“To forgive is not to be altruistic. It is the best form of self-interest. What dehumanizes you inexorably dehumanizes me. It gives people resilience, enabling them to survive and emerge still human despite all efforts to dehumanize them.” The Rev. Bishop Desmond Tutu (No Future Without Forgiveness)
If I could sum up the past ten years of blogging in a sentence it would be this, “I said a lot of things I shouldn’t have and remained silent too often.” That’s life, and we make mistakes. I’ve made more than my fair share, but during the last round I became aware of a central thought, most of what was driving me was an unwillingness to take a good look at myself. It started, innocently enough with a class through the church I was serving called “Financial Peace” (Dave Ramsey’s structure). I stayed out because I disagreed with some of the theology, but given that it was a ministry start-up lead by an elder, I went… and ten years later, I know financial peace. But first, I had to dissect my financial decisions and accept the fact that I was as clueless as Inspector Clouseau. I learned “The first rule of finding yourself in a hole is to stop digging.”
I wrote a great deal about my first wife’s illness, and our simultaneous adoption of a child (we received our child information packet the same day she told me she’d been diagnosed with stage 3b breast cancer. What followed was a ten-year exploration of what it meant to be a… I’m lying. What followed was about 8 years of abject confusion, reacting to life around me and still trying to preach effectively. I was a husband, then I was a widower. I was a parent, then a solo-dad. I poured my self into my work, because, work will save you. I poured myself into religious practices because duty will give you purpose. “I know” became my most-common phrase.
Then it went sideways, in the name of God. I quit writing. Not just because of time, but because I decided to start over. I left the net, I focused on real life, I had a new relationship. I had a new outlook, new ministry, new step-children, new mailing address, and was becoming someone different, better, stronger, faster. I woke up one morning and realized the damage that was done. I’d leapt from “I know” to “I deserve” and it wasn’t good for anyone around me. My new wife agreed.
In 2017 I moved out of her house, with my then 9 year-old son and into my parent’s home while my apartment was being readied. 47 years old, living in my parent’s basement like I did when I was in college. I realized, while my finances may be in good shape, the other elements of my life, faith, family, fun… were all in need of a serious look. They were all in need of a serious overhaul. I started seeing professionals regularly, who dealt in ideas of theology, psychology, physiology, and honestly, I sit here today less of a man.
Less body (I’m down nearly 50 pounds from my max weight), less baggage (Accepting responsibility for my mistakes and letting go of those where I had neither influence or control), and realizing that while I was pointing others to the cross, it was time for me to start walking towards it.
Flash forward two years… I’m sitting in the dining room of my apartment that isn’t new anymore, my son is in his bedroom playing an on-line video game. The woman I’ve been seeing for the past few months left a few minutes ago. The sermon for tomorrow is done, all my major side-projects at work were completed well before the deadline. Two of my four teaching/preaching commitments for this coming week are completed. My passion is back, for life, for family, for ministry, and in a large portion, my anger, bitterness and judgment of others and myself is gone.
Because I accepted some ideas that I’d previously denied, and that confession allowed forgiveness (mostly) and that forgiveness has made me much more free. Not to mention my stress level is, on a one to ten scale, about 6 numbers lower than two years ago on a day-to-day basis.
So I invite you to stick around, because it may not have been fun to live through, but I sure have a lot of fun writing about it… and who knows where this will lead.