While the imposter draws his identity from past achievements and the adulation of others, the true self claims identity in its belovedness. We encounter God in the ordinariness of life: not in the search for spiritual highs and extraordinary, mystical experiences but in our simple presence of life"
Brennan Manning, Abba's Child, 1994
I have wanted to share that little passage with you for a few weeks, but other things were in the works. Today, I get to share it with you, and I am glad to do so. I can't tell you in any manner of measurement how much I have learned from just these few sentences. It seems like reading these words, and then reading them again have altered how I view my life, how I view my actions, and how I view my belovedness.
Go ahead, read them again.
I challenge you to find your worth in all of your deeds, in all of your accomplishments, in all of your seeking the adulation of others. I do not believe you will, although the world, and to a large extent, the church teaches exactly this.
For what else is it when we are considered good Christians if we receive an award for "selfless" acts, or become a preacher, or an elder, or a choir member? What else is it when we measure success by the friends we have, the things we own, and the people who seek us?
Yes, even frinedships do not define our worth, or even who we are. There is only One who does that, and He decided you are worth so much that He died for you. No greater love can be known than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Jesus is found not at seminars or awards banquets, but in the passenger seat of your car. He is not found at the top of the mountain, but on the long ranging plains as far as any eye can see. He is not found in a paycheck or the vactaion of a lifetime, rather, he is found just as you punch in for work each day, especially on Monday. He is found in your home, while you are scrubbing the toilet, or taking out the trash. He is found, in fact, always everywhere, but since the mundane is the majority of our lives, you will never have greater moments with Jesus than when you are picking up the dog poop in the yard, or rocking your child to sleep.
Why do we seek Jesus on the mountaintop? Why do we seek Him when we are being praised? Why do we seek Him when Billy Graham is speaking? Isn't He available all other times?
Of course He is, and only our realization of our belovedness will expose Jesus to us whenever we are, wherever we are.
You are the beloved. That is your worth, that is who you are. Just being you makes you extraordinary. No mystical entreatment is necessary. No accomplishment will make you better. Being praised or receiving an award for excellence will not make you extraordinary or wonderful. That would be impossible, because you were already extraordinary and wonderful the moment you breathed for the first time.
John Pierce was a home builder who specialized in building high end, state of the art residences. The wealthy were his clientele, the men and women who earned enough money every year to buy three of the homes he would build for them.
John was in the midst of drawing up a contract for the Wescott’s in
John was a tall, lanky fellow, with dark brown hair and deep hazel eyes. His face was a mixture of the English and Hispanic blood that flowed through his veins, which provided him with a rugged good look that women found hard to ignore. He was also a very intelligent man, quick to wit and thorough in his contemplation of any problem. But good looks and intelligence weren’t any match for an angry customer, and John had the feeling that this family would be irate.
The Wescott’s were a lot like many of the people John had built homes for, wealthy, well-educated, and certain of what they wanted. Samuel Wescott was the CEO of a major oil company, and his wife and two children were nothing if not stunning both in appearance and confidence. Samuel was no different. All in all, the Wescott family was everyone’s picture of the ideal well-to-do family. They went to church, drove Mercedes Benz cars, dressed impeccably, gave to all sorts of charities, and let everyone know about it. They had an image to uphold, and they were very good at doing just that.
Samuel Wescott had been in oil all of his life. His father, and his father’s father had run the same company for nearly seventy years. There was a sense of entitlement that went with Samuel that John Pierce simply did not like. Whenever Samuel stepped into John’s office, he arrived with an air of superiority and expectation that made John want to bitch-slap him. But, he was a customer, and John treated him just as he treated all of his customers; with respect and dignity.
John often thought that it didn’t matter how he felt about a prospective owner, his job was to build what they wanted, and to do it in the best way he could. How he felt about that customer could never interfere with how he treated them and performed for them.
It was with this knowledge that John met Samuel in his office at Pierce Paradise Homes. Telling Samuel about the cost increase was not going to be fun, and he had no false illusions about that.
John was talking on the phone with his wife when Samuel walked in, talking with her about this very meeting. When he saw Samuel sit in the chair across from his desk, he let his wife know that he had to go, Mr. Wescott had just arrived.
“Good afternoon Mr. Wescott, how are you doing today?” John greeted him with.
‘Fine, Fine” Samuel Wescott replied in a somewhat bored tone. “You know, busy all the time. Look, I haven’t got a lot of time, so let’s just get down to brass tacks, shall we?”
“Very well, Mr. Wescott,” John answered.
“What’s this meeting all about, anyway?” asked Samuel.
John did not respond immediately. Instead, he mentally revisited his earlier calculations which had made this meeting necessary. He truly dreaded what he was about to say, but there it was, there was no way around it. He had to inform Mr. Wescott of the changes to the estimate.
“As I told you on the phone the other day, I have had to do some more investigation as to the costs of this project. Times being what they are, had you signed the estimate I showed you last week, this meeting would have been unnecessary. Having said that, let me just tell you bluntly; the initial cost estimate is no longer valid.” He watched Samuel’s eyes betray a flicker of anger which spurred John to finish what he had to say quickly, before Mr. Wescott could interrupt him.
