Confronting Manhood: Breaking Camp

Breaking Camp

            A man is called to adventure when the time comes to leave the home of his mother and father, it’s echo’s the words of Genesis 2:24: This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh. This is the reality for most abled bodied men, parents know that the day will eventually arrive, and the father usual takes it better than the mother. The mother typically wrestles more when their son or daughter leaves home and embarks on the journey and adventure of them, because there is a fear that overcomes them, usually about the safety and well-being being of their child. Any parent that had any amount of sense to them would feel this way, even that of a rugged and strong father. Imagine if your son or daughter was born with a disability, the fear that would fill a parent then. That sense of freedom and adventure still fills them as well.

My mother and I have butted head quite a few times, one of which times was when the desire for me to attend college, away from home. She didn’t like the idea at all, in fact she shot it down and told me that the only way that attending college would be a reality, was if it was online. Her reasoning was that it would be much safer for me, and she could help should something happen to me. And as much as she shot down my desire to attend college outside of the home, the more the desire for me to fight for what I wanted came out. We had a few several heated arguments, at this time the ability to be able to control my emotions was rather difficult and thinking before the words came out of my mouth didn’t exist as a practice. My mother is a very stubborn woman in nature, and she doesn’t back down until she gets what she desires, so you can naturally see where my same attitude comes from.

            My father graciously took me to tour a few college campuses in town, truthfully, which could have been any local college, but it was the size of a few colleges freaked me out and ultimately it seemed right to me to choose a very small faith-based college. After getting accepted to the college of my choosing, which was a very simple and straight forward process, came the time to pack up my things in move into my dorm. If my memory serves me correct, my mom stayed home and my dad and sister helped me move into my dorm, my mom had tears in her eyes as we were leaving. Which in a way made me feel bad, but this was something that God has called me to do, and when he commands, you execute the mission at hand. There was even uneasiness in my own heart because of the realm of “no man’s” land that awaited me. After several hours and trips back and forth from my dorm room, it was time for my family to leave. My dad tried to play it tough, but deep down, he was terrified as well.

It wasn’t as though, there were hundreds of miles from home either, literally the span of time was twenty minutes. The four and a half years that was my college experience was some of the best years of my life, but my God did learning come through hardship and even pain. One day in the cafeteria while trying to transport a cup a coffee to the table while driving my scooter, sometimes my brain didn’t connect the dots, between turning the speed down on my scooter and the hot cup of coffee held between my legs. The coffee spilled all over my lap, which was a very painful and frankly embarrassing experience. Or in a similar experience, but only dropping an entire plate of food on the ground. There isn’t another time in my life, where the struggle was so real, apart from recovering from a severe operation, but you know what? It was deeply-deeply satisfying to my soul.

            This has been one of the most profound regrets of my life, was that there wasn’t room for much struggle and toil in my life. Well, why would you want struggle and toil in your life? You might ask, because you find out what you can do as a man, and when you overcome a challenge in life, you feel as though you were Samson, who killed a lion with his bare hands. Sometimes parents of children who have disabilities ask me for advice on how to raise their children, there’s no real words of inspiration, but in a frank and compassionate way, I tell them that eventually you must let your children struggle and fight. Love them yes, care for them yes, but sometimes love is letting a person experience things for themselves. This isn’t to say, that you should be careless with your child and let them do horrible dangerous actions because they’ll learn. The point is that when it comes to mastering their lives, they must know how to succeed and thrive in hard times.

                         Whether that’s learning how to cook, tie shoes, button up a shirt and so on. It may be difficult for a parent to stand back to hear your child to become frustrated and even cry. But when they overcome the challenge in front of them, they will gain a confidence in themselves and be ready to take on the next. There is always the reality of adaption, meaning that if something is physically out of the realm of possibility for them, because of lack of dexterity in the hands find a device that can that reality more doable. Example being, tying my own shoes was nothing something that was very doable because of the lack of dexterity in my right hand, so my sister went to a shoe store and got me some shoelaces, that you didn’t need to tie, but pull for you shoe to become tighter on my feet. In terms of buttoning my ow shirt, some buttons are far easier than others, or I’ve learned that if buying a shirt that’s dressier I’ll simply put the shirt over my head without unbuttoning the shirt all together.

