SLA Nation

“All you need is love.” “Love is all you need.” “The greatest of these is love.” “Love is patient, love is kind.” “When love speaks, the voice of all the gods makes heaven drowsy with the harmony.” “Love is a many-splendored thing.” And so on and so forth…

Love is a pretty wonderful thing. Especially romantic love. There’s just a certain charge when chemistry is felt between a man and alove11 woman. Romantic love has been the cornerstone of some the greatest works of art ever created – poems, songs, plays, films, television series, photographs. Even the hint of it is enough to lure a perfectly sane and rational person down all sorts of roads they never thought they would take. “To have loved and lost is better than to never have loved at all…”

If it’s love.

Does anyone even really know what love is anymore? There seems to be an awful lot of searching for it going on right now. Consider that nearly every TV show or movie that is set before our eyes today contains some type of romantic plot or sub-plot. Over the years, we’ve been treated to “Will they or won’t they?”, love triangles, extra-marital affairs, genuinely sweet and loving relationships, and even seen people defy God and heaven above in the name of romantic love. The “love story” element is so ingrained in our storytelling and artistic expression, it’s almost become a requirement.

There’s nothing quite so thrilling as the quest for love. Sometimes, though, I wonder if we’re chasing it so hard we’ve lost sight of what it even means. If I were to throw out the letters SL, and A, they probably wouldn’t set of any particular alarms. I’m sure if I wrote the words Sex and Love Addiction, though, you might be a little intrigued.

Pinning down an exact definition for SLA can be rather difficult, as its very existence still seems to be in dispute in some circles. In general, it means repeating specific thoughts or behavior patterns to create a physical or psychological arousal. Tremendous mental and physical consequences are almost always at play, ranging from dangerous or risky behavior to massive feelings of guilt and regret to a sense of desperation in relationships. The internet is teeming with organizations dedicated to treating this condition, and most approach curing the addiction with the traditional 12-step model.

Obviously, if I were to label someone a sex/love addict, your perception of that person would alter dramatically. You might picture a man (or woman) hunched over a computer keyboard, filling their brains with images of pornography. You might imagine someone constantly cruising the bars and clubs in search of sexual partners. You might imagine someone trolling internet chat rooms, maybe not making a physical connection but certainly an emotional one. With any one of those perceptions, you would possess a high likelihood of being correct.

What about the more “respectable” of us, though? What about the soap opera or romantic novel addict? Television can string us motheralong in the quest for love for years, which How I Met Your Mother recently did for nine seasons. Celebrity couples are a fascination for the more “common folk.” We want to see love enacted, and sometimes we aren’t even satisfied with that, as we want the relationship to be consummated before we’ll believe it’s genuine.

Contrary to what you might be thinking, I’m not here to beat up on sex/love addicts, nor am I here to loudly proclaim our culture is going to hell in a hand-basket. Men’s minds and spirits are under siege these days from sexual attack after sexual attack, to the point where pornography or sex addiction is almost always the elephant in the room of any men’s discussion. Even worse, SLA is tremendously difficult to talk about without making yourself sound like a complete pervert. My heart goes out to anyone dealing with it.

My point here is twofold. First, I want to open the floor to discussion, to get the ball rolling on this topic, because it will probably be addressed here again at some point. Second, I want to throw out the possibility that SLA is a lot more ingrained in the collective public consciousness than many realize. Why do movies with sex scenes require nudity and simulated sexual activity? Why do the scenes need to be included at all? Why does every story require a love interest? These are questions I don’t think many of us consider.

If you believe you might be struggling with SLA, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous has posted a list of 40 questions for self-diagnosis. They can be found here.

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Desperation

kfcBefore I get started, let me just clarify one thing: KFC is Kentucky Fried Chicken. That’s what I still call it most of the time, and that’s not just because I’m old and crotchety. However many years ago the company changed the name, they wanted to take the emphasis off the word “chicken” because they wanted to expand their menu, and they wanted to draw attention away from the word “fried” because it carried negative health connotations. Walk into a KFC today, though, and what do you predominantly find? Fried chicken. I rest my case.