“Knowing this, I re-estimated the costs associated with building your house, from the costs of materials, permits, labor…especially labor and travel, heavy equipment costs including fuel, and have come to the conclusion that the estimate for two million, three hundred and fifty thousand dollars is no longer do-able.”
John eyed Mr. Wescott from across his desk, being truly thankful that Samuel had agreed to meet him here. In Samuel’s office, he would have felt like a naughty ten year old about to be spanked as he delivered this information.
Pausing long enough to breathe, he continued, “The new total has to be two million, seven-hundred-two thousand, and five hundred dollars.”, being very careful to annunciate each syllable clearly.
There was a long silence shared between the two men. John was beginning to feel as if Mr. Wescott might just walk out without saying a word. He couldn’t have been so lucky.
“Am I to understand, Mr. Pierce, that because I refused to sign your little document last week, I am now being punished to the sum of almost four-hundred-fifty thousand dollars? Just what is this?” He said, clearly struggling to maintain his composure.
“No, Mr. Wescott,” John answered, “You aren’t being punished at all. But with the passage of so much time since we first began to talk about the money necessary for a project of this magnitude, my costs have increased so significantly that I can no longer offer you the same price that was available back then. That’s what this is.”
“And just what, may I ask, is causing this outrageous price increase?” Mr. Wescott angrily countered.
John shifted in his chair a little uncomfortably, and responded. “Mr. Wescott, are you aware that over the course of the last three months, gasoline and diesel prices have risen by over thirty percent?”
“Of course I’m aware, Mr. Pierce,” Samuel said in an aggravated tone. “What do you think I do for a living. I am well aware that certain factors demand that prices be raised, but I fail to see how those increases could cause you to raise the price of my house so much.”
“Mr. Wescott,” John began as calmly as he could manage. “In all fairness, you will notice that the cost of your house has not increased thirty percent., rather it has only increased fifteen percent. That increase is a fair increase, considering what it costs to run the heavy equipment we will need to build your home, not to mention the fact that my employees have to drive a lot further than they normally do for you, as well as all of the shipping costs to deliver everything that is needed for this project.”
Samuel Wescott was turning red, but he composed himself enough to ask, “Then break down these costs for me, explain it to me like I am a little child.”, he said, as if he was talking to one of his underlings. John did not like Mr. Wescott’s tone, but he held his sharp tongue, knowing he could have fared pretty well against someone such as Samuel Wescott, a man unaccustomed to being told “no”.
“Alright, I will, Mr. Wescott. The initial increase was ten percent, merely to cover the costs of transportation, shipping, and heavy equipment usage. That covers my increased cost caused solely by the price hikes in fuel. Then, I added another five percent in anticipation of further fuel cost increases. As you can see, our economy is not stable, I have to anticipate that fuel costs will continue to rise. It would be bad business for me to swallow those costs myself. They have to be passed on to the customer”, John finished with a gentle smile.
Mr. Wescott, rose in his chair like a snake about to strike. “I’ll grant you the cost of fuel increase. That at least makes sense to me. But what’s this non-sense about raising the price ‘in anticipation of further fuel cost increases’? ” he mimicked.
John looked squarely at Mr. Wescott, and answered, “I am only doing what I feel is necessary to protect all of my investment in this and other projects. Anticipatory price increases are not new to you, are they?” He asked sincerely.
And then it hit Samuel Wescott, like a ton of bricks. John could see the understanding form almost immediately within his eyes. Samuel said nothing in reply, but shrank into his chair, finally understanding what it felt like to be the little guy.
John ended the meeting as best he could by saying, “Don’t worry, Samuel, everything that can be done to keep the cost of this project down is being done. If you want to blame someone for this, blame the big oil companies; they’re the ones who caused this.”
And with that, he bid Mr. Wescott a good day.
Isn’t it ironic, he thought, as he watched a dejected Samuel Wescott walk out of his office.
Yesterday’s post was a strange one. Writing about my job, and the troubles inherent with it isn’t something I do often. I have been distantly wondering for the last day why I wrote it at all. Reading it only reminds me of the very first line in that post, and I begin to feel the irony, that maybe I am a big whiner, too.
Then I struggle to write this post, because I feel as though I am trying to justify my harsh words towards an industry that feeds me. But I also feel like I can’t write enough, to explain to you, and in necessity, to myself, why I am so troubled by the practices of my profession. There lies the truth; I need to know why I am troubled by what I see and experience.
I don’t know yet, but I know how it makes me feel. The cheating and lying makes my stomach turn as if I am anxious or nervous. I feel as though I am being screamed at, embarrassed in front of a large crowd, and there is nowhere to hide. I feel angry and helpless to change it. I feel saddened, yet unwilling to admit that I pity these fellows because who am I to pity anyone?
I see these craftsmen working day after day, practicing their trade at the direction of their manager, who is off somewhere driving in his four-wheel-drive-dually pick-up truck, chatting in a friendly way with another owner who has not yet decided to hire this fellow. I have spoken with this manager and many like him, more often than not because this fellow has directed his craftsmen to ignore the terms of the contract in hopes of making more money. You can imagine how those conversations go.
I dread them. I dread knowing what I know, and having to do something about it. I dread calling someone on a shortcoming, forcing them to reply from a standpoint of weakness. For what other can it be than weakness, when a contract you have signed clearly states the work to be done, and you refuse to do it? And so I meet them, me, this man who just wants to be a carpenter and for some reason has become the owner’s representative.
