Flying Blind

But flying all the same

Author: DocSauce

“Depression” – Lying label that doesn’t mean what it says.

“I”m depressed?” I think to myself riding down the road, radio up, singing like the world is my stage surrounded by cars that arranged their day just to be in my presence.

“No way.” I think to myself as the sun’s warmth soaks into my shoulders and the chilly air brushes my face.

“I can’t hear you, I’ve never heard you, I won’t ever hear you, and I don’t want to hear you.” I hear in my head as the question I asked is answered.

“I don’t matter, I never mattered, and I don’t need to be here anymore.” I retort as the music turns into agonized noise, the sun bakes persistently, and the wind screams in my face.

It happens that fast. Life is good. Everything is right in my life. The smallest, most insignificant thing creeps out of some corner in my life and the lights go out. The fuse is blown and I can’t find my way to the fresh air.

I’ve started thinking about people like leaves on a tree. Leaves flourish on all sides, limbs radiating from the trunk, life flowing into each of them. As the prevailing east wind approaches, as is its steady habit, the leaves on the north and south side get a little sideways, the east leaves press securely and confidently into the trunk, completely ambivalent to the breeze. Those west leaves, though, cling for dear fragile life to the limb as the gale pulls them from the trunk, away from the circle of life.

What’s wrong with those western leaves? Good question! You’ve gotta know, those west leaves are depressed. The same substance as all the other leaves but because of their context, they are more susceptible to blowing away.

This is how I’ve been thinking about depression. I don’t live constantly under a dark cloud of hopelessness. I live on that side of the line, but the cloud is often far from me. I know there are others who live even further across the line than I do, and that cloud is often much nearer to them. When the wind blows, those of us normal, healthy people with a disposition towards depression get more quickly covered with the clouds.

What I find problematic with the diagnosis known as “Depression” is that the term fits the minutes and moments but not necessarily the major movements of life. When I am low, I am depressed. When I am low, I am very much in a hole of sorts, a depression in the surface of life, a pebble in the divot on the green. Those are depressive moments, those are times when I am fully covered by what the word means, says, and feels… I am depressed. All of the other times though, when I am living my normal melancholic life, I may feel more sad than the “normal” person, but I am not in the hole. I can laugh, connect with friends, enjoy life, and rest in the warm embrace of love… and I’m still diagnosed as depressed. In these moments, the word doesn’t fit.

When I’m down, it helps me understand that there is a legitimate process at work in my head, that I need to work in one direction to climb from the hole, instead of working in so many directions taking guesses at why I feel the way I feel. The label creates a target and gives me the ability to set up some lifelines before falling in, and some rigging to help me get out.

When I’m up, every time I take a pill, I am reminded that I am depressed, and that is when the label becomes an ill-fitting collar, has me on a leash, and invites me into a hole of hopelessness. Then there is Shakespeare, looking me in the eye, saying something about a rose that, by any other name, would smell so sweet. This thing in my head, this diagnosis, by any other name, would still be so depressing.

Anger, Sadness, Depression, and my Christian Faith

I read my Bible often, almost every day.

I am almost completely unproductive at work, almost every day.

I love being around my family and friends.

I stay at work for hours, even when I don’t have to.

I bring joy to our relationships.

I cause incredible moments of pain and silence.

I trust that Jesus makes all things new.

I believe that my life will never be better.

I help others to live in the light of life.

I would gladly walk quietly off into a never-ending night.

Jesus wants me to control my thoughts.

Without drugs my thoughts veer into terribly destructive valleys.

The grace of Jesus is sufficient for all my needs.

I need medication to sufficiently give grace to my family like they need.

That’s where I’m stuck.

Right after getting the news that I needed to be medicated in order to function like a healthy, contributing member of society, I began reading everything I could to help me grasp my situation. While the range of responses drifted along a scale, I noticed two camps beginning to form.

You are a delinquent Christian! Surrender, Submit, Stop Sinning, and the Lord will heal you!!

The old legalist in me felt this and readily agreed. Depression is a thing of the mind. Right thinking will produce right living. Likewise, wrong living produces wrong thinking. If I return to the Lord, surrender to Him, repent, and take refuge in His grace and glory, He will heal me.

Some of that is true. That full last sentence is true and most of that paragraph rings true. But I’m afraid it is woefully out of context. I am starting to wonder, and maybe realize, that God’s healing of me may have nothing to do with moments of depression. His healing may very well mean that I live for the rest of my life with a propensity to drift into a deep sadness. God’s interaction with my mental health is not primarily dependent on my submission to Him.

Oh my sweet friend, Jesus loves you (Kum Ba Yah)! In your weakness He is strong!! Embrace your depression, take all the drugs, go to all the therapies, and display your depression before the world.

