Saturday, September 26, 2015

Excuses

I am quick to come up with excuses for why I do certain things.  I was at one point diagnosed with depression and I always cited that as the reason I was failing at life.  I failed English composition 101 at a community college four times!  After that I actually got suspended from that school because apparently they don't allow people to take it more than three times (somehow the system let me register for it a fourth time anyway) and it is a graduation requirement.

Why?  Depression - or so I said.  Oh, and did I mention I'm epileptic?  Yeah, that too - let's through that in there as an excuse as well.

Does clinical depression exist?  I don't know, probably.  Does epilepsy?  It seems so, I do have seizures when I don't take my meds.  Did/do I need medication to treat depression as well?

Well see that's a good question. and it's one that I've struggled with a lot.  I don't think it's fair to compare epilepsy to depression because depression serves a purpose.  When you put your hand on a hot stove it hurts, but that pain lets you know that you need to move your hand.  Depression obviously doesn't feel good, but it can sometimes be an indication that something is wrong (an abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation).  The brain is a part of the body, however, and I suppose that in some cases extreme depression can, like epilepsy, be caused by a physiological disorder instead of or in addition to a normal response to some perfectly reasonable outside cause for depression.

Okay then, so what does this have to do with me failing college, not passing classes, not going anywhere or doing anything, etc.?  Really, thing that epilepsy and depression have to do with my un-achieved goals is that they were excuses.  All that rumination contained in the paragraph above this one hasn't done me much good.  I've come to the conclusion that, while it's important to address the problem and take care of it (medication, therapy, whatever), it is also important to move on! Many people have far worse obstacles to overcome - and do!  Many people with physical, mental, emotional issues have somehow gotten past them and done some of the most amazing things.

I'd like to say I've quit making excuses, but I haven't.  I catch myself doing it all the time.  I'd like to say I won't do it anymore, but I know I will and to say that I won't is just setting myself up for failure.  What I can do, however, is make a commitment to looking past my obstacles and, by the power of the Spirit, doing what it takes to live abnormally!

The following lyrics are from a song called Scapegoat by Atmosphere - a local hip hop duo from right here in Minneapolis.  Youtube link here: https://youtu.be/mnZCqzvLEW8

"It's the caffeine, the nicotine, the miligrams of tar
It's my habitat, it needs to be cleaned, it's my car
It's the fast talk they use to abuse and feed my brain
It's the cat box it needs to be changed, it's the pain
It's women, it's the fight for power, it's government
It's the way you're giving knowledge 
slow with thought control and subtle hints
It's rubbing it, It's itching it, It's applying cream
It's the foreigners sight seeing with high beams, It's in my dreams
It's the monsters that I conjure, It's the marijuana
It's embarrassment, displacement, it's where I wander
It's my genre, It's Madonna's videos
It's game shows, cheap liquor, blunts, 
and bumper stickers with rainbows
It's angels, demons, gods, it's the white devils
It's the monitors, the soundman, it's the f**king mic levels
It's gas fumes, fast food, Tommy Hil' and mommy's pill
Columbia House music club, designer drugs and rhyming thugs
It's bloods, crips, fives, six
It's stick up kids, 
It's Christian conservative terrorists, it's porno flicks
It's the east coast, no it's the west coast 
It's public schools, it's asbestos
It's mentholated, It's techno
It's sleep, life, and death
It's speed, coke, and meth
It's hay fever, pain relievers, oral sex, and smokers breath
It stretches for as far as the eye can see
It's reality, f**k it , it's everything but me"

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Goals

I'm really not so great at making goals and being diligent about doing what it takes to achieve them.  Jonathan Edwards must have been a pretty amazing guy to write and achieve all seventy of his.  Here are a few of mine (tentative, I will refine them later):
  1. Get some industry certifications, starting with Network +
  2. Memorize Romans 8 and 9
  3. Bible in a year
  4. Pray every day
  5. Become proficient in a programming language
  6. Become proficient in an IRL language
  7. Learn how to use Kali
  8. Write my wife love notes and show her more affection
  9. Read a book - any book (seriously, this would be a major accomplishment for me)
  10. Play the violin more
  11. Get better at riding a unicycle
  12. Some arbitrary nerdy project that I can talk about in future job interviews

New Blog

I have another blog that I have been posting to every few months for several years now but I have decided to to start fresh. That old blog contained nothing but cynicism, despair, hopelessness, self-pity, and negativity. Apparently I was only motivated to write when I was feeling horrible. My goal for this blog is to be full of hope, joy, love, critical thinking, and positivity.

I thought long and hard about a name for this blog because I plan on being faithful with posting to it and I knew I would have to live with the name I chose. The name "An Abnormal Reaction" comes from a quote by a man named Viktor E. Frankl - an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor. In his book Man's Search for Meaning, Viktor writes, "An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior." There is no shortage of excellent quotes in that book, but I chose this one because I think it will allow me to write about a wide variety of topics while still being relevant. The quote I believe was written from a psychological perspective. Viktor explains that behaviors that might be categorized by some as disorders are really not so strange in light of the person's past experiences. As a Christian I believe that we are living in a fallen world, and are therefore all the products of an abnormal situation. Pain, suffering, disease, hate, and violence are all a consequence of sin entering the world. I recently listened to a podcast in which John Piper describes Satan's hold of this world:
"He is global. I mean, his tail is sweeping down stars. It says in 1 John 5:19, 'The whole world lies in the power of the evil one.' That is just absolutely stunning. The whole world lies under or in the evil one. He was not bluffing when he said to Jesus, 'To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me' (Luke 4:6). This is why Jesus says he is 'the ruler of this world' (John 12:31; 14:30). And Paul calls him 'the god of this world' (2 Corinthians 4:4). It is why this age is called 'the present evil age' or 'the dominion of darkness' (Galatians 1:4; Colossians 1:13)." -- John Piper, A Case for Satan
In light of that, it is surprising that things aren't worse than they are - and our sinful, selfish behavior suddenly seems a little more normal.  What is truly abnormal then is anything but corruption. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (fruits of the Spirit) are not normal reactions to a world "in the power of the evil one", but are possible and even expected from a Christian - someone who has been transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

So I guess the gist of all of this is that I am an abnormal reaction in two senses. One, I am not perfect.  I sin.  I hurt myself and I hurt others.  I am by nature and nurture a flawed, dysfunctional creature.  However, in a second sense I am abnormal because this is no longer my identity and I therefore have the ability to change.

I just really confused myself but I hope some of that made sense.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy the blog.