Fights – a matter of self control in Love

28 07 2013

Hi,  my name is Steven and I am NOT a victim of divorce.  But the actions of a falling out of my parents HAS had an effect on me.  My dad is now divorcing his second wife.  What does this have to do with me?   How does this pertain to my marriage?  Why should I even be concerned?   Isn’t a son to leave his father and go his own way?   I care because I’m tired of the media, internet and the lack of examples of  ordinalry married couples who stick by each other no matter what happens.  (There is more details about this here)

I grew up wanting to get away from my dad.  I felt that he was overbearing, hurtful, and not such a great guy.  I picked that up not only from how he acted, but I became  for my mom a sounding board.   I remember her telling me how she was unhappy, how dad was holding her back, not being supportive.    In my teen years,I had a fantasy that George  wasn’t my dad, but some kind of alien that had taken the form of my dad.  I hated him because of how he treated my mother.   There were times though that I felt that my mom manipulated me into pushing my dad away.  I ended up pushing them both away for a time.  My parents divorced after I graduated High School.  There was this idea that it would be better to do it then, staying together “for the kids”.   I’m going to tell you right now that if you are staying together just for the kids, you are entering into a world of deciet, and lies.

I know my parents attempted to reconsile their differences.  The last ditch effort was a family trip that we took the weekend after I graduated High School.  I remember that one well. Car trip to  Gold Beach OR.  Jet boat ride up the Snake River.  I was treated like a prince!   Dad, who never really had deep conversations with me, wanted to know what I saw myself doing now that I was out of High School and seemed very interested in me.  My mom was very quiet.  I was totally oblivious to what was about to happen.  We got back from the trip and what seemed to be only a few days later, my dad had moved out.

Looking back, I KNEW that my parents didn’t want to work at becoming one with each other.  I hated both of  them for staying in a relationship that wasn’t working.   I grew even more hatred towards my dad.  This didn’t help with my self esteem.  I was still living with my mom and grandmother, Grams for short, and I ended up hiding in the basement a lot.  I never turned to drugs or alcohol but I was very tempted to.  I went through my mind and kept thinking , “What did I do wrong?  How could I have helped them stay together?  Is this MY fault?  Did I MAKE them get a divorce just by wishing my dad wasn’t around?”

That’s when I realized that I loved my dad.  Marriage is not supposed to be rejected.  NO one is supposed to be rejected.  I felt that my dad had rejected me too.   He said that he only divorced my mom, not me.  To a kid who wanted his parents to be perfect that comment did more damage to my soul than being spanked by my dad for telling him to “Fuck off”.   It would take me nearly 20 years before I could tell my dad that I love him.

Guys, we need to be able to tell our dads that we love them.  Even when they give up hope.  Even when they see no other option.  And especially when they make mistakes.  Our older men need their sons to say that they love them.  And we need to not fear what people think of that.   I know that once I learned that men don’t “love each other as a man loves a woman”  and I learned that homosexuality was defined as two men who love each other, I found that I couldn’t say to my dad “I love you” without it feeling strange.   I have since learned that this idea is foolish and  love doesn’t work that way in a father/son relationship built on unconditional love.  I am not gay but have had friends who are.  They helped me to understand that my limited definition of  that culture was flawed. I had a strange definition then of what love is.    I know now that “love” is not sex, or just an emotional reaction, but as  a young man who was told that love is only between a man and a woman, it was very confusing to hear that God, who I saw as male, loves me.  It has taken me many years to understand what love in the form of Agape is between men.  I feel that this is not being taught and even a bit feared by the male half of the USA.   There is fear in telling another guy I love you.  Jesus said to his male disciples “Love one another as I have loved you”.    I had to learn what Jesus means by that.  I’m still working that out.

I have started to see my dad as loved child of God.  I see him now as a person who is not just part of my DNA, but as a person who is in need  of seeing unconditional love.    I see a man who has put conditions on himself, and doesn’t really know HOW to love as God does.    I believe that you are never really divorced from a person.  You can separate but you will still think of that person from time to time.  Love that binds the hearts is a gift from God.  I find this to be true in my own marriage.  And with my parents.  I may have hated them and held a grudge for too many years, but I’m IN love with them again.  I do not want them hurt or to stay in a relationship that really wasn’t built on God’s love to begin with.

My  hope here is to  illiminate some of the stigma and hurt that children, even as adult , feels when divorce is seen as the final option for a couple.  My hope for you, the reader, can understand that your feelings about what happened between your parents if they divorced  are real.  NO one wants to see a divorce happen. It’s not your fault that your parents split.   This is not always a comforting phrase, but it’s true.

I want to make one more thing clear.  Marriage is NOT an institution.  It is NOT a social contract. It is  LIFE.     Most of all, Marriage is NOT to be idolized.   When the  goal is to be married because it’s the socially acceptable thing to do and that it’s  more important than God, it’s become an idol and must be destroyed, reformed and started over.  If you think that marriage is the happily ever after promised by fairy tales,  don’t get married and that  will help make the divorce rate go down.   Marriage is not for the timid. A good marriage I find to be like a well tuned piano.  All the notes play in beautiful harmonies that even the the minor chords sound beautiful.  If the strings are not at the right tension then it’s out of tune and hard to listen to.  At that point there needs to be a person who is good at retuning who needs to come in and adjust it.  Marriage should have a good tension to it.

