It never fails. I sign up for a conference, excited to see friends and family, eager to learn new things, giddy about attending a worship service I am not in charge of for once…and then it hits. The pre-conference panic.
This is not your typical Top Ten (or in my case, Top Twelve) book list. This is not a list of the best books that have hit the market in the last year. Quite literally, there are NO hot takes in this post.
On a scale of 1-10, how geeked out are for the beginning of Advent tomorrow?
I am a 20…as in 20 Advent-purple fingers and toes.
I hesitated to sign-up to pre-read Courtney Ellis’ book Uncluttered for a couple of reasons. First, the title alone, Uncluttered, made it very clear to me that this book would have something to say to me and my often-very cluttered life. Second, the author Courtney Ellis is, like myself, a co-pastor with her husband, a writer (um, obviously? She wrote the book…), and a mom to littles. Why would so much affinity with an author give me such pause? Because I knew she would not only “get it”, she would also see through my sanctimonious excuses as to why my cluttered life was a special kind of holy and thus merited a free pass. Rude.
Yesterday, a pastor friend of mine shared a post from a church I did not know, Inland Hills Church. The church was announcing the passing of their pastor from depression and anxiety. Their pastor had died by suicide.
Like the thousands of people that read the post, my heart broke for the congregation, for the family of this pastor, and for the pastor himself who had clearly suffered under the weight of mental illness. But unlike many who reacted to the news, I empathized deeply with the pastor. I too have suffered for years from depression and anxiety. This past February, I reacted badly to a medication change and within 24 hrs. was thrust back into the pit of depression, ideation and all. (Ideation is mental-illness speak for suicidal thoughts. Less scary to say outloud, or at least less shocking to the listener.)
It’s one of those memories that gets etched into your memory, totally against your will. I was a baby-pastor, not a pastor of babies, just a ridiculously young pastor, a few months away from taking my ordination vows.
If you read my last blog post, you’ll know we had a teeth situation on our hands. It was a doozy, more of a doozy than we knew because when they put our sweet little daughter (who just happens to turn into a werewolf at the site of a dentist) under to remove her rotten tooth, they found 5 more deep cavities, so deep the dentist had to fill them and CAP them all.
A couple weeks ago, my daughter came home with a puffy cheek. At first, I thought she had gotten her hands on an enormous wad of bubble gum, but that didn’t make sense as her teacher Mrs. Ray does not abide that kind of nonsense. Then I remembered, how Josephine had been complaining off and on of a sore tooth. But as a good, devoted and highly attentive mother, I had minimized her complaints, assuring her that she had a dentist appointment in a few weeks.
**I wrote this a few weeks ago during a relapse in my depression and anxiety. It’s a touch snarkier than usual and raw. But sometimes honesty is all we have.**
Switched meds on Tuesday. I was only on a very low dose of anti-anxiety medicine but because the anxiety had become so severe, my psychiatrist was curious if there was an underlying mood disorder. And with my family history of bipolar, would anyone be surprised? No. So, onto a mood stabilizer I go.