What a magnificent concept; Renewal – to make something New AGAIN!
My journey through the valley of despair as it were, is still quite ongoing and still monumentally difficult and often very painful. Each day something new arises to remind me that i am broken.
BUT THAT’S THE KEY! How can a person ever hope to be restored, not only wto what our life once looked like, but restored to the Life God has intended for us to be living if what they have built their life into isn’t first stripped away..
Depression and consequences of choices made often seem to build on one another creating a sort of Inner Perfect Storm. There’s always this black cloud following me from the moment I arise each morning until I finally drift to sleep each night. each day I awaken with the ever-present sadness that has plagued my life as of late. Trying to find a way out of the chaos and a path to the end of my pain is most all I ever think about. Perhaps, i’m unhappy, uncontent and without peace because I’m not living the life God has planned for me. Which brings mye full-circle to the state of being broken. To most of my peers, colleagues family and friends, this means there is something wrong with me,that must be repaired or set right. I can get back to being “Morgan”, but the more I gaze into the heart of the Father the more I begin to see myself through his eyes and from his vantage point. It’s hard, change always is. It’s rough and real change, the kind that transforms something most would simply discard into something new and old, beautiful and weathered, and something that is once again useful.
Through therapy I’ve learned a lot of skills that allow me to cope with the different challenges I face. It’s a new fight each day. Sometimes I win, not always, but the ratio of wins to losses is increasing all the time. But, in times of “high” stress, not the debilitating kind, but the times where I must turn my mind, I stumbled across my new hobby woodworking.
This is where I find some beautiful inspiration. I love the idea of taking things like old wood from a barn or old-style paned glass windows and turning these things into furniture. It involves restoration and renewal; two sides of the same coin, but each important.
Restoration takes things most would consider to have served its purpose and is no longer useful and putting in time, energy and a lot of work to breathe new life into once was considered “Dead”. Restoration begins by striping away all the former finish to reveal the unblemished surface beneath. This process is always abrasive and takes a lot of work; yet is arguably the most important step on the road to renewal. If you don’t get all the old off, the new will not hold.
The Psalmist speaks of how god views “broken” people in Psalms 51:7-17
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is<sup class="footnote" value="[b]”> a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise”
What is astonishing to me is that we all continue chasing after our own desires. Many of us struggle to grab hold of a dream that doesn’t turn out to be a nightmare; or we find ourselves shipwrecked when our dreams come true, yet they were nothing like what we imagined. Certain were we, that THIS life was what we wanted, what would make us happy, whole, complete and what we would die for; yet, instead it almost kills us. It is exhausting trudging through life always thinking, “If I could just get that job or that house or that car or whatever we imagine up for ourselves, then everything would be ok.” Only to discover that even if those things are achieved and those things are achieved and those dreams realized – they simply aren’t enough. We find ourselves still searching for something more; something to fill the emptiness we feel deep within. Its exactly this point that led me to my current state of brokenness. Dreams seized and promptly self-shattered.
So, I find myself scattered into pieces; struggling, straining to figure out how to put myself back together. But what if…
What if God doesn’t want me put back together? What if God wants to take those random bits of me and restore the person whom He created and called to His service. to take what once was filthy, old and ugly and turn it into something bold and beautiful.
To be continued….
It is ironic how the thing that we often view as the “worst possible” circumstance or outcome or situation we may find ourselves becomes the thing from which the greatest milestones are made.
I very recently came to the point in which I couldn’t promise even myself that I wouldn’t take actions to harm myself. For me, looking into the future is a dismal exercise; yet, it is the future that I most always look toward and plan for. More often than not I see nothing but emptiness, darkness, a vast nothing that is more than overwhelming. Other times I see a pitiful existence that is one of isolation and loneliness. And then, like brilliant rays of sunlight breaking through the clouds, I get a glimpse of the life that God has laid out for me; a life worth living.
Which brings me to it; the event that allowed me the “time” and “place” to be in a position to look at my situation and affliction through the Father’s Eyes. On friday of this week I had another attempt on my life. This time I was resolute; determined to make this one the last attempt and first Success. It seems God had other plans. Somehow, I managed to gain enough composure and rational thought to call my therapist as I was on my way to the hospital. I was driving myself to the E.R. She was concerned about the cut on my wrist and whether the bleeding was severe. I assured her it wasn’t. After many hours and tests and doctors and blood work and recounting what I’ve been struggling for the millionth time; it was decided that I be admitted to the inpatient psychiatry ward of Tripler Army Medical Center. The outcome was that i FINALLY received adequate psychiatry care and proper meds that actually help.
