Last Friday night, my two-year-old son had a cold that suddenly started getting worse. He began coughing harder and harder, and eventually, he started wheezing. I normally would’ve deferred to my wife on something like this, but she was out of town, so I decided to wait it out. When his breathing became progressively shallow, I drove him to the emergency room in the middle of the night. They told me that a virus had provoked a severe asthma attack.
A few years ago, I had a coworker who was particularly unfriendly from the start. She barely even acknowledged me when I’d see her and say hello. Then one day, it changed.
There I was, sitting in a circle of a dozen Christian men who had come together for the express purpose of being vulnerable with each other. It felt awkward.
For the first few years I wrote my blog, it was the number one source of stress in my life — more than moving to a new state, having two kids, starting a new job, or getting diagnosed with an incurable condition.
I have a friend who was once known for her strength, and now she’s becoming known for her weakness. Rachel Wilhelm, a popular guest writer here, has felt her body break down over the last year. The only diagnosis doctors can offer is fibromyalgia, a mystery illness known for pain, acute weakness, and frequent sleep disturbance. Yet somehow in the midst of it, God has taken Rachel’s weakness and made something strong out of it. Here’s her story, in her own words:
According to recent research, people without friends die sooner than those with friends.
My wife and I did not intend to have another year of sweeping changes in 2016. We never do. We told ourselves this year was going to be different. The roller coaster was finally going to stop. No more big transitions like the previous eight years of marriage.
I did not enjoy going to church last Sunday. I took my three kids to the service by myself because my wife wasn’t feeling well. The journey started out well enough — we were in the car and only running 12 minutes behind when we pulled out of the driveway. But it was all downhill from there.
My first lunch with my friend Tim did not go well. He was a new guy at church and we worked in the same area of the city, so I figured it would be a chance to make a new lunch buddy. About ten minutes into the meal, I changed my mind.
I didn’t have many friends in middle school, but I had Jeffrey Mitchell, and I needed him. Some of the popular boys had started making fun of me, so I was growing increasingly uncomfortable in my own skin. Jeffrey didn’t seem to care. We spent time at each other’s houses, hung around each other during recess, and sat next to each other when we had the same classes. This included Mrs. Silkman’s seventh grade English class where unfortunately, our friendship came to an abrupt end one day.
Several years ago I knew this guy who wanted to be good friends, but he didn’t act like much of one.
At 12 years old, I can assure you it was not my plan to have a meltdown in front of a handful of my seventh-grade classmates, some of whom I didn’t know very well.
I don’t have a lot of regrets from my childhood, but there’s one from fifth grade that still bothers me. I made friends with a second grader named Jennifer who rode my bus. She had a round face, a raspy voice, and a wild mop of wavy blond hair. And those eyes — they nearly disappeared when she smiled, which she did a lot — especially when she was talking to me.
Up in Washington, D.C., there are plenty of ignorant folks who assume evangelical southerners like me are judgmental, closed-minded, and prejudiced in all kinds of ways. It’s sad and frustrating, but it’s reality, and I’m sure my friend Macie Anderson has been on the receiving end of it as well.
I spent a lot of my early Christian walk hiding the areas of brokenness of which I was most ashamed. It was like I believed the worst stuff would go away if I simply didn’t acknowledge it. All it did, however, was cover up the symptoms until my issues bubbled to the surface, causing me to sink into shame. But over the years, the Lord spoke a lot of comfort to me with this Bible story about a man who was seen as unapproachable.