Discovery – You Are Stronger Than You Think You Are
Last week, we talked about awareness. We played around with some exercises that helped to show us that we are not as aware as we think we are.
If you remember, we watched a video of some kids passing balls and you were counting how many times they passed the ball…but I think everyone here completely missed the moon walking bear that slid right through the middle of the screen. Because you were so focused on counting the passes. You, see, we are not as aware as we think we are.
There are literally millions of bits of information passing into our eyes and ears and smell every second….but we are only aware of a very small fraction of that information. In fact, what would you guess we are aware of? How much?
It’s actually somewhere between 2-5% at any given moment. That means that 95-98% of what is going on around you…you aren’t even aware of.
If awareness is the first step towards freedom as we looked at last week, then our question this week is how do you become aware?
The short answer: Awareness requires discovery. We become aware by uncovering things about ourselves, by finding, observing and recognizing what’s going on within us that has been hidden or covered up. Pretty simple, right?
Well, not so much. Discovery is a process that ca be scary and uncomfortable.
Last week, I suggested one tool for this process: 5 Whys from the Toyota car company. That if you want to get to the root cause of any problem…..be it an automotive problem or a life problem…you have to dig deep by asking why….why….why…. The first few answers you uncover are typically symptoms of deeper issues
I gave you the Toyota engineering example last week. So today I want to look at a real life example:
Let’s say you’ve been angry with your spouse lately and it’s been affecting your communication and relationship. So you sit down with yourself to try to create some awareness about your anger. You ask Why…..why am I angry?
Firstly, because my spouse it always late. Okay, great. Why are you angry because she is late?
Well, because she doesn’t call and isn’t being courteous. So why does that make you angry?
And you think to yourself….well, because she does that a lot! Okay, so she does it a lot….why does the amount make a difference?
Well, because i feel discounted and unimportant to her. Okay, now we are beginning to get somewhere. So why are you angry angry about that?
Honestly, because I am afraid that she doesn’t really care about me anymore and I’m not strong enough to handle that. Oohhhhh! Now we have really gotten somewhere deep. Your anger is really about a fear that you are not strong enough or valuable enough!
Now, you can talk about being late, you can work out a plan for communication, you can minimize the amount of times he or she is late….but none of that is going to address those deep fears.
Discovering that fear makes you aware of what is really going on so that you can deal with the symptoms of anger and hurt and begin to heal what is deep down at the root by working on your fear.
Let me say it more simply: Discovery is where real healing happens.
I want you to hold on to this idea, this truth, for the rest of today: Discovery is where real healing happens.
Now, join with me in reading a story of discovery from the book of John in chapter 9.
As Jesus walked along, he saw a man who was blind from birth. Jesus’ disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned so that he was born blind, this man or his parents?”
Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents. This happened so that God’s mighty works might be displayed in him. While it’s daytime, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” After he said this, he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and smeared the mud on the man’s eyes. Jesus said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (this word means sent). So the man went away and washed. When he returned, he could see.
We tend to read this story as a miracle healing story. And it is that, in part. But there is a lot more going on here.
Jesus disciples are walking along, and they are curious about this blind man. So they ask Jesus, about him. The story begins with a question and ends with healing
Think about that. Healing begins with curiosity, with questions. So if discovery is where healing happens then it begins by being curious and asking questions.
On the front of your bulletin is a quote:
curiosity is one of the great secrets of happiness.
If you want the joy and freedom that comes when you are healed of the pain and hurt and frustration of life, then you begin the journey by being curious about your life and asking questions about yourself that lead to awareness.
But here’s the things….we are not always curious about our own lives. Even the blind man in the story wasn’t curious about his own life…..at least from what we read here….he did not ask the question. It was the disciples who were curious.
But isn’t that how it always is? We are curious about everyone and everything but ourselves!
We are curious about nature, about the universe, curious about how things work, curious about other people….too curious about other people… We gossip snoop poke around and pry into other people’s lives all the time. you know it’s true! But friends we need to stop being so concerned about other people’s lives and start to be more curious about our own!
So why aren’t we? And why wasn’t the blind man?
Well, if you keep reading John 9 and 10 you hear over and over people talking about his blindness coming from sin because that’s what people believed. Blindness meant sin.
Now imagine how that belief, that accusation was affecting the blind man. Did he believe it? Was afraid he had sinned? Had he spent a lifetime trying to figure out his sin to no avail? Or was he too scared to even ask that question? Scared of what others would think? Scared of being vulnerable? Scared of what he might discover about himself?
Maybe he just wanted to know he was a valuable human being. Maybe he just wanted everything to be okay and the thought of it not being okay was terrifying.
The truth is, I think, we are all scared to be curious about our own lives. Scared of what we will find. Scared because of what the world has told us about ourselves. Scared that we are not okay. And certainly scared for anyone else to find out we are not okay. Scared that we are not good enough or strong enough.
