Category: forgiveness

Start While You Still Have the Keys

I try my hardest not to write until I get up in the morning.

Most often, I find myself waking up in a rush about 3:00 AM.

My thoughts rImage result for Rush of Thoughts at 3:00 AMushing through me and just flooding my mind.

I want to jump up and put them sentence form.  Inspiration on overload.

I fight the urge to get up and turn on my computer.  I do what I can to force myself back to sleep.  Work awaits in the morning and I have to get up in a few hours. I try to convince myself that I will remember the detail and will be able to write with the same feeling and perspective in the morning. 

Much like the dreams we dream at night, we never quite remember them the same way in the morning.  Those vivid dreams that seem so real in that moment of sleep, most times are not so vivid when you try to explain them to someone the next morning.  It usually comes out as a bunch of blurry details that don’t flow together at all. 

They sure do seem real and clear when we experience them right?

That is how these thoughts seem to me when they are so clear at 3:00 AM but seem empty and blurry when I am pressed to try to write them down in the morning.

Now to clarify… I honestly do not feel like I am a good writer. Regardless of when I respond to these moments of inspiration, my words lack the same impact of those I read by real writers.  The thoughts that I have in these bursts of inspiration are not worthy of much more than making me feel able to express myself.

In that expression, I find a sense of being comfortable in my skin. 

It comforts me.  It doesn’t matter if they are good or not. 

I write because it makes me feel productive.

I know that my grandmother loved to paint. While my family always was kind when she would paint something.  It wasn’t until she passed away that her paintings took on a different appreciation. They are so valuable to me now.

I would love to see them survive for many years to come.

Are they great? Will they ever be hung in an art gallery? Absolutely not. 

That really isn’t the point. These paintings express her inspiration and in some way made her feel productive and complete. They are a reflection of who she was.

Over the years, I have always said that I write to leave something for my grand kids to read on day.

While I convince myself that this is true on some level, the truth is I write for me.

Image result for writing on a keyboardI have been given a gift of being able to write and feel complete and productive as I express myself in words.  It doesn’t matter if anyone likes them or not.  They don’t have to be good in other people’s opinion.  I do not need that affirmation to feel better about myself.

When I reflect over the past 9 years of writing this blog. I have found that I am not the same person I was from all those years ago.  From my perspective, the bitterness that I so often directed at people who did not deserve it when I was younger, has been tempered by my ability to express myself in words.  I express myself better in writing than in my spoken word.

I wasn’t planning to write anything today in this space but I find that my little writing corner on the internet gets quiet when I get away from the creation process and spiral into trying to be perfect. It’s a tiring game to think of things to write. I struggle with looking at the lives of other people who seem to have it all together and wishing I could be more like them.

Image result for express yourselfSo at 3:00 AM this morning, in a burst of inspiration, I sat down in front of my desktop.  The message is for all who read this is to find a way to express yourself.   Find a way to make your mark.  Find  a way to let people know you were here.  Express yourself your own way.

Don’t stray from you. Don’t look to other people as if they are going to start your journey for you. Sit down and find someway to express yourself.  You’ll find freedom you never thought was there.  Do your thing. Use your keys to this life that God gave you.  It’s your journey and it doesn’t belong to anyone else.  No one but you will suffer if you never take the journey.  Time is of the essence.  The time is now.  Don’t miss or grieve over the life you didn’t live.

If you are someone who creates things then make life about the creation. You can admire the creations of others but don’t waste your best hours of the day watching other people. Use your hours wisely. Do the work. Even if you only get 20 minutes in a given day to make something, make it happen.

We run around like maniacs claiming there isn’t enough time in the day. Complain over the most trivial things.  We hurt ourselves with the curse of being “busy.”

We don’t see how much time we waste with scrolling, clicking and liking.

Maybe you get wrapped up in stuff that doesn’t matter. MImage result for keys to lifeaybe you have forgotten what you truly love. Time isn’t up though. You can still go back to yourself. You can start over. You can open doors to new things. You can have a new beginning. You can find the peace and freedom of expressing yourself and leaving a mark on this earth, for the good. You can leave something that people will remember forever. You can do this.

Life hasn’t called and asked you to come and turn in your keys yet.

Start while you still have the keys. Go. 

What is Your Purpose For Today?

I recently was in a training session for work. The question was asked, “If you could speak with any kind of expert about anything in the world, what would you want to know?”

The group came up with a lot of good questions. Most of them were about money, health, career, family and more.

But one person responded, “How can I know my life’s purpose?”Image result for what is your purpose for today

The room got really quiet. The trainer just kind of laughed it off and moved on.  It was obvious that he did not have an answer to that one.

