Running From Grace

“Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter…”

I am almost always the hero in my stories. Even if I am portraying myself as downtrodden, it is because I am being oppressed by forces conspiring against my good and just cause. For instance, I have never committed a driving infraction; I was always either cut off or tailgated or caught in a speed trap or something. More to the point, I will lie, cheat, and conceal facts to make myself look good. I want to appear innocent, even if I am not.

Therefore, it would stand to reason that if someone came along and said, “Hey, guess what? I can make you truly innocent. I can take away the guilt and shame of all the bad things you’ve done and make it as if you never did anything wrong. You will be put in right standing with most important force in the universe, the One who created you and knew you before you were even born – God.”

Why do I have such a hard time accepting grace then?

eddie chartI don’t seem to have much of a problem trying to cover my tracks. I don’t have much of a problem not admitting my struggles. I don’t have much of a problem repeating the same sins over and over and over again. It makes absolutely zero sense that I wouldn’t come running into the arms of grace every time it was offered. Without grace, I have no peace; all I have is guilt and shame. Without grace, I am nothing but a lawless rule-breaker.

I just can’t wrap my head around it, though. I mean, I did something wrong. Punishment should follow, right? Sure, the Bible says “all sins,” but what I did was really, really bad. I confess my sins to God, and sometimes I even get brave enough to confess them to other people, but it doesn’t feel like that’s enough. Every hit I take in life must be the retribution I deserve from a righteous God. It simply cannot be as easy as Him just saying, “I forgive you.”

I’d like to lay this skewed perspective off on depression, but the fact is lots of people think this way. We run from the very thing that can give us peace. And why? Because we don’t believe we’re worthy of it. I am guilty, guilty, guilty, and there is no way I should not expect the hammer to fall on me. I run from grace because I believe it is too easy. It is described as a “gift,” but I don’t feel as I’ve earned it … which basically defeats the purpose of grace.

I am not the hero. I am not the good guy. I am not always in the right. If I were, though, there would be no need for grace. So maybe it’s time to drop the act. Not that I’m going to start blurting out every bad thing I do to anyone who will listen, but maybe it’s time to stop caring about the image so much and start caring about getting better. Guilt is a vicious cycle; grace is the brakes. If I can only be half as good a driver as I think I am, maybe I can finally hit the pedal.

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Tuneful Tuesdays

I’ve shared a couple of songs here recently that held special meaning in my life and helped me navigate some of the darker times, and I’ve thought for a while about setting aside one post a week to shine a spotlight on more such songs. So, without further ado, welcome to the debut of “Tuneful Tuesdays.”

Today’s selection, “Throw It All Away,”  is from Toad the Wet Sprocket’s 1997 album Coil. While I’ve always said I’m more of a fan of the band’s previous effort, Dulcinea, Coil actually contains a number of songs which spoke to my cluttered emotions. Cuts such as “Dam Would Break,” “Don’t Fade,” and “Whatever I Fear” wrestle with crises of faith, which is a fairly common occurrence for depressed folks such as myself. The musical style is a little heavier, too, and I’m a sucker for loud guitars.

“Throw It All Away” stands out (in my mind, at least) as the sliver of light in an otherwise fairly bleak collection of songs. There’s a great amount of hopefulness to it, and it actually offers some pretty sound advice, such as:

Take the dreams that should’ve died
The ones that kept you lying awake
When you should’ve been all right
And throw ’em all away

It’s one of those songs I always turn up a little louder in the car and sing along with. I even sang this out with a band once (with all apologies to Glen Phillips). I don’t know if I did a good job, but it sure was fun singing it. So turn it up, raise your voice, “and start again.”

Self-Esteem & Qualifiers

Tell me one good thing about yourself.

Before you answer, let me give you a couple of guidelines. You can’t say you’re “pretty good,” “fair,” or “decent.” You have to give a solid, affirmative “good.” You also can’t attach any qualifiers to your answer. For example, you can’t say, “I’m a good parent, but I yell at my kids too much” or “I’m a good golfer when the wind isn’t blowing too hard” or “I’m attractive, but I don’t like my nose.” You either are what you say or you are not.

