Monday, January 03, 2011

"What do I want from this life?"- 41st Birthday Lament

Warning: This is a long autobiographical look at my life's ambitions and difficulties. Not particularly inspirational reading. I am not really sure why I wrote it or why I am publishing it, but I think I should.

This year for Christmas the blogger Fisherbabe was inspired to write a rather introspective post for the holiday's. This particular paragraph really hit me:

This holiday season, it is my wish for all of you, that you ask yourself the question, "What do I want from this life?"...and that you give yourself a truly honest answer. You may be surprised at what flows forth from one simple question.

For whatever reason I feel compelled to write out an answer to the question for myself.

I read the question "What do I want from this life?" and started thinking about my answer. My first thought was that I don't want or expect much from this life and that is just the way it is for me. However, I didn't stop thinking about the question with just that and pondered of myself a little further.

What do I really want from this life? Then something from out of my past stuck out clearly in my minds eye. What I really want from this life is to be used by God. Was not that what I really want?

While on a youth group mission trip to Puerto Rico in 1986, at the age of 16, on clear starry night at the top of a small mountain, while all alone, I committed my life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ; I vowed to serve God for the rest of my life. And for the next few years I prepared myself to do just that with vigorous immersion into Bible study, prayer, Christian community and ministry. I went to Northwestern Bible College in St. Paul MN to study the Bible and Youth Ministry which I thought was my career soul-mate/calling. I took my studies seriously and was a dedicated student. At this time things were for the most part going very well in my life and it seemed that my dreams were within reach and would all come true. I graduated with honors and immediately got the job I wanted with a company out of California that put on multi-media assembly programs in schools throughout the country. I thought this would be a fun job before I got into the business of full-time church Youth Ministry.

The job was great and one night before I went to sleep I started thinking about a girl who went to Northwestern College. I didn't really know her well, but I found her quite attractive physically. On a whim I wrote her a letter, not knowing if I would ever hear back. Sure enough she did write back and I came to find out that she also had admired me from afar. I was going to be in the Twin Cities in a couple of weeks and so I asked her out on a date, and she enthusiastically accepted.

October 10th finally came and I took her out to eat at a place I loved, the Lido Restaurant where I worked all four years of college. Within the first half hour of conversation I was hopelessly in love and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was the woman I wanted to marry and spend the rest of my life with. I silently pledged to myself to do everything I could to make that happen. The date went extremely well and we went out the next day as that I would be leaving town, not to be back until Thanksgiving. While on the road we wrote many letters back and forth getting to know one another and often bearing our soul. Through the letters and phone calls I was growing to love her more with every interaction. Thanksgiving time came and I had to drive across Wisconsin in a nasty storm to get home, so I could see her again.

The day after Thanksgiving I drove to Glenwood City WI, so I could meet her family and go on our 3rd date. Things went very well and that night under the stars we kissed for the first time. And if it wasn't true yet, I was now passionately in love with this girl. On the way home I literally cried with joy for at least 15 minutes for having met someone so totally wonderful. Once again for me it was life on the road with a courtship of phone calls and letters. I was on top of the world, life had never been so good and I had a pretty awesome experience my last 3 years of high school. Christmas break finally came and I headed home where I would spend as much time as possible with her. We went out multiple times on day long dates either up with her family in WI or down in the Twin Cities.

On New Years eve 1992 I drove to WI to pick her up to take her back to cities where we would spend the night together at my parents house in Bloomington. On the long drive to Bloomington we reflected back on the year; I think it was she that asked me what was the highlight of my year. I told her it was graduating from college, which wasn't true meeting her was the biggest highlight. I asked her the question back and she responded that meeting me was the highlight of her year. I was "over the moon," never had anyone spoken to me something so wonderful. We held hands and all was right with the world.

We brought in 1993 in each others arms and we ended up sleeping together, fully clothed people, down stairs in one of the rooms in the basement. The next morning we finished a book I had been reading her and she got quite emotionally distraught as she shared with me the pain she and her family had gone through before her dad had come to Christ when he serially cheated on her mother. I comforted her the best I could and we talked on a deeper level than we had ever before and we had been plenty deep with each other before this point. My heart was now broken for her and I knew more than ever there was no way I would ever want to live my life without her in it.

