|Posted on November 14, 2013 at 2:05 AM||comments (0)|
As much as I’d like to believe the contrary, I’m not a superhero. I mean, I’d like to be. Sometimes I see myself as one, I can see the suit, right down to the tights and stylish cape. I imagine myself moving from one scenario to the next, tirelessly handling all that comes my way.
But in reality, sometimes I find myself drained, physically and emotionally. I feel bogged down with all that needs be done. My perception is distorted and I become overwhelmed by the smallest of things. In those moments, questions begin to form in my mind. Ridiculous notions that, deep down, I realize aren’t true, but in my moment of weakness, I entertain them anyway. My emotions run wild through fields of imagination and if I allow myself to stay in that place, they convince me of inconceivable twists and turns in the plot of my life.
Oh to be superhuman, to never have the moments of melancholy that can overcome us if we let them! Surely there must be some way we can move beyond the overwhelming grip of our emotions without becoming so unfeeling we resemble the latest robotic character from a Star Trek episode. I mean, Superman would never have an emotional breakdown, would he?
In fact, the heroes that intrigue us (the top 3 domestic grossing films from 2012-2013 are The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises and Iron Man 3) are often plagued by the same doubts, fears and emotional turmoil we encounter in every day life. So how do they handle it? How do they deal with the overwhelming stress that being hunted day in and day out by the newest, most ruthless villains ever conceived without curling up into the fetal position and sucking their super thumbs?
One way is through accountability. Inevitably, some well meaning relative or loved one comes through at just the right moment with a valuable piece of wisdom. When down in the dumps, ready to hang up their tights, the superhero is often reminded by the meekest around them of the unspoken responsibility that comes from the gift of power they’ve been given. We’ve all got a similar responsibility to make a difference, however possible, in the lives of those we meet each day. We need to surround ourselves with people who can nudge us forward or who will reach in to pull us from the murky depths of despair when needed. After all, Batman had his Alfred.
Another necessity is rest and introspection. We need to take a moment to reflect on where we’ve been and to dream about where we’re headed. We need to learn from the past but not let it dictate our future. We need to plan for the wondrous possibilities tomorrow holds and then we need to rest so that we are ready when the moment comes that we need to spring into action. Even Superman had his Fortress of Solitude. He went there to clear his head and to gain perspective through the wisdom of the past. Anyone who thinks they can skip this step is on dangerous ground. Rest and reflection are fundamental building blocks of success. Besides, God rested on the seventh day and in so doing, He reflected on all His creation. If the Creator of all sees fit to take a break from time to time, then we should follow that pattern too!
There is one other thing that I believe is essential when dealing with the stresses of life. It is probably the simplest to do but requires a great deal of motivation. It’s changing the status quo. Change your state of mind. Decide to do something, then do it. We are forever making plans that never come to pass. Great plans that could benefit a world in need but, for lack of motivation or the determination necessary to see it through, they stay ideas unborn. For the fear of what failure could bring, we sit back and wait for the right moment, not realizing that the moment is often upon us. It’s waiting for us to get up and knock on the door or to seek and find the answers that might solve the problems plaguing our society. We need to put into action the faith we claim to hold dear. Only then will we see past our present situation and catch a glimpse of what’s to come. And that scenery change is often the catalyst to greatness.
You can’t do it alone. You will need people around you who challenge you. All of these things together can help us to achieve more than we ever dreamed possible, but it takes a humble spirit, a willingness to sacrifice and love for those around us. Only love can overcome the fear that leads to apathy. Love is the difference maker. Love is our super power. Through the lens of love you can accomplish the inconceivable. You can be a superhero to one in need. Choose to love, there is no greater power in the universe!
|Posted on November 7, 2013 at 12:25 AM||comments (0)|
In just 5 days my first born turns 15 years old. Though the thought is bittersweet (she will always be my little girl), I don’t feel sadness or disbelief that the years have gone by so quickly. My lack of remorse led me to question whether I had a heart that was, like the Grinch, three sizes too small. Don’t get me wrong, I have those moments where I wonder what has happened to the time. Moments when I think just yesterday she was so small and helpless and now she has become a young lady.
