The Battle of Life

It has been almost 1 ½ years since my last post.  I would like to first apologize to you.  You are who keeps me going.  When I sit and contemplate how to write on a particular topic, I think of you and ask, “What do they want to hear?  What must they hear?  How can I communicate that effectively?  Is it for the glory of God?”  For not thinking of you the past year or so…I am truly sorry.

As I look at the statistics from this site, I am encouraged that many people have been reading what was on my heart.  My prayer is that God will use this for His glory.  I write for Him.  Although you are very important to me, He is the One who placed this calling on my heart and He is the One I aim to please.

For many years now, I have been living and hiding in the shadow of lies.  My life began to spiral downward a number of years ago.  I cannot specifically call out a date when it began, but I do know that for the past decade or so, I believed these lies.

Both physical and mental stress conjured a planting of weeds that choke the life out of individuals.  Life activities were so burdensome, my physical body began to break.  Stress overcame my mind, fear settled in its place and grew into anxiety and stress.   So much so, that I had gained almost 30lbs during that time and could not face the outside world.  I hid this from most, but internally I have been struggling just to keep it together.  After a recent “discussion” with my wife, I decided to pursue the causes which led me to believe the lies.

Here are the several lies that I believed:

  • If I’m not part of the conversation, they must be talking about me.
  • I don’t need to seek help.
  • You can never feel safe.
  • You can never be satisfied, content yes, satisfied no.
  • You have to be strong. Your family needs you to be strong.
  • Sleep is not completely necessary.
  • You can’t relax, there is too much to accomplish.
  • You can’t travel too far, you might get sick on the way.
  • You can control 98% of what happens.

What began as a method to “run away”, turned into a method of coping, to a habit which led me to anxiety, stress and fear.  Almost a decade ago, my body began to shake on the right side.  It was then diagnosed as focal seizures because of the brain damage I sustained during a past injury.

During that time, my mind raced toward every possible scenario.  What if I have Parkinson’s?  What would happen to my family once I’m gone?  How would we survive once I was fully disabled?  This led to images of my wife and children at the funeral home, sobbing, wishing I was around.  It became an obsession that ruined how I felt about life.  After being diagnosed with focal seizures (and not Parkinson’s), I ignored the previous thoughts, and began living once again.

About 7 years ago, I started a friendship with a man who began attending my local church.  He befriended my two boys and my wife and we began the “new life” journey with him.  Even though he was about my father’s age, he insisted that I mentor him in the faith.  What a privilege!

My friend, Peter began to grow.  His faith grew to a point, where he was sharing about his conversion with others.  Unfortunately, Peter also lived a very different life, we only found out about later on.  His wife, Charlotte, had been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s.  She had gotten to a point, where she needed 24 hour care.  After she was admitted into the nursing home, Peter lived there.  He would sleep in his car and take care of his wife from opening until closing.  It was there that he heard the Gospel and found the Savior.

Soon after her death, Peter began to notice changes in his body.  It was then he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer.  As soon as the diagnosis came, I knew, in my heart, he wouldn’t last long.  However, Peter had a different outlook.  Since he found Christ in the nursing home ministry, he decided to share the Gospel at a local bakery.  Many times, he would sit, sipping his coffee, praying that God would lead someone to him.  Inevitably, Go d would allow someone to sit as his table that had the same story he had.  He would share the Gospel and many that heard, would admit they need Christ and began their journeys.

In what is a very short period of time, he could no longer bear the pain of the cancer and began morphine.  On Saturday night, March 31st 2012, Peter asked me why he saw crosses on the wall.  He described them as innumerable bright crosses.  I realized it may be the morphine and responded that I didn’t know.   On Sunday morning April 1st, 2012, I received a phone call telling me to say my goodbyes.  I ran down to his apartment, watched him sit in his chair, unresponsive.  I knelt by his side, held his hand and began quoting Scripture.  Telling him to go home and hear the Savior’s words, “Well done.”  With the Elders and Pastor of our church, we watched him take his last breath and leave the presence of this world only to enter the arms of the Savior.  Without realizing it, this event would be the catapult for my fear and anxiety.  (Even as I write this, my hands are shaking so much, that I am glad auto correct is on.)

I thought to myself, I could handle this.  My friend went from death to life.  What was so bad about that?  However, deep inside, I was crushed in my heart because I had never seen a person die before.  Even one of my close friends asked me if I was feeling well because apparently, I looked like death was coming for me next.  Physically I felt fine.  Mentally, I buried the event.

More recently, my wife was so “persistent” in telling me that something was wrong with me that I decided to go to a new doctor in order to bury her claims.  I was diagnosed with stress.  My focal seizures had been misdiagnosed.  For the past decade, my body negatively responded to the stress that I placed myself under.  This was exasperated by my friends passing.

Now I am in the process of seeking help, looking to heaven and pleading with God to take this away.  My therapy is to write, to share my battle and struggle with anxiety and stress with you.    The calling I had been given so long ago, is now the vehicle to my current fight.  I feel like Jonah who fled the opposite direction God told him to go.  Like Jonah, I was thrown overboard into the storm.  The waves crashed, the thunder sounded, the wind blew.  My lungs filled with water and just as I thought death was at my door, God sent me my giant fish, writing for Him.  Now I am in the process of healing and soon will be able to write the stories I long to share.  My desire is to show Christ, alive and risen in these stories.  Short and fictional as they may be, I want to share how Christ can change lives.

God bless and encourage someone today.