New music from Davis!
I’ve recently been introduced to one of the greatest, most powerful TV shows I’ve ever seen. It’s called “Dr. Pimple Popper.” I know it sounds disgusting but I can’t stop watching it. It’s so fascinating to me. It must be to other people too cuz it’s a thing, but I love it!
The premise is there’s this Dr./Dermatologist named Dr. Sandra Lee aka “Dr. Pimple Popper” and she sees all kinds of people for all kinds of issues relating to skin disease, lipomas, cysts and other ailments too numerable to list here. She’s a fascinating human being who really seems to be passionate about helping people with their skin ailments. Go watch it, for real..oh did I mention it’s so gross you can’t stop watching?
What amazes me the most is the variety of clientele Dr. Lee sees She treats everyone the same and her reputation precedes her. She is known for helping people and providing solutions where others have failed. She’s is so full of compassion that it seems to put all the patients at ease, even the ones with fear of DOCTORS.
While the issues on the surface can seem trivial to some people I bet we can relate to a lot of these patients. Our issues may not be exactly the same but the pain they carry is very much the same. Shame, fear, rejection to name a few. As silly as it may sound to some, I remember my teenage battle with acne that dramatically affected my self confidence, something I really struggled with even before the acne came along.
I also grew up in a home where the appearance of things seemed to outweigh the reality of how they REALLY were. We always addressed the superficial issues while the real problems were allowed to fester under the surface(more about this in another blog.). So, I learned early and became a master of dealing with only what people could see even if it meant ignoring the root problem, another place I connected with theses patients.
The clients stories almost always started their story with something like “12 years ago I had a little lump about the size of a grain of rice on my neck and I just covered it up or ignored it.” Every story seemed like it always started as a small or seeming non issue, but here we are 12 years later with a lump the size of a softball that profoundly affected the persons mobility and they’re seeking relief for this issue from Dr. Lee.
Can you begin to see the spiritual parallel here? Doesn’t the big issue that we’re dealing with now always start with something small? Sometimes isn’t it even years later that whatever this that started small is has now made our lives unmanageable? I mean the consequences and pain far outweigh any benefit we are now receiving, right? For those of us with an addictive personality doesn’t it always start with, “oh it’s just a little porn”, or “it’s just a beer on the weekends”?
Ok, Back to Dr. Pimple Popper. The most insane thing to me about these clients stories is the fact that most of them have dealt with this issue for years and have ignored it or just dealt with it, meaning they just accepted it as their reality with no hope for change. Some testify that they’ve been to Dr’s before and the Dr. would just dismiss it as something that would just “go away on its own.” So out of frustration, and discouraged many of the clients just trudged through the years thinking to themselves, “well, I’ve seen a doctor and they won’t do anything about it, there must be no solution.”
Isn’t that what we do sometimes ? We tried something years ago and it didn’t work so we just begin to resign ourselves to the fact that things will always be this way? Maybe we tried to go to an AA meeting years ago and it didn’t stick so we just stopped trying, That was my story for a long time. I just couldn’t see how that would work for me. Maybe our loved ones have been nagging us for years to seek some help for some issue but we were too embarrassed about it so we never did. (But if you’re reading this and struggling let me say that there is hope!!)
This brings to mind an account in the Bible. Luke 8:43-48 tells about a woman with an “issue of blood” and her encounter with Jesus. One translation says that she had been to see Doctors her whole life and hadn’t been able to find a cure. She was the one who “touched the hem of his garmet” and was instantly healed. This raises a lot of questions in my mind but the most compelling is what drove her to Jesus? Why did it take so long? Was it something similar to what Dr. Lee’s clients had said? Had she been discouraged by all the doctors and their lack of solutions that she went to see Him as a last resort? Was it the pain?
In recovery we talk about pain a lot. We say pain is a gift. Furthermore we say things like “the gift of desperation.” We can testify that when the pain of CHANGE exceeds the pain of STAYING THE SAME, then real life change can happen. I know that this has been true in my story. Pain has been one of the, if not THE greatest motivator for any lasting and real change I’ve ever experienced.
Back to the woman with the issue of blood. The account in Luke sounds like the woman was almost ashamed that she had come to seek healing from Jesus. Verse 47 says she spoke up “when she realized that she could not stay hidden”. This sounds a lot like the people who came to see Dr. Lee. Shame had kept them from trying to find a solution but they’re met with nothing but compassion from Dr. Lee. She examines them thoroughly and makes a plan for how to best help them.
