Search This Blog

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Living life on E

How many times do we drive oblivious to how full (or empty) our gas tank is only to be abruptly made aware by a quick glance or ding of a low fuel light that we will soon have to refuel.   We have two choices at this point: we can drive on E and hope we can make it to our destination or we can stop and refuel.  Unless we our near our destination, it is generally wisest to stop and refuel.  Presuming we decide to stop and refuel, we have a second decision to make.  Do we put in a partial tank to save money and/or time refueling or do we bite the bullet and top it off?  Unless we are totally strapped for money, in a situation in which literally a minute or two will make a difference, or sure that gas prices will spike, it is best just tank it off at that point.  (As if we continually drive on or near E, we risk eventually getting stranded after running out of gas or causing damage to the engine such as dirt getting into the fuel line or engine. 

Okay, so then why in life when our 'low fuel light' comes on, do we ignore and hope 'we make it' or do we barely 'refuel' . LaMorris Crawford, the chaplain for the Cincinnati Bengals and head of LaMorris Crawford Ministries, spoke this past weekend at the Missouri District Church of the Nazarene 2016 Men's Retreat this past weekend. (April 22-23)  In his Friday night sermon, his larger point was notoriety and what as Christians that we'd be remembered for.  In the process of making that point he observed that in our faith that we tend to run on empty when we should be spiritually refueling.  A friend of mine recently reminded me to make time and find my own space to recharge my batteries--basically another way of saying refueling.  I don't think he was necessarily limiting it to one aspect of my life, but rather all my life--physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually   Anyway, between those two circumstances it got me to thinking: what is refueling and why don't we properly refuel?

What is refueling?

  • Spending time in prayer, study and/or meditation.  (Spiritually refueling)
  • Getting good sleep.
  • Exercising
  • Eating right
  • Finding me time - being nice to ourselves.

In short, it is taking care of our needs.

I believe many live life on or near 'E' for the following reasons:

  1. PRIDE - We mistakenly estimate that we can do it ourselves and that we don't need a break, pause or a lift.  In a way, it is a need for self-validation.   Spiritually, we want to prove to ourselves that we are well-equipped at all times, so we don't spend the time in prayer and study that we need to.  Emotionally, mentally and physically we want to prove to ourselves how 'tough' we are.  So, we don't stop, pause, rest or step away when we need to 'refuel'.                                                   
  2. ARROGANCE - As I see it, arrogance is trying to prove to others about our good/greatness, our intelligence, our toughness and our independence.  It comes from a place of insecurity in relation to others.  That is we NEED to be dominant or not show weakness to prove our worth.  On the spiritual side, we are telling our Higher Power (God) that we don't need him.  In other words, I've got it under control.  In that and other aspects of our life we don't stop, pause, step away or rest until our we are run down.  To us, to do so would show comparative weakness and we can't risk that.                                                                                                                               
  3. IGNORANCE - Sometimes we simply don't really understand how to take care of ourselves or refuel properly.  We may have never really had a good example set for us.  What instead we may have seen was our parents not effectively taking care of their own needs.  Sometimes, it is as simple as not taking any/enough time to pray, meditate, introspect about our needs.  This can be due to laziness, distractions, stubbornness or some other unknown block.  If we aren't really aware of how to effectively take care of ourselves, it is more likely we will just do the minimum we need to go get by.                                                                                                       
  4.  TIME/SPACE - I've heard the quote: "there isn't enough time to do it right, but there is always enough time to do it over." (Jack Bergman)  I think it is fairly common we don't take effective care of ourselves because we don't take/make enough time for our needs.  Time, as we get older, seems like an ever decreasing asset.  In this light, it is common to feel like we don't have enough time to stop, to rest, to eat healthy, exercise, pray/meditate or any of the other things we should do to refuel in the different aspects of our life.  I believe that often we just push forward believing there is enough in the tank to get us to the next point, day, week, crisis moment, etc., believing we don't have time to refuel.  Of course, like the the earlier quote implied, when we do break down--assuming we aren't completely destroyed--we seem to be able to find the time to recover and refuel.  I believe there is often similar issue with space.  We don't find our own personal space--literal or figurative--and ironically after we break down, we are given plenty of space to recover.                                                                                                                               
  5.  SHAME - Interestingly enough, most of the reasons for not taking proper care of ourselves or refueling, revolve around a miscalculation or misunderstanding of how to do so rather than the basic desire to do.  However, shame is different.  One could argue that when we feel too much guilt or shame, there is a conscience or subconscious sense that we don't deserve to take care of ourselves.  In our spiritual life, there is almost a sense that we don't deserve the grace of God (our higher power), but this is really when we need it the most.  In other aspects of our lives, when we feel too much shame and can be paralyzed into effective inaction--a shame crater.  Alternatively, not feeling we deserve to have our needs met, the actions of a person stuck in shame are often mostly focused on others as instead of taking care of basic needs first.  It can be noble to put other's needs first, but not if we are totally neglecting taking care of ourselves in the process.  
I guess the takeaway from this blog is that we need to become aware of what our basic needs are, of when we are not effectively meeting our own basic needs. This can help us to understand why we aren't.  Otherwise, when we continue to live life on E, it will catch up to us and when it does, it will not be pretty.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The insane voice speaks again.

