Easter is more to me than one church service and one fancy meal out. The story of the resurrection of Christ Jesus is so remarkable. One must believe in miracles to believe this story. I am 35 years of age and I have yet to see anybody rise from the dead! Although a world without miracles is too dark for me.
Jesus taught that he was the light of the world and that whoever would follow him would no longer walk in darkness but would have the light of life. I’ve suffered with darkness throughout my life story. I’ve experienced depression, despair and melancholy. Manic depression undiagnosed as a boy was the greatest beast I have ever had to battle. The darkness of sin and mental illness caused me to go on a quest in search of light. This quest began at age 17. I’ve been following Jesus since this age. The light of Christ is the reason I am the man that I am.
I hope and pray that you enjoy a celebration tomorrow on Easter Sunday if you have experienced this light I’ve discussed. I hope and pray that you enjoy a celebration tomorrow on Easter Sunday if you have not experienced the light that I’ve talked about. And I pray that the light has found you or will in the future find you well while giving you someone to rejoice in and something to smile about.
Christ is risen!
Last Friday, on the twelfth of April, I arrived at the age of 35. I believe birthdays are special and to be celebrated with gusto! The incredible people in my life seem to agree with me because many made a big deal out of my birthday. So here is the story of some of the happenings on last Friday and Saturday.
For starters on Friday I took the day off of work to make for a three day birthday weekend. Mom and Dad and I had lunch at The Tasting Room at Walker’s Bluff with a couple of bottles of wine. After returning home from a delicious lunch consisting of pizza and tacos and wine I was in need of slumber. I took the birthday nap because I had to rest for the evening festivities. It was a good nap.
After waking the next plan was to meet my friends at Keepers Quarters, a fantastic restaurant in Carbondale, at 6:00. We had a party of 11! I feel like at age 35 when a man can still find 10 friends who want to celebrate his birthday with him this is a great thing. The company and the food and the drinks and the laughs at Keepers Quarters was all excellent fun. There was even a short after party of drinks at The Undergound restaurant down the road from Keepers Quarters. I am all about a great after party!
On Saturday I celebrated with my parents and brother in St. Louis. We went to a mall we have long enjoyed that has a movie theater that shows independent style movies. The movie I saw with Mom is titled The Chaperone. I award it five stars! My dad and brother went to see a film titled Diane. While at the mall I treated myself to a new green shirt from the Untuckit store. It’s a polo and I find it to be quite cool. Then we all went to dinner at a restaurant called 58 Hundred. We had been there back in November for my brother’s birthday. It didn’t disappoint us that time and this time was the same sort of story.
Facebook recorded that 150 people wished me a happy birthday this year. Although I know that between text messages and verbal happy birthday wishes the number was well over 200! So thanks to everyone for all of the joy shared with me last weekend!
Live your life with gusto!
It often seems that people are experts on solving the problems of others. Yet when we try to solve our own problems we struggle as amateurs. How well do we really comprehend the problems of our fellow man? Perhaps we are not really experts on others flaws or shortcomings; we only perceive ourselves to be so.
I aspire to be an expert on knowing myself. I’ve worked on and am continuing to work on all of the problems I’ve had throughout my lifetime. Some sins and shortcomings die slower than others and some don’t die at all. Concerning the problems of others all I want to be is an amateur. It isn’t my job to judge anyone. Christ knows I’ve judged myself harshly in the past. Humanity in general looks so beautiful when we pass out love rather than judgment. I’ve no time to judge my neighbor ’cause I’m too occupied with getting my own act down right.
I hope you experience more love than judgment in your life. This I also hope for myself. Treating others the way we would like to be treated will always be the gold standard of human behavior.
A journey down memory lane can be a peaceful drive in the countryside on a pleasant summer’s day. I live in the present, but I recollect the quality stuff from my past often. I have movie stubs that date back to 1998 when I was a boy of fourteen. Then there’s stamp book collections from 1984 (my mother bought these for me) through 1991. Of course there’s also photographs from the last thirty-five years. In addition I have also collected friends throughout my lifetime that I’ve worked hard to hold on to. Yes, I enjoy driving in the present and I take joy in the long drive home of reminiscing about the past.
Life is what we have the courage or cowardice to make of it. Optimism or pessimism. Love or hate. Kindness or meanness. Hope or despair. Beauty or ugliness. Overcoming or giving up. As I wrote in a recent short story, “It’s not the size of the mutt in the battle; it’s the size of the battle in the mutt.” I believe in fighting what the Christian scriptures would refer to as “The good fight.”
