Wednesday, July 7, 2021

No Need to Save Face


"Life is a ride not a fight,no need to save face,say goodnight grace"

(Citywide Rodeo Lyric)

I love this song by "The Weepies". It tells the story of a rodeo clown who is all washed up, and believes he's (or she's?) "not good for anything." On a deeper level, I feel it is also telling my story...and yours. It's the well understood struggle we all have with identity and meaning. 

My Christian identity struggles with the idea that life is not a fight. Of course it's a fight! Everything about it is a fight! We "fight the good fight"'s what our whole human experience is about; if we dare claim we are on the side of good.

But then there's this thing called grace. What is it? Is it having someone else suffer my consequences so that I don't have to? How can grace be about settling a score - even if someone else settles it in my stead? But when I ask someone to "show me some grace," am I asking just to be forgiven? Forget what I've done, and don't bug me about it anymore? Or am I asking for compassion? An understanding that what I struggle with, you also struggle with. Empathize with me - don't judge me!!! I know that's the grace I need, and the grace I have to give if I expect it for myself.

When I see grace this way, then it does become a way of giving up the fight. I don't have to prove I'm the good one and you're the bad one anymore. I don't have to fight to earn love anymore. I find a different identity for both of us, for all of us, when I find an identity in grace. We all come from the same source, so there is no need to compete for a better identity, because we are united with the same identity of "child of God." The "fight" now becomes: do I actually believe it?

I looked up "Citywide Rodeo" on the internet to see what others had perceived it's meaning to be. I found this one particularly profound, and so I think it makes a fitting end:

"I think this song is about how we all fight against the perceptions people have of us - rather pointlessly, really. But there's "no need to save face" because "this is a ride, not a fight." The line "you wonder how fast you'll go when you hit the air" (getting bucked off a bull's back) is a metaphor for realizing the "dust in the stadium seats" means all your enemies and spectators were imagined. We are our worst enemies, after all. You should "step into your car" and leave your self-criticisms and feelings of insufficiency behind. "Look up at the indigo and pick out your star" means realize who you are."