I remember freezing like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming semi the first time this challenge was put before me in a counseling self esteemsession. I couldn’t think of a single thing that I could put in a 100 percent positive sense. Everything I could think of came with something to pull it down a bit. “Well, I’m a decent guitar player, but I’m really only average. I’d like to be better at it.” “I’m a good friend, but I don’t stay in touch with my friends enough and we don’t see each other much.” “I have a talent for writing, but I’ve never really done that much with it.” And so on and so forth…

In fact, when I did use entirely positive statements, I felt a little guilty because it seemed as if I was lying. It would have been much easier for me to list all the stuff I suck at. That I can do with no hesitation whatsoever. “I can’t dance.” “I destroy everything I try to build.” “I cause electronic devices to stop working.” “My handwriting is horrible.” “I have very little upper body strength.” See? No qualifiers whatsoever. I guess if I wanted to twist this into a positive I could say I’m very good at identifying what I’m not very good at.

Honestly, I don’t understand people with high self-esteem. I literally can’t comprehend how they think. I would say my confidence is shot, but I’m not sure I ever had any to begin with. The concept of high self-esteem is so foreign to me, in fact, that I’ve been guilty of accusing people of being arrogant when in actuality they were merely well-adjusted human beings. I have believed for years that low self-esteem hurt me because I was always placing others ahead of myself and not thinking enough about my own needs. Turns out, though, that my problem is I actually think about myself too much.

In his book Healing for Damaged Emotions, author David A. Seamands wrote, “When you devalue yourself, you become overly absorbed in and with yourself, and you don’t have anything left to give to others.” He goes on to explain how low self-esteem ultimately sabotages relationships: “If you have low self-esteem, you ask another human being to do for you what no other person can do – to make you feel adequate and able – when you are already convinced that you are inadequate and unable.”

I’ve always worn low self-esteem as some sort of badge, as if demeaning myself would somehow make me appear more humble and would elevate those around me. While there are advantages to recognizing one’s limitations, though, a poor self-image is a destructive force and an anchor when it comes to depression. To put it bluntly, if you keep telling yourself how awful you are for long enough, you eventually start to believe it. You become absorbed in your own flaws, and you draw inward. You may be convinced you have no worth, but at the same time your worthlessness is all you can think about. Trust me, I know. I fight this battle every day.

What is a life without qualifiers like? I’m not exactly sure. Things don’t seem balanced to me unless I try to balance the scales with some kind of negativity somehow. I used to think this was being pragmatic, but now I’m not so sure. Maybe it really is self-sabotage to believe nothing is ever really “good” or to believe I’m never going to fully succeed at anything. It just feels so alien to me. I mean, someone has to be realistic about things, right?

self-esteem“Very few people have fully overcome the haunting self-doubts, the dragging disappointments about who they are, and what they can be,” Seamands wrote. “Low self-esteem begins even in the crib, follows to the kindergarten, and worsens during the teen years. In adult life, it seems to settle in like a great fog that covers many people day by day. Sometimes if lifts a little but always returns, trying to engulf, to drown.”

Drowning in a great fog doesn’t sound to me like a very healthy way to live. I’ve been trying to live without qualifiers, but ingrained thought patterns are difficult to break. Maybe someone told you that you were lazy or stupid or ugly, and you believed it. Maybe you’ve lived that way for years. I don’t want to see you live that way anymore. I’m praying for you to recognize you’re better than you think you are. I may not always believe in me, but I believe in you.

Now, tell me something good about yourself.

Recovery

For lack of a better way to put it, I spun out at the end of last week. Situations were pressing on my nerves, and I went to bed Thursday evening nearly nauseous. I lost my perspective, handled things poorly, covered things up, and lost my peace. I regained a little of it yesterday, and then woke up today without it again. I stood in front of the mirror and called myself names. I just wanted to be alone, which is very difficult to achieve in a house with a wife and five children. I escaped for a two-mile walk, but not before irritating pretty much every member of my family with my rotten attitude.

I’m leveling out a little this afternoon, but my stomach still feels weird, and I’m still wrestling with what upset me in the first place. I headfeel angry and stupid and foolish and hurt and weak. This isn’t exactly new for me. I’ve been here before. But I haven’t been at this level in a while. I remembered my counseling, took my medication, exercised, prayed, even poured my guts out to a friend over some burgers and fries Friday night, but I couldn’t shake that old ghost. I knew I had messed up, and the thought crept back into my head that I was always going to mess things up because that’s simply what I do. It’s in my DNA.

