Monday, September 5, 2011

Condemnation is Not for Us.

In the last passage, Paul talked about the guilt of the Gentiles before God. He said that even thought the knowledge of God was in everything around them, they rebelled anyway. They created idols. They were gossips, slanderers, and all around miserable people. They knew that their actions could only result in spiritual death. Not only did they not care, but they delighted in others who did the same. The sad fact is this happens even today. Today’s passage, Romans 2:1-16, deals with the natural reactions of the believers to these things.

Naturally, people look at what Paul describes in 1:18-32 with disdain. What kind of a person does this, we ask. How terrible they are. Someone who does this to others, and delights in others doing the same surely deserves their punishment. Destroy them, oh Lord, for they are unworthy of you.

Now we, as believers, are compelled to evangelize the unbeliever. We see these actions and we hold to our calling to spread to them the gospel of Christ crucified. One form of evangelism that is popular, and also drives me up a wall, is the “turn or burn” style. Everyone has heard this one. It goes like this: “Well, if you don’t accept Jesus as your personal savior, then you’ll just wind up in hell.”

Hold the phone here! Who, exactly, are you to pronounce hellfire and damnation on someone? Did we not cover that they already know they are condemned? Did we not cover that they don’t care? And did we not cover that all men are just as guilty in God’s sight as they, believer and unbeliever alike?

How arrogant we are to presume to know the mind of God, that we can pass such judgment on someone else? We, being just as guilty, were shown mercy by God that he gave his son in edification of our sins. Do we know whether God will choose to have mercy on these people we so easily judge? Here is the fact; by judging an unbeliever, we heap condemnation on ourselves.

So many times have I seen and heard this turn or burn evangelism. And no matter how many times I say, “Do not judge lest ye be judged,” the argument returned is the same; “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” This verse, used by the evangelist for the argument of why to use the turn or burn evangelism, comes from 1 Corinthians 6:2.

The problem the evangelist faces in this case is the argument using this particular verse does not hold water. Neither is it a contradiction. To understand fully what Paul is saying both in Romans and in the letter to the Corinthians, we need to look further at the words used in the original manuscripts.

In Romans 2:1, Paul says this: “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, whoever you are, when you judge another; for in passing judgment upon him you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things” (RSV). The words Paul used here in the original manuscript are krino and krima, meaning judge and judgment respectively. These words can also be translated as condemn and condemnation. So, looking at it in this sense, to whom does condemnation belong?

Consider this: a man comes home one day to find his wife murdered. The police do an investigation and there is some evidence that points to an extramarital boyfriend of this man’s wife. There is not, however, sufficient evidence for the police to arrest him.

The widower, on the other hand, is absolutely convinced that this boyfriend of his wife is guilty of the crime. He sits for days and broods on how this other man who had no business being with his wife came along and stole her from him. He becomes so convinced of this man’s guilt he passes the sentence of death on the boyfriend and carries out the sentence. He is now guilty of that which he believed the boyfriend of doing. Who is to say that, if the boyfriend was found guilty in court, that the court would not have chosen mercy? In the same respect, when we judge someone in the form of condemning them, are we not putting ourselves in the place of God? By committing such a sin, we are placing ourselves in the same place as the person whom we are condemning; much like the bereaved husband became guilty of murder when he killed his wife’s boyfriend.

1 Corinthians 6:2 reads as such: “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases” (RSV) In this context, Paul uses the Greek word, “diakrino.” This can also be translated “to discern.” So, yes, we as believers will judge the world. When we do, however, we will be discerning that which is holy from that which is unholy. The thing we will not do in judging the world is condemnation.

Thing is, both condemnation and reward will come from God. We as men will receive from God according to our works. Those who do what is contained in the law, though they do not have the law, will show that it is written on their heart. Likewise, if someone who has the law does not do what is contained in it, he will be condemned by the law.

