Advice From the Well


I fell into a well…again.

I’m cold and, wet, and the concrete in my blood is starting to set.

I’m not sure how long I’ve been here, but people have begun to gather.

“He’s just doing it for attention. It’s the fourth time this month that he’s fallen into a well.”

“Have you tried not walking so close to wells?”

“Maybe if you tried really hard to not fall in you wouldn’t.”

“Didn’t you read the book I gave you on how to avoid wells? I’ll drop it down to you so you can give it a look.”

“I know exactly how you feel! Once, I was stuck in a well for a whole night!”

“Have you tried climbing out? Maybe you can just climb out.”

“You are going to be such an inspiration to anyone who ever falls into a well.” While you’re down there, you should write about your experiences.”

“You should go see a well expert. They will be able to help get you out.”

“Don’t worry, soon you’ll get used to living in the well. I know lot’s of people that spend most of their lives in wells, and they live very productive lives.”

“Have you tried yelling for the guy that built the well to come pull you out? I’ll tell you what; I’ll start yelling for you.”

 

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Drip


I try to scrub clean drip by drip, but the stain’s as stubborn as ever.

I pray to the faucet, but it just won’t run.

They say, ” Pray the right words and maybe you’ll turn him on.”

Never been great at talking about mess, so I sit there silent, drips drying into regrets.

The man who talks to the faucet gives me three easy steps.

  1. Turn the handle.
  2. Stand under the water and scrub away stain.
  3. Put some money in the offering plate on your way out.

Cooling my tongue drip by drip, wondering why a faucet requires a daily quip.

The lady who talks to my brain gives me three easy steps.

  1. Take this pill.
  2. Stop being thirsty.
  3. Put some money in the offering plate on your way out.

Maybe you’re not a faucet. Maybe you’re a well.

Maybe you don’t need turned on. Maybe you need drawn from.

 

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There’s a Man in the Sky


“There’s a man in the sky,” they say.

His beard as long as the ocean deep.

He’s paving his roads with American gold

while is children convert all his enemies.

 

“There’s a man upstairs,” they say.

Clanging his chains like a Holy Ghost.

Whispering his secrets among the walls of your heart,

And for one small gift, and a weekly visit, his spirit will never depart.

 

“There’s a man in the book,” they say.

Look real close, he’s there.

Study every sentence, parse every verb,

And when you’ve found him, tell everyone you’re sorry,

But they’ve simply misunderstood.

 

“Let him into your heart,” they say.

He’ll show you the way!

Unless you’re brown, a democrat, or gay.

 

I’ve been to the sky, no man to be found.

I visit the attic, nothing but disease.

I’ve declined all the nouns, trying to avoid my fate.

And my heart? I invited him in! He even brought wine!

But still my affections they waiver.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.

I’m becoming deaf to the calls of the savior.

 

 

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Me Too


A little over two months ago my friend Mike Campbell asked me to put together a video testimony that addressed some of my journey with my mental health diagnosis to be shown to his student ministry. I was a little hesitant to do this for a few reasons, the biggest being I find some of this story incredibly embarrassing. I agreed to do the video, and was encouraged to share it with a broader audience because of the feeling that it may be helpful for those who are struggling with mental health issues in the Church. It is geared specifically to Mike’s youth group, but I believe the main points to be universally relevant. At the risk of being just another voice in the large crowd of folks who talk about these issues, it’s my hope that if nothing else, you as a fellow struggler will find solace in a voice that is simply saying, “me too.”

 

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What We Fear: Flying On a Plane Beside a Big Animal Dressed as a Clown While Watching a Michael Bay Movie


I’m afraid of a few things. The short list would be heights, the ocean, any animal that is bigger than me, flying, clowns, and Michael Bay movies; you know, just your basic run of the mill stuff.  We are all afraid of something, and if we were honest with ourselves we all probably have a list of items that if we could help it we would rather just avoid.  My fears might seem silly to you, and if you told me some of yours I would probably chuckle on the inside while keeping a sincere and understanding demeanor on the outside, because it’s rude to make fun of other peoples fears to their face.  Unless of course your fear is opening a tube of Pillsbury crescent rolls. I can’t help it, I’m going to laugh at you.  Sorry Aimee, but it’s really funny to watch you try to do that.    

