It is What we Make It

Alan house

 

Absolutely hating the saying, “it is what it is”, has lead me to really digest the phrase. To me, this popular saying is wildly repetitive. I mean, come on now, of course, “it is what it is.” Let’s put a little more thought into it, why is it what it is? Stuff happens I get it, but in this life, especially as Christians, we are called to turn the “yuck” of what life throws our way into His master plan. Introspectively I contemplate that “is it really what it is?” Or is it an eternal opportunity for us to make it into something that may impact our inner ability to grow and prosper into what God has intended for us in the most magnificent way?
My tire blew out.

“It is what it is.”

I was late for work…again.

“Oh well, it is what it is.,”

My life sucks, I lost my keys…AGAIN!

“Who cares ’cause, it is what it is.”

My wife left me because I’m an addict and can’t stop feeding my want for the numbness drugs bring me.”

“It is what it is.”

I’m back at Rogers Memorial Hospital after promising I’d never have to go back to this place.”

“It is what it is.”

No!!! Stop this complacent way of justifying our situations.  It isn’t what it is, it is what we make it!!!  

Can I get an “Amen” people?

Life throws many curve balls. The best way to make God laugh is to tell Him you’ve got this great plan for your life, that you’ve got your life figured out.

Reason being: We can’t predict what is going to come our way, the struggle, the torrent, the joy, love, acceptance, rejection etc… None of it is in our hands.  All of it is far out of our reach, as far away as the stars we watch on a warm July night holding our loved ones close.

So…it is what it is…right?  Let’s take a look at the last week of my life and see.
I recently spent four days at Rogers Memorial Hospital Hospital in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.  I saw people of each gender and every race struggling with mental illness and substance abuse. Let me tell you, I saw it all, from depression, anxiety disorder, heroin, cocaine, opioid, ecstasy withdrawals, alcohol dependence, Bipolar Disorder, and Schizophrenia. I met the most extraordinary people fighting to combat the darkest and deepest places in which had created their own living hell.

On my journey, I met…
A homeless man whose love and hope resided in Jesus as he spent a long winter in Wisconsin… homeless.  Living under bridges and one meal a day at the local food bank, somehow he managed to find drugs.  He was there with me recovering from heroin use to help dispel the fact that he had been raped. I asked him once, “How did you survive being homeless in Wisconsin in winter?” His answer, “Jesus of Nazareth. I continued, “How on earth did you survive being raped.  The very worst of the worst.  I get it.?” His answer, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Through squinted eyes and messy hair, his hand covered his mouth, as in a showmanship of trying so hard to not vomit up the turmoil he had been through. My hand reached out to meet his quivering broken self. “I admire you more than you’ll ever know,” I whisper. His response…
“It is what you make it.”
A lawyer from Houston, Texas who carried with him sorrowful stunning crystal blue eyes,  going through a painful, yet, necessary divorce.  On Sunday I asked, “Being it’s Father’s Day how hard is it to be away from your newborn son?” He responded, “that is part of why I’m here. My Bipolar went completely out of control at the thought of my son growing up with me as a part time dad.” My words seemed to echo through the commons area where we spent our free time, “I can’t even imagine.” Bowing my head in introspection and sorrow for this wonderful man who had reached out for help, I smiled at him with tears in my eyes. “So, my friend what are you going to do?”
“It is what I choose to make it.”
I met an addict deep in the trenches of withdrawal symptoms displaying profuse sweating while feeling cold, body aches, tremors, and his nose bleeding out all the poison.  Come to find out he had been using heroin for ten years straight, I asked him one night, “Why now, why are you here here in this moment, after many attempts at rehab?”

After a long pause, he stuttered, “My addiction has taken over every aspect of my life. I have overdosed five times in the past week, man. I’m so lucky to be alive. My last OD was at work, my boss found me passed out in the bathroom. I’m most likely going to lose my job where I was making crazy money.” Responding with my eyes wide with the wonder of what can happen to a life I also stutter out, “Why now, what about this time after two stints in rehab is going to make you clean?” He ran his worn construction hands through his dark thick hair. “Because I can’t be buried next to my twin brother. He died when we were 16, I just can’t do that to my mom, my dad, to me.” Tears dripping down my placid face I ask him, “How? How do we do this, never turning back, giving up our crutch?
“Our sobriety is what we make it, man. We just have to Ami, you don’t want to be buried next to your babies, do you? Of course, you don’t.

Let’s chose to make it what we have the ability to make it; which is something so much…better.”

I had these amazing and deeply strong and courageous people surrounding me as I went through one of the most difficult trials in my life.  We poured into one another for hours on end. Talking, crying, withdrawing from the poison that we filled our veins with. We played silly games that the counselors made us, after rolling our eyes at the sight of “Loaded Questions”, we all laughed and felt authentic empathy for one another. Our stories were all different, our past, our pain, abandonment, abuse, and total destruction of our hearts. We were united in a common joining of pain yet hope to make it what we had chosen to make it by having the will to seek out help.
I’ll never forget the people I met the four days I was in the hospital. Never ever ever. They were one of the many reasons I had to fight because in fighting we were in the battle together. Cheering one another on toward victory over the enemy’s playground we had chosen to play on.  Death was searching for us, each and every one of us, yet by crying out for help we fought the fire of an inevitable end. We battled the turmoil inside us that we had invited into our inner will to fight. Fight. Fight. Fight.
Eventually, seeking the ability to overcome, I am currently in a four-week partial hospitalization program where I spend six hours a day with intense medical observation, coping skills, weekly drug and alcohol testing for accountability. Which is perfect, as God designed such capable people to care for the “us” who have such battles inside our minds.
It is what it is.
I have a mental illness.
It is what it is.
I struggle with alcohol abuse.
It is what it is.
I have had a really rough go of life, facing struggle after struggle since I was two years old.
Oh heck no, it isn’t what it is…it is what I make it!
And I chose to make it perfectly where He needs me to be, ministering to others.
Make it well with my soul. To follow Christ, giving Him all the pain, addiction, sickness and my past turmoil that has an imperative reason as to why I’m here, right now in this place, facing this struggle.
Ultimately, it is what I make it
I chose to make my life the stunning bright light of beautiful glory that God intended for me before I was even me. And that is the true definition of, “it is what it is.” God’s grace tells us that we are perfectly and wonderfully made, and it sure helps get us there when we make it what He desires for us to make it.

