III – Wisdom and Innocence

Wisdom and Innocence, 11/23/2018, Deon Mumple

I’m here living in a world where all the innocence is lost
We all said we didn’t want it, but we didn’t know the cost
I gave it up too cheap; I can’t afford to buy it back
Now the interest is so high no one bothers keeping track
But I wish I could have known it, without having ever known

Wisdom is for sale,  pray it doesn’t drive you insane
All that wisdom ever costs is higher premiums in pain
Mum tried to instill grace and faith, and some patience to wait
We gain wisdom looking backward, can’t go back ’cause it’s too late
But I wish I could have had it, before my bad habits had grown

I have no more time for patience.  Quick, my time is running out
The answers to life’s questions can’t all be brokenness and doubt
I want what every other broken person wants to find:
Some love, a little comfort, and a stack of peace of mind,
A few more answers to my prayers, some rest while I’m exhaust-
ed, while living in a world where all my innocence is lost.

“Fuck You” Songs

Today I found a jackpot.  No, not the lottery, not yet at least.  I know many of you know these songs are out there.  So why didn’t you tell ME?  I had to find them on my own!!

As if this list wasn’t enough, it wasn’t complete or exhaustive, and I have to say that because several of the songs weren’t a match to my specific angers tonight.  Call it a mood swing, call it temporary, call it whatever you want, I don’t give a shit.  But wait, there’s more:

Well, to be completely honest, I knew SOME of them were out there, I just didn’t know they were all so neatly cataloged in play lists so I could listen back to back and vent the frustration and rage and everything petty about myself over an extended period of time.  And I didn’t know there were this many awesome “fuck you” songs.

When I got done “crying like a bitch,” over “One of My Turns,” I reached the point of “fuck you.”  I confess, it wasn’t when my wife ignored my polite and pleasant request to please read the email I sent (with the link to the prior blog entry).  That just made me mad.  What tipped the scale to real angry was when my 18 year old “adult” daughter was upset about something she wanted to buy but didn’t know what she really NEEDED, I made a suggestion of someone she should ask for help, and in her stress, she yelled at me. “SHUT UP, DAD!!”  So I shut up.  Didn’t talk before they went to bed,  because it’s better to shut the hell up and not say something I’d regret later.  The Bible says it’s a bad idea to let the sun set while one is raging.

Instead I poured a triple-shot and drank it a little faster than I think I should have, over a piece of leftover cold chicken.  And listened to great music.  I did hear an apology for the fucking “shut up” comment, but it still  kind of pisses me off.  And I was still mad about Mrs. M. not reading my fucking blog that explained my feelings and why I’ve been acting all stand-off-ish for a while, not to mention the event that precipitated me having those feelings, not to mention the events that happened before Mrs. M. was Mrs. M., when she proved she loved some other guy in ways she doesn’t want to prove herself to me.

I have a problem with trust.  I trust people too easily.  I take people’s word for their bond, which proves to be my insanity, because I expect, when I’m promised raises, and a career path, and help finding a well-fitting job in my field of training, and the bullshit that has gone on and on in my life, until with this last job, the last one to be infested with liars and cheaters, I realized it, and now want everything in writing so no one will fucking hire me, so I can’t quit the shitty one to even try to find a better one.  Well, to go back to the present rage and my stupid habit of trusting, she said she loved me, so I believed her.  Well, shit happens, I shouldn’t have expected anything else.  She hasn’t read the email I sent to explain it, but I shouldn’t have expected that either, from my wife who doesn’t read.  How the fuck does a writer hook up with a woman who doesn’t fucking READ?

But wait, there’s more, just not on a playlist yet:
Through with You, Maroon 5
Misery, Maroon 5
Wake Up Call, Maroon 5
Maps, Maroon 5
This Love, Maroon 5
Makes Me Wonder, Maroon 5
Payphone, Maroon 5

I think there are several more creepy sounding songs by the group.  There’s one in particular I can’t remember right now.  I wish I could, it was brilliant and very dark.

