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Revisiting The Depressies

It’s been nearly four years since depression had its strongest grip on me, and almost three since I wrote this.

The multitude of things that have changed for me in that span of time is seemingly incomprehensible, at least from my own perspective. The improvements that have been made, as well as the destruction of personal potential and potential relationships; they’re all right in front of me. There’s an ebb and flow to all of life, and sometimes that results in a net gain and net loss.

I’m happy with where I am—a rare thing for anyone to be able to say, even if I’m sort of faking it (but only sort of). I’ve avoided writing on my personal site for so long now because the majority of my posts were melancholic and getting a bit redundant in their depressive nature and tone. I’ve had to resist the urge to virtually light everything on fire and watch it burn while marshmallows rested at the end of a pointy stick. However, it’s still a release, especially in those moments when a case of the “depressies” can rear its ugly head.

We all have our shit, and all of our shit can seem insurmountable in the faintest of moments, however long or short. I’ve been having my moments more frequently lately, and I can pin them on a number of things. Here is where depression can hurt as much, if not more: shit is hard even when shit is good, or at least when that shit should at least be considered good.

There are moments of doubt, whether about yourself or everything else. There are things you fear that keep a tight grip on you, even if they’re rather inconsequential. There are people you will distrust, no matter how many opportunities they prove worthy of your trust.

Struggling through depression is certainly not unlike being a drug addict. The drug of choice in this instance is more a cocktail of emotional narcotics—sorrow, pain, worry, anguish, insecurity, loneliness, etc. A nice, long hit of any of these brings a physical release like an alcoholic’s sip. We get addicted to them, and like the addict, we typically know just how terrible they are for us. In spite of that we refuse help, or feel that no help is given when wanted. Our loved ones suffer through it, wondering what they could be doing better, or if they even have the power to continue suffering alongside us.

We will always be considered depressed, even if we aren’t relapsing or falling off the wagon. We will carry this weight with us the entirety of our lives, managing it and fighting it until our last breath. And so will our loved ones.

If you’re reading this and you relate, whether personally or by proxy, then understand you aren’t alone. Seek help as often as you can. Pull yourself as far as you can go, and then ask someone to pull you the rest of the way.

You are not alone. 

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Dating in Phoenix, and why you shouldn’t…

Dating is an annoyance. An inconvenience, even.

If you’ve ever dipped your toes into the shark-infested waters of the dating pool, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You don’t HAVE to spend a lot of money, but of course you end up doing that anyway. Every date has a tendency to start with the same surface level questions, like asking someone what their favorite color/animal/food/music genre is. And more often than not, you’re going to have more misses than hits, especially if your name is Larry King. (He had a lot of wives. Misses. Mrs? Forget it; I don’t owe you people anything.)

Over the past year, I’ve opened myself up to the dating scene like never before. Where I used to be rather restrained in my approach with women, I’m now far more comfortable approaching someone I don’t even know, in person and online. I’ve gone on dates with the types of women I never considered as possibilities, as well as the types I thought I could only dream of, at least on the surface. You could say that I’ve broadened my search to fit nearly any type of woman, or you could say that I’m desperately alone. You could also say neither would be entirely inaccurate.

To be honest, I’m actually OK with my singleness. Sure, it would be nice to be in a relationship with someone that is built on trust, intimacy, and love, but I don’t exactly have a lot to offer at this stage of my life aside from semi-witty conversation and a whole lot of opinions on everything. At least, that’s what I’ve been feeling since I moved to Phoenix.

You see, Phoenix is an interesting place. I come from Indiana, which is in the heart of the Midwest. Everything you’ve heard about the Midwest is generally true, which isn’t something I realized or admitted until moving away from it. There’s a certain genuineness to the people back home that I don’t come across as frequently here in the Valley. There are definitely genuine people here, and people who would give you the shirt off their backs. However, and this might be a case brought on by my own doing and the people I surround myself with, I’ve been deeply turned off by the rampant superficiality and shallowness of the general populace. This is probably a “young adult” thing more than it is a systemic Phoenix issue, but nevertheless, it’s true.

What makes this an even more interesting case study is that the amount of ridiculously good looking people (RGLPs for short) in the Valley is so high it would make Derek Zoolander turn left without thinking. (Timely pop culture reference, right there.) This giant glob of RGLPs—which I have dubbed “The Gathering”—makes for an interesting culture that makes it very difficult to wade through all the bullshit. If you know what the labels “Scottsdale Girl” and “$30,000 Millionaire” mean, you know what I’m talking about.

