Wandering the savage garden…


I don’t know how to handle my own struggle with selfishness. In fact, I struggle to the point where I wonder if it’s even selfishness at all – but more a recognition of my own needs.

I used to play in church bands, usually as a backup (because playing in the band is a job, and I wanted to go to church with my family, instead.) I stopped for a few reasons, but one of the strongest reasons was that I, as a band member – even a backup – was not getting fed at church. I was serving, but not being served.

And there’s the illustration in a nutshell, really: “What about me?” I was not being served – and that sounds incredibly selfish.

But is it? If I were somehow to feed the world, but starve myself, what have I done? Eventually I’ll starve to the degree that I’m no longer feeding the world, and everyone starves with me.

To be sure, I wasn’t wanting to be “fed” at church by adulation; I definitely didn’t want members to point me out and say “what a star!” or whatever. What I wanted was to be part of the church, just a guy who played guitar or drums. I wanted – and needed, really – some effort to be put into normalizing my relationship, and I never really felt anything but the isolation that comes with being part of the band.

I’m sure that part of it is my own fault; I don’t think anyone set out to isolate the band. Some band members were definitely “included” in the way that I would have liked to have been – and they put forth a lot of effort to be included, in general. (Some were naturally engaged; I am most certainly not built like that.)

But while I think some of it is my own fault, I don’t think I can legitimately claim all of the fault. If it had happened at one church, or two, I think I could point my finger at myself and testify of my own poor methods or motives.

However, it’s happened at every church I’ve been part of. I have never seen a band that wasn’t socially isolated from the body of the church. I have always felt “apart,” separated, alone… in the Body of Christ, while trying to serve it. And like I said, I’ve seen very few band members who escaped that isolation.

It goes farther than being in a band, though. In my personal life, I have to regularly confront that voice in my head that needs. I work hard, too – where is my credit for working hard?

The truth is, I’m exhausted – and I’m still going. I keep thinking that my exhaustion would be assuaged if someone would at least acknowledge the effort I expend every day, even if they don’t try to take up some of the burden themselves. When does that desire on my part go from a need to a sin?

I don’t know. I wish I did. My answer right now is to slam the door on that voice in my soul; I tell myself that it should be silenced, and I should live solely to serve, and when my cup is empty, I will have done enough.

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