Don’t Hide it Under a Bush, Oh No!

I sometimes wonder what it would be like if I was able to surrender fully to God. That, I know, is a strange way to start a blog like this one, but my goal for the day is to try to come to accept a few things that tend to naturally occur in my life and this is the way I’m going to approach it. I suppose my question today to myself is; How can I react better to other people?

Something Wife said this morning is truly resonating with me. She said, “The more I go to church, the more at peace I am feeling.” I have told her a few times that I wish I could be more like her, and this is another thing that she has that I would really like to key into. She is starting to really find peace in her life through God, our family, and just accepting the way of the world. I keep trying to let things go and realize that I shouldn’t try to change the world to fit me, but rather I should be changing me to fit the world. In this new society we are in, it seems as though that is a very unpopular opinion. Especially considering that facts don’t really seem to matter as much as they once did and that everyone should be able to have their own “truth”. When I look at how Wife is finding the truth in her life through recognizing God, I realize that I likely need to start following suit.

The title of this blog was going to be Quid Pro Quo, because that tends to be how I feel like the relationships (aside from Wife and I) in my life work. I feel like I fall into traps of hoping that people will be more selfless and that they will care more about things that I feel they should. I know that my expectations are the issue here and that I should try to drop them into a more realistic framework, but it isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do. I don’t consider myself an idealist, but I do feel like there should be at least some natural common laws of decency that we all work inside. Watching the struggles of some of my friends as well as some family members, I realize though that a selfless world is not the one we live in.

I suppose that, when it really comes down to it though, I should recognize that some things aren’t really all that important. I need to change the lens in which I view things and focus myself a little more at heaven and at God’s purpose instead of focusing on “man’s purpose”. Those who know me will probably realize that this was more of a rant than I intended, but I felt like I needed one. From my previous statements, I really am trying to  rant less. Either way, wish me luck as I try to re-focus outside of my own selfish wants and needs and back towards God.

No joke today, just a quote.

“You are never to old to set another goal or dream a new dream.”

C.S. Lewis.

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Consistently Inconsistent

I have found that I am a walking bag of contradictions, or at least so I am starting to realize. This is, of course, something that is somewhat difficult for me to deal with and something that I am finding is very frustrating to the people I love the most. So let me break this down a little for everyone so this makes a little more sense to you, and hopefully by the end of this post, to myself. I am going to break it down into little bullet points because that is basically how my brain works.

I want to be successful but also want to be care free

This one is something that I am sure most people out there can relate to. I really want to be successful in my life in the way that most people in our culture want to be. I want to have enough money that I can have the things I want (and also the things that my family want) but I also do not want to have to work at a place that I can’t stand working at. This seems to break down into a couple of problems for me. It is not that I don’t want to work hard, because I don’t really have a problem with that. It is more that I don’t want to feel like I am working hard. It’s a line that I am trying to find how to draw, but still haven’t quite worked out for myself. I am hoping that finding a career that allows me to be helpful but not overworked as well as feeling like I make a difference without feeling like I have to much responsibility…Oh wow that’s a crazy wish list right? Moving on…

I want to be social while not having to go out

This is something that I know drives people crazy about me. I have had a few friends who can’t quite hack being my friend because I tend to fall off a mountain every so often and close the world out. I want to be able to have friends that I can talk to frequently for a short period of time that also don’t mind when I need to disappear for a while. I have found at least one person like that in my life lately and have really come to appreciate him. I also, though, want to be able to find a social circle that I can pop in and out of, but again it is not something that I have quite figured out yet. I think that this one has to do with my extreme emotions and I am hoping that I can settle those down over the course of the next few months.

I want to  be in control without having to plan

This one is the most difficult for me to reconcile. I can’t quite figure out how this one is supposed to actually work in my life. I want to be able to control the outcomes of things without actually thinking about how to get to those outcomes. As my parents used to say, I just want to skip to the end without actually going through the journey. This is…frustrating to say the least. I think about this like the social experiment of delayed gratification. Basically it boils down to getting one marshmallow now or two if you wait 10 minutes. I want both the marshmallow now and  the two marshmallow’s in 10 minutes. This, though, is not how the world works. I know that the sooner I accept this,the better my long term success will be, but I am still a child at heart and I want to have my cake and eat it.