There’s almost always a way to adapt to a situation in life, we only must be willing to find that solution. The plea that is in my heart for parents who have disabled children is beyond what words can possibly express. There’re are profound consequences if you do not allow your children to grow, not only will their growth be stunted in every sense of the word, but they may never get to fully embrace the dreams that God has breathed into their hearts. Worse yet, if you do not allow them to grow and move into the world in as much as they can, the chances of the developing a great amount of shame within themselves is very high. Speaking from experience, the intense shame that I’ve battled for thirty-seven years of my life has been much. Sometimes the shame was so intensifying that the longing for sleep was my only way to obtain peace. Trying to mount any sort of fight against it proved to be futile. The shame that made its home inside me, seemed like a resident that would never leave, and one that was better off accepted as reality.

            The more that the attempt was made to simply shrug my shoulders, and the reality that was before me. The more unsettled my spirit became. My spirit became increasingly unsettled because on the inside of me, was the inclination that there was far more to my existence than even realized. Getting to a point where the culmination of my life’s purpose was before was a completely different story. The few things that have ever filled me with passion and fulfillment was writing, martial arts and fitness, and by the grace of God those avenues have been used to help others but not to the potential of what I believed to be right. The vision that unfolds in the sketch pad of my mind, was being a best-selling author, and helping others become healthier safer by the hundreds. It can be said that life doesn’t always work out the way we planned it. But we damn sure, should be able to take aim at the highest marker possible.  It is better to aim and miss then to not have aimed at all. 

Sadly, a good deal of the clients that I’ve worked with haven’t been able to take that aim either. As one that works as a fitness, nutrition, and health coach, most of my clients end up wanting to share their stories with me. The story is much of the same, they spend most of their time at home within different family dynamics. Many of them on some level of fixed income, some even have no means of transportation and or healthy amounts of in person social life. As a result, most of their mode of being is spent online via social media and other means of communication. These are in some ways, the forgotten people of society, both men and women. Meaning that they aren’t readily seen as the ones will conquer and make a difference in the world. They must fight harder to be recognized. Many of the clients that I’ve worked with over the past few years, have echoed the same feelings that their lives at times, are utterly meaningless and worthless. As though they will never get to embrace the adventure and longings that are indwelled within them. The simple way of saying it, is that they fear that they will never get the independence they long for.

            The increasing difficult as a coach to inspire, share empathy and share wisdom, while fighting those realities myself is monumental. As a man, it is even more agonizing to the soul. Primally speaking the man is the one who is meant to go out and hunt. The word hunt, in this sense is used as the means to gather the things needed for survival, not only of the self but of the pack (the pack meaning family). Women largely do not select a man, who cannot go out into the wilderness of life and hunt for the betterment of the tribe. More in the nature of how they are wired, than mere coldness, though it can be portrayed that way. It can be a very difficult and taxing reality to swallow as a disabled man. It is a reality that we should come to terms with, not in a hopeless or blind acceptance, but one with increasing optimism.       

The biblical figure of Abraham was 70 years old before God called him to pack up and leave all the comforts of home. He and his wife were also without children, the age of Abraham never truly stood out to me, until the moment the journey began through the bible again, my eyes saw the number of age his was and a sense of panic filled me. “what!? No God I can’t be like Abraham!” being 70 years old living with my family still, let alone with no children of my own. You see though, Abraham is the definition of the increasing optimism that was mentioned above. As Romans 4:17-19 informs us:

17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.”[a] He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.

17 As it is written: I have made you the father of many nations[a]—in the presence of the God in whom he believed,the one who gives life to the dead and calls things into existence that do not exist. 18 He believed, hoping against hope, so that he became the father of many nations[b] according to what had been spoken: So will your descendants be.[c] 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered[d] his own body to be already dead (since he was about a hundred years old) and also the deadness of Sarah’s womb.

