Redefine Normal // Rediscover Hope

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A Tenderized Heart

I have been going through counseling over the past year. Once we realized that my seizures are not neurological, this meant that they are psychologically rooted. There is some trauma that is in my past that has scarred me, and my body is choosing to respond to any triggers from this trauma with seizures. Now it’s not a direct trigger usually, but nonetheless it’s a trigger.

As a result, I have been delving into a past that I’ve largely forgotten, looking more closely at a childhood that I have very memories of—because there’s little worth remembering other than fear, pain, confusion, and anger.

This has left me tender in spots that used to be hardened, and more susceptible to having an emotional response to something I wouldn’t have responded to in the past. Here’s a current example: I had to walk away from an episode of a television show because there was an instance of child abuse shown.

Look, I’m the last person to say that child abuse isn’t a big deal. It was part of my life, and I’m a mess because of it. I am convinced that childhood should be a time of wonder, discovery, and adventure; not pain. But, I’ve never had to walk away from a television show over a punch to the face before.

This is my new life. I am coming to grips with the fact that I am not whole. My busted parts have been locked up in a closet that’s never opened for a very long time. But now, I am opening the closet, I am examining long-lost memories and emotions. What I’ve found is that these moments from my childhood still hurt. A lot.

So I’m tenderized.

It’s not a great place to be as an American male. It doesn’t align with the machismo I am supposed to carry around, and it makes me uncomfortable to even talk about it. If I’m honest, it’s embarrassing. This isn’t what I signed up for.

I mean, I started counseling to get well. But my tenderized heart is having a tough time in this darkened world, and there’s no real light at the end of the tunnel. I’m not even sure the counseling is doing anything. Here’s something I’m very sure of—my counseling isn’t decreasing my seizures at all, and now I get to be super sensitive in the rest of my waking days.

So as I sit here, whining into my MacBook Air about how much it sucks to not be strong, two thoughts slip into my psyche, probably put there by the Holy Spirit.

  • Jesus was moved by compassion. All the time. We literally see it all over the place in the Gospels. This means, if nothing else, that He felt the pain and sorrow of others deeply. Obviously I was watching a show with actors, but maybe this tenderized heart is for the purpose of ministry? Perhaps I’m not supposed to live with a heart that’s comfortable seeing men punch children in the face, whether it’s real or not.
  • Paul calls all of us to be ministers of reconciliation, and this is something that’s been particularly true in my life. God has used me to bring reconciliation between Him and others, between others and themselves, and between others and, well, others. There’s a calling of some sort on my life for reconciliation. The the more I can sense and connect with the emotions of what someone is going through, the better I will be able to guide them on the path toward reconciliation.

Really, this is just me meandering down a path of trying to understand why it is God might have my heart be as tenderized as it is right now. Maybe all of this is just garbage, or a result of me overthinking an overwrought emotional response to a well-acted moment on the TV.

But if I’m honest, I think there’s more going on here.