I’m… not sure I want to do this. It’s like standing naked before your colleagues. It’s like putting everything you hide on display. It’s taking out your shames and saying, “LOOK AT IT!” And part of me wants to cover up. It doesn’t want to display what I am. Who I am.
I’ve been asked to present a paper on depression in the ministry. And the prospect of speaking about myself so bluntly, of speaking of my struggles, it’s scary.
This might sound weird. After all I’ve written relatively often here about my struggles with depression. I’ve tried to be transparent. (more…)
I accepted the compliment as graciously as I could, though I really was weirded out by it. What exactly are “Handsome teeth?”
I’m feeling so much better today. So, so much better.
Depression will come when it feels like it and leaves when it feels like it, though I’ve been able to track down certain triggers. For instance, if I spend too much time around people without enough alone time, I usually bounce into depression. Similarly, if I’m depressed, if I can spend a few days basically interacting with only my family, I’ll be ok. (more…)
I messed up. Real good, Jon. Real good. Couldn’t keep your mouth shut.
He’s a trusted and respected member of the congregation. He has won my respect over and over and over again. I think he may be the most mature Christian I’ve ever met. Somehow he looks up to me. He respects me as his pastor.
And today he asked me to help him face his past.
For nearly a decade he’s been estranged from his son. He has longed to reconcile. Finally, finally, he is seeing his son again. He wanted me to be there to help.
You idiot, Jon. What did you do?
Made jokes. Talked about yourself. Talked, period.
Sure, you did a devotion. That was nice. Told a Bible story that fit and prayed a prayer that was truly from the heart, begging God to be present, to reconcile, to bring healing.
But then what did you do?
Shut up. Shut up. Shut up.
Just shut your mouth, Jon. (more…)
Yesterday I got to stop two men from clobbering each other in a hospital parking lot. I was there to visit a member, but as I walked through the parking lot, one man I didn’t know attacked another man I didn’t know. I got between them. It was either angelic intervention or the fact I was carrying a Bible that kept them from turning on me. I escaped with only shaking hands and a heart beating just a titch too fast.
One of the things shouted in the fight was, “I’m here for cancer treatment!”
I don’t know what caused the fight. The two men seemed to not know each other at all. But I suspect that for at least one, the sheer stress of facing what might well be death caused him to cling to what pride he had and burst at some affront to said pride.
And he broke.
…I forgot what it was like to be broken. (more…)
The Art fell to earth and landed in a sixth-grader’s lunchbox. And that’s when the adventure began.
Or at least, that’s what I’ve been reading this week. I volunteered to read a book to my oldest son’s classroom, and the teacher allowed my suggestion of What Came from the Stars. If you don’t know it, it’s well worth your time. A great fantasy story that has really engaged the kids in that classroom. (It doesn’t hurt that the longer I read, the less time they have for math.)
It’s been fun going in every day. It’s part of my long-term strategy to simply be known and hopefully building relationships within the school, so if and when something happens and a family needs a pastor, they’re already connected with one. I’ve been praying that God uses me to connect with people in the school, and to then be able to share the Gospel with them.
But that’s a different post for a different day.
When my boy got home from school, I asked if his classmates enjoyed the time I spent reading. His response was not what I expected: “Of course they liked you! It’s what people do!”
I asked for clarification. What?
“People like you, Dad! They always like you!”
I… what? (more…)
Friends came to visit. Dear friends we care for. They stayed a few days before going home. We laughed together. Ate out way too much. Their oldest daughter and our daughter played together a lot. We got to hold their newest child. It was good to see them. Healing.
They’re getting divorced.
They came to visit in part as a last-ditch effort to get back together. As if I could work a miracle and undo years of hurt they’ve caused each other. He’s been stupid. She’s been stubborn. They’ve been to counselors and roundly ignored what they’ve been told. They could have a good marriage. They could. Instead, they march away from each other.
I grieve for them. (more…)
It’s one of those days when I am hungering for something More. I’m done here.
The causes don’t matter except that they are more and more symptoms of this broken world. My heart aches for the battle to end, for the sky to roll up, for the stars to fall, for the Throne to stand before me, to hear those words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
And even as my heart aches for it, it fears.
I have not done well. (more…)
So… apparently the sky is going to fall.
Sunday, a guest told me, “God used you to speak to me today.” It was a very basic Law-Gospel sermon. This is why we praise God: Because we know who we are. We are sinners. We know what Jesus did for sinners like us: Die. When we put those two together, we have to praise.
Apparently that deeply touched this guest.
Sunday a prospect told me, “God has used you to make me a more mature Christian.”
Today my church president told me, “We called the right man. Pastor, I am so glad you’re here.”
This is… this is so much encouragement that I want to hear. This touches my heart so, so much.
And it makes me nervous as hell. (more…)
He promises to wipe every tear from our eyes. Every sorrow gone. Ever weeping moment blotted away and replaced with joy.
And today… it is not enough.
I do not want him to wipe away the tears from my eyes. I long for him to wipe the tears from my heart.
I’ve known this day was coming for a while. Moving shakes things up. Picking up a different ministry means a new equilibrium must be found. Finding new joys and sorrows does not cure depression, though.
My depression is not constant, and for this I am thankful. It comes in waves, in moments and days and weeks at times which sometimes I can predict and sometimes catches me unawares. I have known, though. Oh, I have known that in this new place, depression would find me.
Today it has found me. (more…)
“Is it ok for Christians to be sad?”
The teens looked at each other and me, not sure how to answer the question. I sat somewhat in front of them, though we were really in a circle. We’d just finished watching Inside Out, and it was time to show them that it wasn’t just movie night.
And I took them to Psalm 13:
1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, O Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;
4 my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord,
for he has been good to me.