That’s when I begin to think back about the times that have passed. I remember all the adventures we’ve shared together. I think of the family trips, church outings, the times we’ve sat and talked, the dreams she has shared with me… so many memories, moments I cherish. I am so proud of the young woman she has become. I know the time I have spent with has played a key part in her growth to this point. All the time spent investing in her young life has brought me to one conclusion: sadness comes when we wish we’d done more.
We want more time. One more chance with that loved one to do all the things we regret not doing. I am so thankful for the time I’ve had to spend with each of my daughters. Though I’d love to do more, I have done all I can to make the most of the time we have had. I realize tomorrow isn’t promised and I want to leave this life certain that they know I love them. I know they will be okay. I am confident that if something were to happen to me tomorrow, a positive pattern has been established in them that will last throughout their lives.
I think we overlook the value of the moment. We undervalue ourselves. We try to wow our kids with presents, parties and trips because we don’t think we have anything to offer them, like we are a plain brown wrapper that’s needs to be dressed up. What they really want is our time. Like when you give a child a gift for Christmas only to discover they are just as satisfied with the box, our children are just as happy spending time with us here at home as they are at an amusement park or on a fancy trip. We are the box that holds the time they so desperately need, the trips are just the packaging.
Take the time to invest in those you love today. It works with kids and adults alike. Quantity doesn’t matter. Quality is what makes the difference. In the end, it’s about what you did with the moments you had together. No length of time or pricy packaging can take your place in the lives of your loved ones. Play a game together, eat a meal together, go for a walk together, talk together, BE TOGETHER! It’s more important than all the possessions this world has to offer. The most valuable thing you can give is your time.
|Posted on November 7, 2013 at 12:20 AM||comments (0)|
Seeing the empty houses In Plaquemines Parish, LA this past brought a little sadness to my heart. Not because I felt the work we did in relief of Hurricane Isaac was in vain, but because of the lives those homes represent. Driving through one of the subdivisions we served in was like driving through a ghost town. Homes were overgrown with weeds. Yards were so tall, they weren’t mowable. Homes sat empty, shells of their former glory. Empty shells, broken dreams.
I wondered about the people I had met, some who had never experienced such loss and others who had just recovered from the wrath of Katrina, only to lose everything to the devastation of Isaac. Their grief was palpable. The emotion overwhelming. The lack of hope, unimaginable. They wanted answers. It impacted all, regardless of race, creed, religious belief and social standing. In the midst of the grief, some clung loosely to their faith while others blamed everyone from God to the government for their situation.
I have served in the wake of numerous natural disasters and in each instance I have met similar people. Each seeking answers, clinging desperately to what little hope a few recovered personal items could muster. In all the other instances, I had never come across a place where hope could not rebuild the homes the storms had taken. When I saw these formerly beautiful homes, empty, overgrown, missing the very essence that makes a house a home, I began to cry. You see those building represented the lives of the families who had occupied them for a time. In that moment, it dawned on me that the stick and stone might make a structure but it’s the family that makes the house a home.
I began to think of the people we pass each day who, like those homes, are empty. They go through the motions, dissatisfied with their existence, devoid of hope. They struggle to see their value and question why they were even born. They long to feel connected to something greater. That they have a place in this world and people who need them. In the midst of their despair, we pass them by, unintentionally adding to their hopeless state.
Empty houses, empty lives. Those homes brought images to my mind of the hurting and lost. Those without hope, those with no where to turn and no one to turn too. In that moment, I wanted answers. I wondered where those people had gone too? Had they simply moved to another part of town or had they moved to another city, another state. Had they recovered emotionally and spiritually from the grief they had encountered? I realize that I’ll probably never know the answers to those questions. However, I can be certain there are people in my own community in whose lives I can make a lasting impact.