Lets start with what I consider one of the biggest problems that leads married couples towards divorce:

FIGHTS

Now if you haven’t grown up with parents who argue and fight from time to time about things, you are really, REALLY lucky.  If you lived with parents who were like Mike and Carol Brady, DAMN you were lucky.  That fantasy is what I wanted as a kid.  I never saw the parents in those 70s and 80s family sit coms EVER blow up at each other.  Oh there were a few progressive shows like Family Ties which had a few, but even those fights were resolved and in the shows I watched never ended in a divorce unless you were a neighbor.  Married people on TV were in love with each other and somehow in those 30 mins could solve their problems.  Sometimes Hollywood writers  DO get a good vision.

I lived with yelling behind closed doors, and my grandmother constantly doing what she could to keep me oblibious to these fights.  ( This is where either books and my headphones hooked up to my cassette player came into play or Grams would see if there was something on TV appropriate for me to watch.  The other option was outside to play.)  My parent’s room was across the hall from ours and I could hear every word and the two of them never SEEMED to pay any compliments, or words of support.  I don’t ever remember hearing them say “I love you.”   Yes, your read that right. I don’t ever remember hearing them say to each other “I love you.”

By my sophmore year of High School, I saw that my dad would spend more time in his man cave  in the basement after coming home from his job as principal of a local middle school. He took the job because he had a family to support, even though his passion was to teach science.  There were times I wish he had stayed doing that job, but I know he really wanted to be able to move out of his mother-in-law’s house.  My dad would sit down in the basement man cave, watch sports, take care of his school homework at a desk that I wasn’t supposed to ever disturb and hide from the family.   I think he was trying to avoid my mom so he wouldn’t have to fight.  I don’t think they really knew how to argue fairly.

I  remember my parents biggest arguments were about money.  You can search the internet and find that the number one reason that is quoted for a divorce is money.  It seems there is never enough.   That’s part of the story I get from my dad’s point of view.  I know that my dad wanted to buy a house for our family, so we wouldn’t have to live with Grandma.   I know it disappointed him when that didn’t happen.

As a child and teen I really hated the yelling and screaming.  I was unable to feel that it was safe to bring friends over to the house to play.  I was also very embarassed by it all.  I thought that my family was screwed up.  I never saw my friends parents fighting or yelling at each other.   I also wasn’t a stand up kid.  I was told that “good boys” don’t fight or say mean things.  I got picked on because I didn’t have the cool clothes, the big “nerd” glasses and I enjoyed big band music.  As a kid this didn’t help when I’d go to  a friend’s house and have no idea who Van Halen was.  It wasn’t that the type of music wasn’t allowed in the house as a kid, we just didn’t listen to it.    I did play basketball in grade school but found I wanted to play drums.  Labeled early on as a band geek and nerd, I accepted what others were saying of me.  It hurt.  I’d go home and tell mom and dad about  this.  Mom just hugged me. I’m not sure if dad did anything or approach his fellow principal.  What I do remember was that my dad did attempt to get me to fight back, but my heart just wasn’t in picking a fight because I heard my parents fights and I didn’t want to get hurt.

I was afraid that if my friends did come over while my parents were there,  I would have to make an excuse for them.  I’ve read books about children of alchololics who would  provide excuses for their parents actions and behavior.  Paul Coughlin, author of “No More Christian Nice Guy”, told a story like that in the book of the same name.  My parents were NOT alcoholics, due to the rule at Grams (that was our nickname for Grandma),  of no alcohol in her house, which to this day I’m grateful for. If my parents had been alcoholics, it could have been more than just yelling.   Still I feel just like Paul when my parents fought.  I didn’t want to make excuses for them, or take care of them.   Were they not to take care of me?

What I learned from my parents when it came to fighting was yell until you get your way.  In other words,  BE A BRAT!  Even in my own marriage this carried over.  The first few years of Kathleen’s and my marriage became a shouting match. The only way it would stop would be with me ending up hitting her, threaten to leave her, only to back down and cry for her not to kick me out.   I’m still embarrassed that I let my anger and distress of needing to KNOW that she loved me caused me to loose control over my emotions.  I will go into deeper details on this in just a bit. It needs to be revealed.  Guys, it’s gonna piss you off and I hope that you might just recognize yourself a bit in this.

As I have said, I don’t blame my parents for my actions, but when I would hear their fights,  unwittingly  they showed me the way NOT to fight and unknowinly taught me to always get my way.  Though I think that neither of them ever really won.

I also learned from my dad that you keep the fight only in the house. You put on a mask and not talk to anyone else about what is happening.  I have found this to be very destructive and dishonest to do.  Hiding your fights from your friends and try to go it alone is not good at all.  It brings on depression.   “I want you to love me.  You don’t love me.  I hate you.   I don’t I love you. Nobody loves me.”    This would go through my head.  As a kid it’s your parents who should be showing you unconditional love.  Due to the yelling matches I saw what people who put conditions on their marriage and not built on Godly love, but on attraction only.   I can testify to this because with the help of a good friend, a wife who has forgiven me for my past behavior and that I’ve come to forgive myself for my anger and letting God speak to me and guide me through prayer and insight.

Women value their friendships with other women.  Guys, you need a buddy.  There are some men who still believe that they have to go it alone, ala John Wayne cowboy.  I find this to be a lie.  You  don’t have to have an accountability group guys.  You need ONE good friend who you can tell everything to that you wouldn’t want to say to your spouse!   Have that person to throw the mess around with so you don’t end up saying something that will be demeaning , not true and make your marriage suffer.    I have a really good buddy named Mike  Wright, who I met at the right time in my life.  I can always text him now or call him and he is my sounding board and helps me get out of my head and back to reality.

