Because… Dog?

My dad has had an on-again-off-again affair with the golden nectar known as beer. Sometime in the ’70s, he discovered a particularly noxious brew known as Olympia Gold (“Oly” for short). I’m told it had the body of water, and a flavor reminiscent of cold piss.

Oly Gold was lowcal before lowcal was a thing.

But whatever. I never tried it. What I did do, as a kid, was every time he asked me to get him a beer from the fridge, I shook it up. (This was when beer was still sold in steel cans, with pull-tabs. I’m old. Shut up). I could hear the roiling pressure of the trapped gases awaiting their released, but he usually didn’t.

Beer splosion!

Followed by, “CHAD!!!”

I either thought it was funny enough to risk the butt hurt I could be subjected to, or I had some latent resentments I harbored against the man… Probably both. It wouldn’t be the first, or the last, time I’d done something passive aggressive.

Yeah, I got issues. But I loved the man, and wanted his attention. And the “shake up the beer game” was one of the ways I got it. When a kid isn’t feeling the love, he will resort to desperate measures to ensure it. Lack love is usually why kids act out.

It’s their way of saying “Notice me.”

———–

Dad was gone more and more, working later and later hours. As I got a little older, the beer game lost its luster. I stopped trying to get his attention, retreating more and more into myself, and the world of books, movies, magazines.

But I still loved my old man. Knew when he wasn’t home. Even if he didn’t have time for me, I knew when he was there, and when he wasn’t. I mean I still had hope, you know?

I remember a night when I couldn’t sleep. The clock ticked eleven, twelve, one, two… I wasn’t up reading: I was worried about my dad. Was he okay? Why wasn’t he home? Around two o’clock, there was a noise: the sound of a door being jerked open at the far end of the house.

I heard the master bedroom door open, the pad of my mom’s feet in the tiled hall.

I followed her.

Down the hall, through the family room, and into the kitchen I followed her.

There was my dad, standing in the doorway separating the breakfast nook from the entryway, swaying a little–listing from starboard to port, and back again.

The sour notes of cheap beer, piss, and bar smoke wafted off him in waves. But the piss wasn’t his. No, there was a quivering dark bundle under his left arm.

My mom asked “Mont, what’s going on? Why are you so late? Where have you been?”

“Dad,” I asked, “are you okay?”

My mom turned to me, asked me what I was doing up? Said I couldn’t sleep. She directed me back to bed. The last thing I heard as I walked to my room was:

“Why are you so late? I was really worried about you.”

“Because… Dog?” my dad intoned like a question. Because what he had under his arm was just that: a quivering Cockapoo we later named “Puppy.”

Because… Dog?

Have You Been There?

Have you been there? You know–that place.

What place?

The one where you’re maligned and misunderstood by those closest to you.

There are ways, and there are ways, to deal with this.

One way is to shut down, hide within. Which means putting on a false face–a facade. But it hurts to hide who you are from those closest to you.

And the self will find a away out.

So what do you do when it doesn’t feel safe anymore to be you?

Like I said, you can hide. But this has a way of festering. Resentment is bound to grow whether you’re conscious of it, or not.

How do I know? I’ve been there. Dealt with that rejection.

I’ve been in a men’s group, and made the mistake of sharing my (personal) convictions about the age of the earth. The group imploded. Made me not want to have friends anymore. Made me want to skip the risk.

I’ve done it with family members, too. When my motives were called into question, when I’ve changed my mind about something… and was rejected. When something in social media spheres happened that was both unlocked, and unasked, for.

Somehow it was my fault.

When a friend of a friend questioned my salvation, and family members didn’t step in to defend me, but rather gave credence to it.

So I learned to hide.

And in hiding, I became vulnerable. When it was no longer safe to be me around those closest to me, I found an outlet via email. At first, it was just this fun thing where I could let my hair down, be me.

That was refreshing.

What I didn’t realize at the time was how much of myself I was investing–how much time, thought, life was going to this unreality.

Because it came to the place where I was constantly refreshing my email, looking for a message, a word, a something to…

Make me feel like me. Because I didn’t know who I was anymore.

I ask you: have you been in that place?

Take it from me: it’s far better to face your fears, risk rejection, and have the difficult conversations. (Consider this: Jesus himself spent his whole earthly life being rejected by his own. Yet in it all he did not sin).

If you’re hiding from those closest to you: take your mask off. Lay down your rapier wit.

It’s time to be vulnerable. For it’s in being thus open that, yes, we risk rejections, but at the same time paradoxically find grace.

Are you wearing any false faces today?

Naked In The Dark

The last few months have left me feeling so very shaken and squeezed. Despite our best efforts, medical intervention, and significant investment, things haven’t changed: my dear wife is falling apart before my eyes.

