The power in a Voice…

The power in a Voice…

All throughout the sports of my childhood, there is one thing I still remember well. The voice of my dad ripping throughout all of the environment…the cheerleader cheers, the coaches yelling, the fans screaming….his sounds piercing through my eardrums and I immediately recognized the voice without hesitation. It was in the times that he called me by name that is especially got my attention. When you combine the familiar voice of someone that loves you with the name given to you at birth, it’s almost impossible not to give it attention even if you are trying to focus on other things.
We all know that feeling. Whether it is like the sports dad getting your attention or even your momma calling out your full name that nobody else knows, about to lay a whipping on you for doing something wrong. We are drawn to the voices of those that know us well and those we know well. We recognize their sounds easily, we know their voice, and we are hard wired to recognize those voices quickly, often times without consciously trying.

One of my favorite stories of Easter is one that doesn’t very commonly get preached about on Sunday mornings. It is mentioned as part of the Easter story, but most times gets ran through as other sermons and messages are relayed to those in attendance.

11 Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. 12 She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. 13 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her. “Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. 15 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?” She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”16 “Mary!” Jesus said. She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).

John 20:11-18 gives the account of Mary Magdalene coming to the tomb. Mary had been one of Jesus’ closest followers throughout His ministry, being a woman saved  from demonic possession to being mentioned as often as most of the 12 disciples. This was a woman who knew Jesus well and Jesus knew her well. On that morning, when she went to the tomb and found the stone away and the body gone, she lost it. She wept and cried and must have been so overcome with emotion that her Savior had been stolen that she was downright hysterical. She was so hysterical and overtaken with emotion that when she saw two angels, she wasn’t even surprised or taken aback. These were two white robed angels hanging out in the tomb, and all she did was half heartedly answer them, probably without even looking at them. Even when Jesus popped onto the scene, she doesn’t even recognize His voice asking what she’s doing, and doesn’t even bother to answer His questions. She is more concerned about finding His body that she isn’t even paying attention to her surroundings.

Now this is my favorite part in the entire account. Verse 16. It often gets lost in the message, but it is so overwhelmingly important to see. He calls out to her. He speaks her name. I picture her walking right by Him as she’s answering His first questions, mostly ignoring Him out of grief and shock, getting several yards away to continue the search for His body. Then she hears it….then she hears HIM. The voice pierces through her ears in a way that she knows immediately who is calling. Her soul instantly recognizes that voice calling out to her, calling out to her soul, calling out to her existence. She doesn’t even have to turn around to see Him to know that is in Him, because she already knows. I bet she freezes on the spot when she hears it and is calling out “RABBONI!” before she even turns fully to see Him. In that instant, all of her darkness fades….all of her weeping ceases….all of her absent joy erupts inside. She hears her Teacher’s voice, and she knows He is near.

To this day, He is still calling out to each one of us. In the world it is so easy to be overtaken by so many things and get lost. Tragedy strikes and we turn into helpless victims of the pain and grief. We are so blinded by despair that we don’t even recognize white robed angels in front of us. So internally shaken that we can look upon our Teacher as we turn and leave that we don’t even recognize Him. It takes His calling to ground us, to bring us back to life and recognize immediately He is in our midst. He calls out to US in a way that He called out to Mary. Not an aggressive or commanding call…but a comforting and “Hey, it’s me..and I’m here for you” kind of call. As soon as you recognize His calling, you turn and see Him, arms open wide, even taking steps toward you….calling you to His embrace….calling you to His comfort. All too often we think we can handle the burden of this life on our own. We are constantly looking to be saved, yet we are so overtaken by life that often times we don’t even recognize the Savior as we walk by. The good news is that He knows you. He knows everything about you. He knows your soul. And He’s calling. Take comfort and rest in the arms of the Rabboni today. He has conquered death…He has experienced loss and wept openly…He knows all that we could ever go through….He is Almighty God and has cast out demons….He has angels and followers by the millions….but He knows YOU…He knows you intimately….And He is calling out YOUR name…turn and run into His embrace…

PS. I think it would be a grand time to point out another thing us men can all learn from this passage. When Jesus called out to Mary in the midst of her despair, he never said “Calm down.” Even Jesus knows no matter how lovingly he called out to her after that, he would still have the wrath of a woman on His Almighty Butt for telling her to calm down….

