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Struggling to find Happiness: Rechab Gray & Demetrius Hicks

with Demetrius Hicks, Rechab Gray | May 3, 2024
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Feeling stressed out lately? Ever catch yourself scrolling and comparing your life to everyone else? Maybe you're sweating over grades or worrying about the future. Rechab Gray & Demetrius Hicks are flipping through the pages of Philippians to find some ways on how to live a life where joy takes center stage, even when things feel uncertain and overwhelming.

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  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

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  • Shelby Abbott

    Shelby Abbott is an author, campus minister, and conference speaker on staff with the ministry of Cru. His passion for university students has led him to speak at college campuses all over the United States. Abbott is the author of Jacked and I Am a Tool (To Help with Your Dating Life), Pressure Points: A Guide to Navigating Student Stress and DoubtLess: Because Faith is Hard. He and his wife, Rachael, have two daughters and live in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.

Stressed lately? Scrolling endlessly? Worried about the future? Rechab Gray & Demetrius Hicks find how to hold on to peace in the worries.

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Struggling to find Happiness: Rechab Gray & Demetrius Hicks

With Demetrius Hicks, Rechab Gray
May 03, 2024
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Season 2, Episode 87: Struggling to find Happiness

Guests: Rechab Gray and Demetrius Hicks

Air Date: May 3, 2024

Demetrius: All of us are struggling. All of us are searching for significance. We are all searching to be known. My encouragement to anyone is the all surpassing value of knowing that man Jesus Christ. The way that He can hold your heart, like He holds us like no one else can. That is security and safety and comfort. That's the real safe place to be known by the Lord Jesus Christ.

Shelby: Someone anxious, always authentic, this is Real Life Loading

I'm your host, Shelby Abbott. If you caught our last episode, you got to hear about the dangers of desiring fame, why our motivations are more important than our actions, which is provocative, and the value of having someone older than you speak into your life. We talked about all that and a bunch more with my friends, Rechab Gray and Demetrius Hicks.

Rechab and Meech [Spelling?] are pastors at a church in Orlando, Florida. If you didn't get a chance to listen to the last episode, it was fire. Seriously, I really think it's value added for you. They had so many mic drop moments with me, I had to have them back on today. In this episode today with the guys, we'll talk about how you can have real joy in the face of anxiety and depression, which on the surface sounds impossible, but we'll get into that. We'll also discuss what genuine security really means, and then what actual ethnic diversity and racial unity looks like. It's my time again with Demetrius Hicks and Rechab Gray.

Rechab, why is the book of Philippians relevant to young believers today? What are some of the practical things that you find, you see, in the book of Philippians that you go, this is one hundred percent relevant to where people are today in this year?

Rechab: I will start with where he starts. He says, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you always in every prayer of mine for you all, making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day into now. And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” [Philippians 1:3-6] The whole letter is summed up in this idea of joy. From 2

the rip, from the very beginning, Paul says, “God will complete His work, His joyful work in you at the end.” [Paraphrased]

What are the two, if you can pick two primary issues that all of us are really dealing with, but especially our younger generation? One major thing is anxiety and depression - the antithesis of joy. One other major thing is a real fear of the future. I don't know how this is going to all play itself out. I'm a little worried about where my career is going to go. I'm a little worried about where my family's going to go. I'm a little worried about where America's going to go. I'm worried about where the globe is going to go.

So, there's this duality of depression and anxiety. Depression being an over obsession. with the past and failures and mistakes in the past, and anxiety being an over obsession with the future. Here joy sits right in the middle and says for all of your past, you can still have joy, because Jesus already paid it all, and for all of your fears of the future, you can have joy, because you know where this is all going to end.

There is a beautiful message here throughout the book of Philippians. And this is why Paul can say in chapter four, “So I've learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger abundance and need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” [Paraphrased] I wish we were preaching in his context because that would actually speak to this day.

They need contentment. I need contentment. We need contentment. That contentment comes through a recognition that Jesus had me, He got me, and He will keep me to the end. Joy, joy, joy - I feel like it's a beautifully relevant message that Philippians gives us, but it's Christological joy. Jesus centered joy.

