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A Soft Place to Fall

randomlychad  —  November 11, 2013 — 4 Comments

Widely regarded as the best film in the franchise, Raiders of the Lost Ark is replete with iconic lines. Lines such as:

“It’s not the years, it’s the mileage,” and

“I’m making this up as I go.”

This is true of me, too: my life has (if not similar adventures, or dangers) been a process of making it up as I go. Not having examples, or mentors, I’ve had to figure out how to be a husband and dad. And I thought coming to Christ would fill my life with meaning and purpose; in a sense, it has.

However, at forty-four, I’m still not sure what I’m supposed to do, or who I’m supposed to be. I have a great job, which had become a career, that I fell into. (Looking back, I believe it was God guiding me). The job provides for my family and I, but it’s not fulfilling in the deepest sense. In fact, I can’t point to any one thing which has fulfilled me.

That, I think, is my problem–the crux of the matter. I’m still, at forty-four, looking to things outside of myself to define me. It’s a never-ending quest, a fruitless pursuit. The Constitution guarantees me the right to pursue happiness, but never defines just what that happiness is.

Don’t get me wrong: I have a wonderful wife, two great kids who adore me, and more blessings than I know what to do with. Everything I’ve looked to give me purpose and meaning has turned to dust and ashes. Victories which tasted sweet in my mouth turned sour in my belly.

Even this blog. I came to blogging in earnest when some real life friendships came to their different ends. The hard truth here is that friends are not friends forever (no matter what Michael W. Smith sings). The things I previously discussed with friends needed an outlet.

So I came here.

And mostly you (collectively) have been most kind, welcoming me with open arms. For this I’m very thankful.

But I would like to also apologize for placing upon you a burden you were never meant to carry; namely, I’m sorry for trying to elicit from you tacit statements that I matter. (“Please love me”).

My heart is a needy beast.

Everything I’ve done, if it’s been about anything, it’s about that: wanting to know that I matter. Because I grew up in a story where I didn’t. My dad was too lost in his own woundedness to pay any attention. And my mom was too busy trying to bridge gap.

Listen: I know I matter to my Heavenly Father. I know what’s true. But knowing and feeling are often two very different things. And it’s all too easy to lose sight of what one knows in the trenches of life. The voices tell me I don’t matter, but what’s true is that I’m loved by my Heavenly Father, that I’m a husband of almost twenty-three years, and a dad to two wonderful, precocious, sometimes frustrating, but always awesome kids.

No matter what else I do in life–if I never publish a book, or never do anything other than resolve technical issues
–no one can take that away from me.

I only hope that my kids aren’t as hobbled coming out of the gate. That they know their parents love them. That they know Jesus loves them.

That no matter what life throws at them they know that they are loved, and have a soft place to fall.

How about you? Who was your soft place growing up? Who’s your soft place now? Are you a soft place for someone?

It’s late, and I’m rambling. Please don’t forget about the Church Hopper giveaway here: Church Hoppers to the Rescue Click through to enter. Thanks!

20120506-133803.jpg If you’ve spent any time on the Internet recently, you may have seen this photo (or the quote contained therein). While it embodies certain truths, it unfortunately appears Betty White didn’t actually say it. A cursory search shows the genesis of the phrase lies with a much younger comedian.

The ironically named Shen Wang.

I’m not here to poke fun at his name.

I’d like to highlight the truths I see embodied within the admittedly shocking quote. Beyond the obvious sexual connotation, there is of course childbirth, too. (Let me ask this: if, for instance, it were possible for both males and females to get pregnant, but at the time of intercourse it was a crapshoot as to which parent would, you know, actually get pregnant–how many less babies would be born?).

I would in fact go so far as to say that women in general are far stronger than we men, and society collectively, are willing to admit.

Which leads me to: how are women considered weak? Yes, they are usually smaller than men in stature, and are generally more “feelings-oriented,” more sensitive. But I’m not quite sure how this connotes weakness? It seems to me to be more of a quiet strength.

If I had to boil it down to its lowest common denominator, I would say that because women’s strengths are different than men’s, rather than taking the time to understand these differences, it’s far easier to label them as weaknesses. It’s the path of least resistance.

In fact–and I’ve written on this before–nowhere is this seen more clearly than in how language is used. We all know that one particular slang term for vagina, right? The one that is associated with weakness? When that epithet is hurled at someone, what are we really saying? We’re saying they’re weak, cowardly, afraid… In short, womanly.

It doesn’t compute. If being thus is bad (then so, by extension, is having one), why is getting some good? Why do we objectify that which is different from us?

And why is that having “balls” is somehow inherently “good?” That a man of courage is said to have stones, balls, etc.? And a weak man needs to “grow a pair?”

Going back to the quote: “Balls are weak and sensitive.” Anyone who thinks otherwise has either: never been hit there, or seen a man get hit there. In fact, a Chinese man died recently when his were squeezed during a street side altercation.

Think about that: he died. Because someone squeezed his testicles with such force that the resulting pain likely put him into cardiac arrest.

So the question to me is: being so sensitive, how did “balls,” or having them, somehow become a symbol of strength? The obvious answer is that they are uniquely male–women don’t have them. And we men are usually quite proud of our penises–thus the phallus is a symbol–the symbol–of manhood, strength, virility.

What’s interesting to me is this: what message is God perhaps sending us (men) by making this source and sign of our virility so weak? That which we are (often) arguably proudest of?

I would venture to say that, in God’s economy, that which we perceive to be our greatest strengths are often our greatest liabilities, our weaknesses.

As the Scriptures say: “Pride comes before a fall.”

As for me, I would say (as it also says in the Scriptures) that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female: for all are one in Christ Jesus.”

Which says to me that we–men and women–while being differently endowed, are nevertheless equal in the eyes of God.

What do you think?