Sinking the Will

I’ve been working on another lengthy piece of writing. This, perhaps, is folly since I have not yet published my first lengthy piece of writing (a novel I scratched out last year). No matter; I have thrown caution to the wind and myself into words upon words upon words. (Because that’s what we need. Right? More words?)

This morning, I reflected on the act of putting the will to death. I’m not sure whether this excerpt will be helpful to anyone, but I rather enjoyed writing it and thought I’d share. Enjoy.


“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” -the Bible

“…for it is God who works in you, both to will and work for his good pleasure” -the Bible again.

There are, of course, various responses to any voice, including the voice of the Still Small, the voice of the mystic whisper. I suppose the myriad potential responses mingle somewhere within the place we call the human will. The will—is this the part of humanity that must be mastered? Is this the “I” that must be “crucified with Christ,” so that “[i]t is no longer I who live?” The will, though—isn’t it most persistent, most vicious, that dogged biting bitch?

As I see it, the crucifixion of the will feels less like a crucifixion and more like a drowning, or a sinking. Perhaps this is because I’ve never been crucified and don’t plan on being any time soon. I’ve never seen a crucifixion either (in fact, I avoided watching Mel Gibson’s famous Christ flick, The Passion of the Christ, because I could not stand to watch such graphic torture). What’s more, I don’t suppose I’ll happen upon the infamous form of Roman torture anytime soon. My hands have never been pierced through, and I’ve never worn a crown of thorns. I have, however, been impaled by my fair share of Texan field stickers, but I don’t reckon this to be even the remotest of corollaries.

In any event, I’ve never been crucified, but I have been on a sinking ship. For the sake of honesty, I should confess that it was really more of a sinking canoe, but the principle holds. I was with my father when the canoe capsized, and though my feet could touch the bottom, the icy spring waters of the Buffalo River robbed me of any semblance of orientation.

Yes, I think that killing the worst part of the will feels less like a crucifixion and more like the sinking of your own ship.

Every time I consider releasing addictions—that infernal everyday occurrence—a familiar capsizing dread creeps in, and with it, the skin prickle of the cold Buffalo waters. These things steal breath, right?

Perhaps you might say, “Seth, you are creating similes for nothing more than common anxiety and mild panic.” Allow me to respond: I find nothing common feeling about either anxiety or panic. You might tell me that anxiety and panic can be mastered by stopping, breathing, relaxing, and the like. Does such a thing work for the passengers of a sinking ship, though? Doesn’t every well-meaning person panic when their Lusitanias are sinking? This capsizing of the will, after all, is the opening salvo that brings the internal War to End All Wars.

This is the analogy I’m going with. I’m sinking my own Lusitania, even if that luxury ship resurrects every day—ah, those familiar beautiful ghost ships! And if it should resurrect, I have the opportunity to let it float through the channel, or commit it to drowning again. And perhaps again. And perhaps again. Yes, it is a daily decision to sink the will, a decision that I’m often to pooped to make.

But just when I think I can no longer sink my ship for the umpteenth time, I call upon the Mightiest of Guns, and he comes roaring in. Ah, the Mightiest of Guns!

Lord, Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Drown my will and bring peace to the War to End All Wars.

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  • Heather King

    It’s exhausting, the way the ship keeps bobbing back to the surface. I hate it sometimes. Then other times I remember…how I wouldn’t know that mercy with no sinking of the ship, reminding me so much.

    I love this post. Thank you.

    • sethhaines

      Heather (or should I say, “Oh Captain, my Captain?”),

      Exhausting? Yes. I know you know. I’m looking for that mercy ship.

  • thelifeartist

    We always need more of the right kind of words and I have found you, Seth Haines, to be most careful with yours.

    • sethhaines

      Thank you, E-$. I do not take these kinds of words from you lightly.

  • pastordt

    Exactly, man. Exactly. Blessings as the cold water seeps in, my friend.

    • sethhaines

      You are a gem.

  • pastordt

    On a completely different note – what the heck is up with disqus these days? I can no longer get the ‘subscribe’ button to light up on almost anyone’s blog who uses their commenting system. Frustrating. . .

  • brianhirschy

    Two thoughts:

    1. “I am haunted by waters.” – Norman Maclean (One of the best books ever)

    2. Maybe life is supposed to feel like drowning when we realize we’re in charge of nothing, and incapable of righting the capsized boat. Maybe the boat is the problem…


    Bonus thoughts:

    I heard a wise (or crazy) person once say that everyone is either in a stage of chaos[drowning],in a stage of being rescued, or waiting to be drowned[times of peace]. I’ve found it to be a true and a great well of grace towards others in my heart.

    I remember as a kid doing hours of drills on how to right a capsized canoe in waters where you couldn’t touch the bottom. It takes a ton of work to right a capsized canoe. In the end your lungs are burning, your legs are numb, and your ribs are scraped and bruised to hell from dragging yourself back on board. There’s a lesson somewhere in that pain.

    • sethhaines

      Dude, you come around here dropping Norm, and you WIN the comments. All things merge… yes, indeed.

      Re your bonus thoughts, I’m going with wise, not crazy.

  • Rachel Franklin

    Water allots for such variance, huh? Enjoyed reading another perspective involving water today as I wrote a bit this morning on one. The sentence I’ll think on today: “Yes, I think that killing the worst part of the will feels less like a crucifixion and more like the sinking of your own ship.”

    • sethhaines

      Thanks, Rachel. Looking forward to reading your piece, and yes… water is such great substance for metaphor!

  • Arianne Segerman

    I like to think that eventually I will reach a sandbar on which to stand, and I can look back at the path I swam whilst continually sinking that will. And when I do, I will notice the stretches between the will bobbing back up became longer and longer as I went along. That will stayed drowned for the longest this last time (and it was peaceful there sitting at the bottom of the sea). I might even see sure signs that it was my surrender that led to the sinking, not my fighting and pushing the will down. Perhaps eventually it will no longer bob back up, but for now I can see the places where I was rescued, lifted, resuscitated. And then I journey on.

    • sethhaines

      Oh crim-in-ee… this is one of the best comments.

      Airs (I’m owning that one now, because that’s all Amber ever calls you), this season of sinking? It’s all about fighting and pushing it down. I’m excited for the learning of surrender. This, I think, is a magic word.

  • sethhaines

    That’s my hope, Tonia. I hope it’s the best kind of ruthless.

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