This, too, can be seen even today. I have met many a person who call themselves Christian in one breath, and then start gossiping about someone in the next. I have met many a person who are not professed Christians who would go out of their way to help someone in need. Who, in this case, do you believe exemplifies more how Christ taught us to live? Do you think that because someone did not pray a little prayer with you, yet they exemplify Christ’s teachings, will be left wanting on judgment day? Mercy and love are key. If we show mercy, we will receive mercy.

I have a friend who is one of the most amazing men I have ever met. His story, however, does not start out so well. He spent much of high school drinking and smoking weed. He dropped out of college to start a career as an iron worker. One day, upon coming home early, he found his wife in bed with another man.

After the divorce, he went into a downward spiral that included alcohol and cocaine in large quantities. After one night of partying, he was riding his motorcycle home and attempted to pass a tractor trailer. He hit the back wheels of the truck and his motorcycle spun out of control. He was going about 85 miles per hour and was not wearing a helmet.

This event caused him to go into a coma for an extended period of time. While he was in the coma, he had a vision of Christ Jesus. He was told by Christ that it was not his time to die, but rather his mission was to help widows and orphans. Today, he volunteers at a local church and with Youth for Christ. He is truly a light shining in the darkness. Regardless of what he did, Christ came to him, showed him mercy, and now this man lives his life according to the teachings of Christ. I get text messages from him every day with a small passage from the book, “My Utmost for His Highest.”

If we say, I belong to Christ, and we condemn others who do not say the same, we are only condemning ourselves. We cannot just say that we are Christian, but we must also do that we are Christian. We do that by loving our neighbor as ourselves. Love and mercy are what the Christian life is about. It is by serving others that we serve God. My challenge to all, including myself, is that we should keep our eyes open for opportunities to give mercy to someone else, just as we have been shown mercy. And once we see that opportunity, we need to step outside of ourselves and do it. This is said at my church service every week, and I reiterate it now. Walk in love as Christ first loved us.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I would like to try something new. I’m going to, instead of my same old ilk, do a study on Romans. As I do so, I will take what I have gleaned from my passage of the day and put it here on the blog. And then, dear reader, you can tell me whether you agree with what I have written or whether you think that I am full of everlasting crap. It is up to you, really. As I have said before, I am no biblical scholar. I am rather just someone trying to make my way in the world, but I am going to do so by faith.

The book of Romans, as the theory goes, was first a letter that was written to all the churches and passed around. The words, “in Rome,” contained in chapter 1, are not there in some early manuscripts. Likewise, chapters 15 and 16 were also not found in these same manuscripts. When Paul wished to send the letter to the church in Rome, he added the final two chapters and put the words, “in Rome,” into chapter one. When read all the way through, you could correctly say that Romans is an outline of Christian doctrine.

The very beginning of Romans deals with the guilt shared by everyone before God. It is a bring you down to size type of dissertation. No one wants to admit that they are guilty of everything. It is on the first of these passages that I start: that passage being 1:18-32. I decided to skip the greeting, thanksgivings, and theme, which make up the rest of chapter 1.

So, without further ado… In my time spent as a CNA, I worked with a miasma of different people. One of these people, who also happened to be a union steward, would always wear a crucifix pendant around her neck every day. The other daily thing she wore was a constant scowl. I don’t believe I ever once heard this particular person say anything nice about anyone else. Her favorite saying was, “mark my words.” That which followed was never good and also wrong at least ninety five percent of the time.

What came out of her was constant gossip, along with her friend, also a proclaimed Christian. They would talk together in the break room about who was doing what. They would come up with theories about people; whether they knew the entirety of the situation was always questionable. No one could do anything out of the goodness of their heart. There was always an ulterior motive. Conspiracy theories abound. They would slander, envy, gossip, and every word said by them was, according to them, gospel; even when proved wrong. These two were truly miserable people. It is true what they say, misery really does love company.

When we want to behave as such, God gives us up to these sinful desires. In fact, in this passage, Paul uses the phrase, “God gave them up to…” three times. We have the free will to obey God or to rebel. When we choose to rebel, God will give us up to the desire to rebel and do what is evil in his sight. But, behaving as such has another effect. When we rebel against God, we die, not a physical death, but a spiritual death.

