Archives For fear

This topic, in your mind gentle reader, may seem far afield of the faith once delivered to the saints. But I assure you it’s not.

How not?

Both horror (films, books, etc.), and Christianity force us to take unflinching looks within ourselves at the skull beneath the skin. We are made to confront our fears, lay them bare. This is often an uncomfortable process, and many there are who just won’t go there. Just as Jesus vicariously suffered and died for us, so, too, allows us to vicariously confront our fears (in a safe environment). It is in the words of director Scott Derrickson, “the genre of non-denial.” And rather than adding to the real horrors of the world, the genre gives us way to deal with, process, and understand the horrors of this world.

Additionally, I find that the genre is not so much about making us afraid (although it does do that), but rather about catharsis–about releasing the tension which it builds within us. We return to the real world better able to cope with difficulties we’re facing in our lives.

Nota bene: as with a balanced diet, horror media should not be all we consume. Because balance is the key to life, like vitamins, we should take it in controlled doses. Now this may not be a prescription for everyone, but I will say that I find far too many Christians who don’t like to be made to feel uncomfortable. Who don’t like to confront their fears. Yes, I know the Scriptures say that “perfect love casts out fear.” Who amongst us, however, has been perfected? If we say we don’t have any fears, we’re lying.

The great C.S. Lewis (he being dead yet speaketh), once said that “we ought to come to God with what is in us. Not with what we think should be in us.” The point being that God already knows all of our fears, failures, flaws anyway.

So we may as well be honest.

And in my view, the horror genre helps us do just that: be honest. Be taking that unflinching look, by confronting us with what’s already inside.

That, my friends, is my $.02. You may have come up with a different equation, or come to a different conclusion. If so, please sound off in the comments below.

Thanks as always for reading!

Everybody loves Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you, and not harm you. To give you a future and a hope.”

We eat that stuff up like delicious, delicious candy.

Or what about “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me?”

That’s a good one, too!

“Taste and see that the Lord is good, and blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.” That’s a great one, which has adorned many a pillow down through the years.

How about “God is faithful in that, with every temptation, He provides a way of escape that you may be able to bear it?”
That’s a good one! And it’s probably the genesis of the oft-quoted (but less than biblical idea) that “God never gives us more than we can bear.”

Poppycock, I say! Tis pure balderdash!

Is this the same God Who says “In this world you will have tribulation?” Is it the same God that admonishes us to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling?” Is is the same God Who promises us “they shall hate you because they first hated Me?”

When the last time you saw that cross-stitched anywhere?

Or taught about in your church for that matter?

What about the epistle of First Peter, where we’re told “after you shall have suffered, God will?” We kind of gloss over that don’t we? Nobody wants to suffer, endure pain, or hardship.

But God promises it.

We shall be delivered up, the world shall hate us. Some of us will even die for our faith–be martyred.

Cheery thoughts, I know. These are the not so precious promises of God. The ones we don’t like think about.

Here’s another one: “Whether we live, or die, it is for Christ.” And “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” Fact is, nobody wants to die. But sooner, or later, we all do. There’s no avoiding it. Whether by “famine, or nakedness, or sword, or peril” nothing is able to separate us from his love. Not Ebola, or ISIS.

OR ANY OTHER THING ANYWHERE.

Here’s a promise you can stake your life (and afterlife) upon:

“Fear not him [ISIS, disease, the devil] who can destroy the body, but Him Who can destroy the soul [God].”

What’s your favorite not-so-precious promise of God?

Your friend Ricky Anderson calls the gym the “hurting place.” He’s not kidding! In the last week, you’ve:

Sprained your back

Sprained your foot (in the locker room. No, you don’t want to talk about it).

And you’ve  come down with the aptly (yet oh-so-understatedly) named “exertional headaches.” For the Star Wars fan, it feels like Alderaan exploding inside your head. Or maybe the Death Star. One of the two.

It hurts.

A lot.

The first time it happens, you’re like Is this an aneurysm? Am I having a stroke? Did Freddie Kruger somehow slip his gloved hand into the dura mater? Inside my skull? All you know is your world is pain. One thousand suns have gone super nova at the base of your skull…

You babble the Pater Noster, crawling into a dark and quiet place. The back of your head all the while hammering a staccato rhythm in time with the beating of your heart. It throbs, it pulses, it pounds.

You do all you can to just breathe. In, and out. In, and out. You’re calmer. You open your eyes.

That’s when you notice the halos. Everything–every bright thing–is ringed with a glowing halo. But the centers of those rings are mushy, indistinct.

Blurry. Yes, blurry. That’s the word you’re looking for. Even with your glasses on, the world is both bright, and blurry.

But you’re not dying. No grey matter has begun leaking from your ears (although you halfway wish some would–it would relieve the pressure). You want nothing but a bottle of Ibuprofen, and some rest (you settle for two pills, and let your wife drive the car).