The Jesus hippy in me feels like he found a sun dried wool blanket as he wraps himself up snug and sits by a spruce fire in the foggy morning. I love this! This makes it pretty clear that there really isn’t anything wrong with me. The sovereignty of God is on display in me. This broken man is exactly who God wants the world to see. I’ll take the drugs, I’ll do the work to control my behavior, and I’ll embrace the fact that I am who I am and I’ll never be anything other than who I am now.

The problem with this one is that, at some point, I will no longer be who I am now. That brings me a smidge of hope. I don’t want to be who I am right now forever, though I really don’t want to be any different than I am right now.

To be a little more clear, I know that I must live a life of submission to Jesus. I know that living a life of rebellion and hedonism will bring a load of pain and cold into my world. I also know that God is not ashamed of me (or any of you for that matter) in my broken state, weakness, and sickness.

The hard thing for me to wrestle with is this…

What does it mean to be healthy?

Does it mean to be happy, mostly, and be sad sometimes?

Does it mean that being melancholic and sad are symptoms of something wrong?

What if, as I am now, is as healthy as I will ever be, and as healthy as Jesus wants me to be? What if the redemptive work, the work for which Jesus is absolutely sufficient, is not a work for my happiness, but is instead a work for His glory. What if I’m supposed to trust that He will give me a family who will love me deeply in all of this, regardless of how hard it is for them sometimes? What if I’m supposed to trust that He will give me a job that provides for my shelter, food, and some fun things despite my almost crippling avolition.

To be sure, I don’t have many answers. This I believe:

God is real.

I am a Christian.

I am loved.

I am depressed.

I am ashamed.

I’m Not So Sure I Want to Know the Holy Spirit

I don’t think I really want to know the Holy Spirit.

At least, not at this point in my immature life.

I heard a guy talking today about people who spent time praying and asking for the Holy Spirit to reveal Himself to them. It was really neat listening to this man talks about these other people’s experiences. Nothing flashy, nothing wild. The crux was that each of these dudes spent time asking for a deeper understanding or experience with the Holy Spirit, they each got what they asked for, though none of the details of their experiences were shared. The take away for this man was that every one of those people lived radically different lives afterward.


After the conversation, I thought, “I want to do that. I want to do what these men have done and have a radically different life.”


Then I thought about the stories I have heard. Jacob had a great experience with the Holy Spirit and walked with a limp forever afterward. Paul had a major experience with the Holy Spirit and it left him blind for several days. John had an experience with the Holy Spirit and it left him sick to his stomach.


I think I’ve grown so comfortable in my life that I don’t give much thought to the Holy Spirit. I live in a reasonable, tangible, real world. As I wander through this concept, I wonder if my comfortable life has separated me from being sensitive to the Holy Spirit.


And that is where the first line of this comes from. If truly knowing, understanding deeply, connecting with the Holy Spirit results in shaking of life, a shuddering of reality, a limp, blindness, a bitter stomach, anything other than what I have now or what I want later, I don’t know If I am yet ready to know the Holy Spirit. I don’t know if I’m really ready to sacrifice the good that I have in order to move into the greatness of what God has determined for me.


I want to have an experience like these other men. I want to live a life that is radically different. But at the same time, I want to live the same life I am living now.


I guess the real question is what do I consider to be the ideal life. Is it the same that I have now? Is it radically different? To loosely quote Jim Elliot Am I willing to give what I cannot keep to gain what I cannot lose?


And more to the point…


Do I really want to know the Holy Spirit?

Aviate, Navigate, Communicate

I love flying.  I’m not a pilot, but I’ve flown a handful of times and absolutely love it.  I’ve been fortunate enough to see inside that world a time or two, and I have picked up some of the mantras along the way.  This is one of them.

Priority of tasks while flying:  Aviate, Navigate, Communicate.

What good is knowing where we are going, and communicating with other pilots, air traffic control, or passengers, if the aircraft has lost the ability to stay aloft and is plummeting to the earth?  Gotta keep the plane in the air first and foremost… Aviate!

Before spending time and energy communicating, we need to know where we are going.  There is only so much fuel onboard and we only have so much time to get on course, or to find a safe place to land, both of which require us to… Navigate!

Airplane is stable in flight and we are on a safe course?  Awesome!  Lets talk… Communicate!

Part of me wants to apologize for the silence, part of me wants to tell you that we just weathered a tremendous storm and so my focus was on priorities 1 and 2.  Sometimes just 1.

Most of me wants to detach even further, drift into the mountains with my family, and never speak of these years again.

Truth is, I know, even if I never speak of these years again, I will feel them forever.

