I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
I wish I could say that the above quote is from me, and that I had that sort of understanding. Unfortunately, I cannot and do not.
Have you ever been driving really, really fast in a car when suddenly you hit the brakes? You know that sensation of your whole body and being just feeling completely out of sorts? Well, that would be me. Hence, the picture with the fried bacon. I feel a bit like a bacon strip...and one that has been cooked a little too long, at that.
This was an interesting week for me. My career as a public school teacher is over. I'm not sure what is next for me. I do wish to take a stab at making some money as a writer of some sort. Who knows? God always seems to have an odd sense of humor when it comes to me, so we'll see.
I had been offered a full-time position with the school, but long story short, I turned it down. I'm glad that I came to that decision on my own before I found out that the school was going to close anyway. I will genuinely miss the people that I worked with. A couple in particular. I will also miss many of the students.
However, I am glad to be done with that school. I saw so much ugliness that it really did a number on my head. To be honest, everything in me suffered. My health is downhill now, so is my emotional and spiritual life. It is just extremely difficult for me to stare into the face of so much self-destructive lifestyles and behaviors that it feels like I am being poisoned.
On a side note, my lack of respect for so-called "Community Leaders" has reached epic proportions. I am not convinced at all that these men actually give a damn about their community. They certainly like the power & influence that they get, but other than that... I won't name names on the odd chance that this might come back to haunt me. However, it strikes me that if you are a member of the State Legislature representing this area, you might wish to encourage your family members to not engage in prostitution as an occupation. Also, if you want to be a "Leader," start with your own family. If your daughter tries to set our school on fire, it's generally a sign that you have failed as a parent.
So after I had left the school for the final time, I got together with a friend of mine who is a psychiatric nurse for the military. (His last name also happens to be the same as the delicious product pictured at the top) I asked him if I could have PTSD or something like that. I mean, waking to nightmare about the school is generally a less-than positive occurrence. I explained to him about how I was feeling, and all of the weird crap in my head, so on & so forth.
He laughed and said "No" to the PTSD thing. But then he told me that what I needed was to learn "Emotional Regulation." Something clicked in me when he said that, so I pressed him on it. I think he is right. There are somethings that I get way to emotional over, and I doubt it's very healthy.
The funny thing is that I am not easily offended by stuff. I spend more time with non-Believers than I do with Believers, so I tend to be the one doing the offending when I am with those "Christian" types. (In many respects, it's a true gift on my part.) I am just used to hearing & seeing some outrageous stuff, and it just doesn't get me worked up. Don't get me wrong, I don't endorse the majority of it. I just don't get all out of joint.
I joked to a couple of friends that if I was out on a date with a gal, and she revealed that at one point she had actually been a man, I wouldn't freak out. However, the requisite kiss good night would probably be withheld.
Stuff like that just doesn't get to me like it does to others.
All of that having been said, there are some buttons that you can press that can cause me to pop a bolt. The easiest one is to treat me as "Less Than," or to essentially dismiss me. My normal reaction is to loudly & sarcastically rip you a new one. I've gotten better at regulating that one. However, if I see someone treating others in that manner, I kind of can't help myself. (I have been told that it is kind of fun to watch.)
The thing is, I'm not totally sure what buttons were pressed at that school. What ever they were, most of them seemed to have all been pushed at the same time...and held down for an extended period.
I know that I have a hard time watching people rejoice in their wanton ignorance, and encourage others to do the same. I also know that I really and truly hate stereotypes, and those who encourage others to fulfill them. I also despise wasted potential. I saw plenty of all of the above at that school.
I dunno, I have plenty to process.
The thing is, I feel very far from God. I feel rather empty. I think about the life of Jacob. His is a story that I have been thinking about and mediating of for almost a year now. He only had a couple of those spectacular encounters with YHWH that we all crave. Yet, God was with him the whole time. I hope that is the case with me.
I guess that I can't blame God for any of this. The fact is that I did not make the daily time to seek him. Regardless, I feel very far from him. I can't say that I like this feeling very much.
I enjoy the philosopher from Northern Ireland named Peter Rollins. He has some interesting thoughts on these empty feelings that Believers get more often than we would care to admit.
I read his book "Insurrection: To Believe is Human, to Doubt, Divine," this past Autumn. Plenty of it was way over my head. Still, he had some fascinating observations. One of them struck me to the core, and gave me great comfort.
"It is easy for us to take the experience of God's absence as a rejection of God's presence and either celebrate it or bemoan, depending upon one's position. But a properly Christological reflection should lead us to see the felt experience of God's absence as the fundamental way of entering into the presence of God. For if being a Christian involves participating in the Crucifixion, then it means undergoing this earth-shattering loss. While various religious systems provide a place for this painful experience of unknowing, in Christianity when one is crushed by a deep, existential loss of certainty, one finds oneself in Christ."
In other words, to lose is to find.
Which oddly enough does sound rather similar to something another clever fellow once said; "Whoever
finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." Matt. 10:39
So, yes, I do take comfort in the idea that this feeling of distance and absence is actually a sign of something more going on. It certainly makes me hungry for Jesus.
My week of vacation began today. Considering that I have been burning the candle at both ends and the middle for almost 3 months now, it feels incredibly odd to have so much free time. I wish to take this time to do a major restructuring of my life and habits. There is so much more that I could be doing with my life...particularly if I want to take a stab at writing some kind of book.
Most importantly, I really want to take this time to let Jesus actually heal me. I especially want him to help me figure out this whole emotional regulation thing. I want him to clean me inside and out. I do not believe that he wastes anything. We do. He doesn't. Whatever the reasons were for me to have to endure so much stress & ugliness for so long, he will make it known to me and cause it to work for the good of me and his glory.
Here's the rub. I have come to the point in my life where I believe fully, and with all my heart, that he will provide for me with whatever is coming next. I am convinced of that. However, I have not yet come to the point in my life where I do not sweat bullets and worry about what it might be. I guess that's just another issue that he has to chisel away at me over.
Such is life.
Naturally, I could think of no more appropriate a song to end this post with than this one. :)