The turning point for me though was not the docs or the meds, it was when the chaplain came to run one of the group sessions. This chaplain however, was an islamic Chaplain. He decided to speak on the topic of forgiveness. AWESOME! Then he asked two questions; the first, whom does forgiveness serve and second, am I worthy of forgiveness. And here is where our thinking diverged. His claim was that forgiveness serves the receiver and that we are born ‘noble human beings’ and ARE worthy of forgiveness. Ok…the forgiveness serves the reciever i can sort of go with that as an explanation, but that leaves out one of the most important, in my opinion, in all of scripture…and that is to every truly experience anything in life you must first give it away. The greatest example is John 3:16; for God so LOVED the world that He GAVE his only begotten son….” True Forgiveness; that which keeps no record and holds no grudge….TRUE forgiveness is FOR the GIVER. If frees the giver from all the negative aspects of being wounded carry…fear, anger, depression, etc. I turn to the story of Joseph for the greatest example of a man whom had every reason to hold a grudge and been justified in doing so, yet, chose to look at the course of his life as necessary for the salvation of his whole family.
“You intended to harm me, but God meant it for good, to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
But as for you, ye thought evil against me,…. That must be said and owned, that their intentions were bad; they thought to have contradicted his dreams, and made them of none effect, to have token away his life, or however to have made him a slave all his days: but God meant it unto good; he designed good should come by it, and he brought good out of it: this shows that this action, which was sinful in itself, fell under the decree of God, or was the object of it, and that there was a concourse of providence in it; not that God was the author of sin, which neither his decree about it, nor the concourse of providence with the action as such supposes; he leaving the sinner wholly to his own will in it, and having no concern in the ataxy or disorder of it, but in the issue, through his infinite wisdom, causes it to work for good, as follows:to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive; the nation of the Egyptians and the neighbouring nations, as the Canaanites and others, and particularly his father’s family: thus the sin of the Jews in crucifying Christ, which, notwithstanding the determinate counsel of God, they most freely performed, was what wrought about the greatest good, the salvation of men.
So, while forgiveness, real, genuine forgiveness will have transitory effects which will flow to the receiver; it is FOR the Giver. It frees them up to go about doing the business of the father and get what needs to be done accomplished.
There is so much more to it than that simple explanation. I highly recommend reading the book “Total Forgiveness” by Pastor R.T. Kendell.
Now, as to the issue of the worthiness of Forgiveness. To claim that one is automatically worthy for forgiveness is entirely ludicrous. The very idea of forgiveness implies that there is a NEED to be forgiven, which further implies that an act, thought, word or even emotion fundamentally caused another or oneself harm. But, all this is in regards to choices we are faced with. Worthiness of forgiveness for “original sin”, if you want to call it that, is another thing all together. To be forgiven for a STATE of BEING is another animal all together. We are not WORTHY for a perfect, righteous and Holy God to pardon us for going and doing the one thing He told us not to do; in my mind I call that betrayal and disobedience. i didn’t commit the crime but still suffer the affects of that decision. And, I am not worthy for God Almighty to take on flesh and suffer and die as payment for my sin. That is what makes forgiveness such a beautiful thing. God did not allow His son to die for us, He allowed Christ to die for himself. Jesus didn’t die FOR us, He did so FOR God.
The loss of it is like the sky spread over everything…Pride.
Not the kind that church-goers will tell you your full of when your opinion differs from theirs and they’ve no valid argument to rebut the ideas you’ve proposed. I’ve been there too. No, I’m talking about a general sense of being. My “Condition” renders me utterly helpless in the oddest and silliest situations. And I’m as a child lost in crowd…frozen and full of fear. I’ve been halfheartedly reading through C.S. Lewis’ “A Grief Observed”. The following passages are of his observation and describe more perfectly, more pointedly and more eloquently than any meager attempt I might endeavor…
“I almost prefer the moments of agony. These are at least clean and honest. But the bath of self-pity, the wallow, the loathesome sticky-sweet pleasure of indulgin it – that disgusts me…
And no one ever told me of the laziness of grief. Except at my job-where the machine seems to run on much as usual. I loathe the slightest effort. Not only writing, but reading a letter is too much. Even Shaving. What does it matter now whether my cheek is rough or smooth? They say an unhappy man wants distractions – something to take him out of himself. Only as a dog-tired man wants an extra blanket on a cold night; he’d rather lie there shivering than get up and find one. it’s easy to see why the lonely become untidy, finally, dirty and disgusting.”
