Dear Legacy Dad (and all of our readers), Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! Lance and I would like to wish you the best of Holiday on remembering all the things that you are thankful for. We are thankful for all of you and for your desire and commitment to grow and be a legacy dad (and family).
Philippians 4:6-9New International Version (NIV)
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
That being said, you may have noticed that blog entries between Lance and I have been far and few between these past several months and I am sorry for that. I cannot speak for Lance, nor his travel schedule, but as for me, it has been a taxing year: New Job, Health and death of a parent, health issues (or lack of health maintenance) and then finding myself in this funk (you may call it depression). I knew, since we buried my dad, that I would be grieving and/or at least have the grief catch up to me. When my mom died in 2011, I had processed that a lot before and up into the funeral and was able to let go and grieve all along the way. Not so with my dad. He was a very hard man, who become soft is his last few years. He had anger issues and a temper and could be known for not always being such a nice man. However, if you saw him in most circles (from his profession, to his community habits) he was a gentlemen and a very hard worker. He was a socially responsible human being that lived by a very stringent set of ethics - hard work being on the top of that list. He would always quote Shakespeare to me and talk about the importance of stewardship and integrity. He instilled in me a work ethic that is rivaled by very few.
My father was an Architect, a professor and a dad who would do anything for family. He was a man of character and integrity and for all intents and purposes, he was good man. He knew his trade and not only that, to the shock and sometimes surprise of the contractors that he worked with, he knew as much about their trades. Seriously, this man could build a house from the ground up (I saw it). From the excavation, to the concrete and foundation, to the plumbing and electrical all the way up to finishing work - this man could do it. In my eyes he was a super man. For years I longed for his approval in all that I did. He was not a man of many words relating to feelings. He would talk, yell and discipline. He would encourage at times and correct often as needed. He was lacking love (his Mom died when he was 11) so he sucked at expressing how he felt about others. I understand this now!
Anyways, back to me. Before this man died, when he became really sick and was given weeks to live - two of the four siblings (My oldest sister and I) were able to spend those last days with him I could tell he was struggling and caught between two worlds - his earthly desire to live on earth and the uncertain desire to meet his Savior and wife in Heaven again. He was in the VA Hospital in their wing called Heroes Haven (Warriors that served our Country). The staff was wonderful and very comforting, encouraging and urging to my sister and I. They told me that we should not be surprised to see these warriors fight until the very end. They wouldn't just give up and die. How true that was, because this soldier fought and perked up actually when he saw me fly down to his hospital bed. He improved so much that he actually went into another VA wing were he ultimately succumbed to death and went home to be with our Lord.
The funeral was beautiful. I had asked a Pastor of our church to do the funeral and he did it was such an authority of love and compassion for all those who attended. I was overwhelmed with the outpouring of customers who sent cards, flowers for my dad and gifts to my dad's charity of choice. I was overwhelmed by all those who came to pay their respects for my dad to our family. I was even more overcome by those who came to see my family and I. The funeral was pointing to our Savior Jesus Christ and the hope that we should all have in Him and Him alone.
I was really touched with the honor guard came to Salute him at the grave site and folded the flag and we requested that my oldest brother receive that flag. How touching and inspiring that was to all those around. My brother, I could tell, was overwhelmed by the honor. I salute those soldiers for what they do and how they serve - I am very thankful for them, as well.
Afterwards, the process of loss begin to creep into my life. The feeling of emptiness and uncertainty was in the back of my head. The thing is, though, I could not rationalize this. I knew that I would grieve after the funeral as I did with my mother's funeral. But this was different, I was gaining weight and not doing my usual things to take care of my self (workouts, running, eating). My loose clothing are actually no longer loose. I don't want to say that I was (am not) laughing and living because I am. The thing is, with my dad's funeral, this hit me so much harder because now my parents are no longer on this earth. I have to wait to be with them again and realized how lonely that felt. I do not want to diminish my family (my wife and kids) because they are my strength and my encouragement in life. I truly look forward to coming home.