In a prior post The 'insane' little voice in our head and entertaining ourselves, I asserted that each of has a number of voices in our head.  One of them being the 'insane/funny' one.  I do think however we have the ability to destroy that one.  But, I digress.  Since then I have had time to ponder (or at least own up to) random thoughts, musings or stories.  Here's a few that I have come up with.  Take them with a grain of salt and note that being irreverent is not the same as trying to be disrespectful.

1)  I tend to be very reserve in my public worship.  I sing and say amen when appropriate and what not, but I don't tend to be otherwise expressive.   I noticed one time people when we were singing that some people raise there hands.  I secretly want someone on the worship team to lean into his microphone and say, to the man in the second pew in blue with his hands up, do you have a question?  

2) At this year's men's retreat, I asked the district superintendent how many churches he rules.  He actually kind of liked that comment.  

3) I wonder if it would be appropriate at a presentation at work or wherever when handing out paperwork around the table, to suddenly and without announcement to start tapping on their head saying duck, duck, duck, duck, goose and then run around the table?

4) I noticed one time I was driving through I think it was Columbia, MO or somewhere like that there were a few strip clubs, I also noticed nearby were churches.  I noticed this one other time in my life and it occurred to me that the battle between good and evil was playing out around the town.

5) So, for years I've had an investment with Fidelity and Fidelity Funds.  It occurred to me, I wonder if anyone had thought of "Infidelity Funds"?  There are enough vices and people who are proud of them to invest in vice related companies.

6) My wife wondered about the death of a celebrity's wife.  Were were at Comic Cons recently and she brought that up.  I asked her if she'd like me to go up to him and ask him: My wife thinks that you may have something to do with your wife's death.  Please tell me, that she's wrong."  I passed this by her and she vetoed the idea, shockingly enough.  :(

7) I wonder if I should walk up to a stranger, tap him or her on the shoulder and do the "Wehrenberg Theater" whisper and walk away before they have a chance to respond?   A St. Louis native around 1990s would get this. 

8) We we leaving a concert and someone was walking slowly and my wife looked at me and asked me if it would be wrong just to run him over.  Sadly, I told her I was thinking the same thing.

9)  Me and my daughter have this game called "Let's chase nature".  So, when we spot some unsuspecting one or more of God's creation minding their own business, we sneak up on it or them and yell, startling them and scaring them away.  Sometimes, I have stopped my car just to engage in this game.  Our victim list has included squirrels, birds, ducks, geese and probably one or two other wilds that I can't think of.   I just hope nature just doesn't get together one day and scheme revenge on me.  :(

10)  My dad gave me a check for $1000 at my reception when I got married to my daughter's mom.  Anyway, much to my disgust, my former stepmom who divorced him in 2006 got a $10,000 life insurance policy from the government after his death as opposed to it going to his family--which to me is screwed up.  It wasn't about the money, but it was about the system rewarding someone who took advantage of him.  Anyway, it occurred to me right before I got remarried that I should go up to her and saying hi <her name>.  As you know my dad died last year and you got his government life insurance policy.   Well, you know that's kind of screwed up and all, but I'm getting remarried and all and I know my dad would have wanted to give me a gift.  So, I think it would be a great gesture if on his behalf if you gave me a wedding gift with his blood money.  My wife of course, vetoed that idea out of hand.

Anyway, my head is a little clearer now.  Thanks for participating in 'insane voice' theater 2016.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Demons, Part 2: Melancholy

I guess it was just about time to write another Demons-related post.