I sometimes think that shame, senseless shame, does as much toward preventing good acts and straightforward happiness as ay of our vices can do.
Are these jottings morbid? I once read the sentence “I lay awake all night with toothache thinking about toothache and about lying awake. That’s true to life. Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery’s shadow of reflection; the fact that you don’t merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each day in endless grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief. Do these notes merely aggravate that side of it?
An odd byproduct of my loss is that I’m aware of being an embarrassment to everyone I meet. At work, at the club, in the street, I see people, as they approach me, trying to make up their minds whether they’ll say something about it or not. I hate it if they do, and if they don’t”
There is no way to put it plainer and harsher than that. The Dilectic here is that while much of what was just read isn’t true – meaning, i’m not an embarrassment to everyone I meet for example, the emotion of it is there none-the-less, so while it may not BE true it still FEELS true and is therefore all the more real. Now, before anyone out there tries to shove that “the Joy of the Lord is your strength” crap down my throat. I KNOW! I read too! And it’s nice sounding, but when you get to where I’m at, when you can’t see how you’ll make it through another day, you don’t want to hear that. Instead, I turn to Moses, Job, PAUL, and the Lord Jesus himself, whom were ALL depressed to the point of DEATH, meaning suicidal. So, don’t tell me christians don’t feel this way and don’t tell me everything’s going to be OK. You don’t know that. But, I’ll hold on, I’ll follow him, I’ll endure whatever cross I must bare because HE DESERVES THE REWARD FOR HIS SUFFERING! Christ didn’t come and die for my comfort. So health, wealth and prosperity pushers, RE-READ your Bible IN CONTEXT, especially those words in red.
And that is my rant for today…you’re welcome!
The following is from my journal. The entry speaks about the previous days events….
10 Nov 2010
Last night fwas a tough one. First, I thought the dog had gotten out and was gone which really upset me. Then, I discovered that he had in fact, dug underneath the fence between my place and Our WONDERFUL neighbor, Mrs. Cindy. I called him and he did not respond, so I called Cindy’s dogs who came out from the dog door to house, Pono in toe. I hope he didn’t destroy anything. Now, I want to kill him. That itself is enough to send me realing in a cycle of panic, but add on the side effects from my rx’s I’m feeling, the naseau, the constant pain, the dizziness, fatigue, hot flashes and sweating, the fact that I get so enraged so easily – All these thinbgs added together simply knock me to the ground. Each day seems harder than the one before it, yet I endure. I don’t literally run away much anymore, I just retreat within myself – same thing – just no one knows the war raging within. And again, a couple of songs grabbed me and let me vent and cry out to God and one was an earnest prayer for the Father to Hold me! They are Casting Crowns – East to West, and (thanks to Dan) Tenth Avenue North – Hold My Heart!
East To West:
“Here I am Lord and I’m Drowning
In your sea of Forgetfulness.
The chains of yesterday surround me
I yearn for PEACE and REST
I don’t wanna end up where you found me,
and it echoes in my mind,
keeps me awake tonight…
I start the day the war begins,
endless remindings of my sin,
Time and time again your truth is drown out
by the storm I’m in.
Today, I feel like I’m just one mistake away
From you leaving me this way.
This is the heart of what PTSD sufferers have to deal with. It is a feeling of failing, inadequacy, worthlessness, unloved, unwanted. We only focus on the negative – even though these feeling aren’t usually correct, they don’t have a cause, they don’t have any evidence – but they are there just the same. They become self-validating. “If I’m feeling insecure their must be something wrong with me to feel insecure about.” That is what begins the downward spiral into the darkness for me. This always leads me to a self-destructive place.
ALL I WANT IS A DAY OF PEACE! JUST ONE DAY that I don’t end up angry or depressed. Just one day where I don’t end up say FML! I don’t feel like crying anymore, though at times I’ll break into a crying spell for no reason and simply can’t make myself stop sobbing. Wuss! What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you just get over it already? Oh that I could!
I’m learning a lot in therapy. I can recognize my triggers and sometimes stop the cycle from ever starting; others I can’t. But, i’ll get better. The truth of the matter is that I’ve had good DAYS – plural. And, logic says if there was 1 good day, then eventually there will be two, then, maybe three! Even knowing this; right now writing this, I just want to crawl back into bed, pull the covers over my head and stay there. In the cool darkness forever.
