Friday, April 18, 2014

Satan is an a-hole.

Good Friday. A day of darkness and pain, and with our 21st century hindsight, a day that heralds coming victory.

Can you imagine how Mary felt seeing her son not only die, but suffer horribly? How about the disciples? Three years of miracles and hope totally eclipsed by the horror of what was happening to their friend, mentor, leader. Judas? The rising agony as the magnitude of what he has done overwhelms him. Peter? I can only imagine the burning, twisting shame that was filling him. So dark. So painful.

And Satan? I picture him as the oozy guy from Fern Gully, just sucking up all that poisonous, ugly emotion. A buffet of the negative human emotions he thrives on.

I have no idea if he knew the butt kicking that was coming his way, if he knew that his day of "victory" was a joke compared to the victory Christ was about to win over him and death. Friday though, being the self-centered, egotistical jerk that he is, I can imagine him pushing aside that niggling fear that this was too good to be true and wallowing in the negativity like Scrooge McDuck and his money (this is how my brain pictures things, not a theological argument).

As we know, Good Friday is not the end of the story. Christ conquered death. He kicked Satan's butt. Easter marks the most glorious day in history, the day that the break between God and His children was healed by the sacrifice that happened on that painful Friday. There is no image, no cartoon I can reference,  that encompasses the magnitude of the glory of that day.

But for many, they are stuck in their own personal Good Friday. And oh how Satan loves that.

The more I spend time with people, especially people who are hurting and in pain, I've come to believe that Satan particularly loves shame. Not only is there pain or fear or doubt, but shame is the delicious cherry on top for him. 

For the last six months I've been quite the source of fuel for that a-hole. I've been fighting a complex struggle with depression and anxiety. I've had days where I can barely get out of bed. Days where I feel so tired to the core of my being that I can almost count my individual cells. The pressure has gotten so intense in my chest that I imagine the only way to relieve it is to crack my sternum open. I've cried on the floor in the fetal position. I've screamed at the top of my lungs. It has been painful, isolating, and alarming. Satan is having a field day. He loves it. And he really loves the shame I feel about it. Not only does he get to feast on my pain and my hopelessness but he is savoring my embarrassment.

When I try to talk to people about it, he twists their responses so that I feel unloved and "too much" for people. A genuine question that comes from a place of caring, "why do you feel that way," becomes judgmental and condescending. A look of justified alarm becomes condemnation. The love and caring I am surrounded by disappears in a haze of isolation and embarrassment. I can practically hear Satan cackling with glee.  

I'm writing this all out not as a cry of help or for pity. I have wonderful people in my life who are helping me through this. I have a great therapist and doctor, a saint of a husband, amazing friends and family, and I am fighting the good fight. I'm writing about it because I'm tired of the shame surrounding mental health issues, especially in the church. Not only is it unhelpful and unloving to the individuals who are struggling with psychological problems to shame them or ignore these problems, it is a tasty fuel for the enemy. 

On this day of darkness, on a day that the enemy thought he won, I'm screaming back that he most assuredly did not. 

Mental health problems are very real, very painful, and can not be ignored. This is just as true in the Church as out of it. Pretending it is not is gross. If you are struggling and feel shame about it, please, please hear me. You are not broken beyond fixing, your faith is not weak, there is nothing shameful about mental health problems and fighting them. If you are fighting back, that makes my spirit soar. 

On Sunday we celebrate Christ's victory over the grave. That victory extends to all, no matter how dark your Friday feels. 


Friday, April 11, 2014

It Starts With a Shimmey and a Shake

**this picture has nothing to do with my story, I just thought the world might need this today.

A few weeks ago I went to get coffee from Dazbog (yeah, I'm name dropping, because if you aren't drinking Dazbog you need to remedy that stat) for myself and two co-workers. I parked right in front of the store because the parking angels were in my favor, got my coffee in it's little carrier tray, and came back out to quite the predicament.
A booze delivery truck has parked right next to my car, so close that the driver, who is standing with a clipboard at the sliding door, has his butt on my car and his legs touching the running board step thing on the van.


Second thought - there is no possible way I can get in my car with him parked there. It's a good thing I excel at confrontation.

"Um. Excuse me?" No response. "Uhhhhh. Sir. Um. Excuse me?" Nothing. "I.... I... Need to get in my car... sir." Nada. "EXCUSE ME I NEED TO GET IN MY CAR SIR!"

I don't think I have ever seen such a dramatic slow turn, eye-roll, deep sigh move in life. He looks at me for what feels like thirty seconds, releases another gut-wrenching deep sigh - "fine." He walks past me, motions with his clipboard to my car, and then folds his arms, waiting.

First thought - what is happening right now? You were the one with your stupid butt on my car and I can't possibly get in her with your stupid van right there.

Second thought - challenge accepted.

And then for good measure I say out loud, "challenge accepted." This is met with another eye-roll.

I wiggle between the two vehicles (the driver is deceptively skinny), put my coffee carrier on the roof of my car, and open the door.

The only way I can start to get in is by wiggling sideways with my arms in the air over the door. Luckily, once my butt is in the car, I have more room to maneuver.

So there I am wedged into my car, with my armpits over the door, a very irritated delivery truck driver watching with his foot tapping, and four Dazbog employees and two patrons standing behind him looking on with equal parts amusement and concern.

I look at all of them, daring them to say something about the sweaty, trapped girl in the mini cooper, completely loss my head and give them all a thumbs up and yell, "this is awesome!"

