Too Much to Ask?

If the other day I wrote of love being more than they have to give, today I’d like to address the other side of that coin. Namely, how growing up with a marked lack of intimacy creates questions, and puts burdens on others they were not meant to bear. For you see, nature (and here I mean human nature) abhors a vacuum. If we don’t get the mother love and/or the father love we need in our formative years, we look to other people, to tbings, to substances to fill that void.

We put burdens on spouses, and friends, that were simply not meant to bear.

If the questions:

“Daddy, do you love me?” and

“Do have what it takes?”

“Am I pretty?” (in the case of a little girl)

Are met with stony silence, or outright hostility, we naturally question our worth. The inference is that we don’t have what it takes, and we will do what we can to find it. They are all questions asking the same thing:

Am I valuable to you?

If the message is that we’re not, then we’ll go looking. And it’s often a fruitless, and heartbreaking, search for identity. As a husband, and as a man, say that I go to my wife: I’m not going to  get the affirmation of I’m looking for. Because she is a woman, and masculinity is something which is imparted. Besides which, having coming from a broken home, who is role model? My dad, with his philandering? Is that how a woman is to be treated? He took his question to the woman–and still hasn’t found what he’s looking for. Just a string of affairs, and two divorces.

And several disappointed kids.

The cycle of dysfunction set him up to fail, and that is the legacy he has handed down. I have learned I can’t look to him. Yes, looking to God is the answer.

But…

Other than His Word, the Bible, God is largely silent in today’s world. It’s not like we can sit down with Him and have a face-to-face conversation. Oh, sure, we can have a heart-to-heart via prayer. And we know He loves us–the cross proves it. But sometimes we want arms, we need our daddy’s love. Let’s face it our hearts are fickle: when we don’t get what we think we need from:

God

We turn to people

And when people likewise let us down

We turn to things

But the things never satisfy

Leaving us longing for more.

It’s a recursive loop, like a serpent devouring its own tail. It’s nuts to be so needy, but growing up without those loves needs met leaves one very vulnerable to getting on this affirmation treadmill.

Because enough just never is enough.

And I know Jesus is the answer. I just don’t know how. My heart is fickle, and wants to go full on Children of Israel:

At least I knew Egypt, but like song by Sara Groves says, “Those places that used to fit me cannot hold the things I’ve learned. And those roads were closed off to me while my back was turned.”

Maybe it’s a trust issue, you know? Maybe you and I know that God loves us. But maybe we’re just not to sure about his people? Or we view Him like we view our earthly fathers? I just wish He would show up more often and help me make sense of my messy heart.

Is that too much to ask?

What do you think?

More Than They Have to Give

Throughout my life, I’ve wanted a greater depth of relationship with my parents. Instead, they want to give me things. Yes, they’ve helped financially from time to time. But it stops there. When I want to go deeper, I’m met with either misunderstanding, or resistance. What more could you want? is the implicit question. What more?

Someone to call for advice.

Someone who’s there when I’m hurting.

Someone who cares beyond the surface.

Believe me, I’ve tried.

And I’m learning to let go of my expectations. I can’t make anyone be what I want them to be, shape them into someone, or something, else. I can only take what is, and work with that.

It’s the same with God.

He’ll only take what we yield to Him, and no more. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock,” He says. “If anyone hears My voice, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” Jesus doesn’t force His way in; rather, He knocks, waiting to be let in.

It’s the same with other people: we can only go so far as they’ll let us. To which the only response–the only sane response–is:

“God, grant me the courage to change the things I can, the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

It just flat out sucks when it’s someone close to you, because you don’t want to be that person subsisting on crumbs, but you can’t make them give more than they’re willing, or able, to give.

You learn to take what you can get. Hope for more, but learn–as Jesus did–to accept this world as it is.

Not as you would have it be.

And that’s a hard thing. When you can’t make someone love you the way you need. Because it’s more than they have to give.

#MovieReview A Good Day to Die Hard

At the outset let me just say that I’m glad I didn’t pay good money to see A Good Day to Die Hard in theatres. Yes, I know it came out a year ago. I just had a free preview weekend of HBO courtesy of DirecTV, and it was on.

So I queued up the DVR to record it. Thinking, “You know, Live Free or Die Hard was cheesy, but I kinda liked it. How bad can this one be?”

The answer is so, so bad. Clichés, deus ex machina, etc. Near as I can figure the plot had something to do with bad blood between Evil Papa Smurf and Russian Alec Baldwin (his Russian doppelganger). Throw in a surly kid named Jack–who don’t know jack–and Bruce Willis acting like he wishes he were in a Geritol commercial with Wilford Brimley, and you’ve got the movie. Seriously, Willis looked like he needed a healthy dose of prune juice.

