4 minute read

I keep having the urge to write but I don’t have a topic. I just have a lump. Somewhere between my chest and my throat, I feel something a bit swollen and heavy. Something like a repressed cry, but not quite. It feels more like a repressed blog. I’ve been thinking a lot lately. Not the fun kind of thinking, where you explore places in your soul and how they connect to the greater rhythms of life and Jesus, but the kind of thinking that is necessary. I have a requirement. An appointment. They have a problem that I can solve. This one needs a strategy, or a cleverly designed pathway around the snags that daily-ness drops in front of us.

Required thinking is necessary. I guess this is where the term “required” comes from. Problems need solutions, and reports need signatures. Obstacles need overcomers to know how to, well, you know, overcome. Required thinking is part of how I pay the bills, and keep this machine running.  I assume it is still supposed to be running.

This kind of thinking has been persistent for awhile and it makes me tired. So sometimes writing helps me process, or even purge.

But I have been aware that I tend to write two distinct types of styles. I write the cleverly constructed pathways, prying loose the paradigms of our mental prisons. Think Differently. It’s fun to write, and it’s fun to engage with people who are aching to exit the box. Or people who have recently exited the box, and are trying to figure out how to live in a box-less atmosphere. I like it. But it is a bit too much like the kind of required thinking I have been doing. And then something else stirs in me.

I also write these things that prowl around in my heart. Things that are constructed more of my own personal stirrings than of some attempt to change the world. These urges and swellings in my soul push for release not because I want to change something but because I am being changed.

So in the midst of my expertise, thinking and problem solving, I am feeling the need to humanize. Do you know “humanize”?

Back in the dark ages of music (the 80’s) someone invented the drum machine. They were programmable sound machines that could be sequenced to become the perfect drummer. Sort of.  The perfect drummer, as in, spot on, immutable, never varying rhythms. Perfection. Boring, hum-drum, never a flaw perfection. Music with no flaws and music with no soul. Literally and genre-ically.

While musicians loved the ability to program and layer amazing and complex beats, almost as a whole the music world began to notice something. They began to notice the life-less-ness of perfection. No variance; mathematically perfect beats provided a seamless and yet lifeless backdrop for multiple styles of music. Drum machine perfection was sucking the life out of music until some genius developed a solution. The drum programs were given a new feature. This feature was called “humanize”.

“Humanize” was a programmed feature that inserted random imperfections into the perfect milieu of the programmed beat. Flaws. Beats slightly before or after their mathematically perfect assignment. Humanize. Built in flaws and mistakes. Amazingly these mistakes sounded less like a machine and more like a human. They gave feeling and life back to dying tracks. They gave soul to an electronic impostor.

In the midst of making decisions and signing reports, in the midst of solving problems and suggesting strategies, I think the lump in my throat wants to say something. I think it wants to say, “I am not a mechanical impostor, I am a man, with flaws and weakness. Please notice the man behind the signatures and the Tweets”

I think my humanize function wants to put on display something besides just my expertise. I want my tears to matter. I want to be known for my needs and uncovered heart, just as much as I want to be known as a world-changing thinker.

I want to do more than help others become themselves, I want to be becoming myself. I don’t mean buy a VW van and drive to Haight-Ashbury, I just mean that I want to be more than the guy with answers. I want to be the guy that legitimately needs help. Help from God. Help from people. I want to be the guy that has needs just as much as I have answers.

I don’t have a blog to help you today, I just have one that says, “I am flawed and I have needs, and some days I don’t feel like being a world-changing, ever-encouraging well of Thinking Differently. I just want to be seen and be loved”.

Okay, my throat feels better.

That is today. I wonder what tomorrow will be like.


25 replies on “Humanize

  • Amy Pennington

    Your post reminds me of what God shared with me early this morning. I was listening to some worship music and just preparing for my busy day. I felt like God whispered to my heart that He wanted to be loved by me for more then what He does for me and my family, but for WHO He is!! I immediately got a lump in my throat and felt extremely bad for ever loving my Father for what He has done for me or even what He could do for me over just loving Him for who He is. I see so many similarities between that impression on my heart this morning and with your post. HUGS!!!!!

  • Andrew

    I think David felt like that a lot. God bless you Pastor Bob. You are an encouragement to me. Thank you for being real.

  • Amy Miller

    Oh brother, you are so loved.
    You wrote a blog a few months back that still haunts me – it was a cry to be recognized as YOU, not the “super-You” (I’m taking liberty). There are thousands of us who “know” you and love you, and lift you up regularly. We see you and want to squeeze you as the brother you are to us…which would have to be a little weird for you.
    I’m so grateful for your God-given platform to reach thousands upon thousands. I am one of that multitude who are forever changed by the truths flowing through you. I understand that must be incredibly isolating and I thank you for your sacrifice.
    I praise God for your ministry and, beyond that, for giving you strength to be real in such a transparent way. I pray that God will fortify your bundle with an abundance of living friends (1 Samuel 25:29). Thank you for being you!!