You ever have those nights in which you can't sleep, you feel melancholy.  Sort of a sense that you've made it through the hurts that life has thrown you, the wounds that life has dealt you and the destruction you have witnessed,  You made it through by whatever means you could, but perhaps you haven't really faced or processed all that life has thrown at you.
(Originally written and posted on 04/18/16)

They say life is for the living, but even the living need time to process the wounds, to process the hurts and to process the destruction.  Yes, life is for the living, but even the living need time to catch their breath, even the living need time to process, even the living need time to reflect, but life doesn't always offer those moments.  Just for once, it would be nice to scream, "ENOUGH!" as we catch our breath.

We adapt, we move forward, we put on the happy face (at least until the crowd is gone) and then we try to move back into our own little space to try to make sense of it all.  Sometimes, we are blocked by the need to move forward, sometimes we are blocked by the inability to face head-on a profound loss, and sometimes we are just blocked by the sense or push to "get over it".  As if we can take punch after punch and say, "well that didn't hurt".  As if we can fall down the stairs and yell upstairs, "I'm ok".  As if we can bury a family member on Tuesday and go back to work on Friday and say, "I'm good."

I guess what I am saying is that I think we spend too much time sleepwalking through life.  We spend too much time being the walking wounded without really contemplating or breaking down what the h*ll happened.  As much as it pains me, I know I'd rather face the music, face the pain, face the demons than push them down like a snooze button on an alarm only to have them pop up ever more distracting/annoying/upsetting than the previous time.

Anyway, that's my happy thought for the morning.   Rich 1, Poison 0.  HA


Friday, April 1, 2016

Observations on shame: "The Shame Cycle"

Tonight (3/31/16) I dealt with what I considered a 'harassment' letter from an attorney for my dad's nursing home.  Long story short: My dad stayed there and ultimately had a lien placed on his house so they could recuperate costs not covered by Medicaid.  Anyway, I as his POA signed an agreement about a year ago which included promissory note giving them the authority to seize the house should his bill not be paid in full by the end of last year.  The attorney has been a real jerk and my attorney who is familiar with him says that he is pushy.  Anyway, thinking this whole matter I realized that I wasn't really fazed by the letter pressing the family for money.  I realized part of my serenity on the matter is that I realize that they will get my dad's house and it is up to them to flip it to get what they are owed.  But, I also realized something else: I have serenity on it because I am no longer caught up in what I call a "shame cycle".   Over the past number of years, I have felt shame over not being able to save my brother and a friend, respectively,  from harming themselves.  I have felt the shame of a failed marriage, a foreclosed house, bankruptcy, underemployment, not being a 24/7 parent of my daughter, not being there enough for my mom before she died and then having to walk away from my dad at times while his health was failing for my own sanity in the face of his insolence/difficult behavior as his health was progressively failing.  My friend Ben refers to a shame based "bottoming out" as a "shame crater".  At times, my "shame crater" seemed to be as large as the volcano crater I walked through in Hawaii.   

As anyone who has stopped to think about it has realized, when you are operating under a cloud of shame, your decision-making and/or confidence is compromised.  It doesn't matter if the shame is justifiable or not, the result is still the same.  I refer to this as a "shame cycle" because I think a lot of times shame has a way of keeping us in a rut or bad cycle. Furthermore, I think circumstances and/or people can wittingly or unwittingly support the continuation of this rut.  I am grateful that God has moved me to a place where I am not stuck in that cycle like I was, but I am well aware that sometimes the cycle is so deeply embedded in one's persona that it takes a/some dramatic event(s) or a dramatic change to shake us out of the rut or cycle.  Unfortunately, for me it took the complete implosion of the marriage to my ex and the suicide of my brother to start to start to put a stop to the cycle.  I think sometimes when we are stuck in a bad cycle, especially a shame one, we know something has to give for us to start feeling healthy or recovering again, but the fear of what it has to be keeps us from going there.

One more quick note, I have found the following are useful in stopping or breaking a shame cycle:
  • Counsel of trusted others - Whether it be a friend, minister or actual counselor.
  • Measuring myself and my worth in God's eyes, rather than my own or the eyes of the  world.
  • Confidence  - Especially when you know it is supported by a sense of honor or propriety.
Anyway, just think of a shame cycle like a wash cycle.  Eventually, it has to end to allow go onto the next the next step in the process.   Just my thoughts for the evening...