Don’t get me started on the ridiculous set pieces. Like a car chase involving a conveniently placed trailer? Whither credibility? At least with say James Bond there’s a willing suspension of disbelief (especially the Blonde Bond films). But here? They only thing that could’ve made this film worse is Shia LeBouef. Or maybe that’s better? MAYBE THEN WE’D KNOW NOT TO, YOU KNOW, TAKE IT SERIOUSLY.

Yes, that I think–other than the absurdities (quick car ride to Chernobyl from Moscow, anyone? It’s 12 hours away!)–was the film’s greatest sin:

It took itself too seriously. It wasn’t fun. The one liners fell flat. And there wasn’t one single “Yippee-kai-ai!” in the whole sordid mess.

And that, my friends, is just one McClane too far.

Rejected TLC Show Titles

TLC, once the “Learning Channel,” is now a bastion of bizarre reality shows: My Strange Addiction, Naked and Afraid, (Animal/Alligator/Etc) Hoarders, etc.

How did they get there? What lead them to this place? Let’s take a walk down memory lane and see some of the titles which were considered, but later rejected, for some of their biggest hits:

Little People, Big Ego (Am I right?) But because that likely wouldn’t play in Poughkeepsie, they went with the more accessible (but banal) Little People, Big World. You be the judge.

Infinity Kids and Counting (Because they just keep coming). They of course settled on X Kids and Counting. And, yes, she delivered every one.

Jon and Kate Plus Hate (With a side of crazy). They settled on the more factual, but less zingy, Jon and Kate Plus E8ight. Somehow, yes, they thought the viewing audience needed the digit in addition to the word to know just how many kids we’re talking about here. Go figure.

My One Wife and Four Concubines (‘Cause he’s only married to the first one. D’oh). American test audiences just weren’t quite sure what a “concubine” was–so they went with My Five Wives. They’re polygamist and proud. And also crazy. Because, um, hello? PMS x 5? Based upon anecdote and experience, it seems that when ladies spend extended periods of time together their cycles get synchronized. Or in Brady Williams’s case, the one week every month where he just wants to die. You do the math.

What rejected TLC show titles have you heard of? Share below.

Not Your Grandpappy’s Flannelgraph ‘Noah’

I saw the new Noah film with my wife yesterday. It ain’t your grandpappy’s flannelgraph Noah. Sure, there’s an ark; there’s just no “arky, arky” here. This is no cutesy kid-friendly Sunday school lesson (complete with crafts).

Before I continue, please go grab your Bible, and read the story of Noah as it appears there.

Done already? That was fast.

The savvy among you will know where I’m going with this: the account of Noah as it appears in canon can be read in 5-10 minutes. While the specifics are indeed there, it’s as notable for what it leaves our as for what it includes. What did people eat on the ark? We don’t know. Did they get tired of one another?  Bored? What provisions did Noah and his family bring for the animals? What did they do with all the dung? (I’m not the latest movie answers these questions, per se).

The point is: Scripture doesn’t tell us. So the filmmakers turned to extrabiblical sources to fill in those gaps. The film’s director, and co-writer, Darren Aronofsky, calls the movie a midrash. Midrash is a time-honored rabbinical tradition of filling in the gaps in a text. It’s a very Jewish thing. And it’s both surprising, and sad, that my fellow Christians don’t understand this. That we–collectively–don’t grok the Jewish roots of our faith. It’s like we’re ashamed of the imaginations God gave us…

So the movie is midrash, and incorporates material from such sources as the Book of Enoch. A deuterocanonical book, it is nevertheless quoted in the New Testament (the Book of Jude ring any bells?)–demonstrating that the very men God used to compose canon were familiar enough with this work to quote from it. Put another way, they considered at least portions of it to be authoritative enough to include in their epistles.

Again, because of our lack of familiarity with Judaism, and other works, there’s a hue and cry about what the filmmakers have done to Noah. While the fact is they’ve done nothing to him. He just the same as he’s ever been. If don’t care for this particular cinematic interpretation, which includes much wrestling with:

Sin

Justice,  and

Mercy

I’d recommend they go dust off that leather-bound tome on their bookshelves, exercise their rights as Bereans, and discover for themselves that nothing has changed in those pages.

There’s nothing to get upset over, folks. It’s a tempest in a teapot:

Scripture has not, and cannot be, changed.

If you don’t like it, don’t see it. As for myself, I thought it was a worthy effort. Still, it ain’t your grandpappy’s flannelgraph Noah. If you can deal with that, good; if not, read the book (don’t wait for the movie).

Thanks for reading!

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