Others translation use the wording of “without weaking in his faith.” Or “against all hope.  The fact is this, he never gave up even in the moments where he or his wife felt discouraged. Our own inner dispositions must be the same, so much that no matter how long it takes us to reach the destination that God has destined us for, by his grace we will get there. It bears repeating that the faith that Abraham possess, is not something that here kindled up within himself, but the faith that he has is God given.  That same faith can lay dormant, I’m not attending to imply that all people have faith, but that in the grappling of our hearts can sometimes be the indication that there is something more going on. Such was the case in my own life, in the disparity and questions that weighed in me, was God himself waiting for his intended divine moment to reveal himself to me. Of all the times that was spent trying to suffocate the reality of God, it turned out to be my deepest need and longing. His love is the most sustaining reality of all life and existence. After my heart and mind were open to the revelation of Christ, there became an ever-increasing awareness of not only the gifting of how God wired me, but dreams as well. As a child the exposure to martial arts and writing came early, they were both gifts from God that needed cultivating and development over time. When academics were still very hit and miss for me, my mom gave me the ultimatum of sitting down to take a stab at writing a book or stick it out with college. Eventually, came the longing to find a wife, scripture even says that he who finds a wife finds a good thing. Yet my eyes always rolled when reading that verse after a series of failed relationships.

            It’s probably taken me more time than I’d like to mature in relationships, going from chaos to wanting to seek health in the bonding of two people. (I’ll unpack more of what that means later).  With every failed relationship and every year that passes, is like an artist trying to sketch an image in their mind on piece of paper, only to rip it up and throw it away. Even though the moments of wanting to ditch this specific desire in me were quite intense, God has a way of bringing the desire to mind. Even though the desire is ever present and real, the question that soon follows is how? How is this going to work?  That or follow up questions of “when Lord?” or “who would be strong enough to enter my context?” Answer to these questions have a way of befalling me, but the reality that settles me is trust. We must trust that even if God is the orchestrator of salvation, he will also do so with the rest of our life and mission. No matter how long it takes, as it did with Abraham.

If you wrestle With Shame. Read This.

One of my favorite verses in all of scripture is 2 Corinthians 5:17:

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, this person is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (NASB)

Though I’m sure there are a few lessons that can be gleaned from the passage, one that sticks out to me the most, are those of us who wrestle with the past. Be it regret, shame, loss, and the like.

So many times, we try and correct our own wrongs only to continually carry around a sense of dead weight inside us. It robs us of joy and peace. Often it can seem as though there is no way out of the cycle.

However, Christ broke that cycle on the cross, so that you (me) are not only forgiven for the past, present and future. We become new creations in Christ, from the inside out when you place our faith in him by the power of his spirit, as such we no longer must be at war with the past and we can trust God with our futures.

Yes, we may still face consequences in life, but we can do so with the peace and courage of Christ.  We no longer have to be identified by the past, but rather, now, we can be identified but what Christ has done for us and who we are in him.

Depression and Stubborn Hope

I’m going to try and express what living with depression feels like, and the battle that wages violently in my mind. I have long wanted to open my chest up and share the grappling match that takes place from within. My aim here is not sympathy, but rather to be candid not only for my own personal reasons but to help others as well. As that has always been my biggest goal in this life. Many times the depression that I experience inside, is like that of what person being attacked by a group of people. Completely outnumbered, and all I can do is cover up to guard myself even a little bit from the heavy blows. Often, there is a smile on my face, but that often is a mechanism to not show what’s truly going on. I’ve been smiling my whole life, so in some ways it’s my default. I’ve learned and sadly so, not to open up because then I won’t have to deal with the responses of others. People of faith have told me (over the years) that my faith is weak if I wrestle with depression, and if I go down the spiritual check list, everything should be just peachy. Little do they know how harmful statements like that are. Or “you have a good life, what could you possibly feel depressed about?”

With that line of thinking, its okay for everyone else to have bouts with depression and despair-just not me? It only makes me want to close myself off all the more. It’s painfully lonely when you feel so stuck in life, you keep spinning your wheels and feel as though you aren’t going anywhere . Similar to being stuck at the back of the line always. Often, it feels like I’m paralyzed on the inside and can’t move. And yet, each and every day, I get out of my bed and do what I’m supposed to. The dark enemy in my mind says “you better get comfy, because this is all your life will ever be, because you’ve blown it too much to get better.” And as many times as I have attempted to drive out the dark enemy, all I want to do is curl up under and blanket and not move.

A few days ago I was listening to a man, who deeply depressed, and so to attempt to get the pain to stop. He jumped off a bridge in San Francisco, by the grace of God he survived, but what he said struck me. He said that as he was falling off the bride, he instantly regretted the choice he made. He said that many people don’t want to die, they only want the pain to stop. And you know what? He’s exactly right, I have had many dark nights of the soul, I have even spent days in a hospital, and I can attribute myself resolve to stay in the fight, to God gracing me with a stubborn hope. Anne Lamott says

““Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.”


