December 2020, I got Covid, For 2 1/2 weeks, I struggled. I cannot lie and tell you I wasn't worried about recovering. I was. I was writing goodbye letters to my family and sharing memories of our lives together. Fevers daily, many days a fever would break then kick back in maybe 7 or 8 times. I wasn't getting any better. I had pneumonia setting in. After a visit to the emergency room and getting on meds, the fevers eventually stopped - 5 days before Christmas - but I was left a shell of a man.
Weaker than I had ever felt in my life, I could barely stand for 2 minutes before I had to rush to find a chair to sit in. A year and 3 months later, I am still struggling with much of the damage that the virus left behind. One of those health issues of concern was my heart and lungs. I went to a cardiologist to see if there was any damage. The doctor decided I would wear a halter monitor for 2 weeks, 24/7, and see if he could find any issues. When I signed for the monitor, I also had to sign a paper stating if anything happened to it while in my care I was out 1400 smackers (that's boomer for dollars). A bit cautious about proceeding, I figured what could happen? It's going to be on me all the time. I'm going to wear it around town, when I'm eating, sleeping, etc. The only time I would remove it would be to take a shower.
LET'S JUMP IN THE WAYBACK MACHINE NOW SHALL WE?
As an elementary student in the mid 70s I was heavily bullied. The bullies, who unfortunately lived on my block as well, would taunt me, tease me, threaten to beat me up after school and all manner of other bully things bullies do. I lived most if not all of my childhood years in constant overwhelming fear. I would wait around after school and sneak home an hour later so as to throw the bullies off my scent. There were the off times when I thought I was safe, that I would be ambushed on my way home from school and pushed to the ground, ruining my homework and sometimes my clothes if it was rainy or snowy and the grass of the yards in my clone home neighborhood was muddy. It was abuse. It was traumatic.
When I was home, I would not leave my house. I would keep the lights off so the bullies would think no one was home. If I was alone in the evening hours because of my parent's work schedules, I would turn on all the lights and the two TVs we had - one big console TV with a corded remote (woooo) and the other a tiny B/W in my parent's room - just to give the impression that the family was home so the bullies would not come to the house. Here's the ringer: these same kids would ask me to play kickball in the streets (inevitably because they did not have the appropriate amount of warm bodies necessary), ride bikes with them or play other "reindeer games" and NOT beat me up. I wanted them to like me so I often agreed to hang out with them but eventually the good times would cease and we were back to the old tricks. So I learned very early not to trust people. The lie I believed about people was: Everyone would be nice one day but stab you in the back the next.
The other struggle I had in elementary school was that I was not into sports. I didn't play them well. I didn't know the rules. Whenever we would have recess and play sports like kickball or softball, etc. the two best sporty type kids in my class would be team captains. As each kid started to pick players for the team, I knew what was coming. I was always last. They would pick a kid with cerebral palsy or the girl everyone teased for being ugly and overweight prior to me. I was always "process of elimination." When it was decided by random selection whose team I would be on, I would predictably hear, "great now we're going to lose." If one was looking for self-worth, this would not be the place to find it.
OK BACK TO THE HEART MONITOR STORY....
Everything was fine. The heart monitor was working fine, or so it appeared. I couldn't tell. I wasn't getting any calls from the doctor's office that it was not working properly as they told me I might. However, I woke up one night around 1pm and had to utilize the loo. No biggee. I drink a bottle of water each night before bed. I heard somewhere it was good for you. As I was reaching over to flush the Number 1 down the drain, the monitor came loose from it's holder and fell into the commode!
I quickly reached into the urine-laced water rescuing the monitor and grabbed a towel quickly drying it off. An error message came up and a red light - where a green light had always been - came on. I knew it was ruined. This one moment in time sent me into a flailing tizzy. I began to scream, "I can't believe this!!" Over and over, I was just screaming it. I might add a few choice morsels escaped my mouth as well. My wife had awakened from the commotion and like she always does, goes into fix it mode. A bag of rice, putting it in front of our fan we sleep with 365 days a year - and yes on Feb 29. Nothing was working and I was really starting to lose it. "This isn't happening!!!" And then --- I broke into my own self-righteousness. (This oughta be good). Through my tears, because stuff like this always follows me AND because I was sure to be in hock for $1400, I began to get in God's face. "I tithe!!!" "I serve you by helping men fight for their freedom from sexual brokenness!!!!" "I don't steal or kill people!!!" "I make poverty wages just so I can help others!!!!" "Why didn't YOU protect me and this device????" "I haven't watched porn for ten years!!!" You know, when you try to prove to God how awesome you are, it usually ends with something like, "But the Cross..." UGH. Ok, I get it. He's right. This was nowhere near the anguish of the Cross. But it was anguish!
I knew I was going to have to call the doctor's office and humiliate myself with this story come morning. I hated the thought of this happening. While I was up in the morning trying to stay calm and make some breakfast, in the midst of my anger and inability to understand why this had happened, I heard God say to me, "You know the two don't go together." I knew what He meant. I say it all the time to men. "God has interrupted your life at this time in this way because He wants your heart." "He disciplines those He love." "He wants you free from everything that stands in the way of His love reaching deep into your life." Turns out I still had stuff standing in the way of His love reaching deep into MY life. God knew that this one moment in time would expose pain I was still holding onto. Pain that still messed with my self-value. A self-value that I didn't have because I was either no good for anything but a punching bag or that I had zero to offer people who were counting on me to kick a ball or catch one. That worthless feeling I had been living under for decades which is why I felt better when I would escape to porn or some type of sexual fantasy. No one there ever turned me away because I wasn't good enough. Living in that realm truly was the perfect storm that created and sustained my sex addiction.
God was showing me there were still areas of my life dictating my thought processes. Subtle as they may be, there were areas (and are areas) in which I was not fully free. Areas that if God did not deal with them, they could rear their ugly head and in the twinkling of an eye, I might change course and revert back to my old ways of dealing with life.
And furthermore, He's not on our calendar so these moments could pop out of anywhere when God says it's the right time. You will most likely be caught off guard so use this blog as a bit of prep. If it happens and your whole soul goes on display for the world to see, remember, it could very easily be God reaching further into your heart to actually heal the pain. It normally doesn't feel like it, but it IS what's going on.
I also heard Him say that He was pleased as punch to see how I had trusted Him with my finances as I tithed and that He was blessed beyond measure to see that I was helping men, fighting for their lives in sexual addiction, to find freedom. But still, the two don't go together. But they are both going on simultaneously. God is always after our heart to see to it that it is the most free it can possibly be, because He has an inexhaustible love to share with each of us and talents and abilities He wants to instill in us to do the work of His Kingdom. The Psalmist said it best, "Lord show me YOUR way that I may walk in YOUR truth" and "Even darkness is light to You." He sees it all. He wants it all. But even more than that, He wants YOU!!! It's difficult at times but we must recognize, God is doing all this for our good. One day it will all make perfect sense.