The headache eventually subsides, leaving you with an aching, stiff neck. You read somewhere that rest is the only cure for exertional headaches.

So you take a day off.

One day off working out, and a day off of your supplements.

Then you’re up bright and early for your cardio… And you did it! No headache. This gives you hope for lifting day. You’re smart about it: you drink your protein shake, washing down two ibuprofen with it. You wait a bit, and then head out to the gym. Instead of pushing yourself, you opt for about seventy-five percent of the level you were at before. You take it nice and slow.

Your reps are slow–up, and down; up, and down. All the while you’re controlling your breathing. A headache threatens to come on. You breathe through it, gently working your neck. The pain subaides, and you continue your workout. You’re very conscious of:

Your form

Your breathing

Your blood pressure

You make it through! Congratulations!

You didn’t let the pain get you down.* Whether you worked out as hard as you wanted, or not–you did it.

You’re a champion in my book.

*Whatever pain, or hard thing, you’re facing friends: stare it down, master it. Push through to the other side. Whether it’s working out, writing, painting, cleaning house:

YOU CAN DO IT!

Master your gym today.

For a number of years, I’ve suffered from hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). Because of this, I’m forced to supplement my underperforming gland with synthetic hormone.

I guess it’s helped. After losing about forty pounds a few years ago doing low carb, my body seems to have settled in the 210s. Even with supplemental thyroid, I don’t lose–or gain.

I decided to do something about that. Beginning about five weeks ago, I hit the gym. I’ve been going six days  a week, alternating cardio, and weightlifting, days. This had worked out for the most part.

I say “for the most part” because I’ve hit some speedbumps on the road to wellness:

I strained my low back doing squats (my fault–I wasn’t wearing a belt).

I’ve begun experiencing what are termed “exertional headaches.” For a phenomenon this common (all over the Internet), I’d never heard of them. Guess I’m in the lucky ten percent of the populace that gets to experience:

                            

I know that’s gross–but it’s exactly like what an exertional headache feels like. In my case, it presented as an intense bilateral pain in the base of my skull. Having never had a headache like this before in forty-five years of life, I thought I was going to stroke out. Yes. It. Was. That. Bad…

Having since read up on the phenomenon, I’m not as concerned. However, I’m bummed. Because the only cure seems to be time. Time to heal whatever damage I caused via poor form, straining, performing the Valsalva Maneuver (holding one’s breath to stabilize the thoracic cavity).

It’s a bummer because I was making progress, getting stronger. But it is what it is. Pain is warning which tells us that something is awry. My body didn’t like something, and I’ve got to slow down. It’s not as young as it used to be, and I’ve been (he who knew very little exercise) pushing it pretty hard.

Now it has pushed back.

If I’ve learned anything, it’s the lesson of the Tortoise and the Hare; namely, that slow and steady wins the race.

These speedbumps will be overcome. And I will be the best me I can be.

For Jesus.

For my family.

For my friends.

And coworkers.

You see, I used to view the gym as a temple to the self, as a form of self-worship. I don’t see it that way anymore. I see it as taking care of the one and only temple God has given me: my body (the temple of the Holy Spirit). At the same time, that while “physical exercise profits little,” and that “godliness profits in all,” there’s still value in exercise.

It’s a way for me to buffet (not buh-fay) my body. I’ve spent a lifetime buffeting, eating what I wanted. Now, I’m eating, and exercising, for a purpose. And that purpose is many-fold; chief among them is to be used of God for as long as He wills.

At the same time I’ve been pursuing physical fitness, I’ve also been pursuing spiritual, mental, and emotional fitness via: Bible reading, prayer, a faith community, and counseling.

If this is what a midlife crisis is, it’s not that bad. ;-)

In closing, I’d like to say this:

All praise and glory to God, for in Him I (we) live and move and have our being.

Bonaventure Drive

randomlychad  —  September 4, 2014 — 2 Comments

I remember the pear tree. Hoisting me aloft on his shoulders, I picked the juiciest, sweetest pears you could ever want to eat. I picked them for my dad and me.

I was three.

That tree was at the end of Bonaventure Drive, by the mailboxes, where it terminated and the dense forest began. Those were happy times, summer times. When I was three, and the lane shimmered with the Pennsylvania summer heat. Though the skies were always grey that close to the lake, the world was golden. Because my daddy had me, held my hand as walked Bonaventure Drive, hands sticky with pear juice in the heat.
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But three became four, and my brother was born. And the trips to the pear tree ceased.

Somewhere along the way–I didn’t know if it was me–my daddy didn’t have me anymore, didn’t hold my hand… We played ball in the side yard. He threw it harder, harder, faster, faster. I couldn’t catch it. I tried and tried, but it hit my tummy. Harder and harder, it hit my tummy.

I stood there. I stood there until I couldn’t hold back the tears. But still I stood there, the football smacking me.

My daddy was angry, and I didn’t know why.

Life was no longer the same on Bonaventure Drive.