Going back to the analogy of being beat up by a group of people, after the beating, I lay there for a while. But eventually I find the strength to get back up. It reminds me when Neo fights the agent in one of the final scene, Neo is getting his ass handed to him, the agent thinks that he has completed his task at finally shutting neo down. And yet Neo gets back up again, the agent in a state of disbelief wonders what’s in Neo that helps him get back up. Why!? Why do you persist!?

I persist because in the depths of who I am, I know that there is something else on the darkness. In spite of such paralyzing heaviness. Christ has given me himself and he alone is my anchor in life. And even he got back up after the worst suffering imaginable. The other night, a friend reminded me that depression is not my true identity. That being a beloved child of God is, that is my truest self. As we walk, crawl and drag ourselves through the heaviness , know that you were never meant to carry your pain alone. You can cast all your pain upon Christ because he cares for you. I’m reminded of the line, in the foot poem “when you see only one pair of foot prints, it was then that he carried you.”

I don’t know when the pain will end- or that it will even stop. But I can tell you, that it is worth it, getting up each time you feel destroyed by life’s current. You never know what life could turn out to be.

The “How” of Suffering

Throughout history, many people, poets, pastors, theologians and even philosophers have tried to do the best that they can to make sense of suffering within the human experience. After all suffering has been with us since the beginning of time and human existence. Even though, I myself have much first hand experience with suffering, there is something inside me that hesitates. Probably because so many other thoughts of wisdom and hope have already been uttered.

Yet, I believe that holy spirit is softly whispering from within, saying “share what I have placed inside you.” So when the holy spirit commands, the obedient son or daughter must follow. One of the most frequent objections to the existence of God or any other divine figure has been the reality of suffering. Cancer, AIDS, rape, murder and suffering in all other forms all stop us in our tracks.

Why would any sort of higher power even allow suffering? That’s a very good question that we all have asked regardless of creed or background. Cerebral Palsy, was the cross I was given when I was born. If you want a full breakdown of my story, you can check out my first book The Emotional Struggle on Amazon.

With having cerebral palsy, my life has been tested with not just physical pain from surgeries and therapy. But emotional and mental pain as well. I’ve had the entire lower half of my body operated on, each other operation taking a year or more to recover from. Doctors and professionals with the realm of education, telling me that I wouldn’t amount to much because I wasn’t smart enough.

To add more to the equation, throughout my 36 of life, there have been battles against depression, anxiety and there was once an attempted suicide. Why? Because I felt so trapped in my own life circumstances, as though nothing could or would ever change. Others in the world have faced suffering far greater than even my own.

Nowhere in my life was I ever starved to death, or tortured by evil and wicked people. Which is another reason why there was a hesitation inside me to share in the first place. And yet the starkest of realities is that some of us never make it out of suffering. Not so much in the reality of suicide, but that some of us never find a way to prevail in spite of it. Some make the choice to let the weight of suffering swallow them up like a tidal wave. As mentioned above, many of us ask of the why of suffering.

The why is important, but dare I suggest that the why is not as important as the how. How are we not going to let suffering swallow us up? How are we going to come out the suffering more brighter and courageous? I will caution you (the reader) in that, if you decide to ask the how. You must also decide to follow through with whatever the how asks of you.

For example, if you discover that your how, is being able to look at years of trauma or destructive habits. Are you willing to face it all? Are you willing to endure the process of what it takes to heal and start new chapters of your life? The consequence of not doing so, means that everything in your life stays the same.

And in choosing to stay in that reality, also then means that you’re fundamentally making a choice to cling to that suffering. Reasons for that might very well be, that it’s all you know. On the other hand, some of us are far too stubborn (such as myself) and know what we should do and end up not do it. Regardless, we both are making a choice.

In processing and embarking on our how, we first need a new perspective on suffering. That may raise some eyebrows, but it’s the only option we have. We can agree that suffering sucks, it hurts and can beat the will out of us. But if we slowly started looking at the suffering in our lives differently, we might very well find that there is more to live for.

