Archive for the Trust Category

“It takes courage to try.”

So there I was right, sitting at my desk at work and this cloud of despair descended on me from out of nowhere. Like I needed to just sit and meltdown with the ugly cry. And in my head I heard Data saying, “I no longer wish to have these emotions!” But, alas, I am not Data and can’t just be deactivated nor can I just turn off my emotion chip. I have to deal with them.

I told a friend recently that I have the emotional maturity of a 4 year old. It’s probably more like a 7 year old. It seems like when I think back that was the age when I began stuffing and avoiding “successfully.” It is also about the age I starting having panic attacks. I broke my leg just before I turned 7. There may be some correlation. Hmm. But I am digressing.

Bottom line is I have reached the point where my old coping skills don’t work, and I can’t just numb away the pain. When it comes, I have to feel it, and it will pass. Just like when I’m on top of the world happy, it will pass. When I’m scared, it will pass. When I’m all blah, it will pass. “To everything there is a season.”

There was a point last summer in the midst of the mess I came home to when I was just starting to go to Al-Anon where I was praying, and I asked God why he wasn’t helping me with all the crap I was going through. He said, “I’ve been sending other people to help you.” That stung. And it’s hard to go to and accept help when you’ve spent so many years hanging on for dear life to your own self-sufficiency. Even when it hasn’t ever worked. It’s irrational and insane doing the same thing(s) over and over expecting different results, but there is an illusion of comfort in the familiar. I wanted to keep doing things myself even though it was slowly killing me emotionally and physically. God was consistently answering my prayers, but not how I wanted Him to.

I hinted about a month ago that I have to completely change the way I think. Well, maybe that was more than a hint. But anyway, change is hard. Feeling is hard. But at least I am not going through it alone. Not that I ever really was alone, but it’s nice to finally take the walls down and trust people. Because if I am going to trust God completely, I’m going to have to trust him to give me people that I can trust.

Does anyone know what Christmas is all about?

I didn’t quote Charlie Brown exactly. But it’s close enough. This post will also be a little all over the place. Possibly.

I got a case of the ass last night. Ok, it’s not really exclusive to last night as I usually have a case of the ass over something, but a lot of the time I can keep it in check so that once I calm down I realize it really isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Last night I didn’t keep my tongue in check, or rather I let my fingers fly since I was commenting on a comment on a blog post I’ve been following. I thought I had been mercifully spared from my rash verbal vomit since my comment didn’t show up. I had already commented without using my DragonLady pseudonym, but comment #2 was with “DragonLady” making me think the comment went into the spam hole where it should have stayed. :sigh: But it didn’t, and so if you care, here is the article: It’s Not Us Against Them

I have tried to stay out of the Duck Dynasty drama just like I stayed out of the Chick-Fil-A one. For the same reason, and because it all boils down to a bunch of posturing by both supporters and opposers of Dan Cathy and now Phil Robertson. So I will go ahead and lay my cards out on the table. I don’t eat at Chick-Fil-A because of being gluten free and all I ever ate there was the breaded, deep-fried chicken on a bun that I can’t eat any more. I could also mention that their “chicken” is likely of the same low quality as McDonald’s. Oh, wait. I just did. I also have never watched Duck Dynasty nor do I plan to. Generally speaking, I don’t watch TV period, but especially not “reality” TV. Which, by the way, is not real. I will occasionally watch Ice Road Truckers and the similar one with the truckers on the “most dangerous roads” whatever that show is. But I only watch those if my husband has them on and I have nothing better to do. I will also go ahead and state that yes, I believe homosexual activity (same-sex sex) is a sin, just as fornication, adultery, bestiality, and pornography are. Sexual sin is sexual sin before God who gave humans the good gift of sex to be used within the context of marriage between one man and one woman for life as he created it to be. Full disclosure, I am a former fornicator who for many years before and after marriage was addicted to various forms of pornography for the sole purpose of self-gratification. The self-gratification amounted to adultery of the heart. So I am no stranger to the bondage or consequences (which were thankfully pretty light) of sexual sin, and absolutely will not act towards others with judgement and/or condemnation who have or are committing sexual sin because I understand the desire. I have never had to deal with same sex attraction, nor with any sexual attraction to any animal. I do, however, have many gay friends, and several gay family members. I also have had at least one family member who was guilty of bestiality. Therefore, I can’t sit back in my self-righteous ivory tower looking down on homosexuals as an abstract group. They are real people with real struggles who need a real Savior just like I do for the same reason, and not because of the specific way they sin, but because we all sin. This is what I was trying to explain to Chad the other night. The end of the discussion came when he asked if you could “pray away the gay.” I told him if it were just that simple then his dad and I could just pray away the alcoholism and drug addiction.

