Reasonable Mind Dukes it out with Miserable Mind

R: So, ever considered being happy?

M: Happy? What for?

Nah, just kidding. Of course I’ve considered it, I think about it every day.

Then why don’t you do it?

Well, it’s more complicated than that. I mean sure, happy sounds good, you know, sort of by way of definition… but I don’t know if it works for everyone. And you can’t just flip a switch and it happens.

That is true. But I guess a good start would be to stop being miserable.

Yeah, I could, but…

But…

There are pluses and minuses to both. I mean, to be happy means putting in a lot of work. And for what, just so something can come in and tear it down? 

Right, but isn’t it still worth it? Wouldn’t a threat to your happiness just make it all the more valuable and desirable?

No, not really. And there’s another thing- happy just isn’t me. If I start being happy now, that’ll be like proving that I was wrong earlier. It’s much easier to leave things the way they are.

So this is about your ego? You’re just afraid of being wrong?

I wouldn’t say that.

So you don’t get a little ego boost from being miserable and misunderstood, in your own sick kind of way, if I may say so?

No. And you’re not even addressing the main point. I have no reason to be happy. Nothing to look forward to. Nothing.

Why don’t you have a reason? Who does have a reason?

Some people do, yes, I would say so. People who have x,y, and z

But don’t you have a,b, and c?

Yes, but you see, that’s just not nearly as wonderful and satisfying as x,y, and z.

Why can’t you be happy with a,b, and c?

Well, I told you, I don’t have x,y, and z.

Could you be happy for those people?

I don’t see how that’s possible.

You could try.

Why should I? Why do they even have it? Life isn’t fair. They don’t even deserve it.

And you do? Why? What good have you ever done?

_____________

Is that really so good?

No, I guess not. 

Okay, then why don’t they deserve it?

They’re sinners.

Aren’t you too?

Yes.

Haven’t you committed all the same sins as everyone else, and more?

Precisely.

But you deserve it, and they don’t? It’s bad that they have it, but good when you have it, because somehow you deserve it?

Stop asking leading questions.

I’m just trying to understand. What makes them worse?

I don’t know. It’s just different when they do bad stuff.

It’s just different when they do bad stuff. That sounds stupid.

I know it does, but what choice do I have?

Let me ask you something- aren’t you Christian?

Oh, yes.

Don’t you believe that the sole purpose of our being on earth is to worship God?

Yes, that’s a nice way of putting it.

Thank you. So why don’t you do that?

I don’t know. I’d kind of like to. Sometimes it seems like a really good idea. But I just can’t. There’s too many hours in the day. 

But you believe it?

Oh, with all my heart and soul!

Okay…

Oh, look, I have to go soon. I’m supposed to write this depressing poem in like five minutes.

Right, okay. Well, I’m glad we could do this.

Yeah, yeah, it was great, we’ll have to do it again.

Well, have a nice day. 

 

 

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A Repose in the Battle

Madness disguises itself as reason

And robs me of my joy, my compassion, and life itself

Passion alone is a dead end

Ruminating is my ruin

The only joy and peace is involuntary

It comes upon me against my will

It laughs at my silly thoughts

And my soul, for an instant, bursts open

 

I’m tired of the wrestling,

I don’t want to play the game anymore

I just want to exist, and feel, and be blessed 

And I don’t care if the best part of me

Is the part that comes not from me

What’s Really Going On (Spiritual Warfare Trigger Warning)

I guess I shouldn’t try to exact sympathy. It’s got to be my fault that I’ve let my mind become the violent battleground of God and Satan. I could have just let Christ’s victory on the cross be enough. But no, I had to have my own absurd, psychotic, philosophical war which makes so little sense that I can’t even begin to describe it properly. And yet here I am talking about it. 

I wish there was some kind of drug you could take to wipe your mind clear, like amnesia. I’d trade any intelligence I have for a day of peace. 

But there’s not, and I can’t. The easy way out isn’t the right way out. 

How did this all begin? And what justification is there for it? My life is more peaceful than usual, on the outside. Really, I’ve made peace with a lot of things. I’ve made peace with loneliness in a way. I’m grateful that my family seems to love me, despite all the reasons not to. I’ve slowed down the pace in the rat race. I have no particular beefs with anyone because people have generally been good to me, so it seems that Satan has decided to turn me against the human race in general, forcing me to philosophize, judge, mistrust, and hate when I obviously have no right to do any of that when I am apparently a million times more screwed up than anyone just for entertaining these evil thoughts.

This is all so confusing. I am torn between two poles: a hateful, jealous, violent, destructive, disgusting one, and a kind, loving, forgiving, peaceful one. I guess I’m somewhere in the middle. I would just like to be on the second pole. Or would I?

