Real Men Weep

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I don’t want to write about it today

I don’t want to be that guy who writes about tragedy

or a failed attempt to write about tragedy.

Somedays you don’t want to start.  Sometimes you don’t want to go to bed.  All so you do not have to think about if it is real or not.  Getting out of bed seems impossible.

There is a terribly short verse in the bible where, “Jesus wept”. (John 11:35, NIV) But I don’t believe Jesus is weeping for the reason most believe.  Death never frightened Jesus.  He wasn’t afraid of His own, he didn’t flinch with a dead girl, and he talks about an afterlife we may never be able to understand until it happens. 

There are many thoughts that come when talking about death, but for me nothing seems to make sense.  I can’t seem to put any reason on why, or who, or timing, but there are some questions that will never be answered. 

I didn’t want to write about a recent death, but there is a man I need to tell you about.  This man is humble and this man will never tell you what I am going to.  This man is quiet, charming, and utterly full of love.  (He also has great puns).  He is the closest thing to Jesus I have watched.  And for this man is why I weep. 

My friend had cancer and this cancer may have taken my friend away, but cancer didn’t win.  My friend was joyful, full of life, and full of love until his remaining breaths on this earth.  My friend was full of bad jokes, a great laugh, and an awesome sense of full life.  There was a man during the cancer that stayed around.  This man helped my friend through all the fighting, crying, hopelessness, and triumphs.  This man was by my friends side through the hard days, through the good days, and visits to the hospitals and ambulance rides.  This has been the most clear picture of Love I have yet to watch.  This man didn’t have the right words to say, he didn’t pray the right prayers, but what he did do was miraculous.  This man was present, with, and by my friends side for the whole ride.  Through the sleepless nights, and wonderful “Make a wish” New Zealand trips.  There were not many events, birthdays, hospital appointments, or phone calls this man missed.  This man loved my friend like Jesus does. 

I believe Jesus wept because he saw how everyone around was full of grief.  And for that I understand.  I see the pain my friends are going through and so I weep.  I can feel the pain of a mother, the hurt of a father, and the sadness of mourning friends.  And so I weep for them.  I morn with them, and I have a peace for my friend brought goodness, smiles, the gospel, and laughs with him wherever he went.  Bravery is a small word compared to what my friend demonstrated. 

I don’t have answers for death.  I don’t feel good about anyone dying and I don’t believe anyone does.  There are things that are, and will continue to remain a mystery.  But what I do know is a man who stayed by my friends side.  I know it wasn’t easy, and to this man I say…

“Well done good and faithful servant.” 

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My Undoing

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Eh, I just ran out of coffee…

It means my morning is done, and I can now focus on emails.  I’ve never been codependent before, but coffee sure is great.  I am not sure what I did before.  How did I survive without insatiable alertness, not having to blink for hours, or the feeling of anxiety all day?

No one will know. 

There are a lot of things I will never know. 

  1. Why do flies come right back to the spot they were just at?
  2. Why cant the windshield wiper reach the whole window?
  3. How can I birdie one hole and 8 the next?
  4. How the internet works?
  5. How can the moon and the sun be up at the same time?
  6. How the dryer eats one sock every laundry day?
  7. Where my money goes?

I find pride a strange existence.  Dinosaurs make sense, but pride is the strangest of all creation.  I get pride confused with confidence sometimes.  Pride can lead to blindness, and I want to admit my blind spots.  The last couple of months I have been in the dark, and it all has to do with a two fold statement. 

Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven belongs to little children.”, and yet He also says to be “Wise”.  These two seem to oppose themselves.  With it comes uncertainty and multiple levels of confusion.  You can’t be a child and be wise.  Can you?  What does it mean to be a child, or, to be like a child and be wise?  Children are not wise.  If anything they are the opposite of wise, and yet they have great faith.  Or, is it wise to be like a child? 

My darkness, or my blindside has been my pride of knowledge.  I feel puffed up in the area of my ability to know.  Having studied under amazing theologians at Fuller Theological Seminary I have gained a sense of theological pride.  But…. I have become undone.  I am admitting my sin and blindness.  I wish to no longer think of myself in the way I have.

Every person I admire, every man I strive to be like, every great theologian I have sat with are learners.  They are all teachable.  They, seemingly, consider themselves not knowing.  They could easily act haughty and righteious about their own theological knowledge, but they don’t.  It is as if they are thirsty for more, they constantly ask questions, and never do they make you know they are right.  Just like a child. 

So I want to not know more.  It is totally fine to not know.  It is ok to say, “I don’t know”.  In fact it may be wise.  I want to ask more questions.  A lot like Jesus, I do not want to answer many questions, but I would like to answer questions with more questions. 