A journey down memory lane can be a terrifying and miserable experience. Some folks say they have no regrets. I am not one of these people. The best I can do is learn from past mistakes and attempt to be a better version of myself tomorrow.
I hope and I pray for you and I that we choose the peaceful drive in the countryside on a pleasant summer’s day. Reminisce about the wonderful times and stay tuned into life for the coming attractions. Once the joy of our moments are over all we have left is the movie stubs or the stamp collections or the photographs. Cherish these things while fighting like heaven to hold on to anyone and everyone that has ever called you their friend.
Love is the strongest force I’ve ever encountered. I’ve been studying the Holy Bible for over seventeen years. There’s a lot of passages about love in those 66 books and 2,000 pages. It is the love of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost that has carried me this far and made my life beautiful.
Fear is a strong force. Sin also has great strength. Hatred has its powers too. The person I have hated the most and loved the most in my lifetime is the same person. Christ Jesus was and is and will always be His name.
I used to hear the Christian idea of love isn’t based on emotion. This idea used to be foolishness to my ears. When I was playing the part of the fool I had no time or interest in true love. When I grew in wisdom and love and faith it dawned upon me that true love truly isn’t based on my emotions. Rather it’s an act of my will and desire to love my neighbor as myself while also loving my God with all I’ve got in me.
The love of God saved me as a boy, turned me into a man, and has kept me on a path more beautiful than any road I could’ve imagined without faith. Love drove hate out from my soul like only true love can. If you have this strong force of love in your heart then let it shine now and always for the benefit of others and yourself.
When love grows many other of life’s problems shrink. Loneliness sulks away. Hatred gives up its ghost. Anger throws in the towel at the fight. Greed transforms to generosity. Frowning faces have something to smile about. Suicidal thoughts die and are not resurrected. Eternal life is on the way and is the way.
Practice love and stay strong!
A good friend of mine was once telling me about a professional athlete who’d recently been open about having bipolar disorder. My friend asked me, “Do you think it’s hard to be in professional sports and have mental illness?” I replied, “It’s hard to just be a human being and have mental illness.” I’ve known I had bipolar since I was the young age of 19. Although I’ve had bipolar since April 12, 1984, my birthday.
I refuse to sing the blues over bipolar. And I hope you refuse to sing sad songs without hope about whatever ails you as well. Yes, it is hard to be a human being with mental illness. But it’s difficult for all of us to be good humans, full of humanity and love, to ourselves and to our fellow mankind.
What doesn’t destroy us makes us weaker. What makes us weaker causes us to look for outside strength. Whenever outside strength is truly sought it is then truly found. Christ saved and preserves my life. I’ve failed many times in my walk of Christian faith. Failure is a part of practicing Christianity. Grace gets me through, got me through, and will continue to carry me home.
Some Christians believe that mental illness is a thing to cast out or lay on hands over. I’m all for prayer for strength and perseverance with manic-depression. I am absolutely not for anyone laying their hands on me to cast anything out. I have nothing to be cast out. I have medicine, faith, hope, love and joy to the fullest. My Abilify and Lamotrigine I take daily like I say prayers daily.
Whatever ails you, whatever mountain you have to climb, I am cheering for you. The mountaintop is attainable! Don’t give up or lose heart. If I as a man with bipolar can have unshakeable joy then you can face your giants too. Life isn’t supposed to be lived melancholy or with sadness.
Singleness can be a great blessing. In American culture we get it wrong a lot with dating and relationships. I’ve no doubt similar stories are abundant in other cultures as well. I enjoy my life to the fullest and I am a single thirty-four (almost thirty-five) year old. Many seem to believe that if they could only find that perfect someone then they would be complete and their life would be so much richer. Well, my life is already rich. And there are no perfect someones.
If I ever do meet the right lady I know a few things we would have to have in common. Happiness, Christian faith and her being her own unique soul would be necessary. I am convinced that I cannot complete a woman and a woman cannot complete me. If I’m not complete on my own before entering into a relationship then I will weigh her down with my selfishness and vice versa. Sometimes it seems that folks believe marriage will make life easier. I think in a lot of ways it would complicate life. But this needn’t be a bad thing.
A joyful attitude is highly attractive. It can win one a lot of friends. Perhaps friendships at times are underrated and romantic relationships at times are overrated. If I ever fall in love I’d say it’ll begin with a quality friendship.
If you’re single then be content. If you’re married then be good to your spouse. If you’re dating then be worthy of those dates. Wherever you are at in life tell yourself you’re of great value. The science book of selling yourself short is a book not worth checking out of the library of life. Life moves magnificently fast and is a miraculous ride.
Enjoy the ride with a ticket for one or tickets for two.