Never Once

Gentle Reader,

According to my self-imposed little schedule, I’m supposed to post today.

But I don’t really have anything to say. Maybe the rhinovirus has taken it out of me. So, instead of words, I give you song. Soak in its truth.

My journey to faith. (15)

The Detox Diaries: We’re in This Thing Together

photo-1422433555807-2559a27433bd

Gentle Reader,

It was so hard to sit at my desk today. Focus was fleeting. The sorrow bubbled in the veins covered by the thin skin of my wrists, ready to spill out at any moment.

As soon as I got in my car, the tears began.

Naturally, I turned to Sandi Patty and the Friendship Company. This album came out in 1989. I listened to it all the time as a kid. When I found it online a few years ago, the choice was obvious. I had to buy it. Truly, this is the music I want to listen to when I’m having a tough day. There is something so rich in its simplicity. It is deeply comforting.

Please take a moment to listen. Really listen to the lyrics.

Today I would change one part of the song:

When the goin’ gets rough, the wait get’s tough…it’s okay if I am cryin’. I’ve got a friend that I can depend on! Jesus, I rely on!

As I did the whole heaving-breath, sucking-in-the-lower-lip thing, completed by the accompaniment of a snotty nose, the Holy Spirit impressed something on my heart, something that I’m going to have to hold onto fiercely in the days to come: Emotions won’t kill me. Crying won’t kill me. Better to feel the feels, have the cry and move on. Sure, maybe I’ll feel sad again shortly thereafter, but that’s okay.

We press on.

Together.

Jesus and me.

My journey to faith. (15)

To read all the posts in The Detox Diaries series, go here.

The Detox Diaries: Bless the Man Who Invented Benadryl

photo-1422433555807-2559a27433bd

Gentle Reader,

Yesterday was bad.

Like, really bad.

I can handle the crying at the drop of a hat a whole lot better than I can handle not sleeping. For two nights I ran in the insomnia marathon. The one snatch of sleep I did catch was filled with a super-creepy dream about a doll. If there is one thing I truly loathe, it’s dolls. (Yes, I played with Barbies and stuff. I’m talking about the antique, eyes-follow-you-around-the-room kind).

Combine the sleeplessness with the sudden, constant restlessness in my legs and the continued “whomp, whomp, whomp” of the brain zaps. Add a dash of irritation because of the heat. Stir and you get a VERY UPSET Marie.

As I lay on the couch yesterday, just a little bit of hopelessness crept in. And I wallowed in it.

“This will never end.”

“I hate my life.”

“Why does central air cost an arm, leg and the soul of your unborn child?”

“I’m going to sue Eli-Lilly.” (The makers of Cymbalta).

I didn’t mean to wallow. Pessimism is my default setting and my brain is quite mushy. It took me awhile to remember that I had to consciously choose hope.

Onto Facebook I went and messaged the first people I could think of. Asked for their prayer. Then I called my mom and talked with her about taking Benadryl along with a natural sleep aid. (I wanted to be KNOCKED OUT). Turned on “That 70s Show” on Netlfix and allowed the antics of Eric Forman and his friends to make me laugh. One by one, I got responses to my S.O.S Facebook message – and each one boosted me. Prayers, encouragement, Scripture passages. Took the first Benadryl pill at 6:30 p.m. while eating a delicious (and free!) sandwich from Caruso’s. When I was still awake at 9:15 p.m., I skipped the natural sleep aid and took a second Benadryl. Stumbled down the hall on shaky legs and crawled into bed.

This is where my husband got awesome. He told me that he’d sleep on the couch so I could get as much rest as possible. He gently rubbed my back and prayed over me, asking God to give me what I needed. He took the dogs (they follow me everywhere) and left the room.

The restless legs mocked me for awhile and I started to cry. In what can only be described as begging, I burst out, “God, just let me sleep!”

I woke up at 7:54 a.m.

At least 9 solid hours of sleep.

What a difference that makes.

