Where we wrestle with the sublime, mysterious, powerful and often frustrating paradox of God's necessary grace.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

"Please, God, bless my farting."

"If our lives are the pages on which God writes, then He seems to be drawing cartoons on me." --Me.

How many of us spurn moments of grace because they're not big enough, flashy enough, or "important" enough?

I'm a member of a ministry team at my church that cooks dinner between the two evening services for the pastor(s), musicians, tech staff, and anyone who shows up. There's no place nearby to get food and with only an hour between services, it's impractical for these people to go home to eat and then drive back. So, we feed them.

I enjoy helping out this way, and my wife and I are very much a team in this. I think it's good for our marriage and our souls. Everyone who eats always thanks us and says how much they appreciate our efforts.

For a long time I was dissatisfied with working in this ministry. It's didn't *feel* like a ministry, I didn't sport a shiny halo like I assumed I would if I were, say, evangelizing or working with low income kids. All I was doing was making meatloaf and green beans. Where's the ministry in that?, I thought.

Recently I finally woke up to the truth. I had the wrong idea about "ministry." Yes, evangelism and working with low income kids are good, laudable, but they are not the only cards in the Holy Spirit's deck. Where do the evangelists and the child workers go when they need a hot meal or a cold glass of lemonade or even--gasp!--a beer? If I'm out trying to be like them, then I leave them hungry, thirsty and empty. I neglect my role in favor of one I think i should like better, and God is not honored nor His children, and grace is not served--in any sense.

So, too, we can easily overlook or ignore the earthy, the mundane in favor of the more "SPEER-chool." This weekend I'm struggling with severe stomach distress, my gut is full of gas but little of it is forthcoming. As I sat on the toilet a bit ago, hoping for an exodus, I prayed, "Please, God, bless my farting." I realized it was one of the first times I'd asked God for help in this. I knew God was good for help with cancer, broken bones, diseases and major crises. But farting? C'mon, our bodies don't get more basic than that. It's a mistake when we assume God is a god only of the sublime and not also the sticky, earthy, muddy, glorpy bits of humanity that make up the less attractive aspects of human life.

Then it struck me: If I can't trust God to help me fart (and burp), how can I say I trust Him to help me with the big issues in life? For me, there is no middle ground. Either I trust God or I don't. Either I allow Him to be God over every aspect of my life, or I don't. As I write this my gut is bubbling and percolating like a mad scientist's laboratory, so I trust in God He'll move things around me in His time to give me relief.

So: Please, God, help me fart. And thank you for teaching me that all things matter to You.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Update Oct 17 2009

Things have gotten better. Still not perfect, but now my problems are my own and not out of a pill bottle.

Thank you to everyone who prayed for me and emailed me support and encouragement. When you're in Hell, the first thing you lose is perspective. Special thanks to my wife who loved me and helped save my life.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Grace and faceplants in Hell

I apologize for the stretch of non-posts. For about a month I was snow skiing on the slopes of Hell.

My GP had prescribed Ambien to treat my insomnia. I was taking it dutifully and all seemed to go well. "Seemed" is the operative word, here.

At about the same time I was entering longer and more intense bouts of depression: Sudden onset crying jags, towering rages, insomnia, flash loss of temper, suicidal thoughts turning to plans. (I was going to drive out to a secluded spot and eat a round from my deer rifle.)Everything came to a head last week when I broke down and told my wife. I felt I couldn't burden any of my friends with this--either my problem was out of their league and they'd offer tepid armchair sympathy, or I'd tell them and they'd think less of me. Praying seemed to achieve nothing and I felt as if God either couldn't or wouldn't hear me, deliver me. My world had squeezed down to a pinpoint of pain. I felt nothing else and believed that would never change, until I ended my life and all the pain welded onto it.

My wife had seen my literal disintegration. We tried to think what was causing it when I finally mentioned a side effect of Ambien was depression and thoughts of suicide. She did the loving wifely equivalent of slapping me on the forehead and said, "Don't take the Ambien tohight and let's see what happens."
"But I won't be able to sleep without it."
"What's more important--your life or a night's sleep?"
"Oh. Yeah."
"You bet 'Yeah.'"

I noticed I felt better within 24 hours of stopping the Ambien. In fact, that night I was able to go out to dinner with my wife.

Within 3 days of stopping the Ambien, I felt better then I had in about a month. No more rages, jags, suicidal thoughts, cloud of black depression. It literally feels as if I'd been born again. I still have problems and "issues," but those are part of life and working them out is how we all stay human and humble.

Grace rescues us, even when we'd rather drown, even when we're blind and deaf, crying out in pain and misery. Even when we're convinced God's a joke or a lie or has better things to do. It doesn't wait until we're clean and cheerful and we've all got our shit together. God: No respecter of persons.

I like Him that way.