Soap Operas in Heaven

I work for a company that could be a sitcom or soap opera.  I suppose it depends on your viewpoint.  Either way, I was asking my wife if she thinks they watch soap operas and sitcoms in heaven and if we are just the actors for their entertainment.

I’ve been walking this earth for 53 years and still bumfuzzled by people.  It seems like it should be so easy to get along and yet the bickering, CYA’ing and backstabbing that goes on between folks is sad.

Oh, how we all yearn for good leadership, for examples of fairness and kindness and honesty and integrity.

Be careful where you set your standards.  If they are low enough, you will always hit them.

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Boomeranging

I love to write and I am challenged to write. I love getting the thoughts in my head “on paper” and I struggle with how to say what I want to say. I’ve been gone for awhile for many reasons. Time. Passion. Frustration. Do my thoughts matter?

One of my 2018 challenges to myself is to be bolder, to speak and live with less fear of what others think.  I am a pleaser.  I want to make people comfortable.  I want to make them happy.  I like to make people laugh.  I think I have used my wit and sarcasm over the years to deflect from tough issues, tough thoughts, tough comments and make people laugh or wish I would shut up instead of saying something that may put them off, or worse, make them not like me.

I am at a point in my life that I am not sure being liked is important.  The world is a hard place and going out as someone who was “liked” is not a high bar for making a difference.  I would rather make a difference for someone.  So, I am challenging myself to get out of my box and to say what is on my mind.  I know some of my thoughts will challenge my Christian friends.  They may well be off-putting to my Republican friends.  I am quite sure there will be family members who think I have lost my mind.

Through years and thousands of dollars of conflict resoltuion training I have learned that there are many, many people around us each day who feel alone, left out, scared, overlooked, disenfranchised.  I have also come to see politics very differently than where I was 10 years ago.  It seems to be a battle of pendulum extremes, a challenge to please the 20% who may go vote instead of the 80% who have no faith in politicians.

Well, here I go.

Grace and peace.

#time4change

Sex or Mindset?

The recent spate of sexual harassment/sexual assault claims is horrifying.  Again, we see the effects of dehumanizing people and the effects of an inward mindset.

At times, it might be hard to know where flirtation ends and sexual harassment begins.  I have seen office affairs spin up because it started as something small and worked into something much bigger that was accepted, albeit wrong, by both parties.  Then there is the line that gets crossed between flirtation and harassment.  Then there is another line that is immediately crossed with power and intimidation and fear.  It would seem these are fairly easy lines to identify and, if so, one would know where the line between mutual interest and harassment, or assault, lies.

What happened in the past that made people think they could take advantage of someone emotionally or physically?  What happened to make people think forced or coerced sex was acceptable?

While I am perplexed about what drives people to these dehumanizing steps, I am even more flummoxed by people who say they love/fear God and defend these things as “boy-talk”, “locker room humor” and other ways of saying they accept bad behavior.

I accept no one is perfect and there is danger in pointing fingers.  I have a past with many mistakes as does everyone I know (who is willing to be honest) but it doesn’t mean we accept our failings with off-handed descriptions that make it seem acceptable.  I’m all for second chances but those chances need to come after true remorse has been expressed at the least.  There are also times when the offense is so heinous that a second chance isn’t appropriate at the time or for a certain position.

All that to say, before we need second chances, I sure hope we as a society can start valuing others more, see human life as something sacred and special and worthy of honor.  Let us all seek to be kinder, more compassionate, more loving.  Let us all seek to show empathy and care for others.  Let us all do the right thing because it is the right thing to do, to lift others up when they need a hand, to see “the least of these” as equals in worthiness of dignity, respect and value.

Grace and peace.

Guns or Mindset?

Part 1 of more to come…

Knee-jerk reactions.  I’ve had them often.  When we see the tragedies of Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs it is easy to focus on the end and not the beginning.  It is easy to blame the easy thing and not the hard thing.  I am not here to advocate for guns or gun rights but to call attention to a bigger problem.  Why do these people behind the guns not see the people they are killing as humans, as someone of value, as something we should cherish and build up, not tear down and kill?