It has been a very rough couple years.  By a “couple” I mean, all the way back from April 2014, that fateful day when we departed the paradise we called Washington State and the family we developed there.  Over the last 4 years we have been through almost 2 years deployed, a death in the family, Lyme disease, a cardiac emergency, a cancer diagnosis, a severely damaged house, sustained loss of rental income, foreclosure, a move overseas, and 1 hospitalized child in a Japanese hospital.  The job I am currently doing is rough…  we’ll leave it there.

The rest of this year is looking every bit as difficult!

Things got heavy enough on me that I would come home from work and sit in my van in front of my house for 45 minutes sometimes.  I felt a crushing cold detachment.  I knew that inside my house was warmth, comfort, solace.  I knew that my kids were a huge source of that warmth!  Their innocence and their love for me is palpable.  I knew that, as soon as I walked inside, I would suck the very life out of room, the very blood from the marrow.  I couldn’t do that, so I would sit in the van trying to get it together.  A couple times I would see window blinds shake and a minute later kids bursting forth from the house and running to the van.

I would paste on a peaceful face and I would smile at them while dying on the inside.  It never failed though, true love drives out fear!  Those kids love me so much!!  I’d go inside with them and would immediately drown in their stories from the day, questions about everything under the sun, and invitations to play.

Who knew that their innocence would save me?  And man alive do I need saving!! Every. Single. Day!

In the midst of these difficult times, I came to see that bringing the poison home, I would infect my family.  Love seems to be stronger than that.  Innocent love seems to work the other way.  I come with my broken heart, my head full of trouble, dripping the poison of the day, and walk into a realm of love, and I am healed, I come out clean, and the love is not diminished a single bit.

So that’s where we’ve been.  While the rest of this year is looking difficult, I am doing MUCH better and the family is doing awesome.  I am so glad I get to be a part of this family.

It got tricky… but we were able to Aviate and Navigate…  now we’ll communicate!

Thanks for reading and, to those who sent messages, thanks for encouraging me to keep my head up and to get back to writing.

 

 

Me? A Farmer?

I have spent several weeks on vacation and it has been great.  I have been able to reconnect with my kids and my wife and have recovered a lot of my sanity.  I like to take time and think about where I have been, what I have done, read, seen, and who I have become every now and then.  These last few years have been pretty rough and I haven’t really been in a position to spend a lot of time thinking.  Thankfully I was able to do that during this vacation too.

Funny enough… my heart seems to be drawn to farming.  I’ve kicked that idea around before, but really just as a daydream, kill some time, “wouldn’t it be fun if…” kind of thoughts.  I readily recognize that those thoughts are very romanticized and not an accurate depiction of what that life would look like.

I want to share my current thoughts with y’all.

Talents and Gifts

I think that I am a charismatic person, communicate well, establish healthy team cultures, teach well, and lead well.  I really enjoy meeting with people and talking about life.  I enjoy sharing my life with people and encouraging them through hard times or helping them put the broken pieces of their hearts back together.  The vision of my life is that I will live to see the broken hearts bound up, the wounded healed, and the captives set free.  I have poured my heart and soul into this vision and have seen some really cool things in the lives of other people.  Jessica and I have seen infidelity in marriages be replaced with tenderness and genuine love between husband and wife.  We have seen men who were abused as kids, harboring anger and ill will towards their abusers, gain the ability to forgive their abusers, let go of their bitterness, find healing, and develop healthy relationships with those around them.  Jesus has brought me into people’s lives and given me the gifts needed to see so many people helped.

I am concerned that, should I actually start farming, I will no longer be able to invest these gifts as I would like.  All of those things involved people.  Lots of time with people.  I wonder how much time I will actually have with people if we end up moving to a farm after retirement.  I don’t know if I am ready to let go of what I thought the future investments of my life would look like.

Leisure and Adventure

I really love being deep in the wilderness.  By far my favorite hobby is hunting.  Not from a tree stand over a food plot, but after getting deep into the mountains and glassing hillsides and valleys.  I have always pictured my future being one in which we live a suburban life, almost constant contact with people, with relatively long breaks of wilderness time for me.  Camping trips with the family for a week at a time, road trips across a state or 2 to go hunting and fishing with a couple of guys, drive half way across the country to canoe or kayak some epic river.

I am concerned that with a farm, I will not be able to have these adventures.  The farm work must go on.  I know this is probably not that big of a deal, but in my head, the planner that I am, it is a concern on the list.  Who will watch the farm, milk the cows, feed the chickens and hogs, while I am out gallivanting around the wilderness?  How will I afford these trips?  It isn’t a secret… Farming is not a great money making enterprise!   The kind of farming I am thinking about… even less so.  I don’t know if I am read to give up what my future adventures would look like.

