Tag Archive: pride


Some last reflections from our trip to Robben Island last weekend

[1]: Before i even look at my notes, what stands out to me was the depth of conversation – i barely knew anyone that we went with, so mostly new friends or people i had met once or twice before and yet we dived in to some deep conversations that happened so naturally. Probably because we all knew why we were there, but none of them felt forced or engineered. One lady who i met, Nicole, had been introduced to me on Facebook a couple of months ago and so we had had some interactions but we [her, me and tbV] spent most of the boat ride to Robben Island involved in deep conversation about race and the country and other things. I felt like once we’d arrived at the island, i could have been put straight back on the boat, sent home and the weekend would have felt worth it. And those conversations carried on throughout the weekend.

 
 

convo

 
 

[2] The idea that if my aim in life is for a big house, a comfortable car and a happy family, that my vision is too small.

Each one of us should be dreaming of, hoping for and living towards a unified and reconciled South Africa. To suggest your vision is too small is not a pronouncement of judgement, but it is a blowing of the trumpet [or maybe in our case the sounding of the vuvuzela]. A call to freedom with the realisation that i am not free until everyone is free.
 
 

blow

 
 

[3] That the duel dangers of Pride and Insignificance stem from the same root cause:

Pride = I’m good enough

Insignificance = I’m not good enough

Both start from the place of having all eyes on me. When God calls us to put Him above everything and then to look to others and ourselves.
 
 

mirror

 
 

[4] In Judges 6, we see an encounter between an angel sent from God and Gideon, and despite context telling us that Gideon was a scared and cowardly man, the greeting shows us something completely different:

11 The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”

The reminder that God views us both as we are and what we can be. He refuses to dwell on who we were.

 
 

[5] A reminder for me that i never wanted to go to Robben Island simply as a tourist activity. Take lots of pictures, see all the sights, okay i’m done, move on. The privilege of having a significant encounter and the time of a whole weekend to really appreciate and learn from what happened there and see how it informs the present and works towards affecting the future.

 
 

[6] The last significant thing i remember from the trip was a Franciscan Blessing, that Rene August shared with us, which was so profoundly deep and transformative and certainly something to revisit regularly:

May God bless you with a restless discomfort

about easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships,

so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.

May God bless you with holy anger

at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,

so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.

May God bless you with the gift of tears

to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish,

so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.

May God bless you with enough foolishness

to believe that you really can make a difference in this world,

so that you are able, with God’s grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.

[“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”  Micah 6:8]

 
 

[7] Although, after all the significance and meaning, and historical impact…

After all the tears and hugs and stories and prayers…

After prophetic acts and revelations and possibilities and moments of shared pain…

One of the images that will stand out for me about this most excellent adventure was that of my new friend, covered in tattoos including some showing affiliation with gangs while serving the thirteen year jail service he completed a few years ago… lying on his bed, late at night, once everyone was asleep, playing Plants vs Zombies on his tablet.

Or me humming the theme tune every time i saw him during the day and him responding with a guilty smile…

 
 

pvz

 
 

There was a lot more that words on a page or screen just cannot capture, but these past few posts have just contained some gems and some foundations for future growth and wrestling that needs to happen and is in the process of.

What a great and significant weekend with a number of really incredible people. If the future of South Africa lies in the hands, tongues and lives of people like these, we are looking good. There is a reason to be filled with hope.

For more information on Freedom Mantle, who organised the whole trip, check them out at http://freedommantle.org or join them on Facebook.

 
 

[For a return to the start of this series and some more reflections, click here]

last time on ‘What makes Jesus sadder?’:

‘but it’s me. i mean that’s the answer right? the only person i can really change is myself, brett fish anderson [where fish seems to be proved more and more to be something i’m desperately aiming at as opposed to anything i hit regularly enough] and so that is really where i have to look.

and i do and i have and i am and a lot of it just leaves me with questions that i am struggling to answer.’

This is the picture of the exact mug i have.

This is the picture of the exact mug i have.

so i was sitting on my step the other nite sipping coffee out of my Marvin the Martian mug and thinking about life [which i definitely don’t do enough – i really do enjoy the times when i can slow it all down and just ponder great things… so maybe the start is to be more intentional about creating those times when i just move away from the busyness and distraction it’s so easy to fall into slash facebook] and i had a couple of thought [thinking will do that to you]…

the one which has been plaguing me for a while kind of fits into that category of ‘I’ll do that when…’ which so many of us have been taken down by i think – the idea that at the next stage of life or season of living or pay increase or whatever, that somehow miraculously the thing you aren’t doing now is going to happen. and for the most part it’s a lie.

