Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Bionic Pastor

Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. 
We have the technology. 
We have the capability to make the world's first bionic man. 
Steve Austin will be that man. 
Better than he was before. 

A kid in the '70's knew this intro. The Six Million Dollar Man was part spy, part superhero, completely coolest dude on the planet. If you see the pilot (cause I doubt many people actually remember it), Steve Austin spins out of control in a test vehicle. Upon impact with the ground, he is broken and left hanging on the edge of life and death. But thanks to science, technology, and 6 million dollars, he is rebuilt from the brokenness and improved upon with bionic, the interfacing of flesh and machine, parts. 

In October I had a nervous breakdown. There is a lot of negative aura around that phrase. Wikipedia defines it as: 
A mental breakdown (also known as a nervous breakdown) is an acute, time-limited mental disorder that manifests primarily as severe stress-induced depression, anxiety, or dissociation in a previously functional individual, to the extent that they are no longer able to function on a day-to-day basis until the disorder is resolved. A nervous breakdown is defined by its temporary nature, and often closely tied to psychological burnout, severe overwork, sleep deprivation, and similar stressors, which may combine to temporarily overwhelm an individual with otherwise sound mental functions.
Really all that it amounts to is a person reaches a point in an unhealthy mental/emotional/physical health state where they cannot function as they normally would. Stress, depression, physical medical conditions, emotional conditions, and family interactions all contributed to a point where I couldn't process my emotions or mental functions as I normally would. I couldn't handle anything added to my life. I crashed and broke apart. "Flight Com, I can't hold her! She's breaking up!"

I spent a couple of weeks barely able to process thoughts and emotions. I was in a place I had never experienced before. I had to ask Lisa to read texts that I received and tell me what the person meant. I found a "safe place" in a chair that we have rarely used. I didn't know if I could resume my life I had before the break up. I wondered if I could preach again, pastor still, or do anything publicly. My life was hanging in a balance. "...a man barely alive."

I took a month to renew myself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I rested from labors. I sought things out that lifted my soul. I depended upon the strength of Lisa. But I also had started counseling and taking medication for depression. Those things were not marks of weakness. They were life preservers. I don't know that I could have made it through.

 I also found two little bundles of joy.
 Ollie and Dinah became my support animals. They gave me something to focus on that took my mind off of my state. They needed me to rescue them (because quite literally they were rescue dogs), but they also rescued me. They aren't classified as such, but, for me, they are emotional support animals.

This is where I begin my life as the bionic pastor. I am being rebuilt. I don't know what will be on the other side of this experience. I am hoping for a healthier lifestyle, marriage, family, and vocation. I am praying for clarity of purpose and calling so that I can be who I am supposed to be. I am believing that God has been working at healing me through this process and I will be better, stronger, faster on the other side. It hasn't cost 6 million dollars, but I have paid a lot to come to this point.

I have had many caring individuals tell me that God is preparing me for something on the other side of this. Maybe so. I can't see the future. In fact, there are large chunks of the last year I can't see, either. I can only say that there is a lot of rehab that has been and is happening. Today, for the first time in quite some time, I can remember who I am and what God called me to be and do.

Ephesians 4:11-13 -
11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
That has been my life verse since seminary. I encountered it one day in study and meditation. That was a moment of clarity for me. "This," God seemed to be saying, "is what I have fitted you for. This is your service. This is what I have preordained you to accomplish with all that you are and are able to do." God gave me to be a gift to followers of The Way. I was given to equip them so they can carry out the work of the kingdom to pursue unity of faith, knowledge of Jesus Christ, and achieve maturity of Christ.

I write this a remembrance stone (Joshua 4:6-7). It isn't for sympathy. It isn't even for any acknowledgement. I write this so that I may come back to it some days. I write for those good days when I may be stronger and better and faster to see how far I have come. I write for those bad days so I can remember how faithful the healing God can be. I write for the possibility that I will be broken again and come here to remember that I have been this way before.