For the rest of the day, this person’s response weighed in my mind.  

Can you relate?  I’ll bet each of us would admit that at some point, that question was at the top of our list to get the answer.

How can you know your life’s purpose?

Over the years, I remember desperately longing to know my purpose and wondering if I was somehow missing it.

For a long time, I couldn’t relax in my work (and otherwise) for fear that I was off course and somehow ruining my future.

But today, as I sat there thinking about the question, I came to this conclusion…

“What is my life’s purpose?” is one of the least helpful questions we’re all asking ourselves.

Yes… I said LEAST helpful.

Because here’s the thing – it’s unanswerable.

We’re obsessing over a question we don’t have the capacity to answer.

There’s a better question for us, one that will help focus our efforts today and lead us to where we need to be tomorrow.

That question is… “What is my purpose for today?”

Don’t you like the sound of that better?

Image result for what is your purpose for todayFar too many times, I have been wondering about the future, making plans and waiting for it to come around.  I thought that “someday” I would finally find out what my purpose in life really was. 

Will I have a great moment in history? Probably not.

Will I do or say something someday that will change the world?

Again… probably not.

Truth is… my purpose is to do and be the person I am supposed to be today.  If I take care of today… tomorrow takes care of itself.

This is the real stuff that makes a life. This is my purpose… now.

It may seem obvious, but look around. How many people in your life are waiting for some big revelation before they’ll start? 

We have no promise of a tomorrow.  Only today.

And as we do the things we know to do today, we will stumble into things we could never plan and in the process, we change the world in a thousand ways… that only we can.

How do you know what your next purpose is? I can’t say for sure, but it is not easy to find when you consider your fears and the lies swirling in your head that keep you from doing what you need to do today. 

How about doing this…

How about we start by considering the needs of those who are directly in our life?

Seems like a worthy place to start to me.

So maybe it’s time to give up trying to solve the unsolvable,

To know what’s unknowable,

To see what’s unseeable.

Maybe it’s time to ditch the question, “What is the purpose of my life?”

And replace it with, “What is my purpose for today?”

Just Keep Pedaling

Friday morning about 3:00 AM, I woke up and tossed and turned for a while before I got up and sat in my office. A story that I had never really thought about was suddenly in my thoughts.  I could not shake these thoughts from my head. I wanted them to go away so that I could go back to sleep. It didn’t happen.

What were these thoughts?

I could not shake the thoughts of when I taught my daughter, Cassidy to ride her bike.

Why did this story flood my thoughts? This happened a long time ago.

I just could not stop thinking about it. I had to get some sleep because in the morning I needed to drive my sister-in law Lynn to the Cleveland Clinic.  She has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and her journey to fight and overcome it is now in front of her.

Driving home from Cleveland it started to make sense to me.

God was telling me to apply the lessons learned from this story.

The encouragement from it is directed to our family.  The call is for us to remain positive, resilient, unified in the common cause, to help Lynn overcome that which is placed in front of her.

And while it is easy to question and wonder why all of this is happening. We will remain steadfast and persistent in the confidence that God knows what He is doing. 

My hope is that this will be an encouragement to all of us and to those that may read this.

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Cassidy was ecstatic – until she noticed that I’d removed her training wheels.

“David, where are the little wheels?”

“They’re gone, You’re 5 now. You don’t need them anymore.”

“No, David; I do! I can’t ride without them. Will you please put them back?”Image result for Bicycle training wheels

“Nope, it’s time. You can do it.  I am here – I’ll help you.”

Much whining commenced, but in the end, she relented and got up on her bike to try. I assumed the position that every parent has found themselves in at some point.

Left hand on the handle bars, right hand under the seat – trying to run sideways as fast and as far as I could.  

Which as a fat man… wasn’t very fast, nor far.

And when I couldn’t keep up, I gave her a push.

“You’re doing it! Keep going!”

It was a beautiful sight… for about 3 seconds… and then she crashed… hard.

I coaxed her back up a few times, but it always ended as it had begun – Cassidy on the ground, scraped up, crying and working on a new bruise.

If you knew Cassidy at that time in life, she had quite the stubborn streak. When she’d had enough, she stood up, left her bike where it landed and began walking home.

“Cassidy… where are you going?”

“I don’t want my bike anymore, I can’t do it.”

She wasn’t trying to be dramatic. She meant it.

She didn’t see a way over the hurdle in front of her. In her mind, it was impossible for her to ride it without the crutch (those little wheels) she’d grown to expect and rely on.

