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November 15, 2016

Ebb and flow…

Is it possible there is no abundance to counteract the decay?

The waters recede, but they don’t wash back in.

Wait…

Am I seeing multiple retreats where there is only one?

Will it ever return?

Hope fades with the deterioration of the tide.

I’m drowning, but for a fleeting ray of light, a dull shimmer of expectation in the expanse.

My soul fails.

Yet I remain steadfast. Each breath is labored but steady.

The moon rises, and the waters return.

They cannot be swayed. They will not be mocked.

The waves return, teeming with life.

Hope in parched space.

Eeyore

November 4, 2016

Anger is a secondary emotion. It’s primary purpose is to mask the primary emotion experienced at a given time.

Lately, I’ve felt a lot of anger, so I’ve challenged myself, in those moments, to pause and identify what I’m actually feeling. Nine times out of ten the primary emotion is sadness.

Sadness is debilitating. It affects every part of my day. Even happy, joyful moments are tempered when they occur in the midst of sadness.

I often feel like Eeyore. He’s the perfect personification (donkification?) of sadness, right? He never sees the brighter side of the situation. He focuses on the negative, and, as a result, he’s constantly depressed.

So, why try to feel the sadness? I mean, I don’t want to end up depressed, right? Well, that depends on your focus. Are you focused on sinking into a permanent “woe is me” way of interacting with the world, or are you focused on the process of allowing the sadness to run its course?

Sadness can’t be ignored. In fact, it won’t. As long as it is present it will continue to manifest itself. The only way to resolve the sadness is to embrace it. Think about the situation causing the sadness. Feel it. Work through it. Cry. Let it was over you. And then, once it has run its course, things won’t look quite as gloomy. The sun will start to shine, little by little. You’ll find yourself chuckling at a joke, and pretty soon you’ll be enjoying a night out with your friends again.

There is no way around sadness. But when you face it head-on, you’ll realize it’s not quite as bad as you thought it would be.

Excuse me, your melancholy is showing

October 25, 2016

Most people guess I’m sanguine (yes, I assume everyone frequently discusses personality types in terms of the proto-psychological four temperaments). I enjoy being around people. I tell jokes. A lot. And most of them flirt with the far side of “the line.” I love to laugh, and encouraging those around me is one of my favorite things in the world.

But most of the time, I’m choosing to be happy. Now don’t get your hopes up; I’m not Oprah, and this post isn’t titled “5 Easy Steps to Happiness.” But… YOU get a car, and YOU get a car!

I digress.

More often than not, I walk around with a heavy heart. Thoughts of world events, failed relationships, and deep loss swirl in my head constantly. I can cry at a moment’s notice. Seriously. The funny guy on the stage at church cries.

I feel. Deeply.

Recent events in my life have caused me to question whether this is a good thing. I mean, doesn’t emotion cause one to be unstable? Emotional people don’t make wise decisions, they simply react, right?

God didn’t create a broken version of Clayton. (Well, I mean, I’m a sinful person, Romans 3:23 blah blah blah, that’s not the point). God created me to emote. He created me to relate uniquely with those going through the mountains and valleys of life. He created me to laugh with those who laugh and mourn with those who mourn.

Clayton, at his core, is one who feels. And that’s at the center of God’s heart.

You see, God feels, too. He weeps. He laughs. He mourns.

God isn’t unstable. Far from it. A God who feels nothing is the antithesis of Yahweh. To feel is to reflect the heart of my creator.

I’m not broken. My tears do not declare me unfit. My laughter does not disqualify me from a clean bill of emotional health. I am Clayton – plain, simple, and ridiculously complicated. That’s what makes me unique.

Love = Risk

October 18, 2016

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Love. Trust. Vulnerability requires more.

Risk.

They are inextricably linked. One cannot exist without the other.

Risk

noun \ˈrisk\
: the possibility that something bad or unpleasant (such as an injury or a loss) will happen
: someone or something that may cause something bad or unpleasant to happen

Trust is risk.

Love is risk.

So why do we do it?

We’re built for vulnerability. We are created for it. We long to be known. We long to let people into the most precious recesses of our hearts. Deep inside we know we hate our secrets. The darkest parts of us crave the light of relationship.

So we go on a date. We act silly. We kiss. We fall in love. And the whole time we know we’re putting ourselves at risk. We willingly hold our heart out for another to take. And, more often than not, our heart is damaged. We’re rejected outright. Perhaps our heart is squeezed, and we’re able to pull it back in time to avoid destruction. Worse still, someone can decide to accept the gift of our heart without holding theirs out in return. They claim our heart for months, even years, without truly offering theirs to us. Oh, they’ll claim they have, yet our hands remain empty, theirs tightly clinching both hearts with no intention of letting go.

