Body Image, Eating, Story

Real Struggles

imagesI feel miserable when I overeat. Why do I do it? I’m trying to fill a void when I do it. It doesn’t help me fit into the large t-shirts I’m buying now. I’ve been buying XL for many years. I can’t get down to the 180 I want to if I continue to overeat, but I am also overanalyzing this as I frequently do.

An even keel approach to life is important, and my bi-polar episodes would be less dramatic if the even keels were more frequent then the binge eatings at dinner time. My semantic has been to push the plate back, but frequently when I’m clearing the table I reason that my “movement” doing the dishes burns calories. Oh it burns calories, but not the 500 I consumed in that fourth piece of oh so delicious homemade pizza. It’s a wonder I’m not 300. My girls joke about the 400 pound man they live with, but let me go on record as blogging that I am right at 220. Needless to say I need to drop 40 so I look good in those large shirts. Now I’m not vain enough to think I have to look good. Wanting to feel good trumps that, but I don’t like looking like some middle aged fat man who drinks multiple beers on the sofa every night in front of the game. I do drink butter beer in Diagon Alley with Hermione (my daughter) and Mrs. Weasley (my wife), and I must say that when you go to Universal Studios Orlando you must try it, but keep a look out for he-who-must-not-be-named. He’ll steal it from you!

Taking oneself seriously means I don’t take myself too seriously. Once again I cross a paradox. Emotional health calls us to such an attitude, and I suppose the rub comes when I “fall” off the eating wagon. There are people who have serious psychological issues as it’s connected with food, and I do not tread lightly on that subject. My prayers are continually with you because I would take great offense at someone who glibly looks or comments about depression. I walk softly around the very real struggles my friends have, and my heart is heavy for you as you take one day at a time like me.

That’s all we can ask of ourselves as we lay ourselves before a God who loves us unconditionally no strings attached.

I close with verse I’ve been meditating on all day. It’s from 1 John 4:18.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

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faith

What Is Strength?

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This picture was taken a year ago in Orlando. This is my youngest brother Jeremy, his wife Crystal, and their 3 little munchins. Jeremy is an inspiration to me because I believe with my whole heart that he embodies all the things I write about in this post. Is he perfect? You know the answer to that. Satan loves it when we are defeated by fear, shame and guilt. He uses all those things in my battle with depression, but people like Jeremy and Crystal give me hope that Revelation is right on track when it teaches us that God wins. 

This morning I came here only I couldn’t because I didn’t have an internet connection. Obviously I do now. That was about 6am. It’s now almost noon. I say that because I’m always proud of sticking to something even if there is a waiting period to accomplish it.

I take for granted the small victories that are really not small at all because small victories lead to big ones.

That was a side note. Here’s what I was really coming to post at 6am.

Fatherhood and Marriage is a mantle. If you choose to shoulder it and do the work, it will bring you to places of joy and satisfaction and love…

But if you falter… if you double guess your choice… if you decide half-way in to shirk the mantle, or grumble at its weight… you are lost. It will punish you without mercy, brutally and endlessly. (LIT: How To Get Your Soul Back; Bryan Ward, ©2016, http://thirdwayman.com. All Rights Reserved.

I’m living this reality. I’m coming out of the unmerciful and brutal side of this equation, so obviously I disagree with with the endless part. It’s similar to my theology. God is never ending, but to say He’s unmerciful is ignorant. Pain is very much a part of life, but it does not last forever. All things pass except the eternal bond we share with God. I place too much emphasis on the things that do not last to the exclusion of focusing on the things that do.

Mr. Ward places fatherhood ahead of marriage, and I don’t assume anything about that between his two ears, but I lived for 6 years being married to Carey before fatherhood came to my experience. Marriage will be with me long after my daughter has left home too. There are too many people who place all their eggs in the fatherhood basket, and they wonder why their marriage ends when the kids leave. Neglected relationships die. There is no more single important relationship than the one with your wife.

Mr. Ward from Third Way Man convinces me of this. My responsibility as a father is a very serious matter, and one I do not, nor have I ever taken lightly, but I am changing my thinking as it pertains to the woman who I share life with till death do we part. This is not because my parents have been married for almost 50 years, nor is it because I’ve been given some special knowledge that I should. It’s not even because the Bible tells me so. It’s because God created from the beginning marriage to be a lifelong commitment between a man and woman. We’ve polluted, perverted and removed all mystery from this holy union because we have failed to acknowledge the supreme power God has over making it pure.

