TMZ: Struggler

Ship in stormAs mentioned in my last post, I’ve basically been observing since the day I was wheeled from the hospital room. Being an observer has always been engrained in me, and I’ve got 23 (soon to be 24) journals to prove it.

As for being a struggler: this is a relatively newer facet of my life. By “relatively newer,” I mean to say that the first 12 years of my life was about as blessed and stress-free a decade as one could imagine. Comparing those first 12 years with these last 12, I thank God for the wonderful childhood I experienced.

Alas. Turns out I wasn’t immune to human struggle. After 12 years, it finally hit me hard in 1999.

I grew up outside Philadelphia, PA with an incredible family: a dad who went with me on countless father-son ventures inside our church and out, a mom who cooked wonderful meals on a daily basis, a younger sister who would scratch me when she got angry, and a younger brother who cried whenever I did the littlest thing to him.

Thankfully, Sis and Bro are cool now.

I was also quite fortunate to grow up around an incredible extended family on my dad’s side. Aunts, uncles, and cousins galore, in addition to some of the most amazing grandparents this world will ever know. My grandparents only lived a mile down the road, and I fondly recall backyard baseball with Grandma and daily school drives with Grandpa and his radar beeper.

Life was good. So good.

Ah, but then my 12-year-old soul got rocked to the reality of life. The summer of 1999 brought my family a move from family-friendly Pennsylvania to stranger-infested Georgia, an 800-mile trek that would forever alter the course of my life. And course-altering wasn’t exactly what I was looking for as a more-than-content 12-year-old lad.

That next year was hard.

People change, people adapt. I’d be lying if I said I forever hated living in Georgia, because after about a year, I’d come to enjoy that peachy state and even call it home. A big reason why? Our family finally got a dog, and Annie was the greatest. An excitable little rat terrier with the biggest heart, and someone I could always count on when I came home from my lonely days at school. I loved that dog.

Then seven years later, she unexpectedly died.

And to say that was “hard” would be a severe understatement.

We all experience “circumstance struggles” at some point or another, when horrible hurricanes sweep in without notice and destroy something we hold dear. The storm settles and passes, the sun shines again and the birds chirp as usual, and we’re somehow expected to continue onward, even though we just underwent this disaster.

In addition to circumstance struggles, we also deal with ongoing “sin struggles” that don’t as quickly strike and pass. They linger. Maybe you constantly wrestle with fear, or hatred, or lust, or all three and more. Maybe it’s something you thought you’d grow out of, but for 24 years and counting, that rainstorm keeps on pelting you and the sun is far from sight. The birds too — no chirping to be heard.

You struggle, I struggle, we all struggle. And the worst part? We’re all too ashamed to admit it to other people. People we love. Especially on Sundays when we dress up for church and paint colossal smiles on our faces when there’s anything but a smile in our hearts.

And thus, my plan for “Struggle Sunday,” a day normally reserved for hiding such despicable uncomfortable unnatural things.

“Struggle Sunday” may not occur every single Sunday on my blog, but for at least one Sunday or two every month, I’d like to get a little more serious and talk about the stuff nobody else talks about. Stuff I’ve gone and go through, and stuff people at large go through on a daily basis.

I pray these kinds of posts will encourage us all in the respective struggles we battle.

We’re never alone; we’re all strugglers. And that will segue into my next topical post as the next TMZ puzzle piece falls into place.

  • MLYaksh

    Would it be weird to say I’m excited about Struggle Sundays?

    As one who grew up with the permanently drawn smile to hide what’s underneath, I love now to just listen to someone, anyone, be real. It’s refreshing and encouraging.

    • tmz

      I’m excited for Struggle Sundays as well! Glad to hear you are too. I agree, listening to real people is completely refreshing for the soul. Can’t wait to get started one of these coming Sundays.

  • LarryInLynchburg

    Ok, I did snicker at your ‘scratching sister’ and ‘crying brother’…

    But I agree with your church facade concept – we call it the ‘Shiny Happy People’ syndrome. It’s so incongruous that the fellowship of believers allows/fosters this veneer, in the place we should be most transparent — and not just transparent, but comfortably/safely transparent. Alas, we shan’t change this overnight, but we can chip away at the facade…

    • tmz

      Shiny happy people, or as Casting Crowns puts it in that video I posted, “happy plastic people.” Indeed, comfortable/safe transparency needs to emerge. The fakeness is crippling.

  • mike lussier

    Ya know,i just want to say that even in our strugles as we see them to be at the time are truly to pass.It’s so very hard to see beyond ones downfalls and or strugles yet our God is so much greater than us and our circumstances.I’m glad that as you got older you are able to reflect back on the verious things you went thru and now have come to a place in wich you can refer to them as things we go thru to grow.It sounds like the perspective that you have now is that of reflection,and your place in God and who you are.I must say you have a mature way about yourself and i appreciate your ability to verbalize whats on your heart and to be REAL in doing so.I respect that and want to say i have respect in your honesty and want to encourage you to continue to post in a manner in which God leads you.I have been guilty of putting on the whole everything is ok look when infact my mind is eating away at me.But i gota say after leaving service almost always i leave a whole lot better than i got there.God is a deliverer.My best your way and looking forward to the next my brother.

    • tmz

      Thanks so much for your encouraging words. God is definitely greater than our circumstances and He has an overarching view of our entire lives. Definitely don’t understand why we struggle the ways we do, other than it forces us to rely on Someone bigger than ourselves. Gonna aim to be real here. All the best!

  • Pingback: TMZ: Brother | Thomas Mark Zuniga()