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The blues and life — you reap what you sow

T-Bone Walker, Johnny Winter, Elmore James, Derek Trucks, Buddy Guy and Muddy Waters. John Lee Hooker, Seasick Steve and Leo “Bud” Welch. B. B. King, Eric Clapton, Joe Bonamassa, Robert Johnson and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

If you don’t know these men, at least a couple, stop what you’re doing right now and look them up, and listen. Go on, I’ll still be here.

Now, what did you hear? The blues, plain and simple. Deep, resonating, moaning cries of life from guitars that range from costly Fender Stratocasters to homemade three-string cigar box instruments, and from voices that go from smooth and velvety all the way to scratchy 40-grit sandpaper.

The blues originated in the South but has not limited itself to one gender or skin color or nationality. It’s a universal musical refuge that comes pounding from the human spirit, flowing through the blood and out through vocal chords and fingers to share its unifying message with everyone who will listen — We have all been hurt, all been broken, all have a story to tell.

Sometimes that hurt and brokenness has been brought on by circumstances and people beyond our control, and other times it’s a result of our own poor choices. I’ve been a victim of both, and I’m willing to bet you have, too. The blues genre is about us each individually, tied together through our common pain, and never really about the one who caused the hurt — unless we caused the hurt to ourselves.

Years ago, my pastor at the time was preaching from the biblical book of Ephesians. After he read the passages that included “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord,” and “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church,” he looked up and asked, “How many of you men said ‘amen’ when I read about submission? And when I read about loving your wives, how many of women elbowed your husbands?”

He made the point that people tend to listen not to what applies to themselves but what applies to others around them. The women were more concerned with what the men ought to be doing, and the men were more concerned with what the women should be doing. If each worried about themselves, the pastor argued, we’d all be a lot better off.

The same thing can be said in practically every area of life. Focus on yourself and what needs changing — not what’s wrong with the people around you.

I’ve taught my children since they were very young that they can’t control the actions of anyone else — not a contrary sibling, school bully or disagreeable parent who insists they eat their vegetables — but each of us can only control our own actions. We are responsible for what we say and do, as well as for what we choose not to say or do.

Looking at another first-century letter written by the Apostle Paul, we find out “whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). Too many people spend their lives sowing wild oats. Then when they’re ready to calm down and grow up, they want to retire to a full crop of corn or wheat. But the only thing sown wild oats will grow is … wait for it … wild oats.

Surprise. You reap what you sow.

Just this morning two more well-known people were fired from jobs over allegations of sexual misconduct. Far too many years of ignoring the problem and blaming the victim led to a virtual volcano of people who were abused, ignored, possibly afraid or confused, and the pressure finally built up enough that the volcano erupted and now the lava and ash cannot be ignored.

Forgiveness and healing are needed in abundance. Victims need to heal and that healing often takes a lifetime. Forgiveness doesn’t excuse any action, but it frees burdens from the one offering forgiveness. Forgiveness isn’t earned, isn’t deserved. It’s only needed because it is neither.

I hope every time you hear a new allegation — not just of a sexual nature, but of any wrongdoing — it causes you to examine yourself and get your heart and life right. If you’re a Christian it means taking it to Jesus first. No matter who you are, it means making things right with others, too.

It’s never easy, but it’s always best in the long run.

And if you are a victim, take courage in what you see and hear everyday — now, more than ever I think, people are ready to listen and ready to help. Let your road to healing begin.

News editor Brett Campbell can be reached at brett.campbell@dailyleader.com.