Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The secret lives of the thirsty.

SecretZen is a site that allows you to share your deepest secrets with the world and do it anonymously. These disclosures take the form of "photosecrets" that combine images and words. There are many places online where it is possible to offer virtual confession or share real life secrets. People will say things online, even not anonymously, which they would not say to a friend in the pub if they had both been drinking.

Some of them are related to specific events. As in "usuallymoralguy's" confession about hitting his friends car.

"Ok, so I pride myself in being moral and not doing immoral things but about a month ago I backed into a car. I was being stupid and was talking on the phone. I drove away and parked in another spot. Later that night I found out that it was a high school friend's car and that someone had seen "a truck like mine" hit the van. The police had me come out of the house and asked if it was me. I lied and told them no. The damage appeared to be just broken plastic on the front bumper, but they wrote up a police report and took a statement along with pictures of the vehicles. My truck had no damage. Now I can't stop thinking about it. It seriously enters my mind at least 3 or 4 times a day. I haven't told anyone the truth yet until now. My main motivation for saying it was not me was because I can't afford it, along with an insurance claim that would most likely raise my rates. I feel bad about the whole thing but there really isn't anything I can do now that won't involve me confessing to my friend that I did it or going to the police. Either way, it is good to get this off my chest. Thanks."

Others speak of real difficulties in connecting with people, of feeling loved, appreciated or valued. As these anonymous posts tell.

"when I die Im taking my computer with me. My only friend and my biggest secret, no one knows what lies in my hard drive, no one knows me."

"I’m just not good enough no matter what I do
I genuinely care so much but no one seems to notice
I know I’ll never be worth anything"

"My friends dont like me as much as they like their other friends. Some are better at hiding it than others but I can telli can see the subtle clues. I will never have a best friend maybe because ill always be the sarcastic disposable friend."

"I don’t drink. I’ve never been on a date. I don’t smoke. I don’t do any type of drugs. I’ve self-injured before. I’m friendly to everyone. I’m told I have a great smile. I have a good fashion sense. I’m “average” sized. I’m nothing but myself to people. I don’t believe in underage smoking or drinking. I hate drug use and drinking just to get drunk. I don’t think it’s right to put out for any guy that comes around. I hate Abercrombie and Fitch, Hollister, and all other crappy one-brand teen stores.
I’d give up everything I believe in, everything- just to have friends."

Many revolve around frustrations in relationships. Rejection, the difficulty of being in the right relationship and the al too common experience of feeling trapped in the wrong one.

"It’s weird. I have no friends, no one to talk to, there is nothing I’m exceptionally good at except playing video games, nothing I really want to do with my life, I feel like everything I’ve ever done has been a waste of time, and I think my boyfriend just broke up with me. Yet strangely I can’t bring myself to give a shit. Normally I’d be crying but lately I just can’t find the energy to care anymore. I don’t feel happy or angry or sad. I don’t really feel anything at all.
I think I’d rather be depressed. At least then I feel somewhat human."

"No, I don’t trust you. And yeah, I can’t love you if I don’t trust you… But lets take our clothes off and fool around on my bed, cause when we do that I forget that I just CAN’T trust you."

"I tell people I’m completely over her.
the truth is I still have all her texts saved and I read them frequently."

"We have done well for ourselves however we have put ourselves in debt that we cannot get out of. My husband travels alot and while he is away on trips I am sleeping with 3 different men. I like all three and have fun with them. The three men and my husband could not be more different from each and only share 1 thing in common and thats the fact they are all head over heals for me and think they are the only one in my life. I have tried to stop but it seems like sex is my only out. Lately however I am not even happy when I am with one of these men. I feel hopeless. I know that I am using the attention I get to fill some void I have but I dont know what void that is and I feel guilty that I have a void since I should be more then happy with my life cuz many people are much worse off then I am. I also feel guilty b/c I know it is all going to crumble down on top on me and I am going to hurt these men who have done nothing wrong. I am at the end of my rope and can no longer see anything bright in my future and I cannot remember the last time I was happy. The only thing keeping me from killing myself is my son. He is my soul and I cant stand the thought of how sad he would be without his mommy. I cry alot and I hate it when he sees me because he doesnt understand and I feel so guilty about what I do behind closed doors. I wish I could stop."

Many testify to the web of deceit that they weave or get caught up in other peoples lies.

"I’m too self aware for my own good. I don’t fit in anywhere…I force myself to conform. I question every little action I make, but I’m a hypocrite for doing them anyway. Everything I do or say feels constructed and I cannot escape this feeling that I am in no way unique or special. I wonder if any one else thinks about these things or if I’m alone."