This particular passage was talking to the Gentiles, and how they are guilty before God. During this time, the Jewish Christians would lord it over the Gentile Christians because they had the law. The Gentiles would lord over the Jews that they were saved while many Jews were not.

Paul starts by saying that even the Gentiles knew of the existence of God by everything around them. And this is ultimately true. Have you ever looked at a forest on a sunny afternoon in autumn? Or have you ever watched a spectacular sunset? How can a person look at these and not even acknowledge God, let alone give thanks for such splendor? Instead, they became fools and started carving animal figures to worship as gods. They served the creature instead of serving the creator. Can you see the problem?

This, Paul asserts in the passage, is where the believing Gentiles before they converted and where every unbeliever stands. Even today, this is where the unbeliever stands. We have, however, a decree to proclaim to the nations the gospel of Christ crucified.

The question is; how do we preach this message to people in a spot like this? To answer this question, let me turn to verse 32. “Though they know God’s decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them.

What this says in terms of evangelism is simple; hellfire and brimstone will not work. Like the two people I mentioned earlier, they do things that make them miserable people. They are spiritually dead and they know it. Doing the kinds of things they do creates feelings of envy, of fear, of misery. These cannot feel good so, as Paul writes, they are already dead. The thing is, they do this stuff anyway. This means they don’t care that these sins result in death, so why would telling them convert or you will spend eternity in hell work? I cannot say it enough. THEY DO NOT CARE. If they do not care now, then why would spitting hellfire and brimstone convert them? I would say a different tactic would be in order. The question is what?

Saturday, August 27, 2011


And once again, here I am trying to resurrect What’s Shakin’. The reason behind my being inconsistent in writing eludes me. I start with great intentions. A friend of mine, I can go so far as to call him a spiritual mentor, once said that journaling is about capturing the essence of life, which was the intent behind this in the first place. He also said that it is something that is done rather inconsistently. Then again, he said it’s something that one does once every few days, not once every few months. Well, there goes that excuse.

A few months are quite a bit of time to stay away from the writing. It’s too enjoyable a thing for me to not do it. As much as I love when I can put coherent words on paper (well the screen… a word document does look like a sheet of paper, though), something in me just gets enamored by everything else that the computer has to offer. And this is the downside of modern technology. Either that or it’s out of sheer laziness. The jury’s out on that.

Another reason I could have been gone so long is I have, unfortunately, been struggling with the depression, lately. Between the PD, being stuck at home, not being able to work, and recently separating with the wife, it’s been hard dealing with such. Depression, difficult as it is to overcome, is only temporary. Once we get inertia moving for us, it’s possible to get past what gets us down and move forward.

The idea of inertia in our lives comes from a dear friend of mine. The theory of inertia, as we learned in science class, and most of us tend to store away to not even consider, is an object in motion tends to stay in motion. Conversely, an object at rest tends to stay at rest. I know a good majority of us forget about this theory, since I’m always seeing commercials about the seat belt laws. If everyone remembered that if their car stops suddenly, that they won’t, then everyone would wear a seat belt.

This same theory, according to my friend, applies to life, as well. A life in motion tends to stay in motion. The problem a good many of us face, including yours truly, is we will let our lives stall, and a life at rest tends to stay at rest. Letting myself stay motionless for too long enabled me to sink into depression. Inertia kept my life at rest, and I needed a swift kick in the ass, via this same dear friend, to get myself moving again.

Such as it is how important are the people in our lives? Do we ever stop to consider the effect the people with whom we surround ourselves can have on us? Some are life giving, others are poison. The other thing I had to do to break inertia was to remove those in my life who were poison, and embrace those who are life giving. This is not the easiest thing in the world to do, since we tend to love even those who often bring us down.

