Archive | Personal (Michael Patton)

On Caring for My Mother

Some of you know the story of my life over the last few years. I have tried to keep things up to date both for you and for myself. I think it is time for me to jot down some things, since there have been some significant changes.

Let me back up a bit . . .

In 2006, my mother, at age 56, had a massive aneurysm rupture. When the dust had settled, she was paralyzed on the left side, blinded on the right side, mentally childlike, and unable to talk. I was in Frisco, Texas pastoring at Stonebriar Community Church. I made what was, at the time, the most difficult decision I had ever made. I could either stay at my dream job, pastoring with Charles Swindoll, or I could move home to Oklahoma City to help take care of my family (my dad, mom, and two sisters). Two factors were influential in my decision to move back home: 1) my sister, Angie, had committed suicide just two years before my mother’s aneurysm and 2) my dad was trying to drink himself to death due to the grief of it all. I knew my dad would either die, or be in jail (multiple DUIs) within short period of time.

I sat down with Chuck Swindoll and talked about my options. He said something that was very influential to me: “You will never regret taking care of your family.” So, that is what I did. In 2007, I packed up my family and moved to Oklahoma to be the “savior” of my family.

I will not say that I made the wrong decision. I don’t really know how to think about this, or communicate it. I wrestle with my emotions all of the time concerning what I thought I could do, and what my exact goals were compared to what happened. Most of all, when I am down, depressed, angry, and/or [insert any word that expresses self-pity], I yell at Kristie and say “I should have never moved from Frisco. I had it all-together then. Now, I have fallen apart!” The reason I yell this at Kristie, my wife, is due to my attempts to place just a little bit of the blame in her lap. After all, she is the one who always wanted to get back home to Oklahoma. However, she knows that these moments are my moments in irrational darkness, and have nothing to do with her.

I need to continue with the story, before breaking out in song from a broken pulpit.

When I returned to Oklahoma, things progressed just about as I anticipated. This does not mean I was ready for it (as I thought I was), or should have done what I did. Dad kept drinking. Mom’s condition never improved. Dad kept getting DUIs. I kept trying to be the “savior”.  Mom still lived at home, just sitting in a chair or laying on a couch watching the same movies over and over and over and over again.

In March of 2010, all the strength I had was exhausted, and I fell into a dark, unfamiliar hole of depression. I limped through the next years emotionally, and found meaning to all this in the Credo House and what it was becoming.  Continue Reading →

A Harsh Response to my “Scared” Post

I received this email yesterday. It was in response to my “Scared” post. The basic thesis seems to be that I am characteristically crying out for attention in an unhealthy way that reveals some underlying sins.

Mr. Patton,

You ask people to follow your leadership, to pay attention to your words and teachings. This is a defacto property of your public and indiscriminate “ministry” via the internet. You need to respect and accept rebuttals, you appear to be unable to do this at many points, particularly when it is unflattering. A big ship cuts through many a wave, a small ship needs rescued.

Now, that aside and to your recent article. It is what I would estimate to be the pinnacle of your recent wave of whining and doubting which, as I look back, actually appears to be part of your internet ministry for quite some time. About now you wish to stop but you cannot, you’re angry and good because you need to stop with all of the emotional dysfunction parading as virtuous doubt. You are abusing your audience and your students.

I posted a response at your website, have not seen it accepted as of yet but here it is:

Why do you insist upon using your blog as your confessional/therapy room and imposing so many of your doubts and insecurities upon the world of your reader?

Ever heard of the sympathy syndrome?

It is the kind of person whose overriding impulse is to share problems in order to garner sympathy and illicit suggestive answers for personal problems.

It is one thing to address problems common to us mall and admitting you share such things and then providing a response but your indulgences into intimate confessions with the world frankly is narcissistic. Continue Reading →



So much of what I write on this blog is hard for me to admit. Certainly, I don’t want people to always see the real me. I would rather show just enough to demonstrate that I can empathize with your plights and then extend my chest to show how my strength remains. But on some days I don’t have any strength. Some days I am weaker than any of you. The problem is that I forget these days when and if they pass. When this happens, I lose a part of me and am not able to be honest with myself.

Fear. I have never really known what it is like to be afraid. Of course, I have been scared. I suppose the most fear I have ever had was the day I attempted to disarm a man who was threatening suicide. I had never been shot at before. Now, I have. It was scary. But all is well, and the man is okay.

However, today, I am scared. I know what you are going to ask. The same thing I would ask you: “Scared of what?” I wish I could tell you. The best I can express it is to say that I am scared of living. I am scared of the future. I am scared of myself. It started a couple of weeks ago. There was a nagging insecurity about my future. I began to think that my life was unstable, irresponsible, and filled with stupid decisions that have created a situation of unrest.