All that said, this isn’t a post about homosexuality. Nor is it a post where I pledge my support for Mr. Cathy and Mr. Robinson. There is much more at stake in the Kingdom of God than the American right to free speech. I will give my opinion that the reason American Christians are so fired up about losing their voice and influence in the American/Western culture has less to do with standing firm for Christ and much more to do with fear of having to actually suffer for Christ. You know, the way Jesus promised us as Christians that we would suffer with Him if we really follow Him. Because our feel-good materialistic American culture that is the product of 20th century consumerism wants the good life now, and doesn’t really want to give up anything in order to have everything in Christ. We want to have our cake and eat it too.

I think it is all about comfort, and oh, how well do I know the futility of searching for comfort. Comfort is an idol for me almost as high up as my idol of pride. I’ve sought it in books, TV, food, tobacco, drugs, alcohol, sex, church, family, my parents (Mom specifically), friendships, my husband, my kids, running, biking, gaming, pets, blogs, social media. The list goes on and on and on. But none of those things or the myriad of other things bring lasting comfort. Lasting comfort is only found in Jesus. Now that is real easy for me to say, but way hard for me to believe. I know all the trite phrases. I know all the cliches. The Landmark Missionary Baptist deacon’s daughter Reagan conservative has had all the head knowledge for as long as I can remember. It all seems to fall apart when the trials hit because I have trust issues because I have Daddy issues. So knowing and believing were not one and the same for me. Out of sync, if you will. There were a few times over the past year where I spent time in prayer confessing and repenting for not trusting the only One who can be trusted. Why didn’t I trust? Because all of my little gods have always ultimately disappointed me by not becoming the lasting peace and comfort I crave.

Pastor Nate preached about comfort in the light of the Christmas narrative. In the midst of the sermon when he went from Matthew 1 to 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 and explained how Jesus is our comfort because he has already experienced the suffering we do. He and He alone really does know how we feel. Ridicule, betrayal, rejection, death of loved ones, loneliness. But he never really was alone. Not even on the cross. And a light bulb came on for me.

For he has not despised or abhorred

the affliction of the afflicted,

and he has not hidden his face from him,

but has heard, when he cried to him. (Psalm 22:24, ESV)

Sunday night, before I could forget, I wrote down some notes on what I managed to piece together (so far) about how Jesus is my comforter.

When Jesus was on the cross quoting Psalm 22, he hadn’t been forsaken by God the Father. The Father was still there, it just didn’t feel like it. Just like when we are so overcome in our trials and cannot feel God’s presence and wonder if he really is there. But He was there for Jesus and he is there for us because of Jesus. And Jesus really does know how we feel.

There was a brief moment of peace, and the comfort remains. My life circumstances are still as they were, there are still issues unresolved, but I can rest knowing and believing they will one day be resolved, and the broken will be fixed. Even me. Unearned favor. Amazing grace.

So what is Christmas all about? Christmas was the beginning of the end. Immanuel, God with us, the Creator came and lived among the created as one of us. Fully human and fully divine. Laying aside the riches and the power and the glory and honor that He rightfully owns and deserves to become the spotless sacrificial lamb of atonement. Born into poverty in a stable. His family having to flee to Egypt to protect him from being murdered by Herod as Herod slaughtered an untold number of innocent boys aged 2 and younger to protect his throne. Ultimately willingly submitting to a sham trial and torturous beating before a horrendous death by crucifixion under Roman authority to appease the religious Jews. Rising to life on the 3rd day showing that His sacrifice for our sins was accepted by the Father so that we who believe in Jesus by faith are granted grace and reconciled to God the Father though Jesus.