Family and Friends

The lines between family and friends for Team Hitefield have been blurred for Jessica and I so many times.  I have driven myself to the edge of tears while contemplating where we will live.  I have no “roots”.  I was born in one place, raised across several states, crossed the major milestones of my development and honed my identity literally around the world.  Those who hold the strings which weave the very fabric of my being are stretched from California to Washington, from Maine to Florida.   How can I possibly commit to owning a piece of land and a group of structures that will keep me permanently tied to a single spot.  Simultaneously basking in the warmth of deepening relationships with those who are near us while being parched by the distance from those far away.  Having grown accustomed to moving and making epic cross country road trips every couple  years, I don’t know if I am ready to give up the relationships which have been placed on hold.

Farming, as Jessica and I think about it, is so vastly different from anything we have ever thought about or planned before.  Living in town, working as a counselor, leading small groups and teams of volunteers in the community, and drifting from place to place was a comforting blanket for me.  The idea of picking a spot on the ground, raising a house, and plunging my roots feels cold.

… and is maddeningly exciting.

We may not do this at all.  But it is very much a stir in my heart at the moment.

I will write again in a few days and post the ideas that Jessica and I have about the farm itself.  We have already gotten the question, “What kind of farm”  and “What will you be farming” several times.  This next post will explain all of that.

I am so not an artist. I have tried so many times to draw and nothing comes of it. I wonder sometimes if the woodworking tools that I have will one day stand as rusty statues to a life that I wanted and yet was never able to enjoy for the lack of a creative artistic nature. I wrote poetry years ago. So many long years ago. I write this now.

 

I thought for the longest time that I was thinker and out of touch with emotions. Over the years I have come to understand that I am, in fact a thinker, and I am deeply emotional. My problem is that I communicate as a thinker. I receive as a thinker. My emotions are not expressed as emotions but as thoughts and therefore tend to be received as thoughts vice feelings. People do not connect with me through thoughts. Sadly, I do not connect with others through thoughts. While deep and difficult conversations are the very fires of the forge within me, I am unable to wrap myself in the security of warm connected relationships with them. For that I need to be able to express what I feel. I need to know that what I feel is understood by those around me, and I need to understand what is felt by them.

 

My dad, my brother, my wife, and my oldest daughter are artists. I see how they pour their hearts into the work of their hands; they express their emotions through their art. I spend a lot of time trying to pour mine out to no avail.

 

I think that is more or less what this blog is for me. While it is read and understood, I think it is received as the thoughts of my head, the arguments of my life, and the defining points of my being. But on my end these words are much more than that. They are the very pencils of my brother’s hand, the fondant on my wife’s counter, and the mahogany-western red cedar-white cedar sun rays on the lid of my dad’s box.

 

There are no thoughts in this post.

 

I am alone. I have the weight of so many things on my shoulders. I am a buffer between a good group of people and a coward the likes of which I have never seen. I am in dire straits because of a house I own in North Carolina. I am less than 4 years from a major career change with no real dreams or ambitions and no education. I am separated from my wife and kids and will be separated from them for a very significant portion of the next couple years. I see some great relationships behind me as well as a painful trail of broken ones. It seems that I have finally become awake to the very things my family needs and I am excited to provide, but I am relegated into a form of observation without the privilege of involvement.

 

There’s really nothing to read here.

 

I’m just sad.

 

And I am not able to read any comments, so there really isn’t any reason to leave them.

 

I am confident that I will see my family again, that the little time we have together will be grand and wonderfully uplifting for us all, and that my kids love me even if they don’t know how to express it.

 

Well… now that I have written this, I feel much better. I feel as though there is no reason to post it! I feel I will get encouraging responses that are not needed now. I actually feel pretty great!

I think I’ll go to the gym.

The Only Way I Seem to Express Me

I am so not an artist. I have tried so many times to draw and nothing comes of it. I wonder sometimes if the woodworking tools that I have will one day stand as rusty statues to a life that I wanted and yet was never able to enjoy for the lack of a creative artistic nature. I wrote poetry years ago. So many long years ago. I write this now.

 

I thought for the longest time that I was thinker and out of touch with emotions. Over the years I have come to understand that I am, in fact a thinker, and I am deeply emotional. My problem is that I communicate as a thinker. I receive as a thinker. My emotions are not expressed as emotions but as thoughts and therefore tend to be received as thoughts vice feelings. People do not connect with me through thoughts. Sadly, I do not connect with others through thoughts. While deep and difficult conversations are the very fires of the forge within me, I am unable to wrap myself in the security of warm connected relationships with them. For that I need to be able to express what I feel. I need to know that what I feel is understood by those around me, and I need to understand what is felt by them.

 

My dad, my brother, my wife, and my oldest daughter are artists. I see how they pour their hearts into the work of their hands; they express their emotions through their art. I spend a lot of time trying to pour mine out to no avail.