So she gave up; she quit.

In that moment, my heart broke a little. The thought of her feeling incomplete or incapable in any way pierced me, even over something so small. I wanted to intervene, I wanted to force her but what could I do?

It wasn’t enough for me to believe she could do it.

She had to believe for herself.

This was her journey – and she decided she was done.

So, I picked up her bike – and walked her home.

Thankfully, that’s not how this story ends because after a few days, I talked her into trying it again. And before you credit my parenting skills of breaking the iron will that Cassidy had, I must admit, I was afraid she would give up.

Such a pivotal moment for such a young child.

Would she always back down when things that became hard and difficult?  Would she shy away in fear of failure? Would she quit when it seemed impossible?

What happened next changed my perspective on life.

Cassidy climbed up on her seat and with the best push-off I could muster, in a burst of energy and faith, she took off.

Tons of passion – not a ton of skill, so you know how that ended.

As she stood up, looking at a freshly scraped knee and then at me.  She gave me a look like only Cassidy could and I felt a chill run down my back. She was not happy.

I could almost see her standing at a crossroad.

She could retreat to where she was safe – and sad – or she could try again and move a little closer to the awesome thing waiting for her.

This moment would cut a path for her, in either direction.

I shook off her look and I ran over to her and put my face close to hers.

“Do you wanna know a secret?”

She nodded her head.

“Did you know there’s a really special trick to riding a bike that only big kids know?”

Her eyes got big and she looked at me with a puzzled look.

“What is it?” she asked.

Slowly, like I was delivering top-secret information, I whispered,

“Are you listening good?” she nodded again in approval.

“You’ve gotta steer straight, keep your head up, look forward and keep peddling.  Just keep pedaling… don’t stop!!!”

“No matter what, you can’t stop pedaling or you’ll crash. And even if you pedal really hard, if youhttps://i0.wp.com/ih0.redbubble.net/image.208559752.2472/mwo,x350,ipad_2_snap.u1.png jerk the wheel around all over the place, you’ll crash. You’ve got to keep your wheel straight, keep your head up, look forward and just keep pedaling. That’s the secret. You got it?”

“Yes” she nodded, but not quite convincing herself.

Cassidy resigned herself to give it one more try. I was nervous because if she failed again she would not ever believe me again. She would start to believe that she could not trust me.

Cassidy climbed back on and positioned her feet for takeoff. I gave her a little push and as she pulled away, I reminded her to “Steer straight and keep pedaling… Steer straight, keep your head up and keep pedaling… Steer straight, look forward and just keep pedaling… don’t stop.”

Losing her balance, she jerked the wheel far left and right a few times, but this time, she immediately corrected and steadied herself.  

Her head was held high and looking forward now, instead of down – and her courage began to swell.

She picked up speed and I whispered to myself, as if I could will her to get it right, “Come on Cassidy… steer straight and keep pedaling… don’t stop.”

With herImage result for A little girl riding her bike wheels turning faster and faster, moving farther away from me, I yelled out one last time… “Steer straight and keep pedaling!!”

“Don’t stop!!”

And in that single moment, right before my eyes, I watched Cassidy step out of her past and into her future.

It’s rare that we get to see someone’s moment of breakthrough so clearly. Watching it up close was inspiring – not because she learned to ride her bike – but because she overcame her fear and the lie playing in her head that she couldn’t do it.

What had been impossible for Cassidy just a day before not only became possible – it became reality.

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Lynn… in the coming weeks and months there will be times that you will struggle.  There will be times when you want to quit. We know the challenge that you are facing. Days will seem impossible. You’ll fight the urge to quit.

You most certainly will have doubts.  But know this… we are here. 

With one hand on the handlebar, the other under the seat.  If you fall…  we will help you get back up.

We will hold you until God takes over.

Lean in with your head up and keep pedaling.

When you think, you can’t, when experience says it won’t work, when the pain affects your will, and when you bear the bruises and scars of previous attempts…

Be Brave… keep steering straight, keep your head up, look forward and keep pedaling.

Don’t stop. We are here… to win it… with you.

As a family, we will press on. We will encourage each other.

We will stay the course. We will remain #CASESTRONG.

In the valleys that are in front of Lynn, we are comforted by knowing that God will not leave her there.  Because we know that God knows what He is doing.

Steer straight Lynn… keep your head up, look forward and don’t ever stop pedaling.

Truth is…

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Life has been interesting for the past several months.