It’s not about our American rights or Western culture. It’s not about sex or chicken or reality TV. It’s not about whether people say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.” It’s not about our temporal comfort. It’s about a Savior come to redeem unworthy and rebellious children.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17, ESV)

Thinking out loud

My flesh and my heart may fail,

but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26, ESV)

I don’t think I took my “happy pill” yesterday. There was that moment where I looked at the bottle and could not remember if I had taken it or not, but decided against risking an OD. Not that I know if you can OD on 40mg of Celexa. I’ve missed doses before. This past Saturday as a matter of fact. There were no ill effects. Yesterday though. I bottomed out.

I blame(d) the lack of medication because it was just out of the blue despair. Or so I thought. I did enough backtracking through the day to discover the trigger was a video I had watched. From there I was able to root out the discontentment and resentment that were in the pit I found myself in. It’s a dark pit where the darkness is heavy and constricting. Prayers were said, tears were shed. Withdrawl happened. Not complete withdrawl, but alone time to sort the truth from the lies.

I remember the first time God spoke “audibly” to me. It wasn’t a loud booming voice like I imagine he spoke to Moses. Of course there is a story to it. I spent probably half my early childhood begging my parents for a swing set. Like this:

EXIF/JPEG image with thumb

Yes, I got the kids what I wanted when I was a kid. Anyway, I never got one, but my dad made me swing by buying some nylon (or plastic) rope, and hanging it from a tree limb. In hindsight, that was a way better swing. Anyway, that old rope swing gave me many many hours of fun. I would get it swinging as high as I could (which was way higher than a “little” metal swing set swing could go), and then jump out at the forward apex. I did that so much one weekend that my legs were so sore I could barely walk for 3 days.

That was what I was doing: seeing just how high I could get the swing going before jumping out. As I was on the back swing just before that apex, I clearly heard a voice in my head telling me to stop. As I came back down, I put my feet down to stop. As soon as my feet were firm and stable on the ground, the rope broke. If I hadn’t listened to that voice, I would have gotten hurt. Maybe seriously, maybe not. Regardless, I would have been hurt. But it was years before I would realize what that voice was. Or rather, whose. I don’t remember how old I was, and I may or may not have still been using that swing while in junior high. ;)

I don’t think I ever told anyone about that except for my mom, though I might have told my dad when I told him the rope broke. But I don’t remember actually telling him. I know I did because he was going to notice and then wonder why I didn’t tell him. Plus, he was the only one who was going to fix it. lol But I think it was just within the last year that I told my mom the whole story of the incident. She recognized the voice for what it was. She may not remember what day it is, or people’s names, or whether or not someone has died, but Alzheimer’s has not yet touched her mind where theology and doctrine are concerned.

I wanted to hear Him yesterday like that, and well, every time I find myself in the pit. I don’t, but yet I don’t really feel completely alone either. I mean, in the deepest, darkest, heaviest point I do, but once the load lifts, I can tell I wasn’t alone. It’s really hard to explain it. It’s kind of like and aftertaste, only just a feeling. A closeness if you will.

So, this was a bit ADD. Hence the title. That’s how I roll.

Get a hold of yourself

I heard that a lot growing up. I’m pretty sure my dad was the one who would say it to me, but it could have been my mom or both of them. It was a warning when I would get either too excited and was starting to get too “rambunctious” or was working up to a meltdown over something. It was a long way of saying “calm down” or “chill out.” Without that outside discipline, I would have been wide-open, full-throttle all the time. I just never really developed that as a self-discipline whether happy, sad, angry, or whatever so that out on my own, there was little restraint in acting out.

Slowly, I have come to understand that acting out rather than taking a moment or so to “get a hold of myself” results in destructive behavior one way or another. No matter the circumstances I tend to speak or act without thinking about the effect on others. Or I sit and stew on it internalizing until I end up metaphorically vomiting on someone who probably didn’t have anything to do with what I was stewing on. Or I just act out without knowing all the facts and/or giving the benefit of the doubt and then find out I was completely wrong about the whole situation.