Learn how to fight  fare with words and not with anger.  It’s alright to get heated but if you let that anger control you instead of you controlling the emotion, you will end up doing more that just saying things.  It can lead to physical abuse. I know this because it did. I am not proud of that.   When you get out of control and raise your hand against your spouse, you have crossed a line that can put you in jail.

Yes, I did hit my wife and I would do it in such a way that I could make it hurt and not leave a heavy mark.  I did evil acts.  I wish that I could go back in time  and stop myself.  I had a lack of self control.  I let my emotional sate take over. There are times that I still think of that I’ve yet to forgive myself for doing.   I’m very grateful that I never ended up in jail.  I’m very grateful for one social worker who helped me get counseling to recognize my thought process that ended up getting to the point of love me or I’m gonna hurt you.

Kathleen has forgiven me.

You have NO idea what that does for one’s soul and how much that humbles you.  How much forgiveness like this starts to change you.  Moves you away from such evil and into pure love.   That last part was very hard to write.

Self control  is very important to learn early on.   I wish I had learned how to do this before I got married.  I was taught that if you are angry to go to your room and don’t come out til you calm down and can talk, not yell.  Again it was “do as we say, don’t do as we do.”

Parents, be consistent.  Hold yourself to the same things that you expect your children to do.  I find that my children respect that.  I do as I say.  Have I done it every time?  No, but I’m being more aware and stopping before I get into a yelling match.   I’ve even told my kids that if I don’t calm down or walk away and they feel threatened by me, do not hesitate, call 911!

Having children really can change you, only if you are aware that they do see and hear everything you do.  Remember what I said about the yelling matches about my parents.  I learned that from them.  I don’t blame them for my imitating it.   I do believe that as parents you need to have self control in place before being married and having children. Otherwise, as I have learned, you  have to learn self control very quickly and it causes some distress in your head as you are changed for the better.  It’s not easy.  Don’t go through this alone.

.  You have to be in full control of yourself, which is a sign of love.  Self control is something that we tend to not teach our children now.   I have been lucky, really lucky that I’ve received grace and love to grow out of my childish way. I have learned how to walk away from an argument before it becomes a fight.  To be humble enough to let my wife have the last say.  Hey it feels great when you do get the last word, but only when it is earned through love.  I don’t remember what that fight was about, but when the words “Yeah, your right sweetie.  I’m sorry” came out, I was floored.  I only remember I won and it didn’t feel like I forced the answer I wanted out of my wife.

.  I don’t feel so angry about my parent’s divorce anymore.  I feel that by my wife accepting me, forgiving me and the sense that she is in this till the day our bodies stop working, that this is God’s provision of  His love.    I’ve also learned that no matter what I’ve done, God loved me from the beginning.  It’s been said that humans minds work on a fight or flight mentality.  This is true when someone is attacking you.  I feel though that this is a sickness that can be cured by letting go of fear and learning to live in God’s love.  I really had to put God first in every matter in my life.

As Kathleen and I have grown more together through our years of wedded tension, I find my anger lessening.  I have less room for such anger.  Less of the me that I grew, and more of the me that God is making.  Even the love I have received to give to my dad is unlimited.

I find now that when we do get into a fight, we are both usually tired, had a hard day at work, or stressed out about money.  By recognizing what is upsetting us we now are able to talk things out..   I find that God doesn’t want me to blow up and say things that I wouldn’t say if I was calm.  (It’s amazing that Kathleen likes  this also 😉 )  I find that you also need to give your fights over to Him.   You need to go to God within and show you HIS idea of fighting.  Let Him take over and you will see a change as He teaches you to control your emotions.

I find when I just give what is bugging me about something Kathleen is doing, or not doing and instead of getting pissed off, I’m asking God what I should do about it, I do get a sense of calm.   Sometimes it’s a urge to call or text Mike and get the frustration out.  Other times it’s just this sense of drop it or go write in a journal or blog about it.

You can break the cycle of parents poor choices and not let it repeat.  It does take a conscious choice, a forgiving spouse, and knowing that when those come together for the goodness of both people, it’s truly from the Peaceable Kingdom of the Heavens.

I find myself as I finish this post I find that I am moving past the fighting to get MY way in this life.  That I really don’t need to do that anymore. I find that God has won the battle in my heart.   I don’t need to beg to get love.   Never needed to.  I don’t have to give up on love.  Love never gives up on us.   I’m not afraid of a fight. But I don’t feel the need to start one.  Love wins this round.

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A New Direction (and I don’t mean I’m joining a Glee Club)

27 07 2013

This week my dad called me and told me he is moving out of my step mom’s house and leaving her.  Another 20 year marriage for him, down the tubes.  Of course he’s not giving a full explanation, I had to find out from a mutual friend that it was from some comment that my step mom made that brought both of them to the decision to call it quits.  It also involves money issues, and fears.  

What I’m finding interesting here is that the pattern had been repeated from when my parents decided to divorce.  That comments were made, the issue  of finances, and fears.  One other thing that I noticed that my dad doesn’t mention,  love. 

 I’ve done Google searches and find that the story of HOW divorce really does mess things up.  There is plenty of scientific reasearch and I’ve know people who have gone through divorce and have come out just fine.  But I find that these stories are either taboo to talk about, or have been completely ignored.

