All My Empty Spaces: Faith

I have a messy mind and my writing is a process of cleaning up the mess.
-Judy Blume

I know I have used that quote before but I love it. And, it truly describes my own mind and process. Actually thinking of putting it in everything I write.

When I was twelve or possibly thirteen, I asked God to prove he was real. I wanted to know if God actually existed. And if he did, I had  a whole lot of questions and gripes, or as my twelve-year-old self would describe it, a buttload of questions.

Yeah, I know everyone questions the existence of God and we all have our own idea of what the answer is. For me, the answer was simply, yes. Yes, God does exist. And that night under a flickering streetlight across from my house, that hot summer night in Texas, God responded to my plea for attention and my need to verify his existence. Right when I cried out was when that streetlight flickered, went out, and came back on constant.

That moment in my early adolescence was also the first time I believe I suffered a significant depressive episode. I certainly didn’t know it at the time.  In fact, I didn’t have a true understanding and awareness of my lifelong pattern of depression, tracing back to that time, until I was 46 and suffering what was by far the darkest and most destructive depression of my life. God answered me and revealed his presence when I was young, and he saved me again in 2017. In fact, I now have an awareness and understanding of my wiring because God cleared the fog and revealed not only the lifelong destructive patterns but also his presence, His grace through every moment of it.

I have depression. I have been challenged with disease and physical pain. I have been close enough to death through my own despair, to have accepted it. I have cried as I knew I was seconds away from death only to find a moment, a flash of joy that turned into an avalanche of love washing over me. In that instant, I could see joy in the pain, because one cannot exist without the other.

For me, streetlights represent hope. A metaphor. And occasionally when one flickers as I go by, its God reminding me He is with me, always. So, when I began to recover from my worst depressive period in late 2017, I also found this new purpose in life. I found a different path. I was driving Uber and Lyft full time then. My driving and interactions with so many people became a conduit for my writing and for me to find ways to reach out to people in need of a safe space. I became someone to actually see them behind their mask to let them know that while depression is a lonely battle, they are not alone. Someone else has seen and felt the way they do and can give them validation, courage, and hope.

This adventure of mine became a way to renew my faith in God and people daily. I still had plenty of my own battles to fight but that faith in people kept me fighting. Becoming fully aware of my disease and learning how to control it didn’t just make it go away. I still and forever will, battle depression. But now I have power over it. Now I can help others do the same.

One of my empty spaces is where my faith used to be, or at least how I defined my faith. The last few years, even after this incredible journey of grace, I found myself questioning my faith. I have finally realized, I wasn’t questioning my faith in God, I just stopped talking to God. Instead, my faith in people is really what has taken a big hit. Humans, what a bunch of fucking idiots. I wonder how we got this far. Will we find redemption? Can we stop putting it off until tomorrow? Driving used to restore my faith in humanity. All it usually took was just one rider who I could connect with to get the lights back on.

My Driving experience came to an end on March 18, 2020. Covid dominated everything we did. I am someone who has chronic health issues meaning I was a high risk individual. I simply risked dying if I continued to drive at that time. Coincidentally, that is when my faith began to crumbIe.

I have spent years trying to cultivate a life of kindness and service. There has always been this inner conflict, this battle in my soul to live a life of love and kindness while constantly mitigating anger and frustration with hateful stupid people. That’s kinda hilarious, don’t you think? It’s like I want to beat someone for being a bully while screaming “be kind” in their face. That isn’t what I was going for when I chose to focus on kindness in my life. Nevertheless, I have finally come to terms with who I am in this regard.

I believe in love and kindness as the way we should all treat each other. I also believe sometimes, in order to bring love to one, you must fight another. I am not a cynic. I am a realist. It is hard to imagine a kind and joyful life when there are monsters roaming the land. So, be kind. Be love. And when absolutely necessary, be a tough ruthless motherfucker.  I don’t think that’s hypocritical. 

I prefer to think of it as kindness Kung Fu.

Letting my anger out used to be a practice in failure. Now I realize I can be kind, find joy, and be seriously combative at the same time (when the situation calls for it). My faith in God is as strong as it has ever been. My faith in people is what has caused one of the empty spaces in me. It has created this void. When I try to fill it with joy, it’s like water pouring into and through a colander. It never holds the joy. It never restores my faith, in people. It just flows through the empty space.

