Preventable Tragedy.

Since the unexpected and shocking death of Anthony Bourdain, I’ve begun seeing articles about depression and suicide. Among these articles, the phrase “preventable tragedy” has been coming up on more than one occasion, and I’ve begun giving it some thought. The following is just a reflection on how I’ve engaged with depression and a period of going through suicidal thoughts earlier on in life—I recommend speaking with a friend, a pastor, or a medical professional if you’re finding yourself in this season currently; there is no shame in needing help because there is richness in seeking it out, and it can become a deeply meaningful experience for the one who is able to care for and sit with you through it.

After passing through a period of depression in high school, I heard something during college about how people who go through depression never really leave it behind (though they do get to a place where it is completely under control apart from moments here and there). I think this has been true of my own experience; many times, I blog to manage the oncoming waves of depression, but other than that, I rarely notice it. However, it is exactly these waves that betray the nature of depression’s influence on a person’s life. As far as it’s a “preventable tragedy,” I think it takes a strong community and faith, hope, and love to truly prevent victims from taking their own lives. But many times, the suicides we see in our communities are “surprising” or “unexpected,” and the victim is described as “cheerful,” “friendly,” and “caring.” In my experience, when the wave of depression hits, it begins a process of going down a dark and lonely rabbit trail. No matter how objectively well things are going, it is as if I am being led down a path of my own failures, shortcomings, and weaknesses, and instead of rejecting these images of myself, I become more and more enamored of them. I desire to see myself as coming up short. I want to explore why I am the worst. I can’t help but agree that I am worthless. I begin to shut myself up at home, I talk myself out of relying on friendships because 1) they never reach out to me (which is likely false), 2) I don’t want to burden them, 3) if they can’t even notice, then they probably aren’t going to care much if I do open up to them. The terrifying thing is that these thoughts can be compacted within a short span of fifteen minutes (or even less). Within fifteen minutes, a lifetime of relationship, friendship, and trust can evaporate. There is no way to prevent this kind of thing, and depression sequesters its victims as a quiet assassin. It crushes any hope of rescue, convinces me that resistance is futile, and controls my perspective. Someone with depression might be doing well for a season, but depression, like the wave you never quite anticipate at the beach, could wipe him out in an instant.

This is not to say that there isn’t hope for all my friends out there who are in the long, trench warfare with depression—I stand with you and will always be willing to pray for you. However, the only thing that I can confidently say has helped manage my depression (to the point where I have a healthy enough relationship with it) is slow, consistent, and meaningful relationship with God and with those around me. God has provided me the works of journaling and writing to turn depression into an advantage; the poems and blog posts that have healed me the most are the ones written in pursuit of exorcising depression from my life, deepening my appreciation for how God works even in the small, dark details of my life. With regards to my friends, I have a handful who are my safeguard and my resistance to the three thoughts that depression plants in me, and I show them off proudly as proof to depression that it’s not true—people do care, and I just need to be brave enough to admit that I need help. But above all, it’s life with God that grounds victory against depression, and I think this poem by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin is perfect:

Patient Trust

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.

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Processing.

[Disclaimer: I’m just writing to write at this point; ‘*’ denotes when I can’t quite keep track of chronological events I’m writing about.]

This morning, my grandmother passed away.

*

Since she was in the hospital (and eventually the nursing home), it’s been pretty hard to keep track of time. I posted earlier about how I felt guided by duty, and that has taken shape during this season through me constantly wondering about my next task. As a result, my ability to differentiate days has gone down the drain as my mind is filled with thoughts about how my dad is actually doing, how I can better support my mom, and when I should disobey my dad’s instructions to not visit my grandma because he didn’t want me to be distracted from my schoolwork.

As soon as I finished my New Testament exam, I went into duty-fulfillment mode, making sure any idle time I had was spent at the nursing home so that my parents could take a break. At first, I’d bring a book (The Faith of Christopher Hitchens) with me to read, but a few days after I began visiting my grandma during my available hours, her condition seemed to worsen. She would moan in pain and she would look at me with eyes that no longer recognized me—adjusting her head and putting the travel pillow under her neck for support felt almost like an intrusion of space. So, the hours would pass, and I would be caught in an internal struggle: do I keep attending to her every time she groans, or do I learn to just be there and sit through it all? I was never able to quite come up with a system, and I’d find myself holding her hand at times and needing to leave her room at others just to find silence.

