I Will Try to Fix You … (But, Really, I Can’t)

I got on the Coldplay train pretty early. I got a copy of Parachutes pretty early, and was pretty mesmerized by the simplicity, passion, and purity of the music. As this was the early, early days of eBay, I even sought out a copy of some demos and B-sides (remember “B-sides”?), and just soaked in where they were coming. I was convinced Johnny Buckland was going to be the next great British guitar hero (especially, for, um, church guitar players).

When Rush of Blood to the Head came out, I harassed a good friend who’d gotten a record-release poster to hand it over (I think that poster now resides with Trace Armstrong); I defended my sister’s charge of “This is too repetitive!” when she heard “Clocks” for the first time. I was hooked.

They released X&Y after we’d moved back to Chicago from Colorado. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the same reaction. Three records in, I expected to hear some growth, some risk-taking from the band, and it simply wasn’t there. It was all just very, “Coldplay”. Same old rhythms, same rather wimpy vocals and “super-sensitive guy” lyrics.

Meh. I gave a cursory listen-through, but didn’t really stop to sit through any of the tracks. I through it in the car to listen to “sometime.” (And we all know that “sometime” really never comes in my car.)

But one night I was driving to a gig down on Belmont Avenue, and this song came on. I was transported. Something really happened in those few minutes; I had to just sit there in the car, prior to hauling gear, and let it play out. It remains an incredibly healing song in my life (and in others’ as well: I’m partial to this version).

But over the past few weeks I’ve come to realize that the song contains a subtle but damaging lie. One of the strange paradoxes of my job as a pastor is that I spend a lot of time trying to get people to be honest with themselves–and also with me–about their hurts and their pain. Over lunch, coffee, beer; across café tables and couches; I try to “make space” for people to tell the truth of their lives. Without honesty, true healing cannot take place, so I spend a lot of time to try and lead people (safely) to those places of honesty.

The thing is, once we get to those places of honesty, the results can be devastating and difficult to watch. Being honest with your life usually requires confronting pain and hurt. Tears come. “Why?” Gets asked. A lot. They hurt, and I want to help, so badly, but as a Believer I believe that ultimately, I can’t fix them. These people are my friends (mostly), and it’s a sometimes cruel paradox to think that, though I lead them to places of great vulnerability, I can’t lead them back out of those places. It’s a Spirit thing, an act of healing in which they must collaborate with God.

So I lead them, I patiently wait for them to arrive, I watch walls fall down (occasionally I even poke a little), and then I mostly can do nothing. I pray for them, I encourage them (I hug a lot, too). But I can’t fix them…

… But lights may, indeed, guide them home.

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