Monthly Archives: November 2014

Self-Righteous Seasonal Affective Disorder

I take things far too seriously.

I have a hard time accepting what people tell me and my tendency is to appreciate negative critique tens times more seriously than positive.

Why is that?

What is it about my personality and self worth that makes me focus so much on the harsh comments? Are all people built this way or are others more willing to hear the sunshiney comments before the gloom and doom?Seasonal Affective Disorder Meme

This time of year is tough for me and it shouldn’t come as any surprise. All of my adult life I have suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder. The fact that I know it’s coming doesn’t ever make it better. I know I’m going to feel terrible and then I feel terrible. The prophet in me rejoices as my angst. Honestly, this is the time of year I like to hide in the corner and weep. I just can’t seem to get myself motivated about anything. I’m sad. I’m depressed. I’m wiped out.

The worst is how I treat those around me. I snap at them and nit-pick. I argue, lament, and wallow simultaneously.  I’m a wreck.

And then Advent starts…I’m supposed to somehow pull it all together and preach about “hope” this week.

“Hope…” What a ridiculous concept, eh? What is there to hope for in the face of riots in Ferguson? What is there to hope for when I’m burying  yet another brother, wife, spouse, friend, or child or someone in the congregation? What is there to hope for when all I feel is remorse, distress, and anger?

Yet that is supposed to be the point.

I want to hope in the resurrection…but how?

I want to hope in the love…but where?

I want to hope in hope but it seems like the world is telling me it’s not worth the struggle.

This past week I was in a rough place. I was sad and couldn’t take the seemingly endless string of complaints and critiques from parishioners about decorations, flowers, stirring sticks, and colors. Stuff that is very important to them but felt so utterly irrelevant to me. I was apathetic and then got on my high horse about why they shouldn’t be complaining about these things. Why didn’t they care about hunger, racism. and domestic abuse with the same self-righteous indignation the felt over Christmas trees, colors, and trappings? Why can’t I motivate people to hear the gospel instead of hearing my griping and inconsistencies?

I’m at a loss, folks. This year hurts.

I CRAVE the incarnation. God with us – Emmanuel. I need that. I want that. Why can’t I see or feel that?

Part of the journey in Advent is the approach of Christ. God with us, almost but not yet. We wait for God’s return just as we celebrate Jesus’ birth. That is what I want to remember but can’t seem to shake my feeling of loss, loneliness, and anxiety.

So, I’m asking you. What do you do? How do you believe when there is doubt? How do you love where there is pain? How do you hope when you feel helpless? What is there for us now and how do we enter into what is to come? I welcome your responses and covet your prayers.

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Living Everyday Like I’m Running a Yellow Light

yellow lightLast week I listened to a Michigan State Police officer talk about our resting, unaware, unprepared state of mind versus the hyper sensitive, ever vigilant status of people who are constantly cognizant of their surroundings, and thus, are better suited to notice subtle changes, the out of place person or object, or the imminent threat of stress and danger that might be around every corner. The officer likened it to driving.

He asked everyone, “Have you ever run a yellow light?”

Of course, we all answered, some chuckling and stating the obvious that they had run one this morning.

“Well what do you do when you run a yellow light?”

We look for cops!

(There’s always one guy in the room who has to make all the jokes…it’s as though he imagines that if he doesn’t make the joke, the world might stop spinning so it is his job, nay, his duty, to offer an offcolor, uncomfortable, inappropriately times or contextually unnecessary, comment.  That guy. It’s always that guy.)

“Yes!” the officer continued. “You also get your excuses ready for the cop that might catch you! You look to see if there is a car about to pass through the lane, or a child crossing the street, or whoever might be in front of or behind you. You are more aware. You know there is some potential risk involved and you are looking for the danger areas.”

While the officer was using this driving example to talk about being a good, observant witness, I started to hear it in terms of the church. When there is the potential for danger, for stress, for an uncomfortable or unwanted outcome, we are hyper vigilant. We are more aware. We ask better questions. We look ahead and behind. We consider what might happen if we get caught and if we might fail. We are ready and we’re a little bit frightened of what might happen.

And that’s when I’ve seen churches thrive.

When we are trying something a little bit dangerous – a little bit uncomfortable – a little bit risky – we seem more conscious of our surroundings, our context, and our experience.

When we get comfortable we tend to relax and our reflexes are just a bit off. We aren’t as anxious but because of that, we don’t see the semi-truck hurtling down the road toward us. Nope, we’re talking on our phone, playing with the radio, and not paying close attention. We feel safe…and there are few things worse than feeling content and safe.

Contentment is one of the great sins of the church.

We sit back and say, “Yes. This is good enough.”

The gospel is more than “good enough.” It is dangerous and life changing. It is aggravating and difficult to make sense of. It is powerful and unhinged. It is what we so desperately need yet are so resistant to embrace.

When we treat the gospel like our yellow light, I believe we will see the potential and act accordingly.

Post-election hyperbole…

And with that, the Michigan part of the mid-term elections are complete. Let the hyperbole begin via social media.

Because that’s all I saw this morning – people either screaming at one another for their failure to vote correctly or lauding this election as America’s finest hour. One person I truly respect went on a rampage on Facebook talking about how her state is made up of illiterate morons. Another bemoaned the failure of his particularly favored ballot measure and predicted the end of life as he knows it. And yes, there were the inevitable “moving to Canada” comments.

In our increasingly polarized political culture, we seem to go to the extreme with everything. It’s not just an opposing point of view, it’s a the wrong way to think/act/believe and you are demonized for your lack of orthodox uniformity.

On election eve, a group of well meaning folks met up at Dublin Square here in East Lansing to talk about faith and civic polity. How much of our participation in government is (or should be) based on our faith perspective and religious ethic. The group seemed torn on this one. What is the role of our faith community when we look for influence on our political leanings and action? Do we seek that guidance? What does our theological diversity provide in this discussion?

Not sure what I was hoping for this morning but I’m positive I didn’t find it. At the end of the day, I guess I wanted something more, something unifying, something reconciled to hold on to. I’m guessing I was looking in the wrong places, because I still haven’t found it the way I expected it to appear.