Friday, September 9, 2011

The State of My State

It's Friday, and here I sit in my Doctor's office, waiting to see him. One month ago I came to him because I was struggling with the bluest period that I had experienced in a long time.  I felt like crap, I had (have) gained a bunch of weight, and I wasn't doing my life as a husband, father, friend and pastor very well. Over the previous months, I had been an organizational, and emotional mess. I couldn't keep my thoughts together, I was forgetting things, and had a general malaise that was taking me over. Several times in the weeks leading up to my appointment, I had written out, and thrown away my resignation. I was in a very low place.

I leaned on my wife, my sons, and a few close friends, but even that didn't seem to be helping. After a few, un-Louis like conversations with people that didn't deserve them, I called and made an appointment with my friend, who is an Internist. I sent a note to my Pastors, letting them know where I was in my emotional state, and that I had an appointment to see about it. The response I got was an encouraging, loving show of support for getting the help I needed. This is, for some of those in ministry, a refreshing change from what some of my friends have experienced.

When I saw my doctor, he prescribed a new drug to add to the other medicine I was taking.

Today, as I sit here, ready to check in, feeling 2 months better, I know that there are multiple reasons for my better "state". First and foremost is the support of my family. They have put up with my crazy, told me that I was still the father and husband they loved, and were just present for me. Second, the prayers of my pastors and friends both from my church, and from all over the country that I have grown to love and count on, and third, and the part I want to encourage you to, is that, if you are struggling with depression, go see a Doctor. Let them help you.

*Warning. The following is a mini rant, and you are welcome to skip down to the next paragraph without repercussion.*

In his book, "Leading on Empty", Wayne Cordeiro says that often times, well meaning, yet totally not helpful Christians tell those of us dealing with depression to:
Confess your guilt.
Pray more.
Find a new church (Seriously? Go where you have none of the friends, and support mechanisms that you currently have, and get even more depressed because you feel even more alone?).
And, my personal favorite, "You just need more faith."
This last one, I was actually told. In the midst of one of the Bluest periods of my life, one in which it took all the faith I had just to stand up, I was told that God wasn't helping me because I didn't have enough faith. WRONG. I was being held up by God and being pointed toward the help that I needed through a Physician.  I couldn't have gotten through some days without the faith that God would still be God, and that He was holding me, pushing me and sometimes carrying me.

I say all that to say, if you are struggling with depression, please tell someone you trust, ask them to pray for you, and go see a licensed physician. Your family doctor would be a great place to start. You can get through it. Will it go away forever? I don't know, I haven't finished my life yet. But I can say that it can get better. After a year long struggle, I am getting better, with prayers, friends and medicine.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Thank you...

Thank you is a word that I am really good at saying. I have a ton of people that I serve with every day that I am very intentional about saying "thank you" to as often as possible. This comes very easy to me, because I am genuinely thankful for what people do for the ministry that I serve. I make sure that I meet one on one with at least one member of my team each week for coffee, breakfast or something. I enjoy being with them, and letting them know that they are more important to me than just for their skill as a musician, technician or singer.

I think I do thank you's pretty well... As long as I am on the thanking side and not the receiving side. I was recently on the receiving side of what was possibly the most extravagant thank you I have ever been a part of. About 6 months ago, a family in our congregation lost a family member suddenly. Our worship team was asked to play for the funeral, and we were told that the family wanted worship just like on sunday morning. After we did that, the family said thank you to all of us, saying, "we don't know how to thank you." we were honored to take part and received their thanks graciously.

That is not where the story ends though. About a month later, I was talking to the dad in this same family, and he asked me, "When does the band worship?" I told hime that a lot of times we worship in rehearsals together. He said,"no, I mean when are you guys LEAD in worship?" I couldn't Answer him. He told me that he wanted to come to rehearsal Thursday night and asked if that was ok. I said of course, and was not surprised to see him that night.

What happened next was an incredible, extravagant act of love and gratitude. When rehearsal was over, he came to me with tears in his eyes, and said I want you guys to get to worship like we get to. I want to take you, and your band to see Hillsong United in 3 weeks in Nashville. I will take care of everything. You guys just show up here at 5pm.

Well, needless to say I was speechless (which for those of you who know me...).

20 of us showed up that night, to find a big coach bus waiting on us. When we got on the bus, there was home made chicken salad sandwiches, brownies, soda and water. We were greeted with a huge smile from both the man and his wife. We got on the bus, and we just got to be together as friends. We got to take part in an amazing 3 hour time of worship and praise from the very front down on the floor. I was exhausted when we got back on the bus.

That is when the most incredible part of the night happened. The man stood up and told us that he was so moved by the time of worship that happened at his son's funeral, that he was moved to action. He said that he was going to make it his family's mission to make sure that the worship leaders in our church were able to get to worship. He said that we spend all week, every week preparing and praying so that our congregation could worship, and he wanted to give something back. That was his thank you to us. The gift of worship. The gift of the presence of God without having to worry about anything but God. No cables to check, no new songs to learn, no set up or tear down.  Just worship.

As I sit here, tears come to my eyes, not because Hillsong United was so amazing, not because the bus was so comfortable, but because we were given such an amazing gift of thanks. God taught me something in that moment. Accept this for what it is, a gift of thanks. Do not rob them of the blessing of getting to thank you for what you do. Thank you God for the gift of thanks.