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Tuesday, June 29, 2010



We all have them. We can try to compensate for them, cover them or just plain live in denial of them, but they are there and they are more apparent that we would like to admit. The problem with a shortcoming is that the person who has it is typically the last one to realize it. They have lived with themselves so long and have gotten so used to this glaring weakness that their eyes have adjusted to the dysfunction. They see themselves through a filtered perspective.

However, there are some people who are very much aware of their shortcomings and are completely taken out by the incongruence of their insides and their outsides. They refuse to say anything, do anything or be anything because they don't want to let someone down with what they know to be true about themselves. Rather than speak up and risk that their shortcoming might surface, they stay quiet to ensure that it doesn't. Instead of accepting a responsibility, they excuse themselves with self-depreciating comments of unworthiness. They are so paralyzed by their own self-awareness that they have added scorn to scars, insult to injury.

I think I am a nice configuration of both on most days. Just enough disclosure to let people know I'm real, just enough closure to keep people from knowing I'm fragile. This is the tightrope of leadership. How much do you share? How honest can you be? How broken is too broken? How together is too together?

I'm not sure if it's the softening that comes with getting a little older, but I'm realizing more now than ever the vulnerabilities of my makeup. I'm getting more and more honest about my shortcomings and my need for God's grace to fill in the cracks of my broken heart. I don't think myself above any sort of sin or failure or lapse of judgement. I know I'm just like everybody else who's fallen and is falling short of the glory of God on a regular basis. My sufficiency is from God, my competency is from God, my merit is from God...not myself.

On my own, I'm a flawed and fallen man. Brittle. Thin. It's only by God's grace that I can rise again after coming short of the mark. And when that shortcoming reminds me that I'm unworthy, I say, "What of it? I know that I'm imperfect and unable to stand on my own credentials, yet there is one who has taken my shortcomings and given me his overcomings."

In Christ, I'm not a shortcomer. I'm an overcomer.

Friday, June 04, 2010


Sometimes I get into these funks where I can't sleep in my bed.

My bed is very comfortable. Pillow-top. Queen-size. Undisturbed, due to fan humming some white noise off to the side. Dark, due to the greenish opaque curtains. Cool, due to the central air being pushed through the vent right next to my side of the bed. Comfy, due to over-sized quilted comforter and my special doctor prescribed pillow to support my neck. You couldn't ask for anything more.

And yet, despite all the amenities is offers, I'm tossing and turning like a 3rd grade boy in English class. My "restless leg syndrome" kicks in, my lower back can't seem to find the right spot to settle into, my pillow seems to get to warm on my red-hot ears leading me to turn it over again and again and again seeking the coolness of it's underbelly. And then my mind starts spinning with thoughts like "It's over now, buddy, you ain't never gonna get to sleep now." or "Are you sure you're not forgetting something?" or "Is that an itch on your leg or did a carpenter ant somehow slip under the covers?" The thoughts reproduce like horny jackrabbits until I'm wondering whether or not life is worth living. Seriously, I'll be in bed singing a lyric from a song over and over again, while contemplating the sins of my youth mixed with the dread of letting someone down. It's a formula for insanity. And for some reason, caught somewhere between waking and sleeping, it seems believable in the moment.

So I typically grab my pillow and mosey down to the couch in the living room hoping that a different setting with snap me out of my "thought loops" and reconfigure my mental settings to a relatively normal state. I say "relatively" because there are days when I wonder if my normal isn't, in fact, abnormal.


I hate to lose sleep. I think one of the things that starts the "thought loops" is the fear that I'm losing sleep while I'm trying to get to bed. I'll look at the clock periodically and figure out how much time I have before I have to wake up. Every time I glance at the clock I'll do the math and start to panic that what was 7 hours has just turned into 6 hours and 40 minutes. Before I know it, my 6 hours and 40 minutes is whittled down to under 5 hours and that's when panic sets in. I "just know" that I won't be able to function well on under 5 and that if this keeps up I'll be hallucinating like I did the morning after a Jr. High all nighter in youth ministry kept awake by pizza, Mt. Dew and hyperactive middle schooler singing camp songs in the back seat of the 15 seat passenger van. I've never frequented hell, but I imagine hell to be something akin to what I experienced on those sleepless nights in student ministry.