and i imagine that often it is linked to following Jesus. I’ll get really committed when I’m done with exams… when my kids are at school… when my kids are out the house… when this project is done… when i have my own car… when i’ve finished paying off my studies… and so on…

‘WHEN’ WON’T HAPPEN UNLESS YOU MAKE IT TO BE SO

it’s a lie. if you’re not doing it now then it is unlikely to miraculously happen. something significant has to change for your current behaviour not to be your future behaviour.

i suspect that often it’s AS EASY [and AS DIFFICULT] as just getting off your ass and doing it.

for me, sitting on the step, it was the awful truth of me just not knowing any of my neighbours. like not really. and not cos i don’t want to [well maybe the ones next door who are so inappropriately loud and who scream at their kids most of the time, i don’t really have great desires in myself to know them] but just cos it hasn’t happened and it might be for a hundred different reasons but it still bums me out.

The need is to just do it already.

The need is to just do it already.

tbV and i live in  four apartment complex [two upstairs, two downstairs] and a lot of it maybe has something to do with timing as we don’t often see the people. it may be because we are white and everyone else is black/African American and so there is not a natural cultural connection. it may be a stage of life thing as there are young children in i think each of the other apartments. and it may be because, apart from the one guy, our neighbors haven’t seemed particularly friendly but then maybe they are thinking or feeling the same thing about us.

but the one that bums me out the most is ‘African American guy’. you see what happened there? that is the part where his name was meant to go, but i don’t know it. and the main problem is that he knows my name. he learnt it the first time he met me and has greeted me with, ‘Hi Brett, how are you doing?’ ever since [and ‘Hey man’ feels more and more pathetic every time i mumble it back to him in the friendliest way possible]. The first time it was, ‘Oh no, I don’t know his name’ which quickly became, ‘Oh man, he knows my name and has called me Brett three times now’ to where we now stand at, ‘He has called me Brett 90 times and so it feels worse and worse to get my brain around the idea that i have to go to him and confess my panic [and just ridiculously bad manners] in that area.

do you know what the worst thing is? he looks really cool. he’s an older black man and i really want to get to know him and hear some of his story and hopefully we can be friends.

what sucks is that i feel like i have a strong heart for community and Val and i talk openly about how great it was in Potter street [at the Simple Way] where we knew everyone and life happened on the streets and we’d be in each others houses and so this all feels like an epic fail to me.

I THINK YOU’RE BEING TOO HARD ON YOURSELF!

and i don’t think i’m being too hard on myself. possibly not enough. there are definitely some reasons why it has been harder to stamp on my pride and just go and confess and put it right [the biggest being time – we don’t see him often and it’s usually between his car and the door and there are other family members around and stuff] but this last week i think i have come to the conclusion that this is something that i want and i will probably look for a chance while Val is away at the Wild Goose festival [she leaves tonite] to try and get that opportunity and put it right. so it feels definitely on the cards. and it actually not the biggest deal for me to have to go and make that confession and try and put it right. just a bummer that it has taken so long.

when i was sitting on the step though, the biggest question i faced in myself was the question of what is different between what i believe, or what i say i believe or preach/write that i believe and that which i am living out. and what am i going to do about it? and when?

the biggest problem, perhaps, is that the answers are not so simple. they are complicated. it is not as easy as it is with ‘African American man’ where i know what i have to do and just need to do it – there are a bunch of areas of ‘well i don’t know how to get from where i am to where i want to be?’ There might be a bunch of fears of ‘what if i try and it doesn’t work or happen the way i expect?’ and there are also some disappointments of things i have already tried or hoped for that didn’t turn out the way i was hoping for. where i did do the thing i needed to do but the person on the other end didn’t respond or not as i hoped. and so what now?

one small example of that is that there is a young girl in the house where ‘African American man’ lives and i don’t know if it’s his daughter or grandkid or anything but on the occasions i have walked past and she has been at the door and i’ve tried to be friendly to her [connecting with people in Philly was done largely by befriending and looking after their children] i’ve got the strong feeling that her mom is not super amped. she feels a lot suspicious of this dreadlocked white guy from upstairs. so that makes it a little harder cos i definitely want to respect the mom and so generally just try to be friendly to them when they’re out together and hopefully in time something will shift. or maybe i just need to bake something and take it around. that might be a plan.

the conclusion of all this for me is that the thinking part is so important. the noticing of ‘hey the reality i’m living doesn’t match up exactly with what i’m speaking or even what i’m hoping for’ and it’s insane to me to think that i will have amazing community in the next place i live if i haven’t even properly tried to reach out to those around me here [or remember one name! sigh].

but then it HAS to move to the action point. and soon. we don’t know how long we’re going to be here and if  want it to be easier to find it in the next place then the best way is stepping out here and even if things don’t go according to plan, at least i will know i’ve tried.

