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Sayonara, Sprint!

My family finally made the jump off of the “Not Now, Not Ever”* network, Sprint. Recently, their coverage, due to upgrades, slipped from bad to abysmal. Dropped calls left and right, phones constantly having to be charged due to constantly looking for a good signal.

Sayonara, Sprint. It wasn’t me–it was you.

To be fair, the process of switching to T-Mobile wasn’t as smooth as it should have been. In fact, after trying to order online, and getting shot-blocked, I had to escalate to Executive Relations. Where Telesales dropped the ball, the executive team more than made up for it.

Thank-you, T-Mobile for saving me (and my family) from the dark side of cell service.

Who’s your cellphone provider?

My Lunatic Friend

I want to tell you about my friend.

My lunatic friend.

You wouldn’t know it by looking at him. No, from the outside looking in he appears to be as normal as anyone else. He’s calm, cool, collected. Has his stuff together.

Or at least appears to.

But in his chest beats the heart of a beast.

Yes, despite all appearances to the contrary, he doesn’t have it all together. He knows it, and it drives him up a wall!

He is a mass of conflicting desires, thoughts, emotions, pent up frustrations. He wants life to get easier.

But it never does.

It never does.

You see, my lunatic friend can fake it with the best of them. He can pose.

But in his heart he knows:

He’s not strong

He hasn’t got it all together

And prays everyday, “God be merciful to me, a sinner.”

You might know my lunatic friend. He’s me, you see. He’s me–and you, and everyone who’s ever lived.

“For the flesh lusts against the spirit,and the spirit against the flesh. The two are contrary to one another.” And no matter how long we walk with Christ the flesh never gets better. We can get better at resisting its allure.

But it is never sanctified. Our souls are. But not our bodies. “Who shall deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

We, as long as we are here on this earth, shall never be sinless. But let us pray fervently to sin less and less. And let us remember to be as forgiving towards the lunatic friends of others as we are of our own. That to my mind is what it means to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

Are you brave enough to admit you have a luntic friend? Are you ready to do something about that? Put it down in words below.

God bless you!

This ‘N That

You may have noticed that things have been a bit sparse around here of late. All I can say is, because life.

In the last couple of weeks:

I’ve changed jobs.

I became the parent of a first-time Girl Scout (yes, that means cookie sales, Virginia).

My wife has been dealing with health challenges. And everyone knows that when momma’s down the family comes to grinding hault. (If you could pray for her, I’d appreciate it very much).

Theny family came down mega-hard with the “crud.” While I didn’t get it, I was a lot more tired than usual. My get-up-and-go got up and went… somewhere.

Maybe over the rainbow. Who knows. I just know that since entering my forties that neither my energy, nor my focus, is in Kansas anymore.

Is that the enough Wizard of Oz references for one post? Can I get a ruling?

I’m woefully behind on both blog reading and writing. I owe both friend,  Tim, and author Shawn Smucker,  reviews of their respective books.

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s back to work I go!

See you around the Internets, friends.

Ciao for now,

Chad

Goodbye to My So-Called Upbringing

'Dysfunction Junction: Cold Spring NY Photowalk' photo (c) 2010, Nick Harris - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

I don’t want you getting the wrong idea–I wasn’t beaten as a child. The spankings I got, I earned (helping your buddy try to burn down his grandmother’s garage, anyone?). I wasn’t a battered child, but I’ve got come to the conclusion that abuse is never just physical.

There are psychological, and emotional, abuses, too. And if I was abused, it was in this way:

I was ignored. One of my earliest memories is being told to go away, relax, unwind, watch T.V. And then later, when she checked on me, my mother was aghast to find me drinking a beer in front of Sesame Street. Why? “Because it wat daddy do.”

When I fell, got hurt, got a boo-boo, there was precious little soothing; instead, I was indoctrinated with the mantra “I’m alright.” Even though I most decidedly was not alright. They say the lessons learned earliest go the deepest.
And are hardest to overcome. I’ve been alright far too many times when I shouldn’t have been. Been okay in places I never should have been…

If my mother’s chiefest failing was practiced indifference–emotional diffidence, my dad’s was indifference followed by the bitter wash of sarcastic chasers. I would go from being ignored to verbally masticated, spit out, left to put myself back together…

And I had to be alright.

