A resolution of sorts

No matter who we are it is an understood fact that we all play a lot of different roles in life. For instance I’m  husband, a father,  chaplain etc. If you think about it there are probably dozens of different roles that you play in your life. One of the harder lessons that I’ve had to learn over my lifetime is that you won’t always be the best at every one of these various roles that you have.

In the ongoing battles that happen over me between Worthless and Worthwhile is the idea that if you aren’t the best at something then it’s not worth doing at all. Over and over again Worthless has told me that I’m not good at a particular role and that I really ought to give up and quit. To my credit I’m not really a quitter but I am sure that in a lot of ways I have left myself and others down because I haven’t given my best because I believed that voice.

I understand intellectually that I shouldn’t believe my best isn’t good enough for the people around me but when you are a punching bag inside your own head you don’t always think so clearly.

Worthwhile has been telling me that I ought to really pay more attention to being the best I can be rather than comparing myself to some other standard. That seems like good advice. So I have resolved to put my best foot forward in whatever I try to do and to evaluate my performance on its own merit rather than some unreachable level. I’ll bet though that if I do that before I know it that unreachable place will get closer. Maybe I’ll even manage to get there. One thing’s or sure though if I take Worthless’s advice it’ll never happen at all. I have accomplished things before and I will again one victory at a time.

It is my prayer for you and me that we listen to the voice of truth. That we each understand the value that we have. Each of us have places where we are starters and places where we are want of a better term second string. But you that’s okay no team ever got to the championship without many of those “second stringers” stepping up when called and giving their all.

I’m giving my best from now on what about you?

Get over yourself

Has anybody ever told you to get over yourself? I got told that the other day and I really had no idea what it meant. I mean on the face of it the words seem pretty simple but I had the feeling that there was a lot more going on than just the obvious meaning of those three little words.

So I did what any smart guy does now when faced with something that you don’t understand. I googled it of course. The most common usage was as an answer to someone that is complaining about their circumstances or lot in life and those complaints being rooted in some kind whining.

I didn’t think that this applied to me. I’m not trying to say I’m all that special but I don’t really do very much complaining. With that in mind I started to think about how the phrase could be applied to me during the conversation that I was having. Maybe I do think that I am all that special after all. Do I let my ego get in the way but without complaining? Do I think in my quietness that I am superior to those that like to put voice to their feelings and thoughts?

Maybe I’ve been fooling myself all this time. Just because I keep quiet doesn’t mean I don’t complain after all. I can spend a lot of time complaining and murmuring in my head. My thought life isn’t as pure as my verbal life.

Since I started thinking about these things I have been trying to examine my thoughts more critically. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Don’t get me wrong I know how important your thought life is. The Bible tells us many times how we ought to think and how we ought to examine our thoughts. But until now I hadn’t thought of complaining thoughts to be something that needed to be held captive like impure or immoral thoughts.

I now realize that keeping my complaints bottled up,in my head may be even worse than voicing them. I have allowed these thoughts to sort of poison my thinking. It’s a slow poison to be sure I’m still pretty good at putting that kind of thing behind me. But I can see over time how the sheer amount of time and energy I’ve put into those kind of thoughts has taken it’s toll on me.

Are you like me? Do you slog through life with your mouth shut and your mind buzzing? If you are then you like me you need to find a way to put voice to your thoughts without resorting to mormuring and complaining. Don’t let the slow poison of bitter thoughts eat away at you.

For me then I’m going to treat complaining thinking just like any other errant thought. I will capture it and bring it into obedience to Jesus. I will then use it for my betterment by examining it to find out where it comes from so it can be dealt with.

Furthermore and harder for me I have to find a way to express these thoughts to the people involved but without complaining. I mean at the heart a complaint is an expression of the desire for change. These things can be expressed in a positive way. When people are complaining they are just telling you that they want things to change. If you just complain on the inside no body will ever know that you want change right? Then circumstances will not change or when they do you won’t get much of a say in how they do.

So recognize your complaining thoughts. Grab them and transform them into a positive desire for change then express that desire to those around you in a way that will allow an open dialogue. Everybody wins.

Congratulations you’ve just gotten over yourself.

 

How do I forgive?

This past weekend the ladies of my church had their annual retreat. From all the reports that I’ve heard it was a success. The women had a great time. They got to know one another better and the various speakers were informative and inspirational. But I’m not writing this to report on the event. I want to write about a question that got asked during it.

My wife came home after the first night and we talked a little while about how things and gone. She seemed really pleased by what had happened. She concluded our discussion by telling about a woman who was there that was really new to church and the gospel. At some point during the evening this woman asked one of the others at her table this question:

“How do you forgive?”

