The Defiant Song

Yeah.
It’s been awhile.
A couple of weeks, or maybe three.
I don’t know.

There is always something, some bit of writing that needs to be written percolating in my head—either for here, Wineskins, or the book that seems as if it will never be completed.

And then there are the sermons.
I am so grateful to be studying for and writing sermons again.
Life is so very busy for just about everyone I know. But no complaints from me—I am living in so many, many ways.

If you could see me as I write this, you’d see a guy wearing a very relaxed smile, sitting by the fire, and just enjoying being alive…

Preachers/ ministers are not supposed to say what is coming next. Surely it says so in a ministry handbook or seminary class somewhere.
Surely.

Lots of folks understand pain and depression. Broken people know the brokenness of grief. Broken people know full well their inadequacies when facing such struggles. Broken people feel the additional burden of their own actions and reactions steeped in misery, sin, and causing pain for others.

Here’s a fact: Hurt people hurt people.

But more than that, I understand suicide. I get a pain so great, a loss so devastating, and a heartache so profound that the only conceivable way you can think of to make it stop is by ending your life.

I get it.
For the biggest part of my life, I couldn’t understand how anybody could do such a “selfish” thing. I couldn’t even come close to grasping a pain that great.
But I get it now.
And I am glad I do.

You don’t have to remind me that this is not something ministers should say. I get that too. But, those who have suffered the most and continue on anyway—somehow, someway, by the loving attention of others, through the mercy and grace of God—and in the process find a measure of peace, hope, and renewed joy? Those people want others who hurt to find the same.

And that’s what I want more than anything else.
I want to dispense the same mercy and grace to others.
I want to share my pain and walk with you in yours.
Not in pity and arrogance.
Not in criticism and judgment.
Not in an “I’m better than you and holier than thou” kind of way.

No, I want to walk with you as one who still wears the stench and soot of the fire.
Who still struggles.
Who still hurts.
Who still knows the bitterness of defeat.

I am convinced that is why I am still here.
Writing.
Preaching.
Talking to you.
Walking this path.

There is a song I call My Defiant Song. It’s by a band, a group of guys from the Mississippi Gulf Coast with the unorthodox name, 3 Doors Down. On my play list is found their greatest hits collection. I listen to it frequently and can be regularly seen driving between Vicksburg and Ridgeland screaming/ singing at the top of my lungs.

I like all of the songs on this album. But there is one song… It is my anthem song. It is my defiant song…

Like most songs, this one is open to a number of different interpretations. One in particular sees it as a romance gone bad song or a song lamenting the loss of a significant other. As far as interpretations go, I would guess it is as good as any other.

My take is radically different. I see this song as a progression. The singer sings about some calamity, some tragedy, some difficult or horrific situation and simply says/ asks, It won’t be too long and I’ll be going under, can you save me from this?

I don’t know how much help he receives.
I don’t know if others rescue him or not.
I don’t know if he ever had the kind of support so many tried to give me.
But at some point in his struggle, at some place in his journey, he makes a definitive defiant statement and it changes everything…

Looking back of the beginning of this
And how life was
Just you and me and love and all of our friends
Living life like an ocean
But now the current’s only pulling me down
It’s getting harder to breathe
It won’t be too long and I’ll be going under
Can you save me from this?

‘Cause it’s not my time I’m not going
There’s a fear in me it’s not showing
This could be the end of me
And everything I know
Ooo but I won’t go

I look ahead to all the plans that we made
And the dreams that we had
I’m in a world that tries to take them away
Oh but I’m taking them back
‘Cause all this time I’ve just been too blind to understand
What should matter to me
My friend, this life we live is not what we have
It’s what we believe

And it’s not my time I’m not going
There’s a fear in me it’s not showing
This could be the end of me
And everything I know
But it’s not my time I’m not going
There’s a will in me and now I know that
This could be the end of me
And everything I know
Ooo but I won’t go
I won’t go

There might be more than you believe
(There might be more than you believe)
There might be more than you can see

But it’s not my time I’m not going
There’s a fear in me it’s not showing
This could be the end of me
And everything I know
But it’s not my time I’m not going
There’s a will in me and now it’s gonna show
This could be the end of me
And everything I know
Ooohh

There might be more than you believe
(There might be more than you believe)
There might be more than you can see

But I won’t go
And no, I won’t go down
Yeah

I am alive!
I am still here!
I am surviving!
And it’s not my time I’m not going
There’s a fear in me it’s not showing
This could be the end of me
And everything I know
But it’s not my time I’m not going…

Obviously, I have no idea what could happen tomorrow. But as long as I can fight back and stand, I will. And not only stand, I will stand with all who are desperate, broken and hurt…

Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. Stand… (Ephesians 6:10-14b HCSB)

It’s not my time.
I’m not going…

Thanks for reading.

Les, Jr.

Defiance!

I hurt.
Every day.
Not every minute of every day.
But, I hurt.

Every day.
At night too.

If you didn’t know me or my story, you’d have no idea.
I don’t park in the handicapped spaces.
I don’t limp (at least not physically).
I am not on any medication for pain or depression.
I don’t walk around with a perpetual frown on my face.

Tears are often my companion, but not every day. At least not where others can see them.

Still, I hurt.
Every day.
Not every minute of every day.
But, I hurt.

And yet, I have an amazingly fulfilling marriage. Becki is a wonderful life partner. We work together. We play together. We enjoy life together. (We can actually thrive while canoeing together down the Buffalo River without nary a cross word–not many can say that!)

And together? Together we have four fantastic kids all living under one roof. Each of them is a complete joy all on their own. My oldest and his beautiful wife live in Huntsville, Al and are their own special blessing.

Everything in our lives is not perfect. Not by a long shot. We have our difficulties and struggles–like every family in this country. At the same time, we know joy, laughter, and fun.

Still, I hurt.
Every day.
Not every minute of every day.
But, I hurt.

Some days I can laugh and tell stories about the ones we lost. Other days, a glance at a picture or a foray into the basement (where two footlockers of Cole’s stuff are stored) is enough to open the floodgates of indescribable pain.

Most of the time I try to tell myself it wouldn’t hurt quite so bad if it didn’t involve such a horrific story. If it wasn’t about rape and murder. If it wasn’t about betrayal. If it didn’t feel so much like the complete absence or abandonment of God… Do those things magnify the pain? Do the specifics sometimes feel like a knife twisting in my side? Absolutely!

But who am I kidding?
Only myself.

The truth is quite simple.
Pain is pain.
Loss is loss.
Grief is grief.

The circumstances may not be the same; the backdrops of our hurt may span opposite ends of the spectrum, but the truth is not complicated at all.

Pain is pain.
Loss is loss.
Grief is grief.
And there is no valid reason to compare situations as if there was some kind of reward for hurting more than someone else.

Still, I hurt.
Every day.
Not every minute of every day.
But, I hurt.

Like so many others, I live each day with a pain that is immeasurable.
Yet, we are a determined group for the most part (thank you for allowing me to speak for you). We may (and do) have moments where grief is crippling, but we are determined nonetheless.

Determined to live.
Determined to know joy.
Determined to prosper.
Determined to experience life and share it with others.

Anything less is to curl up and die.

The grim reaper has it easy enough, and because of that, we are determined to give him as little satisfaction as possible.

Although life can be hard and is often exacerbated by the attitudes and actions of those who would presume to judge, in the end, we chose life.

That is our defiant answer!

Les Ferguson, Jr.