Fact is we tend to move through life like ants. We search and search, here and there, front back and sideways, always looking for that perfect piece to add to our lives that will make us whole. This is the most difficult thing to find. In my humble opinion, the first piece to that puzzle is faith. The second piece is to surround ourselves with the right people.

Instead, we settle. We forget faith, and we surround ourselves with people who are good enough, but not what we need. The thing is, through faith, we will automatically be surrounded by people whose eyes can pierce our souls, whose laughs can break the worst of melancholy, whose lights can pierce even the deepest of darkness. What we will find are dragon slayers.

A mythologist, Joseph Campbell, once gave an interview where he described the symbolism of the European dragon. He summarily spoke of the European dragon as “something that guards.” This is like the dragon we read about in The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. This particular dragon, like many others in European mythology, is guarding a vast treasure, gold upon gold; enough to make everyone in the company of Bilbo Baggins extraordinarily wealthy. In order to get to that gold, however, the first task for the company was to slay that dragon. Only then, could they attain the riches therein.

Mr. Campbell takes that a step further. He likens the dragon to the ego, and likens the person to the vast treasure. The dragon guards us, frightens us into letting our lives be at a standstill. We cannot break free and find the treasure that our lives have to hold until the dragon is slain. (a)

I’ll take that one step further and liken the dragon not to the ego, but to the Enemy. Satan, a Hebrew word meaning accuser, is always working at us. He whispers to us that we aren’t deserving of living life to the fullest. He taunts us with feelings that we are unworthy of being loved for one reason or another. Is it a wonder that in the book of Revelation Satan is symbolized as a dragon? So, if Satan is the dragon that holds us back, then it is by faith in Christ that the dragon is slain.

Because, I reiterate, through faith, we find people who hold us up and give us life. Through those people, Christ slays that dragon, which pins us down. With these other faithful people by our sides, so long as we continue to hold to our faith, then it is difficult for another dragon to steal us away, put us in a cave, and hoard our lives. These people help us to let ourselves live. They encourage. These friends help us to find a quiet place, through which to let our lives flow.

This can also be known as centering. When we center, we can deal with anything and everything that life throws at us. From the mundane tasks of living, to the greatest of trials, these things bounce off with hardly an effect. Centered, we can even find joy in our afflictions. This is because through these afflictions, we gain perseverance.

When I say joy in our afflictions, I’m not talking about being happy with the circumstances. No one in their right mind can be happy when dealing with things like PD, MS, fribomyalgia, or any other chronic illness. It’s insane to think that one can find elation in the death of a loved one, or in persecution. What fool jumps up and down at being physically, sexually, or emotionally abused? No one wants to cry from the rooftops that their father or mother is an irate, raging alcoholic and/ or drug addict. Hell, to be more mundane and everyday, we all get upset at even the notification of an unexpected bill.

I’m sorry to say, but having faith in Christ will not make stuff like this disappear. But that faith does, like I said before, help us to persevere. There’s one problem; who wants to persevere? If God isn’t taking this stuff away, then what good is he?

The thing about perseverance is this: it isn’t merely enduring. When we persevere, that’s when the crap of life can bounce off of us without damage. That is when we’re free to get on with our lives, despite what’s happened before or what’s happening now. These things don’t have to affect our future. That’s wide open. Being able to persevere helps us to see the obstacles of life as things that we can think around. When we are able to do such, our creativity flows, and we can, regardless of how hard something is, let that creativity flow from our center.

When I think of creativity flowing from my center, I think of writing. Often times, once my fingers start caressing the keyboard, I go into an almost trancelike state. I am aware of the words I am using, yet I’m not. Are you confused yet? Let me try again. It’s like my brain is aware of things like sentence structure, spelling, and usage, yet I often have no idea of what it is I have written until I have finished writing. Only then, can I go back through and review the words I have put down. They flow out of me from some spot deep within, into which the clacking of the keys can tap.

That sound isn’t the only thing that can tap into that spot. By prayer and by meditation and by contemplation that quiet place, that center is found. It all starts with a spiritual discipline, something else at which I’m inconsistent, called lectio divina. This puts my earlier sentence in reverse order.

