MOXIE-MAN (or The Unexpected Virtue of Patience)

Chris:

 

I spent an enormous amount of time in deep meditation over how “Patience,”

coincides with battling clinical Anxiety/Depression. I must admit I was overwhelmed by a particular emotion that I did not expect.

 

Gratitude.   

 

I thank God for blessing my life by surrounding me with people who were not only willing to wait on me, but also willing to wait on God to do work with my life. In my last post, I talked about how many times I had to say “Yes,” to create a positive outcome. I promise you… I cannot believe how many people I said “no” to, or how many times I said no in general. As I ponder my past, I realize how many moments where I missed out, and how many more I would have missed if the people in my life hadn’t accepted my rejections and waited.

 

“No” was my protection...the ultimate problem-solver...the quick and easy answer.

 

I often reminisce on my Valley Forge College days (back then some of the dorms still looked like old war hospitals, I think they still do). I lived alone in my dorm-room, which made it very easy to stay alone. I didn’t have a very good dating life before I met my wife, but some girls did try. I was just not able to handle feelings for another person (you can imagine the awkwardness this would create).

 

I’m a very happily married man, but saying yes to a few dates before my wife might have helped some of our early marital battles. In fact, I can guarantee my wife would not have married me if she did not possess an extraordinary amount of patience, because I didn’t know how to treat a girl.

 

I wasn’t a complete jerk, but sometimes…

 

I was a complete jerk, but not by design. My wife has certainly taught me a lot, and I imagine I have much still to learn. Thankfully just for only one special person.

 

I remember the first time I considered suicide…

 

This kind of thought creeps into your mind like a thief, and there’s always variables as to the cause. For me, it was at VFCC experiencing my first semester at a REAL school, with classrooms and a campus. I know this may sound silly to many of you, but when you go your first eighteen years of life never experiencing REAL social settings, life seems just a bit confusing. Personally, I was horrified...unable to adapt. One night, I had been talking to my prom date from High School (believe it or not, Homeschoolers could go to prom, and believe it or not, I had a pity-date), professing my love to her and getting back “Um...I have boyfriend.”

 

Yikes! That did it...it wasn’t the rejection; it was just the icing on the cake. I decided to walk to the most traveled road near the college. I waited for cars to drive by (I’m sure you can guess my intention). For about 15 minutes I waited...I was patient...then I lost my nerve and walked about 10 yards away from the road, back towards the college; at that moment, an SUV finally passed by…

 

I was disturbed by the choice I had made...

 

It wasn’t the choice to come-to-my-senses and walk away from such a final decision; it was that I only walked away because I had grown too impatient to wait for death.

 

My thought was…” I’m not good for anything...this road is always busy even late at night, yet here I stand alone. I can’t even successfully kill myself.”

 

That night broke me into many pieces, but it was also something God used in my life to change me for the future. I didn’t recover from these emotions immediately, in fact suicidal thoughts and act-outs occurred randomly, even after I was married. What finally changed was how I viewed life; I stopped seeing life through my eyes and began to see life through God’s.

 

I began to see life for what it is… a gift.

 

The title of this post references an incredible film called “Bird-Man (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).” By the end of the film we find the central character (Riggan) tortured by his feelings of uselessness to the world and everyone around him, especially to his daughter (it’s clear he’s disturbed by how much of her life he’s missed out on). He decides to kill himself in on-screen dramatic form; on-stage in front of a live audience.

 

If you want to know the conclusion, you’ll have to watch the film as I hate spoiled-endings. I’m only using it as a reference because my feelings towards the film were too palpable to ignore. I understand completely what it means to feel absolutely useless to the world, and the regret one feels when they realize they’ve been living entirely for themselves.

 

In my recent past I’ve attended four funerals; this week I’ll be attending my wife’s grandmother’s funeral...it will be the fifth funeral in two years. The first four had a common denominator that I suspect I will also find at the fifth.

 

Sad people who are full of joy.

 

How is it possible to be full of joy at a funeral? The common denominator is that even though some of the five-people died unexpectedly, they all lived complete lives with an acceptance that God was their savior. When someone dies leaving their life incomplete, the funeral is not sad, plus happy.

 

When I was very young I attended a funeral of my cousin Jeremy who tragically died in a car accident...he was still in his teen’s. The funeral was sad + sad = sad. I remember it wasn’t his age that removed the possibility of joy, it was the lack of certainty and completion. My whole family could only think about how much was missing.