I am not ok. Filled with anxiety, depression, self-pity and self-loathing. I am angry and disappointed. I am tired. I have spent the last 3 years fighting one health issue after another. Staph infections, heart attack, surgery, and 6 hospitalizations in 2019 alone. Here is the real kicker, in the middle of Covid, I became ill with West Nile Virus. that was another 9 days in the hospital. West Nile has left mr with a few lingering symptoms including enormous chronic fatigue and chronic stomach issues. But I have continued to find a way to live and be of service in this life. I realized I cannot remain silent, even if I am not feeling the warm and fuzzies.

So, here we are. How is your faith these days? Are you like me, struggling to hold that faith in other people? I have spent way too much time thinking about this stuff, which is why I finally decided to start writing about it. I need to find a way to start filling those empty spaces with the right ingredients again. Will you help me? Here are some of my rants and ramblings as I work to restore my faith.

Do things happen for a reason? I don’t mean like the reason the chicken got ran over by a car. I mean fate. Do you believe in God? If so, is everything part of his plan? Did God know I would be here hammering these words out with thumbs rata tat tapping on the tiny keboard of my trusty Samsung Galaxy on a late Saturday night? (I finished this post on the laptop in case you were wondering.)

Has God commanded everything? each breath we take? If so, then…. Perhaps we need not bother to take out the trash. It was God’s plan for me to sit my ass down on the couch and watch Criminal Minds instead.

Active or passive? Do prayers work? Do more prayers garner more support from the almighty? Better yet, maybe there is a reward system.  Like those little tkckets that pour out of the skeeball machine at Chuck’s house when you score the middle hole, you can rack up prayer points. Careful though. If you don’t have enough proper prayers when you try to cash in, you get the Godly intervention equivalent of one glow stick, a plastic spider, and a couple of tootsie rolls. If you want God to let you have the lava lamp answer to prayer, you are gonna need A TON of prayer power.

A good example of a beneficiary — George Bailey.  He got over $10 grand, and his own personal angel for the night.

So yeah, prayers do work. And as far as my faith in people? That is a work in progress. But I am trying.

Next up. I need to find some hope to fill another empty space. In the mean time…

Try not to be imprisoned by the way it could have been.

I hope you are feelin’ alright. I’m not feelin’ too good myself. But I am getting there.

Be love. Be kind. We are all connected. Life is better with a soundtrack.

Feelin’ Alright”

Seems I’ve got to have a change of scene
Every night I have the strangest dreams
Imprisoned by the way it could have been
Left here on my own or so it seems
I’ve got to leave before I start to scream
For someone’s locked the door and took the key

Feeling alright
I’m not feeling too good myself
Feeling alright
I’m not feeling that good myself

Boy you sure took me for one big ride
And even now I sit and I wonder why
That when I think of you
I stop myself from crying
I just can’t waste my time
I must keep trying
I’ve got to stop believing in all your lies
‘Cause there’s too much to do before I die

Feeling alright
I’m not feeling too good myself
Feeling alright
I’m not feeling that good myself

Don’t you get too lost in all I say
But at the time you know, I really felt that way
But that was then and now you know it’s today
I can’t get set so I guess I’m here to stay
Till someone comes along and takes my place
With a different name oh and a different face

Feeling alright
I’m not feeling that good myself
Feeling alright
I’m not feeling that good myself

#kindness #purposefulkindness #drivingawaydepression #WhatAWonderfulWorld #hope #peace #joy #love #streetlights #grace #TheKindnessClub #lifeisbetterwithasoundtrack #weareallconnected #findingjoy 

2 thoughts on “All My Empty Spaces: Faith”

  1. Another platinum hit, Chris! This effort is on par with John Pavlovitz, Brene Brown, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Jenn Hatmaker, Ann Lamott, et al. Yet you bring to the table two additional assets:

    1) You speak, from experience, to those who Jesus would call, “the least of these”.
    2) You include a soundtrack.

    I can truly say that I am a living beneficiary of your service to others. Your work and words matter. Keep on!

    Now let’s go find some BBQ!

    Liked by 1 person

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