I find it intriguing too that many of Dr. Pimple Popper’s clients don’t necessarily seek her help on their own. Sometimes it’s a family member or friend who has heard about her miraculous feats that ends up propelling the person in front of Dr. Lee to bring about the life changing event.
There’s an account in the Bible of Jesus healing a paralyzed man(Mark 2). It goes on to talk about the paralyzed man being healed. Fascinating, but the part that grabs me is this, He had 4 friends(we don’t know their names) who couldn’t get the man to Jesus because of the crowds around him. They literally tore the roof off the sucka (I like to think this is where PFunk stole the title to this song) to get their friend in front of Jesus. It wasn’t necessarily the faith of the man who was paralyzed but the faith of his friends that led to his healing.
I will always think about my friend Robby when I read this story. Robby believed for me and in me when I didn’t. I was paralyzed in my life by several things including a life threatening addiction to drugs and alcohol(which was just a symptom of a much bigger problem). Robby believed that if I ever heard the good news of Jesus that my life could turn around. One night he invited me to church which is the one place that if you’d asked me, I wouldn’t wanna go and there were absolutely no solutions to be found there for my train wreck of a life, at least I thought.
Robby “carried” me to hear a guy named Ken Freeman share his story one Wednesday night in November of 2002. I heard Ken share a story that was eerily similar to mine in many respects. So much so I thought my friend Robby must have conspired with him before hand. Anyways, that night I heard how this Jesus had set Ken free and I knew in that moment I knew I needed that Jesus. I needed The Healer.
Maybe the parallels in this blog are glaringly obvious so I’ll try to to rehash too much. Like the clients going to see Dr. Pimple Popper who had ignored or covered up their issues for various reasons, i have been in those shoes spiritually time and time again. Each time I have been met by the ultimate surgeon and healer with compassion and grace that I can’t even wrap my mind around.
I’m under construction for sure but I am not where I once was. God keeps on working on me helping me see what’s giving me REAL life and what’s not. This process is the healing. It’s happening bit by bit sometimes but it IS happening. I believed there’s a fancy word for this called sanctification but I just know I’m not who I was and I’m continually changing and being changed by Gods Grace.
I’ll leave you with a question. What’s holding you back today? Was it some experience in the past that led you to think, “there is no hope for me”? Are you ready? Now is your time! God isn’t mad at you for stalling or even stopping. He understands that kind of thing more than we will ever know. He’s waiting on you with compassion and wants to restore your life.
I like to go to the gym. I’m not an athlete or a body builder but I use it as a therapy of sorts and to try to combat the “Dad-bod” thing that happens to all of us over 40 somethings. I have a workout partner named Ralph. Ralph is 64 and really keeps up pretty well. I think he started coming to the gym with me at first cuz he thought I might know what I’m doing. By now, he’s figured out I really probably don’t.
Ralph is actually my boss where I work so our dynamic is funny at the gym. He looks to me for direction. So, I’m the one standing over him screaming “Cmon give me one more rep you old fart, you can do it”, it’s great!! We have become pretty good friends the past couple of years and I’m grateful for him. Recently I was just thinking about our relationship and God spoke to me.
I have an issue that seems to be getting worse the older I get. I love to be alone, like all the time. I swear, I know it sounds crazy but I do. In fact it’s gotten so bad in recent years I actually get snippy and resentful with people who I think are invading my “alone time”. I look for opportunities to be alone all the time. See, I’m a creative-type and so for a long time I’ve just thought that this is part of my make up, my dna, how God made me. Although I believe that is partly true, as with all things, I have taken this to the extreme. A recent book I was reading by Carl Lentz said that “isolation breeds insanity.” To quote Gnarls Barkley, does that make me crazy?
One thing I’ve learned or am learning as a person in recovery is that relationships are crucial and vital to my recovery. We call it a network. In that network of like minded people we are “suggested” to get a sponsor. A sponsor is a person who serves as a guide. Since they are further down the road of recovery than you, then you ask them to help give you direction in life.
