“I” Trouble

I have eye trouble. Maybe, I actually have “I” trouble. I think that the truth is, I have eye and “I” trouble.

You may be saying to yourself, “That boy right there ain’t right in the head.”

Well, you may be right. But, that is a different problem entirely from my eye/I trouble.

See, “I” have a natural tendency to see what is wrong with you and be blind to what is wrong with “I”…er…me.

Heck, I can spot the guy that dresses funny all the way across the Walmart parking lot while I don’t have a clue that Bozo the Clown wouldn’t be caught dead wearing my outfit.

I guess that is like being farsighted. Or is farsighted where you can only see things close up? Eye don’t remember.

I used to know a guy that had a nose that was so big, I couldn’t hardly talk to him. I mean, this was a cartoon quality nose. I have never seen such a thing on another real live person. I used to wonder if it hurt his neck to carry that thing around all day.

I still nose him (sorry) but he had something done with his nose that makes it look way too normal for his face now and I still talk to him distracted by his nose while I wonder what the heck they did with all that extra nose they removed.

I’m not going to transition from eyes to noses now. I’m just trying to show that eyes seem to do things I don’t really want them to do. Maybe my tongue is in some sort of conspiracy with them against me.

See, when my eyes notice something about other people, it gives my tongue something to talk about (that should usually remain unsaid).

Matthew 7:3 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? 4 How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”

Jesus gets right to talking about my eye problem. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to remove specks from the lives of others while I have a log sticking out of my eyeball socket.

Not only can I not see well, with no depth perception (depth perception is a requirement when seeing what others are dealing with) but I don’t have long enough arms to perform any delicate surgery on someone else when I have this giant Sequoia hanging off my face.

Another quick side note here is that a lot of specks in others lives clear up when I remove my own log. It seems that I am responsible for placing specks much more than I have removed any.

Jesus may sound a little harsh by using the word “Hypocrite” here. But I’ve learned hearing Jesus say that to me keeps me willing to hear other truth. While flinging the “Hypocrite” word around generally shows I am in denial about something pretty serious.

I can recall grabbing the log in my eye and pulling, twisting and tugging on that thing from sun up to sun down and that thing never budged.

For a lot of years I just gave up on it and stumbled and struggled clumsily through life wondering why life was so hard.

Life is tough with a log in your eye.

Finally, after a lot of mishaps, missteps and a lot of other thing that start with “mis”, I sat down with God and talked to him about this thing.

We came to agree that I was just going to ignore the specks, splinters and other lumber products in the lives of others and set to work, working together, to remove this log and heal my eye and the damage the log has done.

I could never ever have gotten to this place where I am today without God being the project manager on this huge task. I’m not going to sit here and tell you the work is all done either.

Yeah, the big old log is pretty much gone. But the way I was used to seeing the world lies to me about what I see now. It tells me that what I saw in the past was truth and what I see now is just my imagination.

So, I have to seek truth…even if I don’t like what truth has to say.

I still have an I/eye problem. But it isn’t the same as it was. It is more manageable and easier to maintain.

Oh, I know that this speck I have here and there can still somehow turn into mighty logs again, but not as long as I am willing to allow God to keep them clean.

I even seek out guys that have had successful log removals to help me with my specks. I can see clearly most of the time and life is a lot easier. Depth perception really does make my spiritual walk less hazardous.

I don’t have to look on others and see their specks to make me feel like I am worthy of something. It is a lot more fun to look at others, ignore their specks and see they are worthy of more than I can give.

Carry On

Day two of a migraine.

When these headaches get this long and drawn out, sometimes going for nearly a week, I feel like life is being stolen away. It hurts to do anything. Even sleeping is a challenge.

After a couple of days I start to wonder, “What if it never goes away?”

Right now, even after just twenty or so hours of cranial pain, I’m hearing Crosby, Stills and Nash singing, “It’s getting to the point where I’m no fun anymore!”

At least my misery is accompanied by great harmony.

But I am not writing this morning to gripe about my migraine. I suspect at some point today, I will suddenly notice it has lost interest and wandered away to pick on someone else.

This, too, shall pass.

Yep. This is temporary. It is just one of those things that tries to convince me it is worse than it really is.

I can remember days thinking I had a brain tumor and was going to go belly up at any second.

My best friend died from a brain tumor. It gave me a new perspective on migraines. I can do a migraine.

Oh sure, I may do it like a little boy takes his medicine but I can do it.