After their inevitable divorce, the neglect only deepened. My mom, of course, didn’t share her pain; instead, losing herself in work, she hoped (I think) to give others something she couldn’t give herself: an intact family.

And my dad? Our relationship was as defined in the divorce decree: I saw him twice a year. His second wife hated my brother and I…

Divorce touches millions of families. And my life, seen from the outside, may have appeared to be, while perhaps less than ideal, a privileged one. I was white, lived in Scottsdale, had a roof, clothes  food. In short, the basics.

It has taken me years to pin down just exactly what I didn’t have:

A sense of love.

Part and parcel with growing up latchkey was, I guess, a sense of parental guilt. There were precious few boundaries, and even fewer consequences. I was left to my own devices, to indulge in whatever I wanted.

It’s a wonder I just got into smoking, and not drugs. My interest in porn was labelled “healthy curiosity.” If my childhood was defined by anything, it was these three things:

Neglect

Pornography

And Stephen King

I turned inward because there was nowhere else to go, no one to go to. My mom eventually had a live-in boyfriend, who’s example, and idea of culture, consisted of pizza, cigarettes, and “martoonis” in front of the T.V. This was my exemplar of manhood.

I wanted to escape, but had nowhere else to go. My dad didn’t want me, my mom was too busy, and this is “white privilege?”

None of this was talked about. I had to navigate a broken family, adolescence, on my own.

Habits developed then have not always been conducive now to  building healthy attachments. I’m almost 45 years old, and still bitter about what I didn’t have. Why couldn’t I have a normal, loving family? Why don’t I have meaningful relationships with my parents, brother, etc?

For years, as a growing Christian, I thought it was my job to put up, shut up, keep the peace. I allowed so many unhealthy things to happen, so many hurts to go unaddressed. I want to let my parents off the hook, say they did the best they could…

But I don’t believe it.

That’s why I want so much to be done with them. I can’t seem to get past the things which they’ve done, or I’ve done in relation to them. I want to say there’s too much water under the bridge. I don’t feel listened to.

I want to be done, but can’t. Because…

Because God.

He’s the God of second, third, thirty-third, and seventy-times-time chances.

Because He’s given me chance after chance, though I’ve blown it time and time again, I can do no less. I have to try.

If there’s a lesson I’ve learned in life, it’s this: the things we like least in others are usually the things which dislike about ourselves. That hurts to admit.

I’m not perfect (far from it), and neither are they. They dealt with their own demons, as I’ve dealt with mine.

God help me, I’m willing to try.

That’s the best I can do.

Failing Forward

The last couple of years have been interesting ones to say the least. Amazing breakthroughs followed by agonizing defeats. One day, literally on the mountaintop; not long after, wallowing in my own hog slop.

I found freedom, got free, had liberty…

In Christ.

And turned it into license.

Because I was the enlightened one, had made the pilgrimage to the mountaintop. I knew better.

And I knew better.

For six months in 2012, I lived duplicitously. Without integrity. While nothing, as they say, happened, I nevertheless kept my wife out of the loop on something. And because I did so, things looked quite worse than they were.

I’ve done a lot of soul-searching since then, and have been to counseling. I’ve come to the conclusion that I had come to value success (and thought I had found a connection on that path) more than I did my own integrity. More than those close to me.

And that’s never the way to be.

Let’s face it: writing is like life; if an artist has no honesty, no integrity, what have they got, really? What have they got to say? What contribution can they make? Anything would ring hollow.

They certainly wouldn’t be anyone worth the follow.

The point I’m trying to make, what I’m trying to so haltingly state, is that it’s never too late:

To start over.

Success begins by taking an honest look at ourselves, and our failures. For it is then–and only then–that something glorious occurs. In that light of introspection, and repentance, our failures, setbacks, coal-black before, begin to shine like diamonds. For it is then, in that light of honest assessment, that what was once failure now propels us forwards.

We “fall forward” when we both acknowledge, and learn, from what has gone before. The only definition of success that matters is that it begins, and ends, in integrity.

How are you falling forward today?

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