Saturday, November 17, 2007

Re-Living the First Day

[Scroll down for video and lyrics for "The First Single" by The Format and also "Big Casino" by Jimmy Eat World.]

Today marks the 6 year anniversary of the day I hit rock bottom. It was a day that I made the biggest mistake of my life. It was a day that shifted the direction of my life. It was a day I wished that I could end my life.

I had many choices - each had consequences and repercussions that would have affected everyone I loved. This was the first day of my journey. It was when my two worlds collided.

How do I move on from regret? How do I alleviate the hurt in others that I've inflicted? How do I stop the memories and the flashbacks and the nightmares? How do I survive the fallout of my own mistakes?

The past is an anchor for me. There are times when . . . .the weight is less of a burden. There are other times when it's overwhelming. The November/December season has always been difficult for me because of 2001. And while I don't know if I'll ever get to a point of sharing that part of my story with you, I can say that I am intimately familiar with God's grace and restoration. I've had God's forgiveness for six years but I'm not so sure how long I've had my own forgiveness.

The amazing thing for me now is being able to not live in that place any more. Redemption. When God restores, He goes all out in the feast and celebration and robe and ring. A part of me feels like I shouldn't be able to move on - that should be part of my consequences and it should be a lifetime imprisonment of regret. I almost feel guilty for having hope. I almost feel guilty for being free.

But I have been set free. I have to remind myself of that because I go through incredible depression during this season, emotionally re-enacting those events. Six years ago, the Lord and I had a four month conversation.

It was in November and December when it began in Psalm 38, some of which articulated what had been happening at the time:

"O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your anger or discipline me in Your wrath. For Your arrows have pierced me, and Your hand has come down upon me. Because of Your wrath there is no health in my body; my bones have no soundness because of my sin.

My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly. I am bowed down and brought very low; all day long I go about mourning. My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body. I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart. All my longings lie open before You, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from You. My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes.

My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds; my neighbors stay far away. . . . . For I am about to fall, and my pain is ever with me. I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin." (Psalm 38:1-11, 17-18)


I remember experiencing the full conviction of God. Then I asked the Lord to lift His hand from me:

"Remove Your scourge from me; I am overcome by the blow of Your hand. You rebuke and discipline men for their sin; You consume their wealth like a moth - each man is but a breath. Hear my prayer, O Lord, listen to my cry for help; be not deaf to my weeping. For I dwell with You as an alien, a stranger, as all my fathers were. Look away from me, that I may rejoice again before I depart and am no more." (Psalm 39: 10-13)

And that's what I did. I pleaded with Him that His discipline would utterly destroy me unless He lifted His hand. So He gave me a pardon. That didn't mean a release from the consequences. It meant that Dad's spanking was done and the restoration was to begin.

"I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord." (Psalm 40:1-3)

In hindsight I can see that God was telling me the future. Not only did He lift me out of that dark and unstable place but He cleaned me up and set me on solid ground with a new message. The cleaning up part took a process of several months and years. I'm still being cleaned up. The solid ground, I discovered, was not only Himself (of which would be the only real stable footing I could have), but it was also a new land - a new place where He was calling me to. Long Beach, California. And that new message, that new song in my mouth? It's the message of authenticity that has the Kingdom message deeply embedded in it.

"I've been waiting all this time to be something I can't define." - The Format in "The First Single"

As difficult as November and December is and can be - depression and flashbacks and all - I live out the fact that He's still not done with me yet. In fact, it's still just the beginning. I was thinking about a lyric by Jimmy Eat World for a song called "Big Casino" that says, "There's still some living left when your prime comes and goes." The thing is - even with everything that has happened (both amazing and tragic), I've still not reached my prime. God has given me vision for things that still have not yet been articulated or realized. The hope is that there is plenty of living left.

I still have hard times. Difficult depression. It's not easy to move on from the regrets that anchor me. But I have and I am moving on. I deserve to move on. I can't change the past. In fact, if I did it may alter the person I am now. I can only move forward with humility trusting that it's okay to do so.