It makes my soul cry, that’s what it does. To see an industry I enjoy, even love, fall further and further into dishonor is like sticking a dagger into my spirit. I see the big houses, the new trucks, the fancy cell phones and all the gadgets they carry as their current badge of honor. They see it, too. This is what makes someone successful, to have things, and the bigger these things are, the more successful you are considered.
It is death to my soul to watch them saunter through a jobsite, attempting to avoid getting dust on their immaculate clothes because they have long ago forgotten that jobsites are dirty. They are very important men, and everyone knows it. Then they meet me, full of dust and grime, walking towards them softly, carrying a copy of their contract in my hands.
From here, from my perspective, there is no place for them to run, because once their own words are read back to them, they no longer have a chance to feint this way or that, in hopes of wiggling out of their promise. And that is what kills my soul.
They know what they have promised. I don’t need to read their own words back to them, but necessity is fickle when the new words leaving their lips are nothing like the words they signed their names to.
“Since when is an owner responsible to pay for a new door that doesn’t work, never worked, and won’t fix itself?” I ask the man in the cashmere overcoat.
And my soul sinks a little further.
Forgiveness? It isn’t my right to financially forgive this fellow of anything, I don’t have the authority to do that.
But there is one thing that I can do for the fellow. It is my only hope in this situation. I walk away from work that day, and I ask Dad to help me separate this man from his dishonor, so that I may see him as a person, and not as a thief. It is the only balm I have for a chapped heart, and someday, my Father in heaven will no longer have to watch me dance this way every day. Someday, this will all make sense, and my heart will be free of all the things of this world. Someday, though that day is not today, I won’t feel so bad when I remember that I used to enjoy doing this to people.
"That's not in my contract", they tell me.
"I don't get paid to clean up", they say.
"It's not our fault the door doesn't work. It's the flooring contractor's fault. Make them fix it" I hear.
Blame avoidance and contract escapability, these are the tools of today's contractors. It is rare that I meet even one contractor in a year who seems to have any sense of honor. How has it come to this?
I have learned that as individuals, people generally want to do the good thing, the right thing, the honorable thing. Singular employees of a contractor seem to carry a desire to fulfill the terms of the contract as best they can.
Then I meet their project managers, or their owners, and things generally go south from there.
I wasn't aware that if an owner doesn't catch you being a cheat, it's okay to not fulfill the terms of a contract you signed in good faith. In fact, it seems that today, the most important part of a project manager's job is to continually see how much of the actual contract he can avoid; how much he can cheat an owner.
That's what it's about, and I hate it.
My job (besides finish carpentry and other various construction duties) is to make sure these contractors at the very least fulfill the jot and tittle of their contracts. That job should be easy; contracts are fairly straightforward. It's not like trying to read the IRS tax code.
I enjoy working with the people who fulfill these contracts. What I do not enjoy is watching people whore themselves out for a dollar or two. Goodness! If you are going to be a whore, at least do it for a couple million Make it worth your while!
It is their choice to cheat. It is my job to make sure they don't get away with it. You can imagine that sometimes, contractors are not very happy with me. That's okay. As individuals, I care about them a great deal. But as corporations, they are whores, they know it, and they don't know any other way of doing things.
If I were a good man, I could pity them, but I have enough faults of my own, I am not high enough to pity anyone. So all I can do is share these building projects woth them, and keep butting heads with corporations whose sole aim is to take an owner's money while doing the least amount of work possible.
This is America, and in America, we call that "good business".
Now, I suppose intellectually, I have known that for quite some time. Even emotionally, I have known His love, felt it. But lately, the knowledge of His love sticks with me far more throughout the day than it ever has. That changes things a bit.
What does it change?
Well, for starters, it changes the way I see people, and thus, the way I interact with them. I guess I could try really, really, really hard to treat all of them nicely, and maybe that would be a worthwhile endeavor. But I am finding that it is a much simpler and purer thing to love someone else when I feel loved by God, really loved.
Do I have any advice for you? No.
But I can tell you that God allowed me to seek His love. Not that it wasn't already given to me. He just allowed me to seek it, to find out if it was real, to see if I could actually feel it. I didn't need a bible or a preacher for that. All I needed was to listen.
That's all folks.
First, I remain amazed at how few adults are aware that this game even exists. I am also amazed at the number of people who responded here that they had played this "game" themselves as youths. But I am glad that they visited and felt comfortable enough to leave a comment. Thank you, and I hope your efforts will yield good results.
One of the people who left a comment here suggested it might be better to view life from a child's or a teenager's eyes in order to understand what might be so attractive about this game. I think I agree. One of the things about me that few people know is an ability to remember what I thought and how I felt as a teenage boy. I remember much of it, and all of what I remember includes a constant desire to be accepted.
There is that thing again; acceptance. What would we do to be accepted? Around here, people mostly know they are accepted by God. But what would we do to be accepted by people? I think many of us might feel embarrassed to recall some of the things we did to be or feel like we belonged. Is that a part of this whole thing? Is there more?
