Frenemies

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “If a man has a very decided character, has a strongly accentuated career, it is normally the case of course that he makes ardent friends and bitter enemies.”

This may well be true, even if I am not in direct touch with such friends, ours is an understanding that reaches beyond mere conversation. It is a kind of life view, a mutual understanding of what it means to be alive and what actually matters in this life. All artists probably share this to some extent, even if they’ve never met and even if they have nothing else in common aside from being artists.

I don’t need to meet an artist to know them, I just need to hear their work. Then I know everything. A polite handshake and hello would be quaint but it is certainly not anything to write home about. It is their work that is worth shouting about and sharing, not an autograph or a photo. Though I would love to get a photo shaking Adrian Belew’s hand, in the style of meeting the president. He is my president. But it will probably not happen, and that’s fine. Not many people get to meet their president.

And as for my bitter enemies, I cannot help my very decided character and my accentuated career. I have come close to God so these have been blessed upon me. Do what you feel you must to stop me or hurt me, but I will surely only pray harder and love deeper. ‘Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.’

I know trouble and persecutions must come, it is part and parcel not only with the game but with living a Christian life. Some days, I wish my success would come overnight, like Leon Bridges – washing dishes in 2014 and Grammy by 2016, so I could spread the good word even faster. But then I remember that this struggle is refining me and giving me something to sing about – the painful human condition. I hope to write you a song, beloved bitter enemy, worthy of your efforts. And if I can move you to tears then I can die knowing I did what I came to do. To make the world feel again.

Wish only good for those who treat you badly. Ask God to bless them, not curse them. When others are happy, you should be happy with them. And when others are sad, you should be sad too. Live together in peace with each other. Don’t be proud, but be willing to be friends with people who are not important to others. Don’t think of yourself as smarter than everyone else. If someone does you wrong, don’t try to pay them back by hurting them. Try to do what everyone thinks is right. Do the best you can to live in peace with everyone. My friends, don’t try to punish anyone who does wrong to you. Wait for God to punish them with his anger. In the Scriptures the Lord says, “I am the one who punishes; I will pay people back.”’

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