I was battling different sicknesses and allergic reactions to multiple antibiotics over a five-week period. During my last checkup, I was happy to hear that the only symptoms remaining are due to allergy season kicking in. That said, during the final week of battling sicknesses, I was put on steroids to help fight off bronchitis. My lungs had become tired and inflamed from all the mucus it was fighting off in the weeks prior. I have been on similar doses of steroids for Tinnitus (once this past fall, and once when I first moved here). I knew it could impact my sleeping schedule but what I did not know was that it could make me more irritable. The pharmacist warned me about both side effects and for the latter said, “maybe no one will notice.” Ha! Well played…
Did anyone notice? Yes. At least two of my close friends that I talk with regularly noticed my behavior was more… “wild” according to one. Outside of those two, no one else told me. However, there were a few things that I noticed during those seven days. Considering the changes already occurring since getting my new job (hopefully I still have it after budget cuts), getting the Game Club up and running, and getting Junior Youth Group moving in a forward direction, I began to wonder if this week was a turning point in my life that already started or ‘just the drugs.’ I’m leaning towards the former. Everything most likely became more noticeable due to the seven day tapered run on steroids.
The biggest change I noticed was becoming assertive. Normally, I’m a gracious guy who has a lot of patience. A lot more grace is given by me than the average person. I tend to take on more responsibilities than I should. I bear a lot of weight on my shoulders by carrying the brunt of the work. I’m accustomed to being a lead volunteer, and sometimes doing it solo. It can be hard to ask others to help you if they don’t have the same passion for the task at hand. But during the week of steroids, I wasn’t allowing anyone to take advantage of my kindness. For example, I began to delegate more often. It has been hard for me to ask for help in the past. Usually, the needs are obvious to me. I assume they should be obvious to everyone else. I would then get frustrated because no one offered to help and I was stuck doing it alone. Now I am realizing that approach is very unhealthy. People won’t know the needs I see unless I communicate it to them. There are things only I will know because I have done it before or I have a different perspective. I am learning that good leaders delegates. One of the reasons our Game Club Open House was successful was due to learning and applying this life lesson. I communicated what I expected to of all my volunteers, fellow staff, and student leadership before the event even occurred. As a result, it ran smoothly and people jumped up at the chance to help clean up. Group ownership was created and everything ran smoothly. It also helped that it was a stellar turnout! We had over 50 people come through during the three-hour event. I still have room to grow in this area, but I am glad to see myself taking healthy steps in the right direction. A big plus is this new habit will help prevent burnout and the feeling of doing it all alone. I only hope that I am blessed with as many volunteers in the coming year.
In addition to these changes, I lost my mental filter. I am pretty careful about what I say. Growing up I was a loud and proud kid that spoke his mind. I was often told that I was “too loud.” I generally spoke first and thought later. I have also been pretty sensitive most of my life. Eventually, these comments shaped who I became and I retreated to a more reserved approach in verbal communication. I try to be open-minded to any scenario, listen well, and speak if needed. But during this time frame… was not about that life. I went back to the “original me” if you will. To be honest, I enjoyed the change. I remain open-minded and a good listener, those are some of my best traits after my integrity (loyal & trustworthy). Now, I will be the first to admit I am by no means perfect. I make mistakes like anyone else. But these are some of the virtues I value. The change that has occurred is that I am caring less about what people think and I find that to be a very good and freeing thing. Due to being sensitive and having a high level of love and grace for people, I often became afraid of hurting someone. I didn’t want my words or actions to hurt them in any way. Over the years, this has become an unhealthy habit. By doing this I lose a part of myself and take on anxieties I am not meant to handle. As a result, I have spoken my mind more clearly and not worried about how someone may go home and think about it. If I offend them in some way, I hope they will be willing to come and talk to me about it. At the end of the day, guarding their heart and communicating how they feel is their responsibility.
One of the main reasons for my hiatus on Facebook was due to growing weary of what people had to say about some of my posts. I am outspoken about my faith and my faith deeply affects my politics. It is the reason I have become a Libertarian. There are plenty of people out there that don’t want to hear about faith and politics. There are others who enjoy a good debate. With any disagreement can come the potential for someone to be hurt and offended. What I desire is a good healthy discussion. An argument can be good too if done respectfully, but I love to create discussions around a topic. I like to pick people’s brains and see what they believe. I question them to see their convictions behind it or how strongly they are set in that belief. I often play devil’s advocate for the ‘fun’ of it. Mainly, I do this as a learning mechanism for myself. Sometimes I use it to challenge how strong someone else’s convictions are in a general belief.
This fear of man or fear of hurting people has even stopped me writing my blogs. There have been plenty of blog topics or Facebook posts that I have wanted to post but have held back due to it being ‘too close’ to a recent event. The reality is, the reason why these blogs have come to mind and will be relevant is that they are current for my life. Example, this blog. I am sharing about my week on steroids and this turning point I have noticed. Going forward, if someone decides to read these ‘current life event’ type blogs and assumes I’m somehow throwing shade at someone, I would hope and welcome them to come to talk to me. That said, know from my heart, I would not use my blog nor my social media to do that. If I have an issue with someone, I will follow the principles Jesus laid out for us in Matthew and speak with them directly. Knowing that with confidence, I can now post freely because I know my heart, God knows my heart, and those who know me well can see my heart in action. The truth of the matter is no matter what we say these days, someone will be offended. It is just the reality of the post-truth triggered world we live in.
Hope you all have a blessed day, thanks for reading!
Author: A.P. Smither
Editor: P.J. Walk
Blog Disclaimer: views and opinions expressed by A.P. Smither do not necessarily reflect the views of his editors, current employer: Copper River School District, or ministry affiliates: Light Shine Ministries and Hope of the Nations Christian Center.