We talked a little while more and went to bed. But the question has been plauging me ever since. You see I’ve been a Christian as long as I can remember so I am very familiar with the idea and the reality of forgiveness. I know all about the commands to forgive as well as the consequences of unforgiveness. But I’d never given the “how to” of it a lot of thought. It’s just something I do. For the most part it comes pretty easy to me as long I’m not trying to forgive myself. I’ll write about that another time as that will definitely fit into my general theme of the battle between Worthless and Worthwhile that is my main topic.

But that other people might not know how to forgive is a pretty new thought for me. I would have told you that someone living in unforgiveness was just being stubborn or vengeful or something like that. I now realize that that may not be the case.

So just how do you forgive? Do you just let it go? What would that look like. I remember a few years ago at another church that we were attending the topic of forgiveness was being preached. The pastor asked us to write down something that we wanted to forgive ( in this case it was to forgive ourselves for but the principle will apply here) as we left the sanctuary we were to toss the paper with our note on it into a fire that was there outside and by so doing be able to somehow purge ourselves of unforgiveness as our paper burned up. Maybe that helped some people but to me it just was a little bit weird and not really practical.

Then there was a time many years ago now that I was talking with my mother in law about this topic. If you ha done pleasure of knowing Joyce then this story will recall her perfectly to you. Her advice was to just put whatever it was you wanted gone into a balloon in your mind and then just let go. That balloon would carry that thing away never to return. I liked that imagery sometimes I even use a modified version of it for myself. Again though not really practical.

So what’s the answer? Because there is one.

First you have to decide that you want to. If you haven’t done that then no amount of other techniques will help. Why you want to is up to you. But that is the very first step.

Second understand that forgiveness is a process not an event. It’s something that you’ll likely have to do over and over until it sticks. That’s ok it’s not a failure it’s how forgiveness works for us humans.

Third know that forgiving and forgetting are not the same thing. Just because you’ve forgiven someone doesn’t mean they get a free pass to hurt you again.

Next get help. It’s ok to talk about it with somebody you trust. I suggest going to God with it. There is nobody more capable of walking you through the process of forgiveness than Him. He has more experience and more wisdom than anybody else you know.

Finally pray for the person that you are forgiving. Jesus tells us this very thing at the end of Matthew chapter 5. It is not possible to stay in unforgiveness with some that you are asking God to bless.

If you are in unforgiveness right now I urge you to end that state. You are really only hurting yourself. Whatever you are holding onto is really only hurting you.

Oh and that balloon thing. I just picture my balloon going up to God as I pray. I know that he will take care of whatever it is. He’s faithful like that.

#forgiveness #unforgiveness #howdoiforgive

 

Something New

I don’t know about you but there are times when I’m in conflict that I forget to really listen to what is being said to me. Especially if it’s a rehash of something that has happened before. Oh I try to pay attention because I understand that what is going on is important but as often as not the mind starts to wander and then the old tapes start to play. You know how that goes when you are trying to guess which part is going to come next or you’re formulating your response in you head and just waiting for an opening that never comes.

But it’s important to pay attention because sure enough just when you think nothing new is happening bam it does. This happened to me just the other day. I thought I knew where a conversation was going when something new happened. I was told that I am emotionally unavailable. I’m glad I was paying attention.

This was something that I didn’t understand. I thought about it for awhile trying to figure out just what was meant by that. Finally I did what any reasonable person does when faced by a new term that sounds ambiguous and bad at the same time. I googled it.

Well that was a good call. There is an abundance of information on this topic and it runs through a spectrum of thoughtful commentary to vitriolic hate. A lot of it seemed like afternoon TV man bashing to be honest but as I read more and more a core of truth started to reveal itself to me. I’m not going to go into detail about what the term emotionally unavailable means because that’s not why I’m here. I’m here to see how this applies to me and the ongoing battle for my mind.

So the question remains am I emotionally unavailable? You’d think this was an easy question to answer but like most things in life it’s more complicated than that. The answer is both yes and no. A lot of being emotionally unavailable has to do with a lack of commitment to relationships and I don’t think that applies to me. But where I find myself answering yes is the part where I hide myself emotionally from people. I am very guarded with my feelings and I usually keep them to myself.

As I continued to think about this I asked myself a question I like to avoid whenever possible. I asked myself why. Why do I keep my feelings to myself? I mean I have them I just keep them hidden inside never to be shared with anybody else. I think Worthless is at work here once again. Why would anybody care how you feel anyway he’d ask. Feelings are dumb just squash them he’d tell me. Or here is one of his favorites if you share that feeling it’ll come back to get you. You’re just giving out the ammunition that everyone needs to attack you.