Of course, a lot of this has to do with too much free time and a lack of focus. And that’s certainly part of it. Sometimes these thoughts go away, or God drives them away… but they always seem to return. Because it’s hard to forget what you know. 

I know this all seems really dark and hopeless, and in a way it is, because it’s not an easy problem to solve. But I still believe that I’m saved. I know, I know, Christians are supposed to be good, sane, and normal people. Yeah, I get it. It makes a little sense if you’re a mess before you’re saved, but afterward? That’s just not… good. And I don’t claim to be good. I don’t think this is good, but that doesn’t mean that good can’t come out of it. Good can come out of it in the same way a plant can grow in the ashes of a house fire (that does happen, right?)

I mean this- that I am sharing this story (again) in the hope that it will glorify God. Why not? Why isn’t it to God’s glory if He can save even miserable people like me? Why isn’t it a miracle that I feel loved by Him, in spite of it all?

But right here is where one of my pitfalls is. Sometimes I focus too much on my personal relationship with God, forgetting that so many people have personal relationships with God and will have personal relationships with God. Sometimes I feel that it is just me vs. this evil, superficial society and its endless members whom I am supposed to love, somehow. 

Lord, I’ve admitted the sin, please help me to truly despise it with all my heart and soul and turn from it! Anyone out there who’s reading this, please pray for me, not for my own sake, but for the sake of those around me who deserve my genuine love and not the politeness that masks my depression. If you don’t understand anything I’ve said, then give yourself a pat on the back. You are likely a sane and upright human being. If you do understand, thank you. If you understand too much, please let us bear this burden together in spirit. 

And now I’m a bit teary again, what’s new.

 

 

The Mystery of God… Still Very Much a Mystery (But That’s Okay)

Is God’s will simply what is before us? Or must we carve it out with His guidance?

This question is central to the turmoil that I have been experiencing all day. Turmoil because I felt that I made a decision contrary to God’s pleasure, and that I will surely be punished for it.

The decision was to continue summer school. Doesn’t that seem like the most trivial thing in the world? Isn’t worrying the real sin? And yet I couldn’t feel good about my decision, even though economy and reason were on its side. I figured that this decision could surely benefit God. I can glorify Him in all circumstances, and these seem favorable circumstances, I thought. And yet peace did not descend. The alternative to my decision is what I perceive as God’s will because it is the less attractive one. Does that make sense at all?

Nonetheless, I seem somewhat trapped in this situation. If I do drop, my family will be upset, and why upset them needlessly? Where is this all leading? Surely, God, you could bring good out of that because you can bring good out of anything… But is it the better decision?

And so, I have been entirely unable to find peace. On top of this absurdity. Satan has been at attacking with a vengeance in different ways. He’s really quite relentless. He makes me question everything- including the reason that I choose to follow God. He asks me if I’m really good enough for God, if I’m really good at all. He asked me to join him.

I found myself going along with this way too much. I found myself only distantly admiring God, if at all. Like the tragic old cynic with a face weathered by brushes with demons, who can only exhort her descendants to turn out differently.

But what’s the use in that hopelessness? Why not seek out God and make things right? I knew that I needed Him, more than ever, so I opened His word. I knew that without Him I would be worse than nothing, so I accepted His help. Once again, He was there with open arms.

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (‭Philippians‬ ‭4‬:‭4-7‬ NKJV)

Philippians 4 is awesome, please read the whole thing if you get the chance. I believe this. Yes, Lord, I believe You and I know You are good! It doesn’t matter what I’ve done, You are still the same, You are always the same wonderful God! You are peace, You are joy, You are the antidote to this toxic existence! Oh, please give me the strength to love You! Give me the strength to care! Give me the strength that I don’t have to keep on going! Lord, for some reason I still don’t feel right about my decision; but let me at least stop focusing so much on my own salvation and start focusing on the salvation of others who deserve it so much more than I do. You, in Your gentle way, Lord, win their hearts!

To All Who Suffer From Social Anxiety

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There was a time when people didn’t get drugs for what we now know as SAD. Their families and peers likely brushed it off as shyness, introversion, or plain weirdness. There was also a time when drunk driving wasn’t illegal and you could buy a candy bar for a nickel.

What I’m saying is that times have changed, and so have attitudes about many things, including mental illness, for better and for worse. It is good that nowadays we tend not to trivialize things so much. Like, “Oh, that’s just a flesh wound… Oh that’s just mercury… Oh, he’s just a little shy and quirky.” People tend to have a little more knowledge, sensitivity, and symapthy… Right?

But are we overreacting? Are we overmedicating? Are we overthinking?