Anyway, for the sake of brevity, I’ll just refer to restaurant by its illegitimate three-letter name for the remainder of this post. KFC has been in the news quite a bit over the past week or so, and the reason hasn’t had anything to do with poultry. Perhaps you’ve heard the name “Victoria Wilcher” mentioned somewhere? She is the 3-year-old girl whose face was scarred in a vicious dog attack so badly that it disturbed customers at a KFC in Jackson, Mississippi, to the point where she and her grandmother were asked to leave the restaurant.

True portions of the previous sentence: Victoria Wilcher is 3 years old, and her face was badly scarred in a vicious dog attack. An investigation by KFC has now apparently proved everything else in that sentence is a lie.

The full details of the story can be found here, so I’m not going to dwell on all the minute details. Needless to say, a plethora of adjectives exists for a story such as this – sad, sick, bizarre, twisted, etc., etc. The one I keep thinking of, though, is desperate.

In the beginning, we needed this story to have a villain, so we honed in on the big, bad KFC. (By the way, how awesome has this business come out in all this? Donating money for this girl’s medical expenses, and then not taking it back once the story turned out to be a hoax? Well played, Colonel Sanders.) We needed a victim, so we focused on this girl. We needed advocates, so we listened to the grandmother. And now the story has flipped, and we still can’t turn away.

Why would a family do something like this? My first guess would be that they needed money for medical bills in a bad sort of way. Victoria-WilcherBad enough that they would concoct a story, use a little girl as a pawn, and even go on television and Facebook to spread their tale and solicit donations. Of course, I could be wrong; they could just be awful, awful people. In a day and age of crushing medical bills, however, I could see someone attempting to pull off a scam of this nature. Doesn’t make it right, but…

There’s not just a hint of desperation in all of this; everything here reeks of it. Let’s start with the media, desperate to paint another corporation in a bad light or show how prejudice is alive and well or strike another blow for the underdog. Or how about us, the consumers of media, who were desperate to take in what we were being given? Or how about KFC, so desperate they would fork over $30,000 before the story was even proven to be true just to avoid the bad press? And, of course, the family, so desperate they would lie to anyone who would listen to raise some cash.

We’re a desperate people, a desperate society. We want to believe David can take down Goliath so badly, but we’re not even sure who Goliath is anymore. None of us wants to see children suffer, and we so want to give people the benefit of the doubt. People sin, though. They’re greedy. They lie. And while we all want to be harmless as doves, sometimes we have to be wise as serpents. We dove in too quickly, without all the facts, and we were disappointed.

This is the rare instance where even money donated under false pretenses could serve a useful purpose in the end, as Wilcher still faces a long road to recovery. She will need all the help she can get. In fact, maybe we all do.

The Fine Line

pencil boxWhen I was very young, I used to have this desire to show other kids little tips on how to do things better. You know, like keeping all your pencils in a pencil case instead of just having them rolling around your desk everywhere. The last memory I have of attempting to share one of these tips was in the first grade, which was probably a good thing, since writing that second sentence actually made me want to travel back in time and beat myself up for being such a dweeb.

That desire to show people the “right” way to do things still crops up in me from time to time, which is ironic because I’m not a particularly big fan of someone attempting to convince me they have all the answers. I’m not saying I don’t ever listen to anyone, but I’m typically drawn to those teachers who express just a hint of doubt or at least occasionally admit they might be mistaken. I don’t believe anyone has it all together all the time.

Looking back on some of the things I’ve written here, I hope I haven’t come across as the kid with the pencil case. Sometimes I feel as if I need to come up with some moral or wisdom because that’s what good Christians do, but I’ve noticed I tend to get more response when I write about not having all the answers. The line to be walked, then, is this: How do I offer content that is helpful, insightful, and inspiring without giving the impression I have everything all figured out?

Fittingly, my answer to that question is I don’t know.