I had surgery and was off work for a month or so.  It was the longest time I was off work since I graduated from college.  I thought I was going to be able to finish a project I have been writing.  I had been so inspired to write about growing up in a small town in Ohio.  Try to write short stories about those experiences and maybe one day put them together in book form for my grand kids to read one day.

It sounds so selfish and self-serving when I put that desire into words.

Truth is… I just have not been able to write.

Several times I was inspired but couldn’t bring myself to face the keys.

I have been distracted by other things.  Over things I have no control.

Elections, politics, rumors, marches, riots, hateful rhetoric, families fighting amongst each other and people posting things just to stir things up on social media.

Truth is… people really believe that all of this stuff is new.  It isn’t.

I am old enough to remember the late 1960’s.  Civil unrest… marches, riots on college campuses, racial wars and division, scandals, war in Vietnam, environmental groups that told us that we would no longer exist by the mid-eighties, Communism would over-take us by 1976 and if not, we would be wiped out by Russia’s nuclear bombs.   Fear was rampant.

Flash forward 40 years and history is repeating itself.  None of this is new.

Truth is… the biggest difference is social media. Instant postings of fear or support for individual preferences has caused so much division.

Yes… elections have consequences but those consequences are issues I cannot control.

Truth is… it is what it is… whether I like it or not.

Whatever those consequences are should point me to trust and deepen my faith in my God.  He is the one that is in control and the results from this election are not surprises to Him.

Never-the-less, I have let a lot of what I see on social media get to me.  It discouraged me and I let it affect me. I had to break away and un-follow and delete some friends and family.

Truth is… I have not posted who I supported in the election nor have I attacked anyone for their political perspective.  All I have said was that it is futile to post pro-Trump or anti-Trump posts because it changes nothing. I feel that posting political things on social media really changes nothing and all that does is cause division among friends and family.  

Truth is… I still feel that way.

So many people are so angry and hateful.  Some of these people have not had an actual  conversation with me in years, yet they attacked me like they know me and what I think.

Truth is… they don’t know me.

One of the things I was accused of being was a hypocrite. Acting one way in real life and then acting like a spiritual giant by what I wrote. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Truth is… I am keenly aware of my failures.

I am aware of who I am. I’m not always the person that I want to be or should be.  I slip, I fall, I make mistakes, and do things that I shouldn’t. My thoughts are not always the best, my words don’t always speak life, but I do thank God His mercies are new every morning.  

Truth is… my failures are just that, my failures. I will answer for them. I write about them. I always have. I also write about the grace of God. I write about forgiveness.  I write about my beliefs. I write and share my beliefs so you’ll know where I am coming from in any given situation, not in an attempt to force them down your throats because I believe “I am right and you are wrong.” 

Truth is… I’m not going to apologize for my relationship with the Lord. He knows me. He knows my failures. And while I answer to only One person for how I live my life, I have no desire to offend the masses in my process of living or writing.

I try to share what the Lord puts on my heart to write and I keep the rest of it to myself, which is why I do not post on a daily or even a weekly basis.

Truth is… it’s easy to focus on the negative. 

This morning, I was thinking about all of the things I wish were different about me, and although I believe it’s a good thing to be aware of our shortcomings and to bring them to God, it also occurred to me that if my focus is there too often, it can cause me to lose sight of the things in my life to be grateful for.  

Truth is… I am working on turning my gaze to the blessings in my life.  When I begin to think about those blessings, I realize that I didn’t do anything to deserve them.  They are just gifts God chose to give me.  image-axd

Truth is… it is the same with His gift of salvation.  Salvation is not something we can earn; God only asks that we believe in His Son.  It is something God extended to us because He loves us and wants to be in relationship with us.

Truth is… I do not claim or even secretly believe to know it all when it comes to living for the Lord. I am simply sharing with you how He’s leading me in the hope that it will encourage you and/or maybe you have some words of encouragement for me.

So friends, please, know that when I write I am sharing from my heart. I desire to be real with you about the struggles and the joy I find on this journey of life.

Even more so, it is about the faithfulness of God in the midst of it all.

Truth is… to me, that is what it means to be a part of the body of Christ.

You Don’t Know Me

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You don’t know me. 

You don’t know my thoughts.

You don’t know my dreams.

You don’t know my journey.

You don’t know me.

You don’t know my intentions.

You don’t know my story.

You don’t know what I have been through.

You don’t know me.

You  don’t know my pain.

You don’t know my reasons.

You don’t know who I am today.

You don’t know me.

You don’t know my heart.  

You don’t know my regret.

You don’t know what I love.

You don’t know me.

You don’t know my joy.

You don’t know my happiness.