"Sometimes I pray for an eating disorder so I’ll be skinny enough for my mom to think I’m good enough."

"I'm a liar.I am such a good liar. I talk about others behind their backs, I gossip, and I meddle. I am so lazy! I would rather hit snooze then wake up with the sunrise, as I should. I procrastinate often. I go from boy to boy like they were kleenex tissues, use one once or twice and then discard. Oh and I watch porn sometimes, and I feel guilty about that. I'm angry. I am so angry at this place, for the pressure it puts on me and my friends. I am angry at my father for having all the characteristics of human that i despise. I am terrified. I am terrified at what this world is going to bring, where I am going to end up and with whom I am going to end up. I just want to be forgiven for my sins and vices."

Jessy in that last post heart wrenching post is 18. I wonder if she would consider church as somewhere any of these issues could be faced. If she has anyone she could talk to who would show her where the forgiveness and hope she seeks is available.

Still others speak of frustration in work, lack of purpose and direction and questions about life.

"I hate my job but i dont even try looking for something new because i dont think i could find anything. but little by little its driving me crazy. i despise it and it is actually turning me into a different person. everytime i wake up to go there i feel like a piece of me is being taken away that ill never be able to get back"

"I’ve dedicated all of my time and done everything i could just so I could reach for and achieve my goals. But they didn’t happen. They were taken away from me. Does this mean its time to start settling?"

"I am graduating university in a couple of weeks. I am absolutely terrified of entering the real world because i define myself as a student and i was great at being a student. In the real world i am no one.
I am moving back home to live with my parents to save some money, and will be leaving all my friends behind. I feel like i am moving backwards in life."

On that site you can leave a comment or a hug. Which may offer a little consolation but not much. So many of these posts reflect the basic human condition of the consequences of sin. Separation from God, alienation in relationships, frustration in work. The created order is fractured and the fault lines run through us all. How do we connect with people in these kinds of situations with these kinds of feelings? Who do they think they are talking to? Can God make any kind of difference given the depth of hopelessness?

I was reminded last night of a verse that I had not thought of for a while. It became the verse of Ten10, the key to Thirst for Life and with the River of Life the focus of a lot of creative energy that year. Ezekiel 47v9. "so where the river flows everything will live" or as we used it most often "Where the river is there is life". So many of these people above need the refreshing, life giving, water of life that rises up within. Yet do we care for the thirsty or even begin to engage with where many of the people around us are. Have we become preoccupied with a gospel of the quality of life and lost sight of the reality of the gospel of Life.

Looking back through some of my old River of Life files. I was struck again by these verses written on roller blinds at the River of Life.

Psalm 107

"Some of you wandered for years in the desert,looking but not finding a good place to live,
Half-starved and parched with thirst, staggering and stumbling, on the brink of exhaustion.
Then, in your desperate condition, you called out to GOD.
He got you out in the nick of time; He put your feet on a wonderful roadthat took you straight to a good place to live.
So thank GOD for his marvelous love, for his miracle mercy to the children he loves.
He poured great draughts of water down parched throats;the starved and hungry got plenty to eat."

Psalm 19

"The life--maps of GOD are right, showing the way to joy.
The directions of GOD are plain and easy on the eyes.
GOD's reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee.
The decisions of GOD are accurate down to the nth degree."

Psalm 107

"GOD turned rivers into wasteland,springs of water into sunbaked mud;
Luscious orchards became alkali flats because of the evil of the people who lived there.
Then he changed wasteland into fresh pools of water, arid earth into springs of water,
Brought in the hungry and settled them there;they moved in--what a great place to live!
They sowed the fields, they planted vineyards, they reaped a bountiful harvest.
He blessed them and they prospered greatly; their herds of cattle never decreased.
But abuse and evil and trouble declined as he heaped scorn on princes and sent them away.
He gave the poor a safe place to live, treated their clans like well-cared-for sheep.
Good people see this and are glad; bad people are speechless, stopped in their tracks.
If you are really wise, you'll think this over--it's time you appreciated GOD's deep love."

It is amazing that God looks on everyone, sees and understands. As David testifies:
"O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.
You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast."

This is wonderful but thinking about Ezekiel I am reminded that he went and sat with the exiles who lived by the Chebar River. His reaction is translated variously as overwhelmed, mourning or stunned. But he engaged, he listened to what they were saying around the campfires Jesus looked at the crowds and had compassion on them because they were harrassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd.

I need to get beyond indifference. I am surrounded by parched people in an arid environment. And I know both the hope of the rushing river and the reality of the living spring. Do I care? Do you? Do we?

Lord we thank you for your love to us
King of Glory who we nailed upon the cross
Gentle Shepherd when you're searching for the lost
Remember us.


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