I think Adam Levine’s voice is great, and his music is soothing, and his lyrics are creepy as fuck.  If I were writing a collection of “Fuck You” songs I would want someone like him to sing them.  He sings stuff about how much he hates the person he’s singing about and wants to do them bodily harm, or murder them, and it sounds loving and sweet.  He’s one of few singers who could sing them like “I’m singing a love song to you, baby,” set to a light, fun-sounding tune, and the lyrics would be …

I— just want to say— I love you today–
But I— know that it’s true— you’ve got work to do–
To earn my trust, to win my love, to hold my heart, baby.
I want to say that I love you, but I doubt the reverse is true

You— inspire me— Your beauty’s all I can see
But you— always act dissatisfied—I know that you’ve lied
And all that I want is to be loved like I loved you, see?
I found out you’ve loved me less than you used to love somebody else.

I—always wanted you to be—the happiest that you could be
But I— can’t compete with the past—If you love me prove it fast
I’m done with working my ass off trying, just to end up crying
You don’t give a shit what I do, it’s never quite enough for you.

You–you think I’m being a bitch—and how come we aren’t very rich?
You–act like you don’t have a clue–pretend you don’t know what to do
I’m sick just thinking of how long I’ve been wasting my time, baby
Doing anything you wanted, insane, when you won’t do the same.

We—can’t dream we will be— forever after happy
We—don’t talk much any more— not to mention you snore
And pushed me away so often, I wonder if you ever loved me.

I– I don’t even want to know why.   Sometimes I wish one of us would die.
Who—who even cares any more? I’m hurt so much more than sore.
30 years wouldn’t even the score, fix my heart, if you could be bothered to start.
I need someone who loves me a whole lot more than you do.

Fuck!!!!!!!!!

DM (Dead Man) 8/9/18

Christmas is Supposed to Inspire…

We interrupt this advertisement of indignantly joyous strength, self-reliance, and independence, supposedly available to humanity, for an awkward reality check.

Yeah, this is going to probably become an annual thing because as much as I wish life made me a stronger better human being, the harder I try the more I see the truth, that I suck at the self-reliance, self-determination, grab-life-by-the-balls-and-make-it-give-me-what-I-want lifestyle.  Or, maybe there are those exceptional few who seem to be fortunate and get what they want, and the rest of us have dreams in our souls and shit in our hands.  And while one reader worries about my compulsivity, all I can say is, thank God for soap.

I could detour here and comment about how gender-insensitive the above was toward life, because who’s to say life is a guy, but if it was and if you were that guy, how would you feel about it?

It doesn’t mean I’ll give up praying for miraculous intervention, but rather it means that in my recent experience I haven’t seen my prayer requests answered with a resounding “yes.”  A soft one, sure, I have to say:  there’s a roof over our heads, it’s just that the lease payment hasn’t been made yet and they’ve already called to gently remind us.  Yeah, thanks, bankers.  And we have utilities, like trash pickup, but they’re calling and gently threatening to leave us to rot in our own trash pile.  Yeah, thanks for letting us know. You’ll get your money after we get paid Friday.  And we have food on the table, for which I am extremely grateful, it’s just that a large percentage of that is coming from a local ministry’s pantry.  Thanks very much.

It’s like getting underwear for Christmas.  It’s what I need, and it’s enough, barely, and I am grateful because there are a lot of people who have a lot less, and need a lot more, and probably live in a lot more anxiety.  I almost have what I need, but I’d really rather have a sense of security, the ability to pay for what I need for myself, the ability to pay our realistic living expenses with what I earn, and the ability to buy my own underwear, so maybe for Christmas I’d like to open a box with a new laptop computer someone got me because I didn’t need underwear (because I need a new laptop this year, but I don’t have much faith in that event.  It could happen and I hold out a little hope still because I haven’t opened all the boxes that aren’t under the Christmas tree yet).  I was going to say “pants,” but I don’t want God to tease me by having someone actually give me pants.  He has a sense of humor and if I said it and He provided pants the joke would be on me.

What if I really needed underwear and begrudged when it came?  How would that make the gift-giver feel?  I can hear me now.  “Oh.  Underwear.  Thanks, it’s just what I wanted.”  I think that’s a 5 to 7 year-old’s thought about getting clothes.  They take it for granted that they will have clothes to wear, so a gift of clothes isn’t maybe their idea of a good gift.

