It started with my trainer, Chris.
We’d been working out three times a week for a few months with no sign of breaking a plateau. “You ever thought about getting checked out?” he asks, a little embarrassed. I thought back to the time I was in the nursing home, attempting to recover some use of my lower body after the surgery had gone wrong, and the doctor had detected that my testosterone levels were kinda low at the time. In more recent years, there had been some problems down there recently that required some surgery, localized infections, etc., so I decided that getting it checked out made sense.
The results of the tests changed my life.
The testosterone levels, total and free, were so low that if you tripled them, then added a few points, you would get the lowest number on the scale. My estrogen levels were seriously high, enough to not only diminish the effects of the testosterone, but cause future medical problems.
When the doctor outlined the procedures for testosterone replacement therapy, I knew it would lead to a seriously increased libido. It was strong when I was in my 20’s, but petered out shortly into my 30’s. I knew it would cause temptations, but the sad fact is that compared to dealing with temptations, I was more interested in feeling alive again. The tiredness, the brain fog, the creeping depression, the lack of motivation — even weighing the possibility of dealing with testicular cancer possibilities, it came down to living the next twenty years tired, exhausted and accomplishing nothing versus maybe another fifteen feeling alive and engaged.
The brain fog vanished in weeks, my limbs got noticably stronger, and I started losing serious body fat and gaining muscle.
I also gained a strong awareness of my situation: overweight, disabled, a life that is horrifying local, and in deep poverty. I also gained a stronger confidence in God’s caring and provision: working out with a personal trainer three times a week cost a considerable amount of money, yet God raised two friends with the fundage who split the trainer fees. That’s $3,000 a year they split! All around me, God showed up on His white horse, bounding over the hill just at the height of the Third Act crisis, ready to save His child.
But I also began to notice that with all the heavy burdens, I was spending more and more time alone. Sure, friends would show up once or twice a month to help, have a meal, be a friend. Then those visits became less and the fact that I was more alone than ever did not escape notice. It soon worked out as resentment — God, You handle all these things and you take so much of the burden. But life is still so hard and so heavy — must I do it alone, must I do it with no one close, no one special?
When I am the most left to my devices I will, every single time, get into trouble. It’s built into my spiritual DNA.
The lonelyache grew, as did the resentment, and with indications around me as far as I could see, I began to resent God for leaving my heart alone and unloved. Yes, God, I know You are there. You provision has been lavish and generous beyond reason. Yet Father, how do You make me a man, a creation You described as Very Good, yet to serve and love you fully, I must be forever alone, which is Not Good? I burn, hotter yet, and there is no relief in sight.
(And by alone, I don’t mean without friends…I mean without someone special to share a deeper, intimate bond. Yes, you knew that, and sorry for re-stating the obvious, but I get emails…)
With all that as explanation, we now bring you to the present. An awakening and a physical redemption that’s come at a spiritual cost.
Not all is sorrow. Lately, there are encouraging signs. Yes, there is brokenness and there are many cracks, but to paraphrase Anne Lamott, “the cracks let the light get in.” Stephen’s been sharing some healing stuff at http://www.sacredtension.com. I’ve come to hold again, as I pretty much always have, that as Merton says, “Doubt is not the end of faith, but the beginning.”
I’ve come to see that there are reasons for my further coming out, but now is not that time. If I think things are rough now, hoo, baby, we’re talking a world of crap waiting to come down on my head. But when I am stronger, when my re-invention is further along at this time in my life and I can hold the light again, the need for that light to be shared is stronger than ever. In the next post, I’ll share a recent exchange I had that highlighted this need to stand and deliver.
But that is then. For now, it is time to engage in some radical self-care, to take things slowly but firmly, and to not be afraid of the questions.