But If we want healing and change, we will have to face our fears with courage and boldly say:
It’s okay to not be okay.
But we don’t typically have that much courage. Think about the way we greet one another:
How are you?
I’m fine. I’m good. I’m okay.
But what’s the truth…. are you fine good or okay? Or are there things going on in your life that are not great, aren’t good, aren’t even okay….. So why don’t we say so? Why do we stuff those in the trunk, hide them under the cushions of our couch, swallow them, shove them deep down inside us to put on a smiling face that says, “I’m doing good!”
We all want to be okay and the world out there sure expects us to be okay. …at our jobs, as community leaders, as parents, when we volunteer…..but the truth is none of us is okay all the time.
So let’s stop pretending. At least here in this place called church. Let’s stop pretending. There is tough stuff in all our lives.
Even if we put on a mask everywhere else in life to cover up the tough stuff because people don’t care or because it’s too risky, then let’s at least agree that church is the one place we can come to where our mess is okay. Because this is the place where we can share our mess and be loved. Where we lift upturn es she together in prayer. Where we walk with one another through the mess of life. Because here in church it’s okay to not be okay.
You know, there’s a lot of folks out there are fed up with the church because they know it is supposed to be a place where you bring the mess of life and find rest and renewal. But when they go to church they see something altogether different. They see more people wearing more masks. They see everyone so dressed up – literally and metaphorically – that they cover up the mess of life with cars and clothes and children and an air of put-together-ness – and so much of it is a show, fake, or at least not the whole truth. But people are longing for a church that is real and authentic.
What if they came to a church where mess was okay. Where pain was okay. Where people were just real people. Where smiles weren’t fake and troubles were welcome. Where tough questions were asked and not one cliche answer was given? They might just discovery that they want to belong in a church like that.
If we want to reach other people…and if we want to find the healing in our own live, then we have to have the courage and audacity to say, It’s okay to not be okay. If we can say that, and live it, practice it together, then we will be able to ask deep and curious questions about ourselves knowing that freedom is coming. And that is exactly what happens in the story of the blind man.
Listen to what everyone discovers because of the disciples curiosity: There is no sin. No one did anything wrong to make this man blind.
The disciples began with a question based on the world’s point of view. But Jesus pushed them deeper. He tells them, “What the world says about you….it’s not true. Not every mess in your life is a result of something you did wrong.
Can you believe that? The truth is we all deal with messes in life that have nothing to do with us. That we didn’t cause. That aren’t our fault. But you’ll keep pointing to the wrong thing – like the disciples you will keep pointing to some sin that does’ exist – until you get courageous and curious and ask questions about the stuff that’s not okay.
Courage leads to curiosity and curiosity asks questions and questions lead to discovery and discovery creates awareness and awareness is a step on the path to healing and freedom.
Now here’s the last thing I want to leave you with today: Look at the blind man again. What happens to him is just ridiculous! Right? I mean, this man is minding his own business, and Jesus just walks up, spits on the ground, mixes up some mud with his spit, picks it up in his hands, and smears it all over man’s face.
This is just gross. It’s inappropriate, awkward and uncomfortable. There’s nothing normal about this scene.
Now, think about what the blind man has to be thinking…. “it’s bad enough everybody assumes I’m blind because of sin in my life, and now this guy throws mud and spit in my face.”
On this journey of discovery as we ask questions, things tend to get uncomfortable before they get better. And this is true for all of us. Once we begin to ask questions, we may embark on an uncomfortable journey where things get more messy and dirty. We may have to face our worst fears and darkest demons. And that will be tough.
But here’s the good news: Christ is with us. Christ is calling us in the midst of the messy process of discovery to go and wash it off. You see, that’s what awareness does for us. You can’t wash something clean until you are aware it’s there.
Worried your spouse always being late means he or she doesn’t value you anymore? Now that you know that is your deepest fear about a surface level problem, you can begin to wash yourself clean from it. The soap and water will involve a conversation with your spouse and yourself about that fear of being valuable. And it may take a few scrubbings to get rid of all the dirt and grime of that fear. But you can be clean again!
And isn’t that what we all really want? To be washed clean from the dirt and mess of life that resides in our deepest thoughts and darkest fears? To be free from the mess that we try to cover up with clothes and cars and makeup and plastic smiles? And to find a place where we have people who will love us in spite of the mess and walk with us when we are afraid and celebrate with us when we see the first glimpses of freedom?
Freedom requires awareness. And awareness requires discovery. And Discovery is where real healing happens. And that begins by saying it’s okay to not be okay. Because then you can look the not okay stuff square in the face and be curious and ask questions about it. And while things will get uncomfortable before they get better along this journey, you will discover something new and amazing about yourself. And at the end of your journey, you will look back and realize what has been true all along: you are stronger, more valuable, more beautiful and more amazing than you ever thought possible!