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A-Monster-Lives-In-All-Of-Us

One of the hardest truths to accept is that a monster exists within me. It’s difficult because this monster hibernates most of my life. Nearly every step I take is done in my right mind during sane moments. There are moments when the monster feels as though it doesn’t even exist. As my heart is wrenched with compassion or overflowing with love it becomes incomprehensible this beast is there, slumbering.

Yet there – dormant and waiting – is darkness and violence with me, within all of us. Its my ancestral baggage hidden and pressed down into the deepest and most obtuse corners of my being. The further down it is pressed the more refined I see myself, and the more I believe I have overcome the monster within me. At any moment the tables could turn, and a situation I find myself thrust into, awakens this monster I believed never existed.

When I see this monster let loose in others upon the world I must remind myself to be careful about that which slumbers within me, and all of us. Taking a moment to know that there is good in the face of evil and that there is space to forgive those overtaken by that which slumbers. I must remember that if my monster ever awakens there are people who excel at coaxing monsters back into hibernation, and in seeking help there is no shame.

The only shame is to lose ones self to hate, and that shame all too often turns to tragedy.

Photo Credit: FailedImitator

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My Dad: My Eulogy

Update: Here is the audio of my eulogy

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I have a lot of great memories with my dad. Great trips all over the world, more good meals then I can remember, and at the end of the day a man who was there for me. When my brothers and I were little kids he was teaching us how to swim on Saturday mornings – also known as mom’s time off.

As we got older it was bike trips all over the Midwest with my brothers. As we continued to get older we got introduced to the game of Golf. It took years but I still remember the first time I ever beat my dad, and while the details are fuzzy now I know that there was a great excuse as to how that was possible.

We also took several Spring Break ski trips out west with my cousins. They were weeks with five boys and my dad for skiing and shenanigans. There was one time when the five of us boys were exiting the plane a woman stopped my dad and asked if all five of us came from one woman. He turned around to her, smiled, and told here it was two women. He just left it at that, being in Utah and all.

Another night after dinner at a local Park City BBQ joint my older brother Ryan did what older brothers do best, and started punching me in the street – completely unprovoked I promise – and I called out to my dad for helping saying, “He’s beating me in the street”.  My dad responded to this situation by telling me I was grounded.

It took over a decade for my dad to later admit that this was in his top 5 parenting mistakes. But it was OK because it made for a great story. Just like the time when I was 15 and I drove the golf cart we were sharing into a pond. My dad was an extremely gracious man.

This is really where I wanted to get to, my dads graciousness. Most of you would have no reason to know that I struggled with depression and suicide. Along with this I struggled to understand the decisions my parents made that caused my dad to travel as much as he did when I was growing up. At the time I could not really understand it – so I placed a lot of blame on my dad. For a few years I couldn’t even call him dad because it was to hard for me, so he became Mike to me.

As I grew in my faith with Christ there became a day when I knew that I needed to forgive my dad for what I hurt I believed he had caused me, and to take steps to reconcile my relationship with him. This was in 2005. To my great pleasure the man who I had avoided and the relationship I had abandoned was there waiting for me. In the same way the prodigal son returned to his dad, I returned to mine. Granted I knew just how to get on his schedule, ask to meet him on the golf course. Ever since that summer our relationship has grown deeper, and for me it was a second chance I knew I didn’t deserve.

Many people wonder what faith is, people study and search their whole lives for it. They want it to be mystical, incomprehensible, unobtainable, and beyond the grasp of all but a few. As a seminary student I can attest to the number of books written on the subject. Yet in Mikes gracefulness, in my dads gracefulness he made real one of the key characteristics of God Himself. My dad was a man with a deep, yet reserved and quiet, faith. It was this faith that made him the man we all loved.