On more than one occasion, I’ve had to end a date within the first thirty minutes because I couldn’t stand listening to the other person. And on more than one occasion, I’ve been “let down” because I didn’t meet an arbitrary job/income requirement. And yes, I’ve also been turned down because the other person just didn’t feel anything toward me.

These dating difficulties aren’t exclusive to this area, to be sure. However, I’ve noticed them far more than I have in any other location I’ve lived.

So, all of this to say: Phoenix, I love you. But I don’t want to date you.

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I’m on Tinder. And you probably are, too.

Have you heard of this app called Tinder?

You have, and I’m sure you’re on there. You just don’t want to admit it. Lord knows, I wish I didn’t have to admit it.

It’s a shameless thing, really. You sign up with your Facebook account, and then populate the app with 1-5 photos of yourself; preferably your hottest ones from just the right angles, duh. If you’re feeling extra spunky, you’ll write something in the form of a bio, and then get a panty dropping result like this:

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Once you’ve created your profile, you can get to doing what you came here to do; which is judge people of the opposite gender (or same, no judgment) based off their factor of doability. You’re given profile after profile of people within a certain age and distance restriction that you determine, with the objective of making it known whether you like or dislike what they have going on. A simple swipe of their photo to the left is a big fat “Ew, you nasty,” while a swipe to the right is “MY LOINS ARE YOURS!” Nobody gets to see who they’ve been swiped left by, but if someone you’ve chosen also chooses you, you’re both notified. From there, what happens next is up to both parties.

While the concept isn’t exactly new (think of Grindr), it’s certainly genius in its simplicity. Give people the chance to let someone know they’re interested with relative anonymity until that person reciprocates. It’s all every insecure teenager named Jared could have ever asked for!

I’ve been on Tinder for about two weeks, doing some “tests” and “research”. I’ve actually met a couple people, and no, we didn’t bump uglies. They were, in all honesty, quite lovely human beings who were just curious about meeting other quite lovely human beings.

But there’s no denying the “hook-up” feel of Tinder. You get a few good looks at someone who’s close in proximity to you, and then give them a virtual wink of the eye. You’ll get what you want out of it. If you’re looking for a hook-up, you’ll find it. If you’re looking for a relationship, and so is someone else, you’ll probably find each other.

Tinder isn’t my first foray into the online dating world, as I’ve tried out such sites as Match.com—and sad to say—Plenty of Fish and OkCupid. Christian Mingle and eHarmony were never serious contenders, though I did give them a minute’s consideration. (Hey, I might have been desperate, but I wasn’t eHarmony desperate.)

I’ve gone on a number of dates with women I’ve met online, and so far none of them have turned out to be terrible decisions. No, I’m not currently with any of them, and only a handful did I see beyond the first date. They just weren’t my type.

At first, I chalked the type of women I was meeting up to the fact that I’m in a new part of the country that has a different culture than I’m used to. I’m a good old fashioned Midwestern boy (at least according to the women I’ve met here), and this is the West Coast. Life is different. There’s no doubt an abundance of incredibly gorgeous women in this city, but there’s also a rampant superficiality that I’m not accustomed to.

That’s what I tell myself, at least. Yes, I believe it’s also true, but the fact of the matter is that I choose who I go on dates with. I’m pretty good at figuring people out rather quickly, and I’ve long been able to sum someone up with just a few bits of information about that. One would think that online dating would make it incredibly easy for me to weed through the type of people I would enjoy getting to know more, and those I wouldn’t let touch my heart (or penis) if my dog’s life depended on it. That being said, most of my dates and the women I’ve met have been incredibly…subpar. That’s my own fault, really.

I don’t care if I sound like a jerk. You either have a connection with someone, or you don’t. Everyone has a “par” for their own course, and quite frankly, most people SHOULD have to meet a certain level of expectation and requirement. I definitely don’t meet the expectations and requirements of a number of women, and thank God for that, because I’m not for them. And they’re not for me.

I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian environment, attending a fundamentalist Christian high school, followed by attending a fundamentalist Christian university, where I studied to work in a predominately fundamentalist Christian field. Needless to say, my concept of dating has changed quite a bit since those formative years. I grew up thinking that in order to achieve “God’s Plan®” for my life, I had to find the perfect wife. And I better do it fast, lest people think I’m a lothario; or even worse, some sort of gay.

What I’ve since learned is that if you marry your high school sweetheart in a church with a steeple amidst a field of lilies, then hooray for you. What I’ve also learned is that if you’re well into your 30s, 40s, 50s, and so on, and you’re still single, then yippie-kai-yay, motherfuton.

