|Posted on February 22, 2014 at 12:40 AM||comments (0)|
Sometimes I think my children are intentionally trying to drive me crazy. I mean it! Some of the things they do lack reason... there is little logic in their thinking! They remember movie plots, song lyrics and the books they read but they can’t remember to do their chores. And regardless of the school test results, I think they may be hard of hearing.
Unless it’s something they want to hear. It amazes me the minute details they recall from trivial conversations and yet, they can’t remember what you asked them to do an hour ago. Let someone reveal an embarrassing story from mom or dad’s past and it’s sure to be remembered forever the first time they hear it. Tell them to put their shoes away while standing right next to them 3 times in 30 minutes and chances are they won’t remember if they hear you at all.
Sometimes I think it would be easier if there were cameras everywhere recording every moment of our interaction. If something is forgotten, simply go back to that moment and retrieve the information. Sure, it would be awkward at first but not nearly as awkward as repeating everything you ask them to do 52 times and still they forget.
I remember when I was a child. It seems like yesterday (don’t even say it). I know how easy it is to get distracted and I had my share of forgetful moments. I would sit down to watch a few minutes of TV and before I knew it, my parents were pulling into the neighborhood and I hadn’t done anything I was supposed to do before they got home. There I was, setting world records and personal best times in events like synchronized sweeping and dusting or the dirty clothes stuff. I could clean house in 30 minutes flat, quicker if I was under pressure of losing some privilege I enjoyed.
No matter how good I got at the speed clean, I always ended up forgetting something and it apparently was the one thing that really mattered because none of the other things I had done were mentioned. Only what I had forgotten or didn’t hear that I was to do. If they had only told me that switching the clothes around was more important than straightening the living room, sweeping, dusting and dishes, I’d have done that and left the other stuff for another time.
I guess my kids come by it naturally. My wife would probably tell you that I still tend to forget things on occasion, but, in my defense, she does tend to ask when I’m half asleep. Bottom line, you just have to accept that you’re gonna be doing some repeating in this life and that’s okay. Yes, it’s irritating and can make your right eye start twitching ever so slightly, but think back to all the things that had to be repeated before you got the message. It’s part of the human condition and it always will be.
I know that, in my life, I’m thankful for those who have had the patience to repeat themselves to me. I wouldn’t be who I am today without their investment. I’m also thankful for a loving Savior who, though He’s already told me all I need to know, will take me aside and lovingly repeat himself until I get it. He’s had to repeat Himself a lot.
You know, He’s probably laughing when I look at my kids and say things like, “I told you that already! Don’t you ever listen?” or “We’ve been over this a hundred times! Pay attention!” Remember that the next time you’re ready to pull out your hair because your kids are getting on your last nerve. Somewhere in your past, someone repeated themselves over and over again before you got it. Listen to yourself from time to time and ask yourself, “Does this need repeating?” Sometimes it’s what we repeat that’s the problem. I’m thankful all those people who have repeatedly told me they love me and those who have prayed for me time and time again. It’s taken some time, but I’m getting it! Thanks!
|Posted on February 18, 2014 at 9:40 AM||comments (0)|
Ever feel burnt out? Like the torch at the end of an episode of Survivor, your flame has been snuffed. Only, you don’t get to leave the island. The game isn’t over and you don’t feel like going on, but you have no choice.
If only life were like a game. You play until your flame goes out then you go and relax until the game starts up again. Real life doesn’t work like that though. Often times you simply need to push through, but how can you when your flame is barely an ember? In those moments when we feel like everything is coming down around us and we can’t possibly go on, we often are a step away from a breakthrough.
We fight against so many things in life and, honestly, many of the battles aren’t ours to begin with. We take the weight of the world (not literally, but it can seem so heavy) and wonder why we never seem to achieve what we set out to accomplish. We spin our wheels because we can’t get the necessary traction. We spread ourselves so thin. We try to solve the problems of everyone we feel responsible for, all the while, forgetting to take responsibility for ourselves. In that moment, we loose our passion and drive. Our flame begins to diminish.
How great would it be to have the passion you once had before life began to wear away at you? No, it’s easier to not try than to experience the hurt of never realizing our passions. The stress of achievement might just be to great. Maybe you can’t take another disappointment. Besides, you have to many people counting on you to solve all their problems, they need you to be strong for them. Your passion will have to wait.
Did you know that one technique for fighting fires, especially forest fires, is to light smaller fires in the path of the oncoming blaze to consume the fuel the larger fire would need to continue. Through controlled burns, they create a firebreak to stop the fire or make it more manageable. In dire cases, they will use backfiring to consume entire areas in an attempt to redirect the flames. Dynamite can even be used to cause a massive loss of oxygen at the source of the burn in a hope to extinguish the fire.