In fact, even though I was no fun yesterday, I managed to do a few things I couldn’t get out of doing. It’s amazing how that happens.

I think it is the same way with my depression. I don’t know if you folks can tell but it has been worse lately. I really don’t want to admit to that. I’ve been struggling to keep the news from myself.

Maybe I told myself that news and it gave me this migraine. Who knows?

Whatever the trigger for my problem is, I ‘m going to see a doctor today.

Wellll, a dentist actually.

My depression will be better in no time.

Don’t think so?

Shucks. I thought I had it covered. OK, at some point this morning I will contact the right person for the job.

The good news is that I know a lot of the right things to do when my depression gets like this. I don’t feel like doing any of them but I do know what they are.

One of them is to talk to the doctor. I never want to talk to the doctor but doing it usually makes me feel better.

One of the things we need to remember as people with mental illness is that when the sickness starts getting worse, it takes away our desire to do things that help us.

Another thing I need to do is to keep writing. Sitting here pecking away at this keyboard seems to put everything in some kind of proper order I can deal with. It kind of focuses those irrational thoughts that are flying every which direction into something I can actually work with.

I’ll also be reading some Psalms. David was great at writing about his pain and working his way around to his healing. It seems to really strike a chord with me.

Prayer. I’m going to make extra efforts to pray. For me, prayer has to extend beyond just jabbering all my complaints to God requesting relief, healing and strength.

It requires me to shut up and listen. Stop everything and sit and listen. It’s amazing how that makes prayer so much more productive, not that production is the primary goal of prayer but, to be honest, I hate doing things that don’t actually make a difference.

Last of all, I’m going to get with friends that are like me. When I get together with thirty or forty people that struggle just like I do, there is some kind of contagious hope that spreads around the room when even one person shares a victory of any kind.

You know, there are a lot of people out there that are going to do other things with their pain today. They are going to apply a generous portion of pain killers or alcohol or just stay in the house and not let another soul know they are hurting.

Maybe they will eat everything in the fridge or take it all out on someone that can’t fight back.

Maybe they will hide in a fantasy world of pornography and sex.

Whatever it is, in the end, it just masks the problem while it grows and grows secretly consuming the soul.

So, I guess whatever I do today, I need to be sure to keep the costume off of my real problem and face it head on and take it with me to all the places that healing comes. I can’t go back to letting it take me to those places that distract me and make me believe it will all get better if I can’t see it growing.

I don’t know if any of this makes sense to anyone. I am just typing. I’m making a plan that will lead me to somewhere better and marking out the places I should NOT go. I’m setting up safe boundaries and getting ready to walk even if I feel like stopping.

These days used to defeat me before they even started. Today, I know that it is going to take more than one bad day to set me back and every new day the clock starts all over again.

Rejoice, rejoice, we have no choice
But to carry on
. Graham Nash and David Crosby

Timing is Everything

Timing is everything.

Oh, it has been said before but I’m reminded again as my daughter’s car is in the shop.

Her car had a timing chain failure.

In case you aren’t familiar with car engines, a timing chain goes between the cam (or cams) and crankshaft.

Ok, stay with me now. The crankshaft moves the pistons which burn the gas and turn the crankshaft and sends power to the wheels so the car goes.

In order to do that, air has to get in the cylinder that the piston travels in. So the cam opens a valve that lets air in.

But in order to get compression, the valve has to close.

Then another valve has to open that lets the remaining gases out of the cylinder and this goes into the exhaust.

That chain makes sure that the cam is doing what it is supposed to be doing while the crankshaft is doing its thing.

If the chain slips or jumps a tooth or fails entirely, well, the timing goes wherever and bad things happen.

Timing is everything.

You can spend thousands of dollars for a high performance engine and if the timing isn’t right it will fly into pieces.

Still with me? Sounds kind of complex to some folks, I know. But I hope I didn’t lose you.

See, all my life I have been building things that flew to pieces. I’ve been trying to live a high performance life with a broken timing chain.

I get my crankshaft turning at red-line speeds and then the shrapnel of my efforts flies all over the place and sometimes people get hurt.

I forget about getting the timing right. I don’t work hard to align my efforts with what God’s part of the equation is and how it affects my life.

There has to be a connection, not just a connection, but a tuned connection between God and his plan and my goals for the day, year or whatever.

Sometimes things are just a little off and my pistons don’t make anything fire, they just push air. Sometimes, I look like I am doing something but I’m not moving at all.