HE IS RISEN!

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Words that rhyme

Words that rhyme

The Conductor

Every day we feel emotion pulse through our veins,
yet we are in charge of them like a conductor on trains.
Whether it be positive or negative one thing is undeniably true,
the only one responsible for how you ultimately feel is you.
From sadness or joy to anxiety or peace,
these emotions build up in us and require release.
Yelling and swearing or tear stains from crying,
An excited dance or laughter so hard you’d think you were dying.
Heartbeat flutters and stomach butterflies from love,
to soul shattering memories from losing that mentioned above.
Stresses at work and life add up to,
basically every little thing we will ever do.
No one is safe from this daily cycle of thought,
so why not take control and win the battle fought?
Down both roads of the ups and the downs,
You can choose whether it’s going to be a smile or the frowns.
When it’s all good and you’re feeling the grin,
Take full enjoyment in the moment, take it all in.
This joy and peace that you have now deep in the soul,
can be given to others, that’s the ultimate goal.
Share a smile with a stranger, a hug with a friend,
the next day turn around and do it all over again.
But know that it’s not permanent, this feeling of delight.
Because with every day’s end will always come night.
That’s when you must choose just how you will feel,
The sadness and darkness don’t have to be real.
So when you find yourself in the world of the bad,
remind your head and your heart about worse that’s been had.
Someone somewhere has it worse off than you,
and God has given you strength to completely make it through.
That won’t fully take away the pain that you know,
But use that moment for gratitude and let your soul grow.
Embrace the bite that the heart may take deep,
and know that from sadness, true joy you can reap.
Don’t ignore the feelings of that deep, deep despair,
simply allow full emotion and for the soul to repair.
Choose gratitude and faith in those moments of doubt,
don’t hold back the emotions, let it all out.
For as deep as the sorrow is that you now go through,
can be quickly turned to joy that is just as deep too.
So grab hold of your heart and strengthen your mind,
leave the victim mentality completely behind.
You are the conductor of your life and although the path may be unknown,
the feelings you allow yourself to feel are up to you alone.
In life there are many emotions we all must go through,
But the effect and the reaction is solely decided by you.

 

 

Beauty and Pain

In life so many emotions and thought patterns exist,
yet each situation can be whittled down to just two on the list.
Beauty and pain are the two biggest things we will ever feel,
they are present and are the very essence of every single ordeal.
Will this make my heart swell into a pulsing vessel of happy,
or will it shatter into a thousand pieces and make me feel crappy?
Those questions remain and the answers seem uncertain,
Until we actually decide to throw back the curtain.
To fully dive blindly into a world of unknown,
Hoping to find water yet knowing it may be stone.
That’s the beauty in the pain and the pain in the beauty,
experiencing both at some point is clearly our duty.
I believe to completely grasp beauty you have to experience pain,
you can’t fully appreciate the sun unless you’ve had to stand in the rain.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not always just one or the other,
both can be felt simultaneously in one way or another.
There’s also beauty so powerful that it can leave us pained,
and pain so earth shaking that within it beauty can be contained.
We’ll never know for sure which one each day will give,
until we jump fully into those situations and just let ourselves live.
Being fearful of the tears or even feeling unworthy of the joy,
Should never keep us from truly living or even being coy.
Live the adventure without worrying about potential sorrow,
For we are just withering away and aren’t promised tomorrow.
Will it bring pain, beauty, or a little bit of both of the two?
I’ll just have to decide when we finally get there which one are you.

