/disəˈlo͞oZHənd/ - disappointed in someone or something that one discovers to be less good than one had believed.
I’m not sure if I can completely identify or assign the “someone” or “something” to one person or one thing or even if I should, but ‘disillusioned’ seems to be the word that keeps coming to the forefront of defining how I feel or felt or am feeling.
- I’m overly critical.
- I have a hard time trusting.
- I have a fuse shorter than my memory.
- I have a hard time imagining something different - I’m usually good at imagining, but now I have a hard time imagining at all.
I think this started about five years ago. Sarah and I had come home from some sort of event and we were standing in our kitchen, and I looked at her and said, “I just want to fall off the map, something’s not right with this whole thing.” She could see in me what I was feeling and she felt it too. We just didn’t know how to identify it. But that’s as far back as I can remember. I know I made a lot of choices based on my nature of taking responsibility for things that I should let fall a part. I don’t know if that comes from being a first born, or being a first-born from a divorced family. I do know that whatever it is, I put more pressure on myself than those around me do. And it can get ugly.
We never did. We never did fall off the grid. And like most of life, somethings got better but others not so much. I found that in order for me to function in my personal context, the best way forward was not to be me. But to be what was needed to get things done. Another coping mechanism I learned a long time ago.
This was made evident when I went with two friends of mine, Chris Marlow the founder of HELP One Now, and a local Austin pastor, Jacob Vanhorn, to the !deation conference in Chicago. I was talking with Jacob and asked him, “How do you do it? How do you wear all the hats we wear and stay or at least appear joyful in life?” I continued to tell him, “I feel like I’m lost, like I’m good at nothing, like I’m busy picking up slack to keep things going, I wear too many hats and never have the opportunity to focus on one thing”. I recognize this is acedia. I had the power to change things, I just didn’t. By this time, I think I felt lost in my own world. He said, “I’m learning to be me in every scenario. That way, I’m always being true to who God made me to be, and when one does that, the focus shifts. It’s not about how many hats you wear, its about being the same person under each hat.” Such wisdom, and yet so difficult. He was right, but I felt too lost to find my way there.
Then two years ago, I began to experience some severe anxiety - at one point, the anxiety was so strong, that my brain had to reset - I was walking and then I passed out. This was horrible. I was so desperate I played with the idea of transparency - weakness. I put it out there but it mostly fell on deaf ears - after all, I was the tough, get-it-done guy with the hard exterior. My friend, Austin Evers, was great to talk with and he was a real friend through this. Another local pastor, who had, a year before, experienced the same thing, and was diagnosed as a high-functioning depressed person (which after sharing everything with him, assumed I had the same issue, I may have, I never went to a therapist) helped me a lot. He gave me a lot of his time and just talked me through a lot. Then another colleague I worked with, John Church, would reach out to make sure I was ok. My superintendent, who must have been very perceptive or I was wearing it on my sleeve, called me and offered counseling and a sabbatical. I took neither because of how busy I was. When I look back, I’m not sure I was too busy, in fact, I know I wasn’t. My problem was that I was trying to function and be someone I wasn’t. That will get you every time!
I had a lot of dark realizations about life and knew I couldn’t continue as I was, so finally, I did what I had to do. I decided to be me. The problem was I didn’t know who that was any more. I told Sarah, if I commit to being me, things are going to get very rocky, not for us as a family, it will get better, but everywhere else. And it did.
At one point, about 4 months into this, Sarah made a very sobering comment. While everything else around us seemed to be in tension or rough transition, Sarah said, "you're back, I've got you back." Whoa! I had been gone. I was lost in my own world.
The last two years have been a journey back to that, back to me. I don’t write this as some sort of self-actualization journey. If you know me, you know that’s not my point. But when we begin to function as someone other than the person God made us to be, for the good of something else, we have dark days ahead, and at best will end up disillusioned with much of our context. In fact, we find ourselves pulling away from God, not ‘needing him’ because, I’m convinced that if God is set on making us into the image of his Son, then he is committed to making us into the truest self we can be. This is where I was. This is where I’ve been. The following blogs will be a short series on my journey out of that and our journey forward as a family committed to living ordinary well.