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Discovering the Art of Feeling

So, this blog is about to get personal a lot more quickly than we ever planned. But I’ve discovered over the last few weeks that trying to write things down helps me process, recognize, and actually feel my feelings. –Justin


I work for a church and part of what I do there is hosting our weekend services. Over the course of an hour long service I’m up on stage about four times, guiding people through the experience.

Last Saturday night, as Pastor Matt was coming to the close of his sermon, I was sitting down in the front with my wife when I got phone call from my mom. I ignored it. A minute later I got a call from my dad, I ignored it again and texted back “I’m in church, what’s up?”. There was no response. Two minutes later my brother called. I ignored his call because I was about to jump on stage for the offering and, though I could sense something was wrong, there wasn’t time to send anyone else up there in my place.

My brother texted me: “Papa is being taken to the hospital.”

That is the most overwhelming text message I’ve ever received.

Lindy ran out the back of church to get our kids from class and load them in the van while I jumped on stage for the offering. During the prayer at the end of the message I asked our worship leader to cover me at the close, turned to the church to setup our offering, walked off stage, and sprinted to the van.

My dad has been a survivor of prostate cancer for probably seven years or so, but he hasn’t really experienced any medical issues like this before – this was so shocking.

I had no information, but I honestly assumed my dad was dying.

My Dad in an Ambulance

Lindy dropped me off at the ER and I ran to the security at the door asking to see my dad. The security guards told me my dad wasn’t showing up on the list so I needed to wait 20–30 minutes and check back in. If you ever work the doors at an emergency room, DO NOT SAY THIS TO SOMEONE WHO’S DAD HAS JUST BEEN RUSHED TO THE HOSPITAL. I wanted to slap that security guard.

My mom showed up and grabbed me and another security guard escorted us outside where my dad was being pulled off the ambulance on a stretcher. He had passed out at a church event and was highly disoriented.

This was probably the most personally traumatic thing I’ve ever seen and I’m pretty sure I’m still in shock.

My dad stabilized within a few hours and slowly began recovering memory. It was actually pretty sweet to see how concerned he was for my mom’s feelings even when he couldn’t remember her name, just that she was his wife.

Over the last few days, doctors discovered a blood clot in my dad’s brain and have been working on a plan to dissolve it.

Struggles & Strengths

During Pastor Matt’s sermon he was talking about nine types of personalities and each of their core struggles and strengths. I’m a Type 3: The Achiever. I get it from my dad, the most driven and hard-working person I’ve ever known.

The Achiever’s core struggle is deception. We struggle being honest because of a deep rooted need to succeed, or at least appear successful.

Pastor Matt is also a Type 3. Last night we were recording an episode of a podcast debriefing his sermon where he confessed that the first person he lies to is himself – and he lies about how he is feeling. I felt like I just got punched in the gut.

Right before the show Pastor Matt asked me how I was feeling. He said something like “I’ve been praying for you and thinking about you this week. I know this is an emotionally heavy time for you and you’ve been working so hard. How are you feeling?” I said something like “I’m good.”

Then we walked out into a room full of 300 people who all came to the first ever live recording of our podcast. No one saw it happen, but I got challenged to my very core last night.

I’ve been lying to myself about my feelings and I’m not doing ok.

I don’t know how to deal with that.

I’m Not OK

When we wrapped up the show I checked my phone and saw a text from my mom: “Your dad is going into brain surgery.”

So that’s what’s happening today.

I love my dad. I want him to stick around. Not just because I want him to see his grandchildren grow up, but because I want him around and in my life.

I want him to be ok. And I guess, right now I’m not ok. I’m tying to let that be ok.

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