I want to spend the majority of this Reflection focusing on two lines from the track “Choose You” on Manchester Orchestra’s fourth full-length LP—Cope. But first, I would like to talk about Cope holistically in the context of the record.
The word Cope, in the context of the record, refers to using God as subsistence in attempt to escape both the world and ourselves. We don’t want to have to admit that we are alone. We don’t want to admit that we are sick and without a cure. We don’t want to admit that the hope we hope is there is not. Now, most of you that know me know I don’t believe we are alone and I do think God is the only hope for our broken bodies fumbling around in this messed up world. But I also believe that I use God as a reason to be naive and apathetic. And rather than meeting brokenness with an urgency to change myself and serve the needs of others, I “put my faith in God’s sovereignty” that He will heal the world on His own as if He doesn’t use me to do so. I believe that the refusal of the church, especially on an individualistic level, to accept the responsibility to be the hands and feet of Christ gives others the opportunity to rightfully accuse Christians of using God as a means to cope with the shame we should be feeling in light of our inaction.
The invention of the ship was the invention of the shipwreck.
I tried to find out who I was by jumping off the deck.
We invent things to help us cope with life. We seeks things which make life easier. But as we add things to try and complete us, we add things with the capability to break us. And sometimes all these inventions or modes of coping do is facade the real issues going on in our lives. Not only have we ignored the past, persisting problems, but we have added new problems with the failings of these pursuits. Sometimes we must abandon those things to discover what problems we are facing rather than continuing to run away from them.
I remember being in Bible college two years ago and wrestling this apathy I speak of. What I used as a mean to cope was theology. There were these words, phrases, and ideas I had not experienced consistently or fully but knew were the answers to my problems. So rather than embrace them by living them out, I used them as catch phrases to make myself feel like everything was fine when I was decaying spiritually. And I became so tired of telling myself I believe these things I felt I had not experienced or been obedient to that I bought a blank notebook. And I told myself, what is written on these pages is what I know about God—nothing—and I will not write anything on them until I experience them. This was my way of walking off the deck. I let go of the comfort I naively rested in as I took my notebook and go on walks not pretending that everything was okay. I didn’t use God as a reason to sugar coat things. I asked God the tough questions and poured out my heart as honestly as a could. And as I encountered God on these walks, He met me where I was and communicated His love in real ways I hadn’t felt in a long time. And what were once flimsy catch-phrases became dire realities in my life.
I don’t think we created God as a means of coping with reality. I believe God is our reality and until we approach Him as so, we will either become complacent in our coping or numb towards those who do. God’s character is what we know we should be, but it feels unreachable. So rather than accept it apathetically or deny it with discouragement, I believe we need to live in it honestly acknowledging living with God as our reality is simultaneously an extremely difficult and humbling journey as well as the only road we will find true rest in taking.
Album Artwork: http://unearthmusichub.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Cope-lrg.jpg