Clean out the cobwebs or kill the spider? (Untucked Column #10)
For as long as I live, I will remember October 3, 2017. I was going to watch a playoff baseball game with my dad – our Yankees versus the Twins. The thing about that time, though, is I was in the middle of the biggest emotional and mental struggle of my life. Very few people knew but I was battling depression, overwhelming anxiety, restless nights, and a fight to get out of bed every morning. I had lost my confidence, my sense of worth, and had convinced myself that I had been abandoned by nearly everyone I held dear.
That evening, with the game on in the background and my pizza getting cold from not touching it, I was scrolling through Instagram. A communicator that I follow, Levi Lusko, was talking about his buddy’s book that had just released that day and encouraging his followers to go get it. For a reason I did not know at the time, there was a purpose behind me seeing that post. I hopped over to iBooks, purchased it, and started reading. Within the first four pages of the intro, I was in tears. I KNEW that this book was for me. I stayed up until 1:30 the next morning reading and finished it the next day.
“Kill the Spider” by Carlos Whittaker uses a simple but incredibly powerful analogy of cobwebs and spiders in our lives. “Everyone has spiders but no one does anything about them until they come out of hiding. Places where nobody is looking, we don’t mind them so much. Who cares to clean the cobwebs in your basement, garage, or attic? No one. Why? Because they’re not bothering us. And when they stop bothering us, we forget about them . . . until the spider, which created that cobweb in the first place, comes crawling out.
A spider is an agreement with a lie you believe. A cobweb is any medicator that brings false comfort to that lie. How often have we done work on the surface to maintain the façade that we’re good and we’re ok?” In other words: clean the cobwebs but never kill the spider. I knew what I had to start doing.
You and I can trick people into believing that we’re better than we are with slick language, cleverly practiced clichés, and the biggest smile. The worst kind of deception is self-deception, though. This is when the lies that we’ve been telling have become almost second nature that we start tricking ourselves into believing them. The image that I had built and one I thought people in my community believed was that I had it all together, that I never struggled, and anytime someone asked me how I was, it was always some rehearsed response and I delivered it with conviction.
The truth was that I was screaming on the inside; I was hurting; I was broken and I had no idea how to let anyone close or see who I really was. People who had grown accustomed to the guy who appeared to never struggle all the sudden didn’t know how to deal with me – they didn’t know what to say or how to act. I would never show a chink in my armor but I could not maintain the persona any longer.
I had to realize and accept that I had never really been transparent or vulnerable. Transparency is allowing someone to see what’s really going on inside of you. Vulnerability is allowing someone to see inside AND speak into your life. I could not get myself out of the pit, out of this despair. I chose to humble myself and start dealing with deep-rooted mindsets and habits. I learned how to reach up and to reach out. I had to choose to not let pain keep me from going to deep places, from doing work on those hurts. I am eternally grateful for that small, close group of family and friends who stood by me through it all.
A lot of people fear intimacy because they don’t want you to see into them. So we keep people at a distance. If I can stay up on the stage and only let you meet my representative but not see my reality — then maybe you’ll stay in love with me. This was me. I could wow a crowd with my words but would never admit weakness.
You inspire others not by being perfect, but by how you deal with your imperfections. I used to like the idea of people thinking that I had it all together. Now I look forward to opportunities to tell audiences how much of a mess I was and show them what the grace of God can do!