You don’t have to look very hard. People need what you have to give. It might be finances or a meal. You might have the ability to repair a car or fix a damaged roof in the home of someone who hasn’t got the means. You might not have the financial ability to do those things, that doesn’t mean you have nothing to give! For those in need, those with no hope, you can give something more valuable than money. You can give love to those in need and in that simple act, you begin to rebuild the hope they thought had been lost forever. You have the power to change a life regardless of your bank account. You can give yourself. Your time is a valuable commodity, make an investment in someone who needs hope.
Imagine a world where we all looked for opportunities to foster hope by giving to people out of love. A wonderful place where the empty among us find a new source of strength. Your act might restore that one life, renewing their faith. I can’t think of anything greater than to give such a simple gift. Give love to rebuild hope and restore faith. You have more to offer than you realize and though it might cost you, you’ll receive so much more than you gave.
|Posted on October 3, 2013 at 1:55 PM||comments (0)|
When I was a boy, I remember waking up at night with the most unbearable pain in my legs, especially in the knee area. I would cry and had a difficult time falling back to sleep. My mom would come into the room and rub my knee until I finally dosed back off and as she would sooth me I remember her saying, “It’ll be alright, it’s just growing pains.”
Well over the years, I have grown in a number of ways. From physical to emotional to spiritual, I have come to one conclusion, whenever there is growth, there is pain. It’s not always overwhelming, unbearable pain that wakes us in the middle of the night. Sometimes it’s a dull ache. Regardless, growth is accompanied with pain.
The problem is we as human beings do everything within our power to avoid pain. The slightest discomfort sends most people seeking an easy fix. Stop by your local pharmacy and look at the number of over the counter medications designed to give temporary relief to our pain. What happens when the numbness wears off? We realize the pain was there all along, we’ve just been masking the symptoms. The only way to truly overcome the pain is to attack the problem.
So why don’t we want to do what’s necessary to strengthen ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually? Because to do so means we have to take a hard look at ourselves and ask some tough questions. Those questions hurt. It’s easier to lie to ourselves and to others but the problem with that is we are only fooling ourselves. It’s far better to deal with the hurt directly and find whatever is necessary to come to a place of healing. True healing doesn’t come from a pill. It comes from answering hard questions and, many times, making changes to ourselves that in the beginning seem harder than the pain that lead to us making the change. In the long run, it’s worth it to “beat ourselves into submission.”
Pain is not a bad thing. Whether emotional or physical, it’s intention is to let us know something is wrong. The hardest part is acknowledging that there is something in ourselves that needs to change. We would rather lie to ourselves than deal with our issues. It’s easier to blame others than to accept responsibility for our situation. Pain is the first clue. When we feel it, we should recognize it as a warning that something needs to be done. We can’t cover up the pain and just hope it goes away. Physical pain requires time to heal and often physical exertion to strengthen the affected area. Emotional or mental pain is much the same. We’d rather hide from reality than face facts. In the end, we either change or we drown in our hurt.
Examine yourself and be honest. Are there things you need to change but haven’t because it’s too hard to face the truth? Over the past week, I have been asking people to share with me the three things they like most and the three things they like least about me. It’s a hard thing to do. Some of the responses sting, but I want to grow in a healthy way, physically, emotionally and spiritually. In order to grow, I have to be willing to look deep within myself and face my weaknesses. I have to strengthen those areas to continue growing or something I thought was no big deal could stunt my growth entirely. Sometimes we just need to shine the light on areas where we are weak in order to find strength. At other times, we need to surround ourselves with people who can help us be accountable (not to them, to ourselves).
