of who I am with “Do you want the truth?” when I wander into a conversation and innocently ask a question or make a comment about something that might not even be directly associated with me. I’ve learned to duck when I hear the words “Do you want the truth?” because I know that, no matter what my answer is, I’m going to get it and it’s going to hurt.

I know this sounds confusing. Try living it.

Jesus met the woman at the well in the heat of the day. She was there, alone, because she was a shunned woman, a Samaritan with loose morals. It would have been within his rights as a man in Jewish society to define her by what she was not, acceptable company for himself or any other upstanding Jewish man. He didn’t do that. Somehow he made her see truth without beating her over the head with it. So much so that she was excited to tell her friends to “come and meet a man who told me everything I ever did.”

I’ve done some stuff. We’ve all done stuff. There are only 2 people who know everything I ever did, and I’m one of them. He’s the other one. It sounds totally different when I hear Him say, quietly, “Do you want the truth?” when I’m so used to hearing it so loudly and with such searing accusation, occasionally from someone else, but more often than not from inside my own head.

I am not defined by what I am not.

The truth hurts.

Without pain, we don’t change, do we?

Come and meet a man who told me everything I ever did.

Not everything I ever did wrong, or everything I never did, or everything I could have done better, should have done differently, better not do again.

I look at my life, the good and the bad, the stuff that hurts or is embarrassing to admit, the mountains and the valleys. It’s all true.

And, good or bad, it’s all good.


4 responses to “Definitions

  1. mmm… I like that. Here’s another one that may or may not fit with the group (and she moves right into a rendition of Semame Streets which of these is not like the other… it’s been a long day). In any event, try this: I am not my results. That’s a tough one, in either direction. Kisses.

  2. Now you’ve done it! I haven’t slept in, oh, 37 hours and that song will play in my head over and over and over and….

    You’re right. That one is hard in either direction. And being the little logical, analytical, 1+1=2 people that we are doesn’t help at all.

    Sometimes I wish I could be one of those “1+1=3 for large values of 1” people.

  3. At least you didn’t get caught singing Personal Penguin in your cube this morning. Out loud. Loudly.

  4. I hope you are feeling better now. I am wishing you a less painful 2008. Also hope you keep up with your music. It is fun to read about.

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