Thankfully, I’m slowly learning that recovery does exist when these feelings hit, but I’m also painfully discovering that I have to own blame and accept consequences when I do idiotic things. And while my grace tends to extend pretty far when it comes to other people, I have virtually zero tolerance for myself. I expect the hammer to fall on me because I deserve it, but at the same time I really don’t want it to because I’m a coward. I scheme and I plot to mitigate the damages, all while chastising myself for repeating the same old mistakes over and over again.

Recovery from depression can be a vicious and unforgiving process. Feelings have to be acknowledged before they can be dealt with. I mean, if I broke my leg but I kept insisting that the bone was intact, I would never heal properly because I would keep trying to walk around on it as if it was a healthy limb. As crappy as it feels, there is a necessity in admitting fear, anxiety, sadness, addiction, and any other number of emotions that commonly accompany depression. The key is to not wallow in them or just accept them as states that are always just going to be. A daily process and battle exists to achieve victory, but no one should ever claim it is easy.

I forgot all this over weekend and sunk into a hole. I wanted to think of myself as “cured,” when wellness is a process I’ll probably be walking out for the rest of my days on this earth. I gave wounds power over me, and I let my emotions get away from me. To be honest, I don’t feel a whole lot better today, but I have no choice but to keep pushing. It recently dawned on that in certain areas of my life, I’m not even sure what “normal” is, but I know it exists.

fergusonComedian and actor Craig Ferguson once offered a tremendously accurate description of how suffering in a disease is often what promotes healing when he said, “… What mattered was that when treated as a disease, those who suffered from it were most likely to recover.” Even though Ferguson was addressing alcoholism, I believe his words ring true for depression as well. Recovery doesn’t always feel good. Sometimes it downright sucks. It’s necessary, though, as we progress through life, whether we have a broken bone or a clouded mind. I just wish it was a faster process.

The Changing Face

It’s weird to be old enough to see perceptions change. Some things are judged more harshly than they used to be, and other things that used to be totally unacceptable are now permissible. I believe some of these changes have been for the better, and I also believe some of them were spawned straight from the pits of hell. I’ll leave it to your collective imaginations to guess what I might be referring to.

We live in a paradoxical society these days when it comes to infidelity in marriage. We’re constantly assaulted with music, movies, and television programs that glamorize affairs, but if someone is ever discovered to actually be cheating on his or her spouse in real life they take a public drubbing. So, basically, all in the same breath, marriage is a bond easily broken but is also sacred and shouldn’t be tampered with.

I’m old enough to remember the great Christian music scandals of the 1990s, specifically the cases of Michael English and Sandi Patty.michael-english-two It may seem strange to many reading this, but these were two of the biggest names in Christian music back then, and their affairs (not with each other, mind you) and subsequent divorces were absolutely shocking at the time. English’s affair even involved some returned awards and a pregnancy (which, sadly, ended in a miscarriage). It was the first real Christian music scandal I can remember clearly.

Fast forward to 2014, where you can view a repentant Steve Fee on YouTube discussing how “my entire life exploded … and I’m the one who lit the fuse.” I knew Fee had been off the radar for a while, but I didn’t really know why. The reason dates back to 2010, when he confessed to having an affair. I had no idea, and I work at a Christian radio station. Granted, Fee probably isn’t a superstar on the level that English and Patty were back in the ’90s, but I don’t remember hearing about this at all. Plus, while the video is well done, Fee doesn’t actually mention what his “secret sin” was.

webbPerhaps even more surprising to me, though, was learning Derek Webb and Sandra McCracken had divorced. I was a huge fan of Webb’s early work with Caedmon’s Call, but as his interest in electronic music grew and his politics became more liberal I listened to less and less of his music. Still, he and McCracken formed a sort of power couple for the independent music scene, with Webb starting the NoiseTrade website and McCracken proving to be a viable artist on her own. According to legal documents, Webb had an affair, and McCracken filed for divorce … in April. Again, I didn’t know a thing about this until recently.

Things are just different now. English’s music was universally pulled from Christian radio following the revelation of his affair, but I’m not aware of any of Fee’s music getting the hook (Webb’s latest efforts generally don’t get played on the radio anyway, making his situation rather unique.). Patty and English had to gradually work their way back into Christian music circles, while Fee has a nice new video and label backing for his new single, “Grace.” The public scars don’t seem to run as deep as they used to.