I’ve been thinking a lot about fear lately, because I’m weird, and that’s the sort of thing I do.  It seems to me that there are two types of fears.  There are surface fears, the stuff that sends us screaming out of the room, and then there are the fears that lay deep in our soul. These are the fears that keep us up at night. It’s the fear that we will be alone, screw up our kids, go broke, not be cured, fail, or simply not matter when it’s all said and done.  These are the fears that often under the surface influence many of the decisions that we make in this life.  

How many decisions have you made based on fear?

It’s pretty interesting to me how many times Jesus encourages those who were following him not to be afraid.  I don’t know the actual number of times, I’m sure some Bible scholar much smarter than I could figure that out, but it seems to me that he says it a lot.  One of my favorite examples of this is tucked away in the middle of Luke 12.

“Do not be afraid little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the Kingdom.”-Luke 12:32

I like this one because it puts in my mind the picture of a loving father patiently explaining to his child that the thunder outside really can’t hurt them because it’s just noise.  Jesus has just finished explaining to his disciples that the stuff they spend their lives worrying about and being fearful of in the end doesn’t really matter.  It’s just noise.  That’s not to say that it’s not important or uncomfortable, it’s just that the Heavenly Father already has it taken care of.  

Jesus came to take care of our deep fears.  When we follow after him it frees us up to acknowledge that while these fears may wear on us, they do not have to define us. When we realize this it frees us up to make decisions based on what’s best for His Kingdom not what best muffles our fears.  

This type of decision making begins the death of “safe” Christianity and the beginning of a kingdom focused relationship with our Father that loves us.  

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The “S” Word.


I always get a little depressed when it rains.  Nothing drastic, just a melancholy feeling that causes me to listen to one or two songs in a minor key several times in a row.  I’m pretty sure that’s normal.  Right?  I also reflect when it rains.  It’s pretty cliché’, but there it is, I sit in my office staring out the window remembering certain life events or contemplating the deep questions of life.  “Why do hot dogs come in packs of ten and buns in packs of eight?”  Really though, the whole thing is pretty emo.  It’s something right out of a Martin Brest film; well at least the one with Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins, the rest of his films are actually pretty upbeat, but I digress the point is you probably wouldn’t want to hang out with me when it’s raining.

It just so happens that it’s raining today.  So here I am sitting at my desk, John Mark McMillian’s “Murdered Son” is on repeat, and I’m looking out the window reflecting on the big questions, and remembering some defining life events.

The one that came to my head today was the day that I decided that I didn’t want to live anymore.

I’ve heard and read that a lot of people who contemplate suicide do so because of a small voice in their head telling them to do so.  It’s a quiet nudge that convinces them that they are no longer needed around here anymore, and they buy into it.

That wasn’t the case for me.  It was a screaming, raging ideal that lodged itself inside my brain as I battled exhaustion,  self-induced malnutrition, and being switched from medication to medication for weeks on end.  I simply woke up one day snotty, skinny, and shaking as the idea raced through my mind.  I did not want to live anymore.  My wife knew instantly.  She’s a smart lady.  She handled it very well considering the whole situation.  “Are you thinking about hurting yourself?” she asked calmly. All I could do was shake my head yes and cry.  I was embarrassed, shamed. ” Christian’s don’t think like this,” I thought to myself.

