The Father of Mercies

…the label “Father of mercies” is the Bible’s way of taking us into the deepest recesses of who God the Father is. A correct understanding of the triune God is not that of a Father whose central disposition is judgment and a Son whose central disposition is love. The heart of both is one and the same; this is, after all, one God, not two. Theirs is a heart of redeeming loves, not compromising justice and wrath but beautifully satisfying justice and wrath.

Dane Ortlund, Gentle and Lowly

Falling Down

I haven’t seen this movie in forever. At least since the late 90s. As I lay in bed talking to my wife about how distant she feels from me and how much of a crappy mood I’m always in lately, I decided to get up and mope some more by myself. I remembered this title and thought, “Yeah, I feel like I’m coming apart at the seams and going to just lose my crap real soon.”

I called off work yesterday due to some back pain that won’t quit. Went to the chiropractor to get adjusted. That helped. He instructed me to take epsom salt baths daily for a week, followed by stretching. I popped by SI joints 3 times in less than 24 hours. Couldn’t do it tonight, so that’s probably going to mean tomorrow will suck. All the snow we had is melting and yet again leaking into the basement. On top of that, I sent an email to my boss that I can’t keep doing much more physical work; I wasn’t hired for that, but that is all there is. Looking for a job is exhausting. I’m too tired for all this.

I want to follow my heart and do something I absolutely love, but every time I think about it and dream about it I hit resistance hard. From my wife, from the rational side of my brain, and from reality. Why does God make us good at certain things, and yet we get stuck in jobs we hate? I put myself there I guess, 20 years ago. I smoked too much pot and drank too much vodka and ended up in AA. Delivering pizza full time with no future. Then I got “lucky” and a guy in the program referred me to a company where I got into what I do today. It’s a good paying industry and I’ve got some top ranking certifications, but at the end of the day I don’t have enough and I’m stuck doing specialized construction work. The kind of crap I swore off when I went to college.

So I get real low. My son said tonight that he thought I hate his guts. What the!? Have I screwed up that bad? After shoveling the snow off the deck and then vacuuming the water off the carpet in the basement (the new roof and gutters didn’t fix that, and for crying out loud I’ve been dealing with this freaking problem for 16 years in this house!), I just sat on the couch and wondered if the water would be ok to just leave on the rug. It was too late to take a sleep aid, so I turned on the TV. The wife said she didn’t know how to approach me, thought I was mad at her. No, I’m not mad at her.

But I sure act like it at some point pretty much everyday. I don’t get my way, so I get ticked off. How much longer Lord? Just come back already. This is all so freaking lame.

Does God really need more people in heaven? Are we really waiting out century after century for the return of Christ so more people can be born and therefore more people will be in heaven? Let’s pull the plug and just start the new heaven and new earth now. Sorry if that sounds selfish, but it’s got to happen at some point, right?

I’m just so disgusted that I still feel so negative all the time. I had a good day, but I got moody once home. Then I got out of that mood and pondered Psalm 139. He knows all my days, the beginning and the end. All the things I strive for may never come to pass. There is some comfort in that. So I wrote a list of things I want to pursue and was satisfied just doing it on a weekly basis, trying to pave the way for a new career without sacrificing my family and my soul. Took the hot bath, stretched, and even squeezed in some writing. Things were looking up.

Then my wife got home from a sports practice with my son and she read me wrong. I was joking, she thought I was being moody. And the cycle started all over. She said let’s skip tomorrow night’s counseling session because I’d probably just be too moody and in pain/exhausted by the time I got home that it would be a wasted session on me. So that, folks, is where I am now. Not in bed. Not giving a crap. Not wanting tomorrow to come and wishing it would all just end. I’m a child of the video game generation. Let’s just hit the reset button and start over. Hopefully I don’t go postal like I almost did last week. Seriously, I’m just over myself.

An Angry Outburst

Well I screwed up today. I had a nice little happy post that I started drafting yesterday and just didn’t get back around to it. I’ve been talking with my wife about how I would never quit my job and walk away without giving notice and without having something else lined up. And I have been having a very difficult time at my job. I was hired to do non-physical work and pretty much all there is is physical labor. I have several severe joint conditions that cause near chronic pain, and the work taxes me hard.