I can recall some pretty weird and stupid things I did as a teenager. I can even remember the reasons I did these things, or most of them anyway. At the top of the list (from my memory of a teenage mind) stood "anything to not be bored, it doesn't matter what it is, really".
Another reason was excitement, but as I look back now, so many of the things I thought would be exciting were actually frightening, some of them even taken up as dares. Yes, I remember being afraid to do what I was about to do, many, many times. I'm not talking about the fear that as adults makes us lock our doors at night. I'm talking about the kind of fear that makes your stomach queasy and your arms turn to jello. The kind of fear that kills. How many times did I feel that fear? So many times, I can't remember them all.
And why did I put myself into this position where I would feel such fear?
Isn't it simple?
"All my friends were doing it". I simply could not back down.
Now that I think of it, acceptance probably should have been at the top of my list for reasons to do stupid and dangerous things. In fact, recalling the kind of fear I felt, I honestly can't say that a desire to avoid boredom had anything to do with why I did these things.
I am sure there were other, valid reasons for doing things that would have been considered dangerous, such as not thinking things through to their conclusion. As a child, death seems so very far away, that it really never enters into our plans, and therefore paths that could end up in it are not avoided, necessarily.
However, the things I did with my friends were probably all, or mostly the result of a desire to be accepted, or at least, not ridiculed. As a parent, I think, "Who wouldn't accept my daughter?" Of course, the logical answer is, "Many, many people, all of them in one sort of group or another". In short, my daughter has already, and will many times again feel left out.
What can I do as a parent to help her with this? What can we do to change things?
You know, the more I think about this problem, the bigger and more complex it seems. But I guess I am not scared off yet; I think the idea that this "game" and other dangers that exist are just too complex to solve is only a mask.
The world can be changed. Maybe we won't change it right away, or very much, maybe we won't change it at all. But I think change is possible; the benefits of that change are good for everyone, and to me, that makes it worth any effort, no matter how insignificant.
That's okay, silence is always only a second away. These last few days I have gone back to silence, and you know what? I actually think I have been hearing God's gentle voice again. The thing that troubles me the most is that it is so easy for me to forget that my ears don't work all that well when I fill them with nothing but the noise of a rotating life. God can get away with that, I cannot.
I don't know what it is about me, and maybe I am the only one who is like this (I wouldn't know), but it just seems like sometimes I forget how I hear God best. For me, it's silence, simple aloneness and silence. I hear Him at other times, too, but nothing seems to work better for me than silence.
That is why I stopped the rotation of life several times this weekend, that...and silence gives me rest like nothing else, too. Looking in all the usual places to realize a fullness of the discovery I wrote about the other day got me no where.
I am glad that silence isn't one of those usual places. I am glad that silence makes me face myself, and accept myself. But I didn't learn that from a book, and I didn't read it in the bible. In fact, I have always been drawn to periods of silence, and I was never able to understand why. Now, however, I think I know part of the reason. I think it's because I find God most easily in the silence.
Maybe silence doesn't work for you, as I said, I wouldn't know. But it sure does work for me. And all I am going to say is, thanks Dad, for helping me to remember that. Thanks, Dad, for listening to me, for calming me and leading me.
Thanks, Dad, for also being God. Thanks for being big enough to know everything, and small enough to care.
Have you ever felt as if you were close to discovering something, only to find out that you didn’t know enough about what you were discovering, or couldn’t find the information you needed to verify it?
That is how I feel lately. I feel as though I am on the border of a great truth, but for whatever reason, I can’t quite get it. I’ve been there for a while, actually.
Maybe it is pride that keeps me from crossing the line to discovery. Maybe it is fear. I can’t quite get what I need in order to say, “Okay, that’s it, I know it now”.
Everything about this discovery tells me I am not going to get any more information, at least not of the type I am used to. I get the impression I have to look in a different place, that the usual places won’t give me the answers I need. I got that impression so very strongly early this evening as I was contemplating this discovery with God.
I am entreating God to simply tell me, and I sense that either He is and I am not understanding Him, or I already have the discovery, and don’t realize it yet.
I know, that didn’t make much sense, did it? Now you know how I feel.
Yet there is this tremendous surge of confidence that I will know, that the breakthrough will be made, and I will be better for it. I sense a deeper harmony at the end of this discovery, which really would be just the beginning of something new, something fuller, something more complete.
I am not ready to tell you what it is, but when I have reached that point, I will be sure to.
A couple of days ago, I wrote a post called A Father’s Love. In that post, I mentioned a supposition that maybe we hate, or dislike, or judge if you will, people because they are not our children.
I have been thinking about that a little more. It seems to me to be a very hard thing to look at other people as my daughter, or my son. Am I prejudiced? I don’t know. But it also seems to be a very hard thing for me to look at other people as my brother or sister, too. I know maNy people who can’t stand their siblings. That is not the case for me, I love them all deeply.
I do know, however, that if I could come to a place where I could see other people as being on an equal standing with my daughter, I would love them easily. But I don’t seem to think that seeing them as being on equal standing with my brothers and sisters will mean they are easy to love. I don’t know why that is.
I must admit that there has never been a greater love for me than the love I have for my daughter. The love I felt for my former wife was not as great (maybe I’ll be blasted for even comparing), nor is the love I feel for my parents or my siblings, or even my best friend. That doesn’t mean I don’t love them greatly, because I do, but nothing even remotely compares to the way I feel about my child.
