Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fat Tuesday

Lent begins tomorrow: a good time for reflection, humility, and commitment. I want to admit my pride. I haven't considered myself prideful because I haven't had much to be proud about over the last number of years. And yet, I'm realizing that much of my paralysis in living healthfully, much of my failures and seemingly endless re-commitments, have to do with my ego. My past identity as the athlete, student, and homecoming king (physical appearance and success); and as the nonprofit servant and leader (having the respect and admiration of other people) became idols, the Counterfeit Gods of Tim Keller's book. They may not have even become my idols until I began to lose them through depression and weight gain and drinking. But my nonacceptance and disdain for being unrespectable and overweight have kept me in this prolonged struggle. I did not experience sorrow for where I was or things that had happened... I experienced despair. And that comes from having an unhealthy relationship with what I had lost. I valued those things so much that without them my pride would not let me live in peace where I was. My despair caused me to not be available to God or to truly living.

So now, at the beginning of Lent, I commit not to losing weight, or having success, or gaining the respect of others, or even to being healthy. All these things can become counterfeit gods. I do choose to be at peace because of who God is and what He thinks of me. And I know that as I make myself available to Him, life will be abundant.

Today I did that by catching up with some work responsibilities, exercising at the gym, making time for reading and reflection, eating healthfully, and being in community with my men's group.

Monday, February 14, 2011


It is clear to me that I have used my past wounds from relationships as an excuse not to engage in life. I think that I have a lot of fear about my own competency to live up to my potential. As long as I was involved in a painful relationship, I sort of had an excuse to opt out of the bigger picture. I am choosing now to be done with the past, and for the first time, I believe that I am. I thought my next post would be about this really evil thing that my ex did to weasel her way into my day over the weekend. But it doesn't matter. It hurt, but the relationship is over. And I'm better for it. It's well past time to move forward.

I injured my foot during my senior year of high school football and was put in a cast. I missed two games and was supposed to miss more. I was convinced that the doctors were being overcautious, so the night before our game against our rivals, Emerville HS, I cut the cast off of my leg. I scored four touchdowns and two 2pt conversions, and we won the game. We went on to our first league title in school history.
I've allowed myself to be on injured reserve for so long that I've atrophied both spiritually and physically. I have not been behaving emotionally like the man I'm capable of being and was raised to be. 

It's time to cut the f ing cast off.
I know what to do and I'm excited.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

After the Storm

It is most difficult to see things through proper perspective in the midst of negative emotions such as pain, anger, jealousy, insecurity, etc. Even during these periods, the truth can (through the Divine) pierce through like a single ray of sunshine through a dark storm to elucidate our plight with truth for perhaps a moment and provide some peace. I have written about times such as these over the last month or so.
But lasting proper perspective typically takes time. I have survived the last month of anger, pain, mourning, but I am not proud of the shape I'm in on the other end. I feel like I'm starting over in some ways because I made emotional survival a priority over health and fitness. So I drank and indulged in comfort foods to escape the worst of my emotions. But things are beginning to appear to me in their proper context, and the crisis, what felt like a violent storm, is over. I feel like I am in the aftermath of it, surveying the damage.
I haven't felt like writing because there was not much to say. I was hurting and getting through it.
I have a lot of work to do now.
One night a few months ago, I had one of those glints of perspective that I have often thought about since. I was reading an old French book on prayer called, Lord, Teach us to Pray by Paul Claudel. The book is out of print, but I had seen it in a library one night at a Catholic retreat center, and was able to find a used copy on Amazon. I was reading it for probably the third time, when I came across an aside by the author, saying that he could hardly read Ezekiel chapter 16 without crying. Well, I turned to it, and in it the prophet is speaking as God to Israel. Read it yourself, but here is the unpoetical gist of it:
It unfolds that a man takes in an abandoned and penniless child, gives her everything he has to offer, even making her his wife, and she ends up not valuing any of it and whoring herself out to his enemies.
As this story was unfolding, I welled with emotion. "Oh my God, I know what this feels like!! It's an  awful feeling, and it is what SHE HAS DONE TO ME!"
All of my painful and self righteous feelings came to a crescendo in that moment. And then...
The warm hand and silent voice of God came over me saying, "Gabe, this is what you have done...to Me."
I collapsed, and the perspective that I needed washed over me in a way that is a signature of our powerful and gentle and loving God. I had done that to him. Things do not happen in a vacuum. The road that led me to that vulnerable and miserable place was one I chose. Had I remained dependent, had I waited on God, I would not have been in such a place, and I knew it.
Could it be as simple as I had been taught as a child? "Draw near to me, and I will draw near to you."
It is a beautiful and mysterious God we worship. A simple faith, but infinitely layered and complex.
I wore a letter-man jacket in high school on which I had had inscribed "Isaiah 40:31."
I am finally learning what it means to 'wait on the Lord.' I had to review over the last ten years of my life and identify the things that I have 'waited on' in order to begin to understand it.