For some reason, I could not put a finger what was going on with me. Was I in a funk? Was I just "fat and lazy"? Am I depressed? Am I in depression? These were questions that were floating in my head that just were not gaining any traction in my life. That is, until I met with a young gentlemen this past Tuesday to discuss his co-leading our men's group (Men of Faith) this Saturday. He was going over a lot of possible topics - but a theme was beginning to develop. He shared a lot with me and it was an honor and a privilege for me to get to know him better than just seeing him on Saturday mornings. The theme was a story of depression and community and caring and the church. I felt as if the Lord put this man in my life for me to deal with the "unsaid" in my life: Funk/Depression.
Last night, after our church's Thanksgiving Service of Gratitude, I was going to stay up late and watch a movie with my wife, but instead her and I went to bed and talked. I shared about my meeting with this young man and then I shared a lot about what was truly going on with me. It wasn't as if my wife didn't notice or was not caring, because she was. However, I wasn't dealing with it head on.
I don't want to misrepresent where I am now, because I am still they're going through it and being raw with who I am right now and where I want to go. But after the talk this past Tuesday with this younger brother and then the heart to heart with my wife last night I can tell you where I am going:
The church is a hospital - if not, it should be. We are all broken, all sinful and all in need of help and community and a Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus didn't come to help the righteous, he came to heal and cure and bless the sick and broken. He invited the lame and broken and lost into his world and saved them from their bondage. Jesus knew what He was doing from the beginning - because His Father gave Him the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There it is - community from the very beginning.
The church is a hospital. My men's group and friends and family are my community. I need to serve others and go outward toward the Father's business and not my own (in the state of mind that I am in) to pull back, isolate and feel sorry for myself and internalize poor and unhealthy choices. I need to look upward, reach outward and in some cases (maybe if you going through this) to get professional Christian (biblical) counsel and even in some cases medicate to regulate the brain to correct itself. From a post in Christianity today, "Major depression is diagnosed when an adult exhibits one or both of two core symptoms (depressed mood and lack of interest), along with four or more of the following symptoms, for at least two weeks: feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt; diminished ability to concentrate or make decisions; fatigue; psychomotor agitation (cannot sit still) or retardation (just sitting around); insomnia or hypersomnia (sleeping too much); significant decrease or increase in weight or appetite; and recurrent thoughts of death or suicidal ideation. This clinical definition is sterile, however, and fails to capture the unique quality of the severely depressed person's suffering. Deep depression is embodied emotional suffering. It is not simply a state of mind or a negative view of life but something that affects our physical being as well. Signs of a severe episode of depression include unfounded negative evaluations of friends, family, and oneself, emotional "pain," physical problems such as lethargy, difficulty getting one's thoughts together, and virtually no interest in one's surroundings. Though most of us know at least an acquaintance who has committed suicide, this tragic act baffles us perhaps as much as it pains us. "I just don't understand," we say. The irony is that survivors of serious suicide attempts frequently reflect on those attempts with a similar attitude: "I have no idea what came over me." The pain and mental dysfunction of major depression are that deep."
After this two God-ordained talks this week (the younger brother and my wife) I have come to the conclusion of the following action steps:
- Serve others
- Be in community
- Open up about my hurts and feelings
- Weep and mourn
- Don't hold it in
- Look Upward (in God's word and prayer)
- Reach Outward
- If needed, seek biblical counseling
- If needed, in Biblical counseling (Be open to medicating)
If you find yourself in any form of this "funk" or "junk" or actual depression, then I encourage you to seek others, trusted friends and biblical counseling and to be open for help and prayer. Look upward and reach outward. Life is too short to wait. Your life does have value. I say this because as God as my witness, I can tell you that this is truth because He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for you. You have value and if you need help take action today!
Others will be blessed by you and others can even be helped by your story.
To God be the Glory!