 

Two Roads Diverged…

Two Roads Diverged…

Almost everything we encounter on a daily basis involves some sort of choice. What clothes will I wear today? What’s for breakfast/lunch/dinner? How many miles do I have to run if I eat this cheesecake? Should I admit to people that I’m playing the Pokemon Go game? Some decisions are very light and on the surface for us. Other decisions in life cause a great deal of stress, chaos, turmoil, and angst. Should I go to college and if so, which one? What job should I pursue for the rest of my life? Who should I marry? How many kids should I have? Where should I invest my money and how much do I need to save for retirement?  THESE are the types of choices that keep us up late at night; the ones that we constantly struggle with and wonder if we are making the right choices. It can be downright frightening when we arrive upon these situations in life, but we might as well prepare for them because no life is exempt from encountering the scenarios.

There are so many ways we settle in life, and lots of times we don’t even realize it until it is too late. The great news is that once we recognize the signs and the fact that we are settling, it is a tragedy that can be reversed. We are NEVER stuck in what we find ourselves in the middle of unless we allow ourselves to remain there. WE have the power of change. WE have the power of choice. We have to stop putting off today the decisions that could and would bring a better tomorrow. We owe it to ourselves and to our dreams.

Fear of the Unknown vs. Comfort of the Known
This is the biggest reason lots of us find ourselves living out the average decisions in our lives rather than chase our dreams with passion. We know the cards we are working with right now and know the familiarity it brings, so we would much rather be comfortably guaranteed. We are terrified of change and risk taking. We constantly talk ourselves out of better because of the possibility of failure, but all that leads to is regret and living a life dwelling on what might have been. Get comfortable being uncomfortable and chase your passion without apology and without hesitation, even if you run the risk of crashing and burning.

So how do we know we are settling in life anyway? While not all inclusive, I’ve figured out a few on my own.

  • We sacrifice of ourselves too much and too often in relationships – Where there is no compromise, something has to bend or break, and we can find ourselves sacrificing on our end to the point we don’t recognize ourselves anymore. There is a generation of people that think they can change the other party in the relationship as they go. They think that time will allow them to chisel the partner into what they know they need in their lives, ignoring what the partner truly is and will most likely always be at the core. This isn’t the way it is supposed to be or ever will be, and those that think time will eventually change someone will mostly find that time simply passes and the results are still the same. Time is precious and limited, so why waste it?
  • You are bored, tired, burnt out, stressed out, etc – If you need an entire pot of coffee to make it through your day, it might not only be the fact that you’re not getting enough sleep. It could be a deeper fatigue of the soul, and that one requires far more than caffeine ever can provide.
  • You doubt yourself – There are plenty of times we have opportunities arise that we can better ourselves, but lots of times we let them fall by the wayside simply because we don’t think we could pull it off or make it happen. We might not be able to always get what we want, but what if we do?? Stop doubting the possibility of failure and welcome the potential for success.
  • You’re jealous of others – Scrolling through the Newsfeed of Facebook, it’s easy to fall into a funk seeing everyone brag about their vacation spot, their Woman Crush Wednesday, their promotion, their children’s accomplishments, and the list goes on and on. When you start to line your life up to those around you, it’s an easy marker that you aren’t happy with your own life and are settling at the core.
  • You tear down the successes of others – Whenever those around you get that promotion, that perfect love story, or the children who can do anything, do you find yourself happy for them or do you rip them apart? When we’re living a life to its fullest, we will be happy for others to reach their fullest as well. When we’re living a life of mediocrity, we’re quick to try and pull everyone and everything down to our level to make us feel comfortable once again. We subconsciously teach ourselves that success is a bad thing, and our lives will fall into line with that behavior. Just because we don’t fail doesn’t mean we are succeeding.

So knowing just a few of the TONS of hints we are settling at something in life, how do we go about fixing the situation? It’s fairly easy as long as we commit to the steps often and in every aspect of life.

