Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Zoloft is MIA and the DS is Right Where It Should Be

Ewps. I missed a dose of Zoloft last night. I am sure the effect this has had on me is more mental in nature than it is physical. Upon seeing my pile of medication on the counter, still waiting to be consumed, I had a nice panic. What a way to start a Sunday morning! My pharmacy tech training told me that I should skip this dose and go back to my regular schedule this evening. My heart was pounding and my head was telling me that I would never make it through the Divine Service like this. My only completely clear thought on this was to take an Adavan. That ought to settle me down enough to make it through the morning. Granted, that stuff makes me tired and a little out of it, but it won't knock me out and it will allow me to appear "there" for anyone who didn't know about my internal turmoil.

While the medication was taking effect, I told Tim that I wasn't sure exactly how this was going to affect me in service. I wasn't sure if I would be completely with it to participate fully. I can't remember I took an Adavan and then went to church. He sounded a little concerned and asked me how I thought I would do. I joked and told him that I wouldn't be shouting "Amen" in the middle of the sermon or anything, but I was afraid of getting lost or not knowing what to do next because this stuff does slow down my thinking a bit. Thank the Lord, that was not the case! In fact, I was *there* probably more than I was through many church services. I didn't care that I was a pastor's wife and someone might be judging me for something. The words, chanting, and even hymns I knew by heart (Reformation Sunday is great for that- A Mighty Fortress is also a great comfort in times of anxiety!) I didn't fall behind, get lost, or forget something. I was there. I could also just receive. I wasn't a zombie though the service, though I was tired. I didn't just stiffly and unawares go through the motions. I did hear the words coming out of me second nature, Scripture flowing from my lips in unison with the church here on earth getting a small taste of what it must be like in heaven. The validity of the Sacrament of the Altar was not on how pious I tried to make myself before receiving, there it was: Christ's Body and Blood in with and under the bread and wine, given and shed for me, in the midst of anxiety muffled by medication. My anxiety, a sin against the First Commandment, was forgiven by my pastor in the stead of Christ. I came to church in the midst of an anxiety attack with nothing to give. I could only receive. Receive I did. It was good.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Trust and Doubt

"When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?" Psalm 56:3

Boy, I wish I could live up to this. I worry about everything, from the clothes that I wear to the food that I eat, to the weight I need to loose. I trust, or I try to, but I falter. I can feel myself slipping away from that trust that I should have not that long after I say, "I trust you, God. Whatever you do is fine with me." I begin to think, "Well, what if this happens, then I'll have to deal with that." Or, "What if God thinks I can handle something that I know I'll fail at!" Soon, the snowball effect makes me go from mistrust to worry, worry to anxiety, and anxiety to depression and even more severe anxiety. Then comes the guilt that I didn't trust as I should followed by the anxiety that maybe I really don't have faith because I don't trust like the Bible says I should. The saddest thing is, this is a regular problem for me. I cannot count the number of times something simple has turned into a crisis of faith. It shouldn't, but then again, I shouldn't have anxiety either, so I guess I am even more in trouble.

It is usually then that I am reminded that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) Christ died for my sin of not trusting Him (a First Commandment sin). There is more than that, though, because I am clothed in Christ in my Baptism. Not only does Christ's death cover my sin of not trusting, Christ trusts for me because I cannot. I can try. I can do my best. I can work to catch up to my holiness, but this side of the grave, I will not be able to do it fully. If I did, it would be against the First Commandment and I am back where I started.

So what can I do? Nothing? Not quite. The answer to what my "job" is lies in the First Article of the Apostle's Creed.

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

What does this mean?

I believe that God has made me and all creatures. He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my limbs, my reason and all my senses, and still preserves them. In addition, He has given me clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and home, wife and children, fields, cattle, and all my goods. He provides me richly and daily with all that I need to support this body and life. He protects me from all danger and guards and preserves me from all evil. he does this all out of purely divine goodness and mercy without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this I ought to thank Him, praise Him, serve Him, and obey Him. This is most certainly true.

And when I fail that part, Christ covers that, too, praise be to God! Mortal man cannot take away all the gifts that God has given me, including the gift of forgiveness when I sin and not trust as I should. The Psalmist is right. There is nothing to be afraid of. Now, if I could just convince my heart what I know in my head... or perhaps leave that to the Holy Spirit. ;)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

A Tough Day

There are many days in my week where my job is absolutely amazing and I go home feeling happy and satisfied. Friday was not one of those days. It wasn't the kids, however, they were amazing. Unfortunately, it was my co-workers (thankfully not my co-teacher!). Don't ask me what happened, I won't go into it. Mostly, because that is not where this story lies.

The story is actually about power. The power to affect change. This is normally seen as a good thing. We are told at every graduation speech that we have the power to affect change and we should do so. This is definitely true but it has to be in the right context. Power has to be given before it can be wielded. Power does come in many forms. The kind I am referring to is the kind that affects people's opinions and the reputation of other people. The Bible has very specific words for it. We know it as the 8th Commandment.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander, or defame our neighbor, but defend him, think and speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.

The ugly monster of gossip reared it's ugly head at my workplace. It's such a damaging monster wrapped in pretty packaging. It's covered with the phrases such as, "I am just speaking the truth," or "I am only telling you what I saw." Such a cover! With these words horrid damage is done. But when is it okay to talk about another person? When does it go from gossip to correcting the errors seen?

Just because you know the truth, doesn't mean you have the right to spread it around. Is this an error that should be brought to the authorities? Then do so if it is. If it is not, think of what you would have your neighbor do if your roles were reversed. Would you like everyone to know your slights and sins? (Matthew 7:12)

Think on these words for a moment from Martin Luther about the 8th Commandment:

"When they know about a slight offense committed by another person, they carry it into every corner. They are delighted and tickled to stir up others' displeasure, just as swine delight to roll themselves in the dirt and root in it with the snout. This is nothing other than meddling with God's judgment and office and pronouncing sentence and punishment iwth the most severe verdict." (Large Catechism 267)

Perhaps after looking to Luther's Large Catechism, it is better not to say anything except to those who judge by vocation the righteness of the actions you have witnessed. Such vocations are given to the bosses, law enforcement officials, lawmakers, etc. This is not an exclusive list, but the idea comes across clear. If this vocation you have been given by God does not include the responsibility of judging and dolling out punishment, it is better to keep quiet about those sins you witness unless it becomes a Fourth Commandment responsibility.

God forgive me where I have failed to do this and help me to catch up to my holiness given to me by Christ on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.