All of this causes me to pose a question: Are we becoming a more forgiving society or are we just becoming numb? I mentioned earlier that I’m old enough now to have seen perceptions change; I’m also old enough to have seen several people near and dear to me divorce. I was sad to see them separate from their spouses, but I didn’t hate them or want them to lose their jobs. Still, when the person in question is in a public role like Fee or Webb, should they still be in positions of influence, particularly if they are in the Christian arena?

A friend of mine today described his lack of grace in the following way: “I just want to judge people and send them straight to hell.” He’s trying to do better, but at the same time he knows that there are certain advantages to following a hard line. Situations generally don’t get out of hand with this kind of attitude. There’s not much room for mercy either, though. King David was an adulterer and a man after God’s own heart. He suffered severe consequences for his actions and possibly even deserved to die under Old Testament law … but he didn’t.

I’m not even sure if I have a point to be made with any of this, except to say the difference with which divorce is treated in Christian Shawn_Press_Image_33circles has evolved and should certainly be continually examined. As far as its effects are concerned, let me conclude by quoting Christian artist Shawn McDonald, who divorced his wife in 2010:

“It’s incredibly humiliating. I feel like I’ve failed, like I’ve let a lot of people down. I hate what happened. This definitely wasn’t something that I ever thought would be part of my story, but now it is my story, and I have to deal with it.”

Worlds Apart

I’m not exactly sure how to say this, so I’ll just say it: I’ve seen Jars of Clay in concert four times, and one of those times they were jerks. I expect artists to have off-nights every now and then, but on this particular evening they came across as arrogant, snarky, and kind of bored with the whole affair. Combine that with lead singer Dan Haseltine’s apparent inability to tweet without starting an argument these days, and the seeds were kind of sown for me to not follow the group as closely as I once did.

Nevertheless, one of those songs that always gets to me is “Worlds Apart,” from the group’s self-titled debut project. I am the only one to blame for this/Somehow is all ends up the same… It’s still my favorite Jars of Clay song today, but its meaning for me always seems to be evolving. At first, it was the praise-and-worshipy chorus that caught my ear. As time went by, however, I came to realize the song is really a call for help from the bottom, when we realize we just can’t do it anymore.

So today’s post is “Worlds Apart.” If you haven’t listened to it in a while, listen to it again.

Four Aces

I don’t know why I thought this would work.

It was a pipe dream. I’m too old. I don’t have enough time. I don’t have enough money. I should have done more research into the financial side of things. I shouldn’t have told anyone I was even thinking about it. There’s no way I can win.

Some of you may remember a little over a month ago when I wrote about my decision to return to college to pursue a degree in psychology. You may also remember how shortly after I wrote about how I was freaking out a little over how I was going to pay for classes. After sizing up the situation, it would seem to make more sense for me to begin classes in the Spring 2015 semester than in the Fall 2014 session. Finances would be better, more time to plan a schedule, etc., etc.

If it all makes sense, though, why do I feel as if I’m failing?Failing-Project

For starters, I signed up for the Fall semester. I had eyes on it, so that’s what I planned to do. Then I had to open my big mouth and tell people I was going back in the Fall, so now I have to explain why that’s not happening. That explanation includes my not being aware of financial aid options for post-baccalaureate students, so I have to basically say I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. Worst of all, though, is the feeling that this is just another one of those big plans I had that will never work out.

My chances of being able to begin in the Spring semester are actually looking quite good, however. As with anything in life, though, some measure of doubt still exists, and I hate that. It makes me want to stop talking about it altogether, but, well, since I had to mention it here…

Earlier this month, I ruminated on the dangers of self-diagnosis and the mental disorder known as Borderline Personality Disorder. I mentioned finding a book on the subject titled “I Hate You – Don’t Leave Me,” by Jerold J. Kreisman and Hal Straus, at the local library. I finally got brave enough to check it out a couple of weeks ago and concluded after reading just a couple of chapters that I did not suffer from this particular disorder. Particular aspects of it, however, seemed to fit me to a T. Here’s a brief passage on how those who suffer from BPD assess risks:

Unwilling to play the hand that is dealt her, the borderline keeps folding every time, losing the ante, waiting to be dealt four aces. If she cannot be assured of winning, she won’t play out her the hand. Improvement comes when she learns to accept the hand for what it is, and recognize that, skillfully played, she can still win.