In light of today and this Nov/Dec season, I wanted to share with you two songs that have resonated with me:

"The First Single" by The Format




I can't stand to think about
A heart so big it hurts like hell
Oh my God I gave my best
But for three whole years to end like this

Well do you want to fall apart
I can't stop if you cant start
Do you want to fall apart
I could if you can try to fix what I've undone
Cause I hate what I've become

You know me,
Oh you think you do, you just don't seem to see
I've been waiting all this time to be
Something I can't define so let's
Cause a scene
Clap our hands and stomp our feet or something
Yeah something
I've just got to get myself over me

I could stand to do without
All the people I have left behind
Whats the point in going around
When it's a straight line baby, a straight line down

So lets make a list of who we need
And its not much, if anything
Lets make a list of who we need
And we'll throw it away cause we don't need anyone
No we don't need anyone

You know me,
Oh you think you do, you just don't seem to see
I've been waiting all this time to be
Something I can't define so let's
Cause a scene
Clap our hands and stomp our feet or something
Yeah something
I've just got to get myself over me
And I hate what I've become...

You know the night life is just not for me
Cause all you really need are a few good friends
I don't want to go out and be on my own
You know they started something I can't stand

You leave for the city, well count me out
'Cause all this time is wasted on
Well, everything I've done

You know me,
Oh you think you do, you just don't seem to see
I've been waiting all this time to be
Something I can't define so let's
Cause a scene
Clap our hands and stomp our feet or something
Yeah something
I've just got to get myself over me
You know me,
Oh you think you do, you just don't seem to see
I've been waiting all this time to be something I can't define
So let's cause a scene
Clap our hands and stomp our feet or something
Yeah something
I've just got to get myself over me, yeh, over me, yeh, over me



"Big Casino" by Jimmy Eat World



Before this world starts up again
It's me and night
We wait for the sun
The kids and drunks head back inside

Well there's lots of smart ideas in books I've never read
When the girls come talk to me I wish to hell I had

(Get Up, Get Up) Turn on ignition
(Get Up, Get Up) Fire up the system
Play my little part in something big

I'll accept with poise, with grace
When they draw my name from the lottery
And they'll say 'All the salt in the world couldn't melt that ice'
I'm the one who gets away
I'm a New Jersey success-story
And they'll say 'Lord, give me a chance to shake that hand'
(They'll say)

Back when I was younger I was someone you'd've liked
Got an old guitar I'd had for years I'd let you buy
And I'll tell you something else that you ain't dying enough to know
There's still some living left when your prime comes and goes

(Get Up, Get Up) Dance on the ceiling
(Get Up, Get Up) Boy, you must be dreamin'
Rock on young saviour, don't give up your hopes

I'll accept with poise, with grace
When they draw my name from the lottery
And they'll say 'All the salt in the world couldn't melt that ice'
I'm the one who gets away
I'm a New Jersey success-story
And they'll say 'Lord, give me a chance to shake that hand'

I have one last wish
And it's from my heart
Just let me down
Just let me down
(easy)

I'll accept with poise, with grace
When they draw my name from the lottery
And they'll say 'All the salt in the world couldn't melt that ice'
I'm the one who gets away
I'm a New Jersey success-story
And they'll say 'Lord, give me a chance to shake his hand'
(They'll say)


6 comments:

Steve said...

Eric, this is an amazingly poignant blog post. I'm so glad for the work of restoration that Christ is doing in you (and has done already). It gives me great hope to hear your journey.

This quote moved me more than I can express---it's profound: "Redemption. When God restores, He goes all out in the feast and celebration and robe and ring."

Thanks...much love,
-Steve

Mark said...

I don't know about you but my journey has been one of discovering that I've typically been harder on myself than God has.

May the healing continue and may you continually draw nearer and nearer to the God who loved us first and loves us best.

Anonymous said...

first off, for me this was very heartwarming. i too attempted suicide, almost three years ago now, and to read this post just brought me real hope. i have discussed my suicide attempt and the emotions that go with it with close friends, most of which are Christian, but i have never talked with someone who had themselves attempted suicide.
i often end up talking about how i know that i have been forgiven by God and that thru his grace i am still here, but i feel that i haven't forgiven myself. most people don't understand this, or they say that if God has forgiven me then i should forgive myself. i was so relieved to read this: "I've had God's forgiveness for six years but I'm not so sure how long I've had my own forgiveness." in a way it was an affirmation of my emotions, but at the same time it brought me hope once i continued to read.
thank you for being open, and real, and for sharing yourself and your emotions.
~kim

Steve and Warren said...

Happy Thanksgiving

talli said...

Are you from or do you live in Phoenix? Cuz these are both bands from Phoenix, and it seems to weird to be a coincidence.

Certified Healing Coach said...

Eric, I agree with Mark!

I came to understand that my tendency was to insist on being MUCH harder on myself than God was. And it limited what He could do for, in and through me.

So I decided it was a sinful indulgence.

I hope for much more peace and far less guilt for you!

Jeanine