The author of the book of James in the Bible, he says to “count it all joy” when trials come our way. As humans, we scoff and even are appalled by such statements. Because there is nothing joyful about suffering on the surface. But as the author continues by saying

“for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
James says, in other words that suffering we endure, produces something in that. That something is steadfastness. Meaning that we are anchored in something greater than ourselves. We admit that suffering is awful but we are not destroyed by it. When the grace of God allows to become more steadfast with time, we can find that a sense of calmness fills us up. Where we don’t always have to fly off the handle because life is not going how we want it.

This true peace and steadfastness is in divine, because one could not find it anywhere else. As much as I love stoic philosophy and philosophy in general. It does not lead to true peace. In my own life, I have surveyed every world religion and even tried meditation and even believed that I would come back in my next life as some other person. The biggest problem with that rests in the reality that, you can never know if you have done enough good to outweigh the bad. 

Biblical writes like James and Paul, their how is Christ himself. Christ for them, is the how to transcending the suffering and not simply running from it. But rather they can stare that suffering in the eye knowing it won’t win in the end. For James and Paul, they know that something far sweeter is at the end of suffering.

So that patiently and even joyfully endure, while living out the mission that God has set before them. Let us not forget Christ himself, Christ was sent by God the father in human likeness. In the Philippians 2:7, it says that Christ “emptied himself” interesting, what on earth might that mean? To empty comes from the Greek word Kenosis, Tony Evans has a very clear and beautiful way of explaining this, when he writes:

What does the self-emptying of Christ mean? The theological doctrine is called the kenosis, from the Greek verb meaning “to empty.” Did He empty Himself of His deity and become merely a man? No, the focus of His self-emptying is not heaven, but earth; that is, what Christ emptied Himself into.
He didn’t empty out God and pour in man. Rather, He emptied all of God into man. In other words, He didn’t stop being God. He didn’t say, “Deity, I’m going to leave You in heaven and go down to become humanity.”
Furthermore he writes: What Jesus did was take all of His deity and pour it into humanity so that He became much more than mere man. He became the God-man-God poured into man.
Let me tell you something impor¬tant. When Jesus Christ did something about your sin and mine, He didn’t give us the leftovers. He poured all that made Him God into man so that man would have all of God. There is nothing that belonged to God that man didn’t have when Jesus emptied Himself into man.

One of the reasons that Christ came to live among us, I believe, was to show us humans that he is the answer to the human condition and suffering. Even when on the cross, Christ took all our suffering on himself. Moreover, the cross shows that even in spite of suffering still present. The cross still shows that Christ is present with us. I don’t believe I’ll ever understand why God chooses to heal some but not others, but I do believe that he has given me the greatest gift ever, himself, his love, his presence and grace. What is more amazing, is that eternity with Christ, means no more suffering and complete joy.

Until then, Christ is my how in my own journey. He is why I can give all my fear and anxiety, and instead breath in his peace. He is why I can have joy and smile in the midst of life not being as desired.    

A Quick Response to Raphael Warnock

Some days ago, Rev Warnock tweeted and quickly deleted the following statement:

“The meaning of Easter is more transcendent than the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” declared Warnock. “Whether you are Christian or not, through a commitment to helping others we are able to save ourselves.”

Needless to say his statement troubles and frustrates me, one because it is not a biblically accurate statement. Take for example 2 Timothy 1:9:

9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,

Yes, the book of James even tells us that faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26. But it is not as though he is saying that our works will save us. But that they are a response to the faith we have by Gods grace. Else where in scripture we are told that God has prepared good works for us (EPH 2:10).

Another reason this irks me , is because he is leading people astray. I have surveyed every religion the world has to offer. And nothing has brought me more peace and assurance than the grace of Jesus Christ. I did NOTHING to deserve this. Yet through Gods kindness was I brought to repentance.

You or I could never know if we have done enough good works to save ourselves, we in a sense would be slaves and would perform our supposed good works. Not because we wanted to serve others, but because we wanted to score points (enough points that is) to obtain our salvation. This is not good news at all.

Your Greatest Darkness

What I’m going to say in the following paragraphs, may frustrate you. It might even cause you to click off this page, but my hope with the following thoughts cause you to see the glory of God again or for the very first time. Life is hard, and filled with pain. For some of us, it’s how we learn. Through the pain of consequences and actions of others. More often than not some of the most triumphant moments come out of our greatest darkness.

