The Grace is Messy Top Ten Posts of All-Time

It’s my blogiversary!

Six years ago, this week, I started blogging. It’s hard to believe just how much life has changed since then. So much is different, but Lindsey and I have learned and grown begun to see God in a whole new light.

The Top 10 Most Popular Posts on Grace is Messy

Here’s the highlights:

  • In 2010, we were youth pastors for the very first time. I also started a radio show that year. (I miss Grace is Messy Radio!)
  • 2011 brought my pride and joy, Ben Thomas. And right after that, our world fell apart, as Lindsey was hospitalized for severe postpartum depression.
  • In 2012, our world seemed to crumble again: I attempted suicide and we lost our position as youth pastors.
  • 2013 to the present has been all about rebuilding, restarting, reconnecting, and learning to accept life as it is. Oh, and now we have a precious baby girl, Caroline Grace.

Six years isn’t that long. But for us, it feels like a lifetime. And yet, it seems like just a blink. I thought I had to have it all together back then. I thought Christianity equaled religious fervor and upstanding moral character. But today, I’m learning that Christianity is all about Jesus. And with Jesus, comes truckloads of grace. Grace that accepts me right where I am, just as I am.

One more thing I’ve learned in the past six years is just how real a virtual community can be. Thanks to the blog and the Facebook community, we have shared great joys and deep losses with one another. We’ve shared our stories, prayer requests, and even a joke or two. You people have become like family and I am so thankful for each of you. Your love and support of me and your belief in this crazy little thing called messy grace rocks my world.

This morning, I took a look at the ten most popular posts from the past six years. It’s quite the mix. Take a look!

(Hint: Click CONTINUE.)

  1. 7 Surprising Gifts of My Mental Illness


7 Surprising Gifts of my Mental Illness

I used to live in an I-have-it-together illusion. But waking up in ICU after a failed suicide attempt left me with no choice but to admit that I suffer from mental illness, specifically depression and anxiety.

These days, I am grateful for my mental illness, personal growth, and improvement in my family since I faced my illness. It has allowed me to become more open and honest about who I am.

It’s been a long four years, but instead of living in shame, I am now embracing the life I have been given. In doing so, I have found several surprising gifts.

  1. Dealing with Dysfunctional Families: How to Make Strong Fences

When you can't build walls, here's how to make strong fences.

We expect certain people, based on their title and role in our lives, to always know how to love us well. But that’s not usually the case. Those closest to us often hurt us the most. And if you choose, as I have, not to walk away from those relationships, you have to draw strong boundaries.

People can confuse emotional intimacy with honoring your parents. Your parents can love you and not know part of you. Just because a person is in your family, doesn’t mean they have access to every part of your life.

  1. I Cheated: Overcoming the Pain of Infidelity

Overcoming the pain of a cheating spouse.

I ran into an ex-boyfriend, and we were still attracted to one another, and his marriage was “just ok”, and we began a very flirtatious relationship.

I still loved Brent. I did not intend for things to happen the way they did. But they did. We began our affair and I became that person I used to judge.

Overcoming infidelity is a difficult and messy task, but it is possible. Here’s how.

  1. How I Found Healing from Childhood Sexual Abuse

How I found healing from childhood sexual abuse.

I experienced my own personal Sodom and Gomorrah when I was three. I’ve learned a lot in the thirty years since then. One of the biggest lessons is that saving a life requires more than just tidying up. A friend of mine, another victim of abuse, said something to me recently that changed my life forever.

  1. How to Recover from a Suicide Attempt

5 Steps that Helped Me Recover After My Suicide Attempt

Since I’ve begun sharing how I went from a being a pastor to being hospitalized in a psych ward, people often ask about my recovery. Everyone wants to know, is there a single solution?

Where does the magic lie? How do they get their own lives (or their loved ones’) back? Or, as others have said, “What is the one thing that made you want to start living again?”

The truth is, there’s no magic formula, but here are some intentional steps that made my life better. I’m not a professional therapist, and everyone has a different recovery story. I can only share from my own experience.

  1. I Learned About Grace From a Gay Guy at a Gas Pump

I learned the most about grace from a gay guy at a gas pump.

It’s who you are that counts. Your worship to God is the way you live. A few years ago, I would have ignored, shunned, and been disgusted by the scene that unfolded that night at the gas pump. The journey toward authentic faith became real for me in that moment.

The most effective way to destroy prejudice is by sharing tangible love, one opportunity or person at a time. If my Sunday morning song service doesn’t match my response to a gay guy at the gas pump, I’m in trouble.

  1. On Target and How I’m Parenting Through Controversial Issues

On Target and Why I'm Parenting Through Controversial Issues

When abuse is your first memory, it colors who you are.

I was molested when I was a preschooler, and it has rippled through my life ever since. The “predator” was a 17-year-old kid who lived across the street. And knew my family well.

Abuse happens. It is scary and horrific and life changing, and we victims are all terrified it will happen to our children the way it happened to us.

But we have to be honest about where abuse happens. It is so very very rarely a stranger in a public restroom.

  1. Abuse, Addiction, and Recovery: This is My Story

Abuse, Addiction, and Recovery: This is My Story

I remember it like it happened this morning, every nasty detail. His name was Jeremy and he lived across the street. He was a teenager. He seemed like a giant at the time. He was big and strong and took advantage of me. This was not just two kids experimenting, which is common. He knew what he was doing. He knew he was wrong.

  1. 21 Things They Don't Tell You in Premarital Counseling

21 Things They Don't Tell You in PreMarital Counseling

We’ve been married nine years today. During that time, we’ve done a lot of living. We’ve learned some beautiful and some painful lessons. We’ve each spent a week on a psych ward. We’ve had two babies. We’ve led two youth groups. We’ve nearly divorced at least once. And we have only just begun to learn what truly matters in life.

One thing is for sure, there are several things no one tells you before you walk down that aisle.

  1. From Pastor to a Psych Ward: Recovery from a Suicide Attempt is Possible

From Pastor to a Psych Ward: Recovery from a Suicide Attempt is Possible

My clients were concerned. When they couldn’t reach me, they called first my wife, and then the hotel. I was lying on my back, unconscious, covered in vomit, when the police and EMT’s found me.

They thought it was a murder scene. Vomit covered the bed and the floor. It had projected up the wall behind me, and coated a massive picture that hung over the bed. Apparently the pink Benadryl pills, along with the tens of thousands of milligrams of other medication I took, created the effect of blood. I had been unconscious for a solid ten hours by then.

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