March 29, 2011

NO MORE SECRETS!

Well, here we are again. Coming out from underneath the rubble of the devastation caused by a pastor cheating on his wife. It's like one of the jaw-dropping tsunamis - creating this life-crushing, leave-nothing-in-my-wake waves of destruction. I have to be honest that I'm not sure how much more my heart can take of this. I don't think brokenness and anger are supposed to be mix like this. And I'm not even one of the ones in the direct line of fire. That said (and using the pastor's own words) he's "given the church a black eye". True. I can't write another blogpost about this. I can't spell ACCOUNTABILITY any other way - dress it up and draw more attention to it. It is what it is. [Whatever the heck that actually means.] You either want it - demand it of yourself - or you don't. You either live transparent, out in the open, in full view for the world to see - scars, wounds, and all - or you don't. You either live honestly and openly - desperate for integrity - or you live with secrets. Yes, that's right. Secrets. And this conclusion has caused me to come to the realization in my own life that there's just not any room anymore for secrets. NO MORE SECRETS!

In light of events of the last week and having to once again deal with this issue, I feel compelled to write a series of posts on "Secrets". In choosing to do so, I don't feel there's really any more appropriate place to start than with my own. And please understand, this is not at ALL centered on or anchored to sexual sins. Adultery and affairs - cheating and lying - start as something much smaller. They begin in corners that aren't quite as dark - in more acceptable places. They're birthed as little lies and exaggerations. They start out as something a whole lot easier to swallow: secrets. So I guess my thought is, let's lay them all out on the table.

If someone came to me right now and asked me, "Brian, what are the Top 2 or 3 things about your life that probably not many people know - that they might be surprised, shocked by, or even relieved to know? What are your secrets?" My first thought would be: "Is there any potential of this information encouraging them or strengthening their faith?" & "Is there any potential that sharing this will refine me & use me for the Kingdom?" Questions asked, contemplated, and answered. Fasten your seatbelt. Here we go.

I care about how I look. Let me rephrase that: I care too much about how I look. I watched my Dad become so engulfed and busy with ministry that he began neglecting his health and his fitness. I get really distracted and bogged down with knowing that I have that same potential. And when people say things like, "I don't know what you're so worried about. You don't seem to gain weight at all!", there are times I want to punch them in the mouth. Yeah, that's because I work out and run my butt off. ALL the time! I spent so many years as a youth pastor around 16 year old boys that I forgot that a 35-40 year old man really isn't supposed to look that way. I care about this too much. And I'm praying now (as I have been for several years) that the Lord will free me from caring about it at all. I'm more and more OK with that fact that I don't have "abs", I have an ab. It's more like a keg than a 6-pack. And that's OK. So, there's one secret that's out in the open.

Another thing you probably don't know is that for the last 10 months of my life I've been on an antidepressant. [And I realize that for some of you this one is a total shock to your system.] I've spent my whole life as an outgoing, extroverted, loudmouth, life-of-the-party, wild man. I'm a Type-A leader! How does someone like that wind up depressed? Great question. Simple answer. Your personality has NOTHING to do with your chemical, mental, or emotional potential for depression. Your personality has ZERO to do with circumstances in your life that may burden you or weigh on you in ways that you had never experienced before or were never prepared to handle. Especially on your own! Sometimes you realize that you're not as much "that way" as you were 5 years ago. Or 10 years ago! Some people almost suffocate under the weight of trying to be who everybody expects them to be rather than simply being themselves. Sometimes - yes, even for pastors - there are parts of us that we just don't understand. And no, medication is not always the answer. But sometimes it is the answer. And that's OK. You're not a freak! God doesn't look at you and think you've lost your faith. And anyone who says or thinks that He does has obviously never wrestled with depression. 

Now let me humorously - but sadly - connect secret #1 with secret #2. In December I started noticing that keeping weight off - that the results I was used to seeing from hours at the gym - weren't coming so easily. Then I saw a commercial for an antidepressant. I heard the 45 seconds of potential side effects. A light bulb went off in my head and I connected the dots. I called my doctor's office and asked the nurse, "Can my medication cause weight gain?" Her simple, to-the-point response: "Absolutely." And this is where secrets #1 & #2 met, shook hands, and became friends. And this is where I made the determination that follows: NOTHING could make me more depressed than gaining weight. So I'm taking myself off this stupid medication. [No, this was not my smartest moment.] In fact, when I shared this with a few of the men in my Men's Group this January, I thought they were going to collectively beat me! Which I'm now thankful for. STUPID, prideful move! And I know that my situation is not that extreme, but it dawned on me later: If you ever choose VANITY over your SANITY again, you may actually be insane!

These were secrets. They're not anymore. I refuse to be controlled or enslaved by anything that I have to keep hidden from the light of day. These struggles don't define me - they REFINE me. But only through the grace and strength and power of Jesus Christ living in me and through me. And I pray that laying my secrets out on the table might encourage you to do the same. You may not need to tell the world or blog about them. But you need to share them with someone you love and trust. And remember: lies, adultery, cheating, affairs, deception never start that way. They're planted as seeds called SECRETS!

3 comments:

Paul said...

When I read your blog I am sooo proud of the man you have become. You Dad is smiling that big smile down at you and I know how proud your Mom and Brother is of you. I pray God continues to bless you over and over again. Love you little bro. Nancee

GaGodChaser said...

Brian
I feel your pain. I had a real battle with depression a few years ago. I left the very hectic life of the trucking industry to be in ministry full-time. It was a total shock to my system because all those things that I used to have to squeeze into my spare time, now was my job. I had withdrawal from phone calls and even the profanity I was used to hearing constantly. I had taken medication to help me lose weight before that and had reached the lowest weight of my life. I felt good and energetic. I went off the weight loss medication because I thought I was ready to handle things on my own and crashed into depression. I tried a couple of different ones until I finally found one that took away all feeling and emotion. I didn't feel depressed or anxious or happy...nothing. This is not a good place for a worship leader to be. I had always been really active and went to the gym alot. I was walking about 4 miles a day. All of that stopped when I took the new medicine. I stopped feeling at all. So all I did was sit around and eat. I gained about 60 pounds over the next year. I went to my doctor and said, "If you want me to end up with a gun in my mouth, then leave me on this medicine. I cannot handle gaining weight". They changed me to yet another antidepressant that, along with relieving depression, was supposed to help me lose weight. I did feel better but lost no weight. I stayed on it for about a year and decided that my life had gotten to the point where I could handle it without medication. I started "weaning" myself off of it. For a drug that had no halflife, I had the worse withdrawals you could imagine. I had about three weeks of being light headed and dizzy and I had really bad anxiety attacks. I also couldn't handle being around crowds, which was not a good thing since I was in the ministry. I was also very close to being suicidal. I finally got completely off everything and started going back to the gym. I have never been able to lose the weight though. I don't think that God prohibits medication when we need it, the time comes, though, when we don't need it. That is up to the individual. I think alot of us guys go through a similar time where our chemicals get so unbalanced that we need something to balance it all out. I think I was about 40 when all this started to break down for me. Maybe that was my midlife crisis; an actual crisis. God bless you, whether you decide to come off the antidressants or not. Hit me up if you need to. I am a brother who has already walked the road. Let me know if I can help.
Blessings
Allen

Brian Mayfield said...

Thanks so much for sharing your story!