Two Seconds From Grace

Mental illness affects us all. Especially those of us who have a chance to make a difference at the moment before a fall from grace.

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Definition: Grace/  simple elegance or refinement of movement.

(In Christian belief) the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.

 

My letter to the church leaders of the world,

I know why you serve the way you do with such reckless abandon coupled with intense fervor.

It is found in the knowledge and emotion that you love God and have a passion for people that very few in this life possess, wanting to spread a rare never ending beautiful bleeding heart upon the needy and hurting people of the world. That in itself holds value; people today desperately lack yet deeply crave to be helped when they cannot help themselves.  It can be a catapult to distinguish the true servants of God and the false chasers of self-glorification.

If you expedite an intense yet sincere passion for serving the God you praise more dutiful than the god within yourself we all fight, you have won a battle most will lose. 

You can have victory over the dark one that creeps up deep inside of us all that will find you and beg to be noticed no matter how hard we try to shove down the cornerstone of true humanity.

I’ll be quick because I realize we are all in a huge hurry.

I know this to be true as I too live in the fast paced social media era of reckoning as we find ourselves completely submerged in a lack of presence with the moment we are in. In fact, research states that the dopamine released in the brain is equivalent to heroin during times distracted on social media.  Today such distractions consume us, transporting even the most faithful of leaders to a far away land providing a high that we can’t feel simply by being present in the moment.  The intoxication feeds us, propels and catapults into a greatness we cannot taste alone.  Yet our “real” friends do the same for us, the ones we see after serving a long day wanting to congratulate us on a great sermon delivered, or an amazing set of music at worship.  Connecting with those real time friends is essential to our walk of life no matter our focus, yet losing peripheral vision in the ministry can be catastrophic

Think of a stranger who may be approaching you in their darkest hour?  Will you find time for compassion, fluidity, and what we are called to administer like no other upon one another…grace?

Having lived two amazingly diverse double decades of life, I have derived more wisdom through the badges of honor and the pitfalls presented my way and I’d like to share.  For I have a powerful observation, and that is, ultimately we all crave the  innate need to be seen.

We simply need to feel loved where we are in the moment of truth that life can poignantly present.  The insides of us that we cultivate deep into the throws of our true identity need acknowledgment.  Those of us that get up early and go to bed late fighting hard to be the best we can be are known as a special breed in the eyes of our Creator, or the church, and can find a remarkable place that can meet the need of acceptance.

There is a special commodity where our gifts can be used to help others find the principle belief that Jesus will fight their battles and WIN!

In the ministry, we feel blessed if a person in the congregation waits to speak to us after God delivered hope through our words. But what if they happen to be at the end of their rope, feeling lost and hopeless, are you truly prepared for such an encounter?  Are you in tune with the holy spirit for such an acquisition but mostly are you on standby to provide the need for them to be seen?

Pay close attention…Because what if…a hypothetical story is truth week after week in a large body of christ.

They find hope and acceptance because they found power, of Jesus’ grace through your words.

They sought the promise to end earth deafening loneliness through the cry out for a better life.

Then they wander home wanting to find a more fruitful life.

And sit at their bedside-more lost than when they left your congregation hours before.

The darkness comes in a wave of unthinkable sorrow because they sought out love yet received a standoff.

Feeling loneliness and exile from you.

They recall your~

Distracted eyes on as they shook your hand.

As you looked for someone more important approaching in the distance.

Turmoil overtakes them.  The inability to be seen leaves them hopeless with a small bottle quickly emptying its numbing liquid effect and making the sorrow of life’s war more real.

Then they reach for the steel cold barrel by their bedside

Lifting it to their mouth, they see no other way out.

A thousand decibels of anguish quake the earth and the heavens leaving nothing but sorrow and exile behind.

Don’t blame them;  their face you cannot recall as they couldn’t state the obvious dread inside their heart when they shook your distracted hand.

They couldn’t voice the ache in their heart,

“I’m struggling with depression.  I am having suicidal thoughts, and I’m about two seconds from grace yet a thousand miles away because I feel alone.”  They won’t say it because they didn’t feel  important enough in your shifting eyes.  And even if they were, they didn’t see it because you were too concerned with the need to be seen yourself.

Sincerely,

A once church leader turned church goer searching love and the need to be seen…  One who has traveled many years of love, loss and service to find herself needing an eye on hers, a handshake, or an extended listening ear, yet found disengaged leaders who were waiting for the next great moment to come their way.  I’m lucky to say that I’m still here today to write about it, but so many aren’t.   Please find  Jesus’ grace deep inside the gifts you have and never deny to show it to a beating heart that desperately may need you for the very reason you serve with such reckless abandon.