I have waited until I returned from the clouds to write this one. My weekend, once again, was absolutely insane. For those of you who spoke to me over the weekend, or on any day up til today, you were honestly talking to a man who, in my clinical opinion (ha!), was experiencing hypomania. Its a softer version of the real thing.
“Mania is a severe medical condition characterized by extremely elevated mood, energy, and unusual thought patterns. Hypomania is a lowered state of mania that does little to impair function or decrease quality of life. In Hypomania there is less need for sleep, goal motivated behavior and
increased metabolism. Though the elevated mood and energy level typical
of hypomania could be seen as a benefit, mania generally has many
undesirable consequences. Symptoms of mania include rapid speech, racing thoughts, decreased need for sleep, hypersexuality, euphoria, grandiosity, and increased interest in goal-directed activities.
Although “severely elevated mood” sounds somewhat desirable and
enjoyable, the experience of mania is often quite unpleasant and
sometimes disturbing, if not frightening, for the person involved (and
those close to them). In addition to decreased desire for sleep, other manic symptoms include irritability, anger or rage, delusions, hypersensitivity, hypersexuality, hyper-religiosity, hyperactivity, racing thoughts, talkativeness or rapid speech, and grandiose ideas and plans.
Mania is caused by the amount of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the temporal lobe to be excessively high. The temporal lobe is involved in speech, listening, reading, word association and contains the amygdala,
the almond shaped emotional center for the brain. The left amygdala is
more active in women who are manic and the orbitofrontal cortex is less
active (2005). Emotional stimulation creates the ability for life
events to be stored more vividly in the memory.”
Ok, so this might be an over-reaction to my case. I don’t want anyone to become concerned. At one point, manics are supposed to deny that there is something wrong with them. I think that since I am self-aware enough to point out that I AM experiencing many of these things (in effect, attempting to objectively psychoanalyze myself), that means that I don’t have it that bad. And definitely not all of those symptoms apply to me, but many do. Let me explain.
Many of you have probably noticed a change in my writing since my first summer at CWR. Namely, I write about God all the time. No harm in that, right? Well, its not just the writing. There are so many things that go through my head that never even make it here. This blog is really the tip of the iceberg. So at points, I do believe that I have experienced this so called “hyper-religiosity.” Or hyper-spirituality. This weekend, it reached a new level. I have never, ever, had this many thoughts about God.
The Weekend Events:
Thursday, I’ll just be honest with you. I sucked on Thursday. I can’t believe that I needed to be reminded that I am a bad person, but I was reminded on Thursday. I felt bad about the decision I made, and went to sleep at 1:30 am when I had to wake up at 4:30 to hit the road for North Carolina Traffic Court. I got a speeding ticket in early august going 65 in a 45 at 5:50 in the morning (what was the cop doing up!), and since it was reckless, I had to appear in court, or else hire a lawyer to appear for me. The cop told me, after threatening to take me to jail, that I could appear on a friday before my court date to speak to a DA. So this was what I was planning on doing. Catherine Tudor asked if she could accompany me for the roadtrip, after which we would head to Jimmie’s lakehouse on Gaston. So at 5:00 am with a car full of snack food and British Rap on the stereo, we were off.
I have very vivid memories of this weekend. Its sort of crazy. Catherine and I talked about our roadtrip philosophies on the way down, and I remember every detail. We agreed that when we go out seeking adventure and hoping to find some big exciting story to tell when we roadtrip, we will usually be disappointed. I experienced this when I went out west in May 06. So instead of wishing for something crazy to happen, our job is to relax, drive, enjoy the scenery, not over think, and let the adventure come to you. This is what we did.
When we pulled into the courthouse parking lot, I immediately received a very good vibe about the place. It was quite sunny, it had rained recently so everything felt fresh, and they had a pond with park benches right out in front of the courthouse. I was already starting in a good mood, but remembering how terrible of a person I was yesterday, I was slightly nervous that God might punish me with a unfortunate trial. We walked in, noticing hardly anyone was there, made our way to the Clerk’s office and turned in my ticket. The guy behind the counter was pretty cool, but sadly informed us that we had come on the wrong day. Only the first and third fridays of the month do the DA’s review cases prior to court dates. We had arrived on the 4th.
It looked like we were screwed. I asked the Clerk how many options I had. He said “One. Come back on your court date.” I was trying my best to take this well, but inside was frustrated. A four hour drive, for this? Then he asked where I was from. I said Charlottesville. Then he raised his eyebrows and said “Hold on, I’ll see what I can do.” He returned minutes later with a form for me to sign. He told me that usually they’re not allowed to do this, but sometimes they act as a DA and review a case without any permission. He asked nothing about the specifics of my case, simply told me to sign and that they would change my ticket to a faulty equipment charge. The ticket would be dropped, and I would have nothing on my record.
I didn’t know what to say. Inside, I wanted to say “wait – what? What did I do to deserve this. I am guilty. I committed a crime. I should have to pay.” So I asked the man how this was possible, and then he asked me if I wanted it the other way around? Of course not. I just didn’t understand how I could receive a free pass like this without doing anything to earn it. It was completely counterintuitive. I was guilty, but I was getting off free. I signed, took my forms, thanked the man, and left in ecstasy. Catherine and I went out in the lobby, decided that we needed to celebrate by jumping in the Atlantic, changed in the bathrooms, and then left the courthouse in swimsuits and sandals.
