Friday, June 05, 2009

How Soon is Now?

RG asks, how soon is soon? Now, kiddo, now.

Disclaimer: I'm really tired right now. But I want to post, and a few of you want to listen, so I figure, why not oblige you. You're nice folks. But I may be a little loopy or self-indulgent, so your mercy would be appreciated.

This is going to be one of those (in)famous "This is Where I Am Right Now" posts that the kids like to do on the xanga. Things have been tense lately, and I think a little off-loading would be good for me. Whether it's any good for you remains to be seen.

I'll break it down by area of my life, so that it makes some semblance of sense. (That was a joke right there. But not the funny kind.)

Work

My workplace (Big Hospital) has been dealing with the current economic crisis like everyone else. We started building lots of buildings and hiring lots of people, and then when the bottom fell out nationally and our income was overtaken by our outgo, people flipped out. So the "realignment" began. That's the new buzzword, now that "downsizing" is passe. Realignment. They say they're transferring people around to other vital job openings, but from what i hear, this is rare. Mostly people are just getting canned. The fat is being trimmed. Poor, sad, out of work fat.

The tension is palpable on-site. People are on edge, doctors, nurses, researchers, admin staff. Everyone is freaking out a little more, looking over their shoulder a little more. And while i should know better, while I believe and speak about a God who is sovreign over all situations, I still find myself easily getting caught up in the hysteria. Darn this empathy.

It's been a tense couple of months. And today the sword has fallen on two people in my department--no one on my immediate team, but one of the people who got the heave-ho was a friend of mine, one of the few real friends I made outside of my immediate group. And it stinks.

So now, everyone is supposed to breathe a little easier, since our department is under budget and "safe for now." No one trusts it, though. Everyone is worried that out of the blue, we'll get another "we're still in deep mess" email from The Powers That Be, and we'll have to sweat out another round of layoffs, I mean, downsi--I mean, realignments. (It's like Ministry of Truth double-speak, man.)

What stinks is, when I should be standing firm as a light in the darkness, a beacon of hope and peace in the midst of turmoil, I'm letting myself get stressed out and freaked out like everyone else. This is the time my witness of Christ's work should be strongest, and once again, I fail at being salt and light. I'm a lousy disciple, man. Anyway, that's work.

Health

I'm back on the Weight Watchers wagon, for reals this time. I had my "hitting the wall" moment not too long ago, where simple chest pains (indigestion, as it turned out) led to a small panic attack. I'm tired of living in fear that I am, like that Tom Brokaw health video in "Concepts of Fitness" class says, "a walking timebomb, waiting to explode." (Any other OBU alums remember that video?)

So I'm on the diet wagon. I'm gonna wait to get back into regular exercise (gym-ness) until after I return from my trip next month. So I'm just trying to get used to the food plan again. But this is becoming an issue. See, when you have to stick to a strict diet, that's all you think about. I had a moment of frustration today as I realized that my waking thoughts are being consumed, so to speak, by worry over what I can eat and when. And that's just not healthy either. In fact, I seem to remember Jesus saying something about this issue, during some famous sermon. While his context was more worry than dieting, I think the principle can transfer over. Point is, I'm tired of obsessing about food, even if it's obsession over how i should limit my appetites rather than how to indulge them.

Eventually it will get better. I know it will because I've been through this part of the journey before. But I'm in this for the long haul, and I want to find the right mental pace as soon as possible.

Also, and I'll spare you graphic details, my digestive system is struggling to adjust to the new diet and schedule. Things are not happy in GI town. That's all I'm gonna say.

The first week started off strong diet-wise and then imploded almost immediately. This, the second week, has been much better, and I'm staying on point. Week 1, I lost 2 pounds (1.6, but who's counting? ...oh, right, me). I'm hoping to add a legit number to that one on Monday.

And for those curious, yes, the Big Loser Dave blog will be resurrected. Probably Tuesday or Wednesday. We'll see how things are going, schedule-wise.

