Humility Serves

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I’ll be quite honest with you — I’m not the most humble person on the planet. I’m definitely not as big of a deal as Mr. Burgundy in the clip embedded here, but as often goes with the youngest sibling, I’ve tended to seek attention from the people around me by “performing”. Over the years that has taken many forms.

Let me unpack that word a little.  What I mean by this word is that in order to feel valuable and loved, some people need to “perform,” or seek attention of others that will validate their existence. It’s not in the sense of playing a show in front of a large group of people. Many performers do not care about the attention, they just do what they love to do, and the fame part is irrelevant to say the least.

Growing up in the Church, I’ve found the institution itself lacking in many ways. However, my community is there and it’s where I learned much of what I live out of today.  The truth contained in Bible stories and the wisdom preached in biblical principles will be with me my entire life.  For that I’m grateful.

However, it is also where I saw people gain great acceptance and applause by being the center of attention. Whether singing, or playing instruments, preaching, or performing a skit, church was the beginning of many peoples’ “performing”. Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

What happens when someone of my disposition sees others be applauded by being in front of a crowd is very simple. I tend to want similar recognition. Is it right? no.  Does it mean I’m flawed? Well, I don’t think that’s an area of debate. Is it something to be aware of? Absolutely.

The frustration comes when I realize that love and value do not come solely from other people. True value comes from God, and pleasing Him is my ultimate goal. But it’s so easy to look at the here and now and think that it’s by far the most important thing in my life. Other people’s approval will sway and I am the first to admit that I love the spotlight, but it’s fickle. Attention, admiration, and high esteem from other is not only superficial, it’s deceiving.

That’s why my focus has, and will continue to shift to serving. As soon as I find myself seeking attention, value and “love” from the things I do for people or how I perform, I am moving into a place of servanthood. Taking myself low, in order to lift up others around me and to honor my Father in Heaven is the only way I can survive in truth. The rest of the details are just that.

I don’t really like to think that I misplace my value center, but as I look deeply inside myself, attempting to sift out the negatives in order to be of most benefit to myself and to God, I have to admit that it’s truth.

After all, not all of us can be as big a deal as Mr. Burgundy.

empty home

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Driving to my parent’s house today, filled with anxiety. The first time there since it happened. “Shake it off, man. You can handle this,” I say to myself. The radio is playing and I hear the typical road noises all around me, but I can’t help but think…

Pull up to a light and there’s something sticking out of the window in the SUV in front of me. A lamp? A pillow?? Traffic moves and I pull around to see the tongue-wagging face of a Lassie-type dog enjoying the cool breeze. A brief distraction, but only to serve to make the entry into an empty home worse.

This last Tuesday, my best k-9 friend in the world, Rex, went to doggy heaven. He was an older dog, but with lots of life still in him. Unfortunately, he couldn’t see well, hear well, or walk well. Although he did the best he could, his body was giving out on him. I won’t go into the details, but his playfulness was becoming a liability. One that we could not risk. Other options were futile.

Pull into the driveway and sense anxiety rising. Going up the stairs. Unlocking the door. I’m in. I see the dog cage still there. It’s different. No noise. No tail wagging. No jumping up on my knees to say hello. I feel the tears welling up. “Hold it together,” teasing myself.

So I write. Hoping to get it out on paper. Hoping that the empty home doesn’t get the best of me. Hoping this touches someone’s heart who has also lost a dog.

I really miss him. He was such a good dog. He was more than a responsibility. He was a friend, and an unselfish giver of affection. He was a comfort when time were tough and a companion with whom to share the great times. You always knew if he’d been in my car because the windows were covered with slobber. He was the best trained dog we’ve ever had, but that’s not saying much. I will miss him dearly.

rex

Fido’s

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So if you have read much of my stuff, you know I absolutely love Nashville. This city has so many amazing things and amazing people in it. One of my favorite coffee spots is Fido’s in Hillsboro Village. Besides having tables outside where you can sit and work or people-watch, it’s got a cool little college-town vibe. It’s located next to both Vanderbilt University and Belmont. These schools have very different crowds and the students that attend them have fairly different goals for life. However, students from both colleges congregate here. Lots of artsy, musician people are here, eating next to aspiring doctors and lawyers. Then there are the non-student, young professionals like myself who enjoy being around people while we isolate ourselves behind a computer screen. It’s a fascinating dynamic, but it works. It’s Nashville.

Glenn Beck at CPAC 2010

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I know there are a lot of Glenn Beck haters out there, but you can’t watch this and tell me that what he says is too slanted. I’m not on board with everything he says, so don’t think this is an endorsement of a person, but it’s an endorsement of the idea that everyone can be wrong and when they are, it must be admitted in order to be redeemed. Our American values allow us to fail – in business, in government, in life. Right now, the government is not allowing us to fail, and in so doing, they are themselves failing. I appreciate these words and hope that Americans of any party will be willing to listen and apply as appropriate.







Learning to Love

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What happens when your idea of love gets turned upside down? How do you function when all you know turns out to be false? Where do you turn when reality ceases to exist in the same manner in which you’ve lived your entire life?

This is what the healing process brings. Our most important need in life is to be loved and to love other people. Without it we are not able to function with sanity. Because of our fallen nature, however, we love imperfectly. As Christians, we have the opportunity to see an example in Christ of perfect love and to emulate it as closely as we know how, but it’s a lifelong process.

In that process we often find that what we’ve understood to be love is actually a mixture of experience and beliefs that typically lack many qualities of true love. When we realize this, life can seem unknowable, desparate, fragile and confusing. After all, your entire life was lived out of what you understood to be love for yourself and others.

This is where I am. I am figuring out how to love after realizing that my ideals were less than ideal, my truths were tainted with strands of lies and my heart could not find peace in the decisions my flesh would make.

To say the least this is a difficult process. It requires letting go of my plans and trusting God to guide my path. It requires that my truths be fluid so that I’m teachable in every way. And it requires that I seek after the one who is Love.

He is faithful. He is faithful. He is faithful.

When healing happens, life will ultimately fall into place, but allowing yourself to set the stage for those pieces means finding peace in the calamity if change.

Distraction from the pain

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I suppose this is more of a question than a commentary. And I’m not even sure how I answer it, myself.  But tonight was a much needed distraction from a relatively painful few days, and it makes me wonder how other people distract themselves from the pain in their life.

Sure, some people use chemicals and various substances.  I’m not really talking about those, although they work, for the most part.  Other people crawl into the loving arms of Papa God and listen to his reassuring words of comfort and hope. Tonight, I spent time with great people watching a play and laughing my head off. It’s a welcome distraction that I didn’t see coming. In my mind, it was far more effective than talking it out with someone. The evening was free of substances (well, except for a couple glasses of wine) and it was superb.

Life is really difficult sometimes and I’m curious as to how you knowingly or unknowingly distract yourself from the pain in your life. Do you spend time with fun people? Do you engross yourself in a good book? Do you write a good book?  Do you run it off with a long jog? What’s your distraction?