Four-aces-hand1967I find myself guilty right now of wanting those four aces. I keep thinking of all these reasons that if this doesn’t work out perfectly, it won’t work out at all, when, in reality, an amended plan (or possibly something altogether different) might work just as well. It’s change, though, and change just doesn’t feel right sometimes. It feels like failing.

I am regrouping, but you might not see me mention much about college for a while. I may not be able to pull together the perfect hand, but I think I’ll at least wait for a winning one before I say much more. It’s just so hard to talk about winning sometimes, though, when you feel as if you’re losing.

Broken And Beautiful

10352841_732535573459134_721578935202840472_nGuys like to fix things. This is a proven fact of nature. I’m not even necessarily talking about mechanical things either. Guys like to turn flailing businesses around, set broken bones, mow neglected lawns, tune out-of-tune instruments, point out editorial mistakes in the local newspaper, tighten loose door hinges, change their own oil, and on and on and on and on…

Another thing guys like to do is protect stuff. I’ve never shot a living thing in my life, but if some rabid animal shows up in my yard and is threatening my family, I wouldn’t hesitate to put it down. It’s not just physical protection, though; it’s defense. Guys keep tacklers away from the quarterback, scream when they block shots, throw themselves on grenades, take the rap for things they didn’t even do, try to keep the other team out of their end zone, fight for women they don’t even know, and on and on and on…

Although I wouldn’t rate myself very high on the manliness scale, I wonder if all this isn’t why I’ve become so interested in the field of psychology. After depression counseling, I felt as if someone had repaired a part of my brain that wasn’t working correctly and given me the tools to perform maintenance as needed. Then I started thinking about all the other people I knew who could benefit from something similar, and I thought, “Yeah, I want to be a part of that.” Plus, if I could head off issues before they sprouted, I would also be defending people from future danger.

Check and check!

What has been surprising, though, is how beautiful people who don’t have it all together are becoming to me. I’ll admit, I’ve spent most of my life as a judgmental hypocrite, which I believe everyone in the Bible Belt is required to become for at least a portion of their lives. “Those people need to straighten up! They need to get it together!” And then I realized those people were me. I didn’t have it all together either, and I still don’t. As singer/songwriter Derek Webb once sang, “There are things you would not believe that travel into my mind.” There wasn’t a them anymore; suddenly, it was us.

The main problem with broken people, however, is that it’s very difficult to convince them they’re beautiful. Take a beautiful youngquote-about-maybe-youre-not-perfect-but-that-doesnt-mean-youre-not-beautiful woman, for example, the kind a guy would do stupid things for. Maybe she had trouble with her family. Maybe she has marks on her face left by acne. Maybe she has a scar from some harrowing surgery she thinks will make her ugly if anyone sees it. She doesn’t want to hear about being beautiful, even when someone tells her she is. It’s heartbreaking when she won’t accept a compliment.

Broken people also don’t want to be called broken. They build up tough shells, and even though everything about them screams “I need a friend,” they do their best to keep everyone at arm’s length. They want to set the rules and the boundaries, and they don’t want protection or defense from anyone. At least, that’s what they’ll tell you. They work hard to project independence and toughness, even though they can be hurt very easily by the insensitive among us. They can be fiercely loyal, but also ready to bolt at the first sign of danger.

I used to think I had to fix broken people to make them beautiful. I used to try to protect them and act all self-sacrificing by turning myself into some type of martyr on their behalf. In actuality, I probably just made them feel worse. I don’t need to repair anyone; I need to love them, the same way God loves me even though I falter terribly every day. I hope psychology can be a vehicle for me to do that more effectively by teaching me more about how the mind works, but all that knowledge is useless without the heart. If I can’t say to someone, “I’m here. I’m not running. We’re in this for the long haul, no matter what.”, then I’m defeated before I even start.

I’m a guy, and I like to fix things. I’m a guy, and I like to offer protection. Sometimes, though, I don’t need to do either one. I just need to be there, not trying to offer up any judgments or complicating the matter. There’s a beauty in that brokenness that I can’t explain. It’s gracious and it’s grand, even when I blunder in and step all over it. I’m happy to be a part of it, and I don’t want to lose it. We shouldn’t want to lose it, since you probably saw beauty in me when I didn’t see it either.