so i imagine Jesus gets sad when we just get caught up in living lives that are self-absorbed and focused and miss out on the opportunities He may have been prodding us towards

i imagine Jesus gets bummed when we say and think one thing and live a completely or even somewhat different thing [He may have calmly mentioned that to the Pharisees that one time]

i imagine Jesus is a little disappointed if i get stuck in the thinking phase and never step out of the boat He has called me to step out of and take a bit of a risk

this is not condemnation [which leaves you in a loud and stinky mess on the floor, paralysed and unable to change] – this is conviction [which inspires you and directs you to change]

oh and something about God putting His Holy Spirit in me so i should be alright in the empowered-to-do-this-whole-thing department.

you might not be cool enough to have a Marvin the Martian coffee mug, but i would still recommend grabbing some form of beverage and a step and taking some moments on how your life is looking right now… let’s do this thing. for real.

This might be comedy if it wasn't so tragedy.

This might be comedy if it wasn’t so tragedy.

forgives

i don’t feel very strong right now.

i feel wronged. badly done by. hurt. betrayed. disappointed.

and yet again and again it comes back to me that the call is on me to forgive.

pride. ego. self-righteousness. my idea of “justice”. all these things rally against me, trying to convince me that i am in the right [maybe i am] and that the other should approach me [maybe they should] and seek peace and restoration. and maybe in the ideal world that is what should happen.

but i come from a far greater than ideal world. i come from a kingdom. and in this kingdom it often appears as if everything is upside down. and yet when you tilt your head, change your perspective, and open your eyes to really see how the upsidedowness really takes shape, it is quickly obvious to see how this new way is so much better. this new way is right. this kingdom brings life.

it doesn’t demand love, it earns it. it showers it indiscriminantly on whoever is in arms reach. and those beyond. it seeks out people to Love who may not be the likeliest of candidates or people who i might feel are all that deserving.

am i? am i deserving.
if ‘forgiveness is the attribute of the strong’ then i don’t feel so strong right now.
i feel tired from having walked that road before. so many times.
always the one to seek peace, to chase with repentance, to humble myself [that’s probably not true, but it’s certainly what i like to think]

forgive those who deserve it? easy. i can do that. i have. again and again.
but those who don’t? sure, but can i at least make them feel bad? can i at least see them ask for it or at the very least even seek it?
because often they don’t. often it has to be me who has to set out on that same journey again [my shoes feel worn down, and in the absence of shoes, my feet]

i think of my buddy Dunc. how is he still my friend? i honestly sometimes don’t know. oh i get why we are friends and what we share in common and how we can laugh and enjoy life to the full together. i get how we can be friends. and are.

but i have given that boy some crap. man, he has experienced some of the depths of my bad moods and hockey-related tantrums and unfairness accusations and passive aggressive looks [that if they could kill i’d have been put away for life]. and yet he has still stayed around. and loved me. and been so incredibly generous to me and Val just again and again and again.

and so thankx Dunc. maybe in you i will discover some hope for myself.

and in Jesus! cos He sticks with me. and i know i’ve let Him down again and again.
and yet He keeps welcoming me back. and He keeps being incredibly generous. and He keeps putting amazing opportunities in front of me

and more importantly, when i don’t seem to possess enough of this particular attribute of the strong
and when i arrive once more at a place where i feel wronged. badly done by. hurt. betrayed. disappointed.
He refuses to let me stay there. He refuses to let me wallow.
or wait [fruitlessly perhaps] for the other person to set out on my path.

the nudge comes. the Spirit speaks. the call is made.
you put this right. you Love. you forgive. and I will give you everything you need to be able to do it.
seventy times seven – My kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

[to all those friends and family of mine who have never given up on me – despite quite possibly having cause – i thank you so much – it means the world to me – despite how completely wrong i can get it from time to time, i really do try.]

i love my wife, the beautiful Val, i really do, and when i love her well, i think i love her really, really well, but when i love her badly, i can REALLY suck at it…

one way i have becoming increasingly more aware of doing this is by giving her a “yes” to a question that she asks or a request she makes for me to do something, that sounds a lot more like an emphatic “No!”

another way of describing it would be “the kicking and screaming yes” cos okay i will do what you want me to do but know that it is interrupting my selfish moment of whatever i was busy doing and that i don’t really want to do it and am quite likely only doing it cos the consequences of not doing it are so much worse…

the Truth is, not even all those statements above are even true all the time. it is usually a request [or even a reminder of something i was already meant to do] that doesn’t affect my selfish universe all that much. and a lot of the times i would love nothing more than to do a thing which helps my wife or shows her love or makes her life that little bit easier [especially if she might be stressed after a hard day] and yet somehow my ‘well intentioned Love-enducing “YES!”‘ comes out sounding like a horrible, ungrateful whiny “NO WAY! PLEASE GO AWAY AND LEAVE ME ALONE!”