My idea of a good gift is a million dollars a year for the next hundred years, transferrable to my kids after I’m dead.  I have so many first world things, that I have a matching number of first world problems.  My laptop battery isn’t holding a charge, so I’m tethered to the wall.  Not that I don’t prefer it, but that the lurking lack of mobility and waiting for the next thing to fail are hanging over my head adding to my insecurity.  I’m saying, the gift (and it IS a gift) of connectivity is not something I can take for granted.  My car is rusty, prone to leaks in the rain, the check engine light is on and I’m in need of new tires to feel safe if I have to drive in rain or snow. But I have a car and it runs.  As mentioned before, the bank called to remind us not to forget them this Christmas, and so did the trash truck driver and his support staff.  But it’s Christmas, so I’d like to go get something nice for my wife and kids to open on Christmas morning (NOT underwear!)  And it’d be nice to be able to give gifts to family and friends.  But after bills are paid, a little later than I’d like, there’s not a whole lot left to spread around.

I’m thankful for underwear, literally and proverbially.  It’s warming, protecting, and supporting, which is what I need in life.  I’m thankful for people in my life who have provided that warmth, protection and support.  And I’m not going to offend these kind souls.

I do have a gift to share, so I’m going to share it.  I have the gift of Christmas itself.  Say what you want about the origins and history of Christmas as a dated holiday, about the commercialization of the date, about when Jesus’ actual birth date might have been, but Christmas as a religious holiday is a celebration of God’s gift to us.

I’ve been reading in Romans, and the earlier chapters are all about how and why we need a savior.  Our heritage won’t save us, our culture can’t save us, our race won’t save us, our family tree won’t save us.  Obeying the law won’t save us.  Being “a good person” won’t save us.  Paul was talking about eternal salvation, not temporal.  At the very end of Romans, Paul talks about his travel plans- he wants to visit with the Christ-followers in Rome, on his way to Spain.  But then Paul was arrested on trumped up charges and ends up going to Rome under arrest, and later, being executed.  Some travel plan.  It proved my point that the salvation Paul was talking about is not necessarily going to lead, in this life, to a life of ease and comfort.  He was in prison, falsely accused, and headed for beheading.  And I’m worried about a car breakdown?

In the middle of Romans, Paul reaches a point where he’s established that we can’t save ourselves.  And then he lets it out, after teasing us a bit with hints.  It’s only 16 chapters.  I recommend reading it all.  He finally says it- Those who are in Christ are not under condemnation.  By “condemnation,” he means, under a sentence of punishment to come in eternity.  And then in later chapters he talks about how Christ-followers can live in ways that prove their faith, and show the world without all the preaching, that it’s real.  I think many professing Christ-followers would do well to read it through, because there are even two chapters about how we Christ followers should get along with each other!

I LOVE that he acknowledges that even after we become Christ-followers, we still are human and need to remember we have to work to get along with each other.  There are still problems and conflicts.  But it’s not completely hopeless.

The gift I’m sharing is a gift lots of people  have heard about already, and you can say what you want about proverbial underwear.  You can say you’ve got your own already, and you can believe you’ll be fine in eternity.  I have to ask you to give some thought to the origins of that belief.  Were you taught it by a parent, a teacher?  Did you think it up for yourself?  Are you trusting that someone else was right?  Are you trusting that you are right?  Are you sure about all that?  Have you ever READ the book of Romans?  If you aren’t sure, the box of Romans, in lovely gift wrap, has those eternal underwear inside waiting for you.

It’s the Little Things

Yeah, I’ve got things to be thankful for even as I had to prepare to work today.  Yippee.  The Friday after Thanksgiving, I should be sleeping off Triptophan and whiskey while Mrs M spends money I don’t have on things I don’t want for Christmas “because they’re on sale.”  I’ve got a garage full of things and I can’t fit my car in there, but yesterday I ran across bath toys my kids haven’t used in …10 years?  Does that make them “vintage,” so I can sell them on e-bay and make my millions?  I fear not.