  • Make yourself happy – Lots of people are taught this is a selfish and terrible thing, but you have to live with yourself the rest of your life. Why wouldn’t you want what is best for you and your remaining time? There are people that give of themselves so much and so often that they don’t have any energy or time to take care of themselves, and that is not ok. You owe it to yourself and your Creator to ensure a life that makes you happy as you seek God’s will for you. There is no job, possession, or soul that can make you happy unless you first make yourself happy.
  • Be prepared to work hard – Sometimes the perfect job, romance, house, situation falls right into our laps, making it easy to grab a hold of (if we don’t allow doubt and hesitation to ruin it). MOST of the time, however, we have to fight for what is best for our lives constantly. When we fight for that, we must be prepared to fight the entire battle and not just until it gets too rough. All too often success is found on the other side of just about giving up. Give 110% just at the chance to get yourself where you need to be. Anything less would be unfair to yourself.
  • Find accountability – We have to surround ourselves with people that are seeking the best for themselves as we embark on our own journey. Whenever we encounter struggle or failure, having those people nearby that know what we are going through may make the difference between persevering or stopping altogether. That can be a close lifelong friend, spouse, roommate, family member, or even a support group you find in your area. We need people to strengthen us on the journey. Very rarely does anyone climb Mt. Everest solo. There is power in numbers.
  • Erase negativity – On the flipside of positive power in numbers, there is negativity as well. If you are around the people that are settling, you will become one of the successful ones they will tear down as you reach new heights. If they are unable to complete the journey with you and raise themselves to higher standards, they will only try and pull you back down to where they are. Sometimes letting go of someone is the hardest thing to do, but it might be the only thing to do if we are to ever find that extraordinary life.
  • Be honest with yourself – It’s easy settling and being average in life. There is a lot less pain and energy spent when you’re not going against the flow and just settle into mediocrity. There are far too many of us that choose to live this life and be comfortable. When we chase our desires of greatness, we have to truthfully accept the road will be challenging, painful, and uncomfortable. If we own this knowledge, the process might truly suck, but we can enjoy the journey itself knowing there is an end goal in mind. Being honest with yourself about the journey not being just puppy dog tails and rainbows is the only way you can endure the hardship that is sure to be ahead.

When you settle, it is never without cost to the soul. It may not seem as if anything negative is going on at the surface, but it’s impossible to ignore the fact that it is eroding the soul from the truest version of itself.  No matter the situation in life, you wouldn’t have the longing for more if you didn’t have the power and capability to see it through to the end. At the end of the day, if risk isn’t your thing and you still are comfortable with average, it would be a lie to not include the fact that settling is definitely an option for each of us. It’s a choice you can live out, but only if you’re prepared to desperately try and  ignore the “What might have beens”. You cannot go back and make a brand new beginning…but you can start NOW and make a brand new ending…

 

The Joy of Being Anxious

The Joy of Being Anxious

Heart starts racing a million pounding beats a second. Palms are clammy and your head is spinning dizzily around the room but you’re paying more attention to the fact that your chest is so tight you can’t seemingly muster a deep enough breath to satisfy your need for oxygen. You start to look around at those around you peacefully unaware of the explosion of adrenaline pulsing through your own body, wondering how stupid they’ll think you are if they knew you are fighting to stay sane in the moment. Your vision becomes tunneled and everything moves miles away. You eventually start hyperventilating due to the panic that is setting in and you feel as if you’re going to flip out and go crazy or even drop dead in an instant, and you know you can’t stop the onset of dread and terror that your mind has begun. The fight or flight ride of agony has begun and you are a victim of your thoughts and the emotions that come with it, enduring a never ending glimpse into hell itself.

Anxiety disorders affect about 40 million adults (18 or older), or about 18% of the population. For those of you that aren’t mathletes, about 1 in every 5 Americans have regularly experienced the situation above, and many more have had at least one episode. This is the most common “mental illness” in America, yet there is still so little understood about the process. My experience with and now love for anxiety begins years ago…

I was in the 6th grade in two groups called Sunrise Singers and Recorder Rascals. Please hold your applause AND your jealousy…We practiced early in the mornings before class, and were ready to roll into Central Elementary for a school wide concert. During the singing portion of the concert, I begun to feel tingly in my feet and arms and the gymnasium suddenly became non-regulation size, increasing to a mile long by two miles wide. My head inflated like a hot air balloon and was floating feet above my body, weightless but weighing 3 tons all at the same time. I didn’t understand what was going on but after we were done singing, I had to sit down and watch the rest of the Recorder Rascals bring the heat on Hot Cross Buns and Mary Had A Little Lamb while I brought the heat slowly breathing into a brown paper bag, pondering what I had just experienced. The teacher who supplied the bag casually informed me I simply hyperventilated, and unbeknownst to either of us, it would forever change who I was and who I would become as an adult.

