Perfect

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I think inside of each us, is this idea that we can attain perfection. The perfect job where no stress ever befalls us. The perfect house where nothing ever breaks. The perfect pet who never eats our furniture. The perfect friend or spouse who is always there for us in every way.

I have a sneaking suspicion why this is… 

As humans, I believe we have this innate desire to make things whole or right again. We see relationships every day that inspire or frustrate us. We want relationships that encourage us and help us grow, but we are not sure how to foster those in others and often even ourselves.

As a child of divorce, like so many others, I have hurt to see relationships of all types sour and sever. It is hard to watch it unfold. The actual finality is not so sad, as the road to the split of the relationship wears on everyone involved. The drama of a severing can become exhausting, so it is not surprising that most involved are just ready to have closure.

When I write of this, I am talking about any level of relationship. It could be a boss/employee, a spouse, a friend, a family member, or a friend. I feel that I am often better at the continuing of a friendship when the relationship is pretty tattered. It is hard for me and many others to just accept the person or situation for what it is, because what it is, is brokenness.

We are all broken in some way, we have many issues that make us not trust and doubt others. Why we open up our hearts to some and close off others, is a mystery to me in many ways. Many will say that they just feel “connected” to someone, some say they just respect the person’s character or emotional track record.

In all relationships, we have to bury hurtful things done or said to us. Often those buried hurts resurrect like a zombie coming back for us. They rear their grotesque faces at us when we come into a conflict with the person. We hurl the many times that the person has wronged us. What would happen if you I, decided to just confront in a pleasant way the wrong. What if we were willing to have that conversation?

If someone has wronged you in a way, could you first rate it as something you could forgive, or something you need to talk with them about? I think the issue many times with myself is not wanting to have the difficult conversation, even though I consider myself someone who does not mind conflict, it is often hardest with people who I am not sure how they will take it. I am not scared of the conversation, but actually more how the conversation could go sideways and I could just say “to hell with this”. Being willing to say the hard things, is only the beginning of forgiveness, because once you air your grievance, you reopen the relationship and you set yourself up to trust the person again or you know moving forward the relationship is different.

I think this is one of the many reasons why Jesus asked believers to forgive people 70 x 7, 490 times. Of course, Jesus was being a little funny here, because I think he means we should continually forgive others. If I rate myself on a 1 to 490 scale, I am about a .5 on the forgiveness scale right now, I need to work on it.

How about you? What situations have you been putting off? Will you choose to forgive or confront? Either way, you should not leave this hanging on you? You were made for more than being stuck in this emotional state.

P.S. This is written mostly for me, but maybe you got something out of it. 

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Settling

Change comes into my life like a big boulder on top of layers of rock and sand. As I shake through and work through all the shifts I will make because of the change, I start to settle and realize I can do this with the help of others. In essence I find the gold through the sifting. 

It is not a settling or shifting of surrender, but a settling towards peacefulness. To my friends making shifts in the months of ahead, I hope you find the settling calm of the shifting sands and find your feet firm in the decisions you have made for you made them in peace or chaos, yet I believe in my heart God will use them to further shape you. 

Change

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I am not sure when it started, but I have not been a fan of change for a long time. I have made what many might view as many changes in my life in search for a better career, new school, new house, or even changing cars. To be honest every single one of these decisions is extremely difficult. I always do it with a lot of trepidation.

My stages go like this:

  1. I grumble and gripe.
  2. I find out about the necessity for change.
  3. I find out there might not be any other option.
  4. I complain about the change incessantly.
  5. I try to escape the circumstances.
  6. I end up accepting the change
  7. I end up doing okay.

See change leads into transition, so maybe transition is what I fear. I wonder at times if I have the ability to transition into a new career or learn the culture of a new school as a teacher. The transition is sometimes more difficult than the change. Experts say that you know if a job is a good fit in three weeks. I would have to agree, the trouble is escaping that bad job, sometimes takes 3 months or even years.

What do you do with yourself during that time?

 

Five Feet High and Rising

In the past storm our neighborhood experienced some major flooding. Businesses were surrounded by water, many basements were flooded out. Traffic had to be diverted away from two major intersections nearby. I am sure there will be news stories reporting the vast amount of damage in coming days, while others down the Neuse River will be experiencing issues over a week after the initial rain. All the water has to go somewhere.

It reminds me a lot of how we use our time on this earth. Our actions and words will carry on through positive and negative “streams”. Our words and actions have a lasting affect, much like a rainstorm producing copious amounts of rain.

After Hurricane Matthew, our basement was flooded with three feet of water. The water shorted out our furnace and washed into our water heater breaking both items. As the rain poured in and in on Monday, we held our breath.