In a marriage, you may love your spouse one day, and hate them the next, and believe me, that feeling of hate sometimes seems very real, and very opposite of how you felt about your spouse just hours ago. One moment you may feel a kindred kind of love, and the next, your spouse is doing something that seems to drive you nuts. The one thing I see clearly in all marriages is that “love” is not always what you feel. It seems to come and go, even though there is the deeper underlying love that can and often does last a lifetime. That is the love that keeps marriages together forever.
But there is a difference between how you love your child, and how you love your spouse. One lady told me this last week that there was nothing any one of her children could do that would ever drive her away, but if her husband ever did such and such, she’d be gone. That seems to be a common theme in marriages today. I wonder if it hasn’t always been that way.
We just seem to feel a love for our children that is deeper, surer, and more “eternal” than any other kind of love. Maybe this, too, is a part of the image of God?
Seriously, what would it take for your child to be separated from your love? Probably death? Anything else?
I have known parents in these last years who’s children have stolen from them, lied repeatedly, done drugs, sold drugs, been sent away to boot camps for youth, robbed stores, raped women and assaulted police officers. To date, none of these parents has ever abandoned these “wayward” children, nor has any thought to do so ever entered their minds. Just how long would it take for you to leave your spouse if they did all of the things I just listed above, without any sign of changing?
I know we all want to think our marriage is forever, but I have seen a very common theme amongst adults; it is that there is ALWAYS a limit to what we will take from a spouse. Some take years of abuse, some hide crimes committed, but sooner or later, they want to leave. That becomes the life of the marriage, which although it is a marriage in name, is no longer a marriage in love.
You can’t separate yourself from your child like that, if you already love your child. To even think of such a thing brings feelings of anxiety deep within your stomach, and sets you off thinking about how you would make your child feel if you left them.
That’s it, that’s the difference. We love our child as if they are us. We often love no one else in this way. We can put ourselves in their shoes, we can think their thoughts and feel their feelings, and it doesn’t take much effort to do so.
Maybe that kind of love is obsessive, but it’s the kind of love God feels for us, each one of us.
Maybe it’s hard to look at my neighbor and see him or her like I see my child. But there are times when I see the child in them, and then it isn’t very hard to love them at all.
The best place I have learned to see people as children is in a retirement home. It takes a great stretch of the mind to see these elders as the children they once were, and I can’t do it immediately just by looking at them. First I begin to see the elder before me as the fifty-something man who is several years away from retirement. Then, he becomes thirty-something, strong, sure, and vibrant. As time passes, I begin to see him as a young man, eighteen or nineteen at most, full of life, full of energy, and seemingly without fear. From there it progresses to childhood, and I can see him as a toddler. It’s really all right there, in his face, in his eyes, in the way he nods his head as he listens, just the same way he has done it for eighty years. Seriously, if you look at some of the communication habits of the elders, you might begin to see things they have done since their very early youth, things from their childhood.
That is how I begin to see people as children. It doesn’t happen automatically, but it sure does help me love them, or at the least, feel fondness for them.
Maybe tomorrow you can try. Maybe tomorrow, you can ask yourself, what was this lady like as a little girl? What was her giggle like?
Maybe tomorrow you might see someone in a way you have never seen them before. And if you do, will you ask yourself this question? Will you ask yourself, “If all of them were children, could I love them then?”
They all were. They all are.
What am I going to write?
That’s the question I asked myself just before I typed it. The answer is, I have no idea. I just know I want to write. Maybe it doesn’t matter what I write…maybe, just maybe, I am going to write for the sheer enjoyment of it again. To all of you who come here to read, I am sorry, tonight is for me.
Oh, I could claim that I am writing for God, but even I don’t believe that garbage. In fact, this blog isn’t about God, it’s about me. However, it is also in part about my experience with God. Is that what makes this blog SOOOOOOOOOOO interesting? Is that why you come back day after day? :-)
I doubt it.
Actually, I can’t imagine why you come back day after day. I’d like to think it’s because you enjoy what I write, but maybe you are just bored and have nothing better to do. Maybe my blog is a good way to waste your valuable time. Wait a minute…I am wasting your valuable time? Whoa! Now what do you think of me?
So this blog is about me, and my experiences with God, and of life in general. Every so often, I like to throw in some tidbit I learned about grace being effortless, and then there are the moments where I actually tell a story. But for the most part, this blog is about me.
I am not afraid to admit that. I have read many Christian blogs that claim they are writing for God, but my trouble is, I just don’t believe them. Who knows? Maybe they really are. I just happen to think God doesn’t need anyone writing FOR him anymore.
So I’ll try to be as honest as I can, keep the effing swear words to a minimum, and bore you as little as possible. After all, if this isn’t a valuable waste of your time, then why would you ever want to come back?
Peace, and I am trying to love you all. Bear with me. :-)
A lady named Loni visited my weblog, and shared her story in a comment in that post. I wanted to include the link she gave us in an actual post, so you don't have to go digging through old comments to find it.
The point of this post is this: TELL PEOPLE ABOUT THIS GAME!
