Benediction from a bad man

I guess I stopped writing about personal things here because I didn’t like the person I had become. I felt stupid, the faith and family writer who gets divorced. This was compounded by coming to DC and finding myself—though alongside very decent and honorable people—exposed as well to a few ugly people for whom gossip and career knee-capping are sport. Aggravating this vulnerability was a confession gone awry, with details passed to people whose good opinion I often coveted but never earned.

Deadened by a toxic mix of drinking, self-pity, and stressful work, I felt too stupid and unworthy to speak. Maybe I still am. Someone like me doesn’t have any authority to hold forth on what Christ really meant, or how a life should be lived, or what it is to love rightly.

If you want to hear about failure, though, I am your man. I can tell you about days without shaving because I didn’t want to look myself in the mirror. About the gallons of whiskey. About a trail of women. About a gun in my hand and being too cowardly to pull the trigger, not restrained by love of my own children, even, just fear of what comes after the recoil and flash.

Even now, in this sober and prayerful place, I have been reticent to write of these stirrings in my heart, because my heart is such a faithless instrument.

A falsity I embraced is that only righteous men can say good and true things. This misconception was one vein of a deep-rooted arrogance within me. I believed I was righteous and enlightened and God-ordained to speak truth. I believed I was more worthy than others to speak of noble things.

Of course that’s nonsense, insofar as whatever is pure and lovely and praiseworthy doesn’t originate with man. The worth of benedictions doesn’t reside in the purity of the speaker, but in the holiness of truth’s author. We make ourselves gods at every turn, don’t we?

There is beauty within this shattered creation. There are true and good things, and our struggle, every day, is not the truth of them, but the truth of ourselves. The words aren’t made worthy by us, but maybe, by God’s grace, we can be made more worthy of the words, and even by them, because good words are a blessing, which is why the priest or preacher or rabbi sends us out into the world with them humming in our inner hearts.

Logos is a name for Christ because creation was spoken into being. Some of that power conveys to us as well, because with our every word we build up or tear down, we soothe our brother or we flay him, we call into this earth either a heavenly aroma or pungent brimstone. God knows, we need more good words.

Which means they warrant utterance, it seems, even when they come from bad men. This world needs words freighted with gravity and grace, and I suppose it would be a sin not to speak them, even if we’ve never once in our lives measured up to their fullness.

Comments

  1. stephanie

    tony, i have read your blog for many years now. praise God that you know Him 🙂 i love to read what life has brought you, good and bad. God gave you that talent to write. please tell us some about your sons, how old are they now. do you live close to each other. praying you continue to follow the path God has for you 🙂

  2. Betsy

    I heartily agree with Jennifer and Dan – thank you and keep writing! We are, indeed, still reading. And even praying for you and your family.

  3. ben

    As exhorted, keep writing. As you bare your soul and heart know that you are not alone in these thoughts and struggles. We just don’t know how to express them as clearly and concisly as you do!

    God Bless

  4. Ken

    Tony,
    Fight off the voice of the enemy, listen to your loving father, and keep sharing His words! He is made strong in our weakness.

  5. Ken Larson

    Tony:
    Thanks for your honesty, brother! Stay close to the Lord and He will help you at the right moments! Please don’t ever give up on life; if only for those things you know to be good and noble and praiseworthy! Life is often hard, but we serve a God that loves us with an eternal love! A love that won’t let us go! God Bless You!

  6. Amber C Haines

    Ah, yes. You are real people. Aren’t we dying for the real people to show us their need for Jesus? I am. I’m straggling along here, and the good words? They pull me through.

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    Author
    Woodlief

    I’ve failed to respond individually to several comments, but I want to tell you all that I very much appreciate your kindnesses, and that you spend your time reading what I scribble out.

  8. Anne

    Your writing is beautiful. Please continue to abide with the Lord and through His strength share your journey here. We are all so desperately broken and blind, but Christ binds our wounds and scatters the darkness within us. Your pain is not in vain.

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