I’ve found that these morning get-togethers with God are like getting things checked out and making sure I am in sync with God, so that something happens when I hit the ignition for the day.

Something besides flying apart.

God is a big part of my life. He is my strength and my salvation. But, I am a big part of it, too. It is vital that these two things work together.

Timing is everything, at least, a big part of everything. It can turn futility into success and success into expensive trash. It is important to get it right.

With that, I’ll end this week on the blog. Have a great “time” this weekend.

Know the Code

This is the last day I write about the floating adventure. If you don’t know what I am talking about, go back and read over the last two days. If you do know what I am talking about, please read anyway. Maybe today will be better.

For those of you that haven’t done this type of thing, here’s how the transportation thing works. I leave my truck where we put the kayaks in and a local outfitter comes and gets my truck and takes it down to the place where we are getting out of the river.

Then I load up my stuff and head home happy and exhausted at the same time.

What could go wrong?

Well, lots of things like someone wrecking my truck, it gets stolen or they just forget about me and my truck is still sitting up at who-knows-where waiting for who-knows-who to bring it to me.

Fortunately, none of that stuff happened and when we arrived at Riverton, which doesn’t seem to be the name of a real place other than a parking lot and boat ramp by a bridge, the truck was there, intact, locked and safely waiting for our arrival.


See, I had them lock the keys in the truck because I have one of those keyless entry codes you put in that magically unlocks the doors.

I have trouble remembering that code so I keep it with me all the time. It is in my contacts on my phone.

My phone was now several miles away in Davy Jones’ Locker at the bottom of the river.

I tried real hard to remember the code.

That didn’t work. Apparently, after forgetting, trying real hard to remember is futile. All it accomplished was to show me how great of a job I had done forgetting.

I am great at remembering things I should forget and forgetting things I should remember. Maybe that is my super-power!

After a little bit of trying everything I was equipped to try short of busting out a window, I decided that the answer to the problem was NOT there in that parking lot.

I couldn’t call for help because, well, my phone had drowned and was lost at sea. Besides, we were in no cell signal country. The phone might as well be at the bottom of the river.

So, I dragged my tired behind out of the little park to the “highway”. It was, of course, deserted and all I could hear was dueling banjos inside my head.

I looked to the right, nothing but highway.

I looked to the left. It was up a steep hill but right where the highway turned, there appeared to be a mailbox.

I went left and trudged up the steep hill, praising myself for my great ideas (for the sarcastically challenged, this is, indeed, sarcasm).

I got to the mailbox and there was a sign attached to it.

“No Trespassing. Police take notice!”

I figured I may not be welcome here so I looked further up the hill and saw what appeared to be a parking lot of some kind and a sign I couldn’t read.

It was the place that shuttled my truck for me. There was a nice guy inside who called all over looking for a locksmith to come and bail me out.

After just two short hours in the ninety-five degree heat, the truck was unlocked, loaded and we were heading home.

Here’s a valuable lesson I learned: Know the code.

I knew where the code was and what it did and had faith it would always work but I didn’t know it.

Colossians 3:16 says to let the word of God dwell, live, thrive in you richly. Know the code!

Don’t just know where it is, what it does, have faith that it works. Use it to unlock the things that make life go in the right direction, that move us to a better place and enrich what may otherwise seem desolate.

Let me tell you, when that truck door opened and the engine fired up and that air-conditioning hit me in the face, ninety-five degrees and Missouri full-blown humidity seemed like nothing anymore.

That’s one of the things I try to do every day. I try to take the code and put it to use, to let it sink into my mind and memory and let it be ready to use at any second.

See, God’s Word is powerful. But it isn’t really doing its job if I just know where it is and what it does. I have to hide it in my heart so I am ready put it to work in my life. It is the key that unlocks what seems impermeable.

It is what unlocks the walls around my depression, my anger, my hate, my addictions. It makes them vulnerable and brings them under its submission.

It is really good stuff. People are trying to dismantle it but there will always be more power in one of God’s words than all man can create.

Know the code. It works.


Where do I start? Last week was something.

First off, there was a lot of preparation for that float trip. I did a LOT of preparation. I tried to think of everything I could possibly ever need. I got all of that stuff together and carefully packed it away to take on the trip.

Of course, once we arrived at the campsite miles from anything, no cell signal, no people around, there was immediately a situation we were not prepared for.

