Friday, October 19, 2012

Light for This Lost Boy?

Cheri and I attended Andrew Peterson’s Light for the Lost Boy concert last night (10/18) at Southern Seminary. We saw him last November with some dear friends when the Behold the Lamb of God tour had come through town, again at Southern, and he has been a constant soul companion since. Light for the Lost Boy has spoken more deeply and strongly to me than any of his other albums, so I was anticipating a great time of drinking in God’s grace through his songs & stories. There was some of that, but at the end I limped out the side door feeling great pain and no relief. I was a lost boy again, and I was overwhelmed by the dark pain of that reality.

Peterson is one of a small group of singers and storytellers that creates safe and sacred space for me - a grace-guarded place to work through things and bring them before God. This is what I try to do in my writing, by the way, for myself and any other ragamuffins who happen to stumble by. This is also what I look for in what I read and listen to.

I feel like the boundaries of my sacred and safe place were lost a bit last night. I have long identified my “lost boy” as an orphan that I’ve experienced from an early age. I have great difficulty receiving love and forgiveness, feel compelled to protect and preserve myself at all costs, all the while hating myself with a frenzied passion at times (this dynamic always reminds me of the relationship between Gollum and Smeagol). This orphan inside me is my own lost boy that so connects with Peterson’s album. I have wept many times while listening to it, and it has sparked an unusual amount of the Spirit’s activity in my soul, resulting in writing songs myself to try and express it (maybe next post I’ll share one).

As my wife and I experienced the concert, I felt the pain of the lost boy provoked within me but for whatever reason (the environment, my own baggage, etc.) I was unable to bring that pain to Jesus for redemption and healing. I left feeling more lost than ever, as if the darkness was much bigger than I thought and I was far more lost than I realized inside.

This is the Seminary where my lost boy was deeply exposed over 10 years ago. When I tried to make sense of it, there was no help to be found in either category or language in the Seminary culture in which I was enmeshed, so I had to look elsewhere. That said, this part of me always hurts when I brush by an element of Seminary culture, a reminder of something still deeply broken.

I feel like a turning point last night was in his last song, Don’t You Want to Thank Someone which indeed is a fitting and compelling end to the lost boy’s story. I was mostly in touch with pain by that point. Though I was trying to find a way toward hope, I began spiraling down quickly. The crowd around me started getting louder and more boisterous as each line of victory was sung, completely muting out my favorite line,
Maybe it's a better thing
A better thing
To be more than merely innocent
But to be broken then redeemed by love

Now I don’t blame my dear brother Andrew with whom I am fairly sure we would be good friends if the Lord brought our paths together. Nor do I blame Southern Seminary. What this is all really about is the lost boy. What I should (oops I just should on myself) have accounted for is how powerful a trigger being at Southern still is for me, and arranged better support for myself. I don’t think I can go to a concert there again, without a solid group of fellow ragamuffins to hang out with. I would rather drive 200 miles to see Peterson at another venue than do that again.

At the end I longed to find a way to personally connect with Andrew. This felt foolish and lame, but I just wanted to look him in the eyes and say “Thank you. Your songs have helped me survive.” Perhaps it was just an inordinate need of affirmation that was misdirected toward him, I’m not sure - maybe just the lost boy begging for daddy’s affirmation. I didn’t see an immediate opportunity to meet him, so I just slipped out the side door as fast as I could, feeling very broken.

Unfortunately, the album has been tainted for me by all this “stuff.” As I listened again this morning, some of the power seems to have been lost for me. I have hope that I will be able to hear it again on its own terms, with the help of separation of time and distance from the provoking event.

In the meantime, I’m trying to put the broken pieces back together of my safe and sacred place. This blog is working toward that.

[see part 2 for more of this journey] 

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