A Maturing Addict

I started this blog in 2011, wrote inconsistently for a couple of years, then shut it down. Two years ago I was getting ready to relaunch the FJS site with a shiny new podcast. I worked in Christian radio back in the 90’s, and figured I could translate those old school broadcasting skills into something more modern and hip. But then, life happened. Or, I was lazy. Depressed. Tired. Lost. Not sure which excuse fits the bill. Point is, I didn’t relaunch, and you missed out on me gettin’ jiggy with the vocals.

But I’m back now, and I’m keeping it simple. No broadcasting. Just writing. I like to say that following Jesus sucks. Truth is, I suck at following Jesus. And I’m writing about it because, like a flasher, I have this strange compulsion to expose my private parts…

Pain.
I absolutely suck at handling pain. I’m not sure how much an individual should have to endure, but I’ve had my share and it feels more than plenty. But it just keeps coming, like a California-drenching atmospheric river. The flood carves its way inward – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. A deluge of pain requires drastic measures. An emergency response. My problem is that when the torrent dwindles to a trickle, I keep the emergency actions in place.

Making an Addict
You never get excited about anything.
You never get excited about anything.
You never get excited about anything.

(Damn broken record!)

Like most, I discovered early that life is painfully disappointing. The homework for this elementary lesson was to find the best medication for my symptoms. I went through the natural progression of Playboy-fueled-wanking. White Russian Big-Gulps. Mind-altering, mood-enhancing snorts and puffs. And naked romps with non-imaginary women. Medicating became my identity. It defined me. No meds? No me.

Maturing Addict
A serious car accident in my mid-twenties, coupled with a growing dissatisfaction of who I had become, triggered a desire to see what this Christ-following biz could do for me. It seemed reasonable that “getting right with Jesus” could get me off the crazy train and on the path of…something better. A seismic shift was taking place. An identity tug-o-war. Old vs. New. “Getting my shit together” was the new me.

During my first semester of Bible college at age 30, I smoked weed and snorted coke with a childhood friend while on spring break. I couldn’t resist a dip in the old medicine cabinet. And I ain’t gonna lie. Good times were had by all. But that slip was cause for expulsion. I didn’t say a word to my new Christian friends. I was too afraid of being shunned by the very people who should’ve been anti-Shunites. So, I put on the Christian mask and pretended to be a good boy. I was a pretending shit-together Christian. Seems there’s a term for that type of practice…  Oh I remember, it’s Religion.

If my twenties were about medicating with a party lifestyle, my thirties were spent getting high on a more pious way of life. Filling myself with knowledge from the Good Book and getting my shit together was the cure I needed to set me free. But was I free, or just a more polished addict?

Mature Addict
I’m in my forties now, and I can honestly say that I’ve pretty much, almost totally, gotten somewhere close to maturing beyond my old ways of medicating. I mean, I’m not snorting coke, and I definitely look nothing like a good Christian. But damn, pain prevails and I still suck at handling it!

Sure, the new addiction seems harmless. I’m a Netflix junkie. Just remove the “L” and call it Netfix, because I must have it! I get ticked at Netflix for not updating content fast enough. Stranger Things is taking for frickin ever! You feel me?!

So what’s my identity now? I guess I’m a non-pretending, non-shit-together Netfixer. Still an addict, just a more socially acceptable one.

Is Life Found in Medicating or Embracing?
A wise man once said that one of the keys to true joy was the ability to embrace pain and emptiness. I don’t know what the hell that means, but I’ve lived long enough to know that pain is relentless. It’s a ravenous beast that eats numbing, avoiding and ignoring for breakfast. It will hunt you to the grave.

Any experienced junkie will tell you that medicating can produce counterfeit joy, which only fuels addiction and thereby increases pain. It’s an ugly cycle of death. Detoxing is the first step to break the cycle. The path to true joy requires the end of medicating. It requires facing the source of pain, instead of drowning it with Netflix or whatever your pleasure.

I think the wise man was right. Life and joy are found in entering/embracing pain. Medicating doesn’t improve my relationships. It doesn’t stir a passion to offer whatever is good in me to the world. It just makes me a giant black-hole, sucking the life out of everything around me. So I guess it’s time to detox, and face whatever it is that’s causing…

Ooh, cool! Netflix just released a new show! Sorry, gotta go!!