You might be similar with someone by the name of Joseph in the Bible, or you might not. But God gives him a dream, where he rules over his brothers. When he wakes up he goes and actually tells that about his dream, which I personally would not have done. His brothers think he’s full of it and doesn’t like how favored he is by his own father. Joseph’s father even gives him a colored robe, that according to some scholars even symbolizes favor.

The brothers of Joseph feel very threatened by him, so much that they have sold into slavery. There’s a lot more that happens within the story with Joseph, but what hit me today as I was reading through Genesis 45:
So God sent me ahead of you to ensure for you a remnant on the earth, and to [g]keep you alive by a great deliverance. 8 Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household, and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

It was not you who sent me here, But God.
As a Christian, I believe that God is in control of every spec of my life, even to how the very universe functions. To the time I wake up in the morning. He was sovereign over the fact that I have cerebral palsy. I may not like at times, but so much good has come from it. I’ve gotten to help so many others and share how Christ has changed my life.

Joseph didn’t ask or want to be betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery. But he also didn’t know how the God of the universe would take the bad circumstances to completely change his life. This means furthermore, that God knew and foreordained- before the foundation of the world the suffering of Joseph.

I know that they make anger or even frustrate some, but I cannot help but see it as truly amazing. I believe that God- in his wisdom allowed me to have cerebral palsy, because it was the only way that my heart would surrender to his grace.

If it wasn’t for having cerebral palsy in my life, more than likely the very disposition of my heart would not be inclined to the providence of God. I wouldn’t be in awe of him and all that he has done for me. I’m not saying that we have to like all of the circumstances of our lives, but there are deeper meanings and purposes to them.

You might not seem them now, but you will see them in time. I promise you that. I am not who thinks that God is careless in his actions, but has neatly woven all events of our lives together both for our good and glory.

Your greatest darkness, whatever it is can be used for good. You’re madly loved beyond belief. You can trust him with every single second of your life.

Brief Thoughts on Romans 8:28

The other day I wrote that my hearts prayer was Romans 8:28, which says:

28 And we know that [a]God [b]causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Admittedly, in college I found this to be the most annoying passage because almost every one would quote it in times of hardship and suffering. When it comes to walking with others in human suffering, some times Christians can absolutely suck at comforting others. Rather than offering compassion and silence, we often rattle off a verse or two, in hopes that it brings hope in some ways.

Most times it doesn’t do anything. Often, when we suffer, our hearts and minds are too hard and guarded to hear anything. And it isn’t until we get further away from the suffering that we begin to see hope, truth and resolution to the problem.   

The thorn in my flesh has been depression mostly, and wondering what God is doing in the circumstances of my life. It becomes very easy to doubt his goodness and kindness toward me. It hit me the other day, that the good that the apostle Paul speaks of in this passage is in one sense- eternity.

What this means practically speaking, is that any thorn in my side, any sort of illness will all be no more when we are finally with Christ. Nothing happens in our lives without the Lords say so. This means that he can allow the greatest of suffering in our lives, if it means having a deeper relationship with him.

In another sense, the good that Paul speaks of is also character development. Are we becoming more like Christ on a daily basis? Are we walking in obedience with his word? Are you becoming more refined and stable in mind and will? The providence of God is so stunning and amazing- you can trust him. In any season of your life.     

Rambling on Depression

Depression sucks, especially the kind of been experiencing the past three days. It’s like something dark, just came and busted out a lawn chair and began to relax while it indulged in it’s favorite beverage and snack. Then I think to myself, “Hey, I didn’t invite you here” Then this dark creature replies “oh, but you forget I show up every year.. When you least expect it.” That you do, but it doesn’t mean this depression is welcome.

So I’m going to express and share about what I’ve been feeling without giving power to loathing and deprecation of the self. Which I have been prone to do. However it will be a goal of mine within the new year to really fight against feeling sorry for myself and speaking negatively about myself. Depression is interesting in the sense that, it can feel your mind with lies that you know aren’t true. And yet, because its so heavy it feels true all the more.

The depression will say that I’m a fraud, no woman would ever want to be with me again, I’ve made to many mistakes and that my life is as good as it could possibly get. Meaning I’m stuck and life as I know it. Is over.

