Friday, September 28, 2007

When Faith Gets Overwhelming

Sometimes I feel like this God thing is a bit much to handle.

Earlier this week I sort of got backed into a corner by people who wanted to convince me that God was a joke. I couldn’t refute their specific arguments, (maybe more Old Testament knowledge would have helped,) but what really shocked me was that even if their points were valid, I didn’t much care.

Christianity is one of the most real things I’ve ever experienced, but it’s also the most preposterous. It’s completely illogical, but somehow I know it’s right. There’s so much I don’t understand, yet I still have peace and confidence. Am I crazy, or is that just how God works?

I was feeling kind of down about the whole thing, until I came across Psalm 71:14-15 where David says,
"But as for me, I will always have hope. I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteousness, your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure.”
I felt myself summed up in those verses. I really don’t know the true depth or measure of God’s character or His sacrifice, but that’s okay – I don’t have to understand everything. I still have hope and joy, and I keep on praising Him through any doubts that may arise. Maybe I am crazy, but I guess I’m in good company.

I would be very interested to hear how others handle it when Christianity gets overwhelming, and I would love to get a dialogue going. I know I can always use some support, and I bet I’m not the only one. Your comments are much appreciated!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

To Be Frank

I want to tell you about a man I once knew, who I’ll call Frank.

Frank was the quintessential mountain man. He mostly kept to himself, and was generally suspicious of other people. But as he warmed up to me, I found him to be a kind and generous man, quick with a joke and a smile. He was in his 60’s, but the sparkle behind his eyes made him seem much more lively and spry than his age would suggest. He called me “baby doll,” which always felt exactly like the term of endearment it was meant to be. I found him to be an all-around good guy.

Frank had not been successful in marriage, but he had several adult children with whom he remained close. He loved to spoil them, and there was nothing that good ol’ Dad wouldn’t take care of.

But one day, one of Frank’s sons decided to bring a fraudulent lawsuit against a company, claiming he had an accident for which they were responsible. Without any prior discussion, he involved his father in the case, saying Frank had witnessed the phony accident. By the time Frank found out what was happening, he was inextricably stuck in the case and could not avoid testifying.

When Frank got on the stand, he told the truth. He couldn’t help it – that’s just who he was. He knew that his honesty would likely cost him his son, but it was a chance he had to take. Frank was simply compelled to do the right thing.

A few months later, Frank’s daughter unexpectedly died. He was completely heartbroken. Of all his children, she was the one who simply loved him, never expecting anything but for him to love her in return. At her funeral, I discovered just how devastating Frank’s loss really was.

As the family filed down the center aisle into the chapel, I couldn’t spot Frank. After everyone was seated, I finally noticed him slip in inconspicuously through a side door and take a seat several rows back from the rest of the family. My eyes welled with tears as I realized what had happened.

Frank’s son had turned the entire family against him, except for his daughter who was now gone. He had lost everyone he ever loved, and there was no one to share his grief. He sat in his pew with head bowed and shoulders slumped, and the eyes that once held that mischievous sparkle were flat and empty. He was a broken man.

Frank’s story affects me deeply. This was a man who stood at a crossroads and took the difficult path, though he had everything to lose. I know that if he had lied he wouldn’t have been able to face himself in the mirror, but I wonder if it would have been worth it to keep his family. I wonder if the price he paid for integrity was just too high.

I lost track of Frank shortly after the death of his daughter, but I think about him often. I hold out hope that he has reconciled with his family, and that he won’t have to spend his last days alone. And I pray that if I’m ever in his shoes, I’ll have the courage to follow in his footsteps.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


You know something? We live in a crude world, and there's something disgusting lurking around every corner.

For example, tonight I am relaxing in my den, enjoying an episode of Wheel of Fortune. No worries of anything icky popping up there, right?

But then it's commercial time, and an ad comes on for Serenity pads. No big deal - people need these things, and the commercials are generally discreet. There is a voice pitching the product, and there's this graphic of a field with a big daisy in it. Pretty typical. But then I take a closer look, and I notice - the petals of the flower are made of adult diapers! Big, white pads that unfortunate adults have to pee in. Do the people who need these things not already know what they look like? Do we really need to try to make them cute?

This commercial ranks right up there with the girl who plugs the hole in her date's rowboat with a tampon, and the cartoon bear who takes a crap on a tree and then discusses how much toilet paper it's going to take to wipe up. Who takes in these gross images and then thinks, "Oh boy - I gotta run right out and get me some of that."

Unfortunately, I think this yuck-fest is going to get worse before it gets better. Today we're listening to a philosophical discussion on the nuances of feminine odor, tomorrow I'll see some actor actually applying his Preparation H.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


I always planned to “grow old gracefully.” Let the gray hair and wrinkles come as they may – I’d take it all in stride with good humor, and embrace whatever face looked back at me in the mirror. Aging wouldn’t even be an issue.

Well, a few months ago I noticed the tiniest beginnings of lines around my mouth. That discovery immediately led to a more critical facial inspection, which revealed slight traces of lines around my eyes too. You have to understand, no one else would probably be able to detect even the smallest change - we’re talking miniscule lines here. But as I stood there looking in the mirror and puzzling over how this could have happened, I was suddenly hit with a stunning revelation:

“HOLY CRAP! I am going to get WRINKLES!!!!”
Thoughts of growing old gracefully went out the window. I just wanted to go out and buy the best miracle cream I could find and take a bath in it. How could this be happening to me? I guess my philosophy was really more like, “If I grow old, I’ll do it gracefully.” I hadn’t accepted that the “if” was actually a “when.”

It didn’t take me long to calm down and return to rationality. But I was still a little bummed about the whole wrinkles thing, until this weekend.

I was watching a re-run of Extreme Makeover, where “ugly” people get major plastic surgery to correct what they consider to be their physical flaws. During her initial consultation, this woman told the plastic surgeon that she was looking forward to “never having wrinkles again.” However he was quick to correct her, explaining that wrinkles come from showing facial expression, and that they would eventually come back unless she never smiled or laughed again. That started me thinking.

My life has been filled with happiness. Yes, there have been plenty of sad and difficult times, but I have spent considerably more time laughing than crying. There’s not a day that goes by in which I don’t have multiple reasons to smile, and I am grateful for it. And if wrinkles are the price I pay, then so be it.

So I will go right on living, loving, laughing and smiling, allowing all the joys of life to be written across my face. And I hope that when I die, I’ll have too many wrinkles to count and will have earned every one of them.

Saturday, September 1, 2007