Dear Mr. Armstrong,
I can only imagine how you may be feeling.
Sitting down with Oprah Winfrey, arguably one of the best interviewers of our time, and admitting — finally admitting — that indeed you used performance enhancing drugs throughout your career…well, that took guts. Granted, it was a long time coming, and many people have long suspected what you owned during Monday’s interview. But it does take courage to come clean, especially considering how adamant, and sometimes downright rude to your critics you have been as of late.
Eating crow upsets a person’s stomach, at best. Does it not?
What many people don’t seem to get, at least according to the media, is why you lied, and why you lied so fervently for so long.
But I do. I get it. I see you, as in the way the Na’vi people “see.” I sense that in one way, you and I might be similar creatures. Since I can’t speak for you, I’ll share my experience. Perhaps you’ll see what I mean.
I fear that there is a monster living inside me. Above all, she needs approval; and she has done some pretty shady things to prevent the loss of others’ approval. Actually, all she requires is merely the threat of people not liking her for something that she has said or done, or is thinking about saying or doing that may be taboo or unorthodox, and she launches into scheming mode. She has lied, covered up, manipulated, used people, ignored and hurt her loved ones, and even betrayed me to protect her fragile ego. She has sold my soul to continue being liked.
Because if people don’t approve of me, then that which the monster fears most is confirmed: that I am worthless, unloveable, and of meager significance. And that is a confirmation that no part of me can bear. So the monster takes over. Obviously she feels her actions worth the cost, if not justifiable.
Can you relate, Mr. Armstrong?
This monster, she is way needy, and she grasps at just about anything and anyone to feed her emptiness and insecurity. I have personal values: authenticity and integrity amongst the highest. This monster knows this. She also knows that her gut-wrenching power is strong enough to overtake said values. Anxiety is her food, and many days my cup overfloweth with it.
During my Advent devotions and unplanned sabbatical from writing over the holidays, God showed this monster to me. I wanted to cower away from her. I wanted to shame her, and chew her out for existing. But God wouldn’t let me. She (God, that is) removed the scales from my eyes and helped me to see that she is indeed not a monster, but a part of me that is hurting. She acts out and behaves badly out of her woundedness. She needs empathy and love, God said, not the hate you’ve been dishing her.
I remembered a saying that the nuns at my Catholic elementary school once taught me: “Those who you think deserve love the least need it the most.” For the longest time I’d believed that monsters don’t deserve love, they deserve punishment. (And oh, had I gotten good at punishing myself.) So, this approval monster needs love, huh?
Rather, I do.
Yes, whispered God in my ear as I acknowledged my own wretchedness. Love from me and love from you. Other people’s approval, as you may have learned, cannot sustain you. You’ll wear yourself out trying to gain and keep it. You already have. The good news is that I can heal you. And I will. Let me.
I followed God into the wilderness for some desert healing. I couldn’t resist the prophecy she spoke to me.
[She] found grace out in the desert,
[this one] who survived the killing.
[Angie], out looking for a place to rest, met God out looking for [her]!
God told [her], “I’ve never quit loving you and never will.
Expect love, love, and more love!
And so now I’ll start over with you and build you up again,
dear [daughter, Angie].
You’ll resume your singing,
grabbing tambourines and joining the dance” (Jeremiah 31: 2-4, The Message).
If we indeed have in common what I suspect we do, I have good news for you, Mr. Armstrong. The same message that God spoke to me is true for you. The same healing that is available to me is available to you.
You’re currently out in the desert now, and probably don’t feel much like dancing. I get that, too. I’ve been where you are.
I’m in Austin every now and then. Just in case we chance meet one another, I’ll have a tambourine with me. Maybe I can teach you a few steps from my own dance with God.
Do you two step?
- Lance Armstrong: Yes Oprah, I Cheated (ksfm.cbslocal.com)
- Fallen icons: How Lance Armstrong’s cheating compares to Conway pastor’s Ponzi scheme (thesunnews.typepad.com)