So as most of you could probably tell from the title of this, my thoughts tend to contradict my actions and it is very difficult for me to handle. This is impacting how I am trying to deal with my kids in a very profound way, though. My oldest, Mr. Goose, is seeming to run into similar problems in his life right now. He had to pick a science project today and decided on a surface value thing instead of digging at all. He rushed through the journey to get to the end result he wanted. Bubba is starting to do the same things, rushing through his homework to get to the fun of playing with toys. My goal is to set a better example for them by aligning my thinking with my actions to not only tell them the right thing but also showing them the right thing to do. Wish me luck everyone.

One liner of the day:

Why did the coffee file a police report?

It got mugged…

 

Here, There, Everywhere!

So work has gotten the best of me finally, thus I have taken a Medical Leave of Absence. Overwhelmed by stress, having more seizures than normal, and losing my ability to have any patience has caused me to need to reset and start over for a few weeks. On top of that, with Wife’s support and on the advice of my doctor, I am back on SSRIs and should be leveling back out over the course of the next few weeks. So that brings us to the subject of the day, being scattered.

If you have read this blog at all, you probably can tell that I have some real difficulties finding my “purpose” in life. It is a question that I ask myself frequently and, to the dismay of Wife, tend to ask the people around me as well. It is something that I want to know more than anything else, but unfortunately, there aren’t any real guides to finding your talents, interests, and experiences and compiling them into your purpose. When I read the Bible, I find some interesting parts that help me a little. Romans 8:28 is a really good one for that. What it really boils down to for me is less about finding my purpose, I suppose, and more about finding my talents.

This brings me to being scattered. I am a bad mixture of a couple of personality traits, or so I am coming to find. Looking at myself under the microscope of the Big 5 personality traits, I tend to be more neurotic, open, and not very agreeable. This basically means that I tend to look for new things while constantly analyzing everything I and everyone else does while also starting arguments for no reason (Something Wife could definitely attest to). My personality thrives in finding something new and changing while also being rigid and avoiding change…contradictory at best, insane at worst.

I suppose that puts me in a bit of pickle, right? Well if you believe the constant motif of A Wrinkle in Time (which I saw with the kids today and thought was pretty good) I am who I am meant to be. The Bible talks a lot about this as well. Ecclesiastes 3:1-7 is a good one for that. For me, maybe being scattered is something I just need to be willing to accept about myself. In reality, there are quite a lot of things that I just need to accept about myself to be really happy.

When I really break down what my life consists of and what it has caused, there are some great things that have been brought into the world. Goose is a kid who has the compassion and love that Jesus wants us all to have, he just cares about people. Bubba is strong and smart and has a will that no one will break.

Christian Dads 3 Biggest Issues

I love being a Dad. It is one of the things that I am most proud of in my life, even if I am not always the best dad I can be. I also love being a Christian dad, even though I know I am not the best Christian or the best dad most of the time. Now, before you step back and think that this is just a post on me self-deprecating my own abilities, it is not. Also, if you are looking at being a better dad through Christ, sorry but I don’t have your answers. (But check this out if you are a list format type of person 10 Principles for Christian Husbands and Fathers) No, this is more about the struggles that I have faced with becoming a good, honest, and respectful Christian Father.

Sometimes, your kids suck

Yeah that one is a little audacious. Is this a Dad problem only? No. Is it a Dad problem though? Why yes, yes it is. I know we have all heard the old axiom that parents love their children and that is most definitely true, but if you think about it, you probably at times also have the capacity to hate your children. Now I’m not saying that we all hate our children and should just scrap the idea that we should love them unconditionally. On the contrary, knowing why you feel that hatred sometimes helps us act in a way that is not so detrimental to the kids. I think Matthew 21:15-16 sums this up quite nicely.

