I woke up AFib on Wednesday
Hospital feet
My standard “foot pict” with sushi smuggled into the hospital by my dearest friends.

I woke up AFib on Wednesday. Atrial Fibrillation. The chambers of our hearts usually beat on a regular rate. However, it can go all Southern Baptist on you and lose its groove. I felt just a little dizzy and just a little nauseous. Nothing really debilitating or significant. I started to go to work and then decided to lay down and go in just a little late. But I got a couple alerts from my new Christmas present like those new Apple watches are apt to do. It was telling me my regular 55 BPM heart rate was bumping along at 120. I called a nurse friend who gave me some [good] advice, but instead, I decided to do what dudes do…I sat in my chair and drank some water and figured it would all work out in a minute or two. This grand plan was interrupted by my little sister from another mister who bugged the hell out of me to go to the Quick Clinic. I gave in.

So there was this point when the doctor at the Quick Clinic was telling me what my watch and my little sis had already told me. Doc had just said the EKG was AFib, and he was elaborating that I was heading to the ER and that I couldn’t drive myself. This bugged me because I was perfectly able to drive my own damn self to the ER. I had driven myself to the clinic, and I was a grown-ass man. I was also anticipating the I-told-you-to-go-to-the-ER text from my lil’ sis. I had been told all this earlier that morning and responded to it all with the skeptical and well-practiced eye-roll my dude nature gave me.

So my good and loving wife (a true saint and so much better than I deserve) left work to chauffeur me to the local ER. I was afraid the “healthcare” “industry” was going to life-flight me the mile and a half from the clinic to the hospital and take a massive bite out of my retirement savings (because that’s such a better system than one where costs are regulated and shared—evened out, so no one is thrown into financial ruin because of unexpected medical expenses…but I digress.) The humans of actual “healthcare” took great care of me. They smiled. They were comforting. They built up my confidence in a very unfamiliar place. They apologized for sticks and pokes that are simply part of their jobs because they knew it was uncomfortable for me. They even laughed at my occasional “dad humor.” From the very low paid aids to the very accomplished doctor, cardiologist, nurses, and other staff, all were wonderful. (Except for the chicken salad sandwich I was attempted to be fed at dinner time (see the picture above for what I actually ate) and the lousy hamburger patty served with some canned “gravy” poured on top presented to me at lunch as a “hamburger steak” …but again, I digress.)

I sit here on my back porch today with my feet up by the fire reading a little, writing a little, wasting some time on Facebook a little. As my heart bumps out its irregular little tune, I contemplate how perspective changes almost immediately sometimes. I’m fine. No drama intended with this post. But I also recognize the reality check my little life-hiccup gave me this week. More motivation to get healthier this year. More perspective on what matters. Love for those people who are friends who become family and for blood family who are always here for you. Here’s to 2020. Here’s to beating out a brand new rhythm this year. And my heart getting back to a healthy and utterly non-Southern Baptist rhythm.

Fixer-Upper

Fixer-Upper

Spirituality - BBTI’ve been involved in a renovation project over the past several months. Demolition stage was challenging and required some trust that the outcome would be worth the effort. Some of the demo was merely cosmetic. However, there were some loadbearing walls involved as well. These walls were substantial, and I’ve had some pushback from some who thought I went too far. But to this point of the project, I’ve not regretted any of those decisions. These were the changes that really opened up the space to be something I could never have imagined otherwise. Now that the demo stage is pretty much complete, and I’ve begun to add some framework to the foundations that were exposed. The intent is a very open space conducive to hospitality, conversation, and growing relationships. As the construction continues, I hope to be open to suggestions and input growing out of those conversations and relationships. I’m beginning to recognize that this project will be ongoing for the foreseeable future. I’m anticipating taking out and replacing some of the features added recently. Probably not rising to the level of a full demo, but being open to the likelihood of redecorating as the need arises. It’s very gratifying to know that the work that has been completed to this point has really produced the desired results! I’m loving this space! (Even as it’s still under construction and probably always will be.)

Horizons

Horizons

©Mike Young, Horizon

“A horizon is a phenomenon of vision. One cannot look at the horizon; it is simply the point beyond which we cannot see. There is nothing in the horizon itself, however, that limits vision, for the horizon opens onto all that lies beyond itself. What limits vision is rather the incompleteness of that vision. …What will undo any boundary is the awareness that it is our vision, and not what we are viewing, that is limited.”

James Carse, Finite and Infinite Games 

I’ve officially been unemployed for several weeks. The difficulty of writing and ultimately posting that sentence online revolves around how much us dudes draw our identity from our places of employment. It’s an open admission of what very well might be our most significant vulnerability. In that time, I’ve been turned down by some potential employers as I’ve been through their process. I’ve turned down a potentially good gig as Senior Pastor of a good church. I’ve also sent out resumes and applications that received nothing but the standard rejection form letter. Those of you who have experienced such a process recognize the highs and lows, the hopes and the hopes dashed.

I’m continuing to look, searching for an opportunity worthy of investing my work, my life, and my talents…but also someone who will “pick me.” It’s an interesting place to find oneself. The lure of someone wanting you is strong and very appealing. And the desire for a comfortable place with a steady paycheck can sometimes have an undue influence on the decision, leaving more important criteria neglected or even ignored. I’m convinced that if at all possible, the best criteria are to ignore the ego as much as possible and get to know my soul a bit more intimately. The soul is that most pure expression of who we were created to be. So much of our everyday experience is crafting narratives that often begin to define our identity but mask our very souls. If there is anything I’m sure of, it’s that I want to invest my soul into this next season. I type that knowing that a “want” such as that is luxury that often none of us can afford. There are bills and house notes and other necessities of real life.

What exactly do I want to do in this next season? That’s a more difficult question to answer at this crossroad of career/job/vocation/calling/faith. The opportunity for self-reflection these past weeks have provided is a rare and precious gift. I recognize fully the luxury and my privilege to engage this sabbatical. There have been several books, numerous podcasts, many miles of running/walking/thinking, untold numbers of social media posts and articles that have provided the intellectual/spiritual backdrop for my journey.

The past few weeks have been a time to recognize and distinguish true friends and community from the superficial, very southern, and very “churchy” imitations. It’s interesting how clearly this can be seen. In fact, it is probably only times like this that this can honestly be seen. It is, at first, a punch in the gut, then a revelation, and finally an extreme blessing. Knowing who your real friends are, the ones that love you unconditionally and are a part of the family you choose and who return that blessing by choosing you is invaluable. I would suggest it as the only way to attempt to walk through this particular road that I’ve been walking these past few weeks. Speaking only from my experience, I wouldn’t want to travel this road without them.

Where I find myself today…here on my porch by the fire on a gorgeous fall morning with my MacBook in my lap…is a place of complete freedom. I can do whatever I want to do. And then it hits me…”Oh shit! What do I do?” Sometimes, no constraints are the heaviest and most oppressive of obstacles.

I’m not at all sure why I would publish such a vulnerable essay to the judgmental whims of a blog post or social media. There are many reasons not to click the “publish” button. Except, I’m almost certain that what I’m experiencing is a universal human condition that is often denied or at the very least, covered up.

James Carse’s book, Finite and Infinite Games provides a profound lens through which to view our world. This sabbatical of sorts that I’m walking through has offered an opportunity to expand my horizon so to speak. What I saw as boundaries we’re merely limits of vision. While my ego is still desperately seeking a label/title to place on its lost self, my soul has begun to reintroduce itself. I haven’t quite pried ego’s hands from the steering wheel and placed him in his comfortable back seat. My Soul is waiting patiently to assume the driver role.

I’m looking forward to seeing that horizon move.