Shelby: Yes.

Rechab: Not a joy you got to conjure up, and it leaves you and it's fleeting, but a joy that ain't going nowhere, because the tomb is empty. We have a sure joy, and that's a different kind of message that you can't find outside of the Scriptures no matter how much TikTok or Instagram you watch, you ain't going to find something, a joy that is that secure.

Shelby: Yes, that preaches powerfully, way more than, “What am I going to quote before I go play a football game?”

Rechab: Bro.

Shelby: Philippians four? It'd be insane. for you know, it has nothing to do with that. We were cheapen it. We just cheapen it so much, when we pull it out of context and use it for like whatever we want to. 3

Demetrius: Because you cannot run a marathon, if you can't run. People have used that “I can do all things.” No, do not run because when you pass out, it will not be His fault. [Laughter]

Shelby: Yes, God didn't, that didn't come through for me. He did not. Nah, that's on you. That's not what He's talking about. That's one hundred percent on you. [Laughter]

Rechab: That's so real, yes. And the dope thing about Philippians contextual - I'm so sorry, man. It's so important.

Shelby: No, no, no.

Rechab: It's Paul should be depressed.

Demetrius: Yes. Yes.

Rechab: He has experienced trauma. He has gone through everything that somebody should go through and say, “I give up.” Yet the man sounds like he has Disneyland, Chuck E. Cheese, Universal Studios, he sounds like he is having the time of his life. It should sound like a funeral, but it sounds like a fiesta.

What is going on? I got Jesus though. I got the Lord. I just preached this on, literally for our church, and just walked through the entire book and went from chapter to chapter. We just read the book together. Yo, I called it - Jailhouse Rock. [Laughter]

Shelby: He's old school.

Rechab: Yes, super old school.

Shelby: Yes, yes.

Rechab: I like to do stuff, by the way, like that too. That forces our generation out of our generation. So, it forces you to think about the illustration even more. That's just a note on just communication. But yo, so Elvis writes this song, Jailhouse Rock, and he literally, you know, he's in a jail house with pinstripes, and he's rocking out and they're dancing in a jail house.

Well, the church of Philippi started with a jail house rock, where Paul and Silas are rocking out in a prison, not singing Elvis's song, but singing hymns to Jesus. And then the jailhouse starts to rock, which is incredible as well. But it's because in the jailhouse, they had a rock. That's the stability that we are all looking for. I don't care about your age bracket, I don't care about your demographic, I don't care about your economics, I don't care about your race. This ain't cultural, yo. This is biblical. Everybody's looking for a rock that they can have in the jailhouse of their lives, whatever that is. That can make you feel joyful even when you are in jail. 4

Yet, we don't run to the One who can actually provide it. We run everywhere else except there. And so, this to me, is one of the most relevant texts, and not just the Scriptures, in all of the world, for what we're dealing with right now.

Demetrius: If I could add, I know again, these are not just young people things, but all of us are searching for significance. We are all searching to be known.

This verse in [Philippians] 3:7-8, “but whatever things were gained to me, these things that have counted as lost because of Christ, more than that, I count all these things to be lost in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them mere rubbish so that I may gain Christ.”

All of us are struggling. This is the most lonely generation, yet the most connected. Paul is literally first of all, in true isolation in prison, yet saying that he feels extremely known because of Christ. And for that young person, I deal with it still - who knows me? Who actually loves me? It is the Lord Jesus the Christ that actually knows you. He knows you so well, because Him being God made you. He knows the intricacies.

We all want to be understood. Even my friends who are married to a degree their spouses don't know everything, but there is someone who knows how many hairs on our head, even when you're getting older and they're falling out, He keeps up with the count.

It's like that everything else I have - we struggle so much in: What do I have? What are my possessions? What am I accomplishing in life? I have seen more depressed eighteen year olds about what they have or have not accomplished, when I'm like bro, first off, let's give it time. Let's breathe first. Let's do that. But how about this, not what you know or what you have, but who has you?