Lectio divina is a discipline that starts with reading. I read a short passage, over and over, until something stands out. Once something stands out, I read that part of the passage over and over until it’s ingrained. Once it feels right, I put down my bible and continue to contemplate that which stood out in the reading. Contemplation becomes meditation; meditation turns into prayer on its own. This is where I find center apart from my writing. When I find center in this fashion, it becomes faith, which, in turn, becomes perseverance. At that point, I know without a doubt that all is well, even with the troubles of life.

This is when I can find joy in affliction. The joy is not about being happy I have PD. This causes me to struggle with way too many things to be happy about it. No, the joy is that, regardless, I am okay. There is something better than this.

Who am I that I should not have to suffer? Christ Jesus said, “A servant is not greater than his master.” (b)Even he, the only son of God, who was himself divine, suffered at the hands of men, and died a death in the cruelest form of execution that man has ever conceived. So, if Christ endured such suffering, should I not have to suffer if I mean to follow? And looking at it this way, if I am afflicted while following him who suffered greater than anyone, is there a greater joy?

a.The Power of Myth: Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers [film] 2007 [Insane Films]

b.John 15:20 (NIV)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

... And Looking Forward to Hope

Now, if living with fear means being content with the situation, then that leads straight into the idea of hope.  To hope is to look forward to something with desire and reasonable confidence.  We hear statements like that all the time.  “I hope that it’s a nice wedding,” or, “I hope that it doesn’t rain,” or “I hope you’ll be able to make it.”  These are all things that we desire and can be confident will happen.  I’ve never seen a wedding that wasn’t nice, personally.
But where can someone with PD, or any other chronic or progressive illness for that matter, find any reason to have hope?  Sure, there’s a possible vaccine for PD that may arrest or even reverse the effects of the disease, but it isn’t in even stage 1 clinical trials.  Until they prove enough to the FDA to be able to put it on the market, I can’t place confidence in it.  As it stands, it is still an incurable, progressive disease.  Two parts of hope, according to the definition I gave, are looking forward and reasonable confidence.  I can’t look forward very far in my life and have reasonable confidence in anything.  So where is hope?
What if I wrote the definition again without using “forward?”  Let’s see how it reads now: to look to something with desire and reasonable confidence.  Looking to something instead of looking forward to something.  That’s a whole different ballgame.  I can look to my wife, my son, my priest.  I can look to my father, my mother, my siblings, and my friends.  I can look to all these people with both desire and confidence.  I just changed the definition again.  Now, it seems, it’s to look to someone, not something.
I find the largest portion of my hope in Christ.  This is because it’s not reasonable confidence I have when I look to him, it’s absolute confidence.  So in this case, the definition of hope becomes: to look to Christ with desire and absolute confidence. There’s something I can do easily.  It’s even something I can look forward to.  Essentially, given this, I can look forward to hope.  That’s a complete reversal from where we started.  It’s actually something to look forward to that gives comfort, not chaos.
At this point, I feel like I should take a small amount of time to clarify something.  When I say be content with your situation, and when I say hope in the Lord, I don’t mean, by any stretch of the imagination, that you should be complacent.  I hate the phrase, “let go and let God.”  It inspires such complacency.  Neither contentment nor putting your trust in God lets you off the hook.  This is a journey we’re on.  A journey requires taking steps.  You can’t get anywhere sitting in the middle of the road.
I am not going to the other extreme either, epitomized by another detestable phrase: “God helps those who help themselves.”  If we could help ourselves then why would we need God?  He doesn’t fit in to that equation.  That’s a level of pride, once again, as we do so often, that puts us on his level.  
So we must be content and look forward to hope without being complacent.  This, I believe, is essential when dealing with chronic illness.  The problem therein is putting it to practice.  One of the best verses on doing so I’ve ever seen is Micah 6:8

