I need to confess something.
I didn’t touch her foot.
I’ve told people for 15 years that I did. But I didn’t.
No Doubt was my favorite band through most of High School. To the point where I went all hipster and bought all their oldest stuff (before “Tragic Kingdom” there were other albums!). I would press play on my CD player first thing when I woke up and it would ring out as the soundtrack to my morning. Spiderwebs while stumbling to the toilet, Just a Girl while showering, Sunday Morning during breakfast, and Don’t Speak while brushing my teeth - which seems fitting. Don't Speak also soothed my aching soul any time I had feelings for a girl that didn’t feel the same towards me, which was often. If CDs could wear out, this would have had a groove in it at track 10 for sure.
I scored tickets to see Gwen Stefani (whom I also had an insatiable crush on) and the boys at the Guvernment club in Toronto and nothing else mattered for 2 months while I held onto those concert passes waiting for the fateful day when she would sing to me and I would propose marriage to become the future Mr.Stefani.
The place was packed. Hundreds of people crammed onto the floor like sweaty sardines, just as salty and slimy. I screamed when they came on stage, I sang along to all my favorites - especially the old stuff that only a select few of us in the room knew existed, or so I keep telling myself - and I skanked like a Ska-king!*
Then, it happened.
She looked at me.
During Don’t Speak she looked down in the crowd at the glistening faces swaying back and forth and locked eyes with this spiky-haired-120-pound-punk. She looked deep into my soul as I took her on a journey through our future together, traveling the world, having horn-playing babies, and setting our home-phone voicemail message to say, “Sorry Alex and Gwen aren't home right now, we’re walking in the spiderwebs, but please leave a message at the tone!” What felt like an entire lifetime only lasted for half a second, and she was on to the next hopeless romantic.
I told some people about that.
I told more people that I actually touched her. But I didn’t.
I told it enough that I started to believe it myself. But I didn’t.
I just thought that was more tangible and realistic and believable and enviable and impressive than trying to convince people that we shared a moment of eye-contact, or simply that I was at the show.
I should tell you, I did TRY to touch her. I went right up to the front and reached over the gate while she was crouching down spitting out her song to the crowd with a microphone in the way…but I didn’t.
Seriously, this is a pretty big confession. I’ve straight up lied about this, even to my wife. I texted her before posting this to tell her about the 15-year ruse, she’s ok with it.
I wonder how many of us are going through life making up stories like this.
How many of us are making up stories of our experiences with God, just so others will think God is more real.
Or we want them to think we have actually been closer to God than they have. Or worse, we have talked about it for so long we have actually convinced ourselves of something that hasn’t happened.
There’s a story in the book of Exodus about Moses, he straight up has the audacity to ask God to see His face. He wants to see this glory he’s heard so much about. God responds with a bit of a compromise, "I’ll tell you what, I’ll walk behind you and then you can look as I’m walking away.” It’s as if God is doing everything He can to reveal Himself in ways we can actually comprehend and understand as humans, but we keep asking to see the ‘real thing’. He is showing up all through our day, in the things we touch, and taste, and smell, and most importantly, in the people around us. His compromise is this, if you want to see me, look at the people and listen to the world around you.
We are desperately trying to lock eyes with God, if only for a second, or trying to get close enough to touch His foot so we know He is real. But what if that’s not the point? What if I missed the best part of that concert (the music and the people I was with) because I was so focused on the goddess dancing in her red boots under the lights?
Some Christians get so caught up trying to get the attention of the lead singer on stage that they miss their friend falling down next to them from dehydration.
John, the author of a few books in the Bible talks about love and God. In fact he claims that God IS love. This one fact changes everything.
God is love.
Wherever you have seen love shared between people in this world, this is where you will find God. He goes on to say just that, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:12).
I think God does look out and see me, and sometimes our eyes connect. But I know God sees me each day when my friends let me know they see me. I experience the love of God through the love of others. Conversely, I show the love of God by showing love to others.
God is love.
God is meant to be experienced through our love for one another.
I’d like to stop trying to convince others of God existence, and His love pouring out from some heavenly place of glory. I’d like to stop thinking of God as a celebrity that I’m trying to touch, so I can tell others that I did. I just want to be a part of something bigger than myself, with other people, loving in extraordinary ways.
The point of the concert is to listen to the music filling the place, and dance with the people around me.
I want to pay full attention to the complexity and rhythm of the God's music in this world. I want to sing and dance with the people around me. Then I will have no doubt that the lead singer is just as real and good as everyone says she is.
Even if I didn't touch her foot.
*’skanking’ is a dance move, reserved for Ska concerts.
**Ska is the greatest genre of music ever created; a (dead?) genre which includes the talented stylings of The Specials, Reel Big Fish, RX Bandits, Five Iron Frenzy, Less Than Jake, and of course No Doubt.