You don’t know my success.

You don’t know me.

You don’t know what I have had to overcome.

You don’t know what it is like to walk in my shoes.

You don’t know my future.

You don’t know me.

But God does.

Grace Wins

I have been watching, reading and listening to the changes coming in our world.

The winds of change are brewing, and they whisper of a world ahead without grace.

Image result for GRace WInsIt’s evident in the culture around us. It’s a culture completely lacking grace.

The contrast between the secular world and Christianity is dramatic, and it’s very evident in this one area- grace.

The God of the Bible demonstrated His grace and love for man by becoming one of us, revealing Himself to us, dying for us, and offering us forgiveness of all our sins…simply because we ask in faith.

There is nothing else like it. A faith based on the grace and love of God, full of promise and hope.

All the work is done by God, not by us.

But we are in a time where the grace of God is denied, ridiculed and suppressed…it’s no longer the unbeliever we deal with, it’s the graceless curtain of anger and rage. 

Even by those that claim Christ.

How amazing that, in a world where God’s riches and grace are free, so many want to rage against the grace and love of God.

This is spiritual warfare at the highest levels.

And in this battle between the world and the grace of God… in the end, GRACE will win.

It always does.

 

Our Faith… On Ice

I’ve noticed that some who have walked with Christ, people who I know are Christians, have simply wandered off.

Sometimes done quietly. 

Sometimes done with loud, boisterous posts on social media.

Image result for walking awayAt the end of the day, they simply wandered away from things they once believed.  

Some are angry.  Some have an axe to grind.  Some have something to prove.

They want to shove their rejection of the faith, they once claimed they held, into everyone’s face.

So many excuses and self-justified reasons.     

Some aren’t angry, or even mad really. Some aren’t even discouraged.  

They have simply not seen the life of God in the community of faith and have lost interest.  

They hold to the thought that life is busy, work is hard, things are crazy, why waste time with church and church stuff when they get nothing from it?  Why invest time when no one really knows them or even cares?  They’d rather sleep in.

Yes… life is busy. Work is hard. And there is no doubt that things are crazy in this time of life.  But this is nothing new.  It has been this way since the beginning of time itself. 

When this millennial generation raises their collective heads from their smartphones and for the first time they really take a look at life, some don’t like what they see.

They see the ugly part of life. 

They see political chaos. 

They see the horror of war.

They see the senseless acts of terrorism.

They see people separated by social class and race.

The haves and the have-nots.

Yes… this world is ugly.  It has been this way since the beginning of time.  Read the history of the human race.  More importantly… read the Bible. 

All documented there… the ugliness of the human spirit.

This generation sees the reality of life and for some their first take is to reject the faith of their family and of past generations.

They believe that the church is to blame.

Surely their parents got it wrong.

They quickly head in other directions.

One direction is they dig deeper into their social media outlets and escape the realities of life.  They become naïve to this world and have no interest in dealing with this reality they see.

Now there are many “escapes” that can be found in social media. We live iImage result for Social Median a world that people have the most information at their fingertips but fail to learn and retreat to a fantasy world. Not in all cases, but I am sure that many would rather escape into the fantasy world that doesn’t exist rather than understanding their responsibility to reach a lost and dying world for Jesus Christ.

I wonder the impact on the world if they used this same passion into reaching others for Christ.

I think, in these days of craziness, the biggest enemy of the church is apathy.

Apathy is a slow chilling of our faith and interest that leaves us unfeeling and uncaring about the most important thing in life – a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  

Apathy kills the passion for the truths of Jesus Christ.  It causes us to doubt.  It causes us to question His existence. If you think that Jesus Christ wasn’t born of a virgin, if He wasn’t the Son of God, if He could not pay the price for sin and without a real belief in what He did for us on the Cross of Calvary, then why should we keep going? Why should we continue to be part of something that does nothing for us?

This is apathy.  Our faith… on ice.

Apathy kills our faith.  We get cold to things of God. It’s easy to wander, to become apathetic, to grow cold.  It’s a challenge to stay near the flames, to seek out community even when you don’t feel like it.  It’s important because the greatest weakness in our life is not outright sin… it’s apathy.

You need to know this can happen to all of us!  We all can become cold to the truth of Scripture.

The flames of our faith are something we must protect.  Your faith should not be dependent on what you see.  It is better to believe without seeing, that is why it is called FAITH.

The direction that some take, is for many to question everything about their faith. They assume that because they don’t like the world they see that the church has failed and the church belief system is wrong.