The little things, I’m thankful for them and despite being depressed in general about life events and being barely afloat unless I decide to fix my teeth and set myself back a few thousand, or until one of the cars breaks again (and sets me back a few thousand more).  I say “more,” because we really got drive-shafted last time I tried to keep my old car running relatively safely.  It was a “classic,” a vintage model POS.  You know the type, they cost a ton and the check engine light pops on right after you get it home from the mechanic, or “the razzafrazz chiklitzerings need replacing or it won’t be safe to drive.  It’s pretty urgent.  Those things could break any time, and you could be stranded on the side of the road, and you don’t want that.”  Or the tires spin on 1/16″ of water so God forbid it should snow.  The car shop “fixed” the car once, and it broke down almost immediately and we paid them to “fix” it again, whereupon it broke down a third time, and we declined their services and traded for another used POS.  And we get what you get when you trade one POS for another:  another person’s problems became our problems.  I’m currently driving a newer model POS, so I’m thankful for it, despite the need for two new tires, and the damned check engine light being on, and the back doors randomly locking, and the window motor being broken so unless I keep vigilantly pulling the damned window up MANUALLY it leaks.  I put one palm on the outside, the other palm on the inside, and give the thing an upward jerk (fml, I’m an upward jerk!).  Anyway, the car before the other old car was a REAL POS, and we wasted going into serious debt before realizing the auto repair people were racketeers and we were never going to get the thing working well enough, so we cut our losses a few thousand too late.

We try to be trusting.  But we learned, I hope.  It’s just, we’re STILL trying to dig our way out, and actual cost of living has nothing to do with income, and merit raises have nothing to do with actual merit at my company.  There’s a list of repairs on the cars to be made, my wife drives a POS brand Minivan that has rusted to the point a jack won’t raise it from the side to change a tire.  It broke through the rust last time I tried, in a few places.  It’s possible a board on top of the jack would distribute the weight better among the rusted spots, but I’m not holding my breath.  If she gets a flat out on the road, I fear we’re screwed and it has to be towed somewhere.  Plus, the jack is too tall to accommodate a board and still fit under when the tire is flat and the car is lower.  Yay, car fun.

If I weren’t so blessed I wouldn’t have these first world problems to deal with.  God provides a minimum.  We can afford a little less than the rest of what I believe we need, which I chafe at thinking that I don’t need what I think I need.  There was a generous shot of whiskey, sufficient to make yesterday’s celebration that much more festive for me, and I am grateful.  The good people at a local church have provided us with some food, I am grateful.  Insurance has been granted for another year for our daughter, so I am grateful, as she uses a number of medications and is hopefully learning from a counselor that provides.  Our cars are running, in the style of Penny’s from Big Bang Theory, that is to say, with the check engine lights on.  And we were provided a car for our daughter somewhat miraculously, when it was time for that.  So I am grateful.

But what I want, and what I think I need, is to be enabled to move on to something greater.  (See also John 14:12, from a guy who’s not very good at John 14:15)

I hear some people say there’s a “calling” for their lives.  Am I missing it, or am I here?  And if I’m here, what am I supposed to do?  Maybe I’m here to encourage.  And I’m grateful for people online who care, we are a great community.  I try to be encouraging.  Even when I am feeling none of it.  I spend time when you come to mind, praying for you individually and as a group.  I know Christ-followers say they do, and I’ve been guilty of saying and not doing, but I really do pray for our circle.

I know, even when we have to grin and bear it, or cry and hate it, or vent because no one else will listen, I can.  And I know, even when my heart wants to deny the realities and benefits of my faith, at my core I do believe in a God Who cares.  Life is more than food and clothing (and cars and other shit that falls apart Matthew 6:19, 31-34).  There’s a spiritual component, an eternal component, and we need to be aware of this and handle that business too.

I’m encouraged and grateful for the confidence I have in eternal and spiritual things that goes deeper than I can believe.  Even if the world is completely wrong (and it often is) God still cares and helps me through the lost feelings I often have because the world is completely wrong. (To minimize the reading requirement above, verses 18-24 are really enough to understand, confusing as they can be when life is upside down or sideways.)