I’m here. I’m not running. We’ll make it.

Empowerment

Somewhere along the line, I lost confidence in my ability to change anything.

I don’t know how it happened. I think a combination of factors added up to the whole. I’m shy and I struggle with assertiveness. I’ve always been a chain-of-command kind of guy, never wanting rock the boat too much. I’ve seen too many leaders get away with too many things. I didn’t believe I could make a difference.

As a result, when I am handed the reins and told to take charge, I tend to back off. I get tentative. I automatically want to defer to someone else. It’s like I need someone to tell me it’s okay to proceed before I take any initiative. Once I have an advocate in place, I’m usually good to go.

This philosophy also leaves the door open to my being turned down by someone I consult with. Hard charging personalities would fight for what they believe in at that point. I brood. I stuff my opinions and walk around frustrated. It’s stupid, I know. I’m trying to change, I really am. I’m 40 years old, for Pete’s sake; I ought to be able to just decide something.

As frustrating as all this can be, when I do feel the ball start to roll in my direction I come alive. I want to push boundaries, test trapeze-netlimits, try new things. I’m like a trapeze artist; I’ll try all kinds of crazy stuff, as long as I know the safety net is under me to catch me if I fall.

And maybe it’s been there all along.

A pastor friend of mine once told me a story where a man asked him, “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”. Those words struck a chord with my friend, and he began to gradually step out of his comfort zones into different areas. Something about those words empowered him. The leash was off, and he could be free to be what God was calling him to be.

Referring to God as a safety net seems kind of callous to me, but in a way it’s true. That doesn’t mean we have license to go out and do stupid things just for the sake of doing them, but it does mean that if we feel led by the Lord we will at least be heard. I’ve doubted my image in God’s eyes for years, and I destroyed my own confidence in the process. If He isn’t my advocate, then who is? Why try anything, if He might not be there to make it work?

I have a chance to take control of some things. I guess, in reality, I’ve always had a chance, but I feel as if I have a license now. It’s going to take a lot of faith, though, and I probably won’t get everything right along the way. Just feeling like trying is something almost new to me. Pray for me, as I try to get it right. And if I fail … well, there’s this net…

Stop

I have a lump on my back. It’s not a very big lump, and my doctor acted sort of surprised when I went in to see him about it last week. It wound up being nothing. Still, it was a lump, and it was in a spot where I couldn’t exactly see it, so I definitely did not consider the visit a waste of time.

I hope what am I about to say does not come out the wrong way, but I’m 99.9 percent sure it will. I do not – DO NOT – have some sort of death wish, and I have the utmost respect for anyone who has had to deal the scare of a potential malignant tumor. I am not trying to make light of any potential disease – fatal or non-fatal – that anyone may be afflicted with.

The lump wound up being nothing … but a very, very small part of me wished it had been something.

Again, I don’t mean that to say I want to die, and I’ve witnessed the effects of chemotherapy too many times to desire any part of that.stop-sign Sometimes I just want a reason to stop, you know? Something that will put me on my back for a while, where no one can press me for anything or no circumstance can dictate my life. Something that will take me out of the game momentarily, where I have to be listed as “unavailable.”

I was thinking about how to convey this feeling this afternoon, and now that I’ve typed it all out, it even looks weird to me. As I went through the Bible, though, I came across plenty of other men who wanted to stop for a while. In fact, most of them wanted to quit permanently. Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah, Job, and Jonah all expressed an outright wish that God would take their lives. They didn’t just want a break; they wanted to be done.

It’s normal to want to stop. It’s also normal, though, to not get that chance. With the exception of Jonah, however, God not only doesn’t seem to have a problem with people expressing a desire to quit, He actually picks them up when they do. It would make sense, then, for me to be looking for a rebound of some sort. Most of the time in these seasons, though, I just keep looking for some other reason to not go on.

As with everything else since I’ve started facing up to the reality of depression, I need a change of mindset. Instead of looking for ways to quit, I need to draw on the One who gives me strength. I can’t just power through; it’s just not possible. But I can’t give up either. I do need to stop. When I stop, though, I need to be gathering for the next push.

So the lump was nothing. I guess that must mean, well, something.

It’s not time for me to stop.