Today my coworker treated me like I was a five-year-old, just like my dad used to treat me and speak to me when I was a kid working with him. I decided to walk away and work by myself until I realized that everything I had to do was dependent upon him finishing something else. He’s been telling me all week what I don’t know how to do, which in actuality I do know but I didn’t feel a need to prove myself to him. For perspective, he’s retirement age and sick of working and I’ve been in the same industry for 20 years.

So I went and prayed, right? No no no. I grabbed my tool bag and cussed out my coworker on my way to the work van. My heart beat so hard I felt like it was going to jump out of my chest. It’s been a long time since I had adrenaline sickness like this and now my stomach is killing me. And even that time was anchored in an angry response (driven by fear, because I thought a car was going to run into me on my street, and I ended up cussing that person out too).

My wife prayed for me and told me to repent. She asked the Lord to deliver me from cussing. I then texted my coworker and asked his forgiveness. I was and am still to upset to speak with him. Now I’m at another job working alone thank God. I just hope God gets me out of this job soon. Not to avoid hardships, but so my body lasts long enough to keep supporting my family and so that hopefully I can do something I actually love doing.

Balance

Let’s talk about balance today. It seems kind of obvious, but God has created such a wonderful balance in all of creation and it spans from the smallest atomic level all the way to the details of our lives and the decisions we make every day. Atoms are perfectly balanced. Life on earth is chemically and biologically balanced and thus sustains our lives. I would say that without the order that we see in these, we wouldn’t even exist. We wouldn’t be staring out into galaxies light years away and studying dark matter or pondering how life began.

We need eight hours or so of sleep. We need a certain amount of food so that we can function optimally. Not enough sleep and not enough food, and our bodies tank. Too much sleep or too much food, and our bodies tank. Too much work or too much play and we reap undesirable results in our lives. We end up with interpersonal troubles. Too much sugar and too much coffee and our bodies will explode with energy until we finally crash. Our bodies cry out for a balanced diet, good sleep and overall care.

Likewise our lives are made for spiritual balance. I like how Paul said that God made it so that we would grope and seek him (Acts 17:27). Each of us is driven to seek out eternal truths. I could probably ramble on and on about this from an evangelistic perspective, but I want to really focus on balance in the Christian life.

We need to have a balanced perspective in all things biblical. God is love, yet there are things he hates. He is just yet merciful. If you look around at all the different kinds of churches, it’s easy to see some that focus too much on the Holy Spirit and His gifts to the point of ignoring plain Scriptures. You see some that focus on the grace and love of God while ignoring His wrath completely. Or you may know some Christians who draw hard theological lines in the sand but lack love and gentleness. You can also find those who are legalistic and hypocritical. Finding a balance in the middle of all these is hard because we only have so many hours in a day and there is a lot to learn. And some of us are smarter and wiser than others, but this doesn’t stop us from being proud or selfish.

Maybe that sounds like a bunch of rambling. Let me put it another way. For whatever reason, none of us is as balanced in body, mind and soul as we ought to be.

I’ve been reading Dane Ortlund’s Gentle and Lowly, a book I picked up at church for free. Phenomenal book on the gentleness of Jesus. He delves into the heart of Jesus and explains some things I either never thought of or just plain forgot. What got me started writing this post was the truth that Jesus love me and is closer than I usually think he is. He sympathizes with my suffering, trials and pain. He truly loves me through all these things. Can I say that he wants me to be pain free? I believe so. Life is not all roses and chocolates. Instead it offers a vast range of unpleasant things for us to deal with. But as I read through this book and remember the Son of God, I feel like I’m beginning to balance my thinking with His presence and love.

Choosing Joy in Trials

Hello dear readers! In only just a few days of starting this blog, I have discovered a few of your blogs which have encouraged me, reminded me of God’s truths and even brought me to tears. I’m glad you’re here!

Last night before falling asleep I took a peek at my WordPress reader and decided to do a search for Cymbalta withdrawal. Some of you have way more pain than I have. And yet in one of these posts I saw that no matter how deep and dark the tunnel of pain, joy is still possible. Joy is a choice. Not an easy one, but a choice nonetheless.