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
 and  to walk  humbly with your God?
This is the core of hope.  Doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with our God.  The first two go hand in hand and tie directly into the third.  For those of us with chronic illnesses, doing these things does something more extraordinary.  It pulls our focus away from ourselves and our afflictions and plants it squarely on everything else around us.
The need for justice and kindness (mercy) are all around us.  Look out the front window.  Drive through a depressed neighborhood.  Watch the news, read the paper.  If you can’t find someone who’s in need of help, you’re not looking very hard.  Injustice and hate are all over the world.  When you find someone in need of help and you can help them, then do so.  It doesn’t matter what their situation is.  Alcoholism and drug addiction are choices.  Before throwing out judgment on these people ask yourself this simple question: what drove them to this?
Also, realize that they’re broken, as we all are.  Chronic illness, facing bankruptcy, drinking, drug addiction, homelessness, death, fires; all lead to brokenness.  All of us are in need of justice and mercy.  This isn’t a call to pick a cause of your choice and march with picket signs down Pennsylvania Avenue demanding change.  By doing justice, I mean doing what is right.  What is right is showing mercy, and we learn mercy by walking humbly with God.
Another thing that PD and other chronic illness does to a person is it teaches us, rather forcefully, about humility.  As my priest said in a sermon, “humility, not humiliation.”  There’s plenty of humiliation with chronic illness, especially when you fall, in full view of many people, into the Director of Clinical Education’s wife at the company Christmas party.  Yes, this is something I did.  And no, I wasn’t drunk.  I had only two drinks over the course of four or five hours.  Or, maybe, falling into the candy rack as another parky friend of mine did.  (As an aside, I will not use people’s real names here and neither my priest nor my friend  have chosen a pseudonym yet.  I do this to protect privacy.)
Humiliation abound, I assure you, but I’m talking about humility.  We’re taught humility not from public falls, but the ones that no one sees.  We’re taught humility when we struggle to open a paper milk carton, or when the pickle jar won’t pop open, or when going up a flight of stairs becomes a major issue.  It really teaches humility when you’re thirty-one-years-old and these things happen around (but not noticed by) people much older than you are.  These unnoticed struggles are what remind us that we can’t do this on our own.
When you have these struggles, that’s when you can humbly look to Christ Jesus and say, “help me.  I can‘t do this alone.”  There’s that “look to” phrase again.  This is what hope is, realizing that we can’t do this alone, and also, that we aren’t alone.  So, in some ways, looking forward to hope means looking forward to brokenness.  I know, you’re thinking, “oh joy, oh joy; I get to be broken.  No thanks, I think I’ll pass.  Doesn’t sound too pleasant, if you ask me.”
Except, brokenness can’t be avoided.  With Parkinson’s, brokenness manifests itself in different ways daily.  For others, brokenness will come.  It’s a time where we as humans want to shake our fists at the heavens and curse God at the top of our voices. Except,
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Can you see what I’ve been talking about in those?  Poor in spirit?  It’s the same as humility and brokenness.  Not to say, oh yea, I’m blessed now because I have Parkinson’s Disease.  Truly, I wish the good Lord would take it away from me.  No, I’m blessed because I’m not alone.  Christ is there with me, helping me to bear this burden.  I’ve mourned this, it’s taught me humility, as I’ve previously stated, but I’m blessed.  The next three talk about justice and mercy.  That last one is a bit of a bummer, but this is a broken world.  Not everyone’s going to like us for doing the right thing.
But we are not alone.  We can look to Christ in brokenness.  We can look to Christ when we do the right thing.  We can look to Christ when we show someone the same mercy he showed us.  We can look to Christ when someone tries to hurt us, emotionally or otherwise, for doing what is right.
We can look to Christ when we do nothing more than take a minute to rest in his love.  By resting in his love, we are more able to outpour that same love to those around us.  It’s by resting in Christ where we gain our greatest lesson in hope, and I’ll end this with Christ’s words on that.
Come to me, all you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me;
for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your
souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matt 11: 28-30)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

An apology to my readers

After procrastination, and the idea of not having the kid around, tonight's post will not be ready by 8 PM.  My wife and I are doing a date.  I do have it started and should have it up at sometime tomorrow.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Living With Fear...