Can I take care of Kristie and the kids? Am I going to be able to put bread on the table? Have I invested enough in their lives? Who am I to think I can take care of my mother? Is it too late to make up for all of my mistakes? Is the real me a fake? Have I bitten off more than I can chew in about every area? Who will be there for all those I hold up if I were to die? Continue Reading →

Why I’m a Christian

I see myself as an evangelical (lower case) Christian (uppercase) apologist. I think every Christian is an apologist to some degree. No, not a “professional apologist” like Rob Bowman, William Lane Craig, or Mike Licona, but we all have formulated some degree of warrant or justification for our faith. Just like everyone is a theologian, every one is also an apologist. However, this does not mean that we are good apologists!

Normally, apologetics is a theological discipline which seeks to defend the faith to those who are outside our belief system. However, my fascination with apologetics is very personal. It starts with me and often ends with me. What do I mean? I suppose I mean that I engage in apologetics very selfishly. I seek to defend the faith to myself. I am continually wrestling with issues of faith and doubt that are spinning webs in my mind. Therefore, whenever I write about a topic that is docked in apologetics bay, it is normally a subject that I am either currently wrestling with or have wrestled with in the past. Frequently, I envy those who just believe. Sometimes I wish that I could flip a switch and turn the critical part of my brain off. It would allow me to get more sleep. That is for sure!

Don’t get me wrong. Most of the big issues (what Paul Copan just called the “main things”) are pretty well settled in my thinking. I have the battle scars to prove it. However, there are several things on which I am not settled…secondary issues, mainly. For those things in which I have yet to wrestle with in a significant way, I usually put in place an “on hold sign” on the door entitled “I will get to you later” or “what he believes.” I have a few people in my life whom I respect and trust so deeply that their view of an issue is enough for me. In such cases I am content with “referred belief.” Why? Because I will never be able to become an expert in everything. As a matter of fact, there will be very few things that I will ever be able to speak about with much personal authority. And there is just enough postmodern blood in me to realize that the human aspiration for exhaustive and authoritative knowledge on any one thing is simply self-deception. None of us are really “experts” on much. None of us are that smart. We never will be. I don’t care how many PhD’s someone has, how many articles they have writen, or what school in which they teach, the human capacity to truly understand what we are talking about is not anything to write home about. We are finite. However, this does not mean that we must throw in the intellectual towel. There are things about which we can have a great degree of assurance.

My personal apologetics normally takes a few steps that asks some very basic questions. While I believe that these steps can and should benefit everyone, I know that each of us comes to our faith in very nuanced ways. Your reasons for your faith may not parallel mine. That is okay. Here are the big issues that I start with when my faith is stumbling:

1. Does God exist?
2. Has he communicated to us? Continue Reading →

Carrying the Burden of the Sadness of a Loved One

It has been almost two months since my father died. Perhaps, not enough time has elapsed to make me a sage on the subject of death, but I’ll never pass up a chance to share my thoughts about something.

Let me back up a bit.

As many of you know, I have experienced some relatively significant depression over the last few years. I have not been shy about sharing  the dark times. For a while, things became a lot better, but I still have to wake up each morning and do a quick self-diagnosis to see whether I would be able to handle the day emotionally. Sometimes it is good, sometimes it is not so good.

One would think my father’s passing would have caused more of the same, but such has not been the case. Don’t get me wrong. I have been very sad. In fact, I cried a bit this morning, as I talked to my sister about it. In general, the sadness I feel over his death feels more natural (as natural as the pain of death can feel). Yet, there was also a very particular darkness that left my life at 10:15 a.m. on November 8th.

A few years have passed since I first started crying. I called it “Crying For No Reason At All”, when I blogged about it then. It seemed unreasonable back then, since I could not name a specific cause for it. But one day,  I was listening to George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today” while driving, and it reminded me of my parents. It made me think of how much my dad loved my mother, and how much of a void the effects of her aneurysm and stroke left in his life. Though still alive, she was gone in 2006. When I received a new mother, he received a new wife. Over the last seven years, he lived like a broken man who could not be put back together. With his daughter gone and his wife replaced, he never regained his ability to seek purpose, or find a happy moment before he died.

During this time, I did not realize how much his outlook on life and his fractured soul affected those of us who loved him. To have someone so sad around you is harder than being sad yourself. It eventually takes its toll on everyone, and the Lord does not always rescue us from this referred pain. Continue Reading →

On the Death of My Father – William Michael Patton: 1947-2013

There is not a prayer I remember praying before this one. It is a prayer, which as a child, I frequently prayed with tears. I prayed it with my mother, with my sisters, and often alone in my bed. I even remember my nephew accidently praying it at the dinner table, while the one being prayed for was sitting right beside him: “Dear God, thank you for this food and please help Pop to be saved.” “Please help Pop to what?” came the response from my dad as everyone sat there shocked that this routine family prayer was revealed.