Things settled down an eventually we went downstairs and started making out, which is something we did frequently when we were together ever since that first kiss. It was during this time that I could not hold it in any longer and I told her I loved her. She asked me if I was sure and I told her I was and we went back to an intense session of making out. Later on in the afternoon I took her back to WI and this would be the last time I would be able to see her until late May because my next job tour would be on the East Coast. Before she got out of the car we prayed together kissed one last time and then she was gone.

1992 was the best year of my life, 1993 would be the worst.

Life on the road started out well as I basked in the glow of love. However, for her trouble would soon rise as she began to struggle with the question of love. She wrote to me that she promised herself when she was young that she would never tell a guy she loved him until she was absolutely sure. She wrote that she cared for me more than any guy she had ever met, but she couldn't yet say she knew me well enough to say she loved me. I wasn't bothered by this as all and was satisfied that she obviously cared deeply for me. I was in no rush for her to do anything as I was sure she would come around to the point where she could say she loved me in time. In a letter she questioned how it was I could say I loved her and I answered her back trying to make her understand. My love for her was more than a feeling, but a deep conviction within my mind, heart, and soul. My answers did not satisfy her and one night in late February I got a call and she was in tears over this question. I don't remember what I told her, but apparently it wasn't right and soon she would grow distant and her letters stopped coming. After what seemed like an eternity I reached her by phone and we agreed that she needed some space to work things out. The phone calls would stop but I could still write her letters, though I shouldn't expect any back. I was obviously troubled by this but not to deeply as I was confident this was a difficulty that could be overcome. I was certain it was God's will that we be together and nothing can stop that right? The next few months were tough, but I had a deep hope that things would work out when we could get together and talk things through face to face when my tour was over.

Another thing that happened during this time was that my dream Youth Ministry job, Jr. High Minister of Youth at Hope Presbyterian (my home church), had opened up and I went through the interview process. The people involved in the search were intimately familiar with me because we had worked closely together for several years when I was in college volunteering and interning with this youth program. Much to my dismay I didn't get the job. The significance of this would weigh on me much heavier later on down the line.

In addition to candidating for the Hope Youth Ministry position, I applied to be a Camp Counselor at Camp Shamineau near Motley MN. To this point my experience with Church Camps was with Camp Ojibway, a small camp owned by Hope Presbyterian. I thought working at a massive camp like Shamineau would be great Youth Ministry experience. I was familiar with Shamineau because some of my friends from high school went there and/or worked on staff as Jr. Counselors. Also the women of my dreams had been a counselor there for the two previous summers. I got the job and unbenounced to me a few weeks later the women of my dreams once again applied and got a job as Camp Counselor there.

When I found out she would also be working at camp it was just confirmation to me that God had a plan and this relationship was meant to work out. Finally after 5 long months my tour was over and I was back home. After a couple of days I called her up, so we could meet and talk face to face. Seeing her again was all I could think about for those 5 months and I thought it was a good idea that we clean the air before working together all summer. She didn't want to see me or talk. For the first time I was really hurt and realised there was a serious problem.

Orientation in preparation for camp started and at long last I saw her beautiful face again. Finally one afternoon we got a chance to talk and she explained to me where her head had been. She told me that she learned I wasn't the person she thought I was and that was her problem. Frankly, I just ended up very confused by what she told me. I didn't know what to say as that when I was with her I was never more myself, my best self at that (Note- that is the truth and hurts to write). She also told me that she and a person that counseled her when she was struggling came to the conclusion that telling her that I loved her was "wrong" because it put her in a bad position. Apparently, despite numerous reassurances to the contrary by me, she believed my declaration demanded that she respond in kind forthwith. For me almost nothing was resolved and I just had more questions with which to wrestle. Camp started and I threw myself into it but it was hard and many nights I would silently cry myself to sleep. I was confused and didn't know what to do, but pray, lean on my faith, and be at my very best so she could see me for who I really was.