“In the end, there were only two rules for living with fear (he had come to believe conquering fear was a myth), and he repeated them to himself now as he say waiting.
I must accept those things over which I have no control.
I must turn my adversities into advantages.”
Under the Dome by Stephen King
“I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.”
—Philippians 4:13 (NAB)

I am afraid.  I’m afraid of what’s to come.  If anyone who has Parkinson’s or any other progressive disease says otherwise, they’re either lying or in denial.  I’m afraid of what my body’s going to do.  I’m afraid of what’s going to go haywire next.  I’m afraid of what this is going to mean for my family financially.  I’m afraid of the choices that are going to eventually have to be made, even though I’ve already made them (and made them known for that matter).
Stephen King is hauntingly right.  Conquering fear, if truth be told, is a myth.  I’m not talking fear as in bogeymen coming out of the closet, or not wanting to talk to someone because you think they might not like you, or a surety that you’re going to do bad on some silly test.  I’m not even talking about being queasy around spiders or when you get too close to high places.  That stuff is apprehension, and apprehensions can be conquered.  I’m talking about deep rooted, not going to go away, and will in all probability fuck up your life fear.  This can’t be conquered; only lived with.
Mr. King also in the quote from his book that I used gives sound advice.  I can’t change that I have Parkinson’s, but I can accept it.  Neither can I change that I’m more limited in what I can do than I was a few years ago.  I can live with it, though.
Does that sound like a pretty positive attitude?  Does that sound like I have it all together?  Unquestionably not is your answer.  I once had someone comment on my “positive outlook.”  I wanted to tell her about all the times I sat up at night, letting my fear of my PD get the best of me.  This leads to some rather dark places (not to worry about those, they’re not that dark, just a bit depressing that puts me on the verge of tears, but no further).  I wanted to tell her that I don’t have it together, that it’s just a face I put on in public and that I’m screaming for God to take this away and give it to someone else.  Just a note about the “someone else” part: I wouldn’t wish PD on my worst enemy.  
I’m stuck with two choices.  Either I choose to accept that I have PD, and that I have new limitations, and that I will continue to have new limitations, or I choose to refuse to accept this adversity that I face and sink into a depth of depression that is dangerous.  There’s this thing I have about being depressed, even though I have a tendency to get depressed about my condition, I don’t like being so.  No, that’s not a strong enough sentiment.  I loathe—I still need better—I know, I abhor being depressed with everything that I hold dear.  In two words, it sucks.
I quoted the last two lines of the Stephen King quote to a friend of mine the other day.  An interesting question arose from that: “How do I turn my weaknesses into strengths,” she asked.  This took me aback.  I had to ask myself the same question.
Personally, my faith plays a huge part in doing so.  In fact, I believe that apart from God, I can’t take my weaknesses and turn them into strengths.  I particularly like the second quote I used from Philippians: “I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.”  There’s another good passage of scripture on this: “I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 COR 12:10 NAB)
I’m not going to get into the theological meanings of these.  I will elaborate on them, being as how my faith is such a part of who I am, but I must realize that I’m not some trained theologian.  I don’t have the education and insights to do such.  I’ve tried to do that before, and I have no idea how right I am in my statements in those posts.  I’m just going to try to tie them into my life and how I find them helpful in dealing with my PD.
I think, though, the key into turning weakness into strength is in being content in my situation.  My hand shakes, along with my foot, but I can still walk.  When I get up in the morning, I’m stiff as a board and my shakiness is through the roof, but my meds help.  My one medication, Azilect, has gone up to $75 per month, but my insurance has a 90 day mail order option that costs $150 for that 90 day supply instead of the $225 I would have to pay getting 30 days at a time.  I have a harder time doing things like opening a milk carton and I get tired much quicker and easier, but I can still work.  If I remember these things, and am content with my situation, then that positive attitude that someone commented on is easy to come by.  Believe it or not, even though I’m not always told this (although the “positive attitude” friend did say this, too), being content with my situation inspires people; and that’s a strength.
On the converse, I’ve also been known to get really pissed off about things, too.  It tends to piss me off that the “gold standard” drug is the same one that’s been used for sixty years.  I don’t even take that one, as it’s believed that it loses effectiveness over time.  That gets my goat, too.  Also, new diagnostic tools (such as a DAT Scan, which can definitively diagnose Parkinson’s), just now got approved by the FDA even though it’s been in use in Europe for the past ten years.  To top it off, insurance companies won’t even dream of covering such a “new” test such as that.  It kills me that hospitals still, after all this time, don’t know how to treat a PD patient.  I had one “parky” friend once tell me that she was given Haldol in the ER.  Haldol works on the dopaminergic pathways is should never, never, never, never, be given to someone with PD.  I’ve heard of worse, but won’t elaborate on this any further.  I’ve made my point.
Dwelling on those things leads to nowhere good.  It leads to apathy.  It leads to depression.  It leads to bitterness.  Bitterness is the worst.  Everyone has had to deal with someone who’s bitter, who doesn’t seem to know how to make a positive statement.  Someone who wouldn’t do so even at gunpoint.  Someone who sees the world as always horrible, and everything everyone around them does is met with conspiracy theories.  No one wants to deal with a person like that.
So, I’m going to put it out there.  Try being content with your situation.  Even though you deal with problems (PWPs are not the only people with problems, I do realize that), be content with your situation and trust that God will take care of it.  If you do that, he’ll always present the opportunity to be able to deal with your problem.  Just be aware, the way to deal with it may not be your way.  Hell, to tell the truth, you may not like it.  Then again, if not God’s wisdom, then who’s?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Wow... I Promise More Consistency And...