Love

Would that I had loads of news in this regard. But you reap what you sow, right? And I haven't sown a whole heckuva lot in this area. (That sounds a little off, doesn't it.) Meaning, I haven't been pursuing a more active dating life, so nothing is really happening there. One date in April, with someone I wasn't super-interested in, but still wanted to get to know better. I don't think she was too impressed with me by date's end, but not for any specific faux pas as much as simple illusion-shattering meh-ness.

There were a few other interesting avenues I was considering, but it seems each of those has evaporated. And it's too bad.

I'm gonna be honest, real honest here: I'm lonely. Not in the friends/family sense, but in the companion sense. And I can't shake the fear that it's because I'm not who I should be at this point, that I'm missing opportunities for relationships that would have been good for me. (On the other hand, the whole issue of feeling "unacceptable" and "just not good enough" is one that I've been fighting for a while, because i don't think that it's healthy, at least in the forms I wrestle with. The lie of "never good enough" has kept me afraid and ashamed for much of my adult life.) So as I struggle with this issue, the temptation is to work, work, work to try to be "better," as if "better" weren't a moving target stapled to a rainbow's end. I know (in my head) that I should seek to find contentment being me and focusing on pleasing Jesus with my life, changing what i should for His sake and glory. Doesn't mean that I don't hate being home alone blogging on a Friday night instead of having a social life.

So I go through my days and weeks, ignoring the issue, staying busy. And when the sadness sneaks it, I humor it with music and films for a little while before shoving it back in its box and going on with life.

England

I'm going to England for ten days in July, as part of a church mission trip. After a day and a half of sightseeing in London, we'll take a train up to northern England, and spend the rest of the trip doing street evangelism and personal contact ministry on behalf of local churches. I'm both excited and nervous about this trip. This is my first mission trip, and rather than something easy like manual labor, we're actually going to be *gulp* missional.

As the days get closer, I find myself experiencing more opposition. (I'm not gonna get all "Bob Larson's telephone exorcisms" on you here, but let's be real--spiritual warfare is legit.) I've noticed that not only are my habitual sins and weak areas becoming harder to defend against, but I'm getting hit by all kinds of depressive thoughts. If you know me, you know that I tend toward an often melancholy mindset, and mild depression is not uncommon for me. But it seems that, in the past few weeks since i started thinking about and praying about this mission trip, I'm getting hit with full-on attack in this area. Thoughts of hopelessness, being overwhelmed, being unworthy and unloved. The full gamut. It's been hard to stay afloat this week. Which brings me to...

Emotion

It's clear my coping mechanisms were not working, when i had sudden outbursts of crying while driving down the highway on Monday--not just tears, but actually keening wails. As if my emotional pressure valve blew the seal and the lid blasted off for a few seconds at a time. I mean, it scared me a little bit, this sudden rush of emotion. There was clearly something wrong.

Has it gotten better? To some degree. I mean, I'm still dealing with a lot of the same stuff, but I'm not freaking out. I just feel so very burdened. Like all of this is too much to lift now. And the thing is, I know all the verses and all the doctrinal, theological truths about laying our burdens down at the foot of the cross, and casting our cares on He who cares for us, and all of that. But it's just hard to do in practice, when your workplace is cheery as a morgue, you're dealing with darkness without and within, and you're expected to be this example--the devoted son, the loving brother, the always-dependable employee, the wise and caring Bible study leader and spiritual advisor, the listening and comforting friend, and don't forget you're a follower of Jesus which means you have responsibilities as His disciple and ambassador.

And it's hard to stare down the totality of that list and not think that you're destined to let every single one of these people down. That you're not good enough. Sure to screw up somehow.

It's hard for me, anyway. I know each of you have a list like this. Maybe you handle yours better. Or maybe we're all basket-cases, and I haven't found a good way to hide my crazy yet.

Like I said, I know the spiritual things I ought to do in this situation. I know the platitudes. There are just some nights when it feels like it falls a little short.

Anyway.