The summer was emotional agony as I was so close to her and she showed herself to be everything I knew her to be, entirely beautiful both inside and out. I was hoping and had some conviction that working so closely she would realise I was a good catch and she would come around. The summer went by and towards the end we had a couple more talks and it was becoming clear that she wasn't coming around and things were not going to work out in terms of a romantic relationship. I was deeply disappointed, but I had tried my best and it was what it was. We talked and I told her because I cared so much for her that I wanted us to be friends and I meant it. I guess I was naive because in my experience there were girls who liked me that I wasn't interested in with whom I had built very good friendships. To me that was normal.

The Summer at camp finally ended and at first I was just dazed and shocked that things didn't work out. But soon the shock gave way to the sting of rejection and I began to hemorrhage hurt and shame. I went into deep depression and was emotionally shattered into a million pieces. My heart was broken and there was nothing to soothe the pain. I did attempt to build a friendship with her but she was cold and I thought she was annoyed with the whole situation. Even though it hurt enormously I knew I had to say goodbye for good. I didn't tell her what I was doing, but I made one last phone call and that was my final goodbye.

I basically mourned my loss hardcore through the Fall, Winter, Spring and into the next Summer. I was in dire need of friendship and even professional counseling, but I hid my deep hurt and suffered mostly alone crying out only to God.

"What do I want from this life?"
I wanted to love and serve and minister to L.E.N. every day of my life and I wanted that more than anything I have ever wanted or will ever want. And it didn't happen. The whole experience wounded and changed me and I don't know of one good thing that has come of it.

Still while the most important, this wasn't my only dream

"What do I want from this life?"
Wasn't what I really want from this life is to be used by God? Despite the emotional blow of that relationship failure my commitment to God remained firm and in the Fall of 1994 I once again pursued the calling of a career in Youth Ministry by registering to go through the 7 week Tentmakers Youth Ministry training program. That Tentmaker training experience was good and in many ways healing to me, but the truth was I still needed a lot more healing; I had fissures that would only grow as the strains of ministry took their toll.

My first official full-time paid Youth Ministry position was at an ELCA Lutheran Church in Canby, a small SW Minnesota town just a few miles from the South Dakota border. The Church was not the best fit for me as that I didn't grow up in a small town and thus have a feel for what it is like to live and grow up in a small town. In some ways the culture, especially that of older teens was foreign to me and thus a challenge to fit myself into. I had a much harder time building relationships with the youth than I had ever previously experienced. Also my background is not with the Lutheran Church and I don't share the theology of infant baptism, which is important to ELCA Lutheran's. With Tentmakers you sign on for a two year commitment and it was pretty clear to me early on that the position would probably not grow into something more long term beyond that two years.

My time in Canby had it's high's and low's and I lasted 2 years and 4 months, but as the last 12 months went by things progressively got more difficult personally and professionally. I didn't go out on my own terms or from my perspective particularly good terms for the Church as a whole. Frankly the situation sucked for a couple of different reasons. Without going to far into the weeds, the Church had a pastoral staff of two, the Sr. Pastor and I. About a year in for me the Sr. Pastor retired and so the Synod brought in an interim Pastor while the church conducted it's search process for new leadership. The interim Pastor was fantastic and became a much beloved mentor to me. The biggest suck at the end was the lousy position the interim Sr. Pastor was put in by the Church. The Church board rejected his advice about how to best handle my situation and it was he that got hung out to dry because of it. He had to soldier on alone in a very demanding position for another year after I left because several consecutive Pastoral prospects fell through and they kept having to totally restart the search process.

I had hoped to stay on at the Church through the end of the Summer and for the sake of Pastor Cy I would have been willing to stay on longer because there definitely would have been a need. As it was the Church dumped me at the end of April. It seemed to work out well enough for me, at least at first, as I moved into my families lake cabin near Annandale MN and I fished all summer into the Fall while applying for a few different Youth Ministry positions. In early September the A-Frame Cabin that was to be my parents retirement home, which sat on the property where I now live, was destroyed by a tornado. I then spent quite a bit of time here helping to clean up the mess.