Again, I know it’s not true, but as I said the depression makes it seem all the more real and powerful. I’ve been on different medications for depression, and been to various counselors and I’ve had bad experiences with both. Medications only seemed to make feel worse, physically and mentally and most counselors I’ve seen have cooking cutter responses to my pain. So I said screw it both.

For me I believe that nutrition and fitness are big parts of fighting it, but you can do all that and still grapple with depression, however short the duration. For me, I’d rather have short durations, than to be where I once was, where I was having a couple panic attacks a week, puking before classes in college and so on.

This year hasn’t helped, though I’m thankful because here, in small Nebraska were not that restricted by Covid. But it doesn’t help, hearing about it every day, having a never ending political battle. Moreover, having cerebral palsy doesn’t help at all. It’s not like I can just leave the house whenever my heart desires. It’s also difficult when you don’t have any friends who can readily come pick you up or hang out with you because of their own circumstances.

Which is why I’ve tried a lot to be happy with myself and my own company, this is not just my battle but for many with cerebral palsy. Depression doesn’t make you weak, I just choose to lower my head and keep moving forward, to keep taking the shots. I’m not directly apposed to seeking help- I’m more open to talk therapy than anything. I’d only like to find a decent fit.

In the midst of the depression and the powerful blows that it deals myself and others, I’ve learn to channel a deep warrior strength inside me. One that knows that this darkness will pass, I’m learning to notice the pain and darkness within, and yet not be over ran by it. I’m learning to not let the depression over ride the duration of my day.

I still manage to workout, eat healthy, workout etc in spite of the depression that faces me. One might say that that’s not healthy. But to me, I say that that’s making war against the depression. It’s me fighting, going down swinging no matter what.

My greatest anchor through all of this is my relationship with God, prayer and reading my Bible. That’s what’s bigger than any darkness in my life.

Paul and 1 Corinthians 7

I’d like to share my thoughts on 1 Corinthians 7 (The famous Marriage chapter), everyone should read the chapter in its entirety. However for the purpose of space and time, I’m going to highlight certain parts of the passage and hopefully paint a broader picture. As a teenager, a bit after becoming a Christian by the grace of God, some guys I would sit at a coffee shop slaving over this passage. Really though, it was them slaving over what the implication of chapter 7 was and me just listening. The main argument was: “Does God want me to marry or stay single?” Some of the guys even seemed to be wrestling with whether Paul was implying that we should all be single, and whether marriage was a good idea.

            This is where context matters greatly, it can’t be that God or Paul think that marriage is the worst of all things, because the scripture begins and ends within the context of a marriage. The first was Adam and Eve, and the second is more a metaphor between the true children of God and Christ. In EHP Paul tells us men-husbands to love our wives as Christ loves the church. So, again, Paul cannot be speaking ill of the idea as a whole. At the core of chapter seven, I believe that Paul is truly speaking to a life devoted to a life of serving God and others. Which is probably why he says that sexual relations should be avoided, but because of immorality a man must have a wife of his own and vice versa. Not that thinks that sex is evil or anything of the sort.

Hopping down to verse eight, Paul says Now to the unmarried[a] and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. Paul says that it is good to stay as he is (single) why? Because he thinks marriage is wrong? No, otherwise he would be going against scripture its self. Rather (I believe) that he is in one way saying that it’s difficult, and that a person will be torn between serving God and their spouse. I like many other scholars probably think he (Paul) was married before and experienced his own hardship within a marriage, and when he first tasted the goodness and grace of God. From that that point on he was one hundred percent sold for the cause of Christ. Which is great! Furthermore, there might be lessons in this too, perhaps Paul found a peace and contentment with God and self that he could never find in a woman, no, Paul isn’t some bitter woman hater, but he found a mission and calling much bigger than anything else in his life. I also believe that he might be implying that human marriage is temporary and Christ is forever. Even though in my heart I long to be married and a father, the end for me is eternity with Christ. My future wife and I will fight, I’ll fail as a husband and father and my kids will not listen to me.