Yes, growth is painful, but it is necessary to become what we are meant to be. There are people who need you, who need me, to be the best we possibly can and the only way we can do that is by paying the price required. We must count the cost. A wise man once said, “I will give nothing that costs me nothing.” What price are you willing to pay? Will you choose comfort or will you choose to make the necessary changes so you can reach your potential? You have so much value so don’t sell yourself short. In spite of the pain, do whatever it takes to become the person you were destined to be but don’t be surprised when you discover that things you’ve held on to for years may be the very things you need to set aside in order to go to the next level!
|Posted on September 25, 2013 at 9:05 PM||comments (0)|
Dreams, we all have them. From childhood on we dream of seeing faraway places, doing incredible things with our lives and making a difference in this world. Each individual’s dreams are different. Some dream of being dentists while others dream of being pop stars. When we are young, dreams come so easy, because we haven’t become jaded by the cruelness of the world. We shared them with our friends. We drew pictures of ourselves achieving our dreams.
I remember mowing the yard at my house while listening to the race on the radio. I pretended to be there racing with Dale Earnhardt, Bill Elliott, Davey Allison and others. I would lie on the floor, tossing a ball in the air, imagining that I was about to score a touchdown in the biggest game of my life. My personal favorite, dancing around the dining room while no one was watching, lip-syncing to my stepfather’s 8-tracks and records. I was a star! I performed for the trees outside my window and imagined that the wind blowing through the leaves was thunderous applause.
I would have been mortified if anyone had caught me but there were times growing up that the dream world far surpassed the real one. I would find myself there often and I wish, sometimes, I could go back there again with the same ease I did in my youth. What a ridiculous thought, right?
Earlier this week I heard someone say that when they were younger they had dreams of a different life, something better. From the defeated tone of the speaker, you could tell that they had set aside their dreams and decided there was no point in pursuing them any longer. At what point do dreams become impractical? When do we set aside the dream and settle for the status quo?
Why do dreams have to die? We mournfully regret the things we never reached when maybe they are still on the horizon. Maybe we weren’t ready for them yet. I’ve noticed that, as I have gotten older, my dreams have matured (maybe faster than I have). Though I would love to race in NASCAR or catch that Super Bowl winning pass, those dreams have been replaced by far loftier goals and ambitions. I still dare to dream!
It’s my dreams that give me hope for a future where I have had a far reaching affect on the world around me. I dream big! I spend moments thinking about what it will be like when I reach my dreams! The difference now is the direction of those dreams. They include family, friends and most of all, my faith! I keep pushing forward, running the race, always expecting the goal to be around the next corner. When it’s not, I trust God to lead me to the finish. My dreams are bigger than I am!
Don’t let fear stop you from dreaming. Dare to dream! Regardless of your age, you have a value greater than you know. So take a moment and dream again! Allow yourself to get swept up in the wonder of that place where you are making an impact beyond anything you ever imagined. I saw a quote recently that said something like, “If your dreams don’t scare you, then they aren’t big enough.” Our dreams should be challenging, but don’t let fear of failure stop you from trusting God and chasing your dreams.
So go, paint a picture, write a book, run a race. Most importantly, believe that you can achieve those things you dream about. With God, all things are possible and age isn’t that big of a deal in His economy. Ready, set, go... Chase your dreams!
|Posted on September 19, 2013 at 12:50 AM||comments (0)|
I have been watching a lot of football this week. Hold on, before you say I have a problem, understand that I was there in support of students who were playing in the games or in the band. And of course there is research that needs to be done for the church Fantasy Football League! It’s a sacrifice that, fortunately, I enjoy! Through all the games I’ve seen this week, one common factor rings true: Matchups are the key.
From Middle School to the Pros, matchups are the key to a successful outcome. The team that matches up the best wins most of the time. Of course, the heart of the players has a lot to do with the outcome and can increase the chance of victory, but most of the time the team that looks strongest on paper is going to win. Upsets can happen, but typically, upsets are the result of preparation and an ability to match your team’s strengths against the weakness of your opponent, exploiting that weakness to defeat the favorite.