I’ve tried explaining to people what this feels like, this constant in the equation that is my life. And, wouldn’t you know it – providence, rather my Heavenly daddy, steps in and reminded me of something He prompted me to get in the first place, WHILE I WAS STILL DEPLOYED. It is a book by C.S. Lewis entitled A Grief Observed. Interesting how he had me gather the materials that he would use to rebuild me before I even knew I needed rebuilding. In Lewis’ book he describes his very real emotion at watching his wife die of cancer. This is EXACTLY what it feels like to be carrying around the weight that I do….
“No one told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep swallowing. At other times, it feels like being drunk or concussed. There is an invisible blanket between the world and me. i find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting.”
That’s it Perfectly! My disorder/condition is hard for me to grasp. Intellectually, I understand the “how’s” and the “why’s”, I can read the studies and go through the different models used to treat the symptoms of my “disease”. I can even recognize the truth and value to it all! Yet, I still struggle, CONSTANTLY, with this Demon within. Something to think about…
– Erwin McManus; Soul Cravings.
Are you intentionally leading your heart to places that will grow you? In order for me to move out of the dark place I find myself, I must INTENTIONALLY lead my heart to places and people whom are seeking after the will of the Father. Things will continue to be a struggle for me; however I’ve come to realize an important truth. Even if I never get better, even if this never becomes easier I continue to pursue Him. If I begin to search the heart and endeavor to put on the heart of God, I know I will see the evidence of that search in my life. I have a unique perspective on Life, addictions, faith, family, friends, outcasts, and many other things that most Pastors have never experienced and it is in those experiences, that came from “following MY heart” that I can speak with authority to those situations. I’ve lived it and AM living it. To start that journey to a meaningful, REAL, RELATIONSHIP with the Living God, you have to take a step…every great journey began with a single step. This step is one out of darkness and into the light. But, how do we know where we are going? This concept of Light has amazed me as I’ve combed over the scriptures looking at its imagery. Jesus said; “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Ok, Great! So, what does this mean. For me, it’s the Path, to the Destination, where we will find REAL LIFE! This all begins with making better choices. Notice, I didn’t say GOOD choices. Some things that we choose to do aren’t bad or sinful, yet there is clearly a better choice on the table. For example, drinking alcohol isn’t a sin – yes, I may have been raised a Southern Baptist, but they miss the point , which is part of the reason why I think Jesus chose to reveal His power to the world by turning water into wine for his first miracle. But, that’s just me. I read the scriptures and see the wonderful sense of humor of the Father. But, I digress. While drinking isn’t a sin (and you can’t make it one by proof-texting) a case may be made for drunkenness and addiction. But not for simply having a drink. But, here’s the better question to ask – “If if my past indicates that my decisions in (insert area) have led me to bad places, will doing (insert action) lead me to a different place?” In other words, If doing what I’ve always done leads me to where it always has, why would this time be any different?” Its about making smarter choices. This is the first step out of darkness. Here are some interesting facts about light.
1. Light always moves in Absolutely Straight Paths
2. Light has 3 colors, red, green, and blue; from these three colors ALL colors are made, including White.
***Black is the absence of Color
3. When light is intercepted by a drop of water in the atmosphere it is reflected off of the inner surface of the water, which causes it to split into it’s three main parts and is then reflected out of the water. This is the science behind the rainbow. It is called refraction.
What the bible is speaking to when it talks about living in the light, is abiding in Christ; living life totally exposed. For me, that means confronting a lot of personal demons that have and continue to haunt me. My feelings of guilt, shame, anger, my severe depression, insecurity, low self esteem, and the list goes on. No one really knows how hard this really is for me or how I’m actually doing because I’m very good at hiding the truth; I’ve had a lot of practice. But, due to a series of events, none of which were spectacularly important, I ended up sitting in a 2X2 closet, just a short while ago, with a knife to me arm wrestling with the intense feeling to just end it all. Tears streaming down my face and this deep soulful cry choking me – as I fought to NOT end my life – it was in THIS moment that I discovered the TRUE meaning of intercessory prayer. Between ragged breaths, I was crying out to God. And, these weren’t prayers of help or encouragement, they weren’t cries for peace or understanding – they were screaming to God – screaming AT God – ARE YOU THERE? ARE YOU LISTENING? DO YOU EVEN SEE ME? DO YOU EVEN CARE? But that’s what it means when the scriptures tell us, “For in THIS hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the spirit helps us in our weakness, we do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” Romans 8: 24-25
I’m desperately trying so hard to stop trying to fix myself, which is tough because I’m a “do-er”. I need to always DO something. If this experience has taught me anything, it is that the pain I feel is real and the more I hide it the stronger it becomes. I’m still trapped in this prison of my mind. I can’t seem to get around it or plow my way through it – the “inescapable me” – here, now, the darkness that follows me, haunting me, the emptiness I feel is silence and that noise is deafening. It seems as if nothing I do or say or feel or think or believe or know is right, good, or true. But, when you take away all the pretense and misconceptions of me, all that is left, all that I have, is Jesus. Fundamentally, all that is inside is Him. The fundamental truth AND belief that God is who He says He is, that God loves ALL people, God desires All people, He will do all that He has promised, and that He will go through each moment with me. As it often does, a Song comes ringing out of the darkness and speaks to me as my heart begins its lament-full cry to Holy God – ABBA FATHER – SET ME FREE!