Crisis hotlines were called.  A very nice lady showed up in a nice car and talked to me for a few minutes and we decided that I needed to be at a hospital.  The rest of the details are kind of a blur but it consisted of me being escorted into a room after the nice lady gave some kind of code word to the receptionist at the emergency room.  The room was glass walls on both sides.  They took everything from me.  Handed me a gown and told me to put it on.  As I did so they began stripping the room of everything.  I remember the nurse didn’t appreciate my joke as she unplugged all the cords from the monitors in the room, “huh, I wouldn’t have even of thought of using those.”  She just stared blankly at me.  I guess people who don’t want to live don’t tell jokes about it.

They poked and prodded and pumped me up with some nice sleeping drugs, and in the end sent me home.  I suppose they figured there wasn’t much they could really do for me.

I’d like to say that was the last time that I ever had that thought run through my head, but that would be a lie.  I realize that Satan will probably always try to whisper this tactic into my mind when I’m tired, weary, and worn.

I’d also like to say that I have the sure-fire answer to getting rid of that idea when it’s whispered or screamed into my ear, but I don’t.  All I can say is that I know that God’s not done with me on this earth.

I want to pause here for a minute.  I don’t want to sensationalize this idea.  Sometimes that can happen when it comes to topics like this.  The writer can begin to glorify the story for the sake of keeping the reader sticking around, and might inadvertently convey the idea that they are some how proud of the little confession they let slip into the gaping mouth of social media.  Let me make it very clear; I do not share the story above because I am proud of it. I share it because I believe that doing so might be helpful to someone.

Here’s why.

I’m working on some study material for an upcoming small group where the topic is the attacks of Satan in our lives; depression, laziness, temptation, cutting suicide etc.

As I have been working through this series I’ve come to a conclusion.  All of the above mentioned issues are really just symptoms of a bigger disease.   One of Satan’s most powerful weapons against God’s children is the “S” word…silence.  Think with me for a moment.  Doesn’t there seem to be a myriad of topics that are just off-limits for the saints?  At least that is what is communicated.  Satan thrives when we push certain topics, words, feelings, and struggles deeper and deeper into the darkness of silence.

In the end it’s silence that really kills us off one by one.  Maybe not physically (although sometimes it does) but certainly spiritually.

It’s time that churches’ started talking about the “S” word.

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Umbrellas are stupid.


My oldest son asked for one item from Santa Claus this Christmas.  Just one.  He climbed up into Jolly Old Saint Nicks lap, looked him dead in the eye, and without a hint of irony said, “I want an umbrella.”  To me this was an odd request of a man who can supposedly make your wildest dreams come true.  He could have asked for anything, and he lands on an umbrella?

I have a confession.  I think umbrellas are stupid.  No, it’s a little deeper than that. I think umbrellas are kind of girly.  No offense, but in the past if you were a man and I saw you carrying an umbrella I would judge you a little in my heart.  So when my son asks for one I was a little hesitant to honor the request.  Fortunately my wife does not share my opinion on umbrellas and on Christmas morning my son awoke to many presents, but the one that he held near and dear to his heart was the $5 Superman umbrella laying under the tree.  He carried it everywhere for days.  He proudly showed it off to anyone that would take the time to listen.  He would open and close it with a simple joy that can only be found in the heart of a three-year old.

Then Sunday came.  It poured rain on Sunday.  I stood in the door way of my house dreading taking the first step out.  My son on the other hand could barely contain his excitement as he popped open his umbrella and stepped out into the great adventure that was the walk to the car.  It rained all day, and all day my son got to use his umbrella.  I got soaking wet.

It was about half way through the day that my opinion on umbrellas changed.  Suddenly they were not so girly.  I was starting to wish I had asked Santa for one myself.  What I once saw as an unnecessary, girly, waste of time I now see as an essential piece of equipment that, when used, can actually turn a rather miserable rain storm into a pleasant little stroll with my son.

I don’t know what 2014 holds for you or me, but here is what I do know.  This year I’m not asking God for wealth, health, or happiness.  This year I’m climbing up into the Father’s lap, and with out a hint of irony simply asking for his protection from the inevitable storms of life.

I’m asking God for an umbrella.

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