Compared to last week, before I started this blog, this has been a decent week. Yes, I woke up grumpy a couple of days. Yes, I had a full day of anxiety on Tuesday that seemed to come from my Cymbalta withdrawal. And yes, today I woke up in pain again. I did some stretching, massaged my hip with the new Theragun we got for Christmas, and popped 600 mg of ibuprofen. On my way to work I put an ice pack on my low back. I have a day of physical labor ahead of me so I’ll just have to take it easy I guess.

Joy is not something that comes easily to me. Some years ago I was introduced to a book written by a local pastor. For anonymity’s sake I’m unable to share the title. But the book talked about how Jesus wanted us to have joy and peace irregardless of our circumstances. This is seen in John’s Gospel, if I remember right it’s in the upper room discourse. We will have trials in this life, but Jesus has overcome the world. It’s easy to internalize that intellectually, when your life is void of hardships. It’s a completely different story when you’re going through something that is more than you have faced before. At least it is for me.

A year ago in January I had a neck fusion of my C5-C7 vertebrae. Best decision I made through the long course of an upper back injury from work. The original injury occurred I think in 2014 with a sprain from carrying something heavy at work. So seven years on and off of dealing with this problem. I did PT, injections, ice, heat, etc. Exercising helped in the beginning, but in the end, a few months before my surgery, an injection into my rotator cuff region inflamed my neck and arm with pain so badly that I couldn’t sleep through the night for two weeks. It was one of the worst experiences with pain I have ever had in my life. I cried through the night and prayed, but I had no joy! I couldn’t force myself to choose it if I remember right. How do you rejoice in such a trial? I know I prayed and I’m sure there were nights where I actually praised God anyhow, but I was effing miserable to put it quasibluntly.

When pain comes to me now, I still get irritated. I’m grumpy. I need to learn to choose joy no matter how bad the pain is. No matter how badly I wish my life were different. No matter what others do to me and no matter what life brings me. And I think one of the keys to learning joy or choosing joy in any circumstance is remembering that God in his providence allows suffering or outright brings it. Everything is either caused or permitted by his gracious hand, and it’s for His glory and His purposes in us. That may be why James says,

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James 1:2-4

So that’s all I’ve got for this morning. I hope you have a blessed day and that joy comes easily to you. I pray it comes easily to me today.

Thursday 1/20/22, AM

I’m on a roll for waking up in a crappy mood this week. I was looking at LinkedIn after I got out of bed and saw a suggested friend I knew from college. He’s become quite a successful landscape designer, which I already knew. I couldn’t figure out why we weren’t already connected there. Regardless, he’s not one to stay in contact so I sort of wrote him off several years ago. I’d had enough of one-sided friendships.

Then I was hit by a thought from left field: If you kill yourself, maybe he’ll feel remorse.

Well, that ain’t happening. I’ve dealt with depression for about…30 years now. That’s quite the accomplishment I’d say. It got to a place some years ago that I actually made a vow to the Lord never to kill myself. I know He takes vows very seriously from my reading of the Bible, so I took the plunge and made what I think is the only vow I’d made to Him in my life. Last week I realized that instead of a negative vow, I should devise a positive vow. One like, “I will pursue the joy of the Lord every day.”

I’m talking myself through this right now and starting to feel better than I did 40 minutes ago. At this point in the life of this blog, you’re all joining in media res. There’s a lot going on, a lot that brought me to starting this blog.

I was on Cymbalta for well over a year, initially for its ability to help with physical pain. Then I got the Rx bumped up due to some depression I was going through. Then my wife and I both agreed it was time to quit. With my doc’s help I weaned off slowly, finishing my last pill the week of Christmas. And I’ve been a wreck with Cymbalta withdrawal side effects. Lots of anxiety that I didn’t have before, the brain zaps and dizziness that accompany withdrawal. Forgetfulness even. It sucks. Sometimes it feels like I’m out of breath. I know I’m overweight, but I never had breathing issues before quitting. After going through all this, I never want to take antidepressants ever again. My naturopath put me on a supplement, but you have to take 6-8 pills per day and I’ve been taking 2-4. Time to increase and see what happens, I guess.

I think what got me in the bad mood was that the friend I mentioned above was someone I really liked hanging out with. I knew his wife and the three of us worked a college job together. He was quite the blasphemer, but what can you do about that. Maybe I haven’t gotten over the hurt that comes from the people who don’t keep their side of a friendship going. I have a few of those folks out there.

