The Predator’s Bait

Love means to learn to look at yourself / The way one looks at distant things / For you are only one thing among many.” Ah, yes, now I remember: I’m not the sun at the center of anyone’s solar system. If I keep trying to put myself there, insisting that I am special and my life must have some sort of special meaning, I’ll die in despair or in delusion.

From “On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity, and Getting Old” by Parker J. Palmer.

I am not the sun, at the center of anyone’s solar system.

What a sobering thought to start my morning with.

One might read it at first glance and think it means that we don’t matter much.

For most of my life I have struggled to believe that I matter. One of my earliest memories involve me sitting in my parents fancy living room reading about being adopted in the children’s book sitting on the coffee table. Even at this young age, I wondered why my biological mother didn’t want me. It didn’t matter how many times my parents told me what a beautiful baby I was, and how the baby photographer wanted to use my photo for his advertisements. I wrestled with this question throughout my childhood.

When my father’s alcoholism began to impact our family and his abuse started, somehow I made the correlation that there must be something wrong with me that was causing the bad things to happen.

There is much freedom that comes to me as an adult by recognizing that I am not the sun at the center of anyone’s solar system. This means that I am not to blame when others make bad choices. Even when their choices cause me to suffer.

But on the flip side of the coin, there is also a vacuum inside of me that wants to grab hold of the sun and take it’s place. To be in control, and have everything else revolve around me.

This desire is as old as time, and according to the Bible it is what caused the great crash of a shining star; the angel Lucifer, who wanted to be the sun, and convinced Adam and Eve that they did, too.

Looking back on my life, I now understand that every child needs to believe they are the center of their parent’s solar system until they are able to learn their place in the universe. Because when a child doesn’t know they matter to their family, they are left to wonder if they matter at all.

You are the sunshine of my life, the pastor told me early on. For the first time in my life, I believed that I really mattered. You are the real thing, he wrote on a piece of paper that I carried around in my wallet for years. Because I’d never been the center of my parent’s universe, it felt right to be the center of his. This was the predator’s bait.

How many times do we hear in church that we are called to do big things for Jesus, to win the world for Christ? What does Jesus say?Some are able to keep this in perspective, especially those who have a good understanding of who they are are and what their place in the universe is. But those of us who grew up not knowing this, or who are still struggling to find our place can often get sucked into the lie that we are the center of the solar system.

In the new Netflix show Pray Away, testimonies were shared by those who once believed they could become straight by adopting the beliefs of the conversion ministries highlighted in the show. Those who became straight became the brightest stars of these ministries sharing their testimonies on talk shows and speaking engagements around the country. But what was revealed in this show, and what has been revealed to me in my own life, is being the sun in the center of anyone’s solar system never feels right, it actually becomes a prison where lose sight who who we are really supposed to be.

This morning I find tremendous comfort in knowing that I am a part of this great big universe that revolves around the sun. I have a place, and it is among many, each distinct and beautiful in it’s own unique way.

But I do know this: once I understand that I’m not the sun, I can get out of the sun’s way and stop casting shadows. I can step aside to let the true sun shine on everyone and everything, making all things ripe with the glow of life.

From “On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity, and Getting Old” by Parker J. Palmer.

Resource:

I have been greatly encouraged by following The Naked Pastor.

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