Make them aware that their children might be asked to participate. Help them understand that this isn't a Christian crusade, and it isn't a finger pointing exercise. Help them undersand that children are at risk, and apparently, don't seem to know that they are. Help them know about this game, because many parents don't.
That is the biggest reason for this second post. It's hard to believe we don't know about it. It's hard to believe children are dying playing a "game", and most of the parents I have talked to had no idea this "game" even existed.
Maybe that's a reflection on the media, who seems to take every opportunity to tell us about bad crap, but for some reason, this "game" doesn't get much air time. Maybe the media is too busy. We are not.
Please tell every parent you see about this, if you at all can. I have never asked this of anyone, but for whatever reason, this "game" has my attention, and I wanted to do something about it. Now you can, too.
In an earlier post, I left with a ‘ps’ in which I named the act of raising my teenage daughter The Semi-Interactive-Spectator-Sport.
Tonight, I just wanted to expound upon that a bit.
If you look at the name I gave this wonderful job I get to do, you can probably guess at how I define my role in my daughter’s life. It’s pretty simple, actually. I watch her now. That’s it. That, and every so often, offer some advice, or tell her what I know about God (which isn’t much), and encourage her to find out for herself.
There are other things I do, but for the most part, the name I have given this joy is self-explanatory. I am a spectator in my daughter’s life, at least from my perspective. Sure, there was a time (it seems so long ago now) where I was much more than that. I was her protector, her guide, her enforcer, and her feeder. My job so long ago was as a teacher, a healer, and a life-keeper.
Yet even then, I was also a spectator. That part of this life as a father will never change, and now, that part is the greater part of my relationship with my daughter. And oh how I truly enjoy being this spectator. I marvel at her, and whenever I remember her as the child who couldn’t live if someone didn’t keep her alive (as all infants and toddlers are), I marvel even more. She is the miracle of my life, she is life, she is my joy.
I would never have known what a Father’s love was if not for her. And this love is a greater love than any other I have ever known. The fierce desire to protect her is always alive. The desire to give her everything I have or know is always with me. The desire to simply watch her and enjoy her as she grows up is always in my heart.
It doesn’t matter what she does, or how she does. She is my child, and I love her. I always will. Nothing can ever separate her from the love of her father. Now I get it, I think. I get why God loves us so, and it is a crime to think that He would ever hate even a single one of us, no matter what we did.
Maybe we see as through a glass darkly because all these people we want to judge aren’t our children. Maybe we hate because they aren’t our son, or our daughter. I don’t know. Maybe we are just jealous of other’s position with our Father in Heaven.
All I know is, I love my daughter, and God is teaching me how He loves me and everyone else through that. It is enough for me.
I looked her in the eye and said, "No, I don't", as the fear of what it was started bouncing around this noggin' of mine. "What is it?" was all I could manage to ask, not wanting to know if it was what I thought it was.
My daughter told me that a kid will ask you if you want to play the choking game. If you say yes, then the person who asked will place his hands around your neck, and squeeze, blocking your windpipe, and he won't let go until you pass out. Then...when you wake up, it's supposed to be a huge rush, and you get all weird and drunk-like.
I asked her if kids actually did this in her school. She said yes, and that she was asked that very day in her chorus class if she wanted to play. Thank God she said no, and told the others she didn't want to because it was too dangerous. My daughter has a good head on her shoulders, and I pray peer pressure won't make her wisdom turn into foolishness. It only takes a second to lose your life, or be seriously injured playing anything.
Apparently, the Chorus Teacher heard the conversation, or someone told him, and he made the Principal aware this was going on. There had also been a child injured fairly seriously because of this game, only at the time, no one knew how he had been injured. Now they know.
This post isn't a fun post, it isn't a thoughtful post, or a post about God.
It's a post about something you might never have heard of, but it's something, apparently, that many children are doing. The choking game is only "fun", my daughter was told, because of the rush you get when you wake up from passing out. From sniffing, to drugs, to Ecstacy (yes, another drug, but one often administered without the recipients knowledge), our kids are crying out.
I wanted you to be aware that this game might be something your child is familiar with. Worse still, you know how kids can get. If a person says no, what's to stop a group of kids from pinning that child down and doing it anyway? That is often how kids, and sadly, adults are.
Now I suppose we could do the normal "Christian" thing to do, and write to our schools, and get all self-righteousy and stuff. But see, we've tried that before, and it never works. Raising an alarm such as this doesn't work if it is only going to be followed by silliness, and frankly, circling the wagons, pulling our kids out of school, and shaking our self-righteous finger at the "heathens" are all things I call silliness.
I said our kids are crying out. They seek the same things we seek, only it seems like now it's at a much earlier age. They seek experiences, and fun, joy and wholeness of life. They reach these things so much easier than we do, and become bored by the same old methods, sometimes quite rapidly. What does it say about us, supposed followers of Christ and our nation, when our kids are playing games like this? I suppose the natural thing to assume is that our kids won't play it, or aren't involved or affected by it. But that's really just a bunch of BS.
Another natural thing to do is to point the finger at the "godless heathens". Sorry, this is something everyone has a share in, blame and all. You cannot condemn a society without condemning yourself, because you live in that society.