Awkward silence.

I try to pivot and grab the coffee, but it won't fit in the crack in the door in front of me, so I decide I have to  bring it over my head and bring it in sideways from the back end of the car where the door is open wider.

I'm standing in my wedge with my arms over my head, holding the coffee carrier, when finally one of the observers runs forward yelling, "OH MY GOSH, THAT'S IT, LET ME HELP YOU."

"Yeah, this got away from me."

"Why didn't you just put the coffee in your car from the passenger door and then finagle yourself in?"

"I... I... I have no answer for that."

I get in, he hands me the coffee (from the passenger side, which is wide open), give the driver another thumbs up, and drive off in a cloud of shame and triumph.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

How To Keep Your Marriage Hot, Hot, Hot.

Having been married for 4.5 years I am an expert in marriage, obviously. I mean, how else would I know the peaceful effectiveness of screaming like a banshee in the middle of the night when your spouse is snoring or know about the joy I bring to John when I put my freezing cold hands on his back when he is slow to wake-up in the morning? Like I said, an expert. I've decided it is only right to share my knowledge, so that the internets can benefit.

Welcome to my first installment of profound marital advice!

One thing I have mastered is the act of wooing with my feminine wiles. It involves a delicate balance of beauty and grace. Additionally, John matches me in the ability to woo, with his stoic masculinity. We are just a pair of wooers. Just such wooey individuals (hah! used it as a verb, noun, and adjective. BAM.)

Instead of just bragging on us, I am going to share a text message exchange that was comprised mostly of pictures that illustrates our abilities because, as we all know, a picture is worth a thousand words. This way, everyone can see firsthand the importance of wooing in a marriage

The context of this conversation was that my husband was going out of town camping with some friends.

::various, unimportant back and forth about what he was up to::

Me: Have fun
John: Nice face
Me: I try
John: With that face no need to try :)
Me: Hah
Me: I win
Me: hm. better.
After that one John ended the conversation, obviously because he was overwhelmed with how attractive his wife is. Can't blame the poor guy. It's a lot to take in. 


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

My Failed Life of Crime

Consequential thinking is not always my strong point.

For most people problem solving is like so:  see a problem, think of answers, pick the best one, implement.

I, on the other hand, problem solve like so: see a problem, panic, blindly and with enthusiasm try to fix it, make things worse, increase panic, someone has to intervene with the appropriate answer, implement. It can be exhausting.  

One prime example of this is when I almost became an international jewel thief. Now, I know this is a confusing statement because I obviously do not possess the capacities to pull of any kind of heist, but you’d be surprised how far gusto will get you.

I was fourteen and in London with my family on vacation. We went to the Tower of London and went to see the Crown Jewels (this was before they spiffed things up for the Diamond Jubilee so the scene of the crime no longer exists as it did when this story took place). When you go to see the Crown Jewels you walk through many small rooms that are playing videos of coronations and historical reenactments, then you stand on a moving sidewalk, slide past the super fancy jewels, oh and ah, walk through some more rooms, and then ta-da you walk out more cultured and slightly blinded.

Typically, there is a line of people winding their way through this process and you just follow the herd like cattle, as you do at any good tourist attraction. On this day, however, there was no herd. I was walking ahead of my family because I was surly teenager who had no time for appreciation of life experiences or learning about culture.

I walked into a room with a video playing and could not for the life of my figure out where I was supposed to go. All I could see was an exit door on the opposite wall that was closed. I thought to myself – well, that looks like an emergency exit door, but I’m a gauche American what do I know about fancy doors.  So I opened it. Low and behold, it was an emergency exit door. That was fully alarmed. The door that everyone who is sane goes through was in the same wall I had just walked through, apparently peripheral vision is also not my strong point.  


AUGHHHHH!!!! Danger! Danger! That is a REALLY loud alarm. MUST FIX THIS HUGE PROBLEM. I’ve got it! If I just close the door no one will know what happened. Brilliant!

Fun fact #1: once a fire door is open, it locks open so that the herds of frantic people pouring out (which would obviously be the only reason the door clearly marked with a glowing “ALARM WILL SOUND” sign would be opened) don’t get slowed down by a door that keeps closing.

I then proceeded to have an epic struggle with said locked door in a valiant, if not misguided, attempt to close it. The more it stuck the more determined I became that if I could just wrench it closed, all would be fixed.

Luckily, my father showed up at this opportune moment. I’m sure he was filled with a glowing pride as he realized it was his frantic, chaotic daughter that had set off the alarm. On the plus side, my inability to make good choices under pressure is not genetic. He grabbed my arm and dragged me away from the door and into the next room where the moving sidewalk was. As we shuffled along, a group of what can only be described as a SWAT team went running behind the moving sidewalk, all black clothes and big guns and yelling on their walkie talkies (don’t be fooled, the fluffy hat guys are NOT the only police force at the Tower of London).

Fun fact #2: at that point, there were no cameras in the rooms that don’t hold jewels, as we learned as they all yelled about not seeing anything.

We continued on the moving sidewalk, finished looking at the crown jewels, and walked out. We were going to see the culture we paid to see come hell or high water or attempted larceny, darn it!

Fun fact #3: blaring alarms do not stop operations at the Tower of London -  the British are efficient AND practical. Which makes total sense, since I don’t have a smidge of British blood in me.  

Needless to say, the rest of the trip my family was super entertained by pointing out emergency exit doors and asking me if I’d like to walk through those too. I declined.