Today is the 68th birthday of Roger Waters, a founding member of the classic British rock band Pink Floyd. Waters partnered with David Gilmour to co-write “Comfortably Numb”, assigned the honor of one of the top 500 greatest songs ever written.
It’s in my personal Top 10. I’m a fan of songs that start out mellow and steadily build to amazing guitar solos. Having said that, the lyrics of the song are deeply sad. They seem to be words of lost dreams, hopelessness, and pursuit of relief. They are the anthem many men would attach to their lives:
When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse,
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone.
I cannot put my finger on it now.
The child is grown, the dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb.
Only Waters knows exactly what he was referring to when he wrote these lyrics, but I hear a variation of this theme from many men I talk to: “I have no idea what my purpose in life is.” “I’d rather feel nothing than feel the pain I’m in right now.” “I’m not sure I really matter.” “All I live for is the weekend when I can just veg.” “I’m lost!”
Men struggle with these profound longings because our hearts were designed for something much more significant than the life many of us are currently living. As a child we might have had a glimpse of a dream– a fireman, an astronaut, a carpenter, a teacher– but somewhere along the way, we lost the path. We settle for the reality that life has brought us and make the mistake of believing it’s the full truth about us.
To live with our disappointment in our jobs or our lives some of us become couch potatoes, vicarious sports enthusiasts, or pursuers of any pleasure, real or fantasy, that numbs our dissatisfaction with our real lives or real relationships.
Do you know your job, or the lack of one, does not define Who you are? Nor does it define your significance. It is one aspect of your life, admittedly an important aspect, but it is only one element of many that make up the full picture of why you matter. Your job brings in income (or not), and it may provide you with meaningful work. But for men who have no job, or whose work is filled with meaningless frustration, there is so much more to who you are.
You matter because the Creator of the universe knit you together in your mother’s womb and was aware of you before you lived even one day. You matter because you are the son, brother, husband, father, uncle or grandfather of others who benefit from your touch, your words and your presence. You matter because the Son of God gave his life to provide an eternal relationship with you.
You matter because you are unique. You are NOT special (better than anyone else); but you ARE unique, (different from anyone else). You have a personality like no one else’s; you have your own constellation of God-given gifts and talents; you have values and principles that you believe in deeply; and, whether you know it or not, you have a tender spot in your heart for some group of people you can’t help but notice. And they need you.
Men, the truth about you is the same as what King David finally realized when he wrote the following:
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. (Psalm 139:13-15)
Roger Waters apparently came to a point of despair in his search for significance; and he may have settled for the comfortably numb relief others offered him from “just a little pinprick.” But you don’t have to. You matter more than Pink Floyd. You are the one and only You. And the Creator himself made you exactly how He wanted to.
Yes, we experience loss, confusion and disappointment on the journey. But we are alive and we have meaning. You matter more than you realize because others need you. Comfortably numb? Embrace the music if you want; but please, reject the lyrics. Don’t settle for numbness.
My greatest joy in life is my family. I know, that sounds like the comment you’re supposed to make as a man and father. All I can say is I literally shake my head in wonder at the family I have: my wife Beryl; my daughter Barclay and son-in-law Vince, their four daughters, Bella, Brynn, Brooke and Blake; my son Alec, my son Conor and daughter-in-law Bonnie, their daughter Gemma and son Calvin. Every one of them is a genuine gift. Beyond that, I have a calling that I live out through Peregrine Ministries. It is to help men: Understand their identity in Christ, Embrace their role as men, and Live out their God-given calling in life. Bottom line is I’m convinced men matter and I want to help them live life on purpose.