After that seemingly simple event, I was never able to sit comfortably in a large group of people. Even though I never passed out during the concert, knowing that I could have done that impacted me deeply in my mind and psyche. Whenever I was in a large crowd, the same panic progression occurred, igniting terror throughout my chubby 10 year old self. These events kept occurring because I was afraid I was going to pass out and make a fool of myself in a group of people, even though ironically I have never passed out (and still haven’t to this day). You see, in the middle of a panic attack, the mind doesn’t even remotely think logically or naturally. It is a raging hurricane, violently sending waves of fear crashing over the walls of harmony, disrupting life completely and dealing damaging blows to the foundations of life itself. This fear of passing out soon gave way to the fear of the panic itself, leading to daily panic attacks to a young child meant to be living a carefree preteen lifestyle.

This was a time back when “panic attack” and “anxiety” weren’t really household words, especially to a young boy. I had no clue what was going on; all I knew is that it sucked terribly and there was no one around me that understood what was going on. I bottled these emotions and the entire situation up inside so no one would find out and make fun of my vulnerability, because I was already a chubby kid 20160621_201822 and that was vulnerability enough. I was the funny kid that had no problem making you laugh, all the while suffering and dying on the inside from the torment going on within. There wasn’t supposed to be anything wrong with me because I was the one who acted like nothing was wrong and I had no care in the world. Only a few close family members knew I was living a lie.

Fast forward to high school, the time you REALLY want to hide vulnerability and weakness as you grasp for the highest rungs in the social ladder of popularity. The panic attacks got worse, happening almost everywhere now. I wasn’t immune to them even when I was alone, because at the slightest panic I would go into the full fledged cycle once again. It happened daily, tearing me down emotionally and mentally wondering how I was ever going to live a long life experiencing such hell. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. How would I ever make it through college where the classes are larger? Would I be able to work every day around people and be productive in life? I can’t take this type of baggage into a relationship and hope she would be ok with that…I had little hope about a future at all, much less a future I could enjoy. There was no end in sight and no happiness to anticipate because anything good was cancelled out in a few hours by the onset of adrenaline. I was severely depressed and spent most of my time in my bedroom, away from everyone and everything. I started seeing items around me and instead of them just being objects, I started imagining how I could kill myself with it. Something as simple as holding a knife or a pair of scissors could quickly turn to finishing everything in a few seconds; driving toward a semi would satisfy my yearnings to be done just by a quick flick of the steering wheel. I know how dark that reads, but unless you have personally been there, you wouldn’t even know that’s just a fraction of the despair and darkness that is felt when you are completely and utterly depressed. Suicide is seen mainly as a completely selfish thing done by someone wanting to permanently leave a temporary problem, but that is the worst perception in the world. Is it selfish? Absolutely. However, When we are in that dark cave of desperation and isolation, it is one of the most giving decisions we feel like we could give to our family and friends. We feel like a burden to those around us, an object of chaos and stress to others, and it would be better for EVERYONE if we just weren’t around. That “selfless” delusion, although incorrect, is so deeply embedded in our mental state that it takes a lot to see that it is indeed false. We actually believe we would do those around us a great favor by snuffing our candle out prematurely, and until you are there personally, as hard as it is to understand, judgment and negative emotions just make it that much more of a necessity to commit suicide and rid you of the problem(me) that you are judging (me). I never attempted anything mainly because I had a faint glimmer of hope knowing that I was loved and the process and the possible pain scared me out of it, but I understand why it’s estimated almost a million Americans attempt and over 40,000 Americans succeed every year.