  I have met way too many people who have either divorced, are in the process of being divorced, or had parents who have split.   There is evidence  that divorce is the main threat to the institution of marriage.   Our romantic ideals of what it means to be married is another reason how come people are calling it quits.  Even  in”Christian” entertainment, marriage is portrayed as a sappy romance  instead of the reality that it’s two lives becoming one life lived in harmony with each other. 

I encountered a person who divorced because of a “breach of contract”.  He shipped out for six months on a military tour of duty, came back and found his young bride unequipped to deal with the reality of being married.   He didn’t go into much besides that she couldn’t keep up the trailer they lived in. This soilder went on to say that he felt that because he was going into action that it was expected for him to marry. I fin this a sad statement on how we so badly want to follow a fantasy instead of a God infused reality of what I’m discovering being married really is. 

What I’m discovering, and there are many  life long committed married couples out in the world who would agree with me, that marriage is NOT a contract!   I do see that my generation is getting a mixed message about marriage .  It doesn’t matter if you are gay or straight, marriage is MORE than a contract.   

 

  I was raised in a Methodist tradition, having a dad who’s belief is deist,  a mom who I’m still trying to figure out what her religious belief system is,  a Grandmother who SHOWED me what it means to have faith in a loving God, and marring into a family who live in the Catholic faith, I’ve started to understand that when you marry, it’s NOT a social contract.  It’s much more than just vows.  It is SACRED.  It is SACRIFICIAL.  It’s UNCONDITIONAL!  And you have to keep at it.  ( The ONLY reason for a civil divorce, in my opinion, is infedleity and/or abuse.  It is an unpopular stance to take these days to say stay married and work it out even with the turmoil of domestic abuse.  In these cases there must be a “cooling off” period that may last months or even years and get good counseling.  Yes if you are being abused by a bullying mate, GET THE HELL OUT!  GET HELP!  I speak from experenece here.  That story will be told and it won’t be pretty.)

The terms “divorce” and “seperation”  in today’s socital language seem to be interchangeable.  To keep things clear, when I post about this subject, divorce will mean the act of canceling the marriage by civil laws, leaving each other and starting over.   “Separation” is the act of taking time away from each other, but not filing for divorce.

I will not be “safe” about the story.  I feel that there are too many people who are suffering  with guilt over their parent’s divorce or their own.  I want you to know that you are not alone and that the time has come for me to tell this story, not because I want sympathy,  but to have others know that they are not alone.   That someone else has been through a similar situation.  

The conservative position on marriage has turned the institution into an idol to be worshiped.  This to me is a terrible thing.  I hear people value marriage but not value the people who are married.  We spend tons of money for one day only to say well that day was great but this isn’t what I signed up for.  Where is my happily ever after?  Why does my mate berate and hurt me?   The answer for me is he only loves himself and ONLY himself.  More details on this will happen. 

Marriage is not for timid people or for bullies.  It is a very humbling state to live.  Perhaps some are not built for marriage.  Jesus even told people who were married to stay married.  Very hard to do in a society that says you are more important than the people around you, but you still have to treat people the way you wish to be treated. 

I do see a connection between divorces and bullying.  They both work on fear.  They both work on aggresive anger. They both happen when compassion for another person is not there. 

I must admit this is difficult to do.  No one really likes to point out the ugliness, filth and disgusting actions that define who they were and what it takes to change.  I had posted a while back on how my life had become an empty page and I was unclear on what God was going to do with my life now.  It’s clear now that I need to do this.  I hope you will follow this story.  

 

 





Moved to Tears of Sadness – A New Chapter

24 07 2013

Well, we are moved.  No longer being renters in a house, and now back into an apartment.  Doing what my wife and I had disscussed about doing. Smaller place, cheaper rent, and a community to get to really know.

And I’m finding I really don’t like this. We lived in the house that we were renting for 8 years. My youngest daughter took her first steps, said her first words, and had her first Christmas there. Never again.

I’ve been sad for a few days now.  The combination of unpacking, feeling the loss of sentimental items that were either sold or given away, and the money being very tight, I’ve just fallen into a sulk that is hard to get out of.

We had to sell and give away things that we would have rather kept. I’m thinking about my grandmother’s piano. Oh sure, I haven’t been playing it but it was a part of her and my past that I would love to have held on to. But with an upstairs apartment and no room for it, it had to go. At least it went to a person who will use it and it’s no longer a dust catcher.

I feel though by getting rid of the piano that I’ve given the last part of the woman who was a HUGE influence on me in the garbage. I love her still. I wish she was here right now to help pick me up. I always could pick up the phone and call her when I was really down. She always helped me when the finances were bleak too. And now that is not available. I’ve got some work driving a couple of charters coming up, but we are now at a point where the safety net is broken and a new one is needed. Without grandma now I have to depend on my wife to get me though the sadness.

I hit the point where I just wanted to curl up and die. Not kill myself, but just die. I feel like I’m at the preverbal end of my rope. It feels as if the world that I knew is gone. I have NO idea what is going to happen and I have lost my sense of direction. My wonderful wife told me today that she feels God is with us. She even said that I am wonderful Hard to see that through this fog.

What I used to be so sure about is gone. There is a blank page ahead and I can’t see any words being formed on it. It’s like those blank pages at the beginning and end of a book. They are space fillers. I want to know what is on the pages AFTER those. But I’m unable to see them.

I feel blank. I feel like I have no identity that I can recognize. I KNOW that I’m a husband, father, and bus driver, but that isn’t an identity, is it? These are descriptions of what I do, but is it really my identity?