The point is, find what works for you. There’s nothing wrong with experimenting with that, because Aphrodite forbid you actually find out what you’re looking for in love. It doesn’t matter if you find that person on Tinder or at your church singles group. It’s your heart. Do what’s necessary for it.

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Screams

Your feedback is greatly appreciated…

The following verses have been bouncing around my head for quite some time now, and we discussed them in one of my classes this morning, which is a bit too coincidental for me.  Read over them and if you’re open to it, please share your responses to the questions that follow.

1 John 3:4-10

4Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.7Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.

1 John 3:16-18

16This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

1 John 4:20

20If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.

In what ways do these verses radically change how we interact with one another?  More importantly, the way in which we interact with God?

Would this be a total paradigm shift for you, like it would be for me?

Please, feel free to comment on any of the 18* or so blogs I have.

*I really need to simplify the way in which I do things.

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Welcome, Biplay Dilip Pandit…

Heather and I have decided to sponsor a child through Compassion International.  As such, we just received our info packet containing much of what we would need to know about this young child in order to begin showing love from the other side of the planet.

Here is life-change in paper form:

Biplay

Biplay 2

Biplay 3

I so look forward to being a part of this child’s life, as well as receiving more pictures of him.*

The ultimate goal is to see this commitment through, and as Little Biplay turns into Big Biplay, to have been a consistent part of his journey.  Now, what that looks like exactly will take much prayer and meditation in order to comprehend.

Jar

*With less obvious terror in his face.

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My first and probably last post on sex…

The apparent trendy, controversial topic in churches these days happens to be a simple yet complicated three letter word: sex.

I agree wholeheartedly that the Church has allowed culture and society to dictate what sex means to many people, including myself, and there is a definite need to redeem the idea of “getting down” to be considered as something amazingly spiritual and pleasurable between two married people.  I think it’s great that churches are now breaking taboo and speaking out on the wonders of physical intimacy.  If we could break apart our perceptions of this act of love from what we’re being told it is, there surely would be less heartache in marriages.  Of course, we must remember that sex itself should not be an end all goal in a marriage, but therein lies my point:

Do you think we’re starting to swing the pendulum too far in the opposite direction by focusing so much of our attention on an already culturally gluttonous topic?

In my opinion, I’m not entirely sure.  But I am starting to wonder.

Then again, this is coming from a 25 year old, unwed male.  The perspective might be a little skewed.

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Sometimes, we all need that little reminder…

If there’s one thing I can tell you for certain about this world, it’s that you will not get very far on your own.

Though I’m someone who is fairly independant, it’s becoming increasingly evident to me that I can not, and should not, try to do it all on my own.

What is “it”, you may ask?

“It” is life.  Living.  Doing things like work, friendships, family, and love.

All of these things take other people, whether we like it or not.

I often wonder why God made it so we would have to rely on others, but then I end up smacking myself in the head when I realize that wasn’t it at all.

He has set it up so that we have nothing truly great to rely on besides Himself.

I wrestle with that.  I’ll admit it, I struggle with believing, living like, and convincing myself that God is really all that I need in this world.

Unfortunately even more so, I will sometimes find myself relying too much on people.  This isn’t to say that I think it’s a bad thing to rely on someone else; obviously if you read the beginning of this post, you’d see that’s not what I’m trying to say here at all. (Forgive the unwarranted defensiveness.  It’s late, and I’m tired.)

But when my relationships with other people become the center of my universe, it is the Creator of that universe that gets shoved aside.  How sad of a thought is that, that I would do such a thing to the One who loves me more than I can even imagine?

For me, I think the biggest reason is that I yearn so much to be loved.  Affection, whether it is of the physical nature (i.e. hugs, kisses, a pat on the back, high fives, etc.) or of the verbal nature (i.e. words of affirmation, encouragement, etc.), is how I tend to gauge my worth.  As a result, those things that are tangible to me, people, as opposed to the One I can not see with human eyes, have been my primary source of comfort and love.

Writing this out makes me realize more and more how tragically flawed I am.

I was created to find my sole joy and purpose in God, while everything else, including relationships and community, was just meant to be a bonus. But I instead search to quench my hunger in the icing, while I let the cake just sit in the open air, getting all stale and dry.  (Figure that analogy out and you win something special.)

I realize that I am making generalized statements here, and that there is immense value to be found in our earthly relationships.  But I have to keep reminding myself, and allowing myself to be reminded by others, that if all I hold dear to me were to crumble to pieces in one night, God would still be there to help me pick them up in the morning.

I can rest easy knowing this, and my prayer is that you can too.

Jar

Posted via web from That’s preposterous…

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