The problem is that when we turn SAD into a disease, well, we turn it into something that is important and real… But we also turn it into a DISEASE!

I’m not saying that you necessarily need to stop taking drugs. If Prozac keeps you from spending 5 hours a day crying and if you need a little something something to keep from passing out every time you enter a crowded room, who am I to judge you? Maybe I should be on drugs myself.

I’m just saying that it is time for a new kind of victory. No more defeat, no more shame, no more stigma, no more self-loathing. It is time that we say, “No more, we are free from SAD (figuratively…)!”

Society may shun us with its well-meaning smile. Maybe our friends will leave us and our families will continue to misunderstand.

But you may know what I’m about to say. You’ve known it all along- that there is someone who cares, there is someone who gets it, and there is someone who loves us for who we really are (not that everything we do is perfection, that is actually something society tells us, and doesn’t really mean).

We don’t need to view anxiety as a tragedy. We don’t need to view it as a manifestation of all of our failures. It doesn’t need to be fully integrated into our innermost being. It can just be another struggle. It can just be another cross to bear.

Something I’m beginning to understand is Paul. People criticize him all the time for all his “boasting.” But is he really “boasting” in the way we think of the word? Look at me, I’m such a good Christian…

Well, maybe he did sometimes, he was human after all. But there is another way to look at it. Paul often “boasts” in response to his trials. He would go city to city preaching and church-building along the Mediterranean and Jews would persecute him. They would tie him up and put him on trial and it would happen over and over again. That can get a little tiring, disheartening, frustrating… But through it all, he expresses joy. He “boasts.”

We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed. But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. (II Corinthians 6:3-10 NKJV)

Maybe we can do the same thing. Not that we shouldn’t be humble or that we should think that we are better than our non-anxious counterparts. There are more than enough examples of Jesus’ humility, most do not put that into question so much. Paul was also far from taking all the credit (see 1 Corinthians 3).

Nonetheless, we can have victory. Maybe you’re not so much used to the idea of victory, like me. You know, I certainly wasn’t the star of my JV tennis team in high school. I think I won 1 match in 2 seasons. And that whole teenage triumph invincibility thing… You know what I mean… Driving around town with your friends, feeling like you’re on top of the world, believe me those moments were all too fleeting and far between for me. But there is victory outside of sports, dollar signs, and conventionality. If we believe in the Lord, if we believe that all things are possible through him, if we complete his work in spite of setbacks… Then there’s no reason to not have joy.

“But tell that to my depression,” you may say, and I would understand.

But victory is still possible. Victory is always possible. Depression is a disease of the mind. It doesn’t need to be a disease of the soul and the Spirit (although keeping it from spreading is way easier said than done). I’m not saying the road will be easy. God forbid… but is victory ever easy? And would an easy victory be as sweet?

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Socialanxietytestonline.com

What If I Just Pretended to be Sane?

When I was younger, I watched the Andy Griffith Show. Picnic apple pie America at its best. Anyway, I remember one episode where Aunt Bee was given sugar pills which she believed were helping her get better. I later learned this is called the placebo effect.

Lately, I have had more free time. Which is good because I’ve had time to write and relax, which is what I’ve been waiting for. But unfortunately, I have also had more time to descend into madness. Or should I say, further into madness.

This worries me for many reasons. And the worry makes my condition worse. It’s a vicious cycle. At this rate, I could turn into a psychopath. Who knows what would happen to me without the love and mercy of God? Praise be to the God on high, who is the God of nice, normal people and the God of us crazies as well. I don’t deserve Him, I don’t deserve salvation. If Paul is “the least of the apostles” and “the scum of the earth,” well, I don’t even want to know what I am. But the Lord loves me anyway.

So when I say that I should probably be dead by now, I’m not exaggerating.

I wonder why this problem doesn’t go away, especially now that I’ve been baptized. I wonder why I am still knee deep in this spiritual warfare. The normal part of me can’t understand why the crazy part thinks it’s the end of the world when there’s 10666 miles on the odometer.

Ah yes, so let me circle back to the placebo effect. Here’s what I’m thinking. I want to try something new, so maybe instead of worrying about how I should seek treatment and tell my family (which sounds very painful), maybe I should try to work around this for now. What I mean is, the power of suggestion.

What if I tried to convince myself that I am not sick? What if I just drill into my head that the Lord is with me and the Holy Spirit is at my beck and call? What if I just stop associating with Satan? And what if this actually helps me? What if I pretend so long that I become reasonably sane?

