Friend Friday: Shlog

Shlog is the blog of Shaun Groves (get it? "Shaun" - "aun" + "blog" - "b" = "Shlog". that concludes our math lesson for the day).  If you look in the various blogroll categories I have listed on the right, you'll notice that I have Shaun listed under "Some People I Know (Kinda)."  That "(Kinda)" is there for a reason.  To be honest, I don't really know Shaun hardly at all.  I mean, I read his blog, obviously.  So, I know a some stuff about him, things he does, thinks, feels, says, in so far as he writes them down and publishes them there.  And we've communicated to one another a handful of times on Twitter.  Other than that, we've only actually met two or three times.  I can only recall two for sure, though I could swear there was a third time.  Both of the times I can remember involved a mutual passion we share, seeking the release of children around the world from poverty in Jesus' name through Compassion International (for more info on Compassion click my category to the left or the add on the right; if you'd like to sponsor a child then simply click here). The first was during our Clairty tour here at Student Life.  During that tour we were honored to have a graduate of Compassion's program travel with us to be an advocate for the million children with whom they work.  Her name was Jackie and her story is awesome.  Compassion had randomly chosen to begin filming her when she was a young girl in their program in Uganda.  Their pick couldn't have been more provident.  They've been able to follow her all the way through their program, and she is a real success story.  I had the privilege of meeting her mother while I was in Uganda that year.  It was obvious to me that not only had Compassion made a difference in Jackie's life but in that of her entire family as well.  But I digress.  While Jackie was here in the States travelling with us, Shaun (who's a Compassion advocate, himself, and even directs their Compassion Bloggers program) came down from Nashvile to just sit down with Jackie and interview her a little bit.  Taylor, Eric and I filmed their time together.  Now that I'm writing this I'm wondering what ever happened to that footage and if it was used at all.  I should ask him.

The second time we met was at an appreciation dinner hosted by Compassion during GMA week.  Shaun had recently traveled with Compassion on their first ever vision trip for bloggers.  I think they went to Uganda, coincidentally enough.  Following that trip he was then tapped to lead their effort.  Maybe that was the plan all along.  I don't know.  I just remember them announcing it at that dinner.

So, that's it, really, as far as me knowing him personally, which, again, isn't really at all.  What I do know is that Shaun is a lot of things as far as labels go.  Musician.  Songwriter.  Preacher.  Husband.  Father.  Writer.  Thinker.  From what I can tell he's not one to be comfortable with the status quo.  It seems to me that he seeks Jesus with a devoted passion and is willing to literally follow Him wherever He leads.  Unfortunatley, that makes him a real radical in the American church that challenges and at least afflicts any of us who get too content in our pews (or padded stadium seats) for an hour on Sunday.

But that's not really why I wanted to feature him and his Shlog for this edition of "Friend Friday."  Here's the real reason.

Shaun recently had a bout with depression.  I know this not because of any real connection we have but because once he came out of it he began writing about it on the Shlog.  You can find the posts here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here (or just click here).  He writes about this time openly, honestly and forthrightly.  I know that a lot of you don't like posts that have much length at all (it's a wonder you stop by here at all), and these posts aren't short, but they're worth reading.  I don't know.  I wonder how much you will get out of them.  For me, though, they were a Godsend, literally.  From the moment the first post popped up in my Google Reader I was captivated, eagerly waiting (often not patiently) for the next installment.

The reason why is because I struggle with depression, too. I have for years.  Many of you may not know that.  I don't really talk about it that much.  It's hard for me to do so, not because I don't want to or am not willing to, but because I often can't find the words for it.  It's something I live with and experience deeply but when I'm not gripped by it I have trouble thinking about it and contemplating it.  It's like that depressed version of me is someone I don't know, a stranger (or at least unwelcomed visitor) that I have no idea how to interact with.  Shaun, however, found the words, and through them I found I could relate so much.

Depression is a tricky topic in the Church.  After all, we have the "joy of the Lord," what's there to be depressed about?  That's a great question with no easy answers, but in his posts, Shaun takes them on and does so beautifully.

I don't know, maybe this Friend Friday is one that's just too personal.  You might not have any interest in reading those posts whatsoever.  But even if you don't, Shaun's got a lot to say, and it's usually not easy.  So, I think he's worth listening to and getting to know (at least as much as you can).

Again, you can read the Shlog or follow Shaun on Twitter.  His next trip with Compassion Bloggers is in November.  His lates post is about putting that group together.  Be sure to follow that and let anyone and everyone know about it.  It could save a child's life, quite literally.

Thanks.  Have a great weekend!