I didn't get any of the ministry positions that I was interviewed for and so when the weather got to cold at the Annandale cabin I moved back in with my parents in Bloomington. It wasn't long before I started to get very depressed that I wasn't getting any offers for a new ministry position. Once again my dream job of working at Hope Presbyterian had it's whole Youth Ministry staff open up; I got a short letter thanking me for my interest and informing me I wouldn't even get an interview. I was extremely hurt by that development. As the winter wore on I got extremely depressed. Personally I was living a very isolated existence having lost touch with friends from high school and college. I didn't get involved with Christian fellowship anywhere in the anticipation that a new church position was forthcoming and that is where I would plug in again. However, I think it was in March or April that I attended my first meeting of the Fishers of Men Fishing Club (Twin Cities)

Winter turned into Spring without any offers and few interviews. Early in the Summer I voluntarily assisted Tentmakers Youth Ministry for the first two weeks of the 7 week Youth Ministry Training. I hoped that experience might turn into something more, but it didn't and I just got more depressed when no offer was forthcoming. It was into September and I was extremely discouraged when I got a call for an interview with an Evangelical Free Church in the NW Suburb of Rogers, MN. The position looked great as I think the Evangelical Free Church is one of the best Church denominations out there. The interview process went well and they offered me the job starting in October. I quickly found an optimal housing situation for me and my dog Soren and things seemed to be really clicking. Obviously things were happening in God's timing and I was the happiest I had been in a long time.

I wasn't in the church very long before I felt right at home and I thought that this was a position that I could see myself in for a long time. The longer I was there the more comfortable I felt and things seemed to be going well. In March I was to have a 6 month evaluation, but it didn't happen until mid April. I was given a form to complete evaluating how I thought my performance had been in various areas and what I thought could be improved. I filled it out, turned it in to the people responsible for doing the review. I was quite positive about how things were progressing. Within a few days I met with the Pastor and a couple of Men from the Church Board for my review.

I was 100% blindsided by what they told me. In their view my performance was unsatisfactory and there were a number of problems which needed immediate attention. To say the least, I was shocked. They basically put the ball in my court giving me a few days to think and pray about it and get back to them. I went to my parents cabin near Annandale to get away and I fell apart. It was like getting rejected by her all over again and all those those feelings of inadequacy that had been dogging me ever since the breakup came to the surface in wave after wave. After about a day of that I went back home and sought counsel from several people about just what I should do. My ministry training said something was seriously wrong with the picture and I was in an impossible situation where the chances of me turning things around were quite low. The only people that counseled me different from that conclusion was the couple at the Church I was closest to on my ministry team. I decided it was best if I resign, which I did as gracefully as I could.

Once again my heart was broken and there was no fix. After that fiasco, no church in their right mind would hire me and I had 100% lost the ambition to ever try and be a Youth Pastor ever again.

"What do I want from this life?"
I wanted to be a Youth Minister serving my God for life, but when it came right down to it I obviously wasn't very good at it. Epic Fail!

But on the bright side at least I had my Norwegian Elkhound dog Soren and I had found spiritual kinship in the Fishers of Men Fishing Club.

"What do I want from this life?"
That's a hard question when your two biggest dreams in life die a miserable longsuffering death. Some people are very resilent and they quickly find new motivations, they find new dreams. I haven't. I just try to survive and am glad at this point the severe emotional pain has mostly gone away.

"What do I want from this life?"
I could still be used by God, wasn't that what I really wanted and had commited my life towards?

I stayed on for a while in that Church because I liked the people and the kids, but eventually I started to get disillusined with and bitter towards the Pastor. I decided it was best that I leave the Church at that point. Turns out the Pastor didn't last much longer at the Church after having served in it about 20 years.

I ended up losing my ideal housing situation in the Spring of 2000 and then bounced around in a few that were less than ideal for the next couple of years. I had a job at Gander Mountain which I enjoyed but it didn't pay very much and I found myself sinking deeper in debt; A problem that had started back in Canby when I got sick and my medical insurance was insufficient and I didn't think to ask the Church to step up. I probably had the chance to advance with Gander, but I wasn't motivated to do it. I got a 2nd job working nights in a Schwans warehouse that paid better, but then I was to tired to work at Gander, so I had to quit.