I’m just jotting all this down quickly before bed tonight because I don’t want to be a hypocrite. I don’t want to elevate myself to some position I don’t deserve. In fact, I don’t want to elevate myself to any position at all. At the same time, though, I don’t want to revel in uncertainty and lament how difficult everything is when I know there is a way out and there is light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve done enough wallowing over the years; I’d rather not encourage that here.

So what does all that make me? Just some dude with a blog. No more, no less. You can keep your pencils wherever you want.

Bearing Or Beating?

Have you ever glanced at a word quickly and totally misread it? I’ve often wondered if the words we think we see come from some kind of anticipatory part of our brains, where we think we know what we are going to read before we read it. I’m sure someone has developed a theory on this phenomena, but I’m not familiar with it.

youversion-logoTake this morning, for example. My wife and I both use the Bible app YouVersion on our mobile devices. It’s an excellent app, offering several different translations of the Bible and a fairly extensive search feature, as well as a Verse of the Day each day. The verse appears upon opening the program, so I’ll sheepishly admit it’s easy to glance and it and not really think about what it says. Here is today’s verse:

Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation. Selah (Psalm 68:19, ESV)

Notice the word bears. Now, imagine if someone misread one of the letters in that word; specifically, the r. To make a needlessly long explanation short, I thought for a moment I saw the word beats“Blessed be the Lord, who daily BEATS us up…”

Very slight difference there.

Of course, the first thing I did was laugh at my mistake. Because I over-think everything in life, though, I thought about the alternate wording again. “…The Lord, who beats us up…” Was this a simple case of not paying attention to what I was reading, or did I just tap into some subliminal content hidden in my mind?

In all seriousness, I went with the former over the latter. Even though I knew I had merely misread the word, however, there have been times when I felt exactly that way. Days when I believed God couldn’t possibly have any use for me anymore. Days when I openly questioned Him on why He made me the way I am. Days when I just knew that every problem I had was because I was such a lousy Christian.

Okay, so maybe He wasn’t doing all the beating … but I didn’t exactly feel as if He was being particularly kind to me either. What I came to realize, however, after coming to terms with my depression, going through some counseling, and renewing my mind, was that I had a problem of perspective. He wasn’t beating me; He was bearing me. All those times He pointed out my screw-ups, He wanted me to be better. All those times I couldn’t figure out why I was here, He wanted to me to dig deeper. And all those times I thought He was done with me, He was just getting started.

I don’t mean to say I don’t ever get sideways with God anymore. I can think of things in my life right now I’m sure He’s not happy with, and there are definitely days when that r looks an awful lot like a t. The truth, though, is in the Bible. I know; I checked the app.

Reclaiming The Beauty

rick reillyDamn you, Rick Reilly.

First of all, you made me curse, which is something I’ve been trying to cut back on. You did it, though. You unsettled me enough with your farewell column that those were the first words I thought of. Second, why did you have to go there? Why did you have to write about how sports can make you a better person and can inspire you and can create families for those who don’t have them?

And, third, you’re right. You’re absolutely right.

Jocks aren’t going to like this post. My old coaches and guys I played with probably won’t enjoy it, either. Heck, I don’t even want to write it. But Rick Reilly made me do it, with his stories about father-figure coaches, teammates who supported disabled teammates, and athletes who cared enough about a disabled fan to drive him back and forth from games. He painted a picture of sports as a place where beauty could exist, where miracles could happen, where people could rise to the occasion not just as athletes but also as human beings.

That was not my experience with sports.

One of my earliest sports memories is from a little league baseball game. I was small and timid, and my coach pulled me aside before one of my at-bats and told me not to swing. I was short and had a small strike zone, he said, so I would have a good chance of drawing a walk. I can see how in an adult mind this strategy would make sense, but I was a kid; I wanted to swing the bat, to prove I could get a hit. He was adamant, though: Do … not … swing.

Translation? There’s no way you’re good enough to get a hit, so pray they walk you.

