Thursday, December 29, 2011

Connect

A guy from my church invited me over to indulge in homemade pizza and Star Trek. When he opened the front door, I greeted him with my fingers spread in the Vulcan salute. I stopped short at saying, "Live long and prosper." I am not a Trekkie; I am a pastor, which means some days I watch Deep Space Nine in an effort to connect.

The episode ("By the Pale Moonlight") was handpicked; it boasted moral dilemmas concerning deception, warfare, and human sacrifice. The Commander (Sisko) broke laws and rationalized it, following the precedent of our forefathers Abraham, Moses, and David. All leaders have breaking points and selling prices. All but Him who hung cursed on a tree (Gal. 3:13).

When the episode continued, we had time to kill and calories to burn, so we moved the couch and enabled X-box Kinnect to scan our bloated bodies. For ten minutes we braved rapids and collected coins. Then we coughed and wheezed and enjoyed snapshots of us flying through the air like amateur cheerleaders. The captions read, "Jumping Buddies" and "Surfing Pals." We didn't upload them to Facebook for general viewing.

With more pizza to eat and enough time for another episode, we returned the sofa to Netflix position. We returned to the final frontier to learn another lesson about galactic leadership: Pride cometh before the fall. And the Valiant crew suffered a mighty fall. I ended our time with a cookie.

All in all, it was a productive day of ministry: Four X-box games; three pieces of pizza; two Deep Space Nine episodes; and one chocolate chip cookie. I love my job.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Emotional Health

I just scored lowly on an Emotional Healthy Inventory. Taken from Peter Scazzero's book, The Emotionally Healthy Church, the test revealed my low tolerance for "Embracing Grief and Loss." On the other principles of emotional health, I rated well. Grief and loss induce thumb-sucking.

Perhaps the greatest emotional loss came when my parents put my dog to sleep. Liz and I had returned to Worthington for a weekend break from college. News of my dog's condition was not good. Tumors covered her body. Lethargy slowed her movements. When she greeted me at the door, her tail wagged for the first time in a week and the last time of her life.

We took the dog to an emergency clinic. We knew the clinic was not going to remove the tumors. But it would take away the dog's pain. My father paced the hallway, choking back tears. My mother stared at the floor. When given the choice, we opted to hold our dog when the vet administered her shot. She did not flinch. We sobbed.

I remember my father wrapping his arms around us: my mother, Maggie, Liz and me. Only one other time had I seen my father so emotionally unraveled. He wailed. Our tears intensified.

Other experiences in my life have merited grief. Broken friendships and buried loved ones. Dashed hopes and unwarranted criticism. Personal failure and family suffering. And a lifetime as a Cleveland Browns fan. But nothing has rivaled the death of my dog and the decades of repressed sorrow that flooded from my father's eyes.