When we take a high view of relationship we know that we must die daily to our selfishness in order to make any relationship work, but too few of us know what that looks like, much less how it looks in our relationship with our wives. We weren’t shown what it looks like, and in fact 50% of us saw it end in a blaze of glory, so how the hell are we to know what to do when a boy learns what he experiences?

It’s high time we get serious about relationship, not because we have a corner on the market, no one does, but because we’ve been given a power and connection with the one true God who never sleeps, eats or wrings His hands in frustration at our refusal to rise to the occasion.

I have failed with epic proportions. That’s not a secret. I am just once voice out of many crying to a Father who is closer than the blood in my veins, and His breath breathes life into my lungs when I can’t take another step. The futility of my plans, my selfish ambition, and my anger at my enemies together can be squelched with His pinky finger, yet somehow time and again I demand fairness from those who reject God. Don’t expect the world to give you what it cannot. Our consumeristic culture can’t even pause on Memorial Day to remember that our fallen men and women made Memorial Day possible. The culture is inundated with ad after ad of new cars and furniture. No wonder we self-implode against our families who we seek “satisfaction” from.

Demanding another person make you happy is not only ludicrous, but it places a demand they cannot fulfill. We have to stop.

Do we empower another human being in their weakness, ignorance and narcissism? No, but when another human being is not able to bring what they cannot bring we need to not only accept it, but we need to embrace it because there is a God who is filling that void.

Marriage exacerbates this because you are now connected to a person 24/7. It’s the way God created it. When we seek to destroy things God created we only destroy ourselves, and I don’t have to tell you we’re doing a good job of destroying each other.

Adam and Eve had the same problem. They blamed another for their sin. It’s time to stop blaming others and other things, and own up to our own sin.

God created us and the planet we’re on. Don’t you think He can sustain and make all 7 billion of us strong upon it?

 

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Arts, Church, Depression, faith, relationship, Story

Improv

 

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This is the room I write about in this post, but it looks silently different. The piano is in the same location. 

Crafting something from nothing has always intrigued me. The book Free Play was introduced to me a few years ago, and even though it’s premise is improv the principles can be applied outside of acting.

I’ve found a new place in the house to read and write. It’s our music room. It’s where my guitar and our piano reside. I’ve read many writing books where they tell you to write in the same place every time. This is is my second day in a row coming here, but I’ve been here several times before. I just haven’t consistently come here consecutive days. Habit and routine are important in creating. I think that’s the trouble with my muse in the context of learning to play the guitar. Kevin is divinely patient with me as I work through the blocks that prohibit me from learning, but as that fire burns within me I will not give up unless death stops me. The artist life is not for the faint, and stage fright is really only a symptom of something much deeper, in my case a life-long struggle with depression.

My dad was pastoring a church in north west Kansas in the middle of nowhere really. It was a typical mid-western Church of Christ, and though I don’t want to demonize them because they are still in existence I will write that all of us have demons to deal with. My brother Jeremy had just been born in Arkansas. It was the very early 80’s, and the church convinced my dad to move his family to Kansas. They only had enough money to pay him for a year. They did not volunteer that information. A year in he’s looking for another job. My nightmares and struggle with depression began. Somehow in the course of that experience I also became a Christian, and I remember vividly thinking that if I wasn’t baptized I’d go to Hell. I also remember growing spiritually in that same day as I stood in the shower after my baptism thinking I get to spend eternity with my Father.

The nightmare was very specific, and I remember it to this day. I was part of a concentration camp on Ellis Island constructing the Statue of Liberty. Lady Liberty was complete from the waist up, but we had to lift her so another work detail could finish from the waist down. We never completed her construction. There was no resolve or closure, and when I’d wake up I’d either have wet the bed, or I’d be in a cold sweat that I’ll never forget so long I don’t battle some sort of dementia. Those dreams were especially intense and repetitious when dad was gone interviewing with different churches.

My family of origin loves the arts. We always have, and my family now loves the arts even more that we shake our heads in disbelief at those who boycott Twilight and Harry Potter. Spoiler alert: Good wins over evil. Moving on.

