Archives For Life

The other morning I was downstairs making breakfast for my daughter. Now, on account of being banned from all things cooking due to a slight pizza mishap (who burns take-and-bake pizza? this guy), making might just be a slight exaggeration. Let’s put it this way: I make a mighty mean microwave scrambled egg.

So there I am cracking the eggs into a microwave-safe soup cup, pouring a little heavy cream adding a dash of salt, and whipping it all into a fluffy froth when my daughter puts on Toy Story 3. Not the beginning; no–it was the end. You know the part, right? Where Andy is ceremonially handing over his beloved toys to Bonnie.

As I stood there watching from the kitchen, it just struck me all at once:

Bonnie could be my little girl, and Andy my son, who’s sixteen and will only be with us a few scant more years. And then my daughter will shortly thereafter follow. All it took were those few scant moments, and although I knew my kids wouldn’t always be around, I felt it.

I was unmanned as stood there stirring eggs. Mouth agape, I felt my chest constrict, and suddenly my eyes blurred. I felt gut-punched right in the feels. Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m a man of great feeling, but I usually keep it all tightly under wraps, beneath a veneer of cynicism.

But that moment, infinitesimal in a lifetime made up of moments, wormed its way past my watchful dragons, and right into my heart. My daughter was going to grow up, my son would soon be leaving home, and I wouldn’t always have the opportunity to microwave eggs, play with them, hang out with them, watch the same movies time and time again…

“Bella,” I said, voice quavering. “I’ll be right back.”

“What about my eggs?”

“They’re almost ready. Daddy needs to go see mommy.” And so I did the only thing I could think to do: I went upstairs, eyes moist with tears, crawled into bed with my wife, told her the tale of moment I had whilst making eggs, and let her hold me. Afterwards, I felt like Buddy the Elf: a cotton-headed ninny-muggins. A goof.

But I wouldn’t change a thing.

God, help me to cherish such moments as long as they last. Thank You for each and every one.

How about you, dear reader, have you had any such moments? Ones that hit you right in the feels? The comments are open below.

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Have you ever been there? You know, just chilling? Kicking back, watching a show–and God just kind of gobsmacks you?

No?

Is it just me then?

I was watching this week’s mid-season finale of The Flash, and this bit of dialogue hit me like a bolt out of the blue:

The man in the yellow suit “has taken enough from us.” Beyond it’s literal meaning within the context of the show (a man in a yellow suit–the Reverse-Flash), I was struck by what an apt metaphor it was for anything we let rob us of our joy.

It could be fear. It could be getting passed over for a promotion. It could be a slight, real or imagined. It could be we feel like we aren’t getting , or didn’t get, the love we felt we deserved.

It could be any decision we make from that place of trying, at all costs, to avoid getting hurt again. Or letting hatred take us down a road that Jesus can’t follow.

The man in the yellow suit is anything which keeps us shackled to the hurts, slights, fears, pains… which in turn keep us from being all that Jesus says we are in Him.

For myself, I’ve spent an inordinate number of years trying to make up for something that I can never get back. Like Barry’s father says to him in the show:

It’s time to let go.

It’s time to live.

Is there anything keeping you from really living into all that you should be? Is it time, and are you ready, to let it go?

I’m not usually one to weigh in on current events. It’s not my forte. But this is too important to stand silent. It’s too important to not at least try. To try to say something.

And what I want to say is this:

The facts are in, eyewitness testimony has been carefully considered, and no indictment was handed down. The fact is that this country has an ugly history of racism, and we are still dealing with that sordid reality everyday. The fact is that people, people God made, have been (and are) treated as less than. And into this very charged environment a police officer, just doing his job, ignited a powder keg. The area was going to go off sooner or later.

The fact is this: a whole swath of the populace feels disenfranchised, not taken care of by the system. Can’t you see how they would be prejudiced against those who are supposed to serve and protect? That said, there is no justification for the ongoing violence and rioting. That’s not justice, and it won’t bring Michael Brown back. What I’m saying is that while I can understand the reaction, at the same time I can’t condone it. I would go so far as to say that if Darren Wilson had been a Black officer this would not have been news. But because he’s white, and shot a young black man, it is. It’s the world we’ve inherited. An almost too-connected world, where news travels nearly at the speed of light.