So we walk away, devastated, wondering how we could be so wrong.

That is risk.

Do I regret it? Nope. Does it hurt like crazy? Sure does.

Why do we subject ourselves to it? I have no idea.

I know, I know. “We can only truly be known by Jesus.” Yeah, I get that. I’ve said it before. But right now I don’t feel it. I know the only way to fill the void risk left is to give it to Jesus. And I’m doing that, moment by moment. In my worst moments I ignore it and hope the pit in my stomach goes away. At my best I can open up my journal and scribble out a quick prayer.

For now, I sit in the void left by risk.

Rereading

October 7, 2016

Today a friend posted a quote that I can’t get out of my head: “You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep rereading the last one.”

I ruminate on emotional experiences. I’m an emotional guy, and I tend to emote quite a bit. Not in a bad or unhealthy way (at least I don’t think that is the case); I simply feel very deeply, and I don’t hide it.

The last seven weeks have been incredibly difficult. Pain, betrayal, and the realization that what I thought I had was never actually present. I can’t seem to stop replaying various experiences and conversations over and over again. Was there something I missed? Did I completely ignore the warning signs (probably)? How could I have saved it?

By replaying these scenes I’m constantly reliving the painful experiences. Instead of staying in the past they return to the present, and the wound is torn open over and over again. I’m unable to let go, because, for all intents and purposes, no time has passed.

The thing is, I have no idea how to stop doing it. They say (“they” being friends, family, and my therapist) this will come with time. Eventually a moment will pass when I’m not thinking about this (in fact, that happened for the first time during a meeting yesterday afternoon). A minute will become an hour, an hour a day, and the pit in my stomach will become a distant memory. That seems impossible right now, but I know it’s true.

Blah

October 1, 2016

That’s how I feel at my best moments right now. Blah. Just south of neutral.

Grief is a weird thing. Denial, anger, bargaining… right now it’s just “denangining.” I slip seamlessly from one to another, crying one moment and screaming the next. Just ask any of my friends, all of whom will likely need therapy as a result of my grief over the last two and coming who-knows-how-many weeks. A friend even had an Irish coffee at breakfast this morning because I was so depressing.

And by the way, when the frick does that stage of grief begin. Because that just sounds like a peach.

How do you process grief? Particularly the grief caused by a broken relationship. Because I’m at a loss right now.

Me? I tend to sit at Starbucks and do the following:

  • obsess over Facebook
  • check Twitter
  • refresh Instagram 72 times
  • write in my journal
  • try to read something out of the Bible (mostly because that’s the Sunday school answer to any problems that arise)
  • check Facebook again
  • refresh Facebook
  • think “Hey, have I refreshed Facebook lately?”
  • suddenly freak out and call a friend to hang out with

My therapist suggested the book It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken. Meh. I don’t feel like being empowered to move on right now.

Anyway, I probably shouldn’t post this. But, I may still do it. I suppose if you’re reading it that will answer the question for you.

Longing for the Garden

August 23, 2016

“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”

The Garden of Eden was perfect. People walked freely with their creator. His will was our will, by default. He chose us, and we chose him. Nothing separated us.

No sin.
No guilt.
No shame.

But that’s not the reality in which we now live. Pain is alive and well. Shame fights to permeate our very souls.

Something isn’t right.

I hate that character is only built during trials. I mean, really despise it. Years ago, during an intense season of counseling, contemplation, and healing, my counselor told me I had a “deep longing for the garden.” Sin, fear, pain… it doesn’t feel right. My soul is unsettled, because I know things aren’t the way they should be.

Injustice, in all its forms, is so debilitating to me. I’m an emotional guy. I feel deeply, in my soul. My very foundation is immensely affected by the pain brought about by the fall of creation. Relational pain, institutional injustice – it all points back to the ever-present sense that things are not right.

The trick is to learn how to keep it from paralyzing me. That’s where God comes in. It’s so hard to trust he’s there in the midst of my pain.

“Count it all joy, my brothers and sister, 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

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. ”
– James 1:12

know that perseverance is the key to building character, but I don’t feel like it does. I’m afraid. I feel like I’m wavering, questioning everything. Waves of despair accompany a steady undercurrent of fear and unsettledness.

One of my favorite phrases in all of scripture is in Job 38 – “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind…” He’s right there with him, and when Job despairs, God gives him a reality check. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, i you have understanding. Who determined its measurements – surely you know!

But God is not absent in that. The temptation is to believe he is only present in the resolution of conflict. But he is with me in the midst of it. He embraces it. He never leaves. He never abandons. Everyone else in my life will fail me. Of that I am certain. But he remains in the whirlwind.

“I would have given into despair if I had not believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” I have that tattooed on my arm. I literally cannot run away from it. May I live in the light of that truth, no matter the circumstance.

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