But, there were, at least, no deal-breakers in the “not-quite-ready-for-prime-time” bag of tricks. What was not prepared for was merely some inconvenience and irritation.

What really strikes me is that there is just no way to replace experience with preparation.

This was my first crack at a true wilderness kayaking trip. I read about it, I made lists (that I seemed to misplace), I thought about all the things that could go wrong and planned how to avoid or recover from them.

But, for all of that stuff (which probably saved me tons of grief) I didn’t manage to cover all the bases.

I was much less comfortable trying to sleep. I needed another layer between my old bones and the hard ground in order to get anything resembling good rest.

In addition to that, a bunch of clothes wadded up in the hood of my sleeping bag was not even close to the pillow I needed to prop up my melon.

So, the first morning out, I felt like someone hit me with a shovel all night long and the second morning I felt like they had given up with the shovel and started smacking me with a sledge hammer.

I still have some spots that feel bruised just because the weight of my body pressing against them on the rocky ground produced a soreness I have not experienced before.

Experience. There’s that word again.

I really wanted to plan so well that it compensated for my lack of experience taking a trip like this one that goes off the grid.

Well, here’s one thing my experience taught me, I LOVE the grid!!!! Don’t let anyone talk you into voluntarily leaving it.

I have some experience with this river and what it takes to do it better. But, I’m not sure that even if I prepared perfectly and executed flawlessly I could enjoy it immensely.

No matter how you do this thing, it is difficult and uncomfortable.

Don’t get me wrong, there were some tremendous moments along this little adventure. Hearing the rushing water announce there was white water ahead, seeing eagles soaring above, hoot owls echoing through the night air, waterfalls crashing from the cliffs, I hope those things are etched firmly in my memory right at this moment.

Of course, I want the beautiful rainbow trout to be etched as well, since all the photographs I took of everything met an untimely demise. I will probably elaborate on that part tomorrow.

I guess, though, that at this point I plan to limit my future kayaking to simpler, less extreme stuff that doesn’t get too far from the comforts of my camper and the local convenience store.

I did get some good experience, though. I just haven’t been able to process what it will be good for.

One thing is for certain, if a man wants a little excitement in his life, it is as close as the local wilderness. Just remember, not all excitement is the same thing as fun! Sometimes excitement is losing something important, or maybe not so important but expensive.

But, most of my injuries over the days on the river were not from crashing into boulders or falling on slick rocks. Most of them were from sleeping on such hard ground so I guess that is a plus feature.

I’m glad to be home. Maybe that is the real takeaway from all of this. A good old boring day at my house with nothing interesting going on and no excitement to get the adrenaline flowing and no obstacles to conquer isn’t such a bad thing once in a while.

Experience. This trip was certainly an experience. I do know one thing about experience. It is only valuable if you use it for something. I suspect that this trip gave me some experience that will be valuable on the next trip even if from now on I float lazily along a slow tailwater dangling flies in front of hungry trout.

And, if I ever hear anyone talk about tackling what I tackled last week, I may be able to make it less painful for them and it will be easier to enjoy the beauty of the trip without being distracted by kicking themselves in the backside for goofing something up along the way.

In my life, I have experienced a lot of things I feel like I had best not experienced. But, here I am, still recovering from some of those things. I suppose my recovery will last until my experiences end on this planet.

Maybe the key to a successful life isn’t in not experiencing hard and painful things but surviving them all and learning to use them to make future experiences more fruitful.

One thing I is for sure, if I recover the right way, the chaff will blow away from my memories and the value of what I experienced will remain.

Isn’t that an amazing thing? I mean, almost a week ago, all I could think of was how hard the ground was, how hot the sun was and how expensive those things that lay at the bottom of the river were going to be to replace. But, already, those thoughts are fading and I have to dig for them a little bit while the memories of one of the most beautiful rivers I have ever seen is coming to the forefront and overtaking all the discomfort and frustration.

I may not (more than likely not) ever take that trip again, it will be because I like my bed and air conditioning too much to wear myself out and NOT because I am afraid to give it a shot.

And, if I choose to never do it again, I will know what I am missing. That’s worth a lot right there. There’s a lot to be said about “been there, done that”!

There are a lot of people that sit on their sofas telling us what they think about our experience without knowing anything about what it is like to actually do it.

I think we have to just file those folks in the “no clue” category and move on with a grin. When they get off their backsides and go see what it is all about, then their opinion can get access to our thoughts on the subject.