Here’s the parallel that God showed me at the gym the other day. He showed me at the gym we need a spotter to take us further than we thought we could go. A spotter is someone to help you attempt your lift. If you don’t know what I mean, next time you’re at the gym go ask someone to give you “a spot”. They will walk over to the exercise you’re about to attempt and take the “spotters position.” (It varies depending on the exercise)
The spotter will first of all make sure you’re safe above all things, that the weight you’re about to lift isn’t going to fall on your neck and kill you. A spotter will also help you correct your form so you’re actually working the right muscles and getting stronger. A spotter will also provide much needed encouragement in times of great distress. Just when you think you’ve done all you can and there’s not one more ounce of strength left in you, your spotter stands over you and screams, “Cmon you can do it, just one more”
A sponsor serves much the same role for those of us in recovery. Side note, I believe that we’re all in recovery for something. Most people immediately jump to drugs and alcohol when they think of recovery but many of the core issues that drive alcohol and drug abuse also fuel many other unhealthy behaviors whether it’s codependency or sexual-integrity, whatever it is, believe me there’s room on this boat for you. At Celebrate Recovery we like to joke with response to whatever issue anyone comes up with “What about(fill in the blank issue). “We have a group for that.”
Anyway, I believe this isn’t just a recovery thing, it’s a human thing. We were created to have these kind of relationships in our lives to help us grow, to help us when we get stuck or run out of steam. Some people refer this relationship as a mentor. But the idea is the same for a spotter, a sponsor or a mentor, they help you grow and do things you didn’t know that you could. I happen to have all 3 of these men in my life and I would hate to think where I would be without them. My spotter, Ralph, my sponsor, John and my mentor, Dave.
There’s a verse in Proverbs that says “as iron sharpens iron, so one friend sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17(NLT) while it seems to be a profound truth it’s something I’ve wrestled with and still am not the best at but I’m learning to trust them all with various areas of my life and God uses them all, sometimes, ok, except my spotter Ralph fails me from time to time cuz he’s looking at his phone when he’s supposed to be spotting me but I’ve yet to die so we’re cool. Btw, there’s is not need to look at your phone after every set unless you’re expecting a baby or something, am I right?
Paul the apostle and his “sponsee” Timothy demonstrated this type relationship in the Bible. Paul took on Timothy and discipled him. He didn’t just explain to Timothy how to be a disciple. He said basically “you’ve seen the things I’ve done, now look at my life and follow the example.”(2 Timothy 3) Sometimes at the gym the job of the spotter has do get down on the bench and show how to do the exercise correctly.
Ok, so back to my issue with “alone time”. I was recently rereading Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby and I don’t remember what chapter it was but he started to nudge/encourage people who struggled with this very issue to really take a look at it and focus on just why we enjoy our “alone time.” It got me thinking and I decided that I was gonna try to do something different. Instead of protecting my precious alone time I decided I was going to give some of it away and engage other people with the time I was spending isolating.
So, one of the first experiences I had with this was at a Celebrate Recovery meeting. I help lead worship at CR and before every service we have a “green room” of sorts that we get to relax and eat in before the service starts. I like this set up because it sort of keeps me isolated from all the noise and what I would deem to be awkward and uncomfortable and maybe even unnecessary conversations and interactions with folks.
Well, on this particular Tuesday I finished up my food earlier than normal and decided to go out and interact with folks. It was a little strange at first and I ran into lots of folks who knew my name and I had no clue what their names were. I just smiled and tried to maneuver my way through the room making as little eye contact as possible. At this point I was regretting my decision to try and let God stretch me like this. It gets better…
I was almost up to the stage where I would sling on my guitar and then I would be safe..no more interactions, so I thought I decided to speak to some of the people in the 3rd row and one of my friends said to me, “Wow, Davis, what are you doing out here? Signing autographs?”..ouch, Say WHAT? I don’t remember reacting any particular way but it must have shown on my face…this was the very thing I was trying to avoid, awkward moments. I felt exposed and out of my element and didn’t know how to respond .
However, often times It’s like this whenever we step out into new territory and try new and sometimes uncomfortable things. Just like when we go to the gym and we’re trying a new exercise for the 1st time or trying to hit a PR(personal record) on a particular exercise. We may have to lean on our spotter to help us get the weight up the 1st few times. Our sponsor may have to serve as a sounding board more heavily during these times. It will often be awkward and uncomfortable and we may want to retreat to what we know we can do but growth happens when we step into new territory, growth happens when we allow God to stretch us in new ways.
I’ll close with this. I recently was watching the movie “Christopher Robin”(great movie and you should watch it, prepare to cry) and Winnie the Pooh made a statement to Christopher Robin when he had hit a fork in the road. He said “I always get to where I’m going by walking away from where I’ve been.” Wow, what a profound truth from a kids movie! I felt God speak to me in that moment and say “Are you ready to go forward to where you’ve never been?”