It's my encouragement to anyone. It's like they're surpassing value of knowing that man, Jesus Christ, the way that He can hold your heart. Our man of suffering in your grief, in your loss. I noticed from experience; He holds us like no one else can. His hug is the actual hug that you need. And the fact that the One that suffered, bled, died, resurrected from the grave, desires to want me. I thought about this. I will never want prayer more than He wants me. I will never want to be with Him as much as He wants to be with me. I'm talking about God, and like that is security and safety and comfort the words. That's the real safe place to be known by the Lord Jesus.

That verse sticks out to me all the time, because what person doesn't want to be known and truly seen. The fact that this holy Jesus can truly see my unholiness yet welcome me into His holiness is incredibly absurd.

Shelby: Yes, it really is. 5

Demetrius: And it's such a thing of grace, and just His abounding mercy for us.

Shelby: Yes, the gospel doesn't make any rational sense. If you're thinking through a cultural lens, it just doesn't, or even our own sinful lens. It does not make any sense.

So circumstantially, I think all of us are swayed by what happens in our lives, what happens to us. We get hung up, kind of what you were saying, like we think about the past, and how that dictates so much of how we behave now in the present, what we think about the future. I've been abused in the past, and so that's definitely affected the way that I think about other people, the way I treat other people. I'm thinking, “Why am I letting something that happened to me when I was five years old affect me now in the present?”

How many years later and what I think about what will happen in the future. And the gospel applies to that. I'm allowed to grieve the past for sure, but not let that dictate who I am. Because we let those past things become our identity in the present, and that's not what God calls us to do. We apply the gospel to the past. We apply it to our present. We apply it to our future and that changes everything.

So circumstantially, you guys are talking about this. So much of what we think about, what's going on in our lives right now. Maybe I'm like you said, eighteen years old and I haven't done enough, because I haven't made a million dollars by being an influencer on TikTok or whatever. Yes, that can happen for some people, but in many ways, the people who see success early on, it corrupts their soul.

Rechab: Absolutely.

Shelby: Like, it ruins their life, their future.

Rechab: Absolutely.

Shelby: Why are we longing for something like that?

Rechab: And it doesn't last.

Demetrius: It doesn't last.

Rechab: Like, fame is very finite. I remember, I think the first billion played video was like whoopin Gangnam Style.

Shelby: Yes, yes, yes.

Rechab: Who's doing that now? [Laughter] You know what I’m saying. I remember when it was like, I remember when that was like everything. Nobody's on that right now. 6

Shelby: Wow, yes.

Rechab: Fame is so finite.

We like to bowl sometimes. So, we went bowling and I crossed the 200 mark. I got 223.

Shelby: Nice. Wow, wow. That's good. That's really good.

Rechab: That made the podcast.

Shelby: Had to mention that. [Laughter]

Rechab: It had to, It had to. But this what was crazy. So, it's three of us who normally bowl me, Meech, and a dude named Kejon [Spelling]. And so, I get my 223 and to get that high. It is just strike after strike after strike.

Shelby: It is, yes.

Rechab: So, but look, though, look, though - they like, “yo, you in a different class. Don't talk to us. Don't talk to us.”

I said, “Nope, I'm not hearing that. I don't believe it.” Because I have been that dude who bowled 191 and then I bowled a 94 the next game. If I hype myself right now, y'all going to quickly turn on me and say, “Oh, where was all that talking?” I'm not doing it. Y'all can say whatever y'all want. I remember Kejon, he was like, no, no, for real, you are different. And then I bowled my 120 and I bowled my 115, and he's like, you got to come back down here with us. [Laughter]

I remember saying to him, “I didn't bring myself up. So, you can't bring me down.”

Demetrius: Yes, that's so good.

Rechab: I'm secure .

Demetrius: Yes, that's good.

Rechab: The fact that I'm just trying to play my best.

Shelby: Yes. Yes. That's so good.

Rechab: When somebody lifts you up though, when you do feed into that. When you feed into the fame, when you desire that stage, man, when you're trying to secure a platform, you're actually very insecure. Because the platform is not secure at all.

Shelby: Yes. 7

Rechab: So, there is something about just saying, “Yo Christ is enough.” Paul is like, “Yo. You want to beat me on the Jewish game? I win every time.”