Family is very important to me, and even though some of us argue over what a family looks like if love is shared is the main question in any relationship. God created Adam and Eve, and He created us for monogamous relationships that last a lifetime.

I shared the following with a group of people at a round table during a parenting seminar we attended led by my friend Frank Scott.

I grew up on average about 500 miles away from my grandparents. That wasn’t by design. It just was. While in Kansas mom and dad decided to record a cassette tape of a dramatic presentation similar to Lake Wobegon Days and Prairie Home Companion. We sent a copy to my dad’s parents we called ma and pa, aunt Sue and my mom’s mom grandma. Grandpa died in 1977. Grandpa was in his 30’s when he married grandma at age 15. In any case dad wrote an entire script like Garrison Keillor does for his radio broadcast that sometimes is broadcast from the Ryman Auditorium. All 6 of us had speaking parts amidst the variety show my parents concocted. I’ll never forget it. It still amazes me that they were able to do that in a very tumultuous time of their lives. It was probably like a glass of wine or a good novel that gave them escape.

Even in the midst of darkness if those who believe in light turn the light on it’s amazing how God sends hope to those who don’t have it.

It’s what keeps me going.

 

 

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Death, Depression, faith, Prayer

A New Earth

img_0045Beyond sad really does describe a large part of my story. I was always saying goodbye. That’s bound to make anyone sad. I was beyond sad because clinical depression is just that. I have a disclaimer though.

You’re familiar with being happy because it happened, rather then being sad because it’s over. Parents who lose children can only be described as the worst of all possible scenarios, but suffering is suffering, and to classify suffering is not fair to those of us who suffer, and that is all of us.

We hurt. We grieve. We deny, but when we face reality we come to know that the loss is very real. Those like me who are devout believers in Jesus Christ know that He is not only familiar with our suffering, but He intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. No one can hurt for you, but when I practice empathy for a friend who is well into his 80’s who lost a brother 3 years ago I bear his burden.

When we bear the burdens of each other, and rejoice with each other when we achieve success we cross a threshold that the unbelieving world never crosses. Oh, maybe I’m wrong, but it seems to me every Tom, Dick and Harry wants to see everybody else fail. There’s nothing new under the sun, and I realize this, but most people worship comfort, and when something stretches their thinking beyond that comfort then they retreat into jealousy, anger and a mindset that refuses to participate.

God works through rich, middle class and poor. God is at work from sunrise to sunset, and when we grow paralyzed with fear God continues to work with or without us. He is not wringing His hands on a celestial throne worried sick about what Donald Trump is thinking, much less saying.

We go about our daily, weekly, monthly and yearly routines as our Father partners with us in advancing His message of love. We think we know what that looks like, but we don’t. We can, and we strive to, but we still fall short, yet He continues to press forward with us.

It’s a tension that will always be a part of this old Earth, but when the new heavens and the new Earth are created sickness and death will be done away with, and I suspect blog posts will not need to end because the author has to go to bed.

The lion will lie down with the lamb, and human beings will be perfect with a perfect Father.

Come soon LORD we pray, and our gratitude for your presence makes all the pain pale in comparison.

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Depression

#PersonifyME, Depression

tig_1068I cannot ignore this man. I do at times because I have to get sleep, and the laundry doesn’t do itself because my wand is at Olivanders. If I had to throw a football over a mountain it’d be a cold day in Hell if I did, and his annoying ability to to side-track me from productivity leaves me frustrated beyond belief. I was once selling some food storage containers, and I wanted to illustrate their toughness. I drove my van over one, but it shattered. I drove away. Driving away from him is not possible. He is constantly there smacking me in the face with someone else’s steak. I come to think I can take him with my nun chuck skills, but his tenacity keeps his losing ways tethered to my karma. I do somehow find the strength to put one foot in front of the other, and until I get my wand from Olivander the laundry is actually improving as I muggle it for the other two Gryffindors in this common area. He is my Uncle Rico and my Voldemort. Tots make it better, but chocolate frogs at Universal are better than a Patronus Charm. He is dark and black, and he lives in the past, but he can be destroyed. And he will not stop my dance in front of the whole school.

 

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faith

More About Jesus

I do not hang my hat on depression. I wish I didn’t have it, but I do. The beautiful thing about it though is that I’m a cognitive adult who accepts it, and obviously I’m trying to conquer it.

