What is Going On?
Updated: May 11, 2019
What is going on? It is now 1:49 am and my head is so flooded with thoughts I had to get up and capture what is going on. When I started this blog I committed that I would always be honest and raw with my communications. My initial thought was to use this blog as an opportunity to communicate to my 2 sons a lot of life experiences I have had over the years so they could maybe learn from some of my mistakes and become better husbands and fathers to their own families. What I didn't expect to happen is the personal transformation that has taken place over the last year and each week as I have become totally honest with myself. Let me try to explain.
I will start by briefly retracing my own upbringing with a dad who I now see as a man held captive in his own body. He was a man who was never happy with himself hence he had no capacity as a father to be able to pass onto to me how to be a real man to my eventual wife and family. I am sure all he ever saw were his own shortcomings. Compound this mindset by the fact that he despised christians because, to him they were weak, As such, he was left with only himself to lean on which was like building your house right on the ground as I talked about last week. Furthermore, I am certain his total dependency on "self" drove him into using alcohol as an escape from the disappointments of his own life. What I observed was a dad who could hold it together for a little while but eventually he would begin to waiver under the normal pressures of life and would then go off the rails.
What did going off the rails look like back then? Well, he just wouldn't come home for a couple of days and my mom would have to cover for him at work saying he was home sick while my oldest brother would be out searching for him only to eventually find him drunk in some remote gravel pit all alone. That is what I call hitting bottom. Unfortunately, these bottoms occurred much more frequently than any of us would ever admit and they came to their final conclusion on July 3rd, 1976 when he went out onto Lake Superior in a 14’ boat on his own and never returned. It was an untimely end of a broken man. To this day we still don't know what happened except how Lake Superior earned it's name as "The Lake That Never Gives Up the Dead," because his body was never found. For me it took over 40 years to get to last year where I finally found full closure.
As I now rewind those tapes in my head I understand why he had no capacity to communicate to me as a dad. How could he instruct me how to be a man when he knew he had no ability to hold himself together? I guess I am learning to understand how that has contributed to my own life and why I have reacted negatively to certain triggers that would set me off. I have learned how deeply my past has grafted itself into the fabric of who I became. I am coming to understand why in my head it has been like gunshots going off for years where I was trying to make personal strides and improvements only to be stuck in a cyclical pattern of feeling better about myself for a little while only to blow up over some obscure circumstance and then spiral downward into another cycle of personal disappointment. On the outside of course I would be working overtime trying to hold up the facade that I totally had my act together. The hardest part of all of these ups and downs was walking through them as a christian man knowing in my head I shouldn't be subject to these gyrations but feeling powerless to overcome them on my own.
Fast forward to today. My motivation for these communications is shifting from wanting to communicate not just what I have learned in the past but to state as much about what I am learning each week as I move forward. I recognize that some of what I am writing may be repetitive and I apologize for that but this is representative of how my christian journey has been. Certainly not a straight linear projection. It was just yesterday as I met with my close friend Mark for coffee he sincerely asked the typical question "how are you doing?" You know the routine because we are all proficient with our pat answers of "I am doing well" or "not bad" or maybe even some semi-superficial answer like "I'm doing ok but could be better" knowing I could dance around the questions long enough and not have to get fully transparent about any real issues or struggles I am dealing with.
That has all changed in my life. The gun shots have actually silenced most of the time and I am no longer living in what I call the "Tums" moments of life where I am happy to just be treading water as a christian. The change has become incredibly freeing.
How did I answer Mark's question yesterday? My response was that for the first time in my life I actually feel like I have broken this up and down cycle of being a christian man. I have learned to give myself room to make mistakes and not beat myself to death over the little things in life the enemy blows out of proportion. I am learning to enjoy each day one at a time and try to not be constantly looking to the future for satisfaction. I am learning to talk more openly with my wife and friends about what is really going on in my life and that openness has been reciprocated. I continue to learn how my past has contributed to who I am currently and that the parts of the old man I don't like about myself have and will continue to change for the better. I have learned that shining a light into those crappy places of my life wasn't as hard to do as the enemy wanted me to believe it would be. I have learned that I am not the only guy who deals with the type of issues I struggled with and that I am not alone in the battle. I am learning what freedom, as I wrote about last week, really means and I have learned that my relationship with Christ is real, He is a friend and He doesn't judge me the way I judge myself.
An analogy the Lord gave me this morning is that my life has been like a white board that the enemy of my soul has been writing every negative aspect of my life on thinking he was using a permanent marker. The enemy was wrong...............instead, the Lord showed me he was only using a dry erase pen and the Lord has wiped the board completely clean.
Romans 8:28 “and we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Approximately 3 weeks ago I was awakened in the middle of the night and once again my head was filled with thoughts I felt the Lord wanted me to capture. As I sat before my computer I had such a sense of the His presence in the room, it was as if He was an old friend of mine who pulled up a chair next to me. At that moment I captured my thoughts through the following poem:
In the Middle of the Night
Where I live the world is silent in the middle of the night
It is then that I best hear Your voice and you instruct me how to fight
The noise of the day that normally distracts me from You
In the middle of the night it is gone, my mind wanderings are seldom and few
It is in this quiet time of the night Your voice becomes exceedingly clear
It is no longer a distant voice, it is as if you are beside me and right here
I guess I am not like most people who carve out a certain time of the day
To get into Your word, listen to Your voice and hear what You have to say
During the day the distractions come at me from everywhere
But in the middle of the night you have my full attention without another care
In the middle of the night Your voice is clear like that of a long-time friend
You settle the fears of the world when I think it is coming to an end
I know Your word tells us You are always present and near
But I am more like Thomas who needs to see your presence to be able to hear
When it’s just me an You in the silence of the middle of the night
It is then I regain my confidence to pick myself up and get back into the fight
You are like a close friend that is always there to help me up when I fall
So when I awake in the middle of the night I can always count on you when I call
Soon the sun will rise again and drown out of the silence of the night
But I’ve already had my time with You and I am ready to get back into the fight
Considering my background I guess I am not what most think of as a conventional christian or maybe even a christian man. Going to church and putting on a "christianese" face has never worked for me. I despise hypocrisy and political correctness, so just doing church once a week and checking a box falls completely short to me. I need my faith to be real. I need those around me who profess to be followers of Christ to also be real because keeping up the facade takes too much energy I can't sustain. Don't get me wrong, attending church and being part of the body is critical to my well being. It just needs to be real and not candy-coated surface religion.
Thanks for listening to me and if you can relate to any of what I am saying I want to encourage you that change can come and you are not stuck in the old body like my dad was. I direct these words to all of you who have become frustrated with places of personal disappointments in your own life that change can happen and do not to be discouraged.
John 8:31 "and the truth will set you free".
Let me close by sharing the following music video that powerfully describes what has transformed in my life:
Be courageous in this fallen world and know that God has big plans for your tomorrow.