I can't believe it's been a month since I've posted. I can't believe how fast time can fly. I've been thinking alot about discipline and habits and change. I've thought about people I know who have made significant changes in their lives, and how that came about. Left me with more questions, but also what I think may be some really important observations.
In response to the rugged individualism that is synonymous with American culture and American churches there is a heavy emphasis in emerging culture and emerging churches on community. This return to living life together is far overdue, and I'm grateful to the leaders and the fellowship at Rivendell for questioning and calling us back to this. What I've realized, though, at first glance appears to fly in the face of community. I need community, my fellowship, to journey with me and fight beside me as I deal with my demons, which right now is predominately food. My community cannot, however, make me eat differently, it cannot deliver me from overeating, or force me to connect with God in these areas. They can be a great encouragement, offering hope and fresh perspective, challenging and standing with me, drying my tears, listening to my whining, telling me to shut up and stop whining, well, you get what I mean. At some point, the change in me is very much personal and individual, and my responsibility. Journeying with a community in all the ways that God intended is a necessary part of what it means relate to Him, but the ethics of the Kingdom of Heaven must change me in a very personal way as well. Here's what prompted these thoughts.
I Tivo "The Biggest Loser". In short it's about a group of people who go to a ranch to lose alot of weight. They get personal trainers, diet help, and because it is "reality" tv they have little contest and vote each other off. The show is incredibly inspirational, and the before and after pictures are just stunning. This season they brought contestants from all fifty states, with only fourteen staying at the ranch, while the other 36 went home to diet on their own. They are at the six week mark, and now two of the 36 that went home, the man and the woman with the highest percentage of weight loss, get to join the others at the ranch and compete for the big money prize. The big shock is that those who have dieted and exercised at home, without the fellowship and safety of the ranch, have lost more than those there. It made me think. I know of two people who lost a significant amount of weight. In both cases, they disappeard for a period of time, actually pulled back from friends and community, and re entered totally changed.
The second thing that pushed these thoughts was a story about a former Nebraska and Carolina Panthers football player named Jason Peters. What began as taking a few pain pills for the slew of injuries and soreness of major college and pro football turned into an 80, yes 80, pain pill a day habit and eventually into an addiction to cocaine, pain pills and heroine. He left football and sought treatment. During that process as he struggled to be free of his addictions, he told the reporter that his dad had asked him: " Why can't you just stop?" Now I'm not trying to dismiss the slavery that addictions bring, but for Jason he realized that at some level he had to decide that he was done, that he wasn't taking any more pills. Oh yeah, that just didn't fix it, there was the painful withdrawal as his body began to recover, but he talked about that his father asking that question was key to him winning. He had to realize in the very deep parts of himself that he had not lost the ability to choose, to pick a path of wisdom.
Yes, I see how his community, namely his father, played an important role in seeing him free. I'm not trying to minimize the importance of community. I am trying to remind myself that I answer for my decisions ultimately, and part of what must take place as I incorporate disciplines in my life is I must reclaim that responsibility. I must also realize that while I alone answer for my decisions, my decisions and choices most definitely do not affect me alone.
This probably sounds confusing and could be simplified, but I needed to really pour out my thoughts. The point may inspire a "Duh, of course we're still responsible", but it is still not that well defined for me.