Healing 10% At a Time

I got a boot for my ruptured Achilles healing process today! Part of healing is getting my foot back to a flat 90° angle over the course of 4 weeks. I’m currently angled at 130° and will adjust the boot 10° every week until I reach “normal” and can once again stand on my leg. Then the process of learning walk begins. It’s a long haul.

Healing is always a process, but physical healing is easier measure. Emotional and spiritual healing is an area I’ve been traversing vocationally for 20 years and I’ve found that many people often don’t have the patience for healing by 10° degree increments. They want a quick fix. A book. A class. A message. A counseling session. That’s not how healing from major wounds works.

Many emotional and spiritual injuries or wound often require a metaphorical surgical repair not an emotional bandaid.

A marriage that’s been flailing for years needs surgery, then recovery, then rehab.

An long standing addiction often requires surgery, then recovery, then rehab.

A betrayal by a spouse or close friend…

The death of a loved one…

Total financial ruin or vocational implosion…

The list goes on.

These types of wounds often need an intial procedure followed by incremental adjustment, then strength rebuilding to provide lasting change. There is no quick fix for the dark situations life throws your way. You might need surgery. Then 10° adjustments at a time. Then rehab to rebuild your strength.

#thinkaboutthat

Killing Comparison – The Key To Contentment

1984 Oldsmobile Cutlass supreme. Her name was Bessy, and she was my freedom. She sat six on her bench seats and once up to highway speeds, nothing could stop her. I wired a house speaker in the trunk to give a little more boom to her bass. She was beautiful. Then I met Jason’s T-Bird. Faster, newer, cooler. It had lowered suspension custom wheels and an actual sub in the trunk that could make the license plate frame rattle. I wanted one… or even better… I wanted something slightly better than his.

This was just an internal comparison game in high school, but I’ve found that much of life operates on the comparison culture. Who makes more money? Who has the nicer car? Who lives in the better neighborhood? Who’s the better friend? Employee? Employer? Who looks better? The list of comparisons is endless? Even in religion (or perhaps especially in religion). Who is more godly? Who knows more about the Bible? Who serves more? Who sings most passionately during worship? All of these can be wrapped up in comparison as well.

If you want to find contentment it will not be at the top of the achievement tower. There’s a reason so many of the wealthy and famous end up spinning into addiction and life implosion. They got what they thought would give them meaning, acceptance, and worth, and they discovered the truth learned by Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes; meaningless, meaningless. It’s all meaningless. So where can we find meaning that is true and lasting?

For years my life was dominated by comparison. I was constantly under pressure to be better, have better, or do better than others. What worse, was that I thought achievement by comparison would actually give me the satisfaction I craved.

Then I encountered God and experienced his radical acceptance of me that was not based on me, my performance, my achievements, or my abilities. Instead my worth and acceptance was united to Jesus, his work on the cross, his achievements, and his ability to be what I could not. Best of all, all of who he is and what he did was attributed to my life’s record by an act we call faith. It’s a free gift that sets us free.

The competition mode was over. I no longer had to prove myself against the backdrop of others because all that I needed was given to me in Jesus. I no longer had to “be the right kind of person” who would be accepted since my acceptance tank was filled to overflowing by God’s love in Jesus. I finally began to break free from a life driven by comparison to my peers, and I became free to serve, free to give, free to live with no comparison strings attached.

The more we understand the love that rests upon us in Jesus, the more we will break free from the comparison curse that slithers into our hearts.

When freed from the comparison curse we can approach each day as an opportunity to pour into others with no needs or no expectations, as a people who contribute rather than compare. We can contribute to the joy of others instead of fighting for our own temporary joys because at the right hand of God we have access to the fullest joy. We can forgive when slighted because we have been forgiven. We can love in the face of opposition because we were loved when we were loved in our opposition.

There is no longer a need to prove ourselves in comparison with others because we can now live in an operating system of God’s love. It’s a way of living where we are approved, accepted, and wrapped into God’s cosmic story. In this story we are still tasked to work, tasked to do great things, but the motivation of our lives is now rooted in how we can contribute to others instead of how we compare to others.

#thinkaboutthat

Final Chapters Are Different

We celebrated every milestone for the first three kids.

Yay, they’re talking.

Yay, they’re holding their bottle.

Yay, they’re crawling.

Lots of cheering. Lots of celebration.

With the fourth child, and surgically last, everything has turned to an odd sadness for my wife.

Awe, she’s talking.

Awwe, she’s holding her bottle.

Awwwe, she’s crawling(ish).

Every milestone has become a sentimental swamp of sadness, but why?