 

I think that is more or less what this blog is for me. While it is read and understood, I think it is received as the thoughts of my head, the arguments of my life, and the defining points of my being. But on my end these words are much more than that. They are the very pencils of my brother’s hand, the fondant on my wife’s counter, and the mahogany-western red cedar-white cedar sun rays on the lid of my dad’s box.

 

There are no thoughts to this post.

 

I am alone. I have the weight of so many things on my shoulders. I am a buffer between a good group of people and a coward the likes of which I have never seen. I am in dire straits because of a house I own in North Carolina. I am less than 4 years from a major career change with no real dreams or ambitions and no education. I am separated from my wife and kids and will be separated from them for a very significant portion of the next couple years. I see some great relationships behind me as well as a painful trail of broken ones. It seems that I have finally become awake to the very things my family needs and I am excited to provide, but I am relegated into a form of observation without the privilege of involvement.

 

There’s really nothing to read here.

 

I’m just sad.

 

And I am not able to read any comments, so there really isn’t any reason to leave them.

 

I am confident that I will see my family again, that the little time we have together will be grand and wonderfully uplifting for us all, and that my kids love me even if they don’t know how to express it.

 

Well… now that I have written this, I feel much better. I feel as though there is no reason to post it! I feel I will get encouraging responses that are not needed now. I actually feel pretty great!

I think I’ll go to the gym.

Church Influence and Weeping

I have waited more than a year to post this.  I wrote it in July of 2015 and did not post it because I was afraid it would offend somebody.  The truth is that I have been (and still am) wrestling deeply with these ideas.  The debate to post wavered back and forth…

 

 

A couple thoughts float around in my head.  I hear phrases like:

More seeker friendly, less seekers coming in

and

Increasing focus on being culturally relevant, decreasing influence in culture…  ergo less relevant?

And I am saddened.  I am hurt.  I am confused.  I get frustrated.  I feel as though I have no voice in this culture even though it is very much my culture.

If the point of the church is to influence the local community, what are we to do when the local community communicates with resounding solidarity that they don’t care about what we have to say?  We are no longer being ignored with polite passive aggressive behavior, we are being told quite clearly that we are not wanted, what we have to say is offensive and we are to keep it to ourselves.  There is not just a practice of ignoring us, there is a confidence in pushing back and silencing us.  I would say this pretty clearly communicates that we, the Church, have in fact, FAILED to accomplish our mission.

I said it.  We have failed as a Church.

Barna group reports increasing growth in church attendance.  Filling pews is not the mission of the church.  If the idea is that, the more people in the pews, the more people get to hear the Gospel, then it is not Church. That would be called Sunday Morning Evangelism.  Other research from the Southern Baptist Convention and Barna group state that a major trend is growing in which people are receiving discipleship, community, and other Christian involvement in small groups of less than 20 people and rarely or never attend a “church.”.

This tells me that there are still people who want what the Church is supposed to be giving.  So why would they stop going to Sunday Morning Worship and start doing things not in the “church”?  Because the Church is failing to feed.  Where do sheep go when the flock is on dry, grassless ground?  They wonder off looking for grass… or die.  I have heard church leadership lash out against people who are Christians, who are involved in the local church community, who are active in reading and studying their Bibles and having daily time with Jesus, but who say they are tired of church.  The response to these weary, active Believers by some church leaders is to chastise and rebuke them.  In turn, these folks turn and say they are done.

If the church’s mission is to encourage the members of the church, equip and train the members of the church, and send those members out into the local culture with the purpose of influencing that culture…  What’s happening?  A quick look at the division of our nation will clearly indicate that the ministers of reconciliation are not making much headway in reconciling.  Instead of seeing healing and community springing forth in our streets, we are seeing division, and not just in our communities, but in our churches too.

What are we to do when we see that our current model is not working?  What is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?

We have to separate emotions and tradition from what is going on around us.  We can feel uncomfortable in the discussion of reforming the current, modern practices of church, and then get to fixing ourselves, or we can silence that conversation because of what we “know”, think, and feel and then, in time, have nobody left in the church to have that conversation with.

I think, as a shepherd, as a church, as a community, step one is to spend some time prayerfully evaluating.  It is the only thing that makes sense.  I would suggest listing out on a big board everything that the church is doing.  Meeting on Sunday, midweek meeting on Wednesday, youth group, singing before sermon, communion once a month, communion each Sunday, offering plates passed, offering boxes in the back, small groups…  EVERYTHING.  Then write next to each of these topics the simple question…  Why?

Why?

Search your Bibles and list scripture next to each of these things.  If you find there are no scriptures, or very few, to support the “What”, then we need to evaluate the priority that is placed on it by the church.  For instance, what scripture can you point to that models or sets a precedent for singing songs before receiving some sort of message?  I don’t know of any.  So why are we doing this?  What would happen if the elders of a church were to join each other on stage and say to the congregation, “Starting next Sunday, we will have the sermon first, followed by singing”. Who wants to staff that church office during the following week to answer the phones that will surely be ringing off the hook.