One of my favorite Bible accounts is the story of David and Goliath. David was definitely looked at as the underdog. It was assumed he would lose and lose badly. But his strengths outweighed the giant’s weaknesses. The giant was arrogant and assumed the victory before the fight ever began. He didn’t consider a sling and some stones to be a threat for someone of his stature and skill. David believed that he could win and he believed that God was on his side. He recognized the giants arrogance and knew that he wouldn’t see him as a threat.
So David called an audible. There is a new commercial featuring Jon Gruden that shows him sitting at a table watching football with friends and each time they ask him why he changed the plans they had settled on, he says, “I called and audible.” When asked why he always called audibles, he simply taps his Super Bowl ring on the table and everyone nods.
Audibles are all about the matchup. The quarterback steps to the line, sees that there is a weakness or that they are about to have a loss and he changes the play to a more favorable matchup. Something that will work according to the situation the team is facing at the moment. Peyton Manning is well known for his ability to read the defense and check down to a more favorable matchup. It’s funny to watch sometimes because he’s so animated (with the sound off sometimes he looks like a chicken strutting behind the line, just saying…) but he’s animated because he sees a potential gain if the team matches up well against what the defense has presented.
It’s the same across the world of sports. I used to coach 5th and 6th grade boys basketball. As the coach, it was my job to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the players I was given. Then, knowing each player, it was my responsibility to match them up against our opponent in a way that presented the best opportunity for our team to win, but also, for them to be successful. You see, a little bit a confidence goes a long way in the matchup.
David had confidence in his abilities before he ever approached the giant. He had killed a lion and a bear. He also had a belief in God that was strong. It was that intangible that the giant didn’t see coming. Even the smallest player on the field can take down the biggest guy if he’s determined. He just has to get low and chop those feet. Giants will fall. You just have to know how to hit them!
We all have moments where we feel outmatched. We feel like the odds are against us and we might as well throw up our hands and give up. It could just be a question of position. Maybe you’re somewhere you shouldn’t be trying to do something you shouldn’t do. The fact is, most centers play center for a reason. They aren’t very fast and they can’t throw the ball well, but they can block. The best offensive lineman aren’t upset that they don’t get to take the ball into the end zone because they realize that without the key blocks they throw, there wouldn’t be any scoring! They’ve accepted their position because it matches their skills and without those lineman the quarterback and running backs don’t have much hope.
It’s the same in our daily lives. Matchups are the key. Find your spot and then play it with everything you have. Don’t hold anything back! Get low and drive those feet! When things matchup right, it’s undeniable! And if you’re the coach (leader, boss, etc.), make sure you’re giving those you lead the best possible opportunity for success. Encourage them, stretch them and find the matchup that puts your team in the best position for a win!
|Posted on September 11, 2013 at 10:05 PM||comments (0)|
When I was a kid (some of you might say I still act like it), my mom wouldn’t let me watch one of my favorite cartoons, Underdog, for fear that I would climb up on the roof and try to fly. When I think back on it, it was really kind of ridiculous because she never said no to Wil E. Coyote for fear that I’d start making extravagant purchases from ACME products or said Bugs Bunny is out when he repeatedly put his fingers in the barrel of a loaded gun only to have it explode in the face of Elmer Fudd or Yosemite Sam. No, apparently they weren’t nearly as dangerous as a mild mannered beagle who had a penchant for finding dangerous villains like Riff Raff and Simon Bar Sinister meddling with the good folks of Capital City.
When he wasn’t busy fighting crime or saving his girlfriend Polly Purebread from eminent danger, he took on the persona of humble and loveable Shoeshine Boy. A rather lowly existence for such a hero! But when you think about it, it’s often the humble God uses to make an enormous impact.
Each of us at some point has wanted to be the hero, to swoop in and save the day for someone. We long for superhuman abilities like flight, laser vision or unbreakable bones. We have television shows dedicated to the pursuit of finding real people with super abilities. The top television shows and movies typically include some guy or girl running around in a pair of tights wearing their underwear on the outside as he or she saves the world from impending doom!