  • Melissa Sapien Aulds

    While I am certain no one will ever see me as the Girl With The Answers this still resonated with me deeply. It brought tears to my eyes because though the words might come out a little different if I wrote my sentence summing up my own repressed blogs, the heartbeat underneath is much the same….that’s just how I feel when it starts to seems as though people confuse my job or my sometimes strong opinions with some declaration that I think I have this crap all figured out. I don’t.

    Thanks for sharing all this. It kind of gives the rest of us permission to go there for ourselves when someone we respect went first.
    Rock on.

  • KJ Avalos

    Thanks Bob! Even in your transparency about not needing to inspire today, you inspired. Some of us are considered “type A” personalities who are always “on”. We don’t feel we can have a day to just BE. As a former comedian, people develop expectations that we are always funny, always smiling, always … well … “on”. Any time I’m just quiet, people around the office start asking each other what’s wrong with me, what is she upset about … etc.
    I like to create a safe place to fall for a lot of people, and when I realized there was no safe place for me to fall I felt selfish. So thank you for showing that it’s not selfish to need. It’s human. Sometimes the best thing we can do is embrace the fact that we ARE human. And so … you’ve inspired and changed the world even when that wasn’t your intent.
    Thanks for just being you. You ARE loved.

  • BabsCoppedge

    This may just well go down as my favorite blog of yours. No, it does. It does. Not that I don’t love reading your “cleverly constructed pathways”, because they come from that part of you that people clamor for, because each writing help us get a little more free in how we think. But this one … it’s my favorite. You wanna know why? I’m gonna tell ya … this is your heart beyond “what you do” that makes you who you are. I love and am so so so drawn to hearts on display with …. hmm, dare I say it? … vulnerability. Yes! That’s the word that crept to the end of my tongue as soon as I started reading this, but it took a few minutes for me to see it clearly. Vulnerability. {Imagine that?!?!} This is you … vulnerable. And it’s beautiful. And it’s almost a bit uncomfortable, only because it’s so darn real. It’s that place where one–if sitting across the table from you having coffee–would have to make the choice to fill the awkward space with platitudes or cliches to keep the conversation from going deeper, or … lean in and continue listening, continue allowing a heart to unwind, continue pursuing the person and not the Pastor. I’m leaning in even as I write because this blog is like the beginning of a really good, settle in with your shoes off and feet tucked up and coffee refilled, kind of conversation. I’m ready to head to Starbucks…

  • Ron Woody

    I’ve seen and loved you as a brother since long before you were the guy with the answers 🙂 I’m so grateful to be able to see and love you from a distance through electronic means!

  • Rich Nifong

    Bob – thanks for sharing this. I wish I could print it out and staple it to my forehead. Maybe it’s been a rough couple of week all around. I pray for you often and will double up! Honestly, this post is just as life changing as anything you have said or written. God works though you in such wonderful ways and the world is a better place because of it! My prayer today is that he will just hang with you, that you will feel his presence, that he will comfort and renew you and give you rest –

  • Michael Caney

    Thanks for writing this. It so resonates. In my company and in my family I am THE problem solver and thinker. I get my marker and my white board and I align, fix, inspire, and train. Lately I keep fighting the same lump while internally begging for someone that would pour into me the way I empty myself for my team and my family. It’s a powerful lump. Thanks for writing. I’m not sure what to do with mine yet… glad to know you’re real, Yoda.

  • Becky Synan

    This is what I love about you. You very much come across in all of your teachings as being the real deal, and that you not only have gained as much from what you are teaching as you hope to impart, but that you are still learning and growing. You ARE seen as having needs. Being REAL. And you are SO loved!

  • Teri Jones

    Similar lump in my throat this morning, followed by the reminder it is as important to receive from God and His people as it is to give. Thank you for the confirmation.

  • Debi Whelan

    This is exactly why what you do is so powerful. Why what you say digs into the humanity of the people you minister to and deeply changes lives. Not because we are on the bandwagon of the newest and the greatest way of thinking, but because we have finally been released to be authentically human, authentically vulnerable and have realized that our ‘christian facades’ were probably the most harmful thing we ever did to our relationship with God. I love that Freedom Ministries has set me free to feel pain and cry and break through walls that kept me insulated from those emotions that also prevented a path for healing. So, I think if I told you I had a lump between my chest and throat you’d tell me to go ahead and cry and God would meet me somewhere in the middle of that river and speak and His voice would set things right. Thank you Bob. Still loving the Freedom journey.

  • MichelleBentham

    Bob, I’ve known you to always be real and transparent – that is what makes what you have to offer so powerfully special. To understand you have needs like the rest of us, makes what you offer us more palatable – thank you for “humanizing” with this post. It is valued beyond measure.