I think a lot of us give too much power away because we let our anger at someone else have too much control over our lives. She who angers you controls you. I believe that with my whole heart. I’m not arguing for a stoic existence where nothing can hurt you, but you need a level of apathy to guard you from the leeches of life. There are people who will suck the life out of you. You have to draw boundaries around them. If you have to see them make the visits short. When they pass from this life do not let guilt drive you emotionally where you don’t need to be. Get professional counseling if they continue to control you from the grave. If counseling is not enough seek the help of a psychiatrist. Do everything within your power to find healing. God heals us, but He offers counseling, psychiatric care and distance to do this. Jesus sought places of retreat away from people for prayer, time with the Father and mental rejuvenation He needed to accomplish His mission. We need the same things.

We are human beings who grow tired, hungry, angry and cynical as Jesus did, and if we don’t retreat into havens of healing or professional counseling and medical care then we will self-destruct.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says to not lean on our own understanding. It says we are to acknowledge Him and He will make our paths straight. I use baseball games, golf on television and writing in journals, of which this is one, to practice this.

No one was made to shoulder the burden alone. Evil rejoices when it isolates a human being from another human being because it knows that when the lamb is alone at pasture the lion will have no problems destroying it. We need alone time, but at some point there needs to be face-to-face interaction with another safe human being who bears the burden of our brokenness. We don’t go around telling everyone, hence the reason for confidentiality in a counseling, medical professional or pastoral relationship. We find those individuals who take seriously the adage that gossip is wrong.

cropped-forgiveness1.jpgJesus was one-on-one with the woman at the well, and the woman “caught” in the act of adultery, but He did not lambast them for their sins. He lovingly listened, and He offered them living water from which they would never thirst.

We have a God who is keenly aware of our darkest secrets that weigh us down at the most inopportune times. He was not only with us in hell, but He is with us when we have the health to run a marathon and a million dollars in the bank. There is not point too low or high where we cannot find Him.

Depression would have claimed my life a long time ago had I not had faith in a God who brings the dead to life. I believe that with my whole heart too. So many things in this life can destroy us, and they will continue to do so even after you read this post, but even in death no one can remove us from the love of God. I don’t know what happens when you die, but one thing I do know, and that is that when our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ reveals Himself to our naked eye that we will spend eternity with Him on the new Earth.

Spoiler alert: We aren’t there yet.

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faith

Jesus

woman prayingToday’s Jesus Calling is about sin versus walking with God in the light. Sin is darkness, hence the constant writing in the Bible about darkness versus light.

I realize some of you are not Christians, and I don’t intentionally offend you, but my faith is the central point of my life. Acts says “In Him we live and move and have our being.” If I were to have a life theme verse that is it. Jesus was either a liar, lunatic or the LORD, and the fact that the way unto life is narrow, and the way unto death is broad speaks volumes to me about Jesus being the only way to God. Purity, devotion and true freedom is surrendering completely to the LORD Jesus Christ.

Satan is a cunning deceiver who wants nothing more than to destroy us. He’s more evil and powerful than Voldemort or any fictional character human beings creates. Men have been trying to silence the voice of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit for millenia. They fail everyday because there are those of us who are surrendering the all surpassing power of knowing Christ Jesus our LORD. Death cannot even stop His message and presence. It’s futile to stand against Jesus because not only is He our Savior because of what He did on the cross, but He is God because death was denied in His resurrection. Nothing can separate us from the love of God.

Men and women thought He came to bring a military power to conquer other nations who stood against Israel. That was not the point of His message. Do conflicts and wars still happen? Yes. Does it grieve God when we can’t resolve conflict peacefully? Yes. It griveves Him when we harbor bitter envy, selfishness and personal agendas above the body of Christ.

When we congregate at the foot of the cross realizing that the cross is not the end we are raised to life with a promise that endures for eternity.

Do you trust that? So much of life is about trust and fear. Relationships are destroyed because trust is destroyed. We fear trusting agains because trust was destroyed. We place demands on people to “create” our trust when the only true dependence we have is in a Father who never sins or betrays our trust. His every thought and action is perfect, and His presence empowers the persecuted and hurting as I type this sentence. He longs for us to be in His presence. He does not filibuster or demand we listen to Him monologue. His love we cannot comprehend because all of us have failed and sinned against each other.

What’s the answer?

Jesus.

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