Tuesday, January 08, 2013

DISLIKES: GLITTER AND WEBMD (Guest post from Shelby Abbott)


The following post is an excerpt from a book by my friend Shelby Abbott. He's funny, entertaining and has deep thoughts about life, spirituality and movies. I look forward to going to the movies with him later this spring, as has become our tradition when we're hanging out together. Shelby's book is called I'm Awkward, You're Awkward. Enjoy this excerpt!

Glitter might be one of the worst inventions ever created by man. You might think that I’m joking, but I’m as serious about this as Darth Vader was about turning Luke to the dark side in The Empire Strikes Back.

If I ever run for office, the bedrock of my campaign strategy won’t be to balance the budget or fix the health care crisis. It will be the push for complete and total annihilation of the glitter department in the American greeting card industry.

Everybody’s got their one ultimate archenemy: Superman has Lex Luthor, the Red Sox have the Yankees, the democrats have Rush Limbaugh, Chuck Klosterman has Coldplay, and I have glitter. I once heard a comedian say that glitter was “the herpes virus of the crafting world…it just spreads everywhere.” I couldn’t agree more.

Three years ago, I got a birthday card in the mail that had glitter on it and when I opened it, it was like a New Year’s Eve party exploded all over my living room. There was glitter everywhere. Glitter on the carpet, glitter between the couch cushions, glitter on my shoes, glitter in my hair, glitter on my pillow…I was finding glitter scattered around every part of my life for months after I opened that despicable Hallmark birthday wish.

No joke: three weeks went by after I thought that I had finally gotten rid of it all, and I found a speck of glitter in a fresh pair of underpants when I was folding the laundry. Time froze as I held that contaminated pair of boxer shorts and I imagined a movie camera, rigged to a boom operator, zooming in close to my face and whirling around my entire body while slowly moving up toward the ceiling. I closed my eyes, extended both fists to the air (one clenching the underwear, of course) and let out a prolonged and dramatic, “Nooooooo!” Needless to say, I now let my wife open any and every greeting card that comes into our home. And if one happens to be infected with glitter, she is immediately forced to throw it in the trashcan and wash her hands in the basement utility sink not once, not twice, but thrice times. I think you’re hearing what I’m saying by now, right?

Although my disdain for glitter runs strong through my veins, there are a number of other things in this world that also cause me to grumble a bit. I’m a sinful pessimist by nature and things like traffic, crooked window shades, pieces of white fuzz on a black shirt, anything with Bill Maher’s name attached to it, the Greyhound bussing system, and men’s swim trunks with the sewn-in mesh tighty-whitey underwear all rub me the wrong way…sometimes literally. Yet another prime example of a certain something that I dislike (but still want to mention) would be the website, WebMD.

The good people over at WebMD, bless their hearts, have caused a significant amount of distress in my life over the last few years. I know that this is not their intention, of course, but the best intentions of a public medical website really have nothing to do with the fact that I constantly misdiagnose all of my illnesses based upon what information is spit out to me once I type a few of my problems into the “symptom checker”. There have been one too many times that I’ve run across the worst case scenario in that little online feature…like the time I thought I had kidney stones.

I woke up one morning with this pain in my side, right below my rib cage. It really didn’t matter which way I turned or positioned myself, the pain was pretty constant and moderately irritating. After nearly two whole days of living with this annoyance, I did what any internet-educated individual would do in my position—I submitted my symptoms online to WebMD and briefly waited to see the computerized list of my medical diagnoses. Well, at the top of the pile, there it was: “kidney stones”. I freaked.

After Googling my medical discovery, I quickly learned that passing a kidney stone was the male pain equivalent to giving birth. The stone passed one way and one way only, and that was by peeing it out in a long, slow, excruciating process. I freaked again and called to make an appointment with a doctor.

After sheepishly communicating my symptoms to the physician and a hasty look-see process by her on the horribly uncomfortable examination room recliner with the endless roll of disposable butcher paper, she told me that I, in fact, did not have kidney stones, but a small pulled muscle in my lower abdomen. She briskly gave me an unsympathetic look and a prescription for ibuprofen.

When I got home that day after my appointment, I couldn’t help but think about the fact that I am so incredibly quick to put my faith in the most negative of all outcomes. I’ll believe the worst before I even come close to believing the best in any given situation that might require my faith. Do you sometimes find yourself in the same boat as me?

Prussian orphanage director and missionary George Mueller once said, “The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.”

If I want to be a person of faith, then anxiety, worry, fear, and mistrust need to become a thing of the past for me. Mueller says that anxiety and faith cannot coexist at the same time, so when my instantaneous reaction to any little problem is a belief in the worst, I am not being a man of faith.

This is not the kind of life I want to continually live and it is certainly not the life that God calls us to as His followers.  He is asking us to be men and women of faith and to believe that even in the midst of the worst situations, He lovingly reigns over the entire universe with complete sovereignty.

I shouldn’t be so quick to believe the worst, and neither should you. Instead, I should position myself as a humble and faithful child of God that believes in His goodness and grace. As I do, my life will inevitably look different to any onlooker that wrestles with the same issues. And after that, opportunities naturally arise to speak with others about the God that has changed me to my core and offers me the opportunity to live in peace instead of turmoil.

All that being said, I wonder if that kind of faith can make me believe the best about the person or persons that invented glitter? My guess would be “no."