The past few weeks, there has been a recurrent theme popping up in sermons I’m listening to (both at my church, and podcasts), some of the blogs I read, and a book I’m currently reading. When the same thing keeps popping up, it’s a good indication that I need to be paying close attention. And so I’ve been mulling all this over. Chewing on it, if you will. It makes perfect sense, but there was just still a little bit gnawing at me with it with regards to application. Sometimes I’m slow. For instance, years ago, I heard a sermon (I think it was more of a series of sermons) about a particular topic. I “got it,” but I wholeheartedly disagreed, and therefore didn’t believe it applied to me at all. Years later, I heard another sermon, and “got it” to the point of believing it applied to me. I even heard another teacher teach on it, fully agreeing, and later found myself chewing it all over when the light bulb went off. It was the same thing I had heard as a kid and completely rejected, and this time I really “got it.” The whole concept. Better late than never right? ;)

Anyway, I’m now seeing a twist to this latest thing that I hadn’t expected. Since I have already put it out there once, I’ll put it out there again. Because that’s how I roll. My husband is an alcoholic/drug addict, and it is a sickness that spreads throughout the entire family. I struggle with it probably as much as he does because I think (wrongly) that it should be easier for him to give up the drugs and alcohol than it is. I fall into that thinking because I was relatively easily delivered from my porn addiction (which was just a portion of the problem). When my drinking gets to be “problem drinking,” it’s relatively easy for me to just not drink. I can carry around percocet with me 24×7 and not take it. But then I “conveniently” forget how hard it was to quit smoking and stay quit. And how many years I would still crave a cigarette. I still got an occasional craving.

But since I forget what is difficult for me, I fall into that trap of thinking I know the solution. “Just go to AA! You know it works!” Here’s the problem. He said once that at AA all they talk about is drinking, and that just makes him want to drink. That did not make a lick of sense to me despite the fact that I can spot a lit cigarette smouldering in the street as I am driving and crave so bad it takes every bit of willpower I have not to stop and buy a pack. I think it was Pastor Benji who was talking about what we concentrate on saying that for an alcoholic that’s trying to quit drinking by saying “Don’t drink! Don’t drink!” over and over to themselves is always thinking about drinking. And so, eventually, they will drink again. And now I get it.

Therefore, all the sermons, blogs, and the book are all saying the same thing. If you are always (or mostly) thinking about not committing a particular sin (or sins), your focus is on the wrong thing. It’s not merely a battle of wills. It’s like when Jesus was walking on the water toward the boat the disciples were in, and had Peter to walk out to him. Peter was walking on the water just fine as long as he was looking at Jesus. When he looked at the wind and the waves, he began to sink. He lost his focus on who was keeping him on top of the water in the storm. If any of us could overcome our sin by sheer willpower, we wouldn’t need Jesus at any point in our lives. Bottom line, we never stop needing Jesus. So instead of looking at our temptations and trying to overcome it by white-knuckling through the weakness, we need to look to Jesus and reach out to him. We will be overcome with exhaustion eventually trying to do it ourselves, but He will never let us go.

Rather than “getting a hold of myself,” I need to let go of myself. Rather than spending my energy on trying not to do what I don’t want to do, focus on doing what I know to be good, looking to Jesus to lead me where He wants me.

Facing Fear

I had kind of a hard time going to sleep last night. I didn’t really have any one thing weighing heavy on my mind keeping me awake, but I just had an overall sense of restlessness. It may just have been a result of getting massively glutened over the weekend. I refuse to accept that it might have been the pumpkin spice and rather choose to place the blame solely on the spiced rum. I’ve been drinking pumpkin spice lattes for the past two years after going gluten free with no effect. This was the first time in the last two years since going gluten free that I drank spiced rum. But I digress.

Like I said, I had trouble falling asleep. So I took the opportunity to just spend the sleepless time in prayer. During the course of this I came to the point of really confessing how much I have let fear rule my life since, well, since I can remember. This is a HUGE obstacle. I have know it for a while, at least for the last 3-5 years. But denial ain’t just a river in Egypt. ;) So there I lay admitting and confessing all the fear, and the continued fear of taking that next step of surrender. So, yeah, I would also rather blame it all on the glutening than admit/accept that I have to stop acting/not acting out of fear.