One article I read called it dehumanization.  That’s a good word for it.  What has happened to the hearts of these killers that they do not value human life?  What has caused them to lose the decency and morality and goodness that allows them to take human lives, innocent lives?

I am not hearing people call for a hard, deep look at our society.  It has reached a point where our biggest politicians have resorted to name calling and mud slinging and it has filtered down to hatred of people of a different color and religion and it has filtered down to someone killing another.

What is going on in our society that allows one person to treat another so worthlessly?

The problem is in our politics.

The problem is in our schools.

The problem is in our churches.

The problem is in our homes.

The problem is…us.  There is a rampant problem in valuing others who are in a different economic level, social level, racial level.  There is a rampant problem on looking down on those who are poor, sick, homeless, less educated.

I read posts on Facebook by people who are more worried about refugees and statues and taxes and the majority of them proclaim to follow Christ.  (If Christ is first, wouldn’t we see refugees as an opportunity to proclaim the Gospel, wouldn’t we see concerns of racism as a time to talk and heal and wouldn’t we see money as something to give away the way Jesus calls us to and highlights in parables?)

I am taking broad swings.  I am writing big strokes.  I know many will disagree and denounce (and confident most will do it before spending 5 minutes thinking about it) all that I have said.  Yet, killings continue.  Sexual predators continue.

If we aren’t the problem, who is?

Grace and peace.

Empathy

Empathy is a word that has been on my mind lately.  I think it is something our society, country and world need and should exhibit right now.

I’m scared by politicians who think they can make a country great and who use their power to build themselves and their “foundations” more wealth.  I’m scared by politicians who don’t put regular, working-class people into positions of advisor and counselor and say they represent the regular, working-class people.  How can they have empathy for the mainstream when the only time they visit with them is a 30 minute stop at a diner during campaign season?

I’m scared by Christians who show a heightened interest in politics and brush off the beggar with “they need to get a job” comments.  I’m scared by “right-wing evangelicals” who have a very different message of truth and love than Jesus displayed.  I’m scared by “fundamentalists” who drive nice cars and live in big houses and sit in million dollar churches and don’t know a poor person, a person of color, a person who is psychologically wounded.

I’m scared of a world where we think that looking good means we are doing good.  I’m scared of a world that makes someone who has suffered physical/emotional/spiritual abuse be quiet about it and “push through it” instead of letting them be vulnerable, broken, and grieving.  I’m scared of a world where facades are more acceptable than truth and where toughing-it-out is more acceptable than crying a river of tears over pain.

These things scare me because I have been that person in all those examples.  I played the game until life drug me over rocks and briars and I was bruised, bloodied and ready to die.  It was then I experienced empathy and unconditional love from people I thought would turn away from me and despise me.  It was then I really met Jesus and learned he saw me all along, knew my failings and still provided a door to heaven one day.  It was then that I learned how to be empathetic to others and share the love I had been given in abundance.

Our world needs more empathy.  If you have experienced it, if you understand it, if you are willing to dole it out to those who want it and those who don’t even know they need it yet, join me in giving freely what we have experienced freely.  Let’s help the broken walk again.  Let’s help the bruised smile again.  Let’s help others set the burden of pain and brokenness and fear free from those things.  Let’s start an #empathy tour of such magnitude the world finds peace again.

Grace and peace.

And we wonder…

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$1.7 million

Number of elective plastic surgeries in the U.S. in 2016, of which more than 200,000 were nose jobs. The plastic surgery business is an interesting one with a fascinating gender gap: 75 percent of the people who got those rhinoplasties were women, but 85 percent of board certified plastic surgeons are men. [Racked]

That statistic tells us a great deal about our country. The vanity. The pride. Almost two million dollars spent on changing something about the body to be more acceptable, more “loved”, more something. We wonder why hatred and bigotry and terror exist and the answer is often as close as the nose on our face.  We are an inwardly focused people.  We are caught up in “us” and how we feel, how we look, how we are perceived and how we are judged.  We worry about those things while assessing how we see others, perceive others and judge others for their actions, thoughts, or lack thereof…at least in our own minds.