*

My mom said that the previous day, she sang a hymn while sitting at my grandma’s bedside, and miraculously, she sang along. Despite not recognizing any of us anymore, she still knew the hymns she sang in church. “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes” (Deuteronomy 11:18 ESV). The day after she told me that, I visited her and she was moaning consistently. The patient next to her said, “I think she’s in pain; she’s been moaning all morning.” I think about the plaque that read “Rapid Recovery” in sans serif, all-caps, and it seemed like a cruel joke. I kept talking to her, asking her if anything hurt, but I never got anything coherent from her. As a last ditch effort, I opened Spotify on my cell phone, searched “hymns,” and began playing them. Immediately, she settled down. She began to nod slowly and nearly imperceptibly, given her weak physical condition. When “Rock of Ages” began to play, she even tried to sing along—I remembered how much she loved to sing, and I saw how she no longer could. It broke my heart, and singing along with her, even for her, I wept.

*

I could feel the toll the stress was taking on my physical health. Bowel movements were irregular and often frustrating. How were Mom and Dad doing all this? I needed to do more for them. I wanted the process to be as easy as it could be for them. My mom would talk about how she was sorry that when her time comes, it’ll be just as difficult for me because I have no siblings to rely on. Still, I made plans with friends knowing that anything could happen with my grandma at any time. I had to cancel a few plans because I decided the dutiful thing to do would be to go to the nursing home. My parents never forced me to go, but I felt compelled to go; sometimes, I would be compelled against my will. There were moments when I wanted nothing more than to be with my friends and leave the world of suffering behind. I couldn’t bear the load like I thought I could. I would hear her moans in the silence of my home. I began wondering how I could even begin to share about this with the new church community I’ve begun trying to be a part of. Who would want to hear such a depressing story when benignly asking about how my week was? I felt isolated in my experience, knowing that I would just be a conversational dark hole and ruin the mood for whoever was unlucky enough to ask how I was doing. It felt like no one ever asked. It felt like I was selfish for wanting them to.

*

I woke up this morning to vibration that shouldn’t have been what I woke up to. “Dad.” I pressed the green talk button and got the news. I got up, took my retainers out, washed my face, put on deodorant, and told my grandpa what had happened. Mom came home right after; she had been crying. I drove us to the nursing home, and I braced for impact. When I saw my dad, I knew it was real for him. She was there, silent and still. I felt peace, and I felt relief. The guilt of that initial reaction is still weighing on me. Why didn’t I cry? Why couldn’t I? I’d like to say that it was because I sat through hours of her groans, and her quietness was bereft of pain. Maybe that’s an excuse for how callous I appear to myself. Nevertheless, she was resting with the Lord. Maybe it’s the result of having been suicidal in the past. You come to envy the people who die before you do; as a Christian, there’s a strange limbo between hoping for death and embracing the gift of life.

She had paid her dues, as they say; she lived a life full of hardship from her youth until the very end, but never once did she express a thought of injustice. She loved to sing, to paint, to measure my height against hers every time she saw me. She knew and loved the beauty that she saw in the world her Father created. To think that a life filled with that many trials could still be a life filled with love for the Lord made me realize that if there really was nothing next for her, she was to be most pitied out of all of us. She was dealt a bad hand. If there was no comfort in life with Him, there certainly wasn’t going to be any comfort here. As I write this, tears are starting to come. Have I just been suppressing my sadness about her death?

*

This morning, my grandmother died. The body that caused her all the pain in her life was left in the bed for us to look at, to remember her by, to whisper to, to stand with, to let tears fall on. But she wasn’t there anymore. We’re left here with a body to lower into the earth, but we do so knowing that she has gone to be with Him. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Halfway Done, Halfway Full.

As the youths say, it’s been a minute. With the last “Submit Assignment” button I’d ever see during the Fall 2017 semester, I continued to breathe normally. No sigh of relief, no deep inhale of accomplishment. Perhaps it was because I realized that this semester was a balance between guilt, apologies, and hard work to get my mind off of the first two.