I don’t feel depressed. This isn’t like when I would feel sorry for myself and cycle down to a point where everything is terrible. I just feel sadness. I feel sorry for my family. I was lucky enough to grow up in one house and never moved from my grandmother’s house. My wife had to move around quite a bit growing up. The two eldest girls have been through moves before. Shelby, the youngest is having problems with this too. I’m saddened that I have not given my family the “American Dream” of having a house to pass on to them. I’m saddened that what we thought would be our living space for at least another 10 years didn’t pan out. I’m saddened that my kids won’t get to experience coming home from college to their house.

I’m saddened that I don’t know what God has in mind for us now.

With that said, my hope is that I can get some sleep, be restored and renewed before I have to drive on Friday. My faith that there IS God is not shaken, but how I THOUGHT he wanted things to go is. This makes me sad too. This must be the type of suffering that builds up a child of God. I’m unsure that this post makes any sense, but if you are feeling sad, this proves that you are not alone in sadness.

I’m not going to attempt to give some kind of pep talk or nice platitudes to make myself feel better or get out of my sadness. Even now, while I’m writing this, my youngest just dropped something and is not in a good mood herself. She’s now crying and she doesn’t even understand why she is. I’m feeling like her, 8 years old, and unsure of what will happen now. Sadness is a state of being that MUST be lived out. I’ll get through this.

I do apologize if this bums you out, reader. Sometimes I think we forget how to have compassion for someone who is sad for no apparent reasons. One thing I have learned from this is to let people cry and don’t hush them or berate them for doing so. I hope that I can cry all this sadness out and rediscover some light hearted joy soon. One chapter ended. The start of this new chapter is sad. I hope when it ends that it will be a happy one.





Realizing that Privilege is a Lie.

11 04 2013

Yesterday afternoon was very interesting for me.  I had to drive a smaller bus.  Now it wasn’t because my 83 passenger bus was downed for maintenance, which I am used to having done, the bus was needed for a charter .  There wasn’t another 83 pack for me to drive.  I hadn’t been on route in a 73 passenger bus in a year and a half..   Most of the time when my bus is going to be used or downed I get a heads up.  There was none.   I carry 55 to 65 students.  An overload for the school I drive for is 58.  This was upsetting and  I felt like someone had taken away a personal item.  Things took a slight turn towards darkness. 

Every single kid got on the bus saying , “Where’s our bus?  Why don’t we have our bus?  This bus sucks!”  The kids would not quiet down enough at first for me to give an explanation for the smaller bus.  The 8th graders got upset that I said they needed to share the back seats that were usually assigned to them.   I was missing 10 seats due to the smaller sized bus.  It then hit me very hard. 

 

The USA is TOO privileged.  A sense that just because we are here we OWN everything.  And I was just as guilty about this feeling as the students. 

 

The kids on the bus wanted “their” bus.  No, it’s the school districts and if the larger bus is needed it’s got to go, even without it’s regular diver. 

I found myself upset that MY bus wasn’t going on route.  For goodness sake, it’s MINE.  No, it’s the school district’s bus, you get to drive it when you can. 

We think that “ownership” is what we need.  The reality is that EVERYTHING, from the clothes on our backs, to the vehicles we drive, to even the food we eat is not ours to own. 

All these things are for our use, but not for us to keep.   I find that when I have taken pride of ownership of a thing, like a car or even my own kids, I like how that feels for a few days or months and then that feeling fades.  I then just take for granted that I’ll ALWAYS have the car.  Then the warning lights start to come on.  I start ignoring them.  Then the engine locks up.  It’s done.  I’m left with either getting a new car or relying on public transport and walking.   There is a loss of privilege. 

Or should I have felt this in the first place?  I think not.  

I then realized we are all BLESSED to be here.  When I sense that I am blessed, I don’t feel privileged, that sense of entitled to something.  Younger children understand what it means to be privileged.  Like the kids on my route riding in our regular bus in the AM, to all of a sudden having to ride a smaller bus,  not liking it because “it’s not our bus and this one sucks” we all need to see that it’s not about getting your own way and about what is best for all.  

I must admit that I was upset that I didn’t get MY bus.  This morning I am humbled that our Heavenly Father has taught me another lesson on my resurrection life.  Just because I have earned a school bus credential, doesn’t mean that I will always have the same bus.  Just because I follow Jesus doesn’t mean that I will have “no problems” though out my life. 

I’ve come to understand that the so called “privieged elite”,  either religious or financially are living a lie.  Just because you know Jesus, have a ton of money, or both, you are not more or less privileged than I.  

My hope this morning is that I will be able to drive my usual bus.  But if not, that is fine.  I will still have a bus to drive, just not the one I would prefer to drive.  I will have to deal with kids being out of their comfort level.  I will have to drive the bus differently due to where the wheels are.  My usual bus front tires are behind the driver, the other style, they are in front.  Many things that I take for granted on my usual bus are gone.  I have to re adjust. 

This is what happens when you see that privilege is just an illusion, but oh what a tempting illusion it is.  

I find that Jesus was NEVER under the influence of privilege.  He understood that he WAS, but never lorded that over his disciples or other people.  He humbled himself.  He didn’t take for granted what we do.  He used things because they needed to be used, not for the sake of the thing being there, but because it has a purpose.   Finding your purpose is humbling and you then sense that there is a reason for you to be here.  You find you don’t look at the things of this world and want it.