Now to get back to a normal life, I tried the drug route. I was on antidepressants at 15. The antidepressants took away my depression, but it also took away any other feeling I had about anything and everything. My entire family and friend database could have died in a plane wreck and I would have just calmly said “That sucks. I’m hungry.” It numbed me to the point that feeling emotionless began to depress me, regardless of the increasing dosage. It was putting a cheesecloth on my brain, not allowing any emotions of feelings to escape, eliminating them at the neuron level and keeping me sedated to life in general. I knew that this wasn’t a permanent answer, so I looked elsewhere.

This is the point of the story where the hero comes into play. A deacon in my church was also a psychologist that had a study in his office where he would allow people to come for counsel and help. He wanted me to come to his home and speak to him about what was going and what I was feeling, so I reluctantly agreed. Talking about this was the opposite of what I had always done with it. I pushed it down deep, so deep that no one could ever find it and know what my struggles were. That first appointment I rang the doorbell, heard the barks of Collies run around the corner, and saw his cheerful face walk around the same corner, motioning for me to come in, giving a cheerful “Come in, come in,” meeting me with a smile and a handshake. We sat down and that began a long friendship and mentorship that I will never forget. I can dedicate an entire post or two to the amount of help this man gave to me, but the reading would be far too long. Long story short, he made me tell him exactly what I was feeling and exactly how the panic attacks went, even going as far as trying to make me have them right in his office. He got me to see the attacks themselves would never kill me, and they are nothing to be afraid of. Instead of drugs, he wanted my mindset to shift; he wanted my perception of the problems to alter. Without fear, there is no attack, and without an attack, there is no weakness. Through meditations, breathing exercises, and just general mind control I began to see that no one can make me feel anything I don’t allow, myself included. It’s my brain and I have the power to control what goes on inside to an extent. Most importantly, he taught me that communication is the key to everything in life; pushing problems down only delays their surfacing. No matter how much you try to hide and cover issues, there will come a time when they explode out of you like a geyser, so why not take the initiative and let it all out right when it’s happening? This open book policy is probably the most beneficial thing I’ve ever adopted in my life. Relationships are so much better when you’re constantly communicating with each other, friendships are deepened when you share your insecurities and your challenges, and families are strengthened at the dinner table when you share your best and worst of the day. It’s something we all need to strive to practice a bit more often, but that’s just a few of the life changing lessons I learned in that study that smelled of an old library, surrounded by VHS tapes and a collection of books that had been opened several times throughout the years. I’ll outline a few of the methods he taught me below, but it completely changed my life. People around the Borger area and entire Panhandle know Harry “Gene” Kuhrt as a man who would give the shirt off his back in an instant if he saw he could help. He was active in almost every nonprofit locally and was loved by everyone I’ve ever talked to. Four years have passed since this man left the Earth to go Home, but his impact is still as strong as ever. My parents and other family and friends were always there for me and loved me dearly and I wouldn’t have made it through a lot in life without them, but I think I owe my life to Gene and the amount of time and effort he put into making me see the solution was inside of me all along. He invested a lot of counsel in me completely free of charge, and I don’t take that blessing lightly. To make things even deeper, I am President of the newly reorganized Borger Lions Club, a club that was near and dear to Gene and one that he served in several officer positions throughout his life. This office I hold isn’t one I would take lightly to begin with, but with the added meaning to me, I want to serve the way he served; to be able to help the way he helped. To fully explain all that he did for me would take more than the several pages in a letter I wrote to him during his final months on Earth, but I am eternally thankful for him, his wife, and the amount of caring shown by both of them.

