Archives For Life

Time Off

randomlychad  —  August 6, 2014 — 2 Comments

I’m taking time off work this week to spend some time with my family before the school year gets into full swing. There wasn’t a plan–we didn’t map out the week’s activities.

Not to say we haven’t done anything; we have. It’s just that, tied to schedules as we are: church, small group, who’s got ballet, who’s sleeping over, getting to work, etc… It feels good to pause. Like a break in the action of a particularly intense thriller, or the quiet after a dramatic scene in a book (like Gandalf falling into the chasm at Kazad Düm), we needed a break.

Time to catch our collective breaths, time to pause, take stock.

A time free from rote routine.

I think that’s a good thing. We, all of us, can only push so hard at life before it pushes back, and the stresses of demands, obligations, schedules threaten to overwhelm us.

It’s nice to take time, and simply do nothing. Face life without a map, or even a compass, and just enjoy it. I, of course, write this from a place of calm and comfort. My holiday will end, back to work I’ll go, and the kids will be back in school.

I hope to take just enough of the calm with me to carry me through. Because I think the point of mountaintops isn’t to live there (having summited Everest, none may abide in that place), but rather to take enough of mountain back into the valleys with us. <-- That is the art and skill of life well-lived, friends.

Now: how do we make it reality?

Changes

randomlychad  —  August 2, 2014 — 3 Comments

I’m not one to do things by half measures. I’m, like most men, sort of binary like that. I either don’t workout at all, or (like now) I’ve joined a gym, and am working out days per week.

It’s all about changes, really. I see my body changing, my energy flagging, and my waistline expanding. Time was, I didn’t have to do anything about it. I could eat what I wanted.

But the carefree days of youth are gone–replaced by sobering reality:

Things cannot continue as they have been. It’s time that childish ways were put behind me (while simultaneously keeping my childlike sense of wonder intact). I think about the future, about being there for my family…

It’s about far more than just exercise–as important as that is. It’s about setting an example, about leaving a legacy. To that end, while I’m exercising the self-discipline to condition my body, I’m also involved in counseling. Because I want to discipline my soul. I want to free myself from the wrong ways I’ve handled things.

I want to set an example for my family that continues long after I’m gone.

I want to finish strong.

So I work, and strive, now to build not just a better body, but a better soul. For it was for freedom that Christ set us free. I don’t want to continue to be entangled in the negative influences, and patterns, that have shaped me until now. It’s time to let that go.

I’ve learned something along the way I’d like to pass onto you:

It’s not enough to just let something (bad, negative, hurtful, sinful) go; no, else we risk leaving a void.

We have to replace those former things with something good, uplifting, holy.

You see, I’m making a lot of changes lately. I’m tearing down one house in order to build it upon a better foundation.

Changes.

Are there any you need to make?

A Word About Men

randomlychad  —  July 23, 2014 — 5 Comments

Men are people. People have feelings. As such, we have feelings, too. We are not out to get you. Just having a penis doesn’t make one:

Bad

The enemy

An abuser

A potential rapist

It’s not our fault that your childhood was tough, or that male figures in your past abused their positions of authority, or violated your trust.

It’s not fair to view us all through the crap-stained lens of your past.

Just as you do, we have our own struggles, our baggage, our own stories to contend with. If you prick us, we will bleed. If you try to shoehorn us into a role to accommodate your worldview, we’re not going to take it very well.

We, having feelings–minds, hearts, opinions–of our own probably won’t take it very well. We might get loud.

This is not abuse, or bullying: this is usually the cry of a hurting heart. Yes, we may be bigger than you, stronger than you, louder than you… this still doesn’t make us the big, scary, nasty man out to get you. It’s a sign of hurt, of pain, of confusion.

If you accuse us unfairly, we will get defensive. It’s human nature.

Being men doesn’t make us demons.

So stop demonizing us for for our gender, for your past abusive relationships.

And let us love you.

That’s what our strength is for.

I’ve recently been reading the most excellent Dresden Files series (by Jim Butcher), and was gobsmacked by the following:

“Everyone is down on pain, because they forget something important about it: Pain is for the living, only the dead don’t feel it.”

I read this only hours after sitting in church hearing the pastor teach on the true vine, branches, and pruning. It dawned on me that I’d spent an inordinate amount of my life trying to avoid the inevitable: pain. There are times in the past year, or so, where God was simply trying to do what all vinedressers do: prune.

And I tried to avoid it, tried to run from it. Tried to cover it with other things.

It didn’t work out so well. In fact, in trying to avoid pain, I only created more pain for myself and those around me. By avoiding, I only made things worse. Conflict is inevitable, and must be, well, confronted. There’s no way around it. By avoiding the uncomfortable, I set myself up for all kinds of failure.

I’m not saying pain is fun–it hurts!–but it’s a privilege when we consider the alternative: the dead don’t feel it. In point of fact: I don’t want to leave this world with regrets. Things undone, words unsaid, love withheld because it was scary and hard.

Love is pain, my friends. If we are going to love, we will hurt. If we are going to be loved, it will hurt. To shut ourselves off from pain, we (however unintentionally) shut ourselves off from the one thing we all need:

Love.

In Hebrews, it says that the Lord Jesus “learned obedience through those things which he suffered.” If that was true of Him, how much more so of us?

My question to you is:

Is there some pain in your life you’ve been trying to avoid? Trying to cover? What are you going to do to confront it, embrace it, learn from it?

Challenge yourself. You must find that, in your weakness, you are strong.

For the last few days. And, man–is it ever ugly. First, my family headed out of town (they deserve it) for a couple days,  and I couldn’t go. Then, there were all of these obligations–my wife had an art class (scheduled months ago), church, etc.

And it was my birthday weekend.

The rational side of me was cool with all of this, but I guess my inner child was feeling forgotten.

I was whiny, petulent, churlish all weekend.

My wife and I finally got to go out last night, and just didn’t go as I’d hoped.

I’m 45 today, and I just feel a little forgotten.

It’s okay, I’ll get over it.

Have a nice rest of your day.