I know verses 16 to 18 are there, and I could let that upset me.  Oh, sure, sometimes I let it, but I know I shouldn’t.  It could be a communication issue, because my Christ-following “brothers and sisters” don’t seem to understand well enough (or perhaps are less innocent than just not understanding, but who am I to accuse?) to help.  They don’t know what I really need, because I don’t know what I really need.  And when I have tried to communicate it, I’ve had empty promises or confusion or less than I thought I needed.  I’m grateful for the help I received at that particularly low period in my life.  I have one friend at church who seemed to understand, when I hit that very humiliating and crushing low and reached out.  Actually, Mrs M reached out, because I didn’t think I should, I thought that God should answer my cry for help.  But after that, when another low came, I found out I have a group of “friends” who are in authority who told me they already helped us once, and I should “just” get a better job to cure my esteem problem and my depression problem and my poverty problem all in one fell swoop.  Which would be great, but the “funny” (not very funny) part is, I gave the friend (a deacon) who seemed to understand a resume, WITH my educational credentials and history of volunteer service, but I’m not considered a good candidate when a (paid) pastoral staff position opens.  So, is that really a “friend,” or just a good actor?

And I also know verse 22 is there, and I could let that upset me because I don’t have “whatever I ask,” but I know I shouldn’t.  There are those annoying conditions I’m supposed to meet before we receive whatever we ask, and I know I don’t because I’m not that good at “keep[ing] His commands and do[ing] what pleases Him.”  I’m well-intentioned, but sometimes I’m better at the opposite, or at doing little to nothing, depending on my energy level.

But if I can care about people here online, and sometimes succeed at encouraging others, and sometimes succeed at actually helping others in some tiny ways, in spite of feeling like I’m basically useless, worthless, and helpless at my own life, why can’t I do that in real life, and only here online?

Welcome to The Bipolar Online Church!  I’m pastor Deon Mumple, and I’m here to care about you, and pray for you, and if I can, help you, in the name of Jesus.  Let me know.  I will absolutely do what I can, and will absolutely pray for the rest.  I’ve seen some unexpectedly oddly twisted answers in response to some prayers, and marvelled, despite the lack of very many resoundingly complete answers that I wanted toward any prayers I’ve made for myself.  And thank you for caring about me too- I’ll just presume you do if you’ve bothered to read this far in, whether you are a Christ-follower or not.  It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and I hope you have enough of the little things to be grateful for, in spite of any First (or second, or third) world problems we may face.

With those little things, I hope it was enough for you to have had a good Thanksgiving holiday celebration.  And I hope the weekend is restful enough for us to be on track for a good week to follow.

Blessings.

Deon (the not very reverend) Mumple

I Think You’re Beautiful (A song for my whole tribe)

I think you’re beautiful, you, with that soul,
Sharing life’s hardships, each taking its’ toll,
Heart marked by darkness, stirring to light,
We learn to love but sometimes love’s a fight,
Dreaming those beautiful dreams like you do,
I think you’re beautiful.  You.  Yes, YOU.

I think I love you.  No, it’s not a crush.
Sometimes we laugh, we flirt, I love your blush,
When life is challenging, encouragement
When I’m too quiet, that caring comment
We have each other, in good times and blue,
I think…no, I love you.  You.  Yes, YOU.

I think you’re beautiful, pain, scars, and all
Facing all of life’s fears, crushed, standing tall
Though others may not say, you make me proud,
So glad to call you “friend,” always, I’ve vowed.
We lift each other’s hearts, our hopes, renew,
I think you’re beautiful.  You.  Yes, YOU.

I’m Sorry for Eclipsing Truth and Love

I don’t think it’s the depression talking yet.  It could be, or it could be I had an epiphany today.  The pastor didn’t even suggest this, so if it was epiphanous, I’ll take it even though I didn’t really like it.  I thought about myself, my blog, my character, and people in my life and social (and web) circles, and about God.  I thought about who I want to be, compared to how God wants me to be, and who I currently am.  There’s a wide gap between those last two.

For that, in a way I owe everyone an apology, if they’ve read my blog, or my life, for signs of something different I should be showing.  In a way, maybe not.  In the “not” way, I’m who I am, being shaped by the wrestling match between my hopes and dreams and the life I actually have, and the continual frustration of trying to find a path to get from here to reaching those dreams.  I feel helpless and when I do try to do things toward success, so far it hasn’t worked.

