Archive for February, 2015

God hates it when you do that

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

I’ve been observing something lately and it’s bugging me…a lot. People arguing and when they get to a point of stalemate they bring the GOD card into it.

It’s done a lot.

It can be as simple as saying “GOD wants this or that” or as memorized as quoting from the Bible. This makes no sense at all since the person they are debating has no affinity for the Bible nor for what it says. But the Christian does it anyways and often they say it smugly and self-assuredly as if they are uttering the absolute word to the discussion because after all, who can argue with GOD?

It’s shocking to me actually and it usually signals the end to the discussion. It’s the “culturally Christian” way of saying, “Well, you’re wrong and screw your ideas” only it’s not Christian at all. When I hear or see it makes me want to scream.

Oh non-Christians do it to. For them it takes the form of mocking the spiritual person and saying how unscientific and how they believe in fairy tales, how stupid they are. Why either side bothers speaking to the other is beyond me with the amount of disrespect flowing. Right now I’m not addressing the Non-Christian; they believe and act how they choose to. I am going to address those who call themselves Christian.

Christians are allegedly submitted to God and purportedly believe that book that they quote. It really gets under my skin and makes me angry when they use God and his word as just a support for their position. God hates it too when they do this and so… AHA!!! See what I did there!!! I did the same thing. Because I was having a strong emotion I quoted the book at them. Isn’t that irritating?

So let me back up and put my emotions in check and be peaceful and gentle in what I say. When a person uses God or his words to cast dispersions or to make themselves appear wiser or the victor of an argument it breaks the 3rd Commandment of “Do not take my name in vain.” To use a scripture or to use God to be an ace in the hole to make your own personal point in an argument is about as vain as I can see short of using it to hurt others.

Now if you are reading this and you have used the Bible to explain your position and you have maintained your heart of love and respect for the other person you may be off the hook. The key being that you are in control over your own emotions and able to maintain the heart of God(as in Love and Respect for) that person. Remember GOD gave his Son to die for those people even when they believed in all kinds of things. Is it too much to ask for you to sacrifice your opinion for the moment?

Paul said in Titus “to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.” Then he instructed timothy in 2 TIM 2:24,”The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,”

Kindness, gentleness and considerateness stand out to me in these passages. I wish it stood out to me in what I witness on the internet at times.

If you want to be a follower of God you’ve got to follow the Bible, not just quote it. Please pay attention to this

You catch what I did there though; I quoted the scripture not once but twice. Am I not doing the same thing? I need to be careful not to get puffed up. I must guard my heart. I too must be peaceable, gentle and show every consideration for all men even those who call themselves Christian and are not acting the part, lest I be just like them.

This will be quite hard. I will need to lean on GOD because that stuff makes me angry.

American Sniper: I helped prevent another theater shooting.

Friday, February 20th, 2015

My wife and I got to go to the movies last Friday. We respect those who serve in the military and admire the story of Chris Kyle so it was an easy choice to go see American Sniper. We got there on time, found our seats, and started tearing into our snacks when a group of about 4 college-aged Middle Eastern guys walked past my seat. My wife’s stare first at them and then at me got my attention. Then their demeanor really concerned me. Their faces looked angry and defiant like UFC fighters look right before a match. They looked like they wanted to fight; at least they did to me.

My mind was racing. I watched where they sat way in the back and my mind calculated all the possibilities. We were pretty far away from a pistol shot and right next to a protected exit. As I quickly though these things my I could actually feel my stomach tighten and my adrenaline increase. Was I going to witness another theater shooting?

When the lights dimmed and the movie started my fears were not quieted and I was not able to relax. The movie was filled with intense firefight scenes where guns were blazing and Middle Eastern men like the ones behind me were being killed. I wondered, “Why would these guys come to a movie like this? Weren’t they uncomfortable?” I knew I was. You may be asking, “If you saw all these signs that pointed to danger why did you stay for the movie?” I will get to that shortly.

At one point I thought I saw two men at opposite ends of the theater look at each other and then they both simultaneously exited their seats and went down opposite halls. That was it; I jumped out of my seat and quickly followed them to the bathroom. Upon arrival in the light of the restroom I saw one very short Mexican man and one very tall Japanese man who relieved themselves without incident. I admitted my overreaction to myself.

Upon my return to my seat I watched the movie as Chris Kyle returned home from the intensity of war to his family. There was a scene where he was with a bunch of friends at a BBQ and the kids were all playing when the family dog leapt at one of the kids knocking him down and began to lick him. Chris Kyle jumped up, grabbed the dog off of the child and almost killed the poor pup. This showed the face of PTSD or Post-traumatic Stress disorder; one of the effects of war.

This gets me back to why I did not leave the theater. See my emotions were the same as if there were terrorists in the theater but my mind knew that my wife and I might just be over reacting like we do about a lot of things. See my emotions have changed since I was overwhelmed with the battle against cancer.

I may not have fought a war with guns but when your 6 year old daughter is fighting cancer by necessity you put your feelings on hold so that you can make decisions and be there for your family. It changes you. I am finding out that what I am experiencing can even be labeled as PTSD. Just today I read that “any overwhelming life experience can trigger PTSD, especially if the event feels unpredictable and uncontrollable.” If childhood cancer doesn’t fit that description nothing does.