Can we pause and seek out our blind spots?  I am fine with not knowing a lot about most things.  I am learning to be ok with not having the answers.  I think it may help me to see people differently.  I want my pride to be in my low stature and in Christ’s lofty grander.   

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Learning to Win

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I’m a terrible coach

I will probably always be a terrible coach. 

I am not motivated by people yelling at me.  I don’t want to win if you scream about all the things I do wrong.  I usually do not like barking dogs, and I really do not like barking humans.  Not sure if I am stubborn, but we can chalk it up to that. 

This is the way people have changed my life:

Coming alongside and asking challenging questions.  Walking with me through my struggles.  When they are vulnerable and authentic.  When people I respect and care about take time for me I feel important.  When people pay for food or groceries and without my prompting or merit.  Lifting up areas I never knew I was good at, and encouraging me to continue.  Listening more than talking. 

This is how people do more harm than good: 

Talking at me not with me.  Telling me how to live my life.  Making sure I know they are right.  Making sure I know I am wrong.  When someone hides real emotions and puts on a face.  Talking more than listening and never asking questions.  Making sure you know how much time you have been taking and how important their time is to them. 

But I think this is why I am a poor coach. 

I had the privilege to coach the sophomore class to a victory yesterday in powder puff.  Coaching girls to play football is an underestimated feat.  It is always more fun then I realize.  Each girl comes with their own knowledge of football, or not.  So, we start at zero with some, and continue from last year with others.  We figure out who can throw, run, catch, and understand the basics of the game.  Then my poor coaching comes into play.   I would like the girls to learn, adapt and play for themselves.  I try to get the quarterbacks to come up with some plays.  I want the lineman…woman to figure out who to block.  Then, when it either works and we celebrate, or it fails and I ask questions.  What happened?  What can we do better?  Why is the defense breaking through?  Should we double cover number eleven?  (cuz she was a beast)  But I coach how I would have liked to have been coached. 

I have never been called competitive.  Winning has never made me grow.  But last night felt good.  We lost as freshmen, we learned as freshmen, and we won as sophomores.  The girls came back stronger, determined, and ready to fight.  I was proud of how they had grown, how they had learned, and how they wanted to play.  And so I coached a team who was willing, they learned, and they are the ones who got the win! 

I am a terrible coach.  I would rather come alongside, ask good questions, and have them learn and adjust.  So, I like being a bad coach.  I will always error on the side of fun and understanding than striving for a win. 

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Growing Pains… me

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I have thought about growing

Maybe a plant

Maybe my spirit

I don’t know how to do either, they just seem to happen. 

(Not the plant part.) 

If I were to force you to grow spiritually I am sure you wouldn’t know how.  Maybe you would start by reading the bible, a book, or maybe asking questions.  But right now I feel stuck.  Not that I am not growing, I just have a hard time seeing my growth.  I haven’t had a big vision, crisis, or deep emotion in a while.

I feel like I have been on autopilot. 

I hate being late.  Hate is a strong word, and it is fitting when I talk about lateness.  I am allergic to being late.  I get this weird fever, high heart rate, and I start to panic.  A weird part of me also hates being early.  No one likes being the first person to show up to anything.  I don’t know where I got this hatred towards tardiness.  I just can’t do it.  It is physically impossible for me to be late. 

I have a great job were I get to do a ton of cool things.  But a lot of it is and can be auto piloted.  In fact, a lot of the time I have a strange feeling in my stomach.  It feels like anxiety, or fear.  Almost the same feeling I would get when I was late to school.  So if this feeling is like being late… I hate it.  The only way to describe my feeling is in the moment.  When I am doing a task, or at work I feel as though I should be doing more.  I feel like I can always do more.  Be more.  Give more.  The feeling could be prescribed as guilt possibly. 

There is one objective in my life currently, and I am not sure what is stopping me.  I have only met three people whom I will try to explain what I want to be like.  They are the type of people you meet and you feel like the only person in the room.  When you are with these people you feel as though you are the most important person in their life.  They hang on every word.  They look you in the eye and behind it you find peace, empathy and strength.  You walk away from these people feeling lighter than air, at peace, and as if you have been in the presence of the Lord. 

I don’t know what it is going to take to grow.  I don’t know when it is going to start, or when I will recognize my growth.  I have always felt behind the ball with spirituality.  I didn’t grow up in the “church”.  I didn’t start following Jesus until my eighteenth year of life.  It amazes me when people tell me they grew up in the “church”, and have always had a relationship with Jesus.  I don’t know how that’s possible.  And maybe that is why I feel behind the ball or how I need to play catchup. 