 

You may or may not have struggled with suicide as someone battling clinical anxiety/depression, but death is coming whether you’re ready or not. How will you live your life every day? Fearful of a future that is not even guaranteed?

 

I’ve wasted much of my life fearing the future and I still do often, but when you focus on others, and allow yourself to be patient with a God who has already been more than patient with ALL of us, you will find the future is less frightening. We are not descendants of fearful people, we are called to be active-patient, to be Moxie-Men and Moxie-Women…

 

For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not, not delay.

 

-Habakkuk 2:3


Kimberly:

 

Patience – what is patience?

 

What comes to your mind when you think or say the word?

 

The actual definition per ol’ Webster is “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering without getting angry or upset”. The first thing that comes to my mind when I think or say the word, or think of its meaning is... “Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”

 

I can’t see into your life, but patience is not an easy virtue for me, especially when I must use it for repetitive behavior.

 

To be in a loving relationship with my husband requires much patience.

 

This is not an insult.

 

In fact, if your relationship with your partner isn’t challenging you, then you might want to reevaluate it.  

I’m not convinced you truly know how much you love someone until your patience is truly tested, beyond your expectations. I didn’t even know the severity of Chris’s mental stability until after we were married, because he used to just say it was insomnia.

 

Believe me, it was much more than insomnia...

 

There were countless sleepless nights, where Chris was having an episode of panic and couldn’t be left alone; I’d be awake all through the night trying to calm him. He felt alone if I would fall asleep and would quickly wake me while trembling.

What was/is he scared of?

The answer to that question is anything and everything. He would relay some fears of people, and social situations, but I think the fear that ultimately dug the deepest ditches was the fear of what is unknown. Which of course is EVERYTHING. “Nothing is certain but death”, he would often say to me which is true, but not something to obsess about or to continuously anticipate.   

 

What my husband did not realize was that his behavior would often leave his wife alone, self-conscious, doused with feelings of shame.

 

This caused endless fights and arguments. Disputes that started from denial of invitations (because I didn’t want to embarrass Chris I would often cover for him), telling friends or family that he couldn’t make it to an event because of sickness. I also had to deny on outings or plans to stay home with him, because I was never sure if his suicidal thoughts would take over.  Quite often, Chris and I would be out driving with a group of friends yet I was the only one who knew how anxious we both were.

Would he have an episode in front of them? He was far too embarrassed to let that happen which would cause us to sometimes need to leave a family outing half way through.

Patience is never easy to conjure when trying to help someone with anxiety/depression…

I won’t put it lightly… sometimes it feels impossible, unbearable and agonizing. There are moments I specifically remember dealing with some of Chris’s panic attacks where the question popped in my head if I could continue do this.

 

How Long can I continue to be the lifeline for this person?

 

The more and more episodes, the more and more the question flooded my mind.

Don’t get me wrong… I did not take marriage or my vows lightly. When I married Chris I by every means intended it to be “for better or for worse.” But during this trial of time it only seemed to be “worse”. I held back any emotions I had from Chris to help not trigger a reaction, more sleepless nights, fights, panic attacks, bouts of depression… it appeared as though it would never end; I felt my last string was being pulled.

Finally, Chris slowly began to change in front my eye’s; it wasn’t that his issues disappeared, they didn’t, but his fears of the unknown began to diminish. He stopped caring about what the world thought of him, and only focused on what God thought (God became his one and only lifeline).

 

God does not see your faults or failures as inadequate, He sees them as opportunities for His glory to shine through you.

 

As our family prepares to celebrate the life of my grandma, Eleanor, I think of the patience that God instilled in her. At the age of 46, my grandfather passed away from leukemia leaving her to raise four children. She continued to pastor her church for the next 36 years. When her parents were older in age, she cared for them also. I remember clearly the days going to church with her in the chaos of life and her patience and peace of God was in her as she continued to minister with her life.

I am eternally grateful for the example my grandma left for me to follow. A devoted wife, a devoted mother, a devoted grandmother; a devoted servant of Christ Jesus.

 

The end of a matter is better than its beginning; likewise, patience is better than pride...

  

    -Ecclesiastes 7:8        

   

 

 

In Loving Memory Of

Elinore F. Pra