Who Have You Buried Alive?Oct 23, 2021
Being buried alive is not on any sane person’s bucket list.
This “It’s terrifying just to consider” ordeal occurs in horrible nightmares, suspense movies, and real-life crises instigated by natural or man-made disasters. In the latter, cameras click as crowds gather, physically and virtually, as rescuers battle debris and time to extricate the buried but breathing. When a person emerges, no matter how bruised or battered, cheers erupt -- instinctively affirming an inexpressible and unquantifiable preciousness in each person. Relief wraps its patchwork quilt of hugs, smiles, and tears around anxious onlookers, fatigued heroes, and the grateful liberated.
Next-day media coverage does not include a cost-benefit analysis discussion panel.
“Well, Jane, I’ve calculated those recovered must earn at least $5.6 million over the next 20 years to pay enough in taxes to cover the cost of their rescue.”
“Interesting, Frank. Given the current economy and need to conserve our resources, perhaps in the future we should consider calculating a victim’s potential earnings to see if the cost is justifiable. Dan, you look like you have something to add.”
“I think we shouldn’t discount potential social contributions. Granted, this would be harder to quantify, but I’m confident a savvy programmer could design such an algorithm.”
Not going to happen. Hopefully.
Imagine a manufacturing plant suffers a catastrophic explosion. Mutilated concrete, misshapen glass, and mangled steel construct a monstrous labyrinth. From deep within a text appeals, “I’m wounded but alive. Help!” Yet it’s 6:00 PM, the crew has been working since 10:17 AM, the play-offs’ last game starts in one hour, the nearest restaurant is 53 miles away, the thermometer registers 97 degrees, and rain is forecast overnight. The captain announces rescue efforts will resume tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM, if weather cooperates.
Heads would roll along with the cameras.
Yet everyday this is the choice of numerous crew chiefs. Nobody demands an investigation. Teams don’t rebel. Cameras don’t record. Hashtags don’t emerge. Banner headlines don’t scroll across screens. Every day cost-benefit calculations are run, and a rescue effort is abandoned.
We’re the soul buried in the rubble. We’re also the crew chief who decides a rescue isn’t worthwhile.
Everyone gets buried alive. Relationally, emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually. To varying degrees. In different ways and at diverse ages. Trauma and tragedy consume some instantly. Most become buried by the silent, steady slide of natural erosion. Natural isn’t always healthy.
Becoming ourselves is life’s most sacred, transformative, and daring journey. The outcome alters us, our contemporaries, and future generations in a magnitude so ungraspable only faith can bridge the chasm. Our character and our aspirations matter. A lot. Forever.
Our choices have magnificent, eternal, mysterious consequences.
Launching a business. Nurturing children. Getting an education.
Visiting a neighbor. Admitting the addiction. Quitting a job.
Forgiving. Teaching. Apologizing.
Submitting the manuscript. Recording the song. Changing a mindset.
Applying for a position. Confronting a friend. Asking for help.
Everyone has sacred purposes whether known or not. Integrity is like sunshine; needed by all. Aspirations, like the taste of carrots or cucumbers, chocolate or cherries, are unique to individuals. Just as carrot greens and cucumber vines, cacao and cherry trees can’t thrive without light, so aspirations won’t flourish without character.
Fear and Pride bury aspirations and character.
Fear dumps truckloads of dirt hauled on the roads of Ignorance, Apathy, and Shame; carried from fields of Failure, Loss, Rejection, Humiliation, Loneliness, Isolation, and Abuse.
The soil types vary.
Immobilize. Distract. Entertain.
Dissuade. Minimize. Compare.
Discourage. Confuse. Disempower.
Overwhelm. Delay. Rationalize.
Yet Fear has a powerful foe: Belief. This isn’t a fairy tale mindset masquerading as faith. It is not mantras in the mirror about awesomeness. (Mantras in front of the mirror? Definitely not. Too many distractions. “Is that another blemish, wrinkle, gray hair?”) It is not repeating the ridiculous notion I can achieve whatever I set my mind to. (No amount of mindset adjustments and shoulder press repetitions are going to have the NFL recruiting me.)
Pride's approach is different. She seduces through lies of substitution. “This isn’t dirt to bury you. It’s soil for growing flowers! Arrogance? No! That’s confidence. Discarding good advice? No! Your opinion is just as valid as theirs. Unkindness? No! You’re speaking the truth. Running over others? No! You’re practicing self-empowerment. Impatience? No! This is efficiency. Graceless? No! Boundaries. Manipulative? No! You’re leading." And one scoop at a time character becomes buried.
Humility exposes and immobilizes pride.
Humility waits to be invited. She serves by considering advice, whether from a therapist or family member, colleague or friend. Examining attitudes, acknowledging growth needs, asking for help, establishing habits to circumvent known weaknesses, apologizing, and doing the work of restoration – all enable Humility to defend and rescue character.
You – the whole, unique, divinely-designed you – is worthy, needed, and called to become fearlessly and humbly alive.
Whether your character and aspirations have been buried alive through ignorance or with your own complicity, it is never too late for an emergency recovery operation.
Trust that God already ran the cost-benefit calculations and determined every part of you is worth rescuing. Will you choose to remain buried alive?
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