The only key concept I keep coming to is my mind.  We are told to take every thought captive.  To love the lord with all our… Mind.  To be self controlled.  And with all these commands, I don’t do them.  So I am going to force myself to do these things.  Maybe taking every thought captive, loving the Lord with all my MIND, and being self controlled will allow me to grow.  Maybe being pure in heart I will see the Lord.  Maybe controlling my thoughts will allow me to be present in peoples lives.  Maybe by loving the Lord with all my mind it will put peace behind my eyes.  Maybe by obediently controlling myself will I be like Christ. 

I don’t know if this is the “way”, but it is a start. 

The time is at hand, and I don’t want to be late. 

Plus I am ready to grow

Maybe a plant will help

It’s worth a shot

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Don’t play it safe

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I’ve been afraid lately

Afraid to write

Afraid to look you in the eyes

Afraid to come clean

There is not much to say about fear other than it sucks

I have almost done a lot of things.  I have almost moved to a new town.  I have almost quit my job. I have almost ran a marathon.  I have almost had a significant other.  But…

I stay safe

                   Comfort

                                  Control

                                                and I sit on my futon. 

We walked down the road to get something to eat.  We were both starving and had only maintained a diet of hot dogs and beer for the last ten hours.  Walking to the restaurant I could feel my inner dialogue changing my outward appearance.  This was going to be a hard dinner conversation.  My Dad and I had just finished pacing the final pairings at the US open championship in San Francisco.  My relationship with my Dad had been growing distant and almost non existent.  With every step I knew I had to say something.  I knew I had to ask for forgiveness.  There was a fight going on with every knee bend.  I was fighting the urge to not say anything and keep living life as I have been but I had to say something.  I was starving but my thoughts were keeping me from eating.  I had one more beer, a few bites of Caesar salad, and began to vomit all my feelings on the table.  (Not real vomit). 

And then there was silence

The number one command in the bible (Greek for book) is….  “Do not be afraid”.  And yet all we do, and most of what we have created is safety and comfort.  Every time someone mentions “Do not fear”, shalom returns. 

We create environments in which to encounter God, safely.  We create space for people to feel safe, at rest, and clean.  Our houses are full of food that goes bad, clothes we only use twice a year, and objects to take our minds off reality.  For what?  Why do we do this?  We feel more comfortable talking about someone rather than to someone.  We would rather spend enormous amount of time saying our belief, or our way we understand Jesus than being Jesus to people. 

I asked my Father for forgiveness.  For being a bad son.  For not making time to talk to him, reach out, or care.  Those were the words I used.  They were real tears I held back (because men don’t cry). 

My Dad began to do the same. 

You will always remember the times you defeat fear.  You will always regret the fear you wish you conquered.  High risk means high reward, and my relationship with my father is still mending, but words were spoken to start the healing process. 

As you grow in your intimacy and understanding of Jesus you realize His power only works in your weakness.  Jesus can’t stand know it alls.  Jesus doesn’t like the humble braggers.  Jesus knows our hearts fear and is waiting for us to step out and face them. 

What keeps you captive?  What do you want to do or say with which you are holding back? How can you conquer fear today? 

Go in hopes for a return to Shalom through the defeat of fear in knowledge that Jesus is waiting in the midst of it all!

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Don’t not do

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“I shouldn’t have done that…”, I think to myself daily.

“I shouldn’t have said that….”, I realize after the words are out of my mouth. 

I don’t know where I got this disease.  It starts in my stomach and works its way up to my impatient brain.  From my brain it works its way into my fingers and or out through my mouth.  It mainly happens when I believe it to be a nudge from the Lord, or I believe it will make people laugh. 

There is a camp in the hills of Ramona California called Oakbridge.  This camp sits on a mountain side I like to call God’s rock garden.  These hills stretch for miles, and on the side of the mountains are giant boulders.  Huge white, yellow, spotted boulders.  Some are smooth, some are jagged, some spray painted, and some hillsides don’t have any boulders on them at all.  It is as if God placed each one by hand.  It is incredible, and if you get a chance, stop and have a picnic on top of one of these bad boys.  You can stare into the smog filled valley of southern california for miles on miles. 

  I had one of these bright ideas in the middle of waving campers goodbye at Oakbridge.  In the middle of the bus turnaround there are these large trees.  They hold in there branches these pods of seeds.  If you take the pods and twist them in your hand they fall apart and make confetti.  It is pretty cool.   As a kid I would make mounds of tree confetti and have mini Trevor celebrations.  I held a bunch of confetti pods in my hand and began to twist them all around.  In my hand laid millions of little confetti pieces.  To my back was one of my work crew kids.  I had a stomach filled thought that I should throw the hand full of confetti in this kids face.  It was going to be brilliant.  Everyone was going to laugh.  We would all then get into a giant confetti fight.  I was going to be a genius. 