I find that the idea of being privileged is compatible to being OF the world.  We are NOT of this world, but we are to live IN the world.  The things here are for use, but not our individual use.  Does that make sense?   Not to a person who thinks that the world is for their use and their use alone.  

We still have a long way to go before we reach a state of being that will resound the ideal Kingdom of the Heavens.  

So today, I’m going to be grateful for what I am able to use.  I’m going to be grateful for my work, no matter what kind of bus I’m driving.  I’m going to be loving and kind, but firm in what I need to do. 

Rich or poor, religious or not, we need to stop seeing ourselves as privileged to be here and to start living as greateful and blessed people who don’t NEED to be privileged. 

 

Amen!

 

 

 

 





REAL Defense of Marriage

27 03 2013

I’ve tried to keep my voice out of this debate about “gay marriage” but I feel moved to push against this war and start a different movement.  One that doesn’t focus on “rights” but on the characters of those who ARE married or want to get married.   FIGHT TO KEEP YOUR MARRIAGE GOING! 

The standard in the USA today seems to be that the act of marriage is just a social contract that can be broken when one or both people are tired of each other and want their “freedom”.   This image doesn’t help when most married couples in movies and TV are presented as  little kids playing house and there is no real commitment to each other.   The last time I saw a real committed couple on screen in was Steve Martin and Diane Keaton in the remake of Father of The Bride.  Our culture would rather have us be individualistic to the point of not needing each other or even commit to a vision.  So the real problem is not that homosexuals want to have the same civil rights that a traditional marriage, it’s the traditional marriage that the couple doesn’t submit to each other and work to make the marriage be a safe haven, unconditional place of love, acceptance, and to help each other heal from the wounds of the past.     

  My wife had been living  with a very passive/aggressive little boy.  Without realizing it at the time, I was looking to replace my mom.  I wanted someone to take care of me.  I bought into the lie that in marriage that the man of the house is the king and the wife is the “helper”.  By that I mean slave.   I found out that the reality of marriage, the “happily ever after” was over romanticized.  I demanded love.  I would throw tantrums. I became abusive to my wife.  The manchild that I was didn’t see my wife as an equal.  I was a bully.   

My wife and I filed for a divorce together and separated.  

  This was the moment I turned back to God. 

I spent some time getting to understand God again.  I went back to the Methodist church and started to heal from the wounds that I gave myself.  A few months later I got a call from wife saying that she had gone back to a Catholic church and felt that God wanted her to call me.   With that conversation  I see this as LOVE, GRACE and the LORD proving to us that we were MEANT to be together.   We got back together and started having children.  But even then I was still not changed.  I fell back into the same habits and was a demanding child in an adult body.  I still was abusive.  And I was being a stay at home dad, which went against the traditional model of marraige  that I had grown up with. There was no example to follow in that.  I felt like less of a male and more of a failure.  It wasn’t until much later that I really understood that God had created a new creation in me and part of the stay at home dad thing was to help me heal and change my heart.  

 Kathleen and I became very active in a local Methodist congregation.   There I found the example on how to be married became from the Pastor and her husband.  Pastor Becky Goodwin and Chuck Meyer.  The other example for me on how to be married is my in-laws.  Bruce and Susan Burton.  You see, the example set for me on how a couple should act when married  broke up when I was 18.  I grew up with parents who fought , it seemed, all the time.   My parents fought about money, career, and even how to raise the kids.  

Growing up in house where my dad had taught science and then became a principal and a mom who never seemed satisfied with the life she had and then having a Grandma who was a midwestern Methodist, I got a very interesting education in liberalism and conservatism.    I also saw how a social marriage worked and not a marriage put together by God.  Harsh words but this is how I perceive this. 

Thank GOD for the Burtons and the Goodwin-Meyers.  They showed me what a real marriage is all about.  My father-in-law taught me that sometimes it’s best for the husband to “just go along for the ride”.  Chuck Meyer showed me what it is to be a loving father and spouse and to be able to have individual interest while supporting emotionally his wife.  Chuck also helped the small town of Rancho Cordova CA obtain cityhood so it wouldn’t have to depend on Sacramento for everything.  He spent a good deal of time at home with his kids.  He passed away from Melanoma in the brain a few years ago.  

These are TWO men who have a love of Christ that they may not speak of, but show with their actions how they relate to their God.  So now I feel it’s time to pass on this image.  

The real defense of YOUR marriage is to stop thinking that the relationship is all about yourself.  A marriage is more than just the social benefits recognized by a tax code,  or a hospital who says that you are family.  GOD sees and understands love, for I do believe that He put it in the heart of everyone.  You forget this because there is a sinister force in the world that really wants people to think that they are all alone.  There is an evil that want you to be all about yourself, just look at the story of Jesus being tempted in the desert.   I really do think that Jesus is FOR people being committed to each other in Agape.  I have experienced that myself.    

So if you are gay, straight or something in between  and want to be in a committed relationship that is more than just a social contract that will be recognized by the state, GO FOR IT!  But don’t make it all about you.  Make the sacrifice and start doing things for your partner.  Don’t go around flirting with other people.  Settle down and start enjoying each other.   Let the  romance become something more and deeper.   Don’t enter into a marriage lightly.  Your life will only change if you finally commit to someone besides your own selfish ego.  You will find that having children forces you out of adolescence,  and you will have to deal with that evil voice telling you that you are king.  You will be tempted many times to cheat and act the way the world is telling you should act.  That you are still an individual and that you are the most important person.  Make sure you have people who can keep you grounded and honest in your relationship with your partner. 

