Infected with the Plague

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I started feeling sick last week.

  • Chest pressure
  • Weakness
  • Almost losing my voice by the end of the day

I found myself googling the symptoms of the Coronavirus as I anxiously waited for a fever to pop. Thankfully, my body’s temperature did not go along with the horror story playing out in my head.

Tabitha reassured me, as we tried to figure out what was going on. She told me that I sounded just like I do when I get a cold… my yearly man cold.

By Friday, I was miserable. I was tired of not having energy and coming home and crashing in the evening. A couple hours after being home though, I felt okay. It was then that Tab and I realized something, my workplace has been making me sick.

Photo by Alesia Kazantceva on Unsplash

At certain times of the year, my workplace zaps my body. I have googled sick building syndrome, etc., but have never figured out why. Until last year, when we discovered that there were no air filters in the building’s air conditioning units. Once we installed filters, I felt fine. All of my bad allergy symptoms, including the daily almost losing of my voice, vanished. Nothing like putting one’s detective skills to use.

It’s funny–not really–how we can jump to the worst case scenario. Thinking we are:

  • Infected with the plague
  • About to lose our jobs
  • Going to die thanks to Google and WebMD

When our typical life outcomes are far more chill and often as simple as changing an air filter at work (which I did this morning).

Where we spend our time (social media, articles, comics, video games, blogs, etc.) affects us; What we breathe in, literally, affects us too.

Hitting the Snooze Button

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Woke up this morning, and I hit the snooze button. I hit the snooze button, over and over again, for the next hour. I didn’t want to get out of bed today. But I did get up, make my coffee, and manage to eat a few lemon poppy seed muffins–thanks, Tab!–with some oatmeal.

Photo by Paul Neil on Unsplash

In the process of getting ready, I happened to check my social media feeds. Friends and family, who are normally pretty chill people, are upset and angry right now. The topics of Coronavirus and racial injustice overwhelm my normal places of fun escape.

This has been one of those weeks where I have hit the snooze button more; this has been one of those weeks where I haven’t read my Bible as much. Instead of starting my mornings in the Word, I have been starting my mornings with a different type of word.

I am tired this morning.

Physically tired.

Mentally exhausted from being told that I should fear something. That instead of engaging history, we think that that engagement equals erasing the past. We live in some sort of Orwellian nightmare.

Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it. – Winston Churchill (paraphrased)

I am also heart tired. As Augustine wrote, I long for how our human experience could/should be versus what it actually is. While we may not put this longing into words, this is a longing for Jesus to return. His return will fulfill that deep human longing for the restoration of all things, for justice. No more:

  • Sickness
  • Death

A future where we will work alongside the Creator of the Universe. The curse of Adam, against work, removed from us.

In writing all of this, I realize that I need to pray for strength to overcome being tired. I also need to pray for grace… maybe for myself with the snooze button… more so for those whose actions I do not understand right now. When you have been living a pretty normal life, for more than a month, and your friends and family have not been, it can feel like talking to people on Mars. Irregardless of that Martian divide, I think grace continues to be the word.

From Across the Net – “Preparation Is Not Panic and Confusion is Not Chaos”

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Appreciate this piece from Tim:

One thing we need to carefully guard against at a time of uncertainty is the irresponsible use of hyperbole. Just because people are behaving in different ways, does not mean they are behaving in panicked ways. Just because things are not normal, does not mean they are chaotic. Fifty people queuing to get into Costco may be surprising and even alarming, but, as long as those people are waiting their turn calmly, it is not panic (“sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety, often causing wildly unthinking behavior”). People responding to government advisories by heading home from overseas and flooding O’Hare airport’s customs hall does not constitute chaos (“complete disorder and confusion”). Preparation is not panic and confusion is not chaos.

You can read more here

Be Excellent – Listen

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Woke up this morning and laid in bed for awhile. Peace.

Got out of bed, grabbed my phone, and I started scrolling through twitter.

A Southern California pastor dying of suicide filled my feed. As well as discussions on:

  • Checking on friends
  • Listening
  • Anxiety and depression

Being greeted by a brother in Christ’s suicide, first thing in the morning, just sucks. But I can’t imagine what his wife and children are feeling.

A few years ago, over a lunch with a pastor, I confessed that I wasn’t doing well. My depression was trying to drown me, and I admitted it out loud. The pastor half listened and eventually changed subjects/blew me off. He had no clue how close I felt to doing something… and yet he didn’t care either. There was never any follow up. Nothing. I cringed when I heard friends were going to talk to him. Afraid of the damage his lack of pastoral care could bring about.