Well, that’s my rambling for today. Tomorrow’s writing will be more organized and have a point and all that stuff. But today, I am kind of just clearing my head for the week ahead.

Until the next time, happy floating!

What’s In a Nose?

Well, yesterday I got the dreaded phone call that every grandparent dreads.

“Dad, can you pick up Oakley from the day care? He has a rock stuck in his nose.”

I never got anything stuck in my nose growing up. At least not that I can recall. But I am pretty sure Oakley will always remember this rock.

I went to pick him up. He looked terrified to see me.

“Buddy, you aren’t in any trouble and this is an easy fix.”

The tears that were teetering on the edges of his eyes began to flow down his cheek and I took him out to the truck where we began our journey to get the rock extracted from his booger box.

He looked terrified still as we drove to where a doctor would make quick work of removing the nose boulder.

I was surprised how big it was. The little guy must have worked to get that rock in there. I guess I’ll never know what was going through his mind as he worked the pebble up his nostril.

Once the rock was out and he was sure it was gone, he changed. The terrified look went away, the tears left his eyes, his smile returned to his face.

As we walked away, he told everyone, “I got the rock out of my nose!”

No one was expecting that declaration and he was met with many smiles.

He had great news and he shared it with EVERYONE. He was filled with gratitude and joy.

I suppose I write this blog because I want to declare to everyone that the rock is no longer in my nose.

This is not such a big leap for me to make as an analogy since I suffered from a cocaine addiction and was always putting things that were bad for me in my nose.

It has been over thirty-one years since that rock was removed. I’m still grateful and if anyone will listen, I will tell them all about it.

I think that today, after all that God has done for me, the biggest struggle I still have is with anger. When I give in to that anger, it always seems that after the storm, I am left with a big old hunk of stone up my nose.

Saying I’m sorry is often as hard as admitting I have shoved a rock in my nasal passages and I need help.

I have to admit that I often wish my 0-60 time was as fast as my righteous to arrogant, angry jerk time. There is not one single thing that I battle that can sneak up on me and overtake my day like anger can.

It is there in a flash and when it finally subsides, you got it, I often find I have to extricate something from my big, fat nose. There is always some damage done to myself that I can’t fix on my own.

But here’s the thing, I don’t have to sit ashamed and terrified for being completely irrational and stupid. I can confess my acts to God and he can make the impossible seem simple.

I hope you all have a great weekend and leave the rocks where they belong. Keep your nose clean!

The Line

Ah, it is nice to walk out the door in the morning and not feeling the steam bath that is the normal St. Louis morning.

Despite all the pumpkin spice everything that seems to pervade the fall season, I love fall. Not so much for the pumpkin spice chewing gum and coffee ruined with pumpkin whatever but more for the fact that the fishing gets better.

Wading into a clear, cold stream early in the morning with a fog hanging just above the surface of the water, feeling the current push against me, no one but the trees watching me clothed in wet, quiet leaves that are just beginning to put on their fall wardrobe, the air is fresh and brisk and clean as it fills my lungs, well, that’s pretty fantastical for my soul.

It is easier for me at this time of year. If I can’t go fishing, I can plan for the next fishing trip. I can’t just toss my responsibilities in the dumpster for the duration but those responsibilities and the drudgery of the daily routine are a lot easier when there is some fishing thrown in.

I don’t think everyone should love fishing like I do. I do think everyone should love doing something as much as I love going fishing.

If you turn your television on, there is someone on there telling you what NOT to love. In fact, there is so much of it that I sometimes feel no one is allowed to love anything.

There are even people out there trying to get fishing outlawed because they don’t like it that we catch fish.

I’ve even seen them throw rocks at the places guys are trying to fish. Now, if a fish hates being caught so bad that we should outlaw it, maybe we should jail those folks throwing rocks through the fish’s front window.

I suppose that when you hate something, you only hate to the degree that it personally affects you. That’s a convenient way to draw the line.

I used to think that was how it was with serving God, draw a line I don’t mind not crossing and then hate everyone and everything on the other side of that line.

That way, I can feel like I am grateful I am not over there in the bad place and rest comfortably in the good place throwing rocks and judging away to my heart’s content.

Imagine my amazement when the denial began to fall away and I saw that God’s line was not where my line was.

It was way back behind me. I was on the bad side of that line.

