Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams, Depression and Me (maybe You)

Source: fanpop.com

Robin is dead. I really liked him as a comic, an actor and a person. Apparently it was a suicide. I knew he dealt with drug and alcohol issues. I suspected depression. This is tragic. He leaves behind loved ones. He will be missed. Depression is rough.

I have struggled with depression. I resisted help. “I can do this!” I was in denial. I medicated with drugs, alcohol and busyness. I pretended that I was not depressed or had “improved.” Culture bad-mouths and pushes aside depression. Families just want you to “get over it.”
You have cancer, let’s pray and get you the best help. Money is no object. One child abduction (by a relative,) let’s bubble-wrap the kids and plan every waking moment. Diabetic and need medication? Get it!

Depressed? It’s not real. It’s in your head. Cheer up. Besides, we cannot afford counseling (unless it is a REAL disease.) And don’t take medication for it. We are pharmacological Calvinists when it comes to depression.

Oh, and we who are depressed fight help just as much as anyone. To God, I said, “Why me?” and “Fix it!” My petitions were answered with silence. God knew I needed to answer that.
In my 30 years as a priest, many whom I serve go undiagnosed, un or under treated, and under-resourced. That included me.

I had long ago realized that I was not going to live to grow old with my wife or watch my children grow up or see grandchildren (and, now, a great grandchild,) if I did not give up self-medication with alcohol. Abuse of alcohol was a symptom of something inside me that I had left unaddressed. My abstinence helped some but, while I was not drinking, my mind was still in the same state.

I had things I did not want to explore but, with the help of an awesome counselor (I went through 3 before I found one I resonated with,) I realized some things about myself that needed to change. And I changed them. I was not a victim and it was not your fault. It was three steps forward and 2 back, mind you. But I started. I learned with help to accept who I truly was. I realized I was not going to please everyone and in fact, I was going to really piss off some who had their own expectations of me. And I set boundaries in my life. Healthy boundaries. Godly ones, I hope.

I am not going to attach some grand imperative as a postscript. But I do suggest you to get educated about depression, to encourage those who deal with it (directly or indirectly) and to help move the conversation into the open leaning on God more. I was too puny to deal with this on my own. I needed to repent and accept God’s gracious and unconditional love.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

There’s More Fun In The Deep End

Photo: http://bit.ly/1k4DXhU

I have a chameleon-like faith. Or maybe a shape-shifter faith. I am constantly moving from shallow to deep and back to shallow again. I don’t stay put.

At times, I acknowledge Jesus but my faith is in my head and my heart has not turned to him. I am detached. Aloof. Away. Worship is one option among many. These times are the “like” Jesus times.

At times, I observe Jesus and I occupy myself with “religious stuff” but my heart is on simmer. I am busy “Christianizing” but the fruit is bland.  Worship is regular but rote except when I really am into it and then it goes viral (for a time.)

Other times, I follow Jesus. I turn over my heart and the take risks that come from self-forgetfulness. My heart boils over even while I am stretched to my limit. These times always involves keeping a commitment to others. Life is served and renewed in this paradoxical state. Worship flows out of Sunday and into the week. 

Where are you? Do you like it there? Have you gotten stuck? Could you encourage a stuck person?

“Exert every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Luke 13:24 NLT (Jesus tells us that following is hard but worth it. See entire passage.)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

I am beautiful on the inside

Source: Roxie Woodward
Should we have t-shirts that state, “I’m gorgeous inside?” Some of us would wear the shirt because we don’t fit cultural norms. We are introverts, unathletic, fat/skinny/short, flawed, sick, C-or-below-student, unemployed, prickly, quiet. 

Another group of shirt wearers would be those who only see gray or black inside themselves. They need to read the shirt. They feel shame. “I’m no good.” Maybe because of brain chemistry, maybe because of a rough childhood, maybe there has been a failure.

Truth is, we are made in the image of God (Imago Dei.) And God found us worth redeeming. To die for.

When you look in the mirror or on the face of another today, imagine yourself/them in this t-shirt. A shirt Christ wove in his life, death and resurrection. We are loved and inherently lovable and we cannot stop telling that story.

For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 2 Corinthians 2:15 (NASB)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Blessed are the busy

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is when Jesus says to his friend, Mary, “Mary, Mary, why can’t you be like Martha all multitasking and blisteringly busy. She’s got the high life and I don’t mean Miller.” 

                                                                       Never mind, my memory is faulty.

Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Jesus and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me." But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her."  Luke 10:40-42 (NIV) 

Why are we so busy and getting even busier? Why must every minute be filled? Why do I need to “get away” so often? Get away from what? Are we answering God’s call? Will I miss out? On what? Will I ruin my children if they miss anything? Am I trying to prove my worth (I can do what you do and more?) Who is judging us and have they earned that right? Or am I judging myself? What am I running from/to? Why does the end zone keep moving? 

If escalating busyness is the highest good, it must be God. If so, it is a cruel god. It leaves us drained and anxious. Rather than rise to noble things, we answer the call of what pressures us the most. Jesus promises us Peace as our North Star. Peace. What or who is your North Star? The thing you and everyone in your life must bow to? Is it/she/he worthy of worship? 

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

I’d like to strangle them.


But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you  Matthew 5:44 (KJV)

Who are your enemies?
Who is hurting you right now?
Who is your nemesis?
Who hates you?
Who is trying to control you?
Who used you?

I’d like to strangle them. How about you?

Now, I have a dilemma. Am I Lord (The Boss) or is Jesus? I have to lay my lordship at his feet and bless instead, love instead. I am to want the best for them and do what I can to help that come about. Talk about counterintuitive.

If I pray, who will change? Me? Them? Both? Neither?

I abdicate, Lord, not because I feel it but because you say so. But I think I need a heart transplant.