“Find what you’re good at and go do that”. I think I’ve heard people tell me that all my life. I’m not sure it’s bad advice but it’s made me think there’s more to it than just that as I get along in my journey. For years I think I’ve followed this very advice. Let me explain.
I got into music when I was a sophomore in College at the University of Tennessee, many moons ago. I had a roommate named Jeff who was from my hometown of Columbia, Tn. Jeff was/is an extremely talented musician. He had been in a couple bands in high school and I thought he was the coolest guy. He had long hair and earrings(cuz that was cool then) and he had a bumper sticker on the back of his car that said “Question Authority.” (My parents have me hell about being friends with Jeff because of that bumper sticker.)
Jeff loved all the alternative music of the day and I can still hear him singing “No Rain” by Blind Melon in our cramped little dorm room. Jeff had an ovation acoustic guitar that he strummed on all the time and I found something magical happened when he played. I was mesmerized and I wanted to learn to play guitar too. (Did I mention that Jeff had a girlfriend and I thought that playing guitar might have been part of his secret to being so suave?)
I was in to drastically different music than Jeff but he seemed to have an appreciation for all types of music. I was into Prince, Michael Jackson, Zapp and Roger, The Commodores, funky stuff like that and even George Michael. I remember I broke my hand that year playing basketball and that seemed like a good a time as ever to learn guitar. So, I asked Jeff to show me the chords to my favorite song of all time, Purple Rain.
I instantly LOVED playing guitar. I bought my first cheap electric “Martin-Stinger” telecaster from a local pot dealer, I wish I still had that guitar. I took up the guitar with an obsession(I now know I do all Things like this.) I learned really quickly how to navigate the guitar neck and I became what some people referred to as “pretty good.” Some would even say I had “a gift”. Within a year or two I had formed a band with some more of my college buddy’s including the one and only Jeff, who played bass in that band(he played drums well too.)
Mister Skinny(that was our band name) began to tour around and get some notariaty in the region. We were a regional touring act in the hay-day of the Jam Band. The Dead, Phish, Disco Biscuits, Moe among many others. We rehearsed a lot, toured some and I began to find acceptance as a musician. Musician was WHO I was, not just something I did and I was relatively good at it I guess. So, I was all in!! Nothing gave me greater joy then than going into a local club and hearing someone say “hey, you’re the singer for that band.”…no we weren’t famous, but it sure felt like it at times.
Well, as all good bands do(with a few exceptions), we broke up. That’s when I remember feeling lost. My whole identity was wrapped up in that band and being a musician. This is when I can remember my drinking and drugging spiraling out of control to the point I knew I needed some help.
Here’s the kicker, I had followed the advice “Go find what you’re good at and go for it” and this is where I wound up?
Many, many, many years later, several rehabs, detoxes, mental institutions and yes even jail, I have started to discover that being a musician is not who I am, it’s just something I do…and yes I still love it…just not in the same way I used to. I feel like it’s just in its proper place in my life now. Funny thing is, much to my dismay, most of the people in my life that really love me don’t simply think of me or even care that I’m a musician. Huh?? But this is what I’m good at, right??
Here’s what I’ve found to be true. I get to still travel around and play and even speak at events all around but I find a commonality that I still can’t wrap my mind around sometimes. My friend Sean, who’s also a pastor summed it up to me once after I got done leading worship at his church. I said “well, how was it?”(cuz I was still new to it all) he replied it’s “was great, music was great BUT I love your heart”..MY HEART? What??..I was like…you mean it’s not my dazzling voice(I’m being silly here) or my mad guitar chops lol…he said “Iove your heart” what did he even mean?
Here’s what I’ve found to be a profound and puzzling paradox in my story. A large majority of people that I run into or meet are not really that fascinated with my music as much as they are my story(some call it my testimony). My story is messy and contains lots of what seem like to me to be catastrophic failures at life…seriously, that’s what people are attracted to??? People are far more intrigued by the fact that I’m a recovering drug addict or that I’ve been divorced than they are by my music. Now, sometimes my music opens the door to share my experiences but my story always overshadows the music. This is not the way I would necessarily want it but it’s the facts. Why on earth is this so?