That was pretty scary. I mean, I had thought I was safely behind the line and suddenly I saw I was way, way far from the right side of the line.

And I had been just doing the whole couch potato thing vegging out on the wrong side of the line.

I was a hypocrite. OUCH!

But then, God had me look around. We were all on the wrong side of the line, every last living soul was nowhere near God’s line. There were a lot of folks that thought they were camped out safely on the right side but they line they were looking at was their own.

What does a person do now? Well, there were three kinds of folks, folks walking the wrong direction, folks walking toward the line and folks just sitting around doing nothing. Most of the folks were in that last group.

So, every day I get out of bed and kick sand over my line. I stop looking at that as a safe barrier between myself and the bad side and I begin marching toward God’s line.

I’ll reach it. It may take me till my last breath here on this earth to do it but I will make it.

But I don’t want to sit in false security watching when I should be walking.

Am I Good Enough?

Saturday Night Live used to have a segment by Stuart Smalley. Stuart liked to give daily affirmation.

“Because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggonit, people like me!”

Stuart was not good enough even though he repeated that phrase over and over again. It seems like in the comedy world, like in the real world, mere affirmation was not good enough.

I don’t know if Stuart is still around. I stopped watching Saturday Night Live a long time ago.

We laughed at Stuart for trying to talk himself into being enough. But, society today is affirming and confirming that we ARE enough. There’s no need for rules and morality. There’s not even a need for God because we are all we need.

Here’s a place where I think being as broken as I am has opened my eyes to the nonsense around me and made me perfectly content knowing that I am NOT enough and never will be.

There is not a single person on this planet that is enough!

Romans 3:23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

All of this talk about being enough, about living any way we feel like, about setting ourselves up as our own God, well, to believe that we have to toss out scripture.

This is where I feel blessed to have been through all that I have been through. I set myself up as my own God, followed my own rules which mostly served my wants and needs exclusively, only listened to my own voice for leadership and guidance and found myself wrecked, ruined and finished.

It was only when I gave it all up, destroyed my graven images of myself and turned my eyes from inward to upward that I began to be healed.

It was God and God alone that took this broken bag of bones and mended them. It was God and God alone that brought healing to a broken soul.

I am not good enough and was never good enough and I was never created to be good enough!

What a relief!

No one has ever been good enough except for the one that carried the cross in my place and hung my faults and imperfections along with him so that they may be covered in the grace and mercy of a loving father.

If you are carrying the burden of being your own God and that realization hits you that you can drop the whole act and take up the cross and follow Christ and let him fill you with goodness, BAM! That’s like waking up after a cold night to the warm glow of the sun.

Until God’s love broke through, I was lost in a fantasy, one where I was enough, where I was the center of the universe. But God’s love is so much more than I could ever be.

Yet the world around me rejects it more and more and is busy creating a place where misery and hatred are taking over.

There are haters, haters of the haters and haters of the haters of the haters. There is no middle ground. There is only us and them and everyone’s “us” is really a “me”.

When I make myself God, I disapprove of everything that goes against my theology and doctrine and I become angry and disapproving…all the time.

Today, my prayer is for God’s love to break through, for his light to begin to shine through a crack in the flawed allegiances of mankind and darkness to begin to give way to truth.

I also pray that I bow in humble reverence to the one that is good enough and chooses to dwell in me. I want to make his home a place that is worthy of such an honor.

What He Saw

I’m not often surprised by people anymore.

But, they still manage to stretch my limits of just how terrible people can be.

I think sometimes I don’t see how awful something is because I don’t want to see it.

I see a headline that tells about some horrendous act being carried out with a child or some other helpless individual that is done terribly wrong and I don’t let it really sink in.

I just think, “Oh, that is the worst thing! Who could do that?”

Then I move on.

I don’t let myself think about the moments, the hours, the days of unspeakable terror that person may have experienced or just how dark the soul of someone can get to carry out such atrocities and get some joy or satisfaction from it.

Nope. It would break me to let my mind dwell on such things. There are some limits as to what I can deal with inside my skull. Imagining a child screaming and crying due to abuse, hearing the thud of fists landing on a battered wife, whimpering in the dark nursing wounds both physical and mental in such pain with nowhere to turn for help for too long would just breed a huge amount of hate and futility to my life.

This world doesn’t need more hate and futility.

I have been given opportunities to help some of those people and lift them up even though I cannot bear their true extent of their pain.

I try to give love and hope.

