Many churches have signs facing the road with instructions for living your life, and sometimes they are quite entertaining. Over the years I have chuckled, rolled my eyes, or sighed heavily at many I have seen. A few of the funny ones include, “WalMart is not the only saving place,” “Forgive your enemies – it messes with their heads,” and “Staying in bed shouting OH GOD, does not constitute going to church!” I like the funny ones.
A few weeks ago I passed by a church with a sign that caught my attention. While I’m sure it was meant to be a little humorous, I had to work at NOT being annoyed. It read, “Dusty Bibles lead to dirty lives.” I did chuckle a bit at first, but frankly, it irritated me. I thought, “Who the hell are you to judge my life simply because I don’t crack open the Bible frequently enough to keep dust from forming!”
I had a visceral response that was followed by a heavy sigh. I quickly realized I was experiencing my “BLUE allergy.” The message on the sign was quite BLUE in nature – a vMEME I wrestle with because one of my mottos in life is, “You can’t tell me what to do!” However, to fully embrace the Spiral, to fully embrace humanity, I am always looking at ways to go back and reclaim each level of the Spiral in ever increasingly healthy ways. So this church sign was my call to be BLUE!
What I was “allergic” to was the content of the message – that if I didn’t use my Bible, read it and live by it often enough in order to keep dust from forming, that my life would go awry. I would be catapulted into a sinful, dark, unredeemable place. You can see why I would not enjoy this kind of message. So I turned my attention away from the content and began to look at the values inherent in the Blue vMEME.
When we move from Red to Blue, we begin to awaken to a purpose for our lives in the context of the greater community in which we live. We begin to seek meaning and find reasons for our existence. In BLUE there is a search for a transcendent purpose, a higher order, a universe controlled by a higher power. Moving away from RED we begin to feel guilt, in RED we feel shame. With BLUE emerges accountability, stability, right-living, perseverance and order.
As I was reflecting on these values, my own experience of moving from active addict to recovery in Narcotics Anonymous more than 20 years ago surfaced loud and clear. When I was actively using I was clearly expressing some of the unhealthiest aspects of RED by being egocentric and barbaric. The life I lived as an addict was dark and violent. I was only interested in getting what I wanted, no one and nothing else mattered. At the end of my addiction I slowly began to fight my way out, a healthy RED expression. I was so filled with shame, and I yearned for order from the chaotic hell my life had become.
When I got clean, I was finally able to begin releasing the shame, yet feel guilt about things I had done and people I had hurt. Feeling guilt is not a bad thing, unless you like to hold onto it and use it as a badge of honor. Guilt means I have done something “wrong” and need to make amends, as it were.
Stepping into a 12 Step life and following the “rules” and the ways of the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions was nothing short of miraculous. 12 Step programs are BLUE structures that save lives every day. In BLUE’s healthiest expression I was offered accountability, a community that wouldn’t put up with my selfishness. NA, my sponsor and new friends invited me to take responsibility for my life and actions by living for a greater good, which in the end would bring me the reward of “I never have to use again,” and I can be a “productive member of society.”
I have lived a “dirty” life by some standards, and yet I probably won’t be dusting off my Bible anytime soon! However, I know that BLUE saved my life. I learned to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understood God at a time in my life that I was facing the choice to live or die. Since I chose life, I would have to say BLUE is a good thing.