Through all my bad ideas, hard consequences, or messed up theology, life happens.  I do not regret much, and the things I do regret are things I wished I had done.  When you feel a nudge or an inclination towards someone, or a need for a conversation, do it.  The longer you hold back, or refrain from action the more anxiety, and pent up frustration will occur.  Over thinking your gut will help in quenching the Spirit. 

I am sure if Jesus debated His Father nothing would have happened.  Could you imagine if the Lord told you to spit in the dirt, make a paste, and rub it in that blind guys eyes?  No way God.  People are going to think you’re crazy.  It isn’t going to work, if anything it is going to make it worse….  But Jesus wasn’t concerned about what anyone else thought.  Jesus wasn’t concerned about if this guy was a believer, or non believer.  Jesus wasn’t making sure how he can profit from this, and in fact there are times he tells people not to mention who healed them. 

I think about the countless healings, conversations, and miracles which were never written down or talked about.  I would love to know how many people felt the love of the Lord with an intimacy only they knew.  Not everything is to be a teachable moment, or an example for others to glean from. 

What I’ve learned lately is to just go and do.  The more you think about it the more you will not.  Be reckless, give generously, think less of yourself, and it may fail but you won’t regret it.  You will think about how maybe you shouldn’t have given away your last thirty dollars in your bank account, but I promise you will not go hungry. 

Maybe the kid almost went blind from my tree confetti party.  Maybe I shouldn’t have thrown it as hard as I could in his face.  Maybe I have also learned from doing it.  Now there is a story, we laugh about it, but I would have regretted not doing it more!  Don’t ignore the Spirit’s nudge.  Even if it contradicts every American capitalist notion in your body. 

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Hear Me

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Hearing from humans can be difficult.  We hear, I hear things, in different ways.  I have a mind, and in my mind I have barriers.  When you speak words to me they go through these barriers.  They become distorted, wrinkled, stretched, and jumbled.   When people tell me things I can’t hear them clearly.  My barriers are in the way.  

I feel as though I see the world through a fog laden labyrinth filled with truth and lies.  

You say words to me, they travel from your lips to my ears, through, around, and in a maze filled with…

Humor

Loneliness 

Dependance 

Selfish desires 

Longing to be longed for

Acceptance 

And Trust (or lack thereof) 

This is how I listen.  Not only is this how I listen to people, but it is God as well.  I have a hard time living in reality, or clarity.  It is hard to hear.  

My preoccupation’s with my barriers do not allow me to be present.  I stay rooted in those barriers.  But today I read something in the bible.  Maybe it can help.  I am not sure why it helped me today, but it did.  

Jesus was just finishing a talk with a woman at a well when His disciples came back.  They were amazed Jesus was talking to a woman.  I like to picture the well in the middle of town like the scene from Beauty and The Beast.  The town centers around the well, but the area is more like a desert, dusty and hot.    Jesus has a great conversation with the woman, but the disciples are not interested.  They ask if Jesus is hungry, and His response was weird.  He says he is not hungry, but was full.  His food is from Heaven.  Heavenly food which gives fullness, abundance, and graciously to others.  Something filled Jesus’ belly, and filled it to the max.  Tangibly, spiritually, emotionally, but different.  I want to know what heavenly food tastes like.  Is it an actual full feeling?  There is nothing better than a satisfying meal which fills your stomach and warms your bones.  There is no greater peace, love, and joy than reclining after a meal satisfied and content.  

Most of my anxiety comes from unsaid or un had conversations.  It makes my stomach hurt, it affects my sleep, and keeps me panicked.  My head reaches the clouds and I cannot come down.  I do not know why I get stuck, and I also do not know why I keep conversations to myself.  They are usually filled with fruit and it feels good when they leave my head.  

I was told by a friend how she wished I could have had a conversation with her sooner.  I agree.  But I was not listening.  I wasn’t listening to God, I wasn’t listening to people, and I was stuck in the fog.  I do not know how to listen more quickly, or respond to Jesus in a relatively fast manor.  But I wan’t to get better.  I want more heavenly food to fill me rather than anxiety.  I want to be content in Jesus and who Jesus says I am.  No matter the conversations or the situations.  

I am praying for my blind spots to be brought to light.  I am praying to be truthful and honest the moment I know or hear from God.  I know it will hurt, but it will allow me to be more faithful, and less hungry for worldly food.  

May we start to hear and see life through a clear, barrier less, satisfied, and content Spirit.   

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