Sounds like life to me. Often times when my passion is strong, it’s not failure that extinguishes my flame, but the wildfires I’m forced to deal with that take the energy and fuel that would have kept me burning. Many times things blow up that are beyond my control. Those explosions take resources that I had planned to use down the road. They eat up the tinder that would have kept my fire burning.
It’s not the fault of the fires. How ridiculous would it be for me to get mad at the flames, and what good would it do? You have to know what needs your immediate attention in the moment, deal with it and then move on to the next, all the while remembering that your flame is your responsibility and you need to protect it. Do all you can to keep an ember burning. Sometimes, you’ll have to let someone else handle all those other fires. They might have been set to distract you from the things that need your attention most.
Instead, we often try to fight all fires, ours and those of others in an attempt to protect those we love. We take on their stress and add it to our own. Eventually, we buckle under the strain. We try to deal with everyone's adversity but often find ourselves personally crumbling because we haven’t done what was necessary in our own lives. We haven’t tended our own flame so we burnout. The adversity that was meant to make us stronger destroys us because our fuel was burnt up before we ever began the fight.
Parents, we can be guilty of this in the lives of our kids. We want to save them from a lesson we learned. We put so much effort into protecting them from adversity, we forget what the trial did for us. We fight their fires for them but our job is to teach them to fight on their own.
Adversity isn’t bad. Adversity helps us grow. When our faith is tested and we stand firm, perseverance is our reward. When we see that we can make it when all hope seemed lost, our faith becomes even stronger. When we tend to our faith, we keep life in our flame! What a great lesson to teach our kids and what a wonderful gift to show the world!
When all seems to be falling down around you and you’ve done all you can do, stand firm! Finish your race! Not my words, but Paul knew what life could do to those without faith. He understood the necessity of passion to drive us when the fight was raging. It was true then and it’s true today. Hold onto your faith and tend to your flame.
|Posted on February 6, 2014 at 10:35 PM||comments (0)|
As the Olympics begin, in all the pomp and circumstance from the Opening Ceremonies until the last medal is awarded, dreams will be realized and records broken. If you were to ask most athletes in the games, you would hear stories of heartbreak and sacrifice, dedication and discipline sure to inspire admiration and a good many tears. Each has overcome their own obstacles en route to achieving their Olympic dreams.
With an impressive field of over 3000 competitors representing 88 countries (both Winter Olympics records), this year’s Olympiad looks to be one of the most competitive in history. With a reported total of 98 gold medals up for grabs, that means the athletes have an approximate 3% chance of winning their individual event. For most of the athletes though, it is something far greater than a chance to win a medal. Many compete without any preconceived notion of a medal in their event. They represent their nation, their people, something greater than themselves.
What do you represent? When you think about it, we can represent many things we through our lives, some beneficial and some not so much. Selflessness is one of the more difficult things we try to do as human beings. It’s far easier to represent our own self-interest than that of the hurting and the lost. Yet, we see examples daily where people have risen above self with pure motivation to reach out and lend a hand to those in need.
It’s like the athlete representing the country who isn’t given a chance of placing but still they compete because of all those people back home who take so much pride in knowing, though they can’t be there themselves, their flag will be raised. What motivates that individual to stand on the world’s stage against overwhelming odds? The possibility of what might be. Today could be the day they take home the gold. So they awake each day to train and push themselves knowing that every day is a new chance to take home the prize.
Whether they take home a medal, knowing what they have represented in the effort is often much more valuable. I think if we all found more value in the effort, many more of us would reach the goals we set out to achieve. We focus on the prize when really, the reward is often the journey. If we start each day looking for a chance to make a difference, to represent something more than just what’s good for ourselves, we might find the gold we seek each day.
|Posted on January 28, 2014 at 12:25 AM||comments (0)|
On a flight this week from Atlanta, Georgia to Norfolk, Virginia, I enjoyed the window seat. The plane arrived late so we were delayed and due to a gate change, even after we boarded, we sat at the terminal for about 30 minutes while the baggage was loaded. The delays allowed for our flight to depart at dusk and as we ascended, I was amazed at the thousands of lights visible from the plane. Even after we reached our cruising altitude of 30,000 feet, the lights could be seen when there was a break in the cloud cover.
As I sat looking out the window, I began to think about each light and the people who depended on the them to illuminate the night. I wondered how many of them were happy and how many were sad. I thought about those who’s lives were in turmoil in that moment as I passed by, high overhead, oblivious to their circumstance.
As the Delta flight made it’s way along the eastern seaboard, we soared past families being torn apart by divorce and parents grieving the death of a child. I thought of people battling addictions and depression, unemployment and financial ruin, even preteens and teenagers struggling with self-esteem, some of them being bullied, some doing the bullying.