I became a decent baseball player in the years after that, and I was actually a pretty good pitcher until I overused my arm and basically burned it out. I also played basketball and ran track for a couple of years in middle school. My downfall in track was simple: I wasn’t fast enough to outrun anyone. This kind of failure was fairly easy to take, mainly because I didn’t like running all that much anyway because of my flat feet. Giving it up was a simple decision.

From the seventh grade on, though, basketball was a form of pure torture for me. I loved the sport, and I still do, but it nearly drove me insane before I eventually decided to stop playing in the tenth grade. Some players thrive on coaches riding them; I wasn’t one of them. I was always skinny, and no amount of time in the weight room ever seemed to change that. I wasn’t aggressive enough, I was told over and over again. I had an assistant coach was decided to call me “Cheryl” for an entire year. I guess they were trying to toughen me up. All they did was break me down.

I remember in the eighth grade running this ridiculous drill that was basically a free-for-all to try to get the ball. Ever hear of a DDT,jake the snake the wrestling move made famous by Jake “The Snake” Roberts? Another kid did one on me, driving my head into the gym floor. In high school, an upperclassman elbowed me on the bridge of my nose, cracking the bone. My nerves were shot, and my stomach was upset constantly. I was embarrassed at who I was.

As I said, I quit basketball after my sophomore year of high school, and not making the baseball team my freshman and sophomore years effectively concluded my adolescent athletic career. Looking back, I wish I had quit everything sooner and been in the band. Somewhere, though, that kid who was told not to swing was still inside me, and he desperately wanted to prove he could get that hit. But he never did.

I’ve always known how that anger carried over into my sporting life since those days. I don’t know how many tennis rackets I’ve destroyed in frustration through the years. I actually had to apologize to my wife before we were married after she attended a basketball scrimmage I was taking part in because I was so inconsolable about my performance that I wouldn’t even talk to anyone afterward. In those moments, it’s always the same: You ought to be better than this. You’re letting everyone down. They’re all mad at you. Look at how well everyone else is doing. You’re going to lose … again.

What I didn’t realize, though, is how my past had colored how I view sports in general. In my eyes, no one in sports is a good guy. The ones who appear to be must be hiding something, or they must have sacrificed their families to get where they are. Every college coach is cheating, every professional athlete is greedy and disingenuous. If the team I want to win is losing, I get angry, and if they’re winning, I almost can’t stand to watch because I’m afraid they’re going to blow it. I hate arrogant and cocky players like Kobe Bryant, and I want them to lose so badly it hurts.

So, no, Rick, sports did not exactly better my life.

Upward Basketball LogoSomething started to change in me about two years ago, though, when my oldest daughter started playing Upward Basketball. She smiled when she played. She didn’t beat herself up for mistakes. She seemed to genuinely love what she was doing. “How can this be?” I thought. She challenged the bitterness I had built up inside me. Then I watched the San Antonio Spurs win the NBA title over the Miami Heat last week, and I had the same sort of feeling. They played together. They weren’t selfish. They were beautiful to watch. “How can this be?”

And then, Mr. Reilly, I opened up a link to your column this morning, and I felt myself fighting back the tears, just like you probably did when Sox Walseth put his hand on your shoulder all those years ago. I saw how sports were supposed to be, and I lamented the fact that it wasn’t like that for me. Then I realized I had to put those events of my life behind me, just like you had to put the bad man you were behind you to become a great sports writer and, more importantly, a better man. “Never let anyone tell you sports doesn’t matter,” you wrote, and I realized it had mattered to me all this time … for all the wrong reasons. And I also realized it wasn’t too late to forgive, forget, and reclaim what I had lost.

Damn you, Rick Reilly.

 

Facing The Freak-Out

I knew it. I just knew it. It never goes smoothly, so I don’t know why I thought it would this time. There is always something I don’t know or didn’t plan for or is more difficult than I thought it would be. I can feel my stomach tying up in knots right now just thinking about it.

I do – DO NOT – enjoy trying to get registered for college classes. At all. Whatsoever.