What about the meeting on Sunday mornings and being done by a strict time prior to lunch?  I can find scripture that talks about folks worshiping all day and through lunch.  Again, what would happen if the Elders stood together and said, “No more strict time schedule like a TV production.  We will start with singing, we will move into a sermon, then we will move into a time for the congregation to give testimonies of their interaction with God during the previous week and a time of adults reciting passages of scripture which they have memorized.  This may take awhile, plan on bringing a lunch.  We will not be pausing”.

I know of only a few mandates placed upon the Church by Jesus.  One is “Go into all the World and make Disciples”.  Are we doing this?  And don’t say “yes” because your church has a discipleship ministry, or because you have small groups, or because y’all have done studies on discipleship.  I have a good friend who told me one time that they were excited to be involved in a discipleship ministry so that they could communicate to the folks involved that discipleship can be a long distance thing, done every other week or once a month.  After a little bit of questioning, it became clear that this person’s idea was that they could remain distant, answer questions, give suggestions, and watch the growth occur.  Discipleship?  Absolutely not!!  Will the other person grow?  Possibly, maybe, if they are actually in scripture and prayer, more than likely.  But this is not discipleship… not life on life… not intimate… not like Jesus and His DISCIPLES… not like Paul telling Timothy to “take the things which you have seen in me (actions/behaviors/attitude/character/skills) and pass them on (not teach, pass… model and train) to faithful men…”.

And this is the crux of the failure.  Not the stuff I listed above, though that stuff needs to be sorted out.  We have become a culture of Christians who are lazy, takers of a social organization which seeks to teach while being entertaining enough to hold the attention of the attendees.  I have seen this model before… I used to see it all the time right around breakfast in my house.

We called it Dora the Explorer.  My kids would stop what they were doing in their normal, active lives, spend a given period of time being both entertained and taught, and when the program was over, they returned to their lives.  Interestingly enough, I can ask me kids about Spanish words and they know the answers.  They can hold their own in discussions about Swipe and Boots, but they NEVER mix Spanish into their daily vernacular.  They NEVER come ask me if we will have a Fuego after supper.  They have received knowledge which has not led to any transformation of their daily lives.

The church has effectively taken this model, and it is producing the intended effect.  Educating and bringing familiarity with the subject to the learners.  Christians should feel good knowing that, should they ever encounter a moment when the HAVE to speak about Christianly things, they can have the right answers.  Interestingly enough, as this has occurred, the world around us has said, “We don’t care about your answers any longer”. Christians have responded by setting aside their answers because they are not a natural part of their lives and have instead moved to being culturally accepted… which is what is normally occurring in their daily, natural lives.

Here I sit, each Sunday, watching us do the same thing we did last Sunday, the same thing the Sunday before, and before that.  Each Sunday I watch the smiles, and hear the conversations, and each week I watch as we become more and more marginalized.  I am afraid I don’t think I can do this much longer.  I don’t set aside a couple hours a week to sit in a stationary car.  I know there are benefits to sitting in a stationary car, it would keep me dry if it rains, it gives me a place to sit and relax away from standard distractions where I can meditate, or sing without the worry of being judged by those around me.  But I don’t do it.  Because that is not what the car is for.  So why am I filling a pew during Sunday morning social club and calling it Church?

It’s not.  Pop culture and Christian culture may both call it Church, it might be on the sign, it might be labeled this by history and tradition.  But this is not what I see defined in Scripture as church.

I understand that there are some of these communities on Sunday mornings that are, in fact, still a Church.  I applaud them and pray for them.

But I think I am done with the standard Sunday morning system.  Good people, looking for something more…  Good people on stage doing what they know to do with noble, honest hearts…  Good people on all accounts performing in a culture which has been influenced by the world in which we live…  backwards if you ask me.

I wept in anger a couple weeks ago as I saw Christians on Facebook attacking other Christians on Facebook because of their responses to a shift in our culture regarding more than one issue.

“My people perish for a lack of knowledge.”

I just don’t know if I can keep participating in a cultural organization with a clearly defined purpose when they have effectively and clearly failed to accomplish that purpose… and then refuse to reevaluate what they are doing and instead, like ostriches with their heads in the sand, continue to do what they have always done and expecting things to change.

I am not hear to be entertained.

This is not merely a hospital for the sick.

I am here to be equipped and encouraged.  I am here to equip and to encourage.

This is the meeting place of warriors.  To train.  To learn.  To rest.  To heal.  To be built back up for the brutal fight known as influencing a culture.

