Apr 13, 2010

Funk and Fish

I've been in a bit of a funk lately.  I'm not really sure what triggered it.  As with most times when this happens, it is a combination of a bunch of little things.  I think some of it is seasonal.  Most people have issues during the Fall and Winter.  I am the opposite.  I start to get down as we move through Spring into Summer.  I think there are several reasons for this.

First, I like the cooler weather.  I always have preferred it.  I hate hot weather.  I sweat a lot and just don't feel that great.  I know, I know.  Then I should move out of Florida.  I've gotten as close to leaving the state as possible without leaving it.  We are like thirty minutes south of Georgia.  But, its like a dog with an imaginary fence.  For some reason I just can't cross the border.  Second, there is a lot to look forward to in the cooler times of year.  There's Thanksgiving and Christmas and birthdays and New Year's.  There aren't as many of those cool things in the Spring/Summer.  Third, for some reason things are always much tighter financially for us from April to August.  I don't know why - it just happens that way.  It has for years.  That adds a lot of stress.

One of the biggest things is that we are getting really close to summer break.  Most kids were thrilled for summer.  I was, to an extent.  But I got bored very quickly.  And I was a big fat nerd, so I loved school.  School was where I excelled and was a big shot.  Summer just meant sitting around alone.  I rarely saw my friends during the summer.  So most of summer was spent sweating, sunburning, and getting my butt whipped at various sports by my brother.  Now, with kids, summer is rough.  Last summer was the first one I had as the primary caregiver.  It was not an easy time.  I got very depressed.  And I think the stress of that summer is part of what is making me anxious now.  I'm thinking about last year, and worrying about this year.  I know this one will be different.  I have a year's worth of experience under my belt.  Gabe is a lot more independent than he was.  We'll be living in Jacksonville for two months - so I won't be alone anywhere near as much.  But that fear still lurks.

One of the things that helps me in dealing with my various issues is writing about it.  That is why I have all these blogs.  I really think that one of the biggest helps in my efforts with food has been documenting stuff on the Darth Fatso blog.  I know this past summer I wrote more frequently on this site, trying to deal with the big life changes in our family.  I think that I will probably start writing more often again.  I have tried to limit my posts, so I don't become "that guy" - the one who constantly is updating his site and posting notifications on Facebook.  But, as my wife kindly reminded me the other day, people are free to not read everything I put up anyway.

That all being said, when I think about funk, naturally I think about fish.  You know, fish smell funky.  And they look . . . uh . . . funky.  And then there are those fake mounted fish that sing funky music.  Yeah, I was stretching pretty bad there.  I've been eating more fish lately.  I've been surprised at how much I like it.  I found out there is a fish market here in town last night.  I'm really excited to go there and check it out.  Very big change for me.  I've never been a fish fan.  I hate fishing.  That is about the most boring thing possible.  You stand there in the heat and just wait . . . for usually nothing.  (This is not genetic.  My mom's side of the family are all fishing people.  My grandfather made fishing poles and owned a fishing supply store.  I'm just weird.)  And I have always avoided fish as a general rule - with just occasional eating of tuna steaks.

So fish has been on my mind.  Which made it extra interesting that on Sunday at church, we were talking about fishing during the Bible study time.  We are trying (another) new church.  I can honestly say that finding a church up here has been one of the more frustrating things I've had to do.  This church is smaller, but so far we really like it.  So, in class we were discussing Matthew 4:19, when Jesus called some of His first disciples.  He said, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men."  The teacher made the point that many people seize the second half of that statement and forget the first.

You can see that happens.  The fish has always been a big symbol in Christianity.  Several of the Disciples were fishermen.  Jesus used fish frequently in his demonstrations - the huge catch of fish, the coin in the fish, the fish and loaves, eating fish after rising.  And He chose this characterization when calling the fishing Disciples.  So you can see how this has become a common symbol.  Many people believe the fish (ichthus) symbol was how early Christians recognized each other - drawing it in the dirt as a means of identification.  And the modern Church uses the fish in a similar way - with the fish on their cars.  It is very easy to grasp that image and run with it.

Our teacher was making the point that we grab that part and forget the whole "follow me" imperative - which actually is the more important phrase.  He asked the dangers of doing that.  The discussion that followed was really good.  If we focus on the last part of that verse, it is easy to be caught up in thinking WE are the ones in control.  We believe WE are responsible for finding the fish and catching them.  But we also start to feel that we are the primary reason for the success of the catch.  It must have been something that we said or did - some clever way of telling the Gospel.  This is a HUGE problem in the modern American church - something that ties in to my post about Christian celebrities.  We take credit for something that is not our doing.  We may begin to use our own methods and plans - trying to generate more fish.  Even though the goal may be noble, our approach is wrong.  We also may not be happy with our catch.  We want the big fish or rich fish.  We aren't happy with the Church equivalent of smelt.

We forget all about the fact that it is a dependent relationship.  Our following Christ leads to our calling and ability to fish.  It isn't about us.  It is about following Him.  And then He leads us to places where fishing can occur.  As I thought about this, I also began to realize that a lot of times we aren't even the one fishing.  We may be the lure.  We may be the hook.  We may be the rod.  God uses us in a bunch of different ways.  We are just a tool in his tackle box.  Our goal should be to see the Kingdom advanced - not ourselves.  We have to change our perspective, our priorities, our plans.  That is not a natural thing to do in our society.  Everything is about self promotion and advancement.  But there are definitely times when we should be content just to play a smal role in the grand design.  We never know how we are being used.  Recognizing that is  a good way to shake the funk, too.

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