I numbed myself quite a bit to what I was going through this semester. I tried to bury my experience of anxiety, stress, and insecurity beneath more work than I could handle. Many times, waves of guilt and fear would pass through me as I wondered about the health of my friendships, especially with those who lived farther away. Would they even notice if I couldn’t keep up with them as frequently? Would they understand? Would they care to check up on me once in a while? Oftentimes, it felt like I was forgotten. But for those of you who remembered me (you know who you are), I love you all, and I honestly couldn’t have gotten through the darker parts of this semester without you reaching out.

There were moments when I felt like my pursuits were entirely self-centered; nothing was harder to listen to than hearing my old Chinese school principal’s wife tell my mom that she had many years of hard work ahead of her because she saw that I wouldn’t be able to provide for my parents. Each dinner with my parents that I missed made me feel like I was just a tenant in the house rather than a son, and it was no fault of my parents’. They have been beyond supportive, encouraging, and understanding during this time, and if I ever make it to parenthood, I hope to be half as loving as they are.

I thought about how I ought to apologize to my professors with the work that I was turning in, unwilling to rely on excuses about having four classes (three of which were philosophy classes) but secretly hoping that they might understand my circumstance. At times, it felt like I needed more time, but at others, it felt like there wasn’t enough time in the world to help me out of my predicament. It felt like I needed to find my way to more fortitude and just stop being a baby about things; people have worked far harder than I have and have done far better despite their circumstances.

Beyond all this, this semester has made me grateful for the friends that I’ve made at Biola. Shoutouts to Heritage Cafe—there are just too many great people who have passed through those sliding glass doors. It won’t be the same without some of you, but I do hope to see you around! Come visit me at the RSA desk in the library if you can. To Pity Hugs: you’ve been a constant anchor for my mental health, indulging the moments when my sense of humor would betray the helplessness of my perceived situation. I’m excited for what y’all are going to do in the years to come. To Carl: thank you for mentoring me without even trying to; I find myself constantly thinking about how you would respond in circumstances where I’m interacting with people, and it’s a blessing just trying to see the world from your perspective. To Luke: I will never forget the legend of the Friendsgiving Turkey and the moment I received the gospel of brown butter. Really excited to see where you end up, and if all does not pan out, just wait for me a little and we’ll start that coffee&beer place. To Tim: it’s always amazing being in your classes. Thanks for being gracious and encouraging all the time and for teaching in a way that is clear and straightforward. Your passion for the truth really does come across in your teaching.

Despite feeling like I had my soul snatched by the sixty-plus pages I had to churn out, reflection has given me a chance to be grateful. God has been faithful in walking alongside me this semester, as He always is, and He’s brought me into a deeper appreciation for spending time with Him as well as being with His people. This has been the hardest semester of my life, and yet at the end of it, I feel a quiet confidence that the Lord knows what He has planned for me. Through many moments of going through the program for myself, He has been gracious to bring me to a place of mindfulness both of Him and of His will for me. As I look onwards to what He has, I just pray that He continues to keep me faithful to the path He has set me on and reveal His mercies to me day by day.

Hebrews 13:15-16 “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”

Journey to the Center of Reality, i.

Having finished up my first year of studying philosophy at Talbot, I thought it would be helpful to write out a few takeaways from the year.  It’s been a challenging academic year, to be sure, but I can confidently say that every moment has been rich with experience and learning and humbling and grace.

  1. Taking school seriously is actually kind of fun.
  2. People will talk to me differently because I’m in seminary.
  3. I’m a poor evangelist, but that is not my identity (it’s just an accidental property I have heh).  I am conscious of this and I need to bring it to God. He will be faithful in guiding me to those He wants me to reach.
  4. There is a way to disagree without offending the other party.
  5. Spiritual disciplines are legitimately helpful.
  6. Philosophy is a mind-molding kind of subject; it often does work in the background of the mind (if such there be).
  7. Church must be far and away greater than what we think it ought to be – in more ways than one.
  8. Old friendships are real anchors.
  9. New friendships are constantly surprising.
  10. Family is so often taken for granted.
  11. I’ve become really self-conscious about the content I produce and rely less and less on a blog to just introspect externally; this is not a positive trend.
  12. Calvinism is not the only theology (gasp) but it IS the best one 😉 kidding! Theological perspectives, in some respects, are held in virtue of personal experience of relationship with and to God.
  13. Being kind is not reserved just for non-Christians (as surprising as the idea of speaking with a kind Christian seems to be nowadays); we must also be kind to the brothers and sisters we meet with regularly lest we take them for granted (see 10).
  14. Pastoring is a serious, thankless job; a special level of maturity and spiritual discernment is required for it. Love your pastors! As humans, they’re trying the hardest and battling the most within themselves to examine their own lives first and be faithful to what they’ve been called to.
  15. There are frequently moments where God opens the eyes to exceeding beauty – how many have I missed?
  16. Granting things in a discussion and still finding a way to make a case is more powerful than complete and utter blindness to the opposition.
  17. The library is actually a wonderful place to be, especially in the study rooms
  18. I’m running out of things (even though there are probably sooo many more), so the last one that comes to mind is: reality is a big thing – I’m gonna need an Atlas (heh). Grateful for professors who have allowed me to come to office hours with very few intellectually rigorous questions, but have grounded my continuing in the program.