I guess it is time for me to look for those warriors who, like me, are wanting more and are being equipped for the battle.  I’m looking for the people who are longing to engage the cutlure in whcih they live and I believe I will find them, whether it is in a pew on a Sunday Morning, or on a couch on Friday Night.  And we will engage.

 

 

 

Missing My Kids

I wish no longer to see the breathtaking sunrises and sunsets over distant shores, to smell the fresh baked breads of cultures unknown, to taste the foods adored by peoples whose legacy is one of adventurous travel, to walk the streets of exotic nations as they celebrate the achievements of their past forgotten empires… If I have to do these things alone.

I just want to be with my family.  Wherever that may be.

I am naturally given to a cold distant disposition.  Detached and disconnected.  Partially due to the wounds of my past, and partially due to the natural tendencies of my personality.  This easy detachment serves me well in a lot of the areas of my life.  Slipping into this detachment is easy.  Climbing back to the realm of being emotionally connected is not.  I have spent untold hours and sleepless nights praying and wrestling with this struggle. I know my wife and kids want my attention and my affection and I enjoy giving this to them.  I find that I am only able to provide what they need when I am fully awake, fully engaged.

I have seen a tremendous amount of ground gained in my ability to navigate between the moments that need me to be cool, discerning, emotionally detached and the moments that need me to be warm and connected.  So much has changed in the lives of my kids and in my marriage as I have learned how to “wake up” when they need me.

But in moments like these, I feel how easily I turn off my heart.  How easily I switch into a kind of auto pilot and go through the motions of living.  I am something like a robot zombie performing tasks and seeking the basic needs of survival.  I am good at living like this, I’ve been practicing it for the last 16  years.  I spend time praying and meditating, putting in the work to see my life healed so that I can be the dad my kids need and the husband my wife wants and I can see the fruit of this labor.

As I sit here alone, I feel the sadness and the ache of my heart while thinking about the family I have left behind.  There is a pull for me to disengage, get wrapped up with this life around me and let the affection and longing for my family drift away as I have done so many times in the past.  I don’t want to do it like that anymore.  It feels like eating cake for a week straight and skipping the squats after months and months of training so hard under a bar.  I can’t simply undo the fragile work which I have labored so diligently to achieve.

Attempting to remain emotionally engaged and connected has produced a couple things on this trip that I have not dealt with before.  A deep sadness, and a resentment towards my job.  I have never resented my job before.  I have downright hated parts of it from time to time, but I have never felt a sincere resentment towards this organization. I’ll figure out what to do with that I am sure.

I am happy that I am living this struggle.  I hope that new life will flow freely through my family before it is too late for us.  I hope that I get to see my wife and kids again.

And I am sure that it I am ready to move on from the Navy.

 

 

Surprisingly Jealous of a Pharmacist

I wrote this almost 6 months ago and sat on it.  I wanted to make sure that I was not just letting emotional lightning scorch the keys and then publish a vain and wayward post.  As I have had my coffee with Jesus over the last several months, I still feel the same way… even though some things have changed.  So…

 

Jealous may not be the word I am looking for, or even the best word to describe what I am feeling, but what I feel seems to feel a lot like jealousy.

And why wouldn’t I be jealous?

Meet Dan.

I have seen Dan struggle, think, sacrifice, and work like a mule in order to become a pharmacist.  (I still don’t see how it is all that hard though, I mean, you’re just counting pills and calling people’s names right?  Just Kidding!) I have seen Dan persevere through some mentally and emotionally grueling days and I rejoiced with him and his family when he landed a job.  Albeit a LONG commute each day from home and not quite the environment that he had hoped for, but a job none the less.

When we made our detour trip through Washington en route to Japan, Dan picked us up from SeaTac.  He told me about this great opportunity that, more or less, just fell in his lap.  As Dan was telling me the ins and outs of what was going on, I was getting super excited for him.  I felt as though he was scared of committing to this new opportunity.  Did I mention that Dan is a calm, quiet, gentle man?  Though I was busting at the seams with excitement for him, I tried to temper that and merely encourage him to take the offer, or at least meet with whoever he needed to meet with to see if things really were going to be as good as they sounded.  Were it my decision, I would have jumped at it in a heartbeat.

My family stayed with Dan and his family while in town and used his home and backyard as a defacto base of operations.  We had many MANY late LATE nights with some of the people we were involved with before we left the Great State of Washington.  12108974_10153654713010682_7792035204522113729_n

 

Dan sat with me every night that I was there.  His house became a revolving door of men, one at a time, or married couples, coming in and going out almost constantly in order to spend time with me or my wife and I (and sometimes just my wife) and Dan was by my side for almost every bit of it.  These people would share with us the joys and sorrows, the victories and struggles of their lives over the last year or so and would look to Jessica and I for advice, counsel, and encouragement… which we were STOKED to give.  (Something in me just comes magnificently alive when I get to function in this role)  I would listen and would engage, all the while noticing that Dan would have his fingers running at mach 3 through the pages of his Bible.  At one point it seemed like he had 13 fingers holding 15 different passages of scripture in queue.  Dan would say nothing… or almost nothing… most of the time.  When he would speak up, I would be blown away by the depth of his wisdom and insight.  Every.  Single.  Time.