I just don’t really know what that’s going to mean. What I mean by that is it is a great unknown to me which prevents me from formulating plans/strategies/coping mechanisms. As if I can really rely on my old coping mechanisms any more anyway. They served their purpose for a single purpose, and have generally miserably failed outside of that one purpose. But the one purpose it served spilled out into and onto every single relationship I’ve had whether family or friends or co-workers or total strangers. That is deliberately vague. For now.

The struggle is real

For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:8-9, ESV)

And once again, this is where I find myself. There was some tension and stress before I went on vacation, but it didn’t really seem that big. My mom has Alzheimer’s, so I spent a lot of time with her dealing with the effects of that. And I thank God for family there who are taking care of her. Then I came home to a nightmare. In no particular order, here is what has/is happening:

1. When I got back, my husband wasn’t home, wasn’t answering his phone, and the house house was trashed like he had partied like it was 1999.

2. The electricity is out in the master bedroom/bathroom. The breaker keeps tripping. I replaced the breaker (because that was cheap & easy), but the new one tripped immediately. So there is a short, and I am slowly replacing outlets and switches before blaming the ceiling fan. Because I don’t want to deal with the ceiling fan. A spider lives in it, and we have an agreement.

3. The dishwasher was not cleaning, and I pulled out a bunch of dirty dishes in the cabinet thanks to #1. Finally determined the problem was not enough water getting into the dishwasher. I checked both ends of the intake hose, and after checking the end attached to the dishwasher itself (the other end was way easier), I flooded the kitchen floor when testing. Ah, a leak in the hose! So I went through the trouble of replacing the intake hose (and pretty sure I contracted hantavirus), only to discover it was the drain hose with a huge hole that flooded the laundry room. 2nd trip to Lowes, and rather than replace the hose, I repaired it with some handy dandy emergency hose repair tape. And I had clean dishes this morning.

4. No TP. Ok, there was one roll downstairs, and 3 squares upstairs, but still. This wouldn’t have been a big deal if I hadn’t written on the white board when I left to buy toilet paper.

5. Broken windows. One is double paned and only one pane is broken, so it’s not such a huge deal. The other is a completely broken out single pane. Yeah, I don’t know how to fix window panes. The hubster did that. But I have no qualms about throwing up a piece of plywood.

6. The morning after I got home, he finally called. Suicidal & homicidal. So I picked him up and took him to the ER at Duke since he had been seeing a psychologist and psychiatrist there and I knew he would be in the system. They locked him up in the psychiatric ward (which I am sure now has a politically correct name, but I’m old skool), and next day transferred him to an acute psychiatric and substance abuse treatment center. One of the things that contributed to his breakdown was running out of his meds. Naturally he “self medicated”, and went way overboard. As he does. And he is demanding long term treatment, but nobody will accept him with a pending court date. So now he has to get with his lawyer (somehow) and get the DWI resolved. And he wasn’t answering his phone because he destroyed it.

7. He got the truck stuck, and through the course of getting it out, got it impounded. Fortunately without another DWI or wrecking it. But it cost nearly $400 anyway between the tow and storage to get it back home.

8. He drove the daughter’s scooter across town and left it behind a friend’s house. That friend took him to another friend’s house which is where I picked him up from. No I’m not naming names. Anyway, picking up the scooter was an adventure with #7 that I will eventually blog about separately. But the hubby had someone work on the scooter so now it runs even worse than it did. :rolleye:

9. He lost his wallet. In.The.House. I still haven’t found it.

10. We have no money left. No savings. All credit cards maxed out. And the dude he worked for for 4 months still hasn’t paid him yet. Which was also a significant contribution to the breakdown. That and when he came back after the last rehab I told him not to get us back in debt again. And he can’t blame me this time.

11. The lawn mowers are at someone else’s house, and I have to retrieve them soon. Because the yard is out of control. If one friend isn’t able to bring them to the house by tomorrow, another friend is going to help me load the riding mower in the truck tomorrow after work.

