Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Separation of Nobody

"Name him Nobody. You've become nobodies to me, and I, YHWH, am a nobody to you."
Hosea 1:9

Yesterday and today were/are my days off. I woke to an extremely cold morning, and the day stayed overcast and dark gray through out. I also woke up to discover that the job I had been working & hoping for for a month now was no longer mine to be had.

OK Lord, I have been asking you to teach me how to trust you in all things. This is difficult for me because I do not go to a "Health & Wealth" church where they teach that you are a cosmic Santa, dispensing whatever we wish for. But I am still frustrated...

I've never, ever been a superstitious person, but I couldn't help but note that it was Friday the 13th.

"To experience the Crucifixion is to lose all the supports that would protect us from a direct confrontation with the world and with ourselves."
Peter Rollins

Almost every single morning when I wake up, I have to wrestle with some less than pleasant thoughts. I am a phony, a fake, a fraud...a fool. Those thoughts are always there, bubbling just below the surface. Always there. Always bubbling. Always.

I am little more than a foolish clown who acts the idiot for all of my "Friends" to see.

Many, many years ago while at Bethel Seminary, all of the students were given a battery of tests to figure out our strengths, weaknesses, personalities, etc. Most people know the term "Extrovert." Well, as luck would have it, I scored highest in the rare category of "Functional-Extrovert." In other words, I am only outgoing when there is a need for it. A rare category to fall into, indeed. An anomaly, a square peg, a loner...a freak. I prefer to be called "Nobody."

"When Israel was only a child, I loved him. I called out, "My son!" - called him out of Egypt.""
Hosea 11:1

So last night I got together with a friend. I see him only once or twice a year at best. He is an artist, and a very gifted one at that. He sees and picks up on things that I can't. I think he is brilliant in many ways I WISH I could ways I BEG to be. But sometimes, I am not sure if what he senses is real or imagined. But he always challenges me and makes me think.

He didn't mean to, but last night he awoke stuff in me that I don't like to be reminded of. Like I said, I doubt he meant to, but he hurt me by awaking these memories. I am certain that this was not his intention. However, it stung pretty bad. Maybe these memories are real, maybe they are imagined, maybe they are just my perception.

But it left me asking; "So, did anyone actually "Like" me all those years ago?" I was left with the impression that I guess not, after that conversation. (To be fair, it was nothing that I had not sensed for years now.) I was a funny guy who was viewed as an annoyance and best.

"From the very beginning, we humans have wanted to escape this world, to become like gods."
Peter Rollins

I have always felt like an outsider, an observer...NEVER a participant. In my quieter moments I never feel like I truly belong anywhere. It's as if my lot in life is to watch everything and everyone else, and simply take a mental record for some unforeseen reason. Other than that, I serve no purpose.

"Nobody remembers what happened yesterday. And the things that happen tomorrow? Nobody'll remember them either."
Ecc. 1:11

I often wonder if I am truly close to anyone. Do I truly have friends, or are they merely close associates? The "Friend" that I hung out with last night is very complicated, and so am I...and so is our history and relationship. Sometimes I wonder if we truly are friends, or if we are nothing more than steel that sharpens steel.

If I feel this alone at the best of times, do I really, truly have friends? Or is this just my perception? If so, does that mean I'm an even bigger freak than I already think that I am?

"They called me a liar. "Exaybachay!...he who talks loud saying nothing." They ridiculed me. My own people. And I was left to wander the earth alone. I am nobody."
Dead Man

I often wonder about the people I have known over the years. What did/do they think of me? What sort of impression did I make on them? More often then not, I get the feeling that I made a fool out of myself on a repeated basis, and that's all people remember about me. That is certainly the impression I get when these memories come back.

At best, it would seem, I was a clown. I couldn't stop putting my foot...both feet actually...deep into my mouth. I still do that. It is one of my greatest skills! As such, I am an object of ridicule. My memory tells me that I was to be pitied by my associates, but never truly befriended.

"Just as the resurrected Christ is said to have borne the scars of the Crucifixion, so our Resurrection life will continue to bear the marks of death we had to undergo."
Peter Rollins

I have always been an outsider. I am a "Third Wheel" in all my dealings and relationships.

"I am still your God, the God who saved you out of Egypt. I'm the only real God you've ever known. I'm the one and only God who delivers."
Hosea 13:4

I am told that I am very gifted and knowledgeable in certain areas. I am good with historical data and biblical information. I can translate complex and complicated theories and ideas into plain English. In other words, I am a wealth & fount of curious facts and pointless trivia.

Too bad I seem to be thwarted at every turn and completely unable to put any of this pointless trivia into practical use.