With that in mind, it was (of course) inevitable that I would experience at least one major freak-out in the process of pursuing a degree in the field of psychology. I would have hoped this would occur somewhere down the line, at least after I had registered for some classes. But, no, I couldn’t even get that far this time, even though if I had just used my brain for a second I would have realized what a dope I was.

Apparently, there are no grants available to post-baccalaureate students. The internet says grants may be available under certain circumstances, but I haven’t found anywhere yet that explains what those circumstances are. From the genesis of this idea to return to school, I have wanted to avoid a loan at all costs. My wife and I have worked very hard to keep our debt down, and piling up college loans would be very counterproductive to all that effort. I’m not saying I wouldn’t ever resort to a loan, but for the time being I would rather not.

now-panic-freak-out1That pretty much just leaves scholarships and grants to cover the costs of my Fall 2014 semester. Since I’ve missed most of the deadlines to apply for scholarships, however, that narrows things down to grants … which I just found out were unavailable. When I found this out yesterday, all my positive thinking, cognitive therapy, hopeful outlook went straight out the window. I felt like a fool. More accurately, I believed I was a fool. There was no way this could work. Why don’t I just give up right now?

Stepping back and looking at things today, I can see all is not lost. My main problem is I would like to obtain a degree which will take multiple semesters to complete right freaking now. The thought of having to begin with just one or two classes didn’t compute. “Do not despise these small beginnings…” I’ll definitely be out more of my own money than I was planning on if we go the route of paying for things ourselves, but it is possible to get started that way. And, really, I’m just beginning to discover what’s out there as far as areas of study and aid options go, so there may be something good waiting for me yet.

I don’t write all this to portray myself as some kind of martyr of the big, mean, expensive system of postsecondary education (although I do think it is absolutely outrageous what schools are charging for tuition these days). I’m writing it to say this: I freaked out. I thought I was moving past doing that, but I went headlong into it yesterday. Granted, in the past, I would still be freaking out today (and the next day and the next day and…), but it was a little frightening to see that side emerge again. I didn’t like it.

What I do like, though, is that I’m able to write all this down in past tense. I’m still extremely nervous and frightened and impatient when it comes to this new course (which I may never even get to), but I realize now there are going to be obstacles. There is going to be time involved. I’m going to have to what I can when I can. The main point of pressure is going to come from me, which means an occasional flip-out will be nearly certain. The real challenge will be whether I can recover from those moments.

By the way, if anyone reading this has had a similar experience with trying to get back into school to complete a post-baccalaureate degree, please contact me. Quite honestly, I have no idea what the heck I’m doing at the moment, so any and all advice would be appreciated. And feel free to share your own freak-outs as well. I’m sure we’ve all had them.

Humans In The Bible

You have got it made. You’ve just been told you’re going to be the top dog, the big cheese, the man in charge very soon. It is destiny, and no one can take it away from you. You have all the backing in the world behind you, and now all you have to do is patiently wait your turn.

That is, until the acting boss decides he doesn’t want to give up his seat. Because of what he knows about you and your future, he decides you’re the biggest threat to his position. He knows you need to be taken out of the picture, so he decides to chase you down and kill you. You know that, though, so you go on the lam and engage in a tense game of cat and mouse for the next several years. The boss has enemies of his own, however, and they eventually take him out, clearing the path for your triumphant return.

Or picture this: You’re living in a really, really bad town. I mean, bad to the point where you’re told by someone in the know that you’re the only good person left there. So this person gives you a tip that some nasty stuff is about to go down, and you had better start making preparations for you and your family to escape. You heed his warning and put everything else on hold while you create a safe haven.

There’s only one catch, though: No one else in the town is going to make it out alive. Even if they come banging on your door for help, you’re told to not let them in; this is the way it has to be. As everything hits the fan, you can hear them dying outside – men, women, children, neighbors, friends. You have your instructions; you have to carry them out. When you emerge, all the people outside of your family that you knew are gone.

