When I was thirteen years old, Styx was my favorite rock band in the world.
Styx albums were often the soundtrack of my angry struggle through adolescence. There was one song in particular off of their The Grand Illusion album that spoke to me probably more than any other: "Fooling Yourself."
These were the lyrics that were grace and peace to me when I struggled to find them:
You see the world through your cynical eyes
You're a troubled young man I can tell
You've got it all in the palm of your hand
But your hand's wet with sweat and your head needs a rest
And you're fooling yourself if you don't believe it
You're kidding yourself if you don't believe it
Why must you be such an angry young man
When your future looks quite bright to me
How can there be such a sinister plan
That could hide such a lamb, such a caring young man...
I had spent my entire life in church up to that point, but had never really felt the kind of encouragement and hope that I felt when I listened to that song.
I can't place all of the blame for this on the churches we attended or the narrow-minded theology those churches embraced for my lack of hope and cynicism. I have to own my part in it.
Looking back, I see now how so much of my faith experience was spent focusing on the negative, defining myself by what I wasn't, seeing only obstacles. I could only see that the world wasn't as I wanted it to be.
I think the reason "Fooling Yourself" spoke to me so deeply was because it helped me see more clearly that the Good News of Jesus was actually good news. It helped me see that the darkness doesn't get to win.
Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper once wrote, "...he alone can do good who knows what things are like and what their situation is." We need to have our eyes opened to what's wrong with our world, but we can't become so focused on what's wrong that we lose sight of all the ways we can make things right.
Last night I found myself singing along to "Fooling Yourself" at the top of my lungs with several thousand other gray-haired dudes. At that moment, I looked over and saw my own thirteen year old boy singing along with me. It was such a full-circle moment of grace, and I silently offered God a prayer of thanks.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.
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