But in the way I owe the apology, it’s for this:  I’m a Christ-follower, but I don’t follow very well.  Sometimes (OK, a LOT of the time) the selfishness and anger and frustration, etc., are too much and I don’t communicate very clearly.  I’m supposed to be a reflection of God.  I’m supposed to show His character- His love, His truth, His holiness (that’s a weird word, it’s attributed to God and it means His “different-ness.”)

The moon is supposed to reflect the sunlight and shine it on the earth at night.  But occasionally, the moon gets between the earth and the sun, and instead of reflecting the sun’s light, it blocks it and casts a shadow.  It’s all very science-y and math-y, but ratios of mass and distance work out so that during those events, the light is blocked, and in some places at some times, it’s completely blocked.  Where I live, there will be an eclipse today, and the moon is going to block out something like 90% of the sun’s light.

My epiphany yesterday was, maybe I’m blocking out God’s glory, His truth, His love, and the validity of His promises, because I’m not reflecting them.  I’m in the way.  So yesterday, in the middle of a sermon about something completely different

(no, the pastor did NOT teach anything from Monty Python’s Flying Circus), I wept and prayed.

You all THINK I’m a guy full of words- angry, bitter words about how people have been disappointing and how I’m trying to be supportive in spite of their lack of reciprocity.  Occasionally, I have a lot of words about how I care about people and try to support and encourage others, guide my kids and family, and train my slow-to learn, sometimes frightened, all the time stubborn, and occasionally openly angry dog (who is still a lot like his master in many ways).  I still have those hopes and dreams, despite the crushing nature of my emotional swings, and the events in my life.  I rant on about a lot of things and I use a lot of words.  But my prayer, unbelievably, all fit in two words.  I prayed for God’s forgiveness for being that very poor reflection of Jesus.  And I prayed for God to make me into a better one.

All the moon needs to do to stop blocking the sun is get out of the way.   For a Christ-follower to be a better reflection of Jesus, it takes a little more.  To reflect His character, we have to study it, a bit like a son idolizes his dad, or if his dad is like me, maybe his grandpa or one of his uncles makes a better role model.  Or, like an idiot studies a celebrity and tries to be just like that.  It takes a long time to do it right.  Those really good comedians you might watch who do the impressions spend about 5000 hours, to start, to learn and mimic the vocal, facial, and bodily mannerisms of the person they’re modeling themselves after.  But in a cosmic kind of way, I realized I’m not important, so it doesn’t matter if the reflection of God’s character comes from me, although I would like to be the person in your life who shows you that God is good, in spite of how hard life is.  So my prayer was simplified because I realized that maybe I matter, maybe I don’t, but it’s not up to me.  It’s up to God to use who He wants to use, to shine on whomever he chooses to shine.  If I’m back behind a better Christ-follower, eclipsed like the moon when the earth blocks the sun’s light, it’s fine.  I don’t want anyone to watch me as the great example of Jesus’ love, because I suck at it sometimes (OK, most of the time).

I want people to be attracted to Jesus, like they were when He was doing his life and ministry on earth.  I want people to see better examples, as clearly as possible.  I don’t want to block them, or God Himself, from shining on others. I don’t want to be the reason someone decides, “if this guy is a Christ-follower and his life still sucks, I want no part in following his God.”

I want people to consider following Jesus, enough to look in a Bible and check into it.  I want people to read about Jesus, and the Christian way, straight from their Bible, enough to actually give Jesus a shot, rather than just ignoring the possibility that Christ could offer more than what they hope for right now.  I want people to know that God IS good, and he DOES make a positive difference in a lot of ways.  The trials and natural consequences of life and scars and hardships don’t go away, but He gives a better strength to endure, a better patience, a far-better and eternal hope, and a desire to reach out and show others that He cares.  That’s why I keep trying; that’s how I’m so (so-called) “high functioning.”   I want everyone in my life to see Him, not my poor example of trying and failing I don’t want to eclipse Him.  So I prayed this:

Move me.