Shelby: Yes.

Rechab: But all of that, I will count as a loss for the only win that actually matters, which is being known and knowing my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. So, we really have to be careful not to put our stock into a fame that is really, really finite and not in a One who is everlasting and the same yesterday, today, and forevermore.

Demetrius: So yes, man.

Shelby: Okay, maybe there's not something as extreme as suffering going on in someone's life, but maybe they're just feeling stuck. Stuck about who they are and how they should move forward with life's decisions. You were even mentioning things like: what job do I take next, where am I supposed to move, or what am I supposed? To do it. So, like the quote unquote, average things. What does Paul have to say about that in Philippians?

Rechab: Well, I can kick us off because that was actually out of Philippians 3. He says, “Not that I've already obtained this or I'm already perfect, but I press on to make it my own because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” I love that. Again, secured by who I'm going after and who has come after me.

“Brothers, I do not consider that I've made it my own, but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind, and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” And I love this, “Let those of us who are mature, this is mature thinking, think this way.”

Paul was always a remember guy. Remember, remember, remember, remember, remember. So, we can take this out of context and forget he has a theology of remembrance. So, we don't just move past the past and think that we're actually beating the past by just moving past it.

No, no, no, no. We look at the past; we stare at the past; and then we say somebody has handled it though. And He's given us a new goal to strive after, this upward call, not this downward spiral. Which is what our lives look like, but not a downward spiral, but an upward call. Why it all comes back to the fact that that man, Jesus, got up from the grave.

He was stuck too in death on Friday and on Saturday. But early Sunday morning, He unstuck Himself, His resurrection from the dead, His unsticking Himself from the grave, unsticks us from depression, unsticks us from anxiety, unsticks us from places of addiction - where we feel like there are chains literally over our soul, His resurrection unsticks us so that we can be all who God has already designed us to be. 8

If there is no resurrection, we stay stuck. But, because that man Jesus ain't stuck in the grave no more, and everybody else is, we have hope that the same way He unstuck Himself, we can be unstuck in this life and the one to come as well. So, yes.

Shelby: Yes, there's nothing to add to that, because it's remembrance of the gospel.

My church right now is going through this preaching series called gospel culture. Gospel culture is something that gets talked about a lot. But what I appreciate about the series that we're doing is we're breaking it down into practical – what that actually looks like. And so that's a practical thing of like, “Hey, I'm wrestling with depression, or I'm wrestling with indecision, or I'm wrestling with addiction, and I don't feel like I can get out.”

I was just talking to a friend a couple of days ago. He was like, “I am wrestling with anger, unexplainable anger, and it feels like I cannot get out. It feels impossible to me to get out. I didn't take that opportunity to say, “We need to move past it. And like the gospel applies to that. And like, you just need to like, remember the gospel.”

It's true, you do need to remember the gospel, and it's a longer process. But, slowly over time with counseling help, or with like surrounding yourself with brothers, who help you in that community, and giving yourself the grace to have time to deal with these kind of things. You begin to address not the symptoms of your problem, but you go into the roots, you go into the soil, and in the base parts of who you are, the basement - what you said Demetrius - go into the basement, you apply the gospel there. Then over time you start to see growth, you start to see what will happen.

Fruit is always the last part of what a tree produces. It's not the beginning. You start as a seed. You grow into a little shoot and then you grow stronger and then fruit comes out. But we're always looking for the fruit first and that's like the last part that comes out.

So, we need to give ourselves the grace to have time to deal with these things and apply the gospel. Because the gospel and Jesus care as much about the little, tiny seed as they do the shoot, as they do the tree, as they do the fruit at the end. God is with us in that process. It's not just about, “Oh, the fruit happens, and then we're good, and now God is happy with me.” No, it doesn't work that way. He cares about that, of course he does. But He cares about every moment in between.