As for those who are against gays living with each other, examine your own life first before making a judgement about the life that YOU are denying yourself.    Seek within your heart and ask God to examine you inside and out.   Even if you are an unbeliever I trust that you can take an inventory of what goes on in your inner being and get the help so you won’t just go on your own definition and understanding first.  

I am on a mission.  That mission is to prevent bullying in ANY relationship.  That mission is to prevent people from marrying for JUST social benefits.  My mission is to tell this story you have just read so you will not make the same mistakes that I have made.   This is also an appeal to ALL males.  It doesn’t matter to me if you are attracted to the same sex, but do realize that your actions will set the course for ANY relationship.  Make sure you have learned to have self control in any situation, other wise you are headed for a break up that you might not come back from.  As crazy as it sounds, put GOD first in your life and see what happens.  You don’t have to start with the Bible or any Religious ideal.  Ask your heart what it needs, not what it wants. 

As for those of you who choose NOT to marry at all.  Good for you.  The truth is that not everyone needs to be married, no matter what society says.  I believe that marriage is NOT for everyone, but for those that really want to be with a person and live a life together til each other’s body is worn out, be kind to each other.  See each other as a divinely made human.  Be quick to forgive.  Don’t “play” house.  LIVE out your life and see how it enhances your loved one.  Build on Agape, not infatuation, looks or financial gains.   

For me marriage is now a haven AND Heaven on Earth.   Oh there’s those days where the kids get to my soul and make me want to let the bully out again, but my wife is now there to stop him.  I find that my old “broken” childhood family is no longer an issue. For many years I kept wishing and attempting to put back my mom and dad in a place where I could have them nearby, but I’ve come to understand that will never happen now.  They both have new lives and even though they brought me into the world, I thank my Heavenly Father and brother Jesus for being the head of my life.  I now have the family I always wanted.  It took giving up what I thought the family model should be and let God guide us.  

If there was anything that I could put into a Constitution about marriage is that it should not be entered into on a whim, lust or without the guidance of another married couple. I know that would never be put in because it really DOES make good common sense.   

It’s time to stop equating marriage with civil laws.  It’s time to stop defending an institution and return marriage to what it SHOULD be.  A joining of two souls to become one.  That each person brings hurts to each other and that we love each other though the hurts to become whole again.  It’s time to LOVE as you are LOVED. 

This is the REAL protection of a marriage and that the marriage is BLESSED.  

YOU and your spouse will NOT be hurt by two people of the same sex entering to a marriage recognized by your  city, state, country or world.  Your marriage may not be of the “American”  ideal, but if it’s built on Agape, you will reflect the God you follow.  





Cookies, Trust, Fraud and Forgiveness

17 03 2013

As you may have heard or seen on KATU and other local Portland news that a Girl Scout troop mom got hoaxed on a giant order of cookies.  My daughters are in those troops.  And the whole thing became very surreal to me.  

During the past week as my wife kept me updated on what was happening, I had some feelings about this hoax.  I was first agitated that a person would even do this to young girls.  From time to time people will place orders and not pay for cookies, but not on the scale that this person ordered.  But over the years in my own experience in retail sales, fraud and lies find their way into business, even those that adhere to the rules.  

Having married a Girl Scout, I understand that trust is one of the biggest values that is taught to a Scout.  My wife has taught me more about being truthful and trustful than any book or church sermon.  So when someone does something so deceitful to a group, especially young children, you wonder HOW the group or person will act.  

Considering how many people’s comments on news websites about this hoax are very supportive of the troop, there are just as many that are built on fear and “they have no street smarts/ common sense” ideas.   I’ve just come to accept that there are people who THINK that they are doing good when they make comments that are hindsight.  There is the old saying that hindsight is 20/20.  Perhaps people who make those kind of comments need to learn a bit more about self control themselves and really read their post before pushing “publish”. 

I had to witness the line of people at the sale on the internet.  My wife had to go out of town with our teen girl scout for an event for their troop and I chose to stay here at home because I didn’t see the need for me to go.  There were enough volunteers to help the girls.   I sat there seeing people who are not associated with the troop showing up on a Saturday at a location that really is hard to get to and buying as an act of kindness.   I felt I was watching a real life Hallmark movie.  It felt so surreal.   

Saturday evening watching the full article on KATU I felt so much love for these girls.  That people understood that the person who made this horrible joke on the troop was not going to have their way.   That the girls got a second chance to earn the points for camp. 

Then I went back to reading postings on sites.  Those that posting that the hoax really was being done by the mom in the troop just because they didn’t make the troops sales goals. The postings that were founded on ignorance on how the cookie sales work.  I honestly felt that my family was under attack.  

Then I remembered one small part of the news articles that didn’t get the attention of the “far right fear mongers”.  The mom who took the order forgave the person who did the hoax.  Yes, she FORGAVE the person. Check it out, it’s there in the articles but you might just miss it because we don’t look for forgiveness.   There was no reason given to the media WHY the person did the fake order in the first place. According to the person who took the order, when she spoke to this person “wanted to help the girls out” but upon asking about not paying, the person didn’t think it would be that big of a deal if payment wasn’t done. According to my source, this is not the first time this person has done something of this nature.
I’m not sure if the media doesn’t find this part of the story worth talking about, or that it would be considered deformation of character, and please understand I’m only realting what information I have. But to make this all good it takes forgiveness. Unconditional forgiveness. This is where I saw the Kingdom of Jesus happen.    It takes courage these days to forgive when so many people would want some kind of revenge.  Thank you for forgiving. 