            So is it still worth it? Or should I just become a monk? Yes its worth it! Become a monk? Maybe, if after a lot of prayer I realized that that’s where God had me headed. Looking back at the coffee shop scene from the beginning, people were really only making what the apostle Paul was saying more difficult than it had to be. Relationally speaking, we Christians can make the realm of relationships all the more difficult. In my junior year of college, I asked a young woman out for a simple cup of coffee, and her response was “I need to ask God about that first”. Now, there’s nothing wrong with seeking God on things in life, but at the same time, it wasn’t like I was going to ask the girl to marry me or anything, it was just a cup of coffee! Paul says in verse 8, that it is better to marry than to burn with passion. That’s one indication that you should thoughtfully and prayerfully peruse that avenue, if on the other hand you do not burn with passion. Then keeping being you, becoming more content, happier, healthier serving God and others.

Perhaps that burning passion will come later in life, none the less though, in verse seventeen Paul says: 17 Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. Live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them. In one sense, Paul might be making a subtle reference to the ever quoted Phil 4:13, which says I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Paul wasn’t referring to be able to be Peter Pan and fly, but rather to be content and endure whatever context that he finds himself in. Secondly, Paul uses the word Assigned and my estimation this is a very big and crucial world, why? Because being the Calvinist that I am, I then believe that God has already laid everything out before us for our lives. I’m sure that some might argue with me on this point, and that’s fine. In that same vein of thought, The Lord knows whether one will stay single or Marry.

            The best thing that we can do is to not only trust him, but seek him daily. It’s also a sobering reality, that even those of us who burn with passage, don’t always get the desires of our hearts granted always. This can also spill over into other areas of our lives as well. This is a profound mystery, that I will more than likely not understand this side of life. Yet, I will holdfast to the reality that God has loved us madly through his son Jesus. And that is far better and sweeter than anything in life. Simply, because you’re single, does not mean you are missing or lacking anything in life. It doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with you. So smile, be vibrant and enjoy your life. Keep working on yourself, readying oneself for the reality of maybe one day being a husband or wife. To the married (I’m saying this as a single man, having never been married- go figure). Marriage in the Christian sense,  is a sanctifying experience, you will see each- others flaws in ways you never dreamt, and you will have to forgive each other the same way that Christ has forgiven us for our sins. But it is beautiful and worth it in the end.  

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Thoughts on Trauma Part 1: Healing first

The other night there was a lot of reflection being done, there I was sipping my whiskey. Depression set in mildly during the day, so that probably didn’t help. But in my reflection, the concept of trauma surfaced to my attention.   Trauma (in various compacities) is something that many of us deal with. I’m no stranger to trauma, as having cerebral palsy and all the pain that I’ve had to endure because of it, has left it’s finger prints on me. My first operation, I can remember being brought back to the pre-op room, there my parents had to leave to go to the waiting area.

What honestly went through my mind as a child, was that I was being abandoned.  Sure, that fear and panic produced an irrational fear. But the point is these moments in my childhood, had a great effect on most of my life. As mentioned before, a lot of us have our own trauma. Some more severe than others. What that should do then, is that should give humans grounds to show empathy and connect with one another. Healing comes in simple form when we can say the words “Me Too” to quote Rob Bell from his book Velvet Elvis. When we are willing to be vulnerable, that is when I believe God truly begins to heal us. The most profound lesson that I’ve ever had the privilege of learning, is that we cannot heal on our own.    

We need to confess that we have a problem, that we cannot conquer it on our own, and that we need God to work in us by his grace and community to walk along side us. Even those of us who try and white knuckle our way towards healing eventually get burnt out by trying so hard. Of course, this takes a lot of humility, gumption and inner bravery to admit any of this. Again, people wear masks (no pun intended), we try and appear as though we don’t need help and do things on our own. And while a fair amount of self-sufficiency is great, no man- woman is an island to themselves.    

 It took me such a long time to face my own trauma in my life, more often than not when I thought I was making progress, the fear and panic only seemed to get louder as time went on. Confusion set in , and the thought came to my mind “why am I not getting any better?”  

“Why am I still so afraid?” And the answer, for me anyhow, was that I was still looking to people to save me from my trauma, to save me from myself. Well  meaning people can help and provide wisdom and some comfort. But only God can heal us and give us the peace we crave. So, in this moment, I deeply want to you to know that God loves your more than any other person on earth could. You are not so far down the road, that you are out of his reach. It’s ok to admit you need help, not only from God but from others. You have purpose to complete with your life, and someone else can benefit from your own story. Go fourth today, knowing that the past doesn’t define who you are.