My wife has it too. It plays itself out for her in even perhaps a more dramatic way. When my little boys fall down and get a normal bump or scrape she reacts in a big way. Any observer would hear her reaction and assume that our child was badly wounded and maybe even dying. But the reason is not so obvious as to why she reacts that way. I wish so much people would understand my wife’s reaction. I wish I could explain that we had a child and she WAS dying but we couldn’t accept it at the time. We fought with everything we had to get her all the help both medically, emotionally and spiritually. We set aside so much for so long and it changed us and the way we process our emotions. But I suppose it really doesn’t matter. If they think she is overreacting that’s their problem, they don’t understand what has happened to our insides.

That comforting voice in your head that says, “Don’t overreact, everything is ok” when danger is around. I used that one to comfort my family when my daughter coughed up a tumor. One problem with that comfort; I was wrong, my little girl had cancer. When the worst of all possible things actually happens to you comforting words don’t have the same effect.

As the name PTSD suggests we could not process or even handle all our emotions while we were in the trauma so now when there is a stressful situation such as a kids scratched knee or even a group of foreign OSU students at the movies our stress level is disproportionate. In the movie Chris Kyle’s counselor suggested helping other veterans as a way to deal with his PTSD. I think this could be a key for my family as well. Interestingly I notice that I more readily access my own feelings of pain and sadness when talking with another parent who has lost a child. I think my feelings are so overwhelming that I have built a wall around my own but as I help others I do feel better myself.

So after seeing American Sniper I see how the “war” I was in has left its mark on me. I see that I still have processing work to do to heal and I recognize that helping others helps me to unlock the emotions that are both blocking joy and causing fear. I look forward to applying this truth I discovered. I am just glad I made it out of that movie alive.

Seahawks have feelings too

Friday, February 6th, 2015

I meant to post this blog on Monday as usual but I had not finished it and was going to after the Super bowl. I was hoping I could grab a few illustrations from the game but alas My Seahawks did not win. I finished my thoughts anyways. Read on and tell me what you think.

It has been said that a man spends his entire life trying to prove that he is good enough. This week the stage is set for the Super Bowl. Men all over the world are watching the ultimate in athletes playing one of the most watched events with 2 teams playing men that are all human men and they are the top of what is “good enough.”

Enter the Seattle Seahawks. I am from the Northwest and I have been a fan since 1988. One thing that I have noticed over the last couple years is just how much intensity and raw emotion they play with and the emotion with which they have off of the field.

Two examples come to mind. First last season Richard Sherman in the game last year that sent them to the super bowl. He successfully defended against San Francisco 49ers receiver on the last series preventing a touchdown. After the game was over a microphone was stuck in his face and he said to Erin Andrews: (screaming): “Well, I’m the best corner in the game. When you try me with a sorry receiver like (Michael) Crabtree, that’s the result you are going to get. Don’t you ever talk about me.”

Andrews: “Who was talking about you?”

Sherman: “Crabtree. Don’t open your mouth about the best or I’m going to shut it for you real quick. “LOB!” (That’s the abbreviation for “Legion of Boom,” the nickname of the Seahawks’ defense.)

Now at the time, maybe because I am a Fan I enjoyed the refreshing unedited nature in which the emotion which he was having only moments before on the field of play he continued when a microphone was stuck in his face.

He was accused of being a “thug.” He was brash, but I had thought about it; how many cornerbacks in the NFL talk with restraint on the field? I am betting none. I would bet they trash talk ferociously and act emotionally on the field. When they come off they usually reign it all in and talk unemotional and analytic. This shifting from being emotional to analytic and only “reasonable” seems to be the way our society expects men to act and in some cases I believe it to be unrealistic. We expect men to be under control and unemotional, at least not exhibiting emotions that may make others uncomfortable.

Sports talk shows and fans gave their opinion and many did not like Richard Sherman because of this. I on the other hand, gained respect for him because I felt he was more real than what I was used to in a post-game interview. I liked the unscripted. I like real. I guess you could say I am weary of having to edit my emotions for public consumption.

Fast forward to this year the game that sent the Seahawks to the Super Bowl . Russel Wilson was having a horrible game he could have just given up. After the game he spoke of how everyone believed in him in spite of his mistakes and because of this belief he arose victorious. This he said on national tv and he was weeping for all to see. He made it to the pinnacle of footballs biggest game because his teammates believed in him and he was openly weeping. This was another example of a man being real and it was refreshing.

He was feeling the fullness of his emotions and was not concerned who saw the tears. This again, I contend is counter to our culture where, men don’t cry, men don’t exhibit emotions that may make others uncomfortable.

I know the reason I see the world this way is because 7 years ago I lost my daughter to cancer. All kinds of things make me cry, make me angry, make me frustrated. I still try to be reasonable and not make people too uncomfortable but it’s not always possible. It’s not always possible because it’s not always the real me. I find that the times I choke back the tears something happens with me and I get depressed. When I express the real feelings like when I was toy shopping for my kids this Christmas and walked down the girls aisle and I started weeping, I felt better and more real. Interestingly, I was much more productive the next day at work as well. I think increase in productivity was because I was able to release what was really below the surface.

It is well known that the couch of the Seahawks, Pete Carroll gives his players the culture of being who they are. He does not typically exert old-school style control or yelling to achieve goals but rather believes that a team is best when each person is allowed to be who they are. In sparring on Facebook before the big game I found out quickly that fans of other teams HATE that about the Seahawks.

But I personally believe and I have experienced that a man is at his best when he is fully himself. I also believe that this makes many others uncomfortable. I think that’s ok. Perhaps this culture of allowing players to be who they are is an ingredient to their success. I look forward to watching this for years to come.

I also look forward to being more real in my emotions and caring less of what others think. I guess you could say this blog is a manifestation of that desire. Real is good.