I get that we are not all gifted in all things. But I do think we all have the capacity to listen and empathize.

Photo by Federico Respini on Unsplash

Bill and Ted have said it best:

“Be excellent to each other.”

Listening and empathy are but a level of excellence worth fighting for. I’m not sure where you are today; not sure what side of the bed you woke up on. I want to encourage you to find someone trustworthy who will listen before/after things get bad, someone who practices what Bill and Ted preached. Be excellent.

Anxiety – The Faulty Spider-Sense

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Ever since our interview/home study, this past Saturday, my chest has hurt. My anxiety is telling me something is wrong.

Work has been a little crazy lately. Two of my co-workers are taking over as owners of my firm at the end of the week. My boss of 11 plus years is:

  • Stepping down
  • Becoming an employee
  • AND still managing/not changing his boss role at the same time

Reality equals that I’ve suddenly added two additional bosses in addition to my current boss; reality equals now having to juggle completing tasks for all three bosses while not making my current boss mad that I’m working for the two newer bosses. Confused? I am. I think I can safely say that the learning curve is going to be high for everyone… and has already been difficult for me.

This should say: DO MORE NOW, BRYAN!

My pastor announced his resignation on Father’s Day. He has been with our church just short of seven years. I am in the Camp of Hurt right now. Stunned by his announcement and questioning why he is leaving. We were told that nothing is wrong, that his leaving is due to him feeling God tell him that it is time. I’m trying to focus on how it is good that he is being obedient to God’s calling him away. BUT I can’t help but think of:

  • The upcoming interim period, while we search for a new pastor
  • The debt my church is now in due to the children’s building we built
  • How the person who led us into that debt, who asked us to step out in faith, is leaving

I’m hurt but also recognize that loyalty is a big deal for me. I also recognize that hurt from past church leaders lingers on. I have gotta let go and see the bigger God picture.

Our home life feels like it is about to change with adoption. The interview/home study made this feel more real.

My work life has become more unstable than normal with having to suddenly deal with three chiefs versus one.

And church stuff has just been icing on the cake.

My anxiety is telling me that something is wrong, like a faulty Spider-Sense. Things might not be wrong but they are definitely changing. And who likes change?

This past week, as I was listening to a sermon, God reminded me that He calls us where we are WITH what we have. It is in change that our faith is stretched. I don’t want to be stretched, but I do at the same time. I want to grow in my faith. You?

Bryan

P.S. Thankful that God is my constant.

From Across the Net – “Technology and our anxious hearts”

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Working in an office, I have constant access to social media. All day, everyday, I keep up with the news as it unfolds around the world. Once the weekend hits, my access to social media declines. I take the weekends off from blogging. At home, I find that I check Facebook, Twitter, and email out of boredom/to fill time. What I have noticed though is that I feel much more at peace over the weekends minus the constant social media connection.

Reuben Bredenhof wrote a piece titled “Technology and our anxious hearts“.

The problem is that our sinful natures will always say that if we could just have our idols (whatever they are), eventually they’ll be able to satisfy us. That goes all the way back to Paradise. What more could Adam or Eve want than what God had given? But Satan said, “Escape your creature-hood. Define your own truth. Keep the glory for yourself. Why miss out on becoming like God with just one bite?”

You can read more here

Jesus is our peace

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Just a few days into December and work is exploding. The environment is tense as a major project must go out soon after the beginning of the year. In other words, a typical stressful December here in my office. Knowing that things will get harder before they relax, I find my anxiety kicking in, causing my chest to tighten up. Feels like an elephant has taken up permanent residence on top of my heart. In the midst of fight or flight, God has reminded me of a snippet from Micah I read yesterday.

Micah 5:5A

I want His peace. Peace that surpasses all understanding.

From Across the Net: “Wrestling with Big Decisions”

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Focus on the Famly’s John Ortberg wrote a great piece titled “Wrestling with Big Decisions“. I found the following perspective helpful:

Indeed, for years after my “What should I do with my life?” conversations with God, I did not realize that what I had been actually looking for wasn’t so much “God’s will for my life.” What I was really looking for was a way to be relieved of the anxiety that comes with taking responsibility for making a difficult decision.

God is a door opener, not a celestial enabler.