John 2:23 Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. 24 But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew all about people. 25 No one needed to tell him about human nature, for he knew what was in each person’s heart.

Very early in Jesus’ ministry, John tells us about what Jesus knew about the evil in this world and how low mankind could stoop. He knew what was in each person’s heart. He knew the pain they felt and the pain they inflicted. He knew their perversions, hate, darkness and ability to break new ground in their evil desires.

He knew. He knew it all. He knew those things I run and hide from. He knew what I am not able nor willing to see.

If I knew, I think I would have found a way to go back to Paradise and sit out the end of the world from the comfort of my handy dandy throne.

But, despite knowing, despite seeing, he went on to finish the plan, the plan that allowed even to most evil, vile, scum of the earth to have a way to redemption.

Sitting here, I can honestly look at some people and hope that they never find a way into Heaven. My heart isn’t pure enough, my love isn’t real enough to do what Jesus did.

Just admitting to myself how far short of the heart of Christ my own heart currently resides somehow changes me. I can see the gap, the ground I need to cover, the transformation that is yet to come as I get off my laurels and begin to move forward into the future.

I’m so grateful that God has done what I could never have done for mankind. I often can bear to look no further than the evil in my own heart, let alone feel for those that experience the effects of evil in theirs.

There’s a lot of work left for me to do. There are so many that need rescue and have no hope of finding it. I can help some of them but I never will unless I begin to look deeper than my desire has allowed me to up until now.

On the Phone

Yesterday was a strange day. I wish I could tell you exactly what made it so strange but I really can’t and, to be honest, it didn’t seem like it could have possibly happened when I got up this morning.

But, it happened.

See, yesterday I tried to reason with a person that was unreasonable. Not only was she unreasonable but she was mean and angry.

She wasn’t angry with me when I first started trying to reason with her but when reason didn’t match up with her expectations, she was angry with me along with the rest of the world.

At one point I just stopped talking. I had to let that anger that was welling up inside of me subside before I opened that orifice that too often emits snarky, sarcastic, arrogant, self-righteous and angry conversation in response to her verbal attacks.

Image result for screaming into the phone gif

“Are you still there?”

“Yes (feel free to continue yelling at me). Give me a second.”

There was another moment of silence.

“Are you still there?”

“OK. Yes, I’m still here (I just had to take a mental break from all the screeching and whining).”

I’m terrible with the phone system at work. I have got to learn how to use the hold button. Maybe I know how to use the hold button but I am having trouble with the un-hold button. Who knows?

Maybe I should have given it a shot.

All I know for sure is that I took a beating from this kind lady with everything that came out of my mouth for quite a long time. I started thinking I just needed to get off the phone.

The only problem with just getting off the phone without coming to a conclusion means she will call me back.

So, even though only God and maybe Warren Buffett could do anything to make her somewhat happy, I found one thing I could do to make her day better.

It was a far cry from Utopian bliss that she was after but it was something. I told her I would get it done.

She didn’t comprehend that and proceeded to yell at me about what I had told her I would get fixed.

So, I told her I would get it done…again.

She didn’t believe me and yelled some more.

So, I told her I would get it done…again.

This time it seemed to register. She was getting something for her efforts. It wasn’t everything she wanted. That was impossible.

But suddenly the crazy switch flipped from full out incoherent attack mode to grateful mode.

I thought she handed the phone to someone else. I hung up wondering what had just happened.

This morning as I reflect on all of that nonsense that went on yesterday, I wonder how many times I was the person on her end of the line acting like I belonged locked up in a padded room.

I hate to admit this but I have spent far too much of my life berating, belittling, defaming and angrily spewing out threats and insults.

It kind of makes me sick to my stomach.

I try hard to not be that guy anymore. But I wonder if just not being that guy is enough. Maybe I can do more than just refrain from being a super jerk on the phone.

Yep. There is a lot of room for me to grow more respect and to be more reasonable with my approach and expectations. I’m not special. I do not deserve more respect than anyone else and I don’t have a free pass to stomp all over others to get what I want.

God doesn’t call me to just stop being that jerk I was once so proud of being. He calls me to be more Christlike, not just less demonic.

I guess I could type out the golden rule here and highlight a bible verse. The sad thing is that we all know what the golden rule is but yet disregard it so often.

Today I need to focus on being more than just a guy that refrains from verbal assaults. I need to be a man that gives encouragement with this tongue that has so much power to help and to hurt.