The convince themselves that the Bible is wrong or at best the Bible is allegorical.  Meaning that Bible is simply symbolic, figurative and metaphorical.  It is at best a representation of moral truths. Surly not to be taken as literal truth and that many of the stories we read in the Bible are to be taken in as allegorical.  Any truth in Scripture has to be “proven” by the scientific method. They hold that belief isn’t dependent on faith. It is based upon if it can be proven by science. I have had interesting conversations in discussing these issues, it has caused me to deepen my faith.

I still am bound by the fact that I don’t have to know everything about “how” something happened in the Bible. I am called to have “faith” to simply believe what God has said.  I cannot pick and choose what I believe in Scripture.  It is either all true or it is not. I am of the personal belief that if you choose to “not” believe something happened the way it says it did in the Bible, it becomes a slippery slope to unbelief in the whole truth of Scripture.

I have close friends that can be found in all of these directions.  I am not here to take unfair shots at them.  I have had constructive conversations with them. They know my beliefs and I will listen to hear their perspective and I will not argue with them. I don’t have to agree with them and in turn, they don’t have to agree with me.

In case you are wondering,  I clearly post my Statement of Faith on this website.  These are my truly held beliefs.

We all need to find the journey to truth.

Some journeys take a long time. Some never make it back.

 

Sometimes Life Gets In The Way

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I have had some people ask me what is going on with my writing. 

I know I haven’t posted as much lately. I am also aware that blogs have lost their following for the most part.  But there are still a few people that continue to read my posts. 

So for those who read, I will continue to write. 

I have so much stored up to post here, but I am in the midst of a project.

I haven’t stopped writing. I write more now than ever. 

I have taken a different path in my writing for the past few months. 

I won’t give much detail other than to say that it is something that I didn’t see coming and I never expected to be writing so much about it.

Sometimes life throws us that curve ball and gets in the way of what we think we want. Change happens in the blink of an eye and we have to be open to what doors may open for us.  

I am hoping that this is all for the best for me to make this change in my writing. 

I didn’t actually have any plans or dreams to do what I am doing. The dissatisfaction and restlessness, that I felt was a result of me not doing what I wanted to do in my heart.

I would say, that life sometimes got in my way and has kept me from finding my true North, as it applies to my writing.

I have deadline and I am on a mission. 

I will share more when I can and is appropriate to do so.

I’m not there yet. 

But I am on my way.

Once I reach the destination and finish the task.

I’ll be back.

The Rest is Just Clutter

Welcome to life.

Life is cluttered with so many things that simply cling to us as we walk through our days.

Physical and mental clutter.

We have cluttered our lives with things and baggage.

Things we long ago stopped using or things we have clung to, like past hurts and past failures.

Sadly, the things that clutter life sometimes take possession of us. There is a fine line between what we own and what owns us.

Having this car or that computer or this house defines me to others, but all it is really is just clutter that keeps our focus away from the things that are important.

Personally, I long for a drive to the dump where I can simply purge all the clutter of my mind, my life, and my possessions.

My wife is so much better at this purging than I am.

I am working at it.  I am making progress. But I am still not there yet.

The questions I try to answer now is, “why do I have this? do I need it? could I live without it?”

Truth is… I have never needed much.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not a person that longs for possessions.  I do not long for a new car, a big beautiful house or “things.”  I grew up with nothing.  Meaning that I did not grow up with all the new stuff that many of my friends had. 

In many ways, I am richer because of it.

But the dark side of being a person that grew up with nothing, is that when you do get something that you truly wanted, you tend to cling to and keep it long after it lived it’s worth.  It’s hard for me to throw anything away. 

Like a hoarder, I still cling to certain “things” that mean nothing to anyone else but me.

When it comes to mental and emotional “clutter” I still hold on to things that I should have let go years ago.  As hard as I try to move on and forget those things which are behind me, I still place them on the shelves of my memory and keep inventory of them. 

As I grow older, I believe that hardest things for me to let go of are things I never had.

Things like, the dreams and desires I had for my life and career.  The dreams and things I wanted for my children that I couldn’t provide. I find it hard to let go of dreams that I have wanted to do but I see time slipping away and I see the ship pulling away from the dock.  I am on the other side of the fence watching it drift off into the sunset without me and my wife.

I don’t know if I will ever be able to purge these things from my life.

But I am working at it.

To be able to let go of all of this, all the things that keep me from being a better person, things that hinder me from better serving God, from knowing Him, obeying Him, from letting Him work in my life, is something I long for.

I remember, years ago, reading Philip Yancey’s words as he described going to a monastic retreat.  The monk took  him to a sparse room with a bed, chair and small table.  As he left him the monk said,

“If there is anything you need let us know and we will teach you how to live without it.”