But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant. “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “ ‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”
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This talks about how kids can be wise beyond their years, mostly because they don’t know yet not to be. We all have fears, failures, and problems that stay with us throughout the years. No one knows this better than our children. At times, it seems as though they know the exact thing to say to cut you deep in your heart. Sometimes, those words come out at the perfect time to make you feel destroyed. The reason we can hate our kids is mostly because we love them so much, they are so close to us, and they can hurt us like no one else.
Sometimes, Dads suck
This one is obvious. Yeah dads, sometimes we suck. We have problems, we sin, we ignore our kids, we fail to protect or teach our kids, and all in all we do a lot of dumb stuff. Now the range of our stupidity varies and I think it is important to remember that if you are still in the picture and trying to do better, you’re probably at least in the periphery of being Good. That does not mean that you are off the hook.
For me, the biggest problem I run into is my anger. I have a very short fuse and, as you can guess with 4 crazy little kids in the house, it gets lit at least once a week. This problem gets amplified when the kids, who are still figuring out the basics of life, make mistakes. The perfect example of this is the new Chore Chart that wife put together. We have said, probably about 62,000 times at this point, that they cannot ask for any technology without finishing their chores but that finishing their chores does not guarantee technology. Everyday, after finishing their chore chart, they ask for technology then throw a fit when we say no. They have expectations, I have expectations, and they don’t seem to be meeting. As the dad, I should lead them and help them find the why, but my anger get’s in the way and I tend to yell or send them away because they are being to difficult. The worst part about it is I KNOW I am handling it wrong and yet I still fail. Much like the kids…
Sometimes, Society Sucks
Oh wow. This one is bad, but really, really true. We have a society, at least in major common Western Civilization, that is seeming to have a crisis of identity/faith/morals and so much more. We have taken for granted that we aren’t fighting for our lives everyday, hiding in caves, running from bears and the like. This has done a couple of things: It has made life better for a lot of people and it has made finding the meaning of life a much deeper question. When we had predators at our doorstep everyday, the meaning of life was not to die. Now that a lot of people can sleep indoors, away from a lot of natural predators, with a warm bed a food, we seem to have an issue of purpose arising that so many people are trying to fill. As a Christian, I know who gave me my purpose and generally what it is. This isn’t about proselytizing or evangelism but if you’re interested, reach out and I’d be more than happy to talk to you.
So how does society suck? Well, now that everyone is an expert and has the ability to look up a series of facts to tie their expertise to, there are a lot of opinions out their on what Good means. When Good becomes so subjective, why can’t you be a good man who beats his wife and abuses his children? Why can’t you ignore your responsibilities and leave a family to fend for themselves? Why can’t you run from your problems and push them onto another person? Well the answer, from my perspective, is that you can’t. This is why society sucks. Somethings are just good and somethings are just bad. Do you feel good when you scream at your kids and belittle them in front of their friends? Of course not. Do you feel good when you help your daughter practice for her ballet recital? Of course you do. There are objectively good things and bad things, and we need to know not only what they are, but that they exist in the first place.
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The message of the day from me to you is this: Do better, Always. That doesn’t mean that everyday will be better than the last, but if you try to do better, you will at least be oriented in the right direction. That is my goal for myself. No matter how many times I fail, I will always try to do better.
One liner of the Day:
What do they call Pastors in Germany?
German Shepards!

 

 

Oh the Pain, and why do I care?

A few months ago, while spending some time at my Grandma’s house, I was watching a show called Teen Titans Go! with my kids. On a particular episode, a character was brought back from a previous episode in a strange and new way. That character’s name was Pain Bot. Now, being a children’s show, you would think that this would immediately be a taboo that the author’s would want to avoid, bringing up pain, but in this story-line they touched on something that has become what we would probably call a type of depression. The bot kept saying, “All I know is Pain” in a repetitious speak across the episode. That got me thinking, we may not only know pain, but we all know what it is. To break that down further, there is a kind of physical pain that we all know, which is likely the comedic point that the authors were focused on, but also a kind of psychic pain that has another level of depth to it.

The physical pain, basically described, is your nervous systems response to various stimuli and can be explained very well by trial and error if you need experiential proof. So if you are of the mind that this is not the case, just go stick your hand on a hot stove and see what happens. *I AM NOT ADVOCATING THAT IDEA, THAT WOULD BE VERY DUMB* The second is the psychic pain that, again, we can all relate to in some way. I think that this commonality between us sharing some form of psychic pain has to be thought about when trying to figure out the why for the psychic pain and also the what do we do with it question.

The why, not technically but philosophically, is a bit of an anomaly to me for a couple of reasons, but those are not that important. People have worked diligently, psychotherapists mainly, to come up with methods of working through psychic pain such as cognitive behavioral therapy, but it still does not explain the why in a philosophically acceptable way. This, when taken to a theological level, starts to bring the question of, “If God is only good, why is there suffering in the world?” Some people use that as a method of disproving God, which I think is misguided. Christian theologians and apologetics tend to describe suffering as sin because man is fallen, but again I do not think this completely addresses the issue. The why is deeper than that and I think maybe that psychic pain is a good describer of the menacing nature of people.

That was a big jump, I know, from we all have psychic pain to we cause psychic pain but if you break it down to what is happening, it tends to make sense. Most are able to have some empathy and use that empathy to interact with the world, at varying levels of success. The problems we run into lay when that empathy is either ignored or disregarded as unable to be utilized appropriately. So if you think about it in the old axiom of the Golden Rule (do unto others…) you can break it down to the question, “Why would we want to intentionally, or even unintentionally, hurt others, even for gain?”