Right after 9/11 I ended up moving in with a good friend from high school. He lived in an apartment in South Minneapolis that didn't allow dogs, so my dog Soren, much to my dismay, had to go live with my parents. After coming home one weekend from being up North fishing I got back to find a note from my friend saying he was skipping town and I was on my own. Fortunately the landlord was an understanding guy and was going to let me stay there until I could find a new place. As it turns out I would fairly quickly find a great situation with a awesome group of Christian guys in a house that was much closer to my job and took dogs, so Soren was back with me.

Life in this house was very good for me as I was surrounded by great fellowship. I got involved with a good church and one morning while I was reading my Bible and praying I had a mystical experience; A brilliant white light came to me and spoke and it was as if all the pain I had been carrying was taken away. Once again I started to experience real profound joy, which was something that had escaped me ever since my heart was broken the first time. I was on a real "spiritual high" for at least six months. But then my job situation started to sour as the company wasn't keeping it's promises to me. I started getting physically fatigued. I went on vacation and didn't return until a couple of days after I was suppose to be back. At that point the company owed me a raise which I hadn't seen in more than 6 months; I figured they owed me. They didn't see it that way and I was fired.

I didn't have a clue what I wanted to do next and very half heartedly looked for new employment. Pretty soon I started getting very discouraged again. I began slipping spiritually, emotionally, finacially and, as I would soon find out, physically.

I had been unemployed for about 6 months when on March 14th, 2003 I woke up with the flu. It was awful. I also developed a nasty pain in my upper back between my shoulder blades. I had been experiencing similar pain after playing broomball games that winter but I thought it was just a chronically pulled muscle. That morning the pain became excruciating at some points and I thought I was getting cramps from dehydration as I couldn't keep anything down. Eventually I called my younest brother ,who didn't live very far away, to come and take me to the hospital so I could get an IV. I was miserable and the pain was highly intense. I got to the emergency room and was admitted. I'm surprized I didn't pass out while being admitted, I was in bad shape.

The doctor came in my room and immediately zero'ed in on my shoulder pain and brought an EKG into the room. Upon getting the readings he knew I was going through something more serious than the flu. They wheeled me out of the room and gave me morphine which just made me feel even worse as it tightened my already badly nauseated stomach. They also gave me nitro pills. Another doctor showed up and they informed me I was having a heart attack and would be immedietely ambulanced to Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids where there is a Cath lab.

"What do I want from this life?"
While I waited for the ambulance to be ready I was in so much pain I just wanted to die and was totally at with peace with it.

Well as that I am writing this now, I obviously didn't die, which is a bit surprising because my problem was in the "widowmaker" where a blockage often means you don't get to write a blog about it. I had an angioplasty with a stent put in and then I was taken to Intensive Care. When I woke up I was already feeling better and the nurses were fabulous and all good looking which helped my mood;). Eventually I was soon moved to a regular hospital room.

The day of my heart attack my Mom started heading home to Pennsylvania where her Mom was dying. Upon getting the news about me she immediately headed back to Minnesota. I think my Grandmother died the same day I was moved into the regular hospital room. Since it was clear I was out of the woods my Mom headed back to Pennsylvania to be with her family there. The people of the Church where my youngest brother was a Youth Pastor were wonderful and I was visited several times by one of their pastoral staff; I was given a prayer shawl knitted by the ladies of the church, which was for me a real comfort.

"What do I want from this life?"
How about my medical bills paid?

One night while lying awake alone it hit me that I was already beyond broke, without insurance, and I would have no way to pay for this. It was very depressing and I cried myself to sleep that night. As it turns out I was visited the next day by someone who inquired about my financial situation, which I laid out. This person assured me that things would be taken care of and that I didn't need to worry. I don't remember if I believed him very much.