As I read the tweets and blogs and articles over the past week or so I saw over and over the hurt caused by people doing just what I’d been doing. I never occurred to me how hurtful not sharing feelings could be both to myself and to those that I claim to love and care about. There is good news though. Being emotionally unavailable is not a medical condition it is something you learn. That being so it can also be unlearned and so I am on the path of unlearning.

To those of you that I’ve hurt in the past by doing this I apologize. Mostly I say this to the important women in my life. To my mom, my sister, my daughters, and my wife I’m sorry.

If you’re doing this yourself I implore you to think about how your actions are hurting those around you. Be honest with yourself and get help if you need it. I can overcome this and so can you.

His favorite meal

So we’ve been talking about the battle going on for supremacy in my mind. You know the one between Worthless and Worthwhile. As I think about these things I think I’ve figured out what is Worthless’s favorite meal. I mean that thing that really fills his belly and keeps him going all day long.

I’m not talking now about the kind of doubt we need in our lives. You know the kind of doubt that keeps us out of harms way. That’s really just using good judgement to discern an unsafe situation or circumstance. No I’m talking about the kind of doubt that stops you in your tracks and keeps you from trying to do something with your life. This is the meal that makes Worthless strong.

I don’t know about you but lived a life that’s been crushed with doubt. I’ve doubted myself over and over again. I look back on my life and see so many coulda shoulda’s that it makes me sick. Even now I sit here with my iPad in front of me writing these words and I doubt. “Why bother “,Worthless says, “nobody’s going to read this and if they do nobody cares”.

But you know what that’s not the point. This isn’t about who’s reading it’s about who’s writing. Simply putting these thoughts down here is defeating doubt. I know that I can do this but knowing is only the beginning. In order to take the battle in the direction that I need it to go I’ve actually got to do it.

If there is something in your life that you know that you can do and that you ought to be doing I encourage you to get started. I heard once that there are two great times to plant a tree. The first is fifty years ago the next is today. It’s not to late to get started on whatever it is. Do it for yourself with passion and the rest will follow.

What kind of ally are you?

I’ve been thinking about my last post. You know the one about the battle going on between Worthless and Worthwhile for my life. It really is an all out war with neither side giving an inch without a fight.

When there’s a war going on what is it that both sides are looking for? Everybody’s looking for allies that’s what. The same thing is true in this one. Worthless and Worthwhile are both looking for allies to help in their continuing struggle. It’s my job in this conflict to seek out the right people to give the edge to the side I want to see victorious.

There are powerful supernatural forces at work on both sides of this conflict but I don’t really want to talk about those right now. I’ll save that for another post. I would rather talk about people. I’d like you to think about what kind of ally you are to the people around you. I wonder what kind of ally I am to the people in my life.

Do I build up or do I tear down? Am I there for you when you need me or am I indifferent to your plight? Am I generous with the gifts and resources that I have been given or am I a miser that holds out?

I believe we all have an internal struggle going on. Most of us are seeking allies to help us. We have opportunities daily to impact the lives of the people around us with the words we say and the things we do. As important as that are the things we don’t say or do. The paradox here is that even when we choose to do or say nothing we are still having an impact. Inaction is still action.

Heavenly Father help me to see people with your eyes. Help me to remember that each person is precious in your sight. Help me to be kind to those that need kindness, loving to those that need love. Put your words in my mouth when I am speaking. You have called me to be light and salt. Help me to be that to those around me. Fill my heart with boldness to proclaim the Good News of your plan through your son Jesus.

Amen

 

Now what do I do?

So I started this blog a couple of months ago and made one post. After that I haven’t really done anything with it. I sat down a bunch of times and started a post but nothing I had to say seemed to be very important or meaningful. After thinking about that for a while I have come to the conclusion that at the root of it I don’t think I have much value. That’s just not right.

I’ve been told that there are two competing natures inside of me, really inside of all of us. These go by various names. You’ve heard them. Light vs dark, good vs bad and so on. A good preacher once explained it to me like this. There are two pit bulls inside of you that are fighting for control and the one that wins is the one you feed.

I think that my two pit bulls finally have names. I’m going to call  them Worthless and Worthwhile. These two have been fighting over me for a long time and I’ve made sure that they both get their portion. In fact if I’m going to be honest and there is no reason to be writing this at all if I’m not Worthless probable gets more than his fair share. He’s like a weed able to take the nourishment from even healthy events. Worthless can get fed by so many different things and he’s a thief. He’ll take Worthwhile’s chow any time he can.

So I’m going to use this blog to feed Worthwhile  I’m going to come here and say things that I think are important. I’m going to tell you when I’m feeding Worthless and try to take his food away. Me and Worthwhile are taking the fight to Worthless and this time things are going to be different.