Can I call you stupid? Please?

Romans 12:15, Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Momma says, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

In the immediate aftermath of our family tragedy, people most likely thought I was zoned out. I was to some degree. Certainly I was in shock. But part of the time I was simply dumbfounded at the things people would say.

Some of it was crazy. (No, I am sorry your dog died, but I promise… it is not the same as losing a child and you have no idea how I feel.)

Some of it was dumb. (Really? You expect me to be strong at a time like this because the church is depending on me? Are you an idiot?)

And some of it was just ignorantly insulting. (Are you serious? Do you hear what you are saying? How in the world could you ever twist a double murder and the loss of a wife, mother, son, and brother into something good? How do you look at a five year old and say “your mother’s gone but something good is going to come of it.”?)

Religious platitudes and empty words of comfort are everywhere. I bet you have said some of them. I know I have. And I’ll even grant in saying them, we probably meant well. But well intentioned or not, sometimes the things we say to be comforting, compassionate, or caring are just plain stupid.

Or worse, but I am trying to be nicer than I feel about it.

In the end, death, tragedy, pain, and loss rarely feel like the blessing of God.

So when words fail (and they will because nothing you say can fix it), mourning with those who mourn is the only valid option.

My New Mistresses

As I write this, I have been plugged up, stuck with needles, and humiliated in a hospital gown while being evaluated for a heart attack. Everything came back normal and I did not want to stay overnight for observation…

I have a new mistress. At least three of them. They are not quite identical triplets, but you can’t miss the familial connection.

If you read the word new as implying an old or previous mistress existed, you would be correct.

But before I tell you about the new, let me regale you with the old.

This previous mistress was young, exciting, and beautiful. Being intimate with her brought gratification like you wouldn’t believe. The degree to which she stroked my ego was off the charts.

This former preacher was powerless to turn away. She captivated my every waking thought. I couldn’t get enough of her.

Who couldn’t be intoxicated with a woman like that?

And sadly enough, this affair was always out in the open. I never hid it. I never denied it. In fact, I celebrated it. When my family protested, I always had an excuse, always had a reason to immerse myself further into her sweet embrace.

She was a charmer, that one.

I don’t regret the relationship with the church. After all, being a preacher was my calling. It was my identity and purpose all rolled into one. But with blinders on, I never quite realized how much of me my family was denied. I know they supported me, but too often they played second fiddle to my time, attention, and heart.

And my new mistresses?

The first two are guilt and regret. Maybe I am being too hard on myself, but I am deeply involved with both. I cannot change the past no matter how badly I want to. I cannot say I am sorry. I cannot make amends.

The only thing I can do is try so very hard to not make the same mistakes again.

Guilt and regret are hard to live with…

Those two mistresses have led me to their sister, fear.

For months I have been suffering in her embrace. I can hardly move forward with my life for fear the next shoe is going to drop–for fear that the strides we have made, the happiness that has come will be stripped away again.

As silly as it may seem to some, I have been living with fear, certain I was dying, and convinced I could do nothing about it.

I am a nervous wreck and logical or not, fear has become my constant companion.

Jehovah Jireh?

I went to the deer stand this evening. It was quiet and peaceful. Just before dusk I shot at a nice sized deer and missed twice. (I blame it on my scope being out of adjustment because it couldn’t be my shaking arms and nerves…) I have shot at five deer this season and two have walked away unscathed. Those that didn’t walk now occupy a place in my freezer.

Ex-unemployed preachers have to put meat on the table somehow.

Ok. I am not completely unemployed. I do have my real estate license and I am working that business as hard as I possibly can. But I am a long way from being wildly successful. In fact, at this point I would settle on bringing in slightly more money than is going out.

At any rate, I digress. While I was on the deer stand, I wrote three pages of blog material on the Note App of my iphone. The words poured out of me. After I got back to the house and endured good natured teasing because I missed, I reread my words. There is some good stuff in there. Things I need to share. Things I want to say.

But not now. Not yet. It reads too angry. Too disjointed. And some of it is way too raw at this point. Those things need to see the light of the day some day. But not this day.

Not this day.

My therapist says we need to work on anger; no doubt she is correct.

The truth is, some aspects of my life are really good. In spite of my anger and pain, I have come much further than I ever expected or imagined.

I am married again. She is wonderful to me and my boys. She encourages me. She lets me cry. She holds me when the pain of loss threatens to overwhelm me. And I thank God for her.

I guess this is where I get even more conflicted. I thank God for her, but find it extremely hard to give Him credit for bringing her into my life.

You see, I am still at a place where I doubt God’s goodness toward me. I question whether He is really looking out for me. I struggle with the idea that He provides.

Jehovah Jireh?

As far as I am concerned He didn’t. So why should I hope He ever will?

I went to worship today. The worship minister led us in a David Crowder Band song called All I Can Say. These words described where I am:

Lord I’m tired
So tired from walking
And Lord I’m so alone
And Lord the dark
Is creeping in
Creeping up
To swallow me
I think I’ll stop
Rest here a while

And this is all that I can say right now
And this is all that I can give
And this is all that I can say right now
And this is all that I can give, that’s my everything

And didn’t You see me cry’n?
And didn’t You hear me call Your name?
Wasn’t it You I gave my heart to?
I wish You’d remember
Where you sat it down

Jehovah Jireh? God will provide? That’s not where I am right now.

But I want to believe and hope and trust. But right now, that is all I can say. That is all I can give. That’s my everything.

I have a long way to go.

I hope it will be enough until faith is completely restored again.

Sovereign

Sovereign in the mountain air
Sovereign on the ocean floor
With me in the calm
With me in the storm

Sovereign in my greatest joy
In my deepest cry
With me in the dark
With me at the dawn

In your everlasting arm
All the pieces of my life
From beginning to the end
I can trust you

In your never failing love
You work everything for good
God whatever comes my way
I will trust you

Sovereign in the mountain
Sovereign on the ocean floor
With me in the calm
With me in the storm

Sovereign in my greatest joy
Sovereign in my deepest cry
With me in the dark
With me at the dawn

In your everlasting arms
All the pieces of my life
From beginning to the end
I can trust you

In your never failing love
You work everything for good
God whatever comes my way
I will trust you

God whatever comes my way
I will trust you

All my hopes
All I need
Held in your hands

All my life
All of me
Held in your hands

All my fears
All my dreams
Held in your hands

All my hopes
All I need
Held in your hands

All my life
All of me
Held in your hands

All my fears
All my dreams
Held in your hands

In your everlasting arms
All the pieces of my life
From beginning to the end
I can trust you

In your never failing love
You work everything for good
God whatever comes my way
I will trust you

God whatever comes my way
I will trust you

God whatever comes my way
I will trust you

I love this song.
I hate this song.
I love Chris Tomlin.
I hate Chris Tomlin.

To say I am a conflicted man is a such cliched statement.
Cliched or not, it’s true.

Please understand, what you will read in the pages and chapters of whatever this will ultimately become won’t be for the faint of heart. It won’t be for those whose faith is comfortable or complacent. It may very well be too much for those who cannot handle unvarnished truth and pain.

One page may be raw emotion. Another story may be bittersweet memories of what was lost forever. And still another entry may be rage against the God I believe in… the God whom I have lost my faith, hope, and trust in.

That’s why I both love and hate Chris Tomlin’s song Sovereign.

In your everlasting arm
All the pieces of my life
From beginning to the end
I can trust you

I want to believe that so badly.
I desperately need to believe again.

And yet.
And yet…