Yet God remains silent.

Despite a renewed commitment earlier this year, I feel myself drifting. There is a distance growing between me and my Father.

I’m not sure I care.

I felt this same enmity when, all those years ago, I prayed for my grandmother to live, and she didn’t. Instead, my grandfather, whom she cared for, was moved from sibling to sibling. And finally into a home. (While an uncle sold off all his earthly goods to pay off debt).
Whatever comfort may come from God seems cold, distant, indifferent.

And I’ve found I’m not strong. I’m weak and worn. I want my wife back, I want our life back. Every day a piece of my heart is torn out when I have to leave her in tears to go to work.

I don’t smoke, yet I dream of getting a pipe. The bottle sings its own siren song to me: I am comfort, I am peace, lose yourself in me.

I am tempted. When it seems that no comfort is forthcoming from the Father, it’s altogether too tempting to find it elsewhere. The bottle, smoking, that channel on TV.

Yet all are smoke and mirrors, promising things they cannot deliver. I feel like Frodo, who near the end of his quest, said he was “naked in the dark” with “nothing between me and the wheel of fire.”

And if I feel this way, how must my dear wife feel? Just this morning she said, “I want a vacation from my body.”

I don’t know how to traverse that. How do I deal with it? I try to be strong for her, remind her that God’s strength is perfected in weakness. But it’s entirely too easy to believe for someone else, and have no faith left for ourselves.

I am naked in the dark.

God help me.

You Wouldn’t Like Me When I’m Angry

Today’s guest post comes from my friend, Kevin Haggerty. He’s a Christian, husband, dad, web/graphics designer, writer, and MMA blogger. Kevin and his wife, Kim, are going through a year where they:

Both lost their jobs, and

Welcomed their son, Aidan, into the world. Through it all, hard as it’s been, God has been there.

Kevin’s blog is The Isle of Man, and he can be followed on Twitter @kevinrhaggerty

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I’m a pretty nice guy.

As a kid, I was probably somewhat of a pushover. I am the oldest of seven kids. I was obedient. I didn’t get in a lot of trouble. I held the line. I was essentially next in command if the boss went down.

I also have always been an introvert, though that is not something I’ve understood about myself until very recently in life.

Because of those factors, I generally kept to myself and avoided conflict as a child. In high school, I wasn’t a lot different. Though I started to stand up for myself a little, I was very much still going through a process of self-discovery.

The truth is that I probably took more crap than I needed to for the first 18 or so years of my life.

It was somewhere along that point in time that I started to become acclimated with anger. It was my out. My new savior.

It was my superpower.

Continue Reading…

Over The Edge(r)

This is a guest post from my friend, Ricky Anderson. Ricky is a Christian, husband, dad, database guy, and vehemently denies owning any more than one shed. His blog is at Ricky Anderson.net, and he can be followed on Twitter @Arthur2Sheds.

Please note that this post is part of a series on anger; there will be others as well.

—————-

I was angry.

No, I was out of control. I had been sent out to edge and mow the lawn, and I was ticked.

Our edger was an old one; inordinately heavy and obnoxious to use. It was electric, which meant plugging in the extension cord and hoping it’d reach the end of the yard. Anything it didn’t reach had to be trimmed by hand. That edger and I didn’t get along.

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Partway through my disgruntled efforts, the cord got snagged on the swingset. I didn’t want to walk all the way across the yard to pull the cable around the pole it was stuck on, so I simply yanked.

And yanked.

And yanked.

Harder.

And harder.

With no result. In my 12-year-old immaturity, I lost it. I started bashing the edger into the ground. I yelled at that stupid edger. I pulled out every word I’d learned at school.

Then the head of the edger broke. I turned it off and dropped it. As I started to calm down, I was rational once again and became afraid. What would I tell Dad?

I looked up and froze. Dad was standing ten feet behind me. I didn’t know how long he’d been there.

I mentally started packing my bags for military school. Maybe the circus would take me, or one of my uncles. I didn’t know whether to run or cry, but I knew this was not going to go well.

After a few moments, my dad spoke.

“Well, I guess it’s time to replace that old weed whacker. Hop in the car, let’s go.”

We got a gas-powered edger that weighed next to nothing. It was wonderful. And Dad never said a word about my childish tantrum.

Sometimes when I’m angry about a situation and I’ve messed everything up, I don’t want to pray about it. I don’t want to go to my Father and show him what I’ve done. So I get angrier and angrier, avoiding what I know I need to do.

And I wonder if he’s watching the whole thing as my Dad did, just waiting for me to calm down and let Him “make all things new” (Revelation 21:5).

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