How about you?  Clinging to things that don’t matter?

May our passion be our relationship with Jesus Christ and our families.

The rest is just clutter.

Conclusions

Let me just say something that, apparently, some people still haven’t considered:

Your opinion on Facebook doesn’t matter. Neither does mine.

I have spent the last week or so on a self-imposed Facebook break. 

What a relief it was. 

It is something that I will probably continue… but on my own terms.

It surly will not be because of the reason I took this one. I took a break from Facebook because I posted a generic status that some people thought I took an “unfair” shot of criticism because I questioned of some posts that they posted.  I did not name names. I got called out because I had dared to post something that “implied” that I was talking about someone or someone they knew.  

I guess I could have understood that, had I posted names and called them out directly, I should have expected the backlash. But that wasn’t the case. I guess people feel that their opinion, comments and status trumps anything I post and that specifically my posts always are talking about them.

I guess free speech in a Facebook world only applies to those that deem it so.

So, I took a week or so of doing some research and to try to gain some perspective.  The more I read and the more I thought about it, I have come to some conclusions. But before I post these conclusions, let me say for the record, you don’t have to agree with them.  I will not apologize for them and I certainly will not back down from my right to post them.

CONCLUSION #1 

If you choose to emotionally blast out your political perspective online, I promise no one is listening and you’ll never change a person’s mind from a Facebook post.  

It is futile.

All you do when you post your political perspective is just stir the pot.  No true debate or honest reasoning can be found in a Facebook post. You are asking for a response. You are opening the door to disagreement.  Defend your own battles if you post it.  This should be acknowledged by everyone that has a FB account. 

You post something… you have to be prepared for the disagreement.  Quit being so thin-skinned that you get offended when someone disagrees with you.

Is that what you are looking for? Are you just looking for people who agree with you?  If it is your true heartfelt belief or perspective, why are you so defensive? I say, agree to disagree.  State your disagreement and move on.  Why do the defenses come up so quickly?   

For many people, this is so difficult to handle.  It is why we have heard from college campuses, where they need “safe” speech zones because people just can’t handle when someone has a different opinion and that they may be wrong.  If you want a safe zone on Facebook, edit out the ones you disagree with until your news feed looks more like an echo board of your own thoughts. Feel free to edit out the ones you disagree with until you’re surrounded by people who are just like you.

CONCLUSION #2

I will not block or delete anyone on Facebook who disagrees with me.  

I may block you for other reasons… inappropriate language or posts, but not because I disagree with you.   

Let’s face it, it’s loud out there.  It seems like everyone has something to say and Facebook is where they say it.  Our news feeds are littered with articles, posts, and images from all types of people. 

We wonder why we’re so divided.

I know what you’re thinking, though: “It’s my feed, I’ll block who I want.  I shouldn’t have to be offended.  I don’t have time for that.  Life is too short.  I only want to see what I want to see.”

So… please block or delete me if you can’t handle what I post.  It’s ok.  I am a big boy.  I don’t expect everyone to agree with me.  I can handle it when someone doesn’t.  I don’t offend easily. 

Apparently many people do.

CONCLUSION #3

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe!  – Albert Einstein

People are stupid.

We all act stupid at some point.  Yes… including me.

Now before anyone thinks I am calling someone specific stupid… I am not.

It’s just that, unfortunately, some people act stupid most of the time.

We live in the age of sound bites, Cliff’s Notes, tweets and slogans. We live in a world where American attention spans have been constantly dwindling for the last couple decades. This isn’t totally our fault; partly it’s because we’re constantly bombarded with more news stories and advertisements than ever before.  We have a generation that receives their “news” from Facebook.  That is the extent of their “world view”. 

One would need to be very concerned if they determined their political views from their Facebook feed.  https://i0.wp.com/www.psychalive.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/cell-phone-addiction.jpg

Yet… here we are America.

Based upon my Facebook experience, I am convinced that we live in a society that has more information at their fingertips yet people have no world view that matters. We have “smart phones” but stupid people.  As smart and educated as you may think you are, you cannot with 100% certainty believe you know everything. It’s impossible because it’s impossible to know everything. I am always amazed at the level of self-importance people place on themselves.  I read posts from people who for their entire life have never traveled as far as 100 miles from their home, except maybe for a week or two of vacation or mission’s trips. Suddenly they are experts on the world and diplomacy.  They convince themselves that they know the ins and outs of government and have a solution for all. 