    One of the most meaningful times I ever had while serving as a volunteer in Pastoral Care happened in a Freedom Group Leader meeting. You were sharing about the quality of God’s grace and how it is something you cannot out sin, take advantage of or misuse in any way. I remember you said, “God’s grace is what it is.”

    My heart was in a very human emotional state dealing with a betrayal of heart I desperately needed to forgive – I had chosen forgiveness, but needed also to feel it in my bones. God provided the answer that morning, as you taught my heart opened just a bit to receive the most powerful revelation.

    I raised my hand and you allowed me to share. “So, what I hear you saying is that if I forgive someone out of God’s grace at work in me then they can’t use that to hurt me because it is God’s grace and not my own.”

    You stopped, picked up your pen and invited me to share my revelation again. I remember the moment. I felt the wiry prickling of nervous energy wrestling in my body. I restated what I heard from the Lord. You smiled and responded, “So what you are saying is you are not going to live codependent on how other people respond anymore.”

    That moment was life-changing for me, Bob. Not because you had the answer, but because you allowed me the room to discover the answer. I appreciate so much what you have shared because this is the man I know you to be. A man who has flaws and needs, and leads people to the God who has the answers – which is all that ever needs to be done anyway. I agree with Babs, this may well be my favorite blog of yours.

  • Ted Crawford

    Bob, your “human-ness” is sufficiently evident. “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” This is so very true in your case! The Excellency of His Power is even more evident.

  • Benjamin Marrow

    As a drummer of the pre-electronic, old school, animal skin, blood and soul ilk, I particularly feel the lump in your analogy. Yes, demand for our expertise tends to quantize us in a very 80’s kind of way. Whereas it’s really good that God is actively working through us, it’s hard not to throw out your entire record collection and remit “soul-ly” back to your Motown, Blue Note sides. I try to always remember where I came from, because it’s like a personal whisper from God, reaffirming his love promises. He is the lump, the need, and the answer. “It is what it is,” He says, and, “I AM.” So, love and prayers for you my brother in Christ.

  • Anna Davenport

    Thanks for this, once again. I remembered this blog and came back to it too remind my heart that imperfections and flaws are part of being human.

  • beck

    Good golly. I can identify with the un-ignore-able draw to express myself through words, particularly written words. Haven’t been able to risk being completely human on my blog very often. Or anywhere else, for that matter.

    And that is exactly why I stopped blogging. Well. Stopped writing my whole heart. Life was happening to me faster than I could control it (heh) and it felt as though my safe little collection of comforting, familiar beliefs got upended and dumped on my head. (They did. It was a mess. I barely survived.)

    My family reads (enjoys, looks forward to) my blog posts. Or they did, before I stopped. I didn’t want something I wrote to hurt them; I wasn’t even sure where I’d end up if I started writing, so why drag them (or any other readers) through it? So I shut down. “Don’t be ridiculous,” I admonished myself, “writing your truth is a terrible idea.”

    Some things were so raw that, although I desperately wanted to know and be known, I wasn’t sure my blog was a good place to put that, just yet. The Internet isn’t an entirely safe place, ya know. Plus, *gasp*, what would people think?! I didn’t even know what (or how) to think.

    So I did the best I could at being vaguely real. And after a while, even the desire to write shriveled up. It was too much, I told myself, why bother?

    The problem is that it is through the process of writing that I often arrive at where I need to be. (I just NOW realized (I’m a slow one!) that at the same time I stopped writing on my website, I also stopped (for the most part) journaling by hand like I’ve done since I was eleven, which had been where I worked through more personal struggles “not fit for public consumption.”)

    This is sounding like the line I quoted from you in the last comment I left you on a different post. I most needed to write and so I ran away from it, afraid. Instead of honoring myself, I tried to ignore and repress that niggling in the back of my brain, requesting release.

    And here you are, being your human self, and at least 25 people (judging by comments) are attracted to that instead of being turned off. And thousands more, elsewhere. Imagine.

    After I met you in October I called Linda and relayed the whole experience to her.

    When I got to page 62 in Lead Differently I stopped, stared, and called Linda again to tell her to read the last sentence of the first paragraph. That sentence is pretty much exactly how I described you to her, the day I met you. Same words. I may have even said “hidden-ness.” Jesus is changing you into his likeness. This is evident.

    I still yearn to know and be known but these days it’s not so terrifying a prospect. It’s an invigorating, life-giving process. I know (and experience, for a change!) that I am known by God more intimately and tenderly and completely and than anyone else ever will. It’s setting me free-er than I ever even remotely dared to believe was possible. Christ in me, the hope of glory!!! That I may have ABUNDANT life.

    Thank you for your wonderfully-human, beautifully Christ-like example of not just how to know about this, but how to BE this.

    (And now I shall post this (after select-all and copying) and breathe a sigh of relief because I really did not intend to go on this long when I started typing on my phone!)

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