"Then I took a good look at everything I'd done, looked at all the sweat & hard work. But when I looked, I saw nothing but smoke. Smoke and spitting into the wind. There was nothing to any of it. Nothing."
Ecc. 2.11

I have a memory that is very vivid and clear, and I have never been able to shake it loose so that it falls away. It is a scar deep in my soul, and seems to be a marker that defines who I am and how I see myself. It is of my "Friends" from associates.

It was a Tuesday in the winter of 1986/87. We had agreed to all meet for a movie up by our old college. Tuesday nights were "Discount" nights, so the theater was going to be crowded. I had to work my job 40 miles away. This made it difficult for me, with only a minimal amount of time to get to the theater to meet my friends. Also, I recall that it was snowing that night, which didn't help.

I drove as quickly as I could, through the snow, to meet my friends. By the time I got there, the place was packed and the lines were huge, and the movie was to start in about 5 minutes. I wasn't worried. My friends were there before me. My friends had all bought the tickets, so I was safe and wouldn't have to worry about the impossible lines.

I looked for my friends. When I found them, they were on the other side of the glass in the line headed into the movie. I knocked on the glass and waved to get their attention. My friends waved back. I called out to them to ask which one had reserved a ticket for me.

My friends all looked at each other and shrugged.

Knowing that I was to be driving 40 miles through the snow in barely enough time to get to a place that was going to be overflowing & busy, NONE of my friends had even bothered to think to reserve a ticket for me.

I doubt very much that a single one of them even comes close to remembering that day...but I do.

That's when you understand your "Value" as a living, breathing "Afterthought."

I gave them all the finger and left.

My "Friends."

"What is your name?"

"My name is nobody."

"Excuse me?"

"Exaybachay: He who talks loud, saying nothing. He who talks..."

"I thought you said your name was Nobody?"

"I prefer to be called Nobody."
Johnny Depp & Gary Farmer in "Dead Man."

I am sorry. I am sorry that I am a phony, a fake, a fraud, a fool, a afterthought.

I never meant to be a burden to anyone.

"The Incarnation tells us that if we want to be like God, then we must be courageous enough to fully and unreservedly embrace our humanity...The faith that is born in Resurrection does not enable us to escape these deeply troubling anxieties; it provides the power to face up to them."
Peter Rollins

Let's hope Peter is correct about that.

The sky is still gray, but not as dark gray as yesterday. It is a bitterly cold morning.

Ladies & gentlemen, my theme song for the entire decade of the 90s.



  1. O.K. so you think you're a nobody...check this out,
    Curtis Alan Heiserman |
    Heiserman, Curtis Alan 63, of Minneapolis, died on Monday, January 2, 2012 surrounded by family. Curtis was born February 1, 1948. After graduating from high school in Fergus Falls, MN, he attended Saint Olaf College as a National Merit Scholar, receiving his BA degree in 1970. Curtis loved reading, gardening, golf, home and family. A lifelong reader, his interests included history, politics, philosophy, and science, which he enjoyed discussing with everyone. Curtis retired in 2011 from his career as a professional waiter at many prominent area restaurants, the last 23 years at Manny's Steakhouse.
    Even though he was perhaps a nobody,people loved conversations with him and he made people feel special. (sound familiar?)
    You know what? Everybody feels outside the circle looking in and it's o.k.
    If you don't get what you want from life, make another life from what you have, it's the only way forward.
    Sorry, maybe one martini is too many...

  2. Joe, the first thing I would say is, "blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted". The second thing is, do not expect the social media world to be a very hospitable place for lament. I was "defriended" by a number of ppl for their own reasons I guess. When your down, FB can be a very dangerous place because it's not real...I would read, "person X is now Friends with Bono and 186 other people..." and that would set my off for a week, I was in such a fragile place. Nonetheless, I would say to you: lament anyway.

    My other thoughts are this: as one of those people from college that you have had a "complicated" relationship with, I am probably guilty of much of what you remember. Your correct in that I don't recall this particular movie theater incident, although I was probably there. There are many things from those years that ppl ask me about that I have no recollection of. From our soph year on, when my dad was diagnosed with cancer , I think I was just sleepwalking through life and just barely functioning. Regardless of all that, I'm sorry for have contributing to your feelings of "not belonging".

    However, in listening to you now, I would also say, that we all have hurts, disappointments, failures, mistakes that we carry with us. The ones relating to identity and relationship seem to carry the most power. However, from your words, I would also say that you are hearing and believing lies from the enemy, and some of these seem so deep and real I would highly encourage you to seek out some form of prayer ministry that treats this as being the real influence of demonic forces that are seeking to destroy you. I know, I know, this coming from. The guy who used to torment Barry a. For being a "snake handler". I can tell you from my personal experience and from 20 years of observation, freedom IS available. You can be released from some of the sting of these real hurts.