Thank you for taking the time to read this testimony. I hope that what I share with you here serves us both well in the endeavors of being gracefully transformed by the renewing of our minds.
First of all, I don’t want to do this! I don’t want to take an inventory of myself and then work to organize what has become my “mess of a life” into some kind of readable memo for strangers to make judgement of. However, I do have this flicker of hope that by doing so… I might provide some kind of support to someone, like me, who is suffering and needing to know they are not sitting alone in their ashes. Selfishly, perhaps I can realize some joyful therapy in it as well.
My name is Jason. I’m a fumbling follower of Jesus lacking in faith and focus at this particular point in my life. I struggle with my pride, anger, addiction, sexual integrity, and anxiety. I have other obstacles that I could express, however, let’s just start with the ones I’ve listed and see where that gets us. Ultimately, I have what I like to call the “ME DISEASE” – you know, that nasty virus of behaviors and circumstances in your life that you would like to “contact trace” to someone else but it’s actually you that’s causing all the problems?! Yeah, that’s the “ME DISEASE” I’m referring to.
In a testimony like this, I would normally start off with descriptions of my youth and stretch you to present day. Along the way, I would creatively sprinkle in the unique sufferings I’ve endured and how my faith in Jesus and a trusted network of friends have pulled me through to the other side.
Nope… Not today!
Today, I’m just going to ignite the gas and smack yawl right upside the head with the fact that I’m currently in a dark place and it’s seemingly getting darker. I’m extremely tired, grossly discontent, and I don’t want to be here any longer. Life hurts more and more each day and I continue to find myself struggling to realize only glimpses of the diminishing joy that I once had.
What the hell is happening to me!?
Why this testing – why this thorn!?
Side note, I think what makes sharing my struggle with you so extremely difficult is not the mere humility that it takes to present it, but rather the embarrassment, perhaps even shame, of telling you that I feel this way despite the undeserving and abundant grace / mercy God continues to lay at my feet. I’m so abundantly blessed! Far beyond any deserving or selfish expectations I’ve ever held. I could take up pages describing the blessings I’ve encountered and continue to encounter in my life. Amazing wife, healthy children, supportive friends, successful career… on and on I could go, listing attributes of my life that would completely contradict the state of mind and spirit that I’m in right now.
Such a paradox of sorts that I’m experiencing! But I have this hope that the rickety bridge I’m swaying on will serve to be a firm foundation for my eternal endeavors. I also hope that you too can manage to find some kind of affirmation in not feeling so isolated in the case that you’re experiencing anything similar to what’s going on in my world.
So, what is going on in my world? Why so doom and gloom? What’s going on Jay?
Ugh, I battle panic and anxiety every day. Some days are not so bad and I’m able to navigate my mind around each episode – using distraction and coping skills that I’ve learned or even made up along the way. Then, insert dramatic symphonic music, there are the days and specific experiences that my limited vocabulary will not come close to accurately capturing. Sorry, I just don’t have the ability to do it.
So…If you’re in this club, you already know what’s up and we’re going to be best friends. If you don’t have this circus of a dilemma in your life… like I mentioned, I’ve not really been able to develop a good way of accurately describing it to anyone just yet.
I can only provide some very general situations that might offer you a glimpse of the experience.
Let’s try this out to get you started! You know that feeling you get when you lean too far back in a chair- almost falling out, but you don’t? Take that very real physical feeling and then stretch that experience out over a continuous period of say 15 minutes. However, you’re doing nothing more than actually sitting safely in a chair.
No dice? Ok, try this…. I want you to imagine your scariest thing. No really, do it! What is it that buries your fear needle – what brings you to the point of sheer terror? Perhaps finding a snake coiled up under your bed sheets or being chased by clowns in a dark parking garage? Maybe it’s a fleet of busy spiders crawling on your face or standing waist deep in a pool of sharks. Possibly… the wondering while you await the call from the doctor who holds the results to tests recently taken. Maybe… I could get close if I were to ask you to pretend or even remember the time that you lost your child and couldn’t find them for ANY period of time. Does any of that grab you?
Continue to imagine with me that you’re experiencing your moment of horrific torment. Hang in there with me – I know it sucks. Now, you have to keep your composure – be cool – chill! Not because you’re on some game show where your family and friends are cheering you on as you squint your eyes, hold your breath, and grind your teeth in hopes of winning a big prize for your courageous death-defying act of heroism. Oh no…. nope, your game show is happening at work, your kids sporting event, during a flight, standing in line at the store, or simply lying in bed trying to go to sleep. The kicker though that there is no snake, no clowns, no spiders, no sharks, your child is safe, and you have to seemingly pretend as though nothing is happening in your world. And guess what? There is no prize for you!
What is that feeling when it doesn’t feel good, but it just doesn’t hurt anymore? Oh Lord! That feeling – God I cry out to you for that feeling! Where are you!? This is my “Battlefield Of The Mind” and a glimpse of the Spiritual Warfare that is my experience.
But God is good and his plans for me are also good! I’ve become acutely aware that God does not NEED me, but rather He WANTS me. And this wanting well serves my relationship with Him to be that much more intimate. God has always known me and loves me so much that He created me and continues to sustain me. God loves me so much that he selflessly gave me Jesus who goes before me, behind me, and besides me every step of the way – leaving the 99 to recklessly come find me each and every time I’ve wound up lost by leaning on my ways and my own understanding.
Now, before you start thinking that I believe God loses stuff… tap the breaks! I didn’t say that God lost me – God doesn’t lose me – I lose me! I lose who I am in Christ and who I am as Christ in me.
I know Jesus is with me in this dark place, in this valley, and His grace is sufficient for me. I know God’s Spirit lives in me and that I’m anointed – set apart for His battle. I know God is pleased with me, because I am His perfect creation. I also know He blesses me as I “suite up and boot up” in His Full Armor – running towards the battle in anticipation of being refined… being winnowed!
You know, some days the armor fits like a custom-made suit and other days I feel like I’m wearing my big brothers’ hand-me-downs… clunking around like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz needing to be oiled. But honestly, most days I simply fail to even put the armor on in its entirety. I selfishly count myself blessed to have been “given” this suffering for I believe it is what keeps me weak and my humility in check. Even this testimony is a battle for me. I fear that your perception is that I think of myself as something special and that’s it’s all about ME. It’s not about me though! It’s about Jesus and what He’s choosing to do THROUGH me.
Do you want to know what I find really awesome though? Sure, you do! You know that Bruce Willis movie “The Sixth Sense” when the kid says in a creepy whisper, “I see dead people”? Well, I don’t see dead people, but I do see people who are hurting. I was blind to people hurting before I was given this “thorn” of sorts – but oh man now I can see! I am now so much better positioned to come alongside someone from a position of pain and simply be present with them, acknowledging their suffering, their pain, their Battlefield Of The Mind… their spiritual warfare.
Thank you “Broken and Gracefully Loved” for allowing me the opportunity to share on your platform. I am excited to see where you and Jesus take this ministry. Please feel free to connect with me if you like. Jason77@att.net
Broken & Gracefully Loved invite you to check out Jason’s amazing, new podcast.