I loved my dad. I did not realize how much until now. Whatever he may have been to others, he was my hero.

One week ago today, I sat beside my dad without much worry. I got him some Advil to break the fever (he was using Naproxin—his beloved cure for everything). His fever broke and I left his little “Popcorn” room at the west end of the house where he has lived for a few years. I was not worried and neither was he.

You see, a little less than a year ago, my family and I moved into my mother and father’s house. After my sister’s death, my mother had a massive aneurysm and stroke that left her a hemiplegic and replaced my very strong willed, beautiful, and talented mom with a disabled child-like mother who wants to do nothing but watch the same movies over and over and drive through my childhood neighborhood every day. My dad was doing his best to cope with the situation, but his grief was too much. Angie’s (my sister) suicide in 2004 drove him back to drinking. This was a lifestyle that he had left in the early nineties (primarily due to the influence of my mother). At this time, my mother was too weak and grief-stricken herself. Within two years, my mother’s brain exploded—quite literally. It was at this time, in 2006, that I decided to leave my pastoring job at Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco Texas (where I had been for six years) to be with my family. I knew that my mother, father, and two surviving sisters needed me.

Fast-forward to one year ago July 17th. My father kept my mother at home. After all, she was only 56 when she had her aneurysm and we did not feel right about putting her in a nursing home. My niece was taking her to Quail Creek (my childhood neighborhood), which was her Saturday routine. At this time, my mother’s right leg worked well enough for my father to help get her into a wheelchair, and then, into the car. As they were driving along, someone turned into their lane and crashed into my mother’s side of the car. This crushed her only good leg. After getting out of the hospital a couple of months later, my father discovered that he could not move her or change her anymore due to her leg. She needed someone that could deadlift her (and she has gained quite a bit of weight). That is when I started living there and eventually moved my family into my parents home.

Since Angie’s death, my dad received seven DUI citations. At the time I moved in, my dad was looking at ten years in prison (at least). In November of last year, my father and I put together all his bank account info, mortgage details, and everything that I needed to take care of things while he was in prison. I drove him up to the courthouse just before Thanksgiving to say goodbye and drop him off. However, something happened that none of us could believe, even his lawyer—the judge sympathized with his life and pain and let him go. He told him that the sentence was deferred, but if he got picked up one more time, he was going straight to prison. Continue Reading →

The Wisdom of a Mother

I don’t think there is anything that rules our lives more than a moment by moment attempt to be happy. We will try just about anything to stabilize our moods and maximize our personality. Why? Because we know what it is like to be sad.

When I was in my early twenties, I was not good at following the Lord. I knew him, trusted in him, and I vowed to get back to him…at some point in the near future. But then, I was committed to making myself smile and laugh. Without fail, this smile always came by way of hanging out with my friends looking for girls to “conquer,” with lots of alcohol involved. Don’t get me wrong: I was never addicted to the alcohol, but I was addicted to the fun, laughter, and escape that came by way of being with my friends.

My mother, who brought me up in the Lord, did not know what she did wrong. She would vacillate between her anger (which often led to me being kicked out of the house) to some sort of tactful compromise in an attempt to make me think she was a “cool” mom. She was unstable and unhappy. Her life, at the time, was filled with sorrow for reasons I will leave unsaid. Though she was a strong believer, she never could find footing for her daily smile.

One summer night, I was at a bar where I hooked up with this girl. That night, on a whim, I decided to move to Arizona with her and some of my friends. Why not? We had nothing better to do.

I left my mother with hurt feelings wondering where she went so wrong with her son. Continue Reading →

Why I Can’t Open My Mouth

Lately I have felt like Zechariah, John the Baptist’s dad, who had his mouth shut for a time because he did not believe the angel’s message that he and Elizabeth were going to have a baby. However, no angel has come and interpreted my situation in such a way (and, I can still talk).

Some of you may already know that ten weeks ago, I woke up with my jaw locked to 20mm (I think it is supposed to open to above 50). It is still the same today. Yes, I feel some pain. Yes, it is frustrating. And yes, I am losing weight!

This is just to give you all an update on my situation.

I have been to doctors, dentists, TMJ specialists, and chiropractors. I have even undergone acupuncture. Nothing so far has helped. Mouth guards, muscle relaxers, and exercises have done nothing (and often make things worse). At this point, I have quit trying to get it open. I am learning to live with it and am thankful that the Lord allows it to open enough for me to speak. It would seem that this particular TMJ joint is the only one in the body that is not covered by most insurance companies. I have drained my bank account trying to get it open. I simply can’t afford to try anything else.

So . . . what does that mean? Not too much. I figure that there are a lot worse things that can happen to a person. As well, I am hoping that one day it will open back up as oddly as it closed. But if it doesn’t, I am sure that I will be all right. I can manipulate food in and, for the most part, I can chew.

But that is where I am at with my jaw. God wills it and I accept it.