When Dan and I would talk after all of the visitors had left, I would be amazed at how concerned Dan would seem.  These meetings were adventurous bouts of spiritual and emotional grappling which fuel my fire and leave me refreshed and encouraged at the end of the night.  Did y’all catch that?  These long hours and stressful, delicate conversations  leave me refreshed and encouraged.  These meetings are things that I pursue and run after, engaging every chance I get with little hesitation.  Like jumping out of the car and running down a wilderness trail with reckless abandon.  Dan seemed to view these meetings with… um…  well… with what seemed like a bit more maturity.  He seemed to be, at the same time, intimidated and confident, simultaneously academic and studious while being deeply burdened and frankly concerned.

This seems to have rabbit trailed from why I am jealous of a pharmacist to simply being a tribute to my Bro-mantic feelings for Dan.  I digress.

Why am I jealous of this man?  He has been deeply blessed in a very real, tangible, public way.  That is what fuels my jealousy.  This is such a problem for me.  I see Dan’s life and I see the principles and themes present therein and I immediately think that if I apply these to my life, then I too will be blessed in a truly deep, tangible, and public way.  If I make the right sacrifices, if I work hard enough, if I study long enough, if I persevere and endure the hardships, then one day I too will be as blessed a man as Dan.

How ridiculous is that?!?!

While Dan did work and sacrifice, he was not blessed because of these things, he was blessed because he was a man of integrity who spent time in the word and on his knees before God.  Every conversation that Dan sat in on while I was there was, for him, an exercise in blowing through the scriptures finding dozens of references that applied to EVERY topic we were discussing.  That cannot be faked.  That cannot be developed in a matter of weeks or even months.  That is the evidence of a man who knows the cannon of Scripture.  Likewise no amount of hard work alone will result in the kind of blessing in my life that Dan is seeing in his… that is a result of falling broken and contrite, scared and alone at the mercy of Jesus.

And one more thing…  why am I chasing His public, tangible blessing with such fervor when what I should be chasing is simply intimacy with Christ?

And if that wasn’t enough, why do I feel so moved and motivated to see such a blessing in my life… as though being healthy, having such great relationships with my wife and kids isn’t enough?

I know.  I can be so shallow sometimes.

Dan, if you are reading this, I am proud of you (and I feel a lot like a little boy saying that to an adult).

Truly I am.

 

 

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

 

I sent this to Dan in order to get his perspective and permission to post this.  I sent it to him almost 6 months ago and the following paragraphs are an excerpt from his response.  I hope y’all can hear the depth of this mans heart.  I have a deep yearning to sit again with this man and his bride by a fire.

 

When I was reading what you wrote I was really thinking, “I had no idea he thought that way.”  I honestly did not know you understood why I am who I am and the beatings required to walk this road.

Things that are true:  When I was at [Grocery Store] as a pharmacist, I was taken emotionally and mentally to my very limit.  I would have lines of people who had come to speak to me; a couple that had just lost their first child at the very end of  pregnancy, a man just diagnosed with a brain tumor, a woman who had just been raped, a mother with 3 children who just found out she had 3 months to live, an old man whose wife of over 50 years had just passed.  All of these one after another after another.  It wears on you.  I do struggle, I feel burdened, intimidated, concerned and find it hard to keep up in conversation with quick thinning people.  I do try to be calm and gentle.  I want to be mature, studious, wise, insightful, quick-thinking, and easily able to navigate scripture to the exact reference.  It is very true that I feel very blessed.  God has provided a new pharmacy with an owner who expects me to be in prayer.  My wife is a blessing to me and all those she comes into contact with.  She is a far better pharmacist than I am and yet she has sacrificed a career which she loves to serve our family and God.  My oldest son as a teenager is thinking about others and praying that he and his friends would delight in reading the Bible and loves time together as a family.  My younger 2 children have confessed that they are children of God.  God has richly blessed us beyond what I could have planned out.  Not one of these things is because of me, they are in spite of me.

 

He says “In spite of me.

 

Funny thing is… a few months after he sent me his response, he told me that the new pharmacy job dried up and life again was looking difficult in front of him.  His question to me…

“Still Jealous?”

 

And my answer…

 

Yes, Dan, I am.  Why wouldn’t I be?

 

…  and again, Jealous may not be the best word to describe it anway!

 

 

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