· This song follows the account in Matthew of the man full of demons until he met Jesus.Mark 5:1-13 / Ephesians 2:1-10 Romans 8 / Revelation 1:18
To be continued…
I am often reminded, of late, of how God deals with me. For some, it is easy to get to their knees and go before the Father, for me, it seems as if the only time I’m on my knees is when I get knocked to them. For the last few days there has been a complete tearing down of all the “stuff” I’ve built up around my heart. And, that’s when it hit me, all of this, these feelings, the lack thereof, and experiences I’ve had, it’s all about the heart! Consider this, proverbs tells us to “above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (4:23) then, we see it gets complicated, in Matthew 15:19, we see that “it is out of the HEART that evil thoughts come, as well as murder, adultery, sexual immorality, stealing…”. But, we know that when are saved, we are given “a new heart.”. But, that doesn’t mean all that “stuff” just goes away. That comes from the renewing of the mind that we find in Romans. But, what was in my heart, my fleshly heart, were all the lies that vie been told or told myself and believed, the selfish plans and desires I had designed for personal accolades and the counterfeit that I used to make myself feel better. This has been troubling for me for days, this deep intense sadness and loneliness I’ve held onto as a way of rationalizing my actions and possibly to justify them has defined, not only who I am, but what I am. As I was driving to work today I was reminded of how God loves using “broken” people. The psalmist tells us in 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. ” what’s amazing here is that brokenhearted here is literally translated “shattered”. Isn’t it awe-inspiring that God takes that which is utterly torn apart and move mountains. It’s all a condition of the heart.
So, recently I’ve undergone a series of challenges not often spoken of, especially not in the realm of Christianity and the “church”. I thought I would share these challenges and especially my journey through them.
I returned from my first deployement to the “sandbox” in June of this year. My time in Iraq was a great learning experience and an eye opener. I found myself in situations there that I never dreamed I would be in. I now find myself in situations where I said, “I will never be like “THOSE” people~!” Now that I AM one of THOSE people, my perspective has changed, DRAMATICALLY! To put it lightly, I’ve been diagnosed with chronic PTSD, which is Combat related, as well as Anxiety Disorder with Agoriphobia (fear of Open Spaces). This condition I find myself in is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It alters a person to their very core. Things that you never thought about doing, now are a struggle. For instance, I bet you never thought that simply going to the grocery store took any sort of planning or effort; however, for me it is an enormous ordeal. It requires mapping out the store, what food is found in what isle and what is the most expedient way to gather all the goods I need and get out of the store as quickly as possible. What happens if someone tries to speak to you? What if you have a flashback while in the store? I can’t adequetly describe how hard it is for me to accomplish mundane ordinary tasks, let’s just say that my first time trying, I ended up literally crawling out of the store and spending the next 2 hours sitting inside my truck in a crying fit. It is incredibly humbling for me to admit that. For those of you who know me, it is crystal clear as to why. I’ve never been “that guy”. So, how does this relate to the title “Building a Life Worth Living”? This is just the introduction into what God is pouring out to me in my own journey. It has started with a complete emptying out of all that I built myself up to be, all the walls I had built around myself, and all that the world said I should hold onto. I now sit, naked and alone, with no pretense or falsivity to my thoughts or identity. I have been tested by fire and found that all I had used to build my house upon were burned away, only the foundation remains. That foundation, Our Lord and Savior – JESUS – is all that remains. And I’m glad! What I want to share with you is the rebuilding process. This is going to be raw; this is going to be real! I’m not going to hold anything back. IF HE shows it to me, I’m going to show it to you. Every emotion, every thought, every action will be laid bare for all to see. Hopefully, as I journey through this time of rebuilding, someone here may relate and may be ministered to. That is all I can hope for. So, as we begin our Journey, I ask only for you to be patient and have an open mind for what the Spirit of God is doing in my life…and maybe….just maybe….He may have something to say that applies to all of us!