We are obsessed with heroism but we rarely see it in ourselves. True heroism is found in the everyday acts of ordinary individuals as we do our part to make this world a better place. It isn’t always flashy though sometimes you find yourself in the spotlight. Most often, it is done without recognition or reward. Heroics happen often without the knowledge of others because it’s the right thing to do. There’s no front page story. It’s neighbor helping neighbor. We don’t need a cape and sequined shoes to save the world for those around us (they really aren’t all that comfortable anyway).
Suits might make you look cool (though I think most people would just think you’ve lost your mind), but they aren’t necessary to make a difference in the life of a child. You don’t need superpowers to impact a neighbor in need. And as cool as it would be to own the Batmobile, it wouldn’t be all that effective in a real disaster. All that’s needed are eyes that are open to the opportunities to love those around us without condemnation or judgment.
True heroism is selfless. It’s giving without ulterior motivation. It’s sacrificing for those who need something as simple as a hand to get back on their feet after they’ve fallen. It’s been said, “No greater gift is there than this: that a man be willing to lay down his life for his friends.” It’s more than being willing to die for those we love. It’s being willing to set aside our own desires to touch the life of those around us who are in need.
In the movie Robin Hood, Kevin Costner made a statement that has stuck with me since the first time I saw it. He said, “I’ve seen knights in armor panic at the first hint of battle. And I’ve seen the lowliest, unarmed squire pull a spear from his own body to defend a dying horse. Nobility is not a birthright, it’s defined by ones actions.” Being a hero isn’t dependent on some super power or mutation caused by the bite of a radioactive spider, it’s a choice. A choice we can make each and every day when we choose to see past ourselves and look to the needs of others.
In honor of those who sacrificed their lives to help those who couldn’t help themselves on September 11, 2001.
|Posted on August 28, 2013 at 10:55 PM||comments (0)|
Last Friday, I had the honor of golfing with my friend Keith Froehling in the Children’s Miracle Network Golf Scramble in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. It was a 4 man scramble, and as I haven’t golfed in a year (regularly in about 6 years) I was a little apprehensive. I grabbed the clubs out of the shed, cleaned off the cobwebs and loaded them in the van, not sure what to expect. I had never met the other two guys that made up our 4 man team so I was a little worried about how the day would turn out.
I’ve had those days where you get placed in a situation where you feel completely uncomfortable and you smile (falsely) waiting for the day to come to an end. I’ve golfed with some guys who take the game real serious and some guys who should just put their clubs in the next church yard sale (I’m closer to the second group than the first) so I was relieved when, upon meeting our team mates, none of us had the intentions of taking home the trophy. We were there to support our friend and the cause.
As we all addressed the ball at the first tee (hole #10, it was a big scramble), I’m certain the team behind us shook their heads, maybe in frustration but mostly to avoid laughing out loud, as each of us took our individual turns shanking the ball into the woods, rough and anything other than the fairway. I took a deep breath and thought, This is gonna be a long day…, and it was, but it was more than that. I learned a great deal about life and myself during those 18 holes of self-induced hilarity.
#1 – Never lay down on the tee box or the green because people will assume you are having a medical emergency. All I wanted to do was take a few good action shots, gheesh!
#2 – No matter how loud you yell “FORE!” the guy watering the greens can’t hear you when he’s wearing headphones and hooking up hoses.
#3 – No matter how bad the golfer, we all try to act like Tiger Woods when there is a crowd of people watching or a free driver to be awarded for the longest drive. At least we made a lot of people laugh!
The fact of the matter is, none of us were professionals and I know that the only pressure we had was the pressure I put on myself. Whether it was to impress my team by showing them how good (LOL) of a golfer I was or to impress the people who were watching the various holes or to impress myself, I had a lot more fun and a much better time when I stopped trying so hard and I just hit the ball. It didn’t matter where it landed, we were there as a team and one of us would help the others make it to the green.