I know if I were placed in either of these situations, I would emerge more than a little traumatized. I would definitely never be the same. I might even go kinda nuts and make some poor decisions down the road. I would also probably garner some sympathy, though. The people who knew everything I went through would wonder how I held it together as well as I did, and when I flubbed up, hopefully at least one of them would call me on it and try to get me some help.

Thing is, those two scenarios actually did happen. They happened to two men almost every one of us learned about in Sunday School – David and Noah. Most people are familiar with the good stuff: David killed Goliath and was a “man after God’s own heart,” and Noah loaded his family and two of all the animals on Earth onto a giant ark to maintain a remnant of life after the great flood. Nine times out of ten, these are the stories we remember … but they’re only a part of the picture.

David’s failings later in life are probably more well-known than Noah’s, mainly because of his affair with Bathsheba. Noah, however, wound up drunk and naked in a cave, a state you would not expect to find the last righteous man on the planet in. Even when these stories are recounted, however, they are rarely with any kind of sympathy. The question always arises: How, after everything God had done for them and all the miracles they had seen, could they act in such despicable ways? How could they be so stupid?

I once heard a sermon that brought up the possibility that the Apostle Paul should not have gone to Jerusalem. After all, he was warned several times by others not to go there, and the eventual result of his trip was being taken to jail. I’m not sure if I agree with this take on the scripture or not, but the very possibility of it brought an interesting thought to my mind: People in the Bible were human beings just like you and me. They got ticked off. They got depressed. They were burned out, stressed out, and put out. Some had touchier tempers than others. Some were stubborn. I might not have been friends with all of them.

We have this tendency, though, to build these people into caricatures. They couldn’t possibly have experienced something like PTSD in those days … even though the Bible is full of wars and acts of violence. They could be depressed … even though their loved ones died, their cities were destroyed, and their prayers didn’t quite turn out the way they expected. They couldn’t have been anxious … even though Jesus made it a special point to caution them not to be anxious. These people weren’t perfect; they were normal human beings, just like you and me.

Instead of diminishing them in my eyes, this way of looking at the names in the Bible made them more relatable to me. The way God viewed them suddenly didn’t seem unattainable to me, as it had in the past. It also taught me to be less judgmental, realizing that God could actually still love a Christian in the midst of them falling apart. And, finally, it gave me hope in knowing the battles that go on in our heads today are nothing new to God. They’ve been there throughout time.

What I don’t understand is why God seems to deal differently with mental illness today than He did in biblical times, but that is another topic for another day. I only have so much time to write. I’m only human, you know.

Getting Real

I do not like taking medicine. For one thing, obtaining medicine usually means making a trip to see a doctor of some sort, which usually means there’s something wrong with me, which usually makes me very unhappy. Beyond whatever is ailing me, nine times out of ten the medicine I receive causes me to feel even more off-kilter the first couple of days I take it. And then there are the time intervals that have to occur between doses of the medicine, which commonly results in my staying up odd hours to get the cycle right.

I only mention this because last night I decided that instead of blogging I would just go to bed early, simply in an attempt to line up with the schedule my latest medication requires. Even without writing, though, I still managed to spend a good chunk of the day on the computer. A significant portion of that time was spent sorting out what I would need to do to become a college student once again in the fall of 2014.

That’s right: I’m going back to school.

psych picAt least, I think I’m going back to school. I’ve been accepted, and I met with an adviser today. I’ve got an application in for financial aid, and I’ll probably be talking soon with someone about that, too. I just need to get registered for classes now.

Oh, and did I mention I’m absolutely terrified? Because things … just … got … real.

In the area of ideals, this venture seems like a no-brainer to me. I’m going back to school to take psychology classes, fueled by my own experiences with counselors, the progress I’ve made with my own depression, a desire to help others, and a drive to further explore some of the issues I’ve been writing about here. Even beyond that, my writing style has morphed over the years from fairly loose to a more analytical style, which is suited more to a field such as psychology. My wife is on board with the idea, and she has been encouraging me to follow through. For the first time in a long time, I feel as if I know what God wants me to do.