So no one can call me a hypocrite, I consider myself to be a fairly educated and logical person. I have a degree and I have worked in ministry and I’ve worked in the public sector. (I have a wide variety of experience, in other words.)

Yet with all of this experience and learning under my belt, I am still clueless about many, many things, and I know it.  To me it is a waste of time to argue or make assumptions about things one cannot know for 100% certainty.  There are aspects about politics that I will never understand.  Regardless how many hours I study or who teaches me.  It simply doesn’t matter if I know all the answers.  The most important aspect of any real truth in life is what I do about Jesus Christ.  Did He exist?  Is He who He said He was? Did He pay the price for the forgiveness of my sin on the cross? Can salvation be found in Him?  My commitment is to have faith and believe that He said who He said He was and to accept Him into to my life as Lord.  Everything else really doesn’t matter. That includes all aspects of politics. I don’t need to know everything and I most certainly don’t.

CONCLUSION #4

Facebook is infested with trolls.

Attention from half-truths and shallow talking points are what these people feed off of.  They post to get a rise.  They are keyboard warriors trying to get you to bite at their click bait posts.

These people don’t deserve our attention; they’re just antagonists.

Antagonists are against the norm. They don’t want rules, or at least not rules that apply to them.  Rules for you are OK.  They just want to fight and prefer it to be unmediated.

That is exactly the platform Facebook provides. It’s a place where people feel comfortable making huge rhetorical leaps, without facing the challenge of having to back it up.

There’s no magical government agency that surveys Facebook statuses for people’s input. There isn’t any Facebook fact-finding agency that evaluates all posts to see if there is any truth to them or not.  Buyer beware.  If you make the mistake of clicking on one of these posts and you comment that it is wrong, or at least disingenuous, you’ll likely get an earful from a troll.

CONCLUSION #5

Political debate is not a function of Facebook.

Up until about mid-2009, I used to regularly engage in political discussions with people on Facebook. I enjoyed debating people. However, I stopped.

Every now and then I’d read an ignorant statement or a regurgitation of official government propaganda and I’d be tempted to throw in my two cents. I would like to say that I always held my comments and did not respond to them but I can’t. Usually I would come to my senses and exercise some self-control. (Usually)… but last week I bit the click bait and commented. I paid a price for that.

When you’re talking politics, the zealots and the gullible really come out of the woodwork. I always come across several conspiracy theorists and the “my political party is always right” party adherents.

I have zero patience for people who toe their party line as a gut reaction. To me, this shows a lack of critical thinking and a lack of consideration of other people’s viewpoints or beliefs. It’s very selfish and very lazy. This is true whether you’re a Republican, a Democrat, a Libertarian, liberal, conservative, anarchist, communist, or something else.

If you can’t even entertain the possibility that you might be wrong, why even converse with others? If you already know everything, what more is there to learn? Of course, this point of view is absurd.

With Facebook, there’s no fact checking or moderation; it has turned into a place where people come to blast opinions at each other and then walk away after pissing off their friends. They do not have to “prove” anything.

Instead, even if your friends disagree with you, Facebook should be used to maintain your friends network, not destroy it.  Coming online to burn bridges with people who are your friends is a waste of your time.

CONCLUSION #6

The most intolerant people I know are those who say they are tolerant.

Respect is a two-edged sword, I have lost a lot of respect of people who I would call my friends and I am sure several people lost respect for me, too, and I’d be dishonest to say anything different.

I am sure that some have or will soon block or de-friend me. That is fine with me.

Discussing aspects of politics can be frustrating, tedious, and useless, all at the same time. I can become very angry at people whom I otherwise admire and respect very much. There’s enough negativity in the world without adding to it. Anger can be useful, but you know what’s more useful? Is choosing to not argue and allow people to have an opinion… even if it is wrong.  That goes for everyone involved with what gets posted on Facebook.

Allowance for tolerance is needed on both sides of an issue. 

Moving forward, I will post what I want.  I do not need anyone’s permission.  If you don’t like what I post, send me a text, an email or whatever you want.  Just don’t try to suck me into the soul crushing and fruitless black hole of Facebook political debate.

Again, just because I disagree with you doesn’t mean I am wrong. It also doesn’t mean you are right either.  More importantly, because I choose not to argue on Facebook, doesn’t mean I don’t care, or even that I’ve given up having a discussion.   I just want to do it in a different setting. I’ll still write about what I believe and issues occasionally on this site.

To put it simply, arguments about politics are fruitless and empty. 

Nobody changes their mind because of a facebook post.

Facebook is not the source of truth.

It should be just about friends.