Yeah...this week has been a week of restless sleep. I hope it turns a corner soon.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The Rabid Rabbi is on the Loose!

Sometimes you just feel blah.

Like, you know you are, but, like, you can't do anything about it.

Or worse, you try to do something about it, but it ends up making you even more jaded, elongating the season of "blahness" and taking your "downness" further down. Like anxiety becomes anger, and, like, fatigue becomes frustration. And before you, like, know it, you're saying "like" all the time. This is when I know about about to lose it.

The worse part is trying to be a pastor when you're generally "not so hot". I have these mechanisms that kick in that cause me to withdraw from people so that I don't burden them with my "blank stare" or my general "lack of interest". It's not that I will be mean, I just won't be "peppy" and "perky". Pastors are notorious for being perpetually perky dishing out hope like it was going out of style.

I move away from people to get my "poop in a group" so that when I come back to civilization I can contribute to the betterment of society as opposed to piling on some more "bad news". I know this is not good, but it's a trigger. I know some people want to see me "warts and all", but I don't think most know how to relate to me when I'm not the conversationist who soothes and satiates with words of hope mixed with humor...a perfect blend of levity and gravity. Not too much, nor too little..."ah, now that's just right."

When I'm down, I sense people stand there wondering what to say. They are awkward and sheepish and unnerved. Worse still, some (I sense) have this feeling of "Well if you're going down, I don't stand a chance." This really makes it hard to let people in on the "less than light-hearted" side of your inner self. It's like people know you're not perfect, but they don't know how to handle you when you're not at least acting like it. Something like that. That might sound arrogant to say...but I'm just trying to verbalize emotions here, not concern myself with air tight explanations.

I'm not sleeping well. I'm feeling quite irritable.

I feel pressure building inside. It usually ends up resulting in an ordinate anger at the most silly things. Like a hose that you're trying to coil up that has remaining water in it that squirts all over you or ants that are getting into your house from somewhere even though you can't for the life of you figure out where or an air conditioner that won't work on the hottest days of the year leaving you sticking to your bed sheets or that piece of metal that you step on in the garage when you're taking a bag of trash to the garbage can in the dark or the whiny kids in the back seat bellyaching about how hungry they are or the rainwater that gets in your sandals when you're walking across a parking lot leaving your feet feeling mildewy or the stupid matches you left out in the rain when you had your last bonfire or the lack of cell phone coverage that makes you have to walk to the end of your driveway in order not to lose an important call all the while getting bit my mosquitoes on your legs. Yeah...this sort of stuff just starts to send me over the edge.

I get short with people. I get even shorter with my kids. But I get the shortest with my wife. I don't even need to elaborate on that psycho-social know what I'm talking about. The general public gets the "pulled together, composed" Jason. My kids get the "fightin' to keep from wounding them irreversibly" Jason. And then my wife gets the "edgy, cold unresponsive loser" Jason. The people I love least get the best and the people I love the most get the rest. This is my Ecclesiastes. Meaningless, meaningless all is meaningless. What has happened will happen again...round and round and round it goes...welcome to my cycle of depravity.

But I'll bounce back. It may take some time, but God waits for me to throw my temper tantrum and then smacks me upside the head and says, "Are you finished yet? Let's go, we've got a life to live here. Snap out of it!" And when he says that it makes sense. Cause despite the darkness of my lens today...I've lived long enough to know that "this too shall pass".

Yet for now, I'm not myself. I want to punch something. I want to yell at something. I want to rip something apart. I want to let off some steam. I want to get in a fist fight or something. I'm like a caged beast. Like the band Smashing Pumpkins said, "Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage." Days like this I feel trapped in a cage of my own making. And this caged up feeling leads to a raged up feeling.

Maybe it's just a Male Menstrual Cycle. Maybe it's a mid-life crisis. Maybe it's the occasional Ministry Meltdown Mulligan. I don't know. I feel like a Rabid Rabbi.

Yeah, the Rabid Rabbi is on the loose.

If you're anywhere near me today, you might want to wear some hockey pads. If you're a guy and we're meeting today, wear a cup.

Don't say I didn't warn ya'!!

Ok, now I'm over-dramatizing I'll leave ya before I get even more melodramatic.