The story of anxiety doesn’t end there, and thankfully it hasn’t ended. (Yes I say thankfully) I went on to Oklahoma State and Parker College of Chiropractic, graduating from both while being active in several groups and roles while there. I opened my own chiropractic clinic in Sanger, Texas, serving a Sanger Chamber of Commerce President for three years, moving back to Borger to open a clinic in my hometown last year, currently serving as Lions Club President. During that entire time there have been struggles. There have been random panic attacks when I allow myself to get too overwhelmed. Throughout my day I still probably experience thousands of more thoughts than the average person, constantly thinking of a few hundred things at once, but I have come to accept this as normal. I get influenced by stress easily (as evidenced by the fact I will probably be bald in ten years or at least be rocking the Bozo hair ring around the back), I am sensitive to caffeine and anything that stimulates the nervous system. I will always be sensitive to stress and anxiety, but what has changed in my life is my perception to that entire panic process and what it means to me in my life. I’m speaking in general terms of anxiety and depression because there are a TON of different types of anxiety and depression and the conditions that create within oneself. I am not trying to help anyone diagnose or treat their personal problems, but want to offer advice when there might be a lack of such things.

Communicate
Communication is probably my favorite treatment for anything, relationships included. Whether you’re dealing with a stressful work situation or having anxious thoughts about life conditions, and especially if you’re depressed and having thoughts about harming yourself, communication is key. Society has taught us that everyone has enough cares of their own, so keep your problems to yourself, leading to feeling that we are alone in out situation with no hope for help. The first thing to realize is that we are never alone in our problems. There are billions of people on this Earth, so to think someone isn’t experiencing the pain or stress or depression we are is ignorant and illogical. There are support groups all over for things we experience, allowing us to interact with those who know what we are going through. Counseling services are extremely underrated and even looked down upon by the general public as something only the really weird or really mentally sick people need. Counseling is something that I have used and still use often, and it never gets old sharing your problems to an ear willing to listen, even if you are paying for it. It’s oddly therapeutic. Even if you don’t have someone in front of you to talk to, there are several online chats or even phone numbers you can call and talk anonymously to someone 24/7. The Samaritans, RemedyLive, and 7 Cups of Tea are just a few services out there. Whatever specific problem you are having, you are one Google search away from talking to someone. My personal cell phone is 940 230 7383 and if you need an ear, don’t hesitate to call or text. We can never have too many people in our lives to talk to, and every day it seems like less and less people are there for us. Know that you’re not alone and there are people around who will listen without judgment and will be there for you even if they don’t know you. COMMUNICATE.

Love the process
Stephen Colbert has an interesting viewpoint on life in loving the bomb.  Read that linked article…seriously. It’s incredible. For those that haven’t figured it out yet, life is going to suck at some point. There is no perfect life without pain and suffering, so we might as well get ready to face whatever it coming our way. Instead of worrying about when it will arrive and what damage it will do, the best way to endure the pain is to love the process as it comes and goes. If you read the article, you’ll know Colbert lost his father and two closest in age brothers to a plane wreck when he was a child. If that’s not a reason to be bitter and depressed, I don’t know what else could be. Instead of living tormented, he took the belief his mom showed him daily. He speaks of her actions “that even in those days of unremitting grief, she drew on her faith that the only way to not be swallowed by sorrow, to in fact recognize that our sorrow is inseparable from our joy, is to always understand our suffering, ourselves, in the light of eternity. What is this in the light of eternity?” We will definitely endure terrible times. God promises there is a time for EVERYTHING. There will be times to laugh and to dance, but even times to weep and mourn. If Jesus Himself wept, who are we to think we can make it out of Earth without doing so?? The bad things seem to last longer than the good memories, but always know there will be a sunrise following every sunset. I do not believe you can truly experience great joy without experiencing great sorrow. To truly understand the deep satisfaction of happiness, you have to understand the deep tragedy of mourning. None of us are immune, so embrace the process and learn to love the bomb. Colbert speaks about his mother and the tragedy, “It was a very healthy reciprocal acceptance of suffering,” he said. “Which does not mean being defeated by suffering. Acceptance is not defeat. Acceptance is just awareness.” He smiled in anticipation of the callback: “ ‘You gotta learn to love the bomb,’ ” he said. “Boy, did I have a bomb when I was 10. That was quite an explosion. And I learned to love it. So that’s why. Maybe, I don’t know. That might be why you don’t see me as someone angry and working out my demons onstage. It’s that I love the thing that I most wish had not happened.” Love the bomb. It’s going to happen.

