The toolbox

Sometimes, when I’m feeling all depressed, somewhere, deep inside, it’s because I want to be.  I’m not proud of the fact that I can throw some pretty epic pity parties for myself.  But there are times, when I do.

Then, though, there are these other times.  With all my heart and soul, I don’t want to be down.

I have this little metaphorical  tool box, when I’m feeling down and I don’t want to be.  I open it and I survey the trusty options within:

One of my tools is to hike.  One is to read the bible.   I network with family and friends.  I write.  I pray.

Often times, I can find the right tool for the job.

Sometimes, I can’t find which one.  It is too much.  It is too scary to think I might try one and have it not work.  There is this perverse side to hope.  If I hold out the hope that something might make things better, it is safer and it is easier than actually trying it.  Because if I don’t try it, I can always hold on to the belief that things would get better.  But if I actually take it out of the tool box, and do it, and if things haven’t changed… that’s bad.

So there are these times that I just stare into the toolbox, paralyzed.

But the worst is when I reach inside it.  And I try the first tool.  And the second.  And the third.

And eventually?

Eventually the tool box is empty.  It’s contents lay around my ankles.  I am still sad, or alone, or depressed, or whatever.

It occurs to me: if I had more tools in the toolbox, perhaps I’d have fewer of these experiences of staring into that empty thing.

And so the question of the evening:

What are the tools in your toolbox; what do you do when you’re feeling down?

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jeffsdeepthoughts

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

2 thoughts on “The toolbox”

  1. I used to think about these issues the same way as you have desacribed, and even thought of remedies in the metaphor of a toolbox. After all, this is what I had been hearing from my pastors. One item that you mention was never included in the toolbox—that was the Bible. Why wasn’t it? Well, the Orthodox never like to put the holy scriptures on the same level as anything else that exists.

    I don’t think in terms of a toolbox any longer. Why not? Because when I am broken, there is nothing I can do to fix myself. Maybe I can suppress a symptom or smooth over a disappointment, but when it comes down to it, I can no more fix myself given any number of tools than I could fix my 2000 Montana van. When it’s broken, I take it back to the Pontiac dealer.

    I also found that my brokenness and the problems I had to face got worse as I got older, not better—I mean, I understood from making the same mistakes over and over again, and watching my family members and friends do the same, that we cannot fix ourselves. That’s why the toolbox metaphor with its real items (some like what you listed) fell out of my active mind.

    http://cost-of-discipleship.blogspot.com/2009/02/broken.html

    There is only One whom I turn to now to fix me, to console me, to inspire me, to heal me, and that is God alone. I go to Him with every problem or trouble, great or small, and He tells me what to do. Sometimes it is just to wait, because the time has not arrived when it can be solved. And yes, reading the bible, and serving others are usually the two quantifiable activities that the Lord leads me into when He wants to work on me, when it’s time to fix me, as my friend Yudi says, not overnight, but over time.

    http://yudikris.blogspot.com/2009/06/over-time-and-not-over-night.html

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  2. Thanks. There’s a lot to chew on here.

    Reading scripture is something I do when I’m feeling lost… Somehow, serving others is not something I jump right too. I am deeply narcistic when things aren’t going well, and this failure on my part is probably indicitave of that.

    I do think it’s exactly right to think of all the things we do as mere symptom management and to recognize that all true healing happens through God.

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