You ever look in the mirror and don’t like the person looking back at you? I’m not talking about the physical. That’s part of it, but I’m talking much deeper than that. Deep down within the shell that protects us from the outside world. Underneath the mask the keeps others from seeing what we are really feeling…and hiding, inside. Behind the walls and barriers that keep people from seeing what we are truly dealing with.
Ever look at yourself, past all that junk and not like the person you are.
I am not the man I want to be.
Somewhere along the way I picked up some anger issues. I don’t break things or hit people. I’m not that guy. But I am prone to lash out verbally about stupid things. I do sometimes treat people that I am genuinely fond of with less love and respect than they deserve. Some days I can just feel it inside me, burning like the coals left over from a bonfire. Lying there beneath the surface, just waiting for the right fuel to bring it to a blazing inferno once again. To all I’ve done this to, I’m sorry.
The ones closest to me, the ones I love the most…they get the worst of it.
Somehow I forgot how to trust. Or maybe I never knew. My life is a constant, internal translation of what people are saying and what my mind convinces me they are really thinking. Seldom can I take people at face value and believe that what they say, is what they mean. Always there is the feeling, buried deep inside, that there is some ulterior motive. I know that the people around me can’t all be thinking things that are in direct opposition to what they are telling me. I know that every person around me can’t possibly have a hidden agenda where I am concerned. I know these things, but sometimes my heart is not so sure.
I eat too much. This is no secret. Anyone who looks at me knows this. Anyone who has eaten more than just a meal or two with me has witnessed it. I don’t mean to. I sometimes don’t even realize it’s happening…until it already has. I know that I’m slowly killing myself. In fact, I’m not even sure it’s happening all that slowly anymore. I feel the weight…of my weight. As I lie in bed I can FEEL the extra pounds making it difficult for me to breath, or at least more difficult than it should be. Sometimes I wake myself up, lying on my back and realize that I had stopped breathing. Some would call it sleep apnea and try to console me with the fact that many people have it. Still I know that if I lost the 100 or more extra pounds that I have, it would quite likely go away.
Sometimes I feel unloved. Yep, I know, it’s silly. Of course people love me. In fact, there may even be a great many people that love me. Sometimes I still don’t feel it. Even as I write this I am convinced that most people won’t bother reading it. Truth is most people really won’t care enough about me to take the time to read it. At least not all the way to the end. Some may read it out of pure curiosity. They may even tell themselves that they are reading it because they do care about me. They probably tell themselves the same thing when they slow down to look at a care accident, driven more by morbid curiosity than by concern.
I struggle with pornography. Yeah, I bet you didn’t see that one coming. The good news is most people that start out to read this post, will not make it this far. Truth is I have struggled with it most of my life. Just like a drug addict I have felt the shame that comes with it. Just like a drug addict I have found myself thinking about it during difficult times, and even using it as a means of coping. I know that it is not a good way of coping and is even harmful. Still, just like an addict, in those moments it didn’t seem to matter. I know that it has hurt my marriage and, likely many other relationships and I’m sorry. Mostly, I’m sorry to my wife.
Sure, I have set up routines and safeguards to keep myself away from it, but there in the back of my mind is always the question, “have I really beaten it?”
I’m proud. Not the good kind of pride like what I experience when I watch my son perform in the band. Not the good kind of pride I feel when I see one of my kids do good things for people around them. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the kind of pride that they Bible tells us God hates. I’m talking about the ugly kinda pride that makes it hard for me to take direction or criticism, even when it’s constructive. Sadly this often gets coupled with the anger issues I mentioned before. I know this leads to me hurting the people around me. From coworkers, to friends, to my wife and kids, I know that my pride has caused me to lash out in anger when you were truly just trying to help. Again, I’m sorry.
I make promises and commitments that I’m never going to keep. Oh, not on purpose. In fact, when I make them I am completely committed to keeping them. Then life happens. I forget I had another thing planned. I commit to more than I have to time to do. Sometimes I just get tired and run out of the energy to do the thing I said I would do. I don’t mean to, it just happens. At the same time, all too often, I’m not taking the steps to prevent it from happening.
I have issues with follow-through. This is really the source of the last thing I mentioned. I say I’ll do something and then simply forget. I’ve told my son that he needs to set up systems in his life to help him remember the things that he often forgets. Ironically, I often don’t use these very same systems myself. Technology has made it easier than ever and I’m a total nerd when it comes to these kinds of things. Still, I fail.
My faith is not what I wish it was… and I’m the pastor. Jesus said that with faith the size of a mustard seed (that’s a really small seed) than you could tell a mountain to move and it would move. Most days my faith couldn’t push over a mole hill, much less a mountain. Other days I feel like my faith is on fire. Maybe the truth is that, on those days, I just use faith as an excuse to do, or not do, what it is I really wanted to do anyway.
I make bad financial decisions. I know, I’m not the only one. Still, I have made some colossally bad ones. If I told you the amount of debt we once had you would probably faint. I know how to do it right, but I just don’t.
I’m not as confident as I appear. Yes, I really do believe that there isn’t much I can’t learn to do. My lack of confidence is more in the area of what others think of me. I know that I have said many times that I’m not worried about what other people think of me. Yeah, that’s just not true. I worry about it a lot. I often walk away from a conversation and will spend hours replaying it my mind. Thinking of the things that I could have said or done differently. On the outside I may be acting like I am THE MAN, but on the inside I often wonder if anyone would miss me if I were gone. No, I’m not suicidal, but sometimes I do wonder if I were to die tonight how many, or few, people would attend my funeral.
I talk too much. I know this one is not a shock to anyone. The Bible says we should be quick to listen and slow to speak. While I like to think I’m a good listener, most of the time I am way to quick to speak. I do feel that I have something to offer. I do feel that my thoughts and opinions carry some value. But, that doesn’t mean that I have to constantly offer them up. If I’ve done that to you, and I probably have, I’m sorry.
I’m not the man I want to me. When I look in the mirror I want to see a man that does not struggle with these things. I want to be able to look myself in the eyes and not see the pain that these struggles cause me, or worse, the pain the they cause those around me. I am not the man I want to be. When you look at me, you may not see these things. Chances are most people will never see this pain in my eyes. This is partly because of the barriers that I put up to keep people from seeing in. However, I’m not totally to blame. It is also true that most people will never care enough to look past the barriers and safeguards to see the pain that’s hidden underneath. Fewer still are those that, upon seeing the pain, will reach out to try to do anything about it.
Why do I share this? Honestly, I don’t know. It’s not to gain pity. It’s not to get attention. Between angry outbursts and jokes, I get plenty of attention. It’s not to guilt the people around me into asking me how I’m feeling. No, it’s not any of that.
I share because as I laid in bed tonight these were the things I was thinking about. Not just casual consideration of these topics, but deep, obsessive examination of them. Going over them time and time again in my head, when I know I should be sleeping, but simply…can’t.
I share because maybe there are other people out three that can identify with them. Maybe someone will read this post, or parts of it, and be encouraged. Maybe my struggles can help someone else realize that they are not the only one.
I share this as an insight into who I really am. Not just for the people reading these words, but for the one that is writing them as well.
I share because I feel the intense need to apologize. The things I’ve listed above have left many victims in their path. To all of them I say, I’m sorry. But, more specifically, I say I’m sorry to my family. They have suffered the most from these. I’m sorry to the many coworkers who I’m spoken overly harsh to, gotten overly defensive, or just been a downright jerk to. As the saying goes, “It’s not you, it’s me.” (Ok, it may have been you a couple times.)
To anyone who has suffered because of these things I say, I am not the man I want to be and… I’m sorry.Matt Norman
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