I need to put my money where my mouth is apparently.  I say that I'll post more, and then, instead of writing, I go an become enamored by the siren song of Facebook, among other things.  It's hard to write when doing things like internet games, Facebook, and sports websites.  That's the problem with technology; it's easy to be distracted instead of doing what you should be doing.  I made this blog as a writing project.  Instead of writing, I do nothing more than succumb to the sweet oblivion of the internet.

Some of my family members suggested that I do more than just write on this blog.  They have no idea what a compliment that is to me.  What I post on here is raw, unplanned, and unedited drivel.  This is the roughest of the rough that "dear reader" sees.  I have never before shown any kind of writing to anyone without at least one rewrite.  Not before I started doing this.  They have suggested that I start trying to publish these musings of mine.  That's not a bad idea, but I need to do some work on some of my posts thus far.  Raw usually means with lack of description.  They need some rewrites, but I can do that.

At least I write my posts out on Microsoft Works (yes, I'm cheap and unwilling to buy Microsoft Office.  A word processing program is a word processing program) and save them. Well, this present posting excluded. That will at least make the job of rewrites a somewhat easier task.  I just need to read through my posts and figure out the one on which I'd like to start rewrites.  I can be sure that, In the Beginning I Shook will certainly make that list.  That would likely end up as a first chapter.

As for my obvious lack of consistency, I think I'm going to have to give myself deadlines to post.  Maybe once a week would do.  Maybe I can do it on Saturday evenings.  Maybe I can make sure they're posted at 8:00 PM.  I like that idea.  I like it a lot.  Plus, posting only once a week does two things.  It makes me more consistent, and I can have a better planned sort of post.  It'll be still pretty rough when posted to the blog, but the planning will definitely not suffer.

As for content, I've had two types.  The first is  my life with PD.  The second was life as a Christian, which turned out sounding like some kind of bible reading instruction, which wasn't what I was going for.  I need to combine my PD with my faith, but not in the this is what the Bible says about dealing with this problem sort of way.   So, next Saturday, at 8:00 PM, there will be a new post.  Please, dear reader, help me hold to this.  Leave me nasty messages if I don't.