My circumstances haven’t changed. I haven’t been to work this week, though my boss has graciously allowed me to do things from home so I don’t lose all my hours. The “whomps” are still whomping. The house…it’s kinda messy. I crave weird foods at weird times. My brain is going to ooze out my ear any minute and my body feels like jelly.

But this won’t last forever.

I don’t hate my life.

Our window-unit and strategically placed fans provide adequate relief from the heat.

I’m not going to sue Eli-Lilly. Not unless there’s a class-action case. Then I’ll consider it.

I bless all the people who prayed for me last night. I bless my mom who told me to pop the pills. I bless my husband. I bless the man who invented Benadryl.

Most of all, I bless God. John Piper defines blessing God as “recogniz[ing] His great richness, strength, and gracious bounty and to express our gratitude and delight in seeing and experiencing it.” Yes. I bless God.

I sing this along with Josh Wilson:

My journey to faith. (15)

To read all the posts in The Detox Diaries series, go here.

Not the Fundamentals: Entertainment

20738_29522_5

Gentle Reader,

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” – Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)

Paul’s words serve as our best guide when it comes to entertainment choices. He doesn’t tell us to avoid books. Or magazines. Or television. Or movies. Or paintings. Or newspapers. Or sculptures. Or music. Or lectures. Or magazines. He doesn’t even tell us to – gasp! – avoid dancing. I know. You probably need to take a break from reading and process that.

Now, of course this reality doesn’t give us a free pass. There are things that we shouldn’t indulge in. Pornography isn’t true, noble, just, pure, lovely or of good report; it lacks virtue and there’s nothing praiseworthy about it. There are many musicians that glorify or trivialize drug and alcohol abuse, promiscuity and violence. Much of what passes for good television isn’t worth the drop in IQ that comes from watching it. For women, fashion magazines often contribute to our sense of ugliness or worthlessness, and so should be treated with caution.

Yet there isn’t a hard and fast rule here. When it comes to entertainment, the journey in faith is highly individualized. For example, I used to be a fan of Grey’s Anatomy. Most of the episodes were very well done – the characters were complex and interesting and so were the story lines. For years, nothing bothered me about it. And then I just couldn’t watch it anymore. I realized that I was watching something that, despite having good qualities, didn’t line up with what I said I believed. The same thing happened last summer when I got hooked on Parenthood.

The truth is, I don’t watch a lot of television or movies. Part of that came after learning in therapy that everything – and I mean everything – impacts the way I think and feel. That lesson was repeated just a few months ago when I figured out how to use Spotify. I built a playlist full of songs from my high school days (N*SYNC, anyone?) and got a real kick out of listening to it. Slowly and subtly, I began to romanticize and long for that time in my life. I wasn’t living in the moment. I began to feel discontent. It was the music, and I had to delete the entire playlist.

 Could another Christian person watch Grey’s Anatomy or Parenthood and listen to music from their high school days without feeling convicted about it?

Absolutely.

We walk by faith, not by sight. Those who believe follow the path that God illuminates, and He often shines light on different things at different times for different people. I can’t stand the song “Blurred Lines,” and I’m happy to talk with anyone about it should the conversation arise, but I’m not going to judge my Christian brother or sister by whether or not they like it. I’m not going to assume their faith is lesser than my own. And while I firmly believe that we have to protect our minds and thereby our hearts, I also believe that the art of protection is never fully achieved. There are probably things in my life right now that I think are fine that I won’t be able to watch or listen to a year from now. It’s a process.

Lastly, nowhere in Paul’s words, and nowhere in Scripture, in fact, do we find a basis for detaching from artistic expression. Anyone who believes that faith equals the possession of nothing more than a Bible and a commentary set needs to go out and look at a flower. God is an artist. He is the ultimate Master. And so I would dare to say that Christians should be pursuing the arts with vigor. Who better than the redeemed to write, act, dance, sing, paint, sculpt, draw and speak? Cannot all of this bring glory to God?

My journey to faith. (15)

For all the posts in the Not the Fundamentals series, go here.