Paul Tripp talks about this a lot. The gospel is not just relevant for when you say yes to Jesus, and then at your home going, when you go into eternity. It's for every moment in between, and we have a tendency to forget. We think, “Oh, we're on our own until we get to the end when we go to heaven, right?” No, it's not that at all. It applies just as much now as it did back when I was doing horrible, and when I will do horrible in the future, and when I'll do well in the future. It's applicable to all those moments. 9

So, we talked a little bit about race. We talked a little bit about how that's applicable to your lives just as much as it is to my life as a white man. You guys are black men.

What does unity amongst believers, what does that have to do with joy? How can unity amongst believers bring joy in a way that our culture, who doesn't know Jesus, can never experience?

Demetrius: I'm glad you asked that question because even as you guys were on that last bit, community kept coming in my heart. I would love to encourage younger people, because I was too prideful to admit this in my younger time, but we need people. This gospel is not - yes, you're individually saved, but you're brought into a family. A lot of this stuff that we're facing, the questions about career and all that other kind of stuff. These things can also be really handled in and amongst community.

We had just got finished going through an Ephesians thing with a couple churches, and I had the opportunity to write on the incomprehensible love of God. When you look at that book of Ephesians, he was talking about in the context of this diverse people group that God has made, we won't even have a shot at understanding that which is already incomprehensible, if we are not around people who are not like us. They show us different aspects of the love of God.

I will learn immensely more about God through a relationship with you. Our idiosyncrasies, the things that are different. It humbles us in a way that is necessary and vital for not just the church, but for humanity. It literally says in that same text, that we literally should be the witness to the world.

They should be looking in just like in Acts, like what do I even call this group of people that don't belong together on a podcast? The three of us have nothing in common outside of the Lord Jesus and being human. But it's that blood of Jesus that unifies us all, and we are to learn from each other. I think like, and then too, we talk about this a lot at our church, what Pastor Ike has coined as perfect unity, where it is this, like Scott McKnight said, the fellowship of difference that does something in us that literally not, I just like you, nobly.

Shelby: Mm-Hmm. Yes.

Demetrius: I need you and I need what God has wired than you that’s different. That is a very different thing. And that key word that our Messiah so modeled in Philippians two as we see, humility.

Rechab: Mm-Hmm. Yes.

Demetrius: Humility is the fragrance for what unity even has to start and be. Because if I can't even acknowledge, even amongst my own race, that me and Rechab are 10

different people, let alone like other races, every single human is different, crafted, unique, and we need what that other person has.

When it becomes a necessity like that, I think that the local church, whether you're in an area that can have different races or you're not, you begin to actually understand inherently what the gospel was calling us to, which is why now there is no distinction.

Shelby: Yes.

Rechab: The only thing I would add to that is like, it was a theologian who said, “remember your future.” It's such a paradoxical statement.

Shelby: Yes, yes.

Rechab: But because we serve an eternal God, who isn't looking with wishful thinking to the future, hoping that we will somehow become what He said that we would become. But we're with a God who stands outside of time, who is with the glorified church right now. We can't comprehend that. But right now, He's with the perfected, multinational, multilinguistic, multisocioeconomic church. He's with them right now, right now in their perfected state.

He's not saying, “Hey, go after this. Because if you go after this, I hope that you will make it to this.” Rather, He's saying, “Oh, I'm with y'all now. It looks good from here. So now let's live into what this is.” And that's true of our own individual lives.

Sanctification will never happen in your life unless you realize that glorification is on its way. If I know I will be glorified, now I could press into the sanctifying process. Well, if I know we are already unified in the perfected state when the Lord Jesus Christ returns in the meantime in between time, I will do the work of reconciliation. I'll do the work of justice and that all requires humility.

I do believe Paul's words. He says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit. But in humility, count others as more significant than ourselves.” I think I can do that as an individual named Rechab Gray, Demetrius Chavine [Spelling?] Hicks. Shelby can do that as well.

But what if we did this as cultures too? Where we didn't look with a conceited eye upon our own culture. Me as a black dude in America. I didn't look with conceit upon my culture, but I look at other cultures and said, “They are more significant than mine.” And if the white culture said, “Nah, I'm not going to look with conceit thinking we already have the theology, so we don't need anybody else. But I'm actually going to lay that down and say others are more significant.”