We assemble in teams, in jobs, in churches and find the people most like us to be around and spend time with.  It’s easier.  It’s more comfortable.  We don’t work to get to know others and we sure avoid the difficult questions that might put us in uncomfortable territory.  Instead, we label other groups,

If we hope to overcome hate, racism, and our own caste system, we are going to have to change our focus from inward to outward.  We are going to have to learn to see people with openness, with fresh eyes and without our own baggage heaped on top of them.  We have to learn to see ourselves and others with a new set of eyes, clear and unburdened by our own experience, fears and false beliefs.

Change starts with the person in the mirror.

Grace and peace.

It Makes Me Sad

It makes me sad to see ignorance and hatred come together.  It makes me sad to see people rejected and put down.  It makes me sad to hear people only want their point of view expressed and heard.  It makes me sad when I hear people who claim Christ take up the banner of the powerful and not the weak.  What I have seen in Charlottesville makes me sad.  What I haven’t seen on Facebook makes me sad.

A football player who took a stance against what he perceived as an injustice was verbally whipped in public on Facebook.  Those same people who ranted so vigorously about the football have largely remained silent in the face of the horrible, disgusting actions of racists and hatemongers in Charlottesville.

I don’t agree with the football players actions and I said so in a post.  My dad and my uncle wore U.S. military uniforms and fought for our freedoms and, in my mind, standing to honor the flag is standing to honor them.  My dad and my uncle wore U.S. military uniforms and fought for our freedoms and, in my mind, not standing up and speaking against hatred and fear of someone because of skin color, country of origin or anything else does not honor them.

I believe in Jesus Christ.  I believe he died on the cross for everyone.  I believe he sees us as equals and I believe we were all made in God’s image.  Somewhere, we messed that image up but in the meantime, for me to honor Christ, I have to love everyone in the face of ignorance.  I have to pick up the brother who is pushed down by the bully and I have to let the bully know that I love him because Jesus loved him first.  I have to stand in the gap for the one who isn’t strong enough to stand for himself because Jesus is standing in the gap between me and Satan.

I am saddened by what I see in our country but I also realize it is what we have been promised since the fruit was eaten in the garden.  This world is not our  home and I am ready to get home.  In the time between now and then, I have to love those who aren’t lovable and I have to support those who are the victims of ignorance, hatred and brutality.

I am a child of the south.  I appreciate much of my heritage while opposed to some of the things history shows my kinfolk supporting.  A statue of a historical figure isn’t worth the price of hate and hurt.  When we put our feelings about an object ahead of our concern for our fellow man who is made in God’s image just like us, we become idolaters.  Know object should stand between the love we must have for each other.  If that is what it takes to let people come together, so be it.

I have more to say and it will come later.

Grace and peace.

Back on the Wagon

It’s time to write again.  I took a sabbatical and may explain it one day, but suffice it to say I’m ready to share again, to use this space for dreaming and ruminating and healing.  I’m reminded lately of the challenges that life brings.

I have a friend who’s marriage is spiraling downwards.  A friend who is having to deal with health issues that are very challenging.  A friend who is having to look inward and figure out what is driving some bad behavior.  I’m in a Bible study with a bunch of men who have differing viewpoints on church, politics, and life.  Very interesting.  I’m in another Bible study with a young couple who are early in a journey of pursuing Jesus.  My dad recently died and I’m worried about my mom.  My wife’s parents are battling illnesses.  I am battling challenges at work and working on what the future might hold.

Life has lots of challenges.  Lots of conflict.  Lots of suffering.  It is also filled with beauty and things that can bring us joy depending on how we want to view life.  What do you look for…problems, conspiracy, shortcomings, failure?  If you look for it you will find it.  I think we all agree that is not a profound statement but one that is often forgotten.  The people I know who look for the beauty in life, the blessings, the things they can be grateful for…those people seem to find it often.  I’ve spent a few years making the transition.  I can see a lot of problems in this world but I prefer to look for the gems and deal with the problems as they occur.