Final chapters, when well written, tend to bring a sense of finality. I often feel sad when I finish a book or complete a long running binge show. But why?

I suppose it’s the same reason death brings sadness. The loss of relationship. The sudden halt of a routine. The end of something familiar.

The end, however, makes space for new beginnings. This doesn’t mean grief is irrelevant, it is extremely relevant, but we don’t grieve as those who have hope. The new always comes with growing pains and adjustments, but it opens the door for new seasons of vitality. New opportunities for things still unexplored. New roles as life vacuums are filled.

When a chapter of your life is closing you can press on or lament days gone by. Sometimes life hits so hard it’s like a book is ending. Even then, take heart, another story is being born.

#thinkabouthat

Sleeping For Jesus

Sleep is important. I love sleep. However, last night I hurt my leg in my sleep (I’m that age now). Today I read through Bible verses about sleep. I knew the verses about not being lazy or sleeping too much, but had never really pondered the positive side of sleep found in the Bible. Tonight the following verses are my prayers. #Godhelpmyleg

Proverbs 3:24

If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

Sleep is a time to let go of fear. Fear of what has past and what is to come. It is a moment of sweetness rooted in trust for God.

Psalm 4:8

In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Many people struggle with the silence of heading to bed. It’s important to know that peace (shalom) is not simply an absence of conflict. Shalom is “completeness.” Satisfaction for all that has been, all that is, and all that is to come. Do you sleep on the foundation that “God’s got you” no matter what you’re going through? Shalom sleep is deep restful sleep.

Psalm 3:5

I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.

Every morning you rise is a good morning. Currently I rise to crutches and a throbbing leg, but I rise. And with each day comes new joy. Joy that God sustained me and those I love for another day. It’s easy to miss the amazing miracle of God sustaining life when we zoom in on our problems and pain. Take a moment and look at the big picture when you rise after a shalom sleep!

#thinkaboutthat

Preach To Yourself

Why, my soul, are you so dejected? Why are you in such turmoil? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise him, my Savior and my God.
Psalms 42:5

I love that God put a passages in the Bible where people talk to themselves.

“Hey soul, why are you so grumpy and down? Stop hoping in things that lead nowhere and remember to hope in God. Don’t worry, you’ll find joy in worship again.”

When you’re down, when your soul is troubled, when the darkness feels like there is no end… Talk to your soul.

You can let your worry and stress control you or you can speak life to your worry and stress.

You can let turmoil drill your life into the pit, or you can remind yourself that there is a hope that has the power to lift you up.

Lately, I’ve been talking to my soul daily. Reminding my soul that this is a season where I can grow in ways that were previously unknown to me. I talk to myself daily with words of God’s love and purpose so that I don’t fall into pity or impatience.

What situation do you need to talk to your soul about? Chances are likely God has a story or passage in the Bible that will guide your inner dialogue.

#thinkaboutthat

Missing Childhood Or Missing The Point?

The following is a list of things from my childhood that my children will likely not experience unless specifically led.

Telling time on an analogue watch.

Writing in cursive.

Memorizing multiplication tables sans common core.

Shooting things with a BB gun.

Hiking in nature absent supervision.

Playing outside without boundaries or a gps tracker.

The Dewey Decimal system.

Encyclopedias.

Building tree forts with a jar of nails and scrap wood.

Chopping down trees in the wild.

Times change. My kids have infinite information at their fingertips. They can call me from anywhere in the world without a cage enclosed phone that costs a quarter. They can record videos and edit them. They are learning to code computer software. They’ll never have to take a typing class. The list is immense. I’m sure there are aspects of your childhood that are long gone for kids today (I’d love to hear them).

Much can said about what our kids will never experience. Instead of focusing on what they won’t experience, we should ask what they will get to experience that we never had the opportunity to share in. We can lament that they’ll never know “our world” or we can prepare them to be amazing humans in their world and the world to come.

Teach them to create beautiful things for human flourishing so they create a vocation that makes their soul sing.

Teach them to be kind to others regardless of differences so that dialogue can return to civility.

Teach them their worth doesn’t come from the approval of others so they can be free from the endless cycle of popularity by likes, views, or whatever new metric may come.

Teach them to care for the poor, widows, and orphans so their lives are rooted in service to the least of these.

Teach them to hold convictions that matter so that convictions that don’t matter can be sifted like chaff.

Teach them critical thinking skills so they aren’t tossed by the ever changing pulse of culture.

These lessons and qualities (with many others I’m sure) transcend the changes that time will inevitably bring. We can lament a childhood gone missing or raise children in the here and now for the days they will face tomorrow.

#dadlife #raisinghumans