Thursday, October 27, 2011

What never was

“ It is sadder to find the past again and find it inadequate to the present than it is to have it elude you and remain forever a harmonious conception of memory. ” — F. Scott Fitzgerald (via Forbes)

Sorry, F., but not hardly true. The lying past is not a friendly haunting, but an old, bitter harridan wanting to play the ingenue just one more time, forever. Kill the bitch.

It's not about a person, it's about the past. Your own or any other. If its a lie, then let it go completely and don't waste time regretting the loss of what never was. People waste too much time on nostalgia, most frequently for a past they never knew. Fitzgerald's "harmonious conception of memory" is a dream, but it is the sadness in grieving for its loss that is so seductive. Let it go. It never loved you, it only wants to live off you. Let it go.

Monday, October 24, 2011

ADHD and Spiritual Discipline

I'm very grateful I had years and years of life without diagnosis and treatment, even tho I would probably be much "better off" had I gotten it in elementary school. Which is to say, if you think you have it or maybe your children do, get a rigorous diagnostic process and begin treatment, should ADHD be the conclusion. However, as I look back at 50 years of struggling and not knowing, I got something you can't get any other way - hope in God and dependance on His way of living to keep me from being completely swept away.

As I begin my third month on treatment, I can see how quickly and easily the temptation to be proud, impatient and independent can spring up again. I can remember seasons in my life where I was doing really good*, and in those times I swore I would never let myself become disorganised, lazy, frustrated, hopeless, completely out of sync with the world and helpless to fix it again. I would become orderly, finish my necessary projects, pace myself, take up good regular habits, make progress and not get derailed again. I could do it myself.

Nope. Uh-uh. Cain't either. Ain't nevah gonna happen.

Mahalia Jackson has a song  called How I Got Over, and she sings about, well... it's all worth it. The full lyrics are below, but I'd best say I'm gonna thank God for old time religion - that relentless, timeless discipline that's come thru all the ages of the saints and asks, "Are you doing what pleases God? Are you fulfilling his requirements to be kind and patient, merciful to the poor and questioning your own pride? Do you love God more than you love your own face in the mirror? Have you been willing to be a fool for Him, shunned and thought a failure by your peers, would you rather be alone than out with the crowd in sin? Do you obey His Law, whether you like it or understand it, whether it profits you or plunders you? Do you love Him, more than your own life and all you had planned, all you wanted, more than what the letter of the law says you can get by with? Will you stick with Him your whole life, in the flush of youth and the last chances of middle age?"

It's no wonder, looking back now, why God uses the marriage metaphor, with Israel and with the Church. It's for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, obedience until death. That means you might get sick, poor and die! Even so, there is still Life in sticking with God, and it will keep you alive ever so much better than doing whatever seems right in your own eyes.

What's this got to do with ADHD? Well, it has to do with whatever state your brain is in, whether its the chemistry, the hard wiring, the exceeding excellence of the genius or the halting stumbles of the challenged. If you will follow after God, seek his way of living in this world, obey his commands for how to spend your time, your money, your attention, your affections, your life in your years, you will find goodness and become the sort of person that brings goodness into this world.

Cleverness, a handsome face or figure, money, social connections, even a life's hard effort will not gain you anything that you can rely on - all of that can and will disappear. I've seen it, in me and in lots of really nice people I know.

It isn't because Law is more powerful or reliable, it's because God is almighty and true. I've gotten to stick with Him thru years of watching my own powers fade. When Ecclesiastes is a healing balm to your soul, when you can say with tears of joy that to fear God and honor the king is still an anchor in the storm, then you know the character of God. It's alright. He is on His throne, and I'm okay.

Even though I am now getting help, and I am working a program to do better, it may not last and I may not make a single dream come true. It's alright. I have Him, and better yet, He has me.

How would I communicate the bitter sweetness of that to someone who achieved their dreams and think they can do what they want? I don't know. I don't want to drag anyone down. I guess I'll just let Mahalia testify:

How I got over
How did I make it over
You know my soul look back and wonder
How I made it over

How I made it over
Coming on over, all these years
You know my soul look back and wonder
How did I make it over?

But soon as I can see Jesus
The man that died for me
Man that bled and suffered
He hung on Calvary

And I want to thank him for how he brought me,
And I want to thank God for how he taught me,
Oh thank my GOD how he kept me,
I'm gonna thank him 'cause he never left me,

Then I wanna thank GOD for 'ole time religion,
and I'm wanna thank GOD for giving me a vision.
One day I'm gonna join the heavenly choir,
Then I'm gonna sing and never get tired,

And then I'm gonna sing Glory Hallelujah,
And I'm gonna shout,  all my troubles over,
Oh I've gotta thank GOD and thank him for being
so good to me.

How I made it over 'LORD'
I had to cry in the midnight hour

coming on over,
but you know my soul look back and wonder,

How did I make it over?

Tell me how I made it over 'LORD GOD LORD'
I've been falling and rising all these years.
But you know my soul look back and wonder
How did I make it over?

I'm gonna wear a diamond gown
In that New Jerusalem,
and I'm gonna walk the streets of gold
It's the homeland of the soul.
I'm gonna view the host in white,
They've been traveling day and night
Coming up from every nation
They're on their way to the great Cognation.
Coming from the north, south, east, and west
They on their way to a land of rest
and they're gonna join the heavenly choir,
You know we're gonna sing and never get tired,
and then we're gonna sing somewhere 'round God's altar,
and then we're gonna shout, "All our troubles over!"
You know we gotta thank God, and thank Him for being
so good to me!


No matter what, no matter how, I'm going to thank God for being so good to me. He always is. Always.


* Yes, it is "doing good," not "doing well." Goodness is something you do; well-ness is passive, a mere adverb.  I'm from the South, we use the language as we see fit. It's our tool, not our master.