The apostle Paul talked about this in 2 Corinthians 12 verses 8-10. It says ..”’my grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. So now I am glad to boast about my weakness so that the power of Christ may work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weakness and the insults, hardships and persecution and the troubles I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. “
My weakness, my vulnerability, my failures are a launching point to talk about how God has been at work in my life. So the wounds of my past become weapons(Thank you Carl Lentz) in God’s hands. It’s totally counterintuitive…it flips the script, it’s definitely NOT how I would do things. I mean for real though, I’m puzzled by how this really works.
So, I’m still out there playing music but my idea of “making it” has now totally shifted. If I look at my life through the lens of this scripture and I start to try to see my life as God sees it I don’t look for the music to be my marker for success like I did. Instead I look for areas of my life where God has been at work transforming me. No, I’m not anywhere close to where I wanna be but I’m definitely not who I used to be.
So now when I hear someone share the advice “find what you’re good at and go for it” I think about how my life has unfolded and I think…hmm I’m not sure that’s right or at least that’s not how it’s worked out for me. In my experience it has been sorta the opposite, when I tried to go find what I was “good” at, it didn’t turn out so well. The wisdom I would share would be “Find out where you’re weak and let God transform it and use it.” Don’t be ashamed of your wounds cuz they’re now weapons!!
Sing a Simple Song
I’ve been praying a very specific prayer lately. I’ve been praying “God, I know you’re always there, but make me aware of you at all times.” There seems to be an endless stream of teaching moments as I have seen this prayer answered. Here’s one such moment. (Side note I stole the title of this from one of my favorite Sly and The Family Stone songs, thanks Sly aka Sylvester Stewart)
So I’m on a gig at a pretty notable resort in the area doing my acoustic thing. I was playing a mix of covers and originals(mostly covers at this place). I paused between songs on this occasion cuz people were actually giving applause after each song(doesn’t happen that often lol) but I let them clap and gave a quick spiel about the song or the artist and moved on pretty quickly. After one song (incidentally Andy Grammer’s hit “Keep Your Head Up”), I started to hear some hecklers from one of the hotel balconies. They yelled “Quit singing that sh*t, you suck, play Freebird, we’re trying to sleep…etc.”
Now, as a musician/entertainer I make my self subject to this possibility anytime I get on the mic, so I am not asking that you feel sorry for me but I’m using this incident to share how God used it to speak to me. At first the heckling was just annoying and I just played it off as a bunch of guys who had too much to drink or with nothing better to do but then, the heckling started getting into my spirit and I started second guessing everything I was playing…I started thinking…”maybe I should just quit”…and then I felt something rise up inside of me that said “keep singing your song, don’t quit, that’s what they want” and Just then a light came on in my mind.
I started thinking “how awesome is that, that’s just like God beckoning me forward in my spiritual journey”(All this happened in my mind while I was signing “Brown Eyed Girl” lol). I felt God reminding me to keep “singing my song” despite the hiccups, despite the setbacks, despite the hecklers and the haters…press on. So I did just that, I kept on singing but (and this a helpful hint for anyone that has been in this position) I began to eliminate the pauses between songs. I weaved one song into the next like a skillful DJ does to kill any dead space that the hecklers could use for their shenanigans. Eventually I guess they got exhausted looking for opportunities to chime in and hate on me because they seemed to stop at some point. They could have been doing it the whole time I was playing but I was too busy singing to notice. The whole time I felt God developing this idea for an encouraging blog.
So, here’s where I think God was leading me. I am in recovery and it’s been a rewarding, crazy, bumpy and amazing journey. I have had moments where I failed, relapses, screw ups but every time God is always there reminding me not to give up. Sometimes it’s through other people encouraging me, sometimes it’s through songs, sometimes through 12 Step meetings, sometimes I feel like God is directly speaking to me. However, sometimes the voices of the enemy are so loud in these moments that it gets in my spirit and I wanna give up. God keeps beckoning me into his abundant life. The scripture says “The thief comes to kill, steal and destroy but I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly”.
We have a saying in recovery(we have lots of them) it says “Keep coming back”. It reminds us that we’re on this life long journey and there will be hiccups, failures and maybe even relapses but we’re reminded to never stop fighting, never give up!! Philippians 1:6 says that “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion..” God started something amazing in you and I and he’s gonna finish it. So, when we land in a place like I did with the hecklers where I wanted to just quit Remember, keep singing your song. The word says “resist the devil and he will flee from you, draw near to God and he will draw near to you” Resist, persist and persevere and like Sly said “Sing a Simple Song.”
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