I wasn't in particularly good shape and when it came time to leave the hospital later in the week I went to stay at my youngest brothers house. The Iraq War started and I watched "Shock and Awe." I think it might have been the second night when my youngest brother, his wife, and I were watching TV sometime after 10PM, when we got a call from my Mom asking us to pray. Her only remaining sister, of two, was unconcious and my Aunt's heart had stopped. My Mom is a nurse and had been giving her sister CPR until the ambulance came. My Aunt was pronounced dead either in the ambulance or at the hospital, I forget which. Needless to say it was a nightmare of a week for my mother.

It became apparent quickly that my heart had suffered major damage, but it would not be fully clear how bad until another 6 months out. While at my brothers I got a letter in mail that informed me that all my medical bills would be paid in full by the hospital and the people of the great state of Minnesota. When I saw just how much it was I was in "shock and awe" along with being very grateful. THANK YOU Allina Health Systems and Minnesota!!!

Since I was weak and we didn't know just how bad my heart would be, the decision was made that I would move in with my parents at their place on Platte Lake in Central Minnesota. Upon moving in with them I started cardiac rehabilitation therapy at the local hospital in Onamia and started regaining some physical strength and endurance back, but I needed to sleep a lot. I fell into chronic depression, but it wasn't as bad as it might be because of having my Mom and Dad so close and of coarse there were our dogs.

After 6 months it came time to get checked to see just how bad was the damage done to my heart. The results were not encouraging. I think my ejection fraction was down around 20 and 55-75 is considered a normal healthy heart. My cardiologist told me sometime in the future, but there is no way to know how long, I will go into congestive heart failure and will probably need a heart transplant. Also I am at high risk for the development of a fatal irregular heart beat, so it was recommended that I get an Internal Cardio Defibrulator, which I had put in right before Thanksgiving.

"What do I want from this life?"
I just want to go fishing.

I have been lucky my heart function has actually improved with time and now my ejection fraction is around 30, which is still pretty bad but way better than a 20. With the bad news of 20 I dragged my feet but would eventually decided to start the long process to apply for Social Security Disability about a year later.

Despite having my medical bills paid, with no income and little to no prospect of income in immediate future my finanicial situation was hopeless and I filed for bankruptcy, which was quite depressing. Pretty much the only assets I had were my fishing equipment and my truck; I got to keep those because they were such small potatoes.

I was physically able to become more independant, but I started running into conflicts with my mother over some things. My Mom and Dad were worried about my mental health, specifically with my depression. They strongly suggested that I get counseling, which I did. I didn't tell anyone but I started having strange mental symptoms and at times I thought I was going crazy. I was put on medication for depression but I don't think it helped and my mental health was actually deteriorating. I started showing symptoms of bipolar disorder, but I kept that hidden for the most part at least to the people physically around me. The people at the Internet message board got to witness some of my erratic thoughts as I would go through manic phases.

By the end of the cardiac rehab in the Fall of 2003 I had regained a fair amount of physical stamina and was able to go fishing for extended periods. I contintued to be involved with the Fishers of Men Fishing Club. In 2004 I joined a for cash bass fishing club with the sponsorhip of my oldest brother and his wife. I volunteered with Great Expectations Ministries or GEM, which is a fishing ministry to mostly underprivliaged and inner city youth that is based out of the Twin Cities. GEM runs Summer camps around greater Minnesota. In November of 2004 I started my blogging career.

Something that surely did not help matters in terms of my mental health was that on December 15, 2004 my dog Soren suddenly and unexpectidly died at the young age of only 8. In his last couple of years Soren had developed a series of health issues and apparently there was something more serious going on than we or the vets knew. Looking back I think I handled it somewhat well. I always knew my time with Soren would be limited; I just didn't know how long. As it was, I easily could have died before Soren. While Soren was alive I loved and enjoyed the dog about as much as I could. Losing Soren was tough, but not wretchedly painful. I have a strong conviction that there is an afterlife and I believe dogs make the cut.

"What do I want from this life?"
Soren to visit in my dreams, and from time to time he does.