That's why I don't want people like Focus on the Family or other religious windbags circling the wagons, telling us to homeschool our children to avoid the pitfalls of the world. If that kind of thing actually worked, people wouldn't be able to point at Christians and say, "You are the reason we don't want to believe".
So, now you know. This game is deadly. One child has already been badly injured in our town, and I haven't even had time to check if there are any other reports of this game nearby or far away. Our children are crying out, and maybe it's time we figured out why. Maybe it's something WE are doing.
Torie is one of my daughter Ally's best friends. She is also a very lively, excitable, and rambunctious teenager. Anything can come out of her mouth at any time, and when it does, be ready, because often what she says will crack you up without warning.
This afternoon, as I was driving, the girls in the back seat were having a small conversation about nothing. From out of the blue, in a very serious voice, Torie asks, "Have you ever wondered what it would be like to speak Spanish with an Australian accent?"
I couldn't help myself, I laughed immediately and hard. Only Torie could say something so seriously, and mean it.
Then, she started to try and speak Spanish with an Australian accent. Can you imagine it?
I'm still laughing. Thank you God for small joys.
ps: I have a new name to describe raising a teenage daughter. I call it
But then I asked Him to help me share that with everyone I meet. Immediately I felt silly, knowing in my mind I could never tell everyone I meet about the grace Jesus has for them. It's impossible, I thought, I am not bold enough to approach everyone I meet with those words.
Then, a calmness lay upon me, and I understood that I actually could share that grace with everyone I meet. You see, I had been thinking about using my tongue, and in that respect, it would be impossible for me, I still believe. But I can share it with all of them, it is possible, if I share it in deed as well as in word.
To every single person I meet.
It is possible.
Won't I look different then.
How about you?
Imagine it is Monday morning, around . The President of the
Imagine that you don’t receive news of this assassination for another two days. Imagine that there is no CNN or MSNBC tuned to your television, because televisions don’t exist. Imagine that BBC and CBS radio have not yet broadcast this news, as radio has not yet been invented. Imagine that the “wire”, the telegraph, has not alerted the major newspapers, because major newspapers are an idea whose time has yet to come, and the telegraph is still hundreds of years in the future.
No TV. No Radio. No Newspaper, and no internet.
There is no way to gather news except through word of mouth. Two days have already passed, and there will be no reason to spend hour upon hour gathering every little fact and tidbit there is to be gathered about this horrendous event in the world. That’s because you can’t, these ways have not been invented yet.
Can you imagine?
Can you imagine what 9/11 would have been like without the major Networks and CNN? Can you imagine not hearing the President on that day, assuring us that we were still safe, despite the terrorists attack?
Can you picture yourself in any “major” news event without the “News” being on the television, or broadcast over the radio, or being transmitted across the internet? Can you make that stretch?
Last week, a major miscommunication occurred during a crisis in a
The things that make the major news media possible, and even this blog, for example, are not bad things. All of the technology we have in this medium can be used for good. All of it HAS been used for good, many times. But many other times, it isn’t used for good, or the results garnered end up being far less than good.
Anyone who has watched news media in the last fifteen years and is old enough to compare it to news media before then sees a difference in the way news is gathered and presented. Many see that the way news is presented is the biggest change. These changes have nothing to do with new technology. The changes to the presentation of news nowadays has everything to do with simple human trustworthiness.
Can a human being be trustworthy? I believe people can be. But in the news media of today, the only times we receive apologies for faulty reporting, or flat out lies, is when the news media is actually caught red-handed. That leads to one question at least. How many other times have they not been caught? Is that number even countable? (Whoops, that two questions. How many more are there?)
We trust the news media when a major story breaks. We want the facts, and in our society, information can literally fly at the speed of light. We want even the smallest bits of information, such as the ages of criminals, their background, what the weather was like, did anyone have information that could have prevented this, and who is to blame?
We always want to know who is to blame. That, and that alone, is the major driving force behind today’s news media. (After, of course, you consider that money is really the major driving force).
Almost every news person wants to make a name for themselves, and there are some, unfortunately, who will twist the truth, or tell outright lies, to get into, and stay, in the limelight. Sadly, so much of today’s news isn’t about the actual event, as it is becoming about the person reporting the news. In other words, when news reporters become the story themselves, stealing the light away from victims or champions, something is deeply wrong with our media.
We no longer so much as get the facts about a storm, as we then hear about the “Storm Team” that told us first.
We hardly hear about the drowning in the
As I finish this post, I wonder if we wouldn’t be better off without instant news all of the time?
Maybe it’s time for me to turn off the TV, the radio, and the computer news feeds. Maybe, just maybe, I don’t need to hear the same story reported over and over for ten days just because there is air time to cover. Maybe I don’t need to know right away that a bull gored a man who was taunting it. Maybe I don’t need to watch the talking heads pontificate about things they studied for one hour before they hit the air so they would sound like experts on everything.
Maybe it’s time for a change? Maybe we should try going without the news for a month, and see how it affects our lives? I think I am going to make an effort to be newsless (at least without television and radio). I don’t have to worry about the internet, I don’t read the news there anyway.
I wonder if our lives would be fundamentally better without all of this information. My Grandparents received news sometimes many days after it actually happened. Neither one of them was on Prozac or Xanax. Neither one of them sat in front of a TV for hours after FDR died. Nor did they receive minute by minute news on either World War. It wasn’t possible. Yet somehow…they survived.