I’ve been here before, though, where everything seems be lining up perfectly … and then the bottom drops out. I’m nervous about trying to support my family and take classes at the same time. I’m afraid the extreme social anxiety I experienced the first time I went through college will be with me again. I don’t know how long all this will take, and if it will all be worth it in the end. I’m obsessive about wasting time and (especially) money on things, and the potential exists here to do both.

So I suppose I could still potentially freak out, turn tail, and run the other way from all this. Or I could follow what I feel like I’m supposed to do, walk in faith, and see what happens. Either way, I’m not going to be the same on the other side.

Here we go…

Intended For Evil, Meant For Good

I am on a roll this month, folks.

Actually, my current streak of calamitous events began at the end of last month, when I was bit by a dog on a bike ride near my 10325717_10154256908525217_532686178325625468_nhouse and had to subsequently receive my first tetanus shot in umpteen years. That was followed up this past weekend when something meteorologists described as a “macroburst” tore through the tiny community my family and I live in, uprooting trees and depositing a big chunk of the chestnut tree which stands next to our driveway on top of our minivan.

But the coup de gráce came yesterday, when a branch from the aforementioned tree smacked me right in the face, breaking my nose and requiring me to receive four stitches at the local emergency room … which explains why you didn’t read anything new from me here yesterday.

So, yeah, this hasn’t exactly been the greatest June for me so far. Why is that bothering me then?

I’ve written before about moments where I felt as if I was breaking through the veil of depression and learning to live not only with myself but also with the idea of a God who is good regardless of my circumstances. I don’t want to jinx what I’ve experienced recently, but the beginning of this month has felt like one of those times. (On a side note, I have honestly believed in my ability to jinx things for years. I say that in all seriousness. In fact, it was very difficult for me to type those last two sentences.)

I already wrote about the dog bite ad nauseam, so let’s start with the storm. Thankfully, the limbs that fell on top of our minivan did not do any damage. And when I say any damage, I mean that literally; the paint on the roof wasn’t even scratched. That’s not why I’m not bothered by what happened, though. I’m content because my children and I spent nearly a half-hour in a closet that day because of a tornado warning. There was, obviously, no tornado. We were safe. Our house was still standing. Things could have been much worse.

10443165_10154265282160217_7299247257488681852_oOr consider my now-broken nose. I was doing something stupid when the injury occurred, namely attempting to pull a hanging branch off of the aforementioned tree. My wife and two of my daughters were helping me, but I was yanking on the thickest part. I thought it would fall down; it had other ideas and came straight at my face as it separated from the tree. Caught me right across the bridge of the nose. Miraculously, though, the impact didn’t break my glasses. I had people there with me who could immediately get me to the hospital. Two inches higher and I probably would have been knocked unconscious. Things could have been much worse.

I don’t know what the heck is going on with me.

This is the type of string of events that should make me believe I’m living under some type of curse. I mean, that is a pretty crappy couple of weeks. Even now, I’m thinking of how my wife’s 20-year high school reunion is this weekend, and I’m probably going to be there with two black eyes and a swollen face. Somehow, though, I don’t feel as if the world is caving in. Bones heal, pain fades, storms pass. Is this fun? Well, no, it isn’t. When faced with what could have been, though, I somehow feel blessed to have gotten off as easily as I have.

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” I am not at all putting what has happened to me on the level of what Joseph went through. In fact, I wouldn’t even put it on the level of what many of you reading this are going through right now. All I can offer is this: When you finally are able to see the good destination God was leading to you through the bad things, you will feel release.

I’m going to snap myself back to reality now by placing a cold pack across my nose and under my eyes to try to get some of this swelling down. My wife told me earlier today it looked like someone had done plastic surgery on me. At least I still have a head. And there are some funny things going on in there right now.

Worth The Read?

I checked this book out of the library last week … and so far I’ve managed to read one page. I will soldier on, though, and I was wondering if anyone had read it before. Also, do you have any personal favorite books on the topic of depression, Christian or otherwise? If so, let me hear ’em!

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