I’m back on the wagon and will likely address problem issues but it is because I see so much beauty in life and want to move forward past the problems.  It could be a bumpy ride.  I have a lot to sort out and think through.  I’m not a rocket scientist and sometimes it takes me trying things multiple times.  My only perfection is in how totally imperfect I am…but growing, dreaming and looking for beauty.

What are you looking for?

Grace and peace.

10 Fun Things About the 2016 Election

  1. I have fun reading what youngsters who haven’t had a real job, paid real taxes, had a mortgage or car payment or medical bills or tuition payments think needs to happen to make our country better financially.
  2. I have fun reading posts on Facebook from people quoting Fox News like it isn’t biased.
  3. I have fun reading posts on Facebook from people quoting CNN News like it isn’t biased.
  4. I have fun reading posts of people who say you have to vote because your vote counts.  Tell that to the folks who voted for Al Gore.  I ain’t no genius but the Electoral College seems to have more to do with who wins than I do.
  5. I have fun reading posts by people who read “Republican” and see “Religious Right” when several Republicans have got caught not acting too religious.
  6. I have fun reading posts by people who think the next President will have a major impact on prayer, abortion and a host of other issues and miss out on the fact that Jesus told his disciples to deal with all that stuff.  Render unto Ceasar what is Ceasars doesn’t mean to expect the government to do Jesus-work.
  7. I have fun reading posts by people who think the Democrats will make life better for the poor.  How’s that worked out during the past few Democratic administrations?
  8. I have fun reading about different drinking games to play during debates and the election process.  They might be the most logical posts of all.
  9. I have fun reading about all the liberals and conservatives who say they are moving if one or the other gets elected.  No one really cares whether they move or not and I doubt any of them ever did anything they said.
  10. I have fun dreaming about a day when elections won’t matter.  Those are going to be the good ‘ol days.

In all honesty, most of those things aren’t really fun…or funny.  They are agonizing.  I thought about quitting social media but, like many things, have learned to skip over the parts I don’t like and move on to warm and fuzzy pictures of someone’s cat.  I’m 51 years old and I can’t tell how the outcome of any election has impacted my life tremendously.  I personally think Republicans are too worried about paying taxes and not concerned with the welfare of others.  I personally think Democrats are arrogant and think they know how to use my earnings better than I do.  I’m looking for that person who is in the middle, who wants me to pay less taxes so I can be more giving.  I’m looking for the person who will call out special interests and embarrass them into the holes they belong in.  I’m looking for the person who will call out the religious community to do what Jesus called them to and to leave the government alone.  I’m looking for someone who probably doesn’t exist and probably won’t appeal to at least 50% of the rest of the voting population, probably more.

Political elections seem to bring out the worst in us these days.  I’m sure our founding fathers would be ashamed of everyone involved, mostly the electorate that tolerates these buffoons reaching the top.

Grace and peace.

What if…?

What if we knew the problems the people around us were dealing with daily?  What if people knew my fears?  What if people knew the things that cause me emotional pain?  What if people knew I was scared they wouldn’t like me if they really knew my sins?

When I went through a divorce, I had several people surround me with love.  I could not have made it without them but it was always easier to think about the people who were telling stories about me.  Some were true, many were not and it scared me to think about how others would see me based on gossip and rumors.  Yet, it was the people who were empathetic to me who carried me through.  It was the people who cried with me and heard my pain stories.  It was the people who had walked in my shoes of pain and told me I would get through it, maybe a little battered and bruised, but I would get through it.

What if the world was full of empathy?  What if my community was full of empathy?  How much stronger would we be?  What if people who had a drinking problem felt like they could talk to someone about their fears or pains that caused them to drink?  What if people who had a pornagraphy or sexual addiction problem felt like they could talk to someone about their wounds that drove them to those things?  What if the person who has been abused sexually felt like they could tell someone how it made them feel?

I have been exposed to so much pain in the world in the past few years and my empathy runs wild.  It has pushed me to reach out to some folks I know who feel hurt by things in life and get to know their story and try to understand how to teach others to hear these stores and love on these people.

What if we reach a point where people really care about other people?

Grace and peace.