Now I have to transition to my work day. Oooohh, can’t wait! I was hired for a specialized position 6 months ago and they can’t find someone to do the supporting role, the one that requires more physical labor. So I have been stuck with it. I have a lot of physical issues, multiple surgeries and whatnot, so doing this things taxes my body and then guess what? I come home and gripe and moan, and my family suffers.

I think I’m mostly angry that I can’t do what I want to do for a living. Going back to college, my mom would scrutinize all the jobs I thought were cool. “How is that going to pay the bills?” was the gist of her concern. Always money. Now that I’m not far from 50, I can’t just quit my job (the one I sort of fell into 18 years ago, due to poor planning, luck, and a connection in AA) and go freelancer.

It’s really burdensome to feel like all your dreams have just about passed you by. You can chase them, but you’ll end up neglecting your loved ones and get to live with the fallout of broken relationships and a crummy example of a godly man. I can’t die with that thought in mind. I have to choose my family, obedience to God in things that will last longer than a career. But it hurts and feels like I shouldn’t have to decide between the two. God made me a creative person. Instead I pay the bills being analytical.

Opening the can of worms

Justa Wretch here, saying good morning to you sinners! Where to start? The cursor is blinking, the clock is ticking and I have to get ready for work. But I also need to clean out my soul.

I’m sitting here with an old book I really need to read, but have only made it half way through. Uprooting Anger by Robert D. Jones. Great book for dealing with anger, and you can transfer the principles he teaches and apply them basically to any sin you deal with. Sounds great on paper, but I haven’t done crap with this book. What I have done is allowed myself to indulge in anger for many years.

Like, BLOW UP at the people I love most. Like get mad at my wife on our anniversary some years back and literally walk out to door and go to a diner to eat by myself. What a jerk! I have said things in anger that would cause any other woman to just leave and never look back. I have said things to my son that could (God I hope not!) seat themselves in his memory and become the foundational crack of a broken relationship between us well into adulthood. He still recalls some of the things I’ve said or done.

This is NOT the life I imagined I’d be living when I was in college, passing out tracts and telling people about the love of Jesus. This is the life I SWORE to myself that I would avoid during my formative years, because my home environment growing up was volatile. My parents have no idea to this day that their parenting skills back then would most definitely be considered physically or emotionally abusive by today’s standards. I can still sense the fear of my dad’s wrath when I think about it. I still carry the burden of my mom’s cutting words and somehow I have learned to tune her snide comments out so much that my wife often wonders if I even hear what she says at times.

I have some twisted coping skills that need gutted and replaced. I’ve done a lot of work on myself, but it has been a long, long time since I have taken a good look inside.

Well, our session is up for today. Be blessed and remember that if you are in Christ, you are covered by his grace. I need to remember this today. Especially since I’ve been dealing with some anxiety attacks as of late.

Introductions and statement of purpose

Hey everyone, Justa Wretch here. welcome to my very first post. If you take a gander at my about page you’ll get a quick idea of what this blog is going to be for. This is my anonymous blog and I’m gonna come clean about everything here. So grab a snack and buckle up. I’ve got a lot to unload.

i’ve been a Christian for a long time. I have been through a lot of stages over the years, such as skepticism, hypocrisy, fulltilt evangelistic, borderline missionary, Ernest husband and father, fake Christian. you name it I’ve probably gone through it. i’m starting this blog because I feel like I’m at a tipping point. Either I make some drastic changes and begin to make experience more of God’s grace in my life, or I continue down the road of your Pockrus he and jerkiness and poison my loved ones.

this is just a place for me to dump it all. I really don’t expect to have a whole lot of followers and that is not my purpose. I do hope to make some new friends along the way and find some encouragement while at the same time sharing encouragement with you. i’m not too concerned about grammar and spelling, so it might be difficult since I’m kind of a grammar nerd. my biggest concern is finding more of Jesus and experiencing his grace and a life faltering way.

blessed God and father, selfless beautiful sun, comforting Holy Spirit, you know me and all the filth within. Please, I beg Lord, show me more of you and help me to empty myself of all that is despicable in Jesus name.