Looking forward to seeing what the next year will hold!

The Drifter.

He woke up before his alarm had a chance to crescendo.  Why even have that feature if the slightest sound from the alarm was enough to wake him up? Just in case he managed to sleep through the noise, perhaps.  He snoozed the alarm and lay on his back, waking up with his eyes wide shut in deep reflection about his love life.  After all, what else does one spend one’s time alone thinking about?  It was only natural that he found himself thinking about the futility mingled with desperation that he shouldered day in and day out.  He considered how he had skipped in and out of interest in various women he encountered, musing on the reason for the instability.  Maybe it was a weird vibe or her being too self-interested or him being too insecure or maybe it all didn’t matter that much anyways and he would be fine with the first one who’d have him.

It was his loneliness that caused him to drift from one person to the next.  At this, he put both his hands behind his head, eyes alert now as they gazed past the ceiling.  He saw now how naïve he was in thinking that he was actually able to love someone else; how could he when he failed to even love himself?  That was the reason he chased here and there, after all.  If he could just see that someone else could see something good in him, then he’d be happy. Then, he’d know that he meant something to someone.  Then, he’d realize that he was worthy of being loved.  Even though he had friends and family, it was his loneliness that knew him best, and it was his loneliness that he loved.  It let him push his problems onto other people, projecting a lack of understanding and empathy onto those around him; loneliness let him comfortably deceive himself into thinking that he was taking the high road by suffering their misunderstanding and “appreciating that they tried.”

What could he do about it? If he was lonely with his own company, adding more people who weren’t him, couldn’t think like him, didn’t know enough about him would only serve to magnify the alienation.  He kept laying in bed, dreading the masks he would need to put on just to get through to the next time he would be laying in bed.  It was never about the other people; a person like him would never be good enough for someone else.  He didn’t wish himself on anyone at this point.  All he could hope for was the day that he’d learn to just be okay with who he was.  Maybe then he could look for something more.

Good Parenting.

He held the door open as his son gripped his coffee and met the brisk autumn air.  They sat down on an old wooden bench in the park, one that had seen its fair share of romance, grief, and crumbs of bread from ducks being fed.  He stared at the worn, rusty bolts in the wood, and wondered about the city’s use of its finances with regards to public restoration projects.  Typical of the city to go for the grand gestures rather than paying attention to the existing detail falling swiftly into disrepair. His son turned to meet his eyes, staring at his stress-creased, bleary-eyed smile.

What are you thinking about, son?

He almost snorted. His father had asked this question to start every conversation they had as long as he could remember.  Couldn’t he think of anything new after thirty-five years?

Not much, Dad. Just thinking about work and the wife, all the bills that need to be paid, my co-workers being paid more than they deserve, my boss being the most incompetent slouch I’ve ever seen in a professional workplace.  I’m thinking about how communication between my wife and me has crumbled to the point where sighs take up more space than words between conversations.  I’m thinking about seeing myself go grey every morning in the mirror, and all the alcohol I’ve been drinking to numb the years has been adding to a slowly rounding paunch.  I’m thinking about the screeching alarm I wake up to every single day, reminding me of the miserable routine that I’ve thrust myself into, hoping one day to make enough money so I can retire to a life of golf and cigars.

But of course, he didn’t say any of that. Instead, his son just sighed.

Nothing much, Dad.  Life as usual.