As disheartening as that may seem, I couldn’t help but feel hope as I looked at all the lights. Some were dim, others were bright, but each one was breaking the monotonous darkness. It only takes a small amount of light to pierce the gloom, no matter how dark the night may seem.
Each one of us has it within to bring that hope to someone who is hurting. In the darkness of their storm, we can be that light to pierce the darkness. Unfortunately, we get so caught up with our own lives and our circumstances that we tend to soar right over those who need us when they desperately need what we have to give. We get tunnel vision. We walk right past them as though we were wearing blinders because we don’t have time or we don’t know where to begin.
Many of us want to help, but life is moving so fast, it’s like being on a flight at night. We can see the darkness (or the need) but we feel powerless to do anything to light it or even afraid we will do the wrong thing. We see others lighting the night but we feel inadequate and incapable, or unworthy.
Honestly, those we see as shining so brightly were once dim. They probably even had a time where they had a hard time thinking they had anything of value to offer. Chances are those you admire have struggled with or are struggling with the same things you struggle with. They are looking for an opportunity to share the hope they have with you so that their light can help pierce your darkness. In turn, you take that hope and share it with someone else.
You see, you don’t have to be perfect to make a difference in this world, you just have to be willing to try. It’s that effort that starts to bring a light of hope into the darkness of those we pass each day. That effort generates a spark that can illuminate the darkest of situations. We have to be intentional and slow down long enough to recognize the needs of those around us. Then, we need to offer what we can. For some, it will be a kind word and a smile of encouragement. Some might be able to be a blessing financially or with a needed item like food or a coat. Whatever you do unconditionally for those who are hurting or in need will return a greater investment than you might think.
Yes, it will cost you something. It might be your comfort or your desires, but whatever the cost, the reward is far greater. It comes down to a choice. You can soar past the hurting and pretend they don’t exist or that their lives don’t have any impact on your own...or you can choose to see the value in that person, slow down and take a moment to shine a little light in their darkness. Each time you step out of your comfort zone and take a chance, putting the needs of others before your own, your light will grow a little brighter and bolder.
|Posted on January 14, 2014 at 11:30 PM||comments (1)|
What an awesome word. It means to, “Decide firmly on a course of action.” From it, we get words like resolute and resolution. I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea behind the word resolve as the New Year has come.
With the New Year, people make plans to change their lives, presumably for the better. We see those areas that we don’t like and decide to change them, often without a plan or course of action to achieve what was set. We forget the true meaning of the word and, in essence, what it takes to change.
We must stand firm when it would be far easier to bend or give into the desires of our flesh. When the storms are raging, we must stand for something. In the words of the immortal country song, “You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything!”
Rather than setting a bunch of unreasonable expectations on the 1st of each year, I suggest you find what you believe in and stand firm. Do not waiver to the right or the left. Resolve to fight for the innocent, for those who have no voice. Decide to take up a standard and shine a light in the darkness. Decide today. Don’t wait for tomorrow or the first of the month. Resolve doesn’t require a date on a calendar, it requires a decided heart to carry through to the very end.
There will be opposition. When it comes, if you aren’t completely persuaded to stand, you will fall. People will attack your intelligence simply because they don’t agree with your position. Be resolute! Stand firm as the battle rages. I think of the scene from the movie Dances With Wolves where Kevin Costner’s character rides across a battle field while bullets fly past him on all sides. He mocked the opposing forces as he rode across their lines, not once, but twice. He had been wounded in battle but was determined to keep his leg, even if it might cost his life. His actions were rash and the consequences could have been dire, but he stood resolved to die with his boots on. His actions turned the tide of the fictitious battle and he kept his leg!
We need to be that bold! When the world comes against you and criticizes you, stand firm. Don’t bend to appease the masses. They are fickle and their opinion changes as often as the situations they find themselves in. The world needs people who aren’t afraid to stand apart. It needs people who can lead with resolve and conviction, with purpose and steadfastness of heart. It’s a scary place we find ourselves in when those who lead lack the ability to stand firm on a course of action.
One of the greatest things about this nation is the ability of the individual to be heard. Whether you agree with their opinion or not, they have a right to express it. Whether you agree with their position or not, you must honor the right the individual has to express their thoughts. My disagreeing with a person’s point of view or what an individual chooses to stand on doesn’t equate to hate. The different views coming together and finding a common interest, that’s what makes the country great.
About a month back, Christians united behind a man’s right to express his opinion. While many were respectful, some lacked the courage of their convictions. It never ceases to amaze me when I see the things that move the Christian ranks to action. We will stand upon the shoulders, or beards, of others, but rarely stand for the faith we claim to hold to. Though it does my heart good to see believers unite behind an idea, it saddens me to see the methods many use to show their faith.