(These have cropped up in the past 3 days.)

12. There is a dead mouse under my fridge stinking to high heaven and I just haven’t had the time or motivation (or stomach) to get it out.

13. Evie decided to start puking again. Ugh.

A lot on my plate? Oh yeah. More than I can handle. More than I can do. I’ve pretty much run the gamut of emotions. Fear, anger, despair. I’ve felt trapped, hopeless, and alone. It has been a constant battle with my emotions more than anything to process them, root out the lies, submit them to truth, and just do what I can a task at a time instead of looking at everything together. All together, it is so overwhelming that I end up sitting (or laying) down and playing minesweeper or whirly word much of the time while accomplishing nothing.

This is what happens when you pray “Whatever it takes.” The fact that I haven’t completely collapsed under the weight of it is testimony to the grace of God.

My flesh and my heart may fail,

but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26, ESV)

To be continued…

More than I can handle

I am going to state up front, that Pastor Roger preached a sermon about this earlier this year, so it isn’t something I came up with on my own. On the other hand, it isn’t straight-up plagiarism either. I hope. ;)

I have heard it said many times that “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” The thing is, I haven’t found that in the Bible. There is this:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV)

But that is dealing only with temptation and not trials of life. Sometimes we get so bombarded with trial after trial on top of trial, and I for one am right now at the point that I don’t think I can handle one more trial. I told a friend last week that maybe I should meltdown on the next person that tells me how strong I am. lol Because seriously, I am NOT as strong as I appear. Not even remotely close.

This isn’t the first time I have felt like I had more than I can handle, but I have to say that this time around it’s like the hits keep coming. Several years ago, I was tdy to Ft Gordon for class, and one day we all went to Myrtle Beach. At some point, I got knocked under by a wave, and when I came up, I got smacked by another before I could catch my breath, and this went on for a couple more waves before I finally got my feet planted which was well after panic set in. That’s kind of how I feel now; like the waves are coming faster than I can get a breath.

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. (2 Corinthians 1:8-11 ESV)

Last week I let one of my friends at work know about one of the biggest trials going on because it is/was to have an impact on me being at work. Turns out not a huge impact at this point, but I’m not getting into that yet. Anyway, she asked me a few minutes later, “How can you stand there and smile like everything is ok?” I answered, “I have a lot of friends praying for me.” Well, that and I am pretty good at faking everything being ok when it isn’t.

In the midst of all this, I rely on God to get me though. To carry me when I don’t have the strength to get out of the bed in the morning. To give me the strength of will to hold my tongue rather than lash out in anger with verbal diarrhea. To not be so self-focused as to fail to pray for my friends who are going through their own trials. To remember that God is in control, and the suffering is temporary. To rest in the knowledge that Jesus redeemed me, and gave me the Holy Spirit to comfort and guide me…and to set my feet against the waves so I can breathe.

Be real

Every now and then I’ll have an epiphany. Really, I just think it takes a while for my ADD to connect the dots between information. Or maybe I am just slow. Hahaha But Tuesday, I read this article and it hit a nerve that was already inflamed. This followed the one I had with last Thursday’s post that showed I’m not the only one with a sensitive nerve. But I really don’t want to turn this into a regular feature where I bash the churches I grew up in over perception (whether or not grounded in fact or emotion).

Of course, I posted the above article on Facebook, and, of course, it elicited a rather snarky comment (which I totally agreed with, btw, snark & all). I’ve kind of been mulling it over ever since, trying to remember any example of confessing sins to one another in any of the churches I have ever attended. I can remember a handful of instances of people getting publicly caught in sin, but no voluntary confessions.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16 ESV)

Oh, and I sure as heck wasn’t ever going to confess mine. Seriously? Drop the mask and show I’m still struggling with stuff? And be judged? Because, of course, that is what I expected. But the main problem with this is there is no accountability, so you just get deeper and deeper until suddenly you find yourself unable to cover it up, and it’s out in the open, huge and horrible as opposed to way back when it was just thoughts. How do I know this? Because I am pretty sure I am not the only one unable to self-regulate.