His father’s mouth formed an “o,” but his voice failed to escape his lips.  He wondered about what had happened to this son of his, who used to talk freely and laugh easily.  He thought on the years of joy they shared together, and somehow, it didn’t add up in his head. Had he gone wrong somewhere in guiding his son’s life? Had he been overbearing at all the wrong times, misunderstanding what his son was telling him? It had to be his high school friends; he always knew the wrong crowd would get to him, and they ruined his relationship with his only son.  It seemed like every time his son looked at him, all he could feel was disappointment, as if he’d let him down somehow.

Whatever happened to us, David? We used to be so close.  Now, we hardly have six words between the two of us.  Was it your friends in high school? How could a few years with the wrong people have changed you so much? You’ve become heartless, David – please, remember me and remember all the times we had together.

No, Dad. It wasn’t my friends in high school.  Don’t blame other people – who you don’t even know, mind you – for something that isn’t even their fault.  The problem is, Dad, that as I got older, all I could hear about was how great you thought I was going to be in college, how you thought that I would make a great attorney, and how you had my whole life mapped out for me.  Things were fine as a kid, but the older I got, the less I had a say in my own life.  You’ve made me care about things like politics and paying the bills and bickering with colleagues when all I wanted was to make a difference in the world. But the world got to me, and you got to me, and there isn’t a thing any of us can do about it now. So just leave it there and accept what’s happened. I’m not the kid you used to know because you’ve just made me yourself. There’s no life more miserably wretched than the life lived out disingenuously, and you’ve made this life I live wretched with how you talked on and on about the petty problems you had at work, or the innumerable mishaps that didn’t really mean anything in the long run, but you focused on because you liked to hear yourself talk.  You never cared about my dreams and aspirations, and you sucked my own life right out of me, slowly filling me with grey nonsense that only you care about.  You stole the unexpressed genius of my youth and replaced it with a jaded set of eyeglasses from which I now look at the world.  I suppose you think I should thank you now because you’ve helped me see the world as it is, but no, I won’t thank you.  It’s not something to be proud of when you lose faith in your own perspective; it’s tragic, and now that I’m mired in this replica of your own story, I’m never getting out. Hopefully I won’t have a child because that way, I won’t run the risk of ruining his life as well.  That’s some good parenting, Dad, you did swell. I’m making money and I have a house and I pay all my bills, but you know what? I’m dying day by day.  My dreams have deserted me, and now I’m grasping in the darkness, my only hope is found in the current lack of it, that maybe some day, this lifelong nightmare will be over, and my eyes will be washed clean from the blindness I’ve been living in.  But until that day, I have you to thank for the life I’m living, or having, rather; it would be a travesty to call what I’m currently doing living.

He got up and walked away after pouring the last of his heart out to his father.  He left his cup on that wooden bench.  His father stared at the emptiness occupying his son’s spot, hands trembling.  Quietly, he lowered his head to his knees and clasped the back of his neck with his hands.  He really had let his son down, and he just let him down for the last time.

The Blame Game.

As I sit on the Amtrak, listening to BreakBot, I find myself reflecting on the topic of bereavement.  After all, that’s the sole purpose of this solitary voyage back home.  I consider all that’s happened within the past month – the passing of a dear brother at my home church as well as his elderly mother, the Ferguson incident and the recent #icantbreathe fiasco, the now seemingly forgotten presence of ISIS and the events that have transpired in relation to the organization.  I began realizing that we as a generation and indeed as a race have forgotten how to grieve.  We should grieve the passing of loved ones, we should grieve the state of our humanity when the nation is polarized by tragedy, we should grieve the plight of our fellow human beings across the world.

While we do have some semblance of grief when we go through personal loss, the actuality is that the dead are always forgotten – rare are the souls who have the capacity to bear the burden of a living memory until they meet their own demise.  The memory of the living serves not for the sake of honoring the deceased, but the proliferation of one’s own experiences as fuel for an individual stance on present circumstances.  Multiple agendas begin to undermine the tragedies we are presented with, as sorrow turns to bitter fury.  Instead of reflecting upon the lives lived by those taken from us, we begin to construct angles from which to view the situation with the intent of assigning fault, and we become more involved with our perception of setting the record straight rather than using the time we have to properly entomb the past dearly in our hearts.