This is the part of the show where I'm supposed to assure you that I'm fine, or I'll be fine, or don't worry about me. But tonight, I'll say this: I know I'm gonna be okay because no matter if I don't feel it, I know in my mind and heart that God has never and will never let me go, no matter how big of a complete screw-up i am. And eventually I'll find my even keel and my circadian rhythm in all this uncertainty. But right now, what i need is rest and grace and kindness. And baby, I ain't too proud to beg.

And the next time we chat, I'll probably be embarrassed by this outburst and deny it happened. Or I'll tell you that i was overreacting or being Emo-Dave, and I'll apologize profusely. But don't believe me fully. I'm sure I will think then that I was being a drama queen now, but this is me being honest right here.

Signing off. Gonna read my Bible and go to bed. Talk to you later. I'll be in a better mood next time. We'll talk about something amusing. It'll be nice. Stick around for that.

7 comments:

LeLe said...

I really want to comment on this in-depth, but alas, it is 2:02 AM and my brain is fried. I just want to say that I love your title. And keep your chin up. Again, I do want to say more than the standard, "it'll be okay, dude" because I really hate that. Will talk more later. God bless.

B Lines said...

Dave,
It's easy to tell someone else to just hang in there and it will eventually work out. We all go through times of desperation, depression, anxiety and being overwhelmed, so we think we qualify to counsel others. (Sometimes we are, and sometimes not.)

A few months back, I found myself in a similar situation, begging God for help, and for Him to just CHANGE things. It took a total emotional and physical "falling apart" for that to happen. Was it due to my lack of faith? I don't believe so. He allows us to be broken to teach us to rely more on Him. Why would we need Him if things were all hunky-dorey? We forget, time and time again, that we can NOT do it on our own. But we continue to try. I find that at times, I beg for an answer, but as soon as the prayer is finished, I move on, without even waiting to hear the answer. Then I wonder why I don't know what the plan is.

The persecution you feel from the enemy, just means you are doing the right thing. Why would satan bother, if you weren't? I would imagine that everyone who has ever gone on a real mission...a soul saving mission, feels the same attack you are feeling.

You seem to be able to divert your loneliness and that is always good. The only thing I know to say is, we have to put ourselves out there. No one is going to come knocking on my door to be friends. I'm married, and I know that's different, but I still deal with it. Is it fear of rejection? Being shy? Not feeling worthy? All of the above. You are not alone.

My prayers are with you.

Amanda said...

All I can say are we love you Dave and our thoughts and prayers go with you.

Jaimie said...

I wish you wouldn't overload yourself about these "responsibilities as His disciple and ambassador." Talk about a moving target. Remember that what God requires of us is to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with Him. In another place, Jesus says we should love him and love our neighbors. It's not about being a perfect Christian. It never is, it never was, it never will be. It's about love. And you have love by the gobbles, I might say. You're one of those Christ-like people I know. I know a few, and you're one of them.

About your depression... it's good, as humans, to work toward a tangible goal. I think the recent goal of your weight-loss might help with that. Because in six months, you'll look back and you'll be stupid to be depressed because you'll see how far you've come, what you've been working at, and it'll be great.

You're not a screw-up at all. Look at all the people doing worse than you! (Ha, that always helps me. Then I wonder how the person who is doing the worst in the world copes... I suppose he doesn't care.)

Nah, you're not being a drama queen. Just real. So rarely are people real that it sounds like drama.

Kelly said...

It's good to make yourself so open with these posts. I think it helps to unload the stress some, to put it out there. I don't have the same exact things bothering me, but I know that overwhelming feeling. I have been feeling it lately with some things.

Manders said...

"you're expected to be this example"

I think you may be putting more pressure on yourself to be these things than anyone else is, especially the Lord. He's granted you people and things to be responsible for, yes, but it was never meant to be you HAVING to be these things or else. It's all about finding that balance between being a good steward of the gifts God's given you and trusting in the big Gift He's already given--not always easy, of course, but necessary.

Trav said...

Jaimie speaks the truth, my friend. You've got love by the gobbles, and that is more Christ-like than anything else.