When you start to do that as cultures, now it changes the bandwidth of what we can actually experience in this time, in-between time, before the Lord Jesus Christ returns 11

as it comes to unity. So, applying Philippians two, not just to the individual, but to the culture, I think can help us out as the body of Christ, man.

Shelby: That perspective is just so necessary. It's so necessary and so absent right now. So, so absent. I love what you were saying, Meech, about basically, “If we, we embrace unity, it makes us stronger, not weaker. Like, we're better for it.” That's often the posture that we just don't have. Humanity veers towards if you let your hand off the wheel, naturally the car will veer towards sameness.

We want to be like with people who are like us because it's just more comfortable. It's easier. They get me, they understand my culture. There's nothing wrong with that. But if it's only that, then that's problematic.

Why? Because the book says it's problematic. The text says, “No, there's something better than just drifting towards what's easy.” I have a lease system that has a tendency to drift into what's most comfortable, but you've got to work to something that's different. You're not going to drift into unity. It's not going to happen.

Rechab: No, it’s like you're not going to drift into sanctification.

Demetrius: Exactly. Yes.

Shelby: It doesn't happen that way. It's work. Anything that's valuable, you have to work, and it has to be pain to go through it. Anything that's valuable, you've got to find the worth through the pain.

Rechab: That's so good.

Shelby: And that's one of the things that I need to preach to myself.

Rechab: I like that. I like that.

Shelby: I need to preach that to myself. I love what you said, I don't know who that theologian was that you quoted, remember your future. It's not something that we also don’t often get.

Rechab: It was Philip Gonzales. That's who it was.

Shelby: Remember your future. I think we're all the better for putting that on the forefront of our mind. Remember what is already happening right now in our glorified state in the sanctification process. We're already there.

And guys, your perspective is not just necessary. It's something that needs to be absorbed into the roots of who I am, of who others are, and it will not only improve my life now, but the life to come. It is the future. So why try to buck the future? It's going to 12

happen. It's going to happen. Not, not just in America. Yes, we're getting more brown in America, for sure. But, in the future, in eternity, that's what counts. It's multiethnic. It's multilingual. It's multisocioeconomic.

Demetrius: I don't want to belabor, but we have been thinking so much at our church about the global church. Because I think that the global church are teachers that we don't listen to. The suffering and the pain and the unity that they naturally have to experience, because of the suffering, they don't have the ability to have turf wars.

Shelby: Mmm, yes.

Demetrius: Because literally we are being, people are being killed and martyred for this faith. That's why we try to so much we've been encouraging our congregation to like lean in to read. Because those things help us be more sober about what's in America.

It's so important I think as we've been talking about that people would even think us just only talking about black, white, and Hispanic and stuff. But we're saying all these different places in the world, in the closed places. He just got back from Turkey, and it's just like we're reminded that there are believers all over this world suffering for this gospel, that we can so willingly just easily separate ourselves from, because we have the privilege to do that in America. So, I just wanted to really throw that in there too.

Shelby: That’s really good.

I'm really grateful for your perspective, but more than that, I'm grateful for your deep, deep commitment to Jesus. It's just evident. It spills out from you not just like when we're behind microphones, but it's just evident and I'm so grateful for both of you. Thank you for your time today and thank you for teaching me, because I feel I was able to be in a masterclass today of what it looks like to apply the gospel to my life.

So thankful for both of you.

Demetrius: Thank you. We appreciate you.

Shelby: I hope this episode, and the one before it, was as powerful for you as it was for me. Scripture says the Word of God is living and active. I see Rechab and Meech harnessing that power in so many incredible ways, as they walk by faith and trust that the Lord is going to use them, and of course, God is using them.

If you liked this episode of Real Life Loading… or thought it was helpful, I'd love for you to share today's podcast with a friend. Wherever you get your podcasts, it can really advance what we're doing with Real Life Loading, if you go ahead and rate and review 13

us. It's legit easy to find us on our social channels, just search for Real Life Loading or look for our link tree in the show notes.

I want to thank everybody on the Real Life Loading team. You all are fantastic, and you make it happen. I'm Shelby Abbott, and I'll see you back next time on Real Life Loading.

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