It’s sad to say that it seems like we are dependant upon news and the media in this day and age. But somehow, I think the news is really just a commodity. And you know what a commodity is, don’t you? It’s where someone tells you a whole bunch of garbage, to create a need where a need isn’t needed at all.
That's what our news media has become. Want some?
Haven't come out yet.
I don't know why.
When I love someone (specifically friends or people I work with, and even strangers), inside of my mind I say, I am very fond of him or her, or I really like them. And it doesn't seem to matter who they are, or what they have done, if anything or everything.
I listened today to several teenagers talk about a young man who seemed intent on disturbing class at school every moment of the day. I listened to stories of this boy from their past, how he had done this and how he had done that, and I chided them a bit, and said, "I am sure he is a good boy". To which they laughed heartily. Their image of him, and what I said about him was like the distance between the two poles of this earth. They couldn't bring the two together in their minds...but I think in time they will. Maybe as they grow older and get to know how much God loves them, and how forgiving He really is.
Just before they exited my truck (I had to pick them up from school and take them home), I said, "I am sure God loves him too." They all answered, almost as one, as only teenagers can do, "Yeah, He does". And then they siad thank you and good bye.
I don't know why I am a closet lover. Maybe a part of me deems myself to be unworthy to love people, or maybe just not worthy to call what I feel love. We all have feelings of unworthiness, no matter who we are. I am not ashamed to admit that at times, I do as well. I guess it's all part of living this life in Christ.
But when I really think about things, and then I look at people as I have been known to do in the past, I see things that break my heart. I see my thoughts in other people's eyes. I see my experiences in their hearts, and I know that they are me, and I am them, and then my heart breaks for them, because I know how I felt, or would feel if I were them.
I love them, I think, but please don't tell anyone. I am not ready yet to admit that this is love which I feel. Much better to stay in my closet and be safe.
Yes! I am writing for the sake of writing, again! That's a bit odd, isn't it, you ask? You don't know me very well. If you did, you wouldn't have to ask, you'd know I am much more than just a little odd. Ask my daughter, she'll tell you.
I think sometimes I revel in my oddness, I think I actually like being so weird that I make people scratch their heads in wonder. Well, maybe I don't revel in that, but I do celebrate my strangeness at times. And when I do, I feel God's eyes smiling. That, too, may sound odd, but it isn't to me. It's exhilirating.
Have I ever told you that I am easily one of the most irritating people you will ever meet? Not that I would simply be irritating just by being me, at least I hope not. Rather, when I turn it on, I can bug anyone, and I mean ANYONE. Ghandi would have cursed me and sucker-punched me if I had decided to irritate him. There is little wonder that my daughter is able to adjust to the abnormal so well. She has a father who loves bugging her. However, I don't really try to bug her too much; I always stop when she tells me to because I want her to grow up knowing that she doesn't have to take abuse, and that her "no" means something.
But yep, that's me. As irritating as the day is long if I set my mind to it. Is that something to be proud of? Probably not, which is why I don't really consider this post a proud post. It's more of an informational post, for your benefit.
I used to drive my mom nuts. Then I drove my little brother nuts, and told him it was good for him. I took to calling this ability to irritate him "Attitude lessons". He forgave me a long time ago...I think.
To sum this silly post up, I guess I would describe myself as persistent, irritatingly so. But that persistence has served me well over the years. Is it my fault that it also irritates people?
How may I irritate you today?
I can fully relate to Peter at the end of John's gospel, when Peter asks Jesus, "What about him?", in reference to what will John do, or what will happen to him. In the past, I have often wondered, "Why me?" "Why not someone else, why do I always....?" blah, blah, blahblah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Recently, I am learning to follow in a different way, and it is a freeing way. Rather than frequently asking God about someone else's disrespect of me, I am finding courage to ask God how I can respect them. (I bet you thought I was going to say "How can I disrespect them before they disrespect me?", didn't you?) The result?
I FEEL more free. Whether I am or not, I think, doesn't make all that much difference. A friend of mine said recently that reality might very well be what we make of it. So if I feel more free, am I really? Who cares?
This feeling stems from finally taking responsibility for myself, rather than constantly blaming someone else. Instead of me wondering whether Muslims love people better than Christians, my focus is instead on how I am loving each one-another. And you know what? I don't have to force it, because once my mind is changed to that focus, love is a lot easier. So a part of my conclusion is that love must almost be impossible when I am focused entirely on me, and on what I am receiving, good or bad.
Who would have thunk, huh? :>)
I did want to mention that I have started work on a new novel. I can't say if I will ever finish it or not, as I have just started, but the work seems to agree with me. I never used to like research work, but I have been digging into this project with gusto thus far. Maybe that's because most of it I can do from home, by using the internet.
For those of you who have been around for awhile, the story I was working on called Missy's Reason is on hold, as I have stalled on how to grow her up. This happens sometimes, but I think there is a good chance that I will pick up her story again sometime soon. That story will be mostly written for this blog, while the novel I am working on will not be shared much publicly...not yet anyway.
So that's what up with me. I am excited, and from time to time, I may ask several of you to read what I have written, just in case it sucks.
So...what's up with you?