The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9 ESV)

Left on our own with our own thoughts, it is really easy to rationalize and excuse….and do. For those of us who grew up in the church, I think we sometimes feel we are expected to have an easy walk especially if our parents were teachers or more especially preachers or deacons. I learned how to wear the mask as if I wasn’t struggling with sin, while at the same time, internally rationalizing how it was ok. “This isn’t such a big deal.” “That’s not really bad.” That stuff builds up…and hardens…and hurts when it’s broken off years later.

Somewhere along the line, I have learned from keeping my skellingtons locked away. I got to a point with a particular sin that was trying (and coming real close to succeeding) to manifest itself, I knew I either had to do the deed or get someone to help me through it. Prayer alone wasn’t helping. So I shared that struggle with 4 friends to hold me accountable to not do what I wanted to do, and who would be praying with me and for me. And that wasn’t an easy thing for an introvert who doesn’t trust anyone to do. ;) You know what? It’s not so hard to deal with now. The entire situation has changed. Not immediately, and the underlying issue is still an issue, but it is no longer overwhelming and consuming.

So rather than bash, I’m pleading. Drop the masks. Be real. Just because you have been justified does not mean you have been glorified. There is a whole lot of sanctifying that takes place between the two. That’s the growth. That’s where the fruit is produced. That’s where you cannot hope to grow alone. There is a reason non-believers think we are all hypocrites. We are. We put on our masks and pretend that we no longer struggle with our old self, and instead of dying to self, we are killing our witness and testimony with our own self-righteousness.

Against the wind

I cannot be held responsible if a Bob Seger song is now stuck in your head.

Party animal that I am, I went running New Year’s Eve around the community where I live. I have a 3.4 mile loop on some back roads where there normally isn’t a lot of traffic, so I can stay on the pavement most of the time. Being a loop, I get to run in every direction at some point, and on the second straight(ish) stretch, I was facing the wind. I was already sucking because I forgot to use my inhaler, but it was made worse trying to run against the wind when I didn’t have much breath left anyway. It wasn’t long before I wanted to just stop.

I started to write this post when I got back home from that run. I got 2 paragraphs written, and then chickened out and deleted it. See, it’s also hard to run while sobbing. I said to a friend something to the effect of “I wonder just how broken I have to be.” Apparently just a bit more. I had a breakdown about 4 weeks or so ago, and I’ve been in the dark pit of depression ever since. Drowning in despair. Angry, and then numb. I’m pretty sure I have cried more in the past week than my whole life. That may or may not be an exaggeration. I’ve prayed, I’ve poured over and through my Bible, I’ve confided in friends who are praying for me, and yet, there is still this overwhelming darkness closed in around me, and I can’t breathe.

But I keep going.

During that run, when I couldn’t breathe, and couldn’t stop crying, I still had to get back home. So I dropped from a run to a walk, and kept going forward.

Yes, I went there. You’re welcome. :)

I am going through the motions. Fake it ’til ya make it. I am full of doubt, and nearly empty of faith. But I know I can’t trust my feelings, well, ever really, but especially now. It’s not my first battle with depression, even though I would call it my worst.

James 1:2-3 New King James Version (NKJV)

2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

I have to be patient, which does not come easy. The light will once again shine into the darkness, and I will keep seeking it…runnin’ on empty, against the wind.

Thankful today, and everyday

When I asked myself what I am thankful for, I keep coming back to the same conclusion. Everything. What do I have to not be thankful for? No matter what happens or has happened in my life, I am endlessly blessed. A friend posted Habakkuk 3:17-18 on Facebook last night:
“Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will exult in the LORD,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.”
When Job’s property and children were taken away he said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked I shall return there
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the LORD.”
Later after Job’s health fails, his wife finds him repulsive, and his friends wrongly rebuke him, Job says,
“Though He slay me,
I will hope in Him”

As Paul say in Romans 8:
“35Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?3 6Just as it is written,
“FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG;
WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.”
37But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I am thankful for a God who loves me, who sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to die for my sins. His great mercy saves me from the hell I deserve, and His wonderful grace provides me with an eternal reward in heaven that I do not deserve.

Psalm 100

1Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.

2Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

3Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

5For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.