(As an addition to this, I would like to say that I think there has to be a recognition between intentionally psychically injuring someone like when you de-humanize someone you hate, i.e. Nazi’s dehumanizing the Jewish populous, vs. unintentionally doing so like when you use the wrong pronoun to someone you just met.)

I feel like this relates very well to Princess. Right now, as a toddler, she does not have the ability to quite empathize the way we would like. Last night, she had an agenda so she could get into bed with a Kindle as quickly as possible. For this, she completely disregarded my 3 sons need to use the bathroom, brush their teeth etc. and pushed them aside for her own needs. When they politely tried to help her, she yelled and screamed and threw a fit because it was not exactly what she wanted. So in this case, both parties started to have a small psychic pain and, because my daughter was unwilling to operate within a standard method of acting, they could not negotiate to find the solution that was best for both. This ended with my daughter in bed without what she wanted and the boys having a rough time getting their nighttime ritual completed.

I think this analogizes our culture right now quite well. There seems to be two competing agendas going on and neither side wants to agree upon terms in which we can communicate. If you are an ardent left winger or right winger I would ask, why would you want to cause anyone to have unnecessary pain, psychic or otherwise?

Finally, it needs to be said that some psychic pain is unavoidable. That is, you cannot stop people from thinking differently and thus disagreeing. This being said, disagreeing doesn’t have to be a bad thing and I would say is the best way to make any real progress. The real goal would be to stop allowing your psychic pain to manifest in a way that causes others psychic pain. Basically, even if misery loves company, you don’t have to make others miserable to get support.

AND one liner of the day:

What do you call a frozen dog?

A Pupsicle!

Don’t Forget to Think

Welcome back everyone and thank you all for your patience. My penchant for distraction has kept me from writing for about two weeks, and although some people with a better focus would have found that time productive, I found it quite relaxing. In all earnest, I needed some time to just not put my thoughts on to paper as I allowed myself a bit of time to learn a little more philosophy, a little more Bible, and a little more about myself (and also to play video games and lazily hang out around my house).

Today I want to bring up something that all of a sudden has become a contentious subject: Knowledge. I want to break this down into a couple sub-categories of thought though and really talk about how we use knowledge instead of how we get to knowledge. There are two major types of knowledge I want to focus on; though I am not sure how many more methods there are to it and I honestly have not brought analysis to that yet. There is knowledge with experience, that is were you are trying to solve problems based on how you have solved problems in the past; and then there is knowledge in faith, which is trusting either someone else’s experience or trusting the knowledge of others.

The first type, thinking with experience, should be easy. For example, if you put your finger in a mousetrap and realize, “Wow, mousetraps hurt” you are not likely to put your finger in another mousetrap to see if it still hurts. This type is the type that we are working through right now in the world. This type is good for individuals, but can be dangerous when you apply it to a group. For example, if in our country we never had slavery as an experience, would it be good to test it out to see if it hurt? No, because we have an objective moral standard that tells us that ALL people are created equal and those people have unalienable rights. I won’t get into where those rights come from but if you are interested in learning more about that, check out William Lane Craig and Reasonablefaith.org.

The second type is much, much harder to consolidate for me. The type of thinking that requires faith, though, seems to be the basis of progress in most fields. I suppose another way of looking at it is that you are standing on the discovery of others. So for this one, if we use mousetrap example, without ever putting your finger in a mousetrap you can tell that it is not a good plan. Why is this? Is it because through evolutionary standards we have recognized the dangers of mousetraps? Not likely as mousetraps have not been around long enough for our species to incorporate them into the genomic algorithm. No it is more than likely because we are using knowledge in faith from either someone telling us that they are dangerous or seeing that similar mechanisms are dangerous. So that brings me to my newest revelation, it’s okay to gain knowledge from someone else or through related experiences…sorry to say to my generation, but we can’t know everything firsthand and honestly we (being the individuals themselves) can’t know everything, PERIOD.

So, in a kind of summation, I relate this to one of my kids, Bubba. He is much like me, headstrong and determined and convinced that he is the smartest person in the room. He over-reacts to things because he is trying to figure it all out for himself without realizing that this flaw is exactly why he can’t solve some of his more simple problems. I love his inquisitive nature and hope that he finds the appropriate balance between seeking knowledge and narcissism, though I am not quite sure that I have found that balance yet myself. Yesterday, we had a great example of where the two cross.