i think there is some pride in there, for sure. and some power. pride and power. and possibly inertia [the preference to continue doing what i am currently doing, no matter how random it might be, as opposed to interrupting it for something else].

the reasons i am blogging about it are at least two: perhaps there are some of you husbandmans out there who will see the same thing in yourselves [maybe even some wifewomens if that is the opposite of husbandmens?] and need to do something about it. and to remind me to do something about it. i find bloggage a form of accountability as old posts get revisited from time to time and i get rechallenged or reminded by what was striking me at the time…

i plan to Love my wife Valerie better by letting my “yes”es sound more emphatically like “YES!”es!

[If you found this helpful, here are some other ideas to help you love your person well]

it has been in the context of ‘being wronged’ that i have noticed it. and also brought up by an email i received the other day asking how we can be okay with the fact that God ordered genocide in the old testament [a really important question which i have grown up not asking – killing of many in the old testament was always seen as okay because it was ‘the goodies killing the baddies’ and i don’t think i ever stopped to think much at all about the fact that they were real people with families and dreams and so on…]

in terms of someone who i think has caused offence to me [often a dangerous sign – “offence is not given, it’s taken”], there is this inherent thing of violation of my rights [often a dangerous sign – the louder i get about proclaiming something that is seen as a right to me, the more i often need to look deeply within my heart, past my selfishness, pride and greed] and i NEED THIS PERSON TO PAY.

now what is unfortunate is that ‘this person’ is usually someone who is, or was, or should be, close to me [in the story, it is the guy’s brother] and the basic truth of the situation is that i am wanting them to suffer [because they did that thing that was unacceptable to me] and so with the story of the lost son, the father tries to focus on the heart of the story: ‘this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found’ [verse 32]

the story is of a misguided son who gives in to temptation and greed and heads off and squanders his money and ends up with nothing and returns, absolutely broken, to try and get a job as a servant on his father’s farm… and the older son tries to make it all about himself. WHAT ABOUT ME?

and i’ve seen that in myself, and it is ugly, but while i am feeling offended or holding tightly to my rights, it becomes very easy to forget that this story also involves someone else, who is often broken and hurting and messed up and confused and when Jesus looks at them from the cross and gasps out, “Father, forgive them, for hey do not know what they are doing.” [Luke 23.34], i can hear myself wailing in the background, “No, wait a minute, what about me? I have been wronged. Is no one going to do anything? What about meeeeeeeee?”

romans 12 talks about us offering our bodies as living sacrifices which are holy and pleasing to God [ones which are screaming “he/she must pay!” may not fit so well into that category don’tchathink?] and goes on to say, ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ [Romans 12.1-2] and so once again, we hear that in the kingdom Jesus came to speak about, everything is turnedon its head. What is ‘a right’, is freely given up. Offence is cast to the side.

what is brought to the fore is Love. Crazy, unbelievable, nonsensical, indescribable, ridiculous, make-a-mockery-out-of-offence, sacrificial, unmerited Love.

may that become my go to place. may i be identified more as the father in the story and less as the brother.

how do we get it so wrong?

pride. definitely. or maybe defiantly. definitively?

what do they think of me? what don’t they think of me? what should they think of me? what do i want them to think of me? i can’t believe they… i can’t believe she didn’t… why doesn’t anyone… don’t they know that i… don’t they see that i…

it is loving God
it is loving people

selfishness. defiantly so. or deftly?

it’s all about meeeeeeee……Jeesussssss
and all this is for meeeeee… for my glory and my fame
it’s not about youuuuuuu… i want you to do things My wayyyyyy
i am my own God and i surrenderrrrrr… to no-one’s ways…..

iwant. ideserve. i ‘need’. imusthave.

stuff. toys. things. people. attention. space. a stage. a platform. recognition.

my time. my space. my ministry. my calling.

but if i… then i won’t be able to…
but if you… then i won’t be able to…
but if i… then i will never…
but if you… then i can’t afford to…

as my friend mugabe (no relation) used to say, “if Jesus is on the throne in my life then i must be on the cross, but if i am on the throne then that relegates Jesus to the cross”

whose life is it anyway?
a me-centered universe will never leave space for a loving God, loving people lifestyle
it has to be Jesus-centered
pride and selfishness need to die (to “go to hell!” where they deserve to languish)

my church
a preach that i must get something out of
worship that must give me the feeling, the experience
my ministry
my salvation
my personal walk with God

my my indeed

it is about loving God.
and loving people.

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