We managed to accumulate the highest score by 11 strokes last Friday. Jerry Rice would be proud, 80! But you know what, we all had a blast. How is that possible? We are playing one of the most frustrating games man ever invented and we are failing miserably. I’ve never laughed more on a golf course or enjoyed a round of golf more than I did with the 3 guys I played with, my 3 friends.
So Eric, Charlie, Keith – here are some of the real life lessons I learned this past Friday:
#1 – Golf and life are about avoiding the hazards and traps along the way to the goals we set and surrounding yourself with a team to help you get there. Whether you’re talking about work, marriage, raising kids or your walk with God, the traps are easier to avoid when you’ve surrounded yourself with good people.
#2 – In most cases, the only pressure you feel is self-imposed. On the golf course and in life, we tend to over estimate what we can accomplish and place ourselves in stressful situations that we could easily avoid if we’d just use the tools we have around us. My Father-in-Law always tells me to let the club do the work and you know what, he’s right. When I relaxed and just swung the club, I made better contact and got a far better result than when I try to accomplish more on my own than I am capable of. The same is true for life. God gives us tools and yet we think we can come up with a better plan. If we’d just use what He’s given us, things would go much more smoothly and we’d avoid a lot of those pressures we face daily.
#3 – This may be the most important. Make the most of every opportunity. Not only did I make two new friends, but I got to meet a lot of great people from the companies that were there sponsoring the event. We didn’t win the tournament, but I think we did the things that position us to win in the long run.
Golf, it’s a wonderful game. It’s humbling, yet every once and a while, you make good contact with the ball and you get a glimpse of what you can do with a little effort. It’s those moments that push you through all the sand shots, water hazards and lost balls in the woods. It’s kinda like life, we get a glimpse of what could be, and it drives us to do more than we ever thought we could accomplish. God gives us those moments so that we can see ourselves as He sees us. It’s up to us to make the most of the situation. Step up to the tee and take a swing. That next shot might just be a hole in one! “FORE!”
|Posted on August 21, 2013 at 6:00 PM||comments (0)|
I remember a time not so long ago, when my daughters needed me for everything. I would hear their calls of “Daddy!” morning, noon and night. They depended on me to feed them when they were hungry, to clean them when they needed it and to keep them safe from harm. When they were afraid, they would come running, sometimes in tears, and jump into my arms. I was their bug killer and noise detective. I cleaned their cuts and scrapes and comforted them while they were sick. They were certain that there was nothing I could not do. I had purpose.
I knew what my role was when my girls were young. It was second nature. Protect and nurture them. As they’ve grown, my role keeps changing. It becomes harder to know what to do, what to say. Sometimes I make them cry and I don’t know what I’ve done. Their emotions are unpredictable, explosive! They act goofy one moment, the next sad. It can be very confusing. It definitely doesn’t make sense.
I heard a comedian talk about the affects of drugs. Drugs can make you irrational. Under the influence of drugs, people laugh when they’re sad and cry when they’re happy… I totally get it! Now I know, hormones are to blame with my girl’s occasionally irrational behavior. I get that, I’m just saying. I know that they are going through changes physically and emotionally. I wish they gave you a manual for dealing with adolescence when you register your kids for middle school.
I knew the answers when they were little because the problems were typically simple. Baby needs a diaper change, change it. When a 5 year old is hungry, feed them. When a 13 year old is crying and looks at you saying, “I don’t know what’s wrong! I just feel like crying!” it can make you tremble with fear. I’m a man after all and I generally know why I’m crying. It’s a scary place, the mind of a teenage girl and I’m glad I’ve never been there.
