Flashback!

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Life’s is funny, just when you think you have the rules down pat life decides to change them leaving you in a tailspin.

In the past two weeks I have been reliving things from my childhood, things I thought I had dealt with and moved on from.  One incident that happened to my relative seemed to have caused a crack in the dam bursting it and my mind was flooded with flashbacks.

I am one who doesn’t hold grudges for they serve no purpose and tend to make a person miserable, full of hate, and revenge.  Now do not get me wrong I am not one that believes I should be a doormat for someone to walk all over me.

Since that incident two weeks ago my lone time has been a time of feeling overwhelmed.  The evenings seemed so much longer, morning arriving too soon.

One incident, two weeks of childhood events playing like a continous re-run, a flood of flashbacks!

Big Boys Don’t Cry?

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I am part of the baby boomers.  Growing up was a different age when it came to men dealing with their emotions.  Men did not show any tenderness, anger was the only emotion that was displayed.  It was the age of westerns, cops and robbers, if you fell and hurt yourself you often would hear “suck it up and take it like a man”.  God forbid if you cried, if you did you were more than likely called a sissy. Among many you would also hear the phrase “keep a stiff upper lip”.

I am not sure that we have moved passed that era, I sometimes see signs that gives me hope that men are more comfortable showing their tender moments openly.  So, could it be that maybe men are not reporting when they are having a breakdown in their mental health.  It just might be that they are suffering in silence, they do not want to be thought of as weak.

For me it was my first time in treatment that I reconciled within myself to be comfortable with my emotions other than just when I was angry.

I cannot recall ever hearing my dad say to myself or my siblings that he loved us.  However, I do recall many times when he would erupt in anger.  

If you are a man reading this let me say one thing, “Big boys can cry!”

Broken, But Usable

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Today we live in a disposable world.  If something breaks we throw it in the trash, do not repair because buying new is cheaper

With most illnesses we respond with some type of therapy, operation, but, never do we throw them away.  It is my opinion that is not so with those suffering some form of mental illness.  One such mental illness that comes to mind is PTSD.  Many coming back from a tour of duty start to show signs of this within weeks, months.  Getting help seems to come slowly for those needing it.

For me when I first started showing symptons I had to leave the ministry.  At that time I was burned out and also to get away from some who tried to pin me down.  I started to feel useless, functioning in routine but felt like I was unattached in my mind.

Beginning around 2005 after several times in treatment I started my to-do list. Here is some of the things included.

  • Prioritize my goals, those that were basically pipe dreams to ones that were attainable.
  • Weed out relationships that were broken. Those were the ones that I always felt worse after being around them or talking with them on the phone.
  • Decided that I could not afford the luxury of worrying what people thought of me.

It took awhile before I started to notice a change within myself.  Eventually I found a new stride leaving me with a sense of usefullness. 

I was broken but still useable!

A Practical Gospel

Mar 12:29-31 MSG
29  Jesus said, “The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one;
30  so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’
31  And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.”

I have always known that the Gospel has to be practical.  People on the whole need help in all manner of things on what to do where the rubber meets the road.

Lesson Learned

These past several days have confirmed to me that people want preachers, pastors, teachers are like them.  No, they want to believe those leaders are not mired in the same sins as those who are listening.

When I was in the ministry I was never open about what was happening in my personal life.  I kept it shielded, compartmentalized, only let it out when I was by myself or with a close confidant.  I found that many Pastors are in the same boat.  They feel constrained, the burden of ministry weighs on them 24/7.  Some don’t even confide to their wives which starts to cause major problems within the marriage.  Pastors and those involved in the ministry are some of the lonliest people in the world.

Since I have started writing about my problems with depression, bi-polar, etc., the readers have shown me that I made the right step.  It has opened a whole new world to me causing some of my lonliness to disappear.

It now it is my fervent prayer that I can share more of my battles in life, yet at the same time share the Gospel of the Cross to the readers of my blog.

Known By Character

Mat 15:10-20 MSG
10  He then called the crowd together and said, “Listen, and take this to heart.
11  It’s not what you swallow that pollutes your life, but what you vomit up.”
12  Later his disciples came and told him, “Did you know how upset the Pharisees were when they heard what you said?”
13  Jesus shrugged it off.Every tree that wasn’t planted by my Father in heaven will be pulled up by its roots.
14  Forget them. They are blind men leading blind men. When a blind man leads a blind man, they both end up in the ditch.”
15  Peter said, “I don’t get it. Put it in plain language.”
16  Jesus replied,You too? Are you being willfully stupid?
17  Don’t you know that anything that is swallowed works its way through the intestines and is finally defecated?
18  But what comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart.
19  It’s from the heart that we vomit up evil arguments, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies, and cussing.
20  That’s what pollutes. Eating or not eating certain foods, washing or not washing your hands—that’s neither here nor there.”

Growing up there were several idioms people would use if you asked them about a person’s character.  Such as, ‘his word is his bond’ ‘he’s of stirling character’, ‘if he gave his word, you can take it to the bank’.  There are probably many more, but those are some of the ones I can remember, many when watching television shows of that era.  Good character was what defined a person.

I look around at society today and I am not so sure you could find many people with such characteristics.  People break promises, neglect to honor cheques, lack respect for others properties, and things.  It is basically every man for himself, no stomach in lending a hand when others request it.

The major portion of Scripture deals with the character of a man, morally and spiritually.  The Mosiac Law and then the Sermon on the Mount are two prime portions addressing a man’s character.  

These also define two more principal areas of character. Our relationships vertical and horizontal.  Our vertical relationship is with God, get this wrong and the horizontal relationships are not in alignment with the character traits set out in the written Word.  Both reflect each other!

These traits do not come easily, for most of us it is a constant struggle.  Many times going to others and asking for forgiveness for our treatment towards them.  Times of making amends for wrong actions.

Some of my earliest memories of listening to preachers are to describe what many called them in those days, “Bible thumpers”.  Yes, they would almost loose their voice, ranting and railing about the sins of the flesh, tobacco and alcohol.  Let there be no misunderstanding I believe both are wrong, but, not for anything found in Scripture, just on the basis they destroy one’s own health.

For those wanting to debate about the wine Christ made at the wedding feast I have no conclusion for there is a lack of information found within the account recorded.  However, Christ was dealing with something that was far deeper than just the surface attributes of a man.  His was dealing with matters of a man’s soul, his heart.

We find all through the four Gospels that Christ points out that a man ‘s character is not judged by what he eats or drinks, but, rather those things that comes out of his mouth.  For it reveals the true nature of one’s soul, one’s heart.

The Apostle Paul described it as an inner war:

Rom 7:14-22 KJV
14  For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
15  For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
16  If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
17  Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
18  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
19  For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
20  Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
21  I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
22  For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

Every day I find I struggle with the same types of battles.  Easily frustrated at times with others around me, saying words that I cannot bring back as though they were never spoken.  Seeing a need that another has and not helping when I have the ability to do so.  It all seems so simple, but yet so complexed.

My final thought is this, yes, we are our brother’s keeper!