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.
Deon (the not very reverend) Mumple