As my girls grow older it doesn’t mean that they need me less. If anything, they need me more. The answers aren’t always easy. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense. It’s definitely more work emotionally. I can’t fix everything and I have to be okay with that. I have to let them cry. Sometimes I cry with them. And you know what, in a strange way, it helps. I’ve discovered that sometimes just being there is as important as providing a meal or a new pair of shoes. I still have purpose in their lives even though I don’t always know what to do or say. And even though I don’t always understand them, goofy or sad, I know my role as a dad isn’t going to get any easier. In fact, it’s probably going to get way more confusing with boyfriends just around the corner.
|Posted on August 14, 2013 at 5:40 PM||comments (0)|
Any minute now the sense of order that I am currently enjoying will be disturbed. In the distance, I hear the sound of a vehicle, a large vehicle, pulling away from a stop. Occasionally, the sound is accompanied by the joyful chatter of young people busily expounding upon their day.
“Did you hear about what happened at lunch?”
“Did you see what she was wearing?”
“I think he likes me?”
The voices grow steadily louder and a slight apprehension fills the air. It’s uneasy, a disturbance in the force if you will. The sound of the door handle jiggling is accompanied by an explosion of high-pitched, excessively barking that can only mean one thing, the girls are home from school!
Sometimes it feels like a scene straight out of Hitchcock. The door bursts open and the commotion of real life begins. They seemed to get along fine on the other side of the door but as soon as they cross the threshold, something changes. Having 2 young ladies in the house on similar schedules needing to use the same items at what seems to always be the same time is terrifying! When their mom is added to the mix, I have no hope!
Occasionally, I consider installing a small air conditioner in the shed or living in my van in the driveway but I’ve come to this conclusion, they need me. Tweenager and teenager, both incredibly smart and attractive (they have good genes); though sometimes they think they know it all, they still need me.
I hate to imagine what life would be like in the Swager household if I weren’t there to occasionally bring some order to the chaos. I’ve spoken with both children on numerous instances, trying to help them see what a blessing their sister is, usually to little or no avail, but I try! I’ve cried, gotten angry… gotten angry, laughed then cried. I’ve pulled my hair out (proverbially and physically, explains the slight bald spot) and, according to my wife, I’ve even developed a few gray hairs. No matter what I do, with the exception of buying them each a separate home on opposite sides of the street, which isn’t a bad idea now that I think of it, they are going to find some reason to irritate each other. Even if they lived in separate homes, I’m pretty sure they’d still fight over the bathroom.
As much as I dislike admitting it, I can’t stop them from irritating each other. I can’t make them be nice to each other. I know they love each other, I do, but sometimes, I wonder! I’ve accepted the fact that occasionally, they will drive me to the brink of insanity with their constant bickering. I understand that, from time to time, they will compete for our approval, driving me a little nearer the edge. I appreciate the frustration they feel towards each other when one helps themselves to the others belongings, but is it worth fighting about. I have even come to grips with the fact that my peaceful home will be disrupted by the sounds of sister throwing a hair brush at sister on occasion.
There are times as a dad that my job is more like that of a referee than of a father but I’ve come to the realization that sometimes, I have to let them fight it out. Now I don’t mean coming to blows and if they ever did my money is on the little one because I think she would fight dirty, what I mean is I have to let them work it out on their own. If they can’t learn how to deal with conflict and move on, they’ll avoid it entirely and that is far more destructive.
So here I sit, whistle in hand, ready to ding the bell for the start of Round 3 wish I could just ding them on the head instead. But what will that give them besides a headache? My job is to teach them to come to a peaceful resolution. To show them how to have a disagreement without destroying a relationship and to stress the need for addressing situation, not just ignoring things hoping it will go away. After all, every so often, I leave them at the house and I’d like to be confident in knowing that there will still be a house when I return! And while I daydream about a time when they will walk hand in hand whistling zippity-do-dah, I realize that it’s closer to Wil E. and the Roadrunner. I just hope we can keep the ACME Products Company out of the mix!
Oh boy, that didn’t sound good. Looks like Round 3 started before the bell. Where’s that whistle, “Wwwwhhhhhttttt!”