I blame the media for whipping this thing into a frenzy. If we want to level a charge of race baiting, we need look no further than the news. And we gobble it up. Be that as it may, the simple fact is this:

The facts in Ferguson don’t matter. Or rather they don’t matter as much as the people do. Because, and forgive the cliché, people don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.

We could all do a lot better job of that, of caring for one another.

What do you think?

You’re an introvert. You love Jesus. You love His people. But you have a problem. You have trouble forging bonds with Jesus’s people.

You’re an introvert in a strange land:

A new church.

You’ve tried so many times. Big churches, and small. Baptist, and Pentecostal. You’ve tried the:

Megachurch (bonus points for allowing anonymity, but major demerits for the crushing crowds)

Independent, non-denominational Charismatic church down the street (where the elders in their sweat-stained shirts hunched over you in prayer, imploring God for the sign of the initial indwelling)

Finally, you settle on a community church. The people seem friendly, warm, welcoming. They invite you in. You join the small group. For the first time in a long time, you let your guard down. You get real, tell folks what’s really going on inside. Peel back the hood of your sweater to let them see you. The real you.

And it happens. Again.

Just when you were feeling comfortable, when you felt like you’d found a church family, the small group falls apart. “It’s not you,” they say. It’s not you… But this isn’t your first rodeo. You’ve been down this road.

You feel suckered. You feel gut-punched, the wind knocked out of your spiritual sales. “How could this happen again,” you ask yourself? How could I be so stupid as to think this would be any different?

You want that connection, you long for a spiritual intimacy with like-minded people, but it keeps getting denied you.

Why?

Where are the real people who’ll be there for you–the ones for whom you’ll be there for, too? Will the real, true Christians please stand up (please stand up)?

So it starts again. You’re again searching for the place to call home, for the people with whom you can do life. Will you find what you’re looking for? Your heart hurts. You want to lay down, to not try. But that still, small voice keeps whispering, “There’s something more.” But you’ve heard it a thousand times before…

“What’s different this time, God?” you scream at the sky. “What’s different? Where were you last one hundred times?” you wonder.

Why is this so hard?

Why does your heart hurt so much?

Where are you, God, and where are Your people in this?

If this is your best life now, you’re saying “Check, please.” Because, stick a fork in it, you’re done.

But you don’t want to be. It doesn’t have to be this way. But you don’t know how to make it better.

There’s got to be a better way…

I have a confession to make: I’m a middle aged white guy. Appatently, this is supposed to somehow make my life easier, and/or it’s something I should feel guilty for.

Funny thing is, I born this way. I didn’t choose my parents, or my ancestry. In fact, if my mother is to believed (and why would you tell your adult child this?) my folks were actively using contraception when I was conceived. Lucky for me, this was before Roe v. Wade. But I digress.

Being white didn’t seem to automatically confer upon me some magical privileged status. I come from a home where my dad (again one those things I found out after the fact) cheated on my mom for fourteen out of their sixteen years of marriage. How’s that for a role model? Additionally, the older I got the more distant he became. He didn’t have the tools in his toolbox to see past his pain. When he finally left, I told my mom that didn’t feel like anyhting much had changed.

He was a ghost before he was gone.

Being white didn’t make growing up without a meaningful male authority figure any easier. In fact, if anything, it made it harder. I had to navigate puberty, teasing, bullying on my own. Sure, I grew up in the suburbs. My circumstances may have been more physically comfortable, but his leaving made my brother and I latchkey kids. Because my dad left, we effectively lost our mom, too. She had work two, and sometimes three, jobs just to keep us under the same roof.

But it may have been better if we had had more time together. If we had downsized, had moved to new place instead. Forged a new life together instead of trying to hold onto the old. Because it was already gone. My address may have been in the suburbs, but my upbringing was an emotional ghetto. To this day, I may well have attachment issues I’m completely unaware of. In fact, I do indeed have great difficulty making friendships, bonding, expressing my emotions.

To do this day, my relationship with my mom is strained, and with my dad nonexistent.

I don’t know the answer to all of this, but I do know growing up white didn’t give me any special privileges, open any doors, or make my life better in any way that mattered. In fact, I was forced to grow up faster, and I and my family have the price in recent years of a delayed adolescence.

I realize this may not be everyone’s experience, but it was mine–and it was altogether too real. So please don’t tell me that the mere fact of my skin color conferred upon me a better life. I might just laugh in your face if you do.

How about you? Has your skin color made you life any better, or worse? Sound off below.