Thursday, July 21, 2011


I sat down at my computer tonight with the intention of writing about addiction and the magnetism of addictive behaviors.  It was going to be my attempt to explain my grandmother's relapse into alcoholism after over 20 years of sobriety or my own history of "relapses" to smoking cigarettes, drunkenness, lust, and self-damage.

Everything I wrote seemed scattered, inaccurate, and, inadequate; like a 4 year old trying to describe the plot of a movie they just saw.

All I know is my addictions are keeping me from living as the man I truly want to be: the man of God's design.  I don't know what recovery looks like and am extremely discouraged by the idea of "Once an addict. Always an addict.".  I know to retreat into my addictions will only leave me unsatisfied and even more frustrated with myself and God. The only other option is to move forward, however impossible that may seem.

I'm battered and bruised from losing too many fights to be better, or at least different, this week. I'm exhausted.  All the "right answers" seem trite and useless.  I'm discouraged to say the least.  I know that as a Christian there should be something to be hopeful about, but I'm just not feeling it tonight. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Suicide By Tiny Tiny Increments: A Lesson From High Fidelity

High Fidelity, like all of my favorite movies it has a great soundtrack and has little life lessons scattered throughout it.  To be honest I’ve been thinking about writing on this particular scene from the movie for quite some time but haven’t really found the heart to go through it and write my own story around it.

The entire movie is centered on the history of bad romantic relationships and hurtful break-ups, particularly the most recent one, of Rob Gordon (played by John Cusak).  Just under an hour and a half into the movie, after attending the funeral of his ex-girlfriend’s father, Rob is sitting at a bus stop in the rain and says this:

I can see now I never really committed to Laura. I always had one foot out the door and that prevented me from doing a lot of things. Like thinking about my future and…I guess it made more sense to commit to nothing, keep my options open and that’s suicide by tiny, tiny increments.

I have been guilty of suicide by tiny increments on many occasions. I too have committed to nothing and kept my options open only to strangle the opportunities that were right in front of me, waiting for me to seize them.  All too often I turn on the TV instead of reading a book that I know will inspire me.  Countless nights I’ve chosen to have another beer instead of calling a friend to see how they’re doing. I’ve settled for meaningless, unhealthy relationships instead of risking and fighting for romance.  I’ve supplemented fantasy with reality in order to numb the pain of my loneliness.  I haven’t voiced my opinion or shared my emotions, fearing the consequences of being exposed and known. All these things are suicide by tiny increments, safety in familiar, unsatisfying mediocrity.

As a man whose tried to take my life on two separate occasions during my youth this concept is even more harrowing.  When choosing to end life (to whatever degree) seems like a better option than continuing on, something is terribly wrong.

Paul Farmer, in his book Pathologies of Power, uses the formula Observe, Judge, Act when dealing with the issue of inequality in global health care.  The formula has merit here as well. I have observed and know my preferred methods of self-destruction and judged that their existence points to the fact that something has gone terribly wrong and needs to be corrected. That only leaves me to act, to change the state of heart, mind, and body.


Stop. Stop choosing to sacrifice the true me in front of the idols of safety and pleasure. Stop expecting that my only outcome is failure. Stop forcing compliments glance off my hardened heart or dismissing them as ignorance while weaving criticism and deceit into my inner identity. Stop sabotaging myself. In short, stop killing myself daily.

Start. Start choosing to do the things that bring me life to the fullest. Start calling friends and actually caring about their struggles enough to pray for them. Start intentionally writing about things that matter, issues close to my heart, exposing the frightened little boy inside me. Start dreaming again, believing that miracles do happen, even to guys like me.  Start believing I’m actually loved and learning how to love others. START LIVING, LOVING, AND BEING KNOWN.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

My Heart and The Wind

my heart

My heart is surrounded by layers…
    stinky like an onion or an ogre not fun like a parfait

Layers of make-shift armor set up to protect my heart from pain-givers
    miles of flimsy defenses encircle my broken and anguished heart

“I’ve been hurt too much before” I whisper to myself
    and throw another shopping cart or apple box a little bit farther out

Or is my heart more like a tree?
    year after year adding one more hard layer…23 rings that you can count

The hard shell protects what’s inside
    dry-rot and emptiness where there once was life

These conditions were caused by my defenses
    and seem to call for more and more of them farther and farther out

My defenses are now so far out
    that even those bringing nourishment and love cannot reach the real me

There is one thing I fear more than the pain-givers


The Wind blows…
    it rattles and displaces my defenses

The Wind blows…
it bends and twists my shell until I groan and creak on the verge of bursting

The Wind blows…
    it calls me to freedom and to restore that which was lost long ago

The Wind blows…
    it tells me He’s gentle and kind and won’t hurt me or leave me or forsake me

The Wind blows…
    it asks me to trust Him and to live without defenses or a shell

The Wind blows…
    it whispers “I love you. Come, follow Me” over and over

As much as I would like to, I can’t ignore the Wind
    it blows all the time these days

I have to let the Wind carry away all of my defenses even the ones I grip the tightest
trying to hold on to the last shred of the asylum I’ve built

I have to let the Wind burst my hard shell
    exposing the frightened me that I’ve learned to protect

The Wind has said that to love I must let myself be known and loved
    to have a life worth living I must let go of survival now

I’m afraid but I must listen to the Wind
    and let it work in my life

I know I will fail
    but the Wind will catch me and teach me how to soar