This won’t work over night, that’s for sure. And I don’t mean to trivialize this problem, like you can just use some Steve Harvey style self help to get yourself out of the ditch in three easy steps. All I’m saying is that maybe I’ll give it a try. There is such a thing as too much introspection, and I’m sure I crossed that line a long time ago. Does it really matter which childhood event triggered this or whether or not I feel empowered as an individual? All I’m saying is that I’ll give it a try, and if God wills, it may work, and if not, well, maybe I’ll try the psyche ward eventually.

Please don’t make me go to the mental hospital!!!

“Religion is for the Weak” Part 1 of 2

I am still alive, in case you were wondering (which you probably weren’t) but I have been busy cramming for midterms and the like. To say that I haven’t contemplated death in the past week would be a bit of a lie.

Personal problems came along, and boy, did they get the better of me. Worry, guilt, and depression robbed me of all my joy, all my sanity. I simply didn’t want to go on anymore. I could see nothing to look forward to in the future. I wondered whom my circumstances were benefitting. They don’t appear to be benefitting me, and I didn’t see how they are benefitting God either. Why does God want me to be persecuted? (actually, I’m not exaggerating that much. I am being persecuted a little).

The answers didn’t come in a prolific dream like I’d been hoping. But I am learning. Like in a fantasy movie or a video game where the path expands before you just at the rate you are walking, so life is gradually starting to make sense. I just wish it would make sense at a more comfortable pace.

First, a Bible study at school that I was finally able to attend. We read a little pamphlet called “the key to prayer.” I was skeptical. After all, I am even skeptical about parts of the Bible at times. Why wouldn’t I be skeptical about a pamphlet that seems very biased? I didn’t like how the title seemed to imply that there was some kind of magical formula to prayer. But I did get a lot out of the discussion. I realized once again that God isn’t a fairy godmother. It’s not like that cartoon show the “Fairly Odd Parents” where you can just wish for whatever ridiculous thing your foolish heart desires and it would just appear before you with a poof. Because, like in the show, we wouldn’t wish for the right things. We would all wish for silly things that wouldn’t help us one bit, things that would probably just make our lives worse. Prayer is “wishing” for what God wishes for. It is aligning our spirits with His, as my friends reminded me in the meeting. Therefore, we should pray for God’s will. And if what we want is what God wants, then we will get what we want, just like Matthew 7 says.

Then, on Friday morning, I arrived at school a little early. The parking lot was so oddly peaceful that I decided to hang out there. I opened the pamphlet for next week’s meeting called “The Burden of Prayer.” It’s not what it sounds like. I didn’t finish the pamphlet, but I did glean from it some information about “spiritual burdens.” They are simply nudges from God which direct you towards the building up of the kingdom. They are burdens. I have felt them before, and like the pamphlet says, you know it when you have a burden. When I was in high school, I had a burden to speak in chapel (I went to a Christian school and that was our weekly school-wide meeting). I myself didn’t want to do it at all. Getting up in front of all my judgmental peers to share something personal? No thanks. Eventually, it did happen, but it wasn’t nearly as intimidating or uncomfortable as I thought it would be. I also wonder if it did anything for God, but I guess that’s not for me to know.

Once I learned what a burden was, it seemed like they were everywhere. And I got a new burden, clear as day. I was walking to class, and again I saw some men sitting by a cardboard box labeled “Religion is FOR the weak.” The first time I saw this, I was sure that they were just an atheist group. But then I got to thinking, “well if that’s the case, then why is the word ‘for’ emphasized and not ‘weak?'” With the pamphlet in mind, I knew that I needed to talk to these people. So I got my Subway sandwich, and as I sat there eating, I thought of questions and argmuments. Then I rolled up my 2/3 eaten bag of chips and went over there excitedly. They were talking about something which sounded spiritual, but I couldn’t tell exactly what they meant by it. Then, seeing me standing there, they asked me if I was afraid of death. And I said, no, because I believe in eternal life. And the man started telling me basic Christian doctrines. I wasn’t sure what he meant by this. Was he mocking me? Was he just saying out loud what he thought I was thinking, but not explicitly saying? So I asked him if he was being sarcastic. And he said no! And the other guy, a very tall black guy with dreds named Peace, gave me, a complete stranger, a very good natured and sincere hug that I will never forget. So I thought that maybe I was going to have to witness to these atheists, but instead they were believers witnessing to me. And I stood there awkwardly (I hate standing for long periods of time, especially when I’m holding things) and I listened and talked to them. Jesus isfor the weak. He came for the sick, not the healthy (Mark 2:17). He came for people like me who can barely carry on a normal conversation without stumbling and stuttering. He came for people who don’t have it together, who don’t know why they’re living, but want to figure out. He came for His glory, but He also came for our benefit. He wants us to feel loved again!