“I feel like a man with three dollars in my pocket. Maybe a quart in my tank. And what astounds me is how quickly I think about spending what little I have. I get a little bit back in my soul and I start thinking about advancing the Kingdom. People that need my help. I get a little bit of God back in my tank and I start thinking about who I need to pray for. Lord have mercy” (John Eldridge)
Hi, I’m Andy, and I’m a fumaholic.
(All: “Hi Andy!”)
I’m really glad to be here tonight to share my experience, strength and hope with you. The First Step says that “we admitted we were powerless over our fumaholism, and that our lives had become unmanageable.” So tonight I thought I would share how my life got to that place.
I’d like to start with a couple of confessions… that is okay in a place like this, isn’t it?
(Room erupts with raucous laughter)
Okay, I feel better. Here’s Confession #1: I hate sleep.
There. Now you know it.
I gripe to my children all the time about it – all three of whom are completely baffled by such a thing.
Something goes off in my head at times that, if translated into words, goes something like this: “Yeah, yeah, you only have 24 hours in a day. But surely there’s a way to squeeze more into it. Time’s a wastin’… now get moving.”
And Confession #2 – I’ve spent a large part of my life telling other people they needed real, quality, Sabbath-type rest without practicing it myself.
(Nobody’s laughing now)
This is what John Eldridge says about it:
I made it to the station on fumes, but the process of re‑fueling takes time and I’ve got less than a gallon in my tank now, and here I am thinking about hitting the road.
No wonder God commanded sabbath rest. He had to demand it, insist on it, make it an issue of moral consequence, otherwise we wouldn’t do it. It is so easy, dangerously easy to get caught up in the pace of this crazy world that rest feels uncomfortable; doing nothing feels awkward; as soon as we feel even a little bit refreshed, we’re back out on the highway, blasting ahead.
That’s pretty much the story of my work and life. And the crazy thing is that for a long time, the way the Lord designed us as body-soul-spirit, we can manage that way. In fact, there’s something of a high that comes from those shots of adrenaline that our brains fire off to get up, get moving, and get ‘er done.
(Lots of nods of recognition)
Looking back on it now, there are some things I should have recognized as warning signs. For example, my body began rejecting new information. I would “read without reading.” Or hear things that people said to me without really receiving the information because I was thinking about the next thing I would have to do.
When I’m spiritually fresh and emotionally rested, problems just mean I get to explore lots of options. But in my case, I began losing my ability to see alternative courses of action. I would try the “one thing to do,” and if that didn’t work, I was clueless about where to go next.
At times, especially when I was alone, I began responding to things like I did when I was nine years old. I would escape to “play world” or pitch the mother of all fits.
(A guy on the right sits up and takes notice.)
I lost the ability to say “no” to people or new situations. You know that old saying about “if you want it done, give it to the busiest guy?” I was that guy. Or at least I acted like I was.
And yet at the same time, I was living in a constant state of fatigue. Meals made me sleepy rather than energized. I would zone out during counseling appointments or meetings. People who were typically blessings to me became a burden because I had no energy for them.
I found myself at times getting angry with the people I love the most – usually for some really petty reason. Or at other times, wondering why I never felt like I measured up in any arena, work or home.
I think for a while I had my own form of depression, or at least this chronic sadness. It was like my body was saying, “This is never going to change… whoever’s running this ship is hopeless.”
I also got sick more than at any time in my life. I didn’t realize it at the time, but all those bronchial infections, colds, and back or joint pain were my body’s way of saying, “Turn off the stress machine.”
Well, my time is about up. Maybe sometime later I can tell you how the Lord Jesus (THE Higher Power) got my attention and helped me learn to walk in freedom and peace. It’s still a journey I’m taking one day at a time (can I get a witness?).
(“Amen!” More laughter.)
Anyway, that’s Part One of my story. Thanks for listening. I’m Andy, and I’m a fumaholic.
(Disclaimer #1 – There is no Fumaholics Anonymous… but maybe there should be.)
(Disclaimer #2 – Written this morning on my back porch, to the sound of a gentle breeze, wind chimes singing, and doves cooing in the trees nearby… plenty to do, but I’m blessed by rest. That said, I STILL hate sleep.)