Now whether God had been behind the scenes the whole time, we’ll never know, but I think we can all clearly see that this incident is the story of the Gospel. I believe that God, once again, was reminding me that there is nothing I can do to earn his love, or nothing I can do to lose it either. He will choose to show mercy when he chooses to show mercy, and punish me when he chooses to punish. There is no causal relationship to my behavior whatsoever. It makes no sense, but this is the way of the LORD. And why does he do it this way? Because when I left that courtroom and put music on the stereo, driving over the causeway to the ocean, not only was I free, but the only thing I wanted to do for the rest of the day was worship God.
God frees us from our sin, because when we know the full weight of what we deserve, it becomes absolutely amazing that we are free, not guilty. We can imagine no other posture than on our knees and no other song in our hearts but worship to the creator of the universe.
So Catherine and I jumped in the Atlantic ocean, bought tshirts at Mel’s Diner and Grave Digger: National Headquarters of the Monster Truck “Grave Digger,” picked cotton in a random field, petted a horse tied to a tree, whose neighing made us laugh so hard we were bending over in the grass, swam the rapids of the Roanoke river, then jumped into Lake gaston with the rest of the crew at Jimmie’s lakehouse. Three bodies of water in one day! Crazy. Then I accidently mixed antihistamines with alcohol and became more numb to the world than I thought possible. I crashed hard while friends were shopping for groceries, woke up around 830 when Bushkar and others arrived, completely delirious and not know where I placed my cell phone. Later we had roman candle wars out in the yard and blew up a pumpkin with a mortar shell. Next morning, I sailed with Jimmie while eating a bowl of cereal – we capsized and I managed to keep the bowl and the spoon and half of the cereal and milk above water while swimming. Then I couldn’t find my phone. Then we left, Catherine, Bushkar and I.
My phone is still in North Carolina.
I was late to my show in Falls church because we spent so long looking for it, and then I took the wrong road to get to DC. I ended up in Winchester, 45 miles west of DC. Alex was very forgiving. They didn’t need much drums that night anyways. Went to Bourne Ultimatum, order 4 waters, coughed my lungs out, and was third wheel with Alex and his wife for the evening.
Get this: At church the next morning, we were providing the music. No, that’s not whats so cool. I was sitting in the back against the wall of the church, and there was an aisle that ran right in front of my line of chairs. We had just finished the liturgy, which maybe was what set all of this off. A man stood up in the congregation in front of me, wearing blue jeans and a tucked in shirt. I saw him walk up a row, then turn onto my aisle coming my direction. He was carrying a bible. As he passed me, I got a good look at his eyes. He did not look normal. In fact, I would go so far as to say that an evil countenance had come across his face. He was muttering things under his breath as he passed, but not in the normal way people mutter. It was more like a chant. He marches on by and out near the exit, where he stops and yells the following over the pastor leading the church in announcements: “This is religion! Jesus did not come for religion, he came to restore relationships.” Many people turned and gave the man a scowl as he busted open the doors and stormed out. THEN, just as that happened, or maybe even before, we heard commotion coming from two parts of the congregation. Two people had just fainted, laying unconscious on the ground.
Dude, what the heck? Many things to say about that, but were the two connected? I’ll just tell you that I was on nerve for the rest of the service and could not get the incident off my mind – as if I had an internal buzzer that wouldn’t stop going off. Very, very strange. The preacher did a nice job of repeating the man’s phrase and wrapping it into the opeing of his sermon. The day was saved, after all. But I was still greatly disturbed by that man with the bible in his hands.
More driving, more church that afternoon, more thoughts, more prayers, more conversations about God… After all was said and done, I had done too much. I had seen too much. My only impulse once I returned home was to sit on a couch and do nothing. I needed to do nothing. I needed to be bored, to watch a mindless television show, to do something that involved no thinking. I was sick of thinking! I couldn’t take it anymore. And I was sick of thinking about God. It hurt too much. I didn’t have anymore room for spiritual thoughts. I was exhausted.
I think what I’ve seen here is that God usually has good reason for allowing us to stay in our sin. If he really fixed all of our problems and brought us up to a Holy state where we could think about nothing besides him, I don’t think we could take it. We do not have the ability as finite thinkers to think like that. This is probably connected to the incidents in the OT where God made people turn their backs or take off their shoes or kneel on the ground when his presence was passing by. Humans do not have the ability to see God and live. They will be consumed when they do. Now of course, I was not visually seeing God, but I was experiencing him on many different levels – most of them mental. In a sense, I was seeing him. I was seeing the ways he works things out for the good of those who love him, even down to the way stoplights change. I could imagine his infinite and good reasons somewhere in nearly everything that occured to me or my friends – where Paul talks about “I have found the secret to being content in all situations.” Nothing was meaningless! But at the same time, it was so painful. It came with such a high cost. My thoughts raced all over the place, I was picturing huge grandiose visions, and I could hardly contain myself. I wanted to take my brain out of my skull. I wanted to drop to the floor and pull my hair out. Not kidding. I did not want to know what I was knowing. And whether its all true or not is of course debatable. No one needs to believe me. But if it is, then I think there is certainly good reason that God chooses not to reveal his reasons to humans very often. Could we handle it if we knew everything? No. So let’s worship God for the ways he puts cotton in our ears and conceals his mysteries. Its for our own good.