Wife created a chore chart this weekend for the four kids, and, as you would expect they did not quite know how to handle it. Bubba, who is my most sensitive, I would say, seemed to have the most difficulty with it. He had no experience to base the list off of and because of that made it into a huge catastrophe for himself. He assumed we meant he had to stand outside all day until the dog pooped so he could check that off and that because the dishwasher wasn’t full he couldn’t do anything until someone else ran it and so on. He allowed himself to be overwhelmed because he normally only relies on his own experiences to solve problems. In this case, he needed a little faith. I tried to break through the walls he was putting up, but the two of us couldn’t quite get there at first. For me, being in a similar boat as I have no experience on how to talk someone out of what seemed like a panic attack, I had to rely on my knowledge through faith as well. In this situation, I had no one’s experience to pull from immediately so my reaction was prayer. It may not have ended in some fantastic revelation, but it did give me some guidance on how to move forward. I was given some experiential knowledge by making it through the incident, but also I assumed knowledge through faith that allowed me to realize that this moment was NOT so big that he could not make it through it and that WE had someone who loved us and put His hand out to help.

To my non-spiritual readers, I know that the secular opinion is not in line with what I just said and that is totally okay. I think, though, we can all find common ground in the humility that we can not have experiential knowledge in every moment. In that, I would say being humble and challenging yourself to see viewpoints of others is one of the most important ways to gain ANY knowledge. Okay, enough depth for the day, time for a one liner.

 

What do you call a bear with no teeth?

A Gummy Bear!

Don’t Act, Re-act…sometimes.

So this one is not going to update you on the goings on of the family but more the goings on of my brain in relation to my family. If you are looking for an update, stop back in, in the next few days and I’ll have something for you.

As I have been moving along in my newly found dedication to learning about my relationship with God (yup this is gonna be a real Christian blog today) I realized something about myself, I react A LOT. It’s not a good or bad thing, it is just a thing. We all react. All the time. Sometimes this is a good thing. Like when the floor is coming up quickly towards my face and I react by putting my hands out to prevent the upcoming and possibly painful nose bleed. Other times it is not so great. Like when my daughter is screaming at me for the 10th night in a row from her bedroom as I try to get her to close her eyes and rest and I run out of patience and yell at her. Those reactions that take no thought become habits, and habits form our life. The question I have posed to myself and will be working on answering is this, How can I form habits that I can be proud of?

Now if you think that is a broad question, you are very right, but narrowing it down to a finite answer wouldn’t make much sense for me right now. I could say, How can I form habits at home I can be proud of, or work, or with friends, or with strangers, but that would just silo my life off and I am already very good at that. In contrast, I would like to find the me that God wants and to do that, broad strokes are needed. So moving on…

I have spent everyday reading at least a little bit of the Bible since starting Rooted (awesome program that I will tell anyone who wants to know about). This has shown me a few things. The first is that I had a lot of misconceptions about the Bible. I thought more that it was a list of rights and wrongs and a bunch of parables and metaphors of how to live your life. Yeah no, that’s not it at all. If you are a skeptic and have this view of the Bible, man would I suggest that you read it. Reading the Bible as a skeptic isn’t bad. Just make sure you read it. The second thing I’ve realized is that the Bible is as helpful as you want it to be. Weird huh? If you don’t want to get anything out of the Bible, you won’t. But if you want to learn something, just read it with an open mind and you might be surprised. Last thing I have noticed, the Bible tells us a lot about how people think and how society started. That’s weird right? Even if you are an ardent evolutionist, at some point people become conscious. That is Genesis my friend.

So how does this all wrap up into me working on building good habits? Strangely, that’s how. If I want to build habits I can be proud of, I have to first decide what that looks like. For me, that is being a “Good Samaritan” (Luke 10 all the way baby). Does that mean I want to go roaming the streets looking for mugging victims? No, not really. It means that I want my habit to be if I find a mugging victim to help them, not look the other way. It also means that I have to find out how to be a Good Samaritan to everyone. If my daughter screams, I want to be patient and help her calm down, not lose my temper and scream at her. If my boys break my washing machine…again…I want to stay calm and find a way to fix it, not berate them. If my friend is hurting, I want to help. If I am hurting, I want to reach to God, not hide. You get the point I’m sure.

So for me and finding my habits, I am first working on finding my patience. Hiding that angry button away from the world and reminding myself that every time I fail, I need to stand back up, dust myself off, and try again. I need to Just Show Up.

Joke of the day!

What do you get when you mix a shellfish and an apple?

A Crab Apple

(Credit to Grossery Gang: Gross Jokes and Banana Boy for making me read them to him yesterday)