This is not to say that this post itself has no agenda because to do so would be entirely hypocritical.  However, it is a transparent plea for our modern generation to stop resorting to anger instead of understanding.  People rage at God, bicker with society, and renounce the pillars on which they’ve built their lives – and to what end?  We offend each other with the positions that we take, and in times where solidarity is the first stepping stone to recovery, we stomp off the path onto the clearer, more passionate route.  People who were of one mind find themselves at odds over a situation that should not be divisive, but rather decisive; there needs to be a change. But, being as fickle as we are, we are apprehensive of letting hesitation and pondering cool the fire that burns within us, and so we look for the quick fixes.  We swiftly blame the authorities, scorn the party that is “clearly” at fault, and crucify the most vulnerable target.  We don’t bother to examine ourselves as a society and see that these problems began with ourselves.  When we teach our youth to respond with vitriol and animosity, we damage any prospect of improving the society we perceive to be so riddled with flaws.  When we encourage the open opposition of authority, what kind of message are we sending to those we will take care of this world after us?  Is what we want a world filled with people seeking recompense and retribution instead of a human race willing to have its heart broken, truly broken, so that from that heartache we may advance?

To remember the dead is now a mere societal obligation.  It seems like we pursue the next crime scene in more earnest than we choose to remember and understand the losses we’ve endured.  The fact of the matter is, we have forgotten how to mourn. We hurt our brothers and our sisters, and yet we dare not say that we were at fault because what we continue failing to see is that the solution lies not with us.  We need to admit our fallen state, and look ahead to our shared future inheritance.  If a nation chooses unity for its youth instead of the pretense of justice, it will provide for the foundation of our true mutual understanding of one another as humans – not as colors, cultures, or creeds – and it is the greatest good we can render unto the preservation of this world when it comes time for our children to mourn us.  The hope is that in their time, their mourning of us might not beget more mourning, but silent consideration and appreciation for the lessons we’ve left behind.

How Big?

The man sat ‘neath the moon and stars,

soul’s deep tears like liquid scars.

They asked him of how big his heart;

he spoke through whispers of his art.

He told the tales of paths mistaken

that made his heart swell up with hope.

Nightmares seen by Poe’s lone Raven

supplied his lonesome, noose-shaped rope.

How big a heart has he who gives

to those around for whom he lives?

He deigned to give the moon and stars

but he sighed instead with passing cars.

So now he writes a verse quite true,

explaining his enormous heart.

He filled his soul complete with rue,

detailed his end before the start.

He suffered much, and smiled slow;

his pain was great, but few could know.

Ask him not of how big his heart,

but ask him now: how big each shard?

Happy Anniversary.

Two years ago, I created this WordPress site as a replacement for Tumblr to store and share my thoughts.  Since then, there’s been a visible difference to how I’ve developed as a writer.  I hesitate to say progressed, advanced, or even matured because I believe that we only turn a page in how we change as writers; I do enjoy some of my old work more than my current work, but there is a reason I’ve come to this point of my pilgrimage in finding my complete form as a writer.  My posts have ranged from more hopelessly romantic than is healthy for a human being to deeply experientially talks of my faith.  Here’s to another blessing of a year writing and sharing it with those of you who do take the time to read my posts!

Thank You for Coming.

Lord, why can’t I let you fill the emptiness in me?  There are so many times that I just feel so downcast and anxious about my actual position with regards to You.  I wish that I could have been the Christian that I wanted to be, but I guess that’s also within Your will – trying on my own just seemed to complicate things.  You showed me joy and happiness and I felt free, but I was shackled when You tested my heart with struggles and shortcomings.  Perhaps I’m finally learning to seek sufficiency not in others, but in You.  It’s a lesson that I’ve needed to learn since high school, and You know that.  Sometimes, I think maybe I deceive myself as a last-dtich effort to fully turn over my life to You.  I think that I try too many times to apply the “if you tell a lie enough times, it becomes truth” idea to my walk, and it hurts that my human perception of devotion is so intertwined with deception.  I don’t understand – and I’m not sure I want to understand – why I feel like I’ve grown so much in my faith, yet am stumbling over the same problem I had before.  It’s like an uneven growth in my Christian life, and it just so happened that this fault in the ground that I stood upon was what ended up shaking my beliefs.  I don’t know what to do, where to go, and who to turn to anymore.  I just need You to reveal Yourself in me because I have no one else to really rely upon.  I fail other people, and I feel like other people are always so burdened by my issues.  At the end of the day, only You are sufficient and my all and in all; I need You to set a fire down in my soul again so that I can burn for You and only You, and not be obstructed by the things and thoughts of this world.