After Hurricane Matthew we did many waterproofing measures to help the house never flood that bad again, but I did not think it would be tested that quickly. The water never rose above three inches, of course, we were relieved. We came out better than so many others who have lost everything.

Psalm 29:10-11 
Above the floodwaters is God’s throne from which his power flows,
from which he rules the world.
God makes his people strong.
God gives his people peace.

I pray God will make those strong and give peace to those dealing with the floods of this past rainstorm, and for those who life has given a “flood” to deal with may you gain strength and peace.

This Old House

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This old house has tried my patience many times. Our house was built in 1949, I have a shoe from then to prove it. Back when it was built, people believed if they put an old shoe in the crawlspace it would bring them good luck. Upon purchasing the place, I had some crawlspace work to do and happened up on the old shoe that was built with quality in mind, much like our house.

This old house has tried my patience with crazy mishaps with flooding, animals in our crawlspace, and even having to replace pieces of our plumbing, but I still love it. Many real estate vultures would love to have the land this old house sits on, but we will keep it virtually the same as it was originally built. Of course, there are a few issues here and there, I mean it is sixty-eight years old.

I threaten to sell it every time it rains hard, when plumbing becomes an issue, or even when I feel the temptation of an offer, but we will stay as long as the house will have us.

Last night the rain poured around the house, and my stomach churned all night. I went to empty out my recently “waterproofed” basement to find that the water was creeping in at a much slower rate. In fact the basement made it through about 24 hours of rain without getting much more than three inches of rain in the basement. It is unfinished, so as long as it stays 8″ or less in water depth, I am happy. Otherwise it knocks out our water heater and hvac. Waking up this morning, I was so glad to see that the pumps held out overnight, now just to make it through today.

Storms come and storms go, but this old house will keep standing.

50 Days of Easter

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I am sure I heard it before growing up in a Methodist church and attending most of the time when at my Dad’s house. I am sure the pastor said that we were entering the Easter season. In some way, I switched it through my adult years. In my mind Easter was the end, not the beginning of a season of resurrection.

One of our pastors at church reminded me of this yesterday. The quote that inspired me the most, she said, “Push through in hope.” Later during communion our head pastor reminded us that there is such a thin line between a miracle and crappy circumstances. I totally agree, but if we push through in hope, we can make it.

So today, on a day when I woke up with dreams of being lost in a city, late for work. I wake up from the fog of a bad dream and attempt to push through in hope. I want to push through to see the students who need me to encourage them and I position myself to receive their encouragement as well.  We all need each other, sometimes we need to push for each other. She also quoted a great quote for anyone, but especially for teachers from Bob Goff author of Love Does, “People grow where they are truly accepted, not where they’re merely informed.”

May I accept others today and from this day forward…

Loneliness and the Resurrection

I am not sure about you, but this year New Year’s day did not seem like a good day to start any new habits. I was worn out from a lot, 2016 was a year of a lot of effort. We had to make a lot of difficult decisions:

  • Buy our house or keep renting in the real estate market we live in.
  • Choose a president and a lot of other government positions.
  • Finding a church that we could worship in without reservation.
  • New commitments to our careers, friendships, etc…

One decision that I made that I did not necessarily mean to make was to become skeptical of other people. To be honest, I had done this for a very long time, but for the sake of this writing let’s just deal with the present.

I recently listened to a podcast about why men have such a difficult time making and keeping friends in their middle ages. (Listen to the podcast here)In the podcast, it pretty well described me to the exact description; growing up with close friends, playing sports and just always being with my group of friends. We never had to schedule around other events, we were just young kids with very few responsibilities. I played endless hours of basketball with my friends, there was never much effort put into it. This followed as I went on to college, living in a dorm, I always had people to hang out with. I remember a birthday party that I had where we took over thirty of my friends and had dinner in a restaurant. I just always remember being a part of a larger group who really cared about each other.

Now in adulthood, I have very few friendships. I used to think it was just me (which it partially is), but it is more what my friendships were based on. I realize that in my thirties, most of my friendships were with guys who were trying to imagine church differently, I was stuck in the discovery mode for a long time. Meanwhile, many of my friends started non-profit organizations and churches, started practicing their theories. I continued to question and struggle with what the church should be. I gave up that struggle a little under a year ago. I officially decided I did not really have any voice left in this conversation, and very few people were still talking about it much.

I am slow to change, but I am really praying that on this resurrection day, I can find a few more friends to sharpen me, as I can sharpen them in their faith. I more fully understand that I must make more sacrifices to keep friendships going. I also want to keep working to resurrecting my optimistic, positive spirit that I had years ago. I know it will take work, I know it will not be an easy path, but I commit to it.

If you are reading this and feel a pull, please comment and I would love to sit down with you and talk about it. I know there are more men and women out there who experience loneliness than I ever thought.