When I look at Christ, He used a powerful weapon to breakdown the distrust of religion that had grown during His day. His love for the hurting, for the lonely and the lost, helped to rebuild a system that was in dire need of shaking. I wonder if we don’t find ourselves in a similar situation today. The Lord did not come for the healthy, He came for the sick and His message was one of love and forgiveness. His love established trust as He established a new system without letting go of the lessons of the old.
His love built a bridge that healed the broken hearted. His love inspired the hurting and the lost to change and see what could be if they would dare to believe. He didn’t hurl insults. He stood firmly upon His convictions. He lead with an uncommon resolve that guided a ragtag group of outcasts to follow in His footsteps and they carried on in His absence to change a world in need of that most effective tool any of us possess... Love.
So, considering all the arguments and disagreements raging in the world around us and within the church itself, I have come to a decision. I resolve to love. Not love as society would define it, but with the love that Christ Himself showed us. Through His example, we can change the world, if we will simply believe in the power love holds. With a pure love from a forgiven heart, not passing judgement on those around me, but seeking to see them through the eyes of Christ. I may disagree with you but that doesn’t mean you lack value. It means I have to look beyond the disagreement to see the potential within the heart and then offer the one thing that can mend the broken... Love.
“Love is patient and kind, not self seeking, not boastful, it doesn’t keep a record of wrong, it rejoices in the truth. Love never fails.” Think what a difference we could make if we loved the people around us like this, not just when they’re clean, but when they are dirty. Love never fails. You can gain the whole world, have everything your heart desires, people can follow you, but if you lack love, it means nothing. I resolve to love!
|Posted on December 11, 2013 at 12:15 AM||comments (0)|
As long as I can remember, I have loved to go and watch hockey live. Whether professional or minor league, I love the atmosphere of the arena. From the smell of the ice to the rowdy fans or the thrill of a great save to a short handed goal, the game appeals to me. I even enjoy the intermission between periods!
While most people can be found rushing to get a fresh beverage or snack, you can find me in my seat, watching the zamboni. It truly is mesmerizing, almost hypnotic, watching as this bulky machine methodically takes the dull, scratched surface and polishes it to a slick, glossy finish. It seems that no two arenas complete the process in the exact same manner. Whether one zamboni or two, I watch amazed by the performance.
As the machine leaves the ice, a shiny, fresh coat of ice replaces the scarred surface that was there only moments before. If you look closer, you can still see the deep scares that remain, just below the surface. You see, some of those gouges can’t be removed completely. They leave a mark, like a memory of the moment. Like you and I, the new coat of ice hides scars of past mistakes and poor decisions, moments where the pressure we were under cut a little too deeply.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could resurface ourselves to cover those mistakes? Like the zamboni hides the scars on the rink, if we could find some way to hide the mistakes of our past so that we could project a shiny, slick exterior. After every battle, whether win or lose, we could cover up the marks life makes upon us, as though they never happened. It would be great, right?
The truth is, we are who we are today because of our past. Like the marks under the surface of the ice, each of us has scars, both physical and emotional. Each day, we choose to respond to the past in a positive or a negative way. And as much as we might like to simply resurface ourselves to hide our embarrassing blemishes, those scars find a way to work themselves to the top.
It would be so much easier if God would erase those mistakes from our memories but He chooses to let us grow and learn from our past. He let’s us develop character through perseverance in the face of trial. I am thankful for my scars because, without them, I wouldn’t be able to effectively reach the people I reach today. It wasn’t pleasant at the moment but in hind site, it was worth the hurts.
There is an old parable that talks about the effects of adversity on an egg, a carrot and a coffee bean. In the story, a farmer talks to his son about dealing with life’s trials and they discuss the effects of boiling water on each of the three items mentioned. After discovering that the adversity made the egg grow hard and brittle, the carrot soft and weak, the farmer tells his son to be like the coffee bean. Through the trial and adversity, after being ground and boiled, the bean became stronger, bolder and more flavorful.
The bottom line is simple, into every life a little rain will fall. Do we hide from it or run towards it knowing that, after the storm, we will have an incredible story to share? Our scars make us who we are and we wouldn’t be the same without them. The zamboni may cover the scars for a time, but the surface will be quickly dulled as soon as the puck is dropped. The only way to avoid the scars is to not play the game.
You have something incredible to offer. When you play, yes, you might get a little beaten and bruised, but those experiences often are the spark of encouragement someone else may need to get of the bench and engage the game of life. If you don’t play because of the hurts of the past or a fear of new scars, chances are, they won’t play either. Your scars aren’t ugly! They are beautiful! Your scars are a reminder of how far you’ve come so decide to persevere! Decide to be strengthened by adversity and stop trying to cover the past. Let it flavor your character so that you can make the greatest impact possible with this life you’ve been given!
|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!