Bear Hunt (The Bear That Wasn't)

 We're Going On A Bear Hunt

We're Going On A Bear Hunt

    I was challenged at a poetry slam to share one thing on social media about myself. I’m trying to honor that challenge, but I’ll have to lay down some context first. Here goes.

    There's a book I used to read as a kid, “We’re Going On a Bear Hunt”, where a band of youngsters and their leader go out on a hunt in search of a bear. They traverse many obstacles, a gate, mud, trees, mountains, and rivers which they determine to either go around the obstacle, through it, under, or over it. Then they finally find a cave, stumble around in it, and find a fuzzy bear within. As soon as they find the bear they freak out and run, all the way back through the rivers, the mountains, the trees, the mud, the gate, and all the way back into the safety of under their bed. All the time, they declare that they are not afraid and then they ask the reader and each other “are you?” I realized quite quickly, that indeed I was, I am very much like the leader in this story, denying my fear but in reality, terrified. More on that a little later.

    There's also a book I just read called a “The Bear That Wasn’t". It's a children's story yet the reality of the message was profound. I identified with this bear immensely. I wrote a poem recently about it and “We’re Going On A Bear Hunt” and to summarize “The Bear That Wasn’t” I'll write it out as if the bear is me.

There once was a bear, tan skinned and fair

Who woke up in a factory one day

And the foreman walked over with style

And told him, “Kyle, why aren’t you working?”

And Kyle replied, “I’m a bear. I don’t need to work in this factory.”

“You’re not a bear.” The foreman said, “You’re just a silly man who needs a shave and wears a fur coat.”

But Kyle didn’t believe him, so he took him to the 3rd vice president, who said the same thing

“You’re not a bear. You’re just a silly man who needs a shave and wears a fur coat.”

And so did the 2nd vice president, the 1st vice president, and the president himself

And then they took him to the circus, to see that bears were only there or in the zoo

“You’re not a bear. You’re just a silly man who needs a shave and wears a fur coat.”

So what else could he do? The Bear That Wasn’t, decided he wasn’t.

    The bear lost his identity because people told him he wasn’t a bear. Like this bear, I have lost my identity. I am The Bear That Wasn’t. I am no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God. That’s who I actually am. But someone told me I was an unfinished painting with the potential to be a Picasso, and that I’d be failure if I ended up as anything less. Something like “Kyle, you have the potential to be the Michael Jordan of anything you want to try your hand in. It’d be a shame a real shame if you ended up as Clyde Drexler, Reggie Miller, or Karl Malone. Great but not great enough.” You can be Peyton Manning Kyle, it’d be a shame to end up as Eli. (Not that I think he’s very good, I loath Eli for beating my Patriots in the Super Bowl, TWICE!!!!! )

    Regardless, I believed them. I believed them, I believed them, I believed them! And through my perceived failures to reach “The Greatest of All Time” status, I stopped being sad because otherwise I was going to be sad all the time and I’d be exhausted. I stopped being angry because The Mount Rushmore of Christian leaders? I felt like I never saw them be angry. The only time my father, one of the most amazing men I know, was angry, I saw the pain and destruction it caused in our family, the ripples it caused. So I didn’t want to be angry, and so I felt that I had to be like “them”, a happy, charismatic, never sad, never angry, Christian leader..

    Living in New York this summer and working at NYCUP, I have been challenged to actually delve into those emotions that I’ve actually felt. Despite all my machinations to stuff my emotions in my soul, I still couldn’t escape them. They were still churning up my insides and their affects on the external world. As I begun to delve into the emotions, to find my lost identity, I realized that what I found scared me. In “We’re Going On A Bear Hunt”, the travelers go through mud and are covered in it. Then they go through a river and presumably get clean of all this mud. This is the process I attempted to go through. I got covered in mud, my struggles with lust, with pride, with judgement of others, an unkind spirit, anger and deep sorrow, and I tried to baptize myself in water, put on a smiling face, do good works, hard works, all for the glory of God. All on my own strength, all on my own power. I am exhausted. I am exhausted now, and I always have been, working to create a false self. On my quest to find myself, I was hoping to confirm that in fact, my false self was my real self, that I really was “a silly man who needs a shave and wears a fur coat.” 

   The scary reality was that my false self was just that, a false self. It wasn’t reality. The actual reality was that I was deeply broken and this made me afraid. Could God still love me? If he looked at Kyle? Looked at me? Me? This person who has lusted after everything wrong and was proud because he did it? Because I did it? 

The answer is yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Romans 6:6-7

"6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with,[a] that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin."

2 Corinthians 5:13-21

13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin[b]for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

    I am no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God. God has saved me. I am his son. That is truly my identity. If life is a bear hunt, I’ve been searching and Jesus has just pointing at me saying “You already found one!”. I was looking at the sin, blinded to the fact that God, King Jesus, has pardoned me, died for me, and reckoned his perfect life as if it was my own righteousness. I am praying that God will continue to mold me, show me my brokenness, allow me to cry, be angry, and then show me that he has already won. If life is a basketball game, Jesus just dropped a million points in the first quarter while also healing the sick guy in the first row and drinking a glass of wine he made from the Gatorade cooler because he wanted a relaxing drink. I am praying for the renewal of my mind so that I might understand this.