This is where I find that real justice has been done by Jesus’ Father!  

Look at what happened.  All these people who don’t personally know our troop came out to help. To show this joker that what you did was wrong. Saying that “you did this to the least of these and so you did it to God.”  

What I saw now over these past two days was what is promised by Jesus.   The Spirit of Love stepped in and defeated the trickster, the liar, and WON!  

My hope is that we can all forgive each other for mistakes, poorly timed jokes, and even those things that lead to death.  My hope to is that the person who did this hoax can learn to forgive themselves and to never do this again.  That is what Jesus would tell her to do.  That is what I’m telling this person.  

I’m not mad at the person who started this.  I am grateful to all those who came to support the troops.  I am also grateful to all those who purchase the cookies during the regular sales. You do support a wonderful organization.  

My greatest hope though is that everyone, from the parents of the troop, to the leaders of the troop and to the Girl Scouts of America, that we can really learn the lesson of grace and love that pours out of the Divinely human heart.  

This bit of scripture that came to mind and seems even more fitting in this situation, especially since we are about to enter into the season of resurrection/ Easter  :  

“Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

 Hey, Jesus said this, not me.  

My hope is that we all can do this same thing.  





Mysteriously Enchanting

19 01 2013

MAGICAL: adj. mysteriously enchanting

I’ve been reminding myself about the word “magical”.  That this entire world is very magical. That we are magical creatures.  A perpetual being.  That we found the way to make small explosions to make a heavy metal machine and travel at speeds beyond our bodies capability is magical.   We have even found a way to fly.  Though not like the birds, but yet we can still be in the air.  

Some would say to thank “science” and that there is no “magic” behind it. I find all of these human creations to be mysteriously enchanting. Magical!

 

I remember seeing my daughters when they were small toddlers look at the birds in fascination.  Then pretend that they were a bird.  The pure simplicity of just enjoying that magical moment.   

In many of my Facebook circles I see people who have thought that magic is an evil and bad thing.  I’ve also seen people decrying the value of mystical thoughts.  People forgetting that magic comes from a LOVING heart.

 

We entered into the Advent and Christmas season this past year with a terrible tragic events. We were reminded on how “un-magical” the world can be.  In a season that is filled with stories that remind us on how angels, a very mystical magical being, sang.  How a jolly fat elf goes around the world with his magic red nosed reindeer to bring presents.  How a man was born to show us The Way.  A man who would then die and come back to life.  A very magical story!  

The magic of the season was disrupted by a very evil act.  As a parent, I know that if my children were killed in such a horrific act that I would end up living in a world where magic would now be lost.  I can see myself reacting in ways that would not be fitting of one who claims to be in Christ.

  Belligerent, anti communal,  possibly going and purchasing a gun for protection.

 

But I still have my children. They were NOT shot and killed.  They are still here.  The magical being that they are is still here.  I’m sad for those parents who have lost their magical children.  The pain that they are going through is NOT unthinkable.  Anyone who has had a loved one die can understand the pain.

 I’m disappointed though that there are people who now are so fear filled that they now want to lock up their magical children in walls.  I’ve seen what can happen to children that go to school and they hate it because the place feels like a prison to them. In High School I felt like this. The point of education in the United States seems to be to develop a working class society in the USA. Most kids when they are “locked up” in school do not understand WHY we require BY THE LAW for them to be educated. School is becoming a non magical experience. A “factory” to put out the American person. I see it in the parents who have forgotten what it is like to see the world in a magical way. Teachers are “teaching to the test” instead of inspiring the students to discover the world around them.

There needs to be a balance between the magical and the practical again. Practicality has taken over reality and needs to be pushed back a bit. We need not solve every mystery that comes around to be in love with each other. Perhaps those of us that are in love with extremes of critical thinking and those of magical fantasies were to spend a few months in each others mind-state, we could stop worrying so much about attacks that may or may not happen. We could stop fearing our “rights” being taken away from us. We can and should stop all the nonsensical fears and realize that we are magical beings.

We need to live in a magical place again. I find that LOVE is very magical . Love heals when a doctor can’t. Love creates a safe place when vile acts of violence disturb the peace. Love resurrects old ways that really have never left and makes them new.

The more I remember and really do SEE the magical presence of being IN Jesus’ Way, the more I feel that we all do not need to worry about money, thing, even evil acts. With love there is no fear of evil. In love all things are possible, but not every thing is beneficial. When you can bare all the hatred, doubt, fear and anguish without relenting to these, you have found how magical love really is.

As a country, we have a long journey through LOVE to go on. This is not found on a map or in a Bible or even through meditation. It is a mysteriously enchanting to develop this type of view. I started off by reading the Bible, but when I started to see how the text IS a full and abundant description of a life in LOVE, It became an intoxicating way, and I want more of this view. It involves learning to be in a romantic state without over romanticizing what has gone before. LOVE is giving hope to someone who thinks that owning a gun is the solution to keeping yourself safe. It’s understanding that LOVE does not murder, and yet there will still be murders. It’s knowing that just because you have a gun, knife, or some kind of weapon, that it’s not the weapon that makes you safe, but on how you LIVE with everyone around you.

It’s putting away a childish view on the shelf, and not throwing it away, but looking to that shelf to remember what it is like to be in that state of LOVE. To be enchanted in a beneficial way that brings life and not death. Death is only a transition.

This is the magical life in Christ that I have and continue to experience. May you find this in your life too.

Go in LOVE and peace.