In the time since that summer my life has change quite a bit. I fell in love with the love of my life – Jordan, and got to witness the excitement that adding her to our family brought him. My dad has been a long time advocate of my different business ventures, and was a mentor and supporter of mine as we launched our software development company – Fresh Vine. And most of all, seeing him gain a passion for the French people to come to know and love Jesus – whom Jordan and I feel called to live with and minister too – gives me a joy that I cannot begin to describe.

There are many things that my dad will miss out on – us buying our first place, the birth of our children, spoiling those children and ruining many dinners with candy, seeing us move to Paris, start our life there, and starting the first of many churches there. Yet for me, I got a second chance with my dad that exceeded my every hope and prayer. A second chance that was far better than the first chances most people have with their fathers.

And now, for my dad, his faith is now his reality. And someday when we are all raised from the dead, I know he’ll want to play a round of golf and grab a beer. I only hope that he doesn’t get too much practice in before we meet again. I really liked beating him.

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Lost so soon…

I’m sorry this hurts, that sometimes it feels as though it hurts to much to even cry. To imagine a pain that feels so indescribable it is nearly unbearable is beyond me. Loosing someone you have so much love for, so much heart for, so many memories with, someone who was your best friend. I’m envious that you were able to have a best friend, that you had someone to share life with so richly. Yet I fail to be able to understand the hurt because it’s more then I’ve ever tried to comprehend.

For the phone call you forgot to make I’m pained, for when you told me of the news you heard i wept. I see so much of who I was in him now, I had no idea what I was doing when I wanted to end my life. Please trust me when I say that it’s nothing you did or could have done, that he didn’t even know who was there and that love seemed fictitious and emptiness real. Know that nothing in this world that can fill that emptiness that burned at his heart and pulled the trigger.

That emptiness is forever burned in my mind, as the opposite of the fullness of Christ who is now in my life. No love could fill that void, only mask over it until I would fall back in. Believe me, I tried to mask it over and to cover it’s expanse with success and any love I could find. The emptiness would only increase until it all fell in leaving me lower than before. Desiring death over life and leaving a void that only God could fill. If I could let him in.

I sat in awe of your compassion for him as you wept, jealous of your emotions next to my compliancy, and desiring to want those around me in heaven as much as you wanted him to be there now (knowing he wasn’t). It’s hard to find the lining in this, to even grasp a hint as to why God wrote this as his life story, to die so young, and to hurt so much. Now let God be your strength, let Him feel and hear of your pain, pour out your anger onto your Father, and do all this so that you may feel His love even more. Oh my sister, let Christ be your strength and your comfort in this time of pain, disbelief, hurt, and confusion. Let Christ be your strength by being nothing before Him, pour your self out to him.

It is the times when we feel the most pain that God desires us the most if we would only hear his voice whispering to us between the tears. Whispers telling us it will be alright, that his divine love will fill the void and emptiness in our lives if we would only spend more time with Him. Sister you are in my prayers, my heart is burdened for you, Oh how God desires to be the center of your life. Praise the Lord for the commitment you’ve made to put him back upon your throne and to live your life for Him. Sleep well and know that he’ll never give you more then you can handle and that you’re never alone.

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” -Deuteronomy 31:8

May you all seek Gods face,
~paul

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Letter from June 2001

Self Portrait from Summer 2002

Well this is a letter that I hope people find. In no way does it have anything to deal with suicide or any of that…

I am Depressed. I would have written a bigger ‘d’ but I know people that have been lower and I myself have been as well. It just boggles my mind how people don’t want to see what is so obvious. They just always try to blame it off on something else like the computer or skiing. How it makes me a less social person or how the people I’m around are a negative influence on my life. It is mostly my parents. Why can’t they see that they are my biggest problem. I pick up on so much. Hear them talk. It is destroying me. Why can’t they show their love for each other. I’m always hearing my mom’s rant on things she dislikes about dad. How he never fixes anything, doesn’t notice his own health, forgets little things that he should do, how he never calls her to let her know when he’ll be home. But my dad is also giving off signs. The silent moments at the dinner table, inactivity at home, not willing to help around the house.

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