On September 26th of 2005 my deteriorating mental health came to a head and I had a psychotic breakdown. I was hallucinating and I had all kinds of distorted thoughts which I was acting out on. It was very strange and I remember most of it, literally I had gone crazy. My parents called for an ambulance and their Pastor. I was completely out of my mind. The Pastor showed up as did the first responders and then the ambulance came. I was coaxed into the ambulance by a good looking parametic and maybe a good looking first responder too. I may have been out of my mind, but not so far as to not be a sucker for a pretty girl. I was taken to the Onamia Hospital emergency room where I was sedated and stabilized until they could find an open Psych Ward where they could send me. After a number of hours and a visit from my youngest brother the Youth Pastor, I was sent to a Hospital in Duluth MN. By the time I had talked with my brother I was returning to normal but medicated. When I got to Duluth I was able to calming explain everything that happened and what I had been thinking.

As you can imagine this episode significantly frightened my parents and family. I stayed in Duluth for a few days of obersvation though I think I was back to totally sane before I went to bed that first night. I had daily meetings with the staff Psychiatrist and group therapy sessions with some of the other "guests". In a few days I was cleared to go. My mom wasn't so sure as I don't think she had been given a good explanation and was not assured it would not happen again. Dad drove me home on a beautiful Fall day.

"What do I want from this life?"
After that experience, just being in my right mind would be nice.

I was put on medications by the Onamia hospital Psychiatrist and got a different psychologist who was better equiped to deal with my case. The medications seemed to make a positive difference and my new therapist and I got along really well. In addition to being a licenced psychologist, he also had a Master of Divinty which I think helped immensely because spiritually we were eye to eye. Eventually my parents came to a few therapy sessions and I think that was really good for them and our relationship. My parents understood me better and what I had been and was going through. I think they felt a great deal more compassion for me, especially my Mom. In time it seemed that my counseling sessions had run their course and so we stopped but I don't remember exactly when that was.

"What do I want from this life?"
I just want to go fishing, but soon I didn't even want to do that much.

In the Spring and early Summer of 2006 when it was hot I started to develop an aversion to the heat. I was getting fatigued much more quickly and for a longer duration. It may very well have been a side effect of my psychiatric medications. On July 8th early in the morning on my way to a bass club fishing tournament about 20 minutes into the trip I hit a deer with my truck and pretty much totaled it. Amazingly I was able to turn the truck around and limp it home. Dad wanted me to take his truck and go to the tournament, but I was bummed out by this development and just went to bed. I went into a heat fatigued fueled depression and never fished another tournament with that bass club. The only thing I blogged the whole month of July was about hitting the deer. On August 23rd I blogged:
Ever since I hit that deer, I have had very little interest in fishing. I've only been on the water twice since; Both trips I was fishing with someone else or I wouldn't have bothered. Since I've had no interest in fishing, there has been no interest in blogging about fishing or anything else. I guess the BP is just drowning in the dog days of summer.
I didn't blog about a single thing in Sept 2006, the only month I haven't blogged anything since starting the Bass Pundit project in November 2004. Slowly my desire to fish and blog have come back, although ice fishing and Fall walleye trolling on Mille Lacs no longer annimate me like they had previous to the breakdown.

"What do I want from this life?"
To be used by God, isn't that what I really want?

After the breakdown, I got actively involved with a Christian Missionary Alliance Church in Garrison, MN. That was good for a while, but in time I ran out of inspiration to be involved there and after about a year and a half of attendance I just stopped going. I haven't made any attemps to find a new church since. My participation with the Fishers of Men Fishing Club and with GEM would soon start to diminish significantly as well. The fact is my desire to be used by God has become seriously sapped out. I still acknowledge God with my head and still pray occasionally but my heart is far away. Spiritually speaking my heart is cold and indifferent.

With blogging and fishing in time my desires to do those things have returned, will I ever find desire and passion for God again?

"What do I want from this life?"
I want to love the Lord God with all my mind, heart, soul, and strength. But with what I've been through, right now I just can't seem to find much love. My mind seems dull, my heart is cold, my soul is in the wilderness and my strength has failed me. Even still I believe God has great love for me even though I really just don't understand it.

In Psalm 73, one of my favorites, it is written:
"My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

Saturday, January 01, 2011