Be Grateful
One of my heroes that took me into the doctor lifestyle is Patch Adams, starting with the Robin Williams adaptation. I watched the movie and instantly fell in love with that style of caring for others. What I didn’t know until I researched the real Dr. Adams is that his life was so much darker than the film could show. He tried to kill himself THREE times before he was 18. THREE TIMES before he could even legally vote. The main thing that changed him was a simple change that all of us can employ if we choose to. He chose to be happy and to never have another bad day again. He said “At the age of 18, I made up my mind to never have another bad day in my life. I dove into a endless sea of gratitude from which I’ve never emerged.” That’s easier said than done for most of us, but if we really want to adopt this mantra, it’s doable. NOBODY chooses what we feel except ourselves. NOTHING can impact our emotions unless we allow it. When we choose to be happy right where we are, regardless of the circumstances surrounding us, an incredible paradigm shift can occur from depression to gratitude. We can and should be happy right where we are, and if we know we should improve any aspect of our life work to improve that while being happy in ourselves and everything around us as we go. Most people see that as a hippy movement or some cheesy approach to life, but once I started being grateful for life, change happened. I can be stressed and anxious and even have a panic attack and be grateful for it as it’s happening. Why?? Because I’m not numb to the sensations of panic. Because I am alive enough to still feel something so overwhelming even if it was once a negative sensation. Having joy in the midst of depression is the hardest of dualities to experience, but if we work to find it, it’s a game changing view.

Meditate, Breathe, Do NOTHING
The biggest thing to achieve is to become in control of your mind and your body. Without having to fear losing control gives you a freedom that is indescribable when you’ve been shackled by the chains of your own imagination for so long. Being able to stop the thoughts in a brain processing countless thoughts at once is the most powerful tool around, and all of us can use this with out fast paced way of living. There are so many resources out there that help in this realm of treatment, and I cannot list them all. I’ll post a few links to ones I use but I have several more if you want to explore them all.
Breathing Exercises –  http://healthland.time.com/2012/10/08/6-breathing-exercises-to-relax-in-10-minutes-or-less/
Guided Relaxation – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jyy0ra2WcQQ
Do Nothing – Sounds easy but takes effort to achieve https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4yipKfO8nA
There’s even an app for thathttp://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/top-iphone-android-apps

 

We all know of those great moments that change someone’s life in an instant. It could’ve been the first time you saw him or her walking toward you, making eye contact the first time and knowing your world would never be the same. It may be that moment you walked across a stage to receive a diploma realizing in that instant, you have reached that goal you set out to achieve. The birth of a child, the first morning of retirement waking up without an alarm, entering the home you purchased for the first time. All joyful moments that impact a life in the tick of a second hand. On the flip side, we rarely give the same respect and attention to the negative things in our lives that do the same. Now there are extremely terrible events that some of you have gone through, and I’m not trying to tell you to grin and bear it and simply be happy about it. There is more to work out in certain situations, but I’m saying that event has happened, and no matter how much you want to fight it, it changed your life as quick as it happened. We have to accept the occurrence and recognize its impact, choosing to make it as positive as possible going forward. It’s eerily beautiful to me how one “bad” moment can change a life drastically for the remaining timeline. Granted, there are times when I do think what it would have been like if I never sang that day, never hyperventilated in the crowd. Who would I be in a world without years of panic attacks? What would my mentality be if I was never tossed into the anxiety realm? I spend a few minutes with a sly smirk thinking about who I would’ve been down that road, but then a larger smile presents itself knowing who I am TODAY; who I am BECAUSE of it and loving the process. We all can love that process, embracing the bomb, knowing we have open lines of communication available to us if we choose to accept the journey. Live the adventure.

 

#BucketList

#BucketList

I’ve had several conversations the past few months with people about bucket lists. I’ve randomly thought of what I would add to it and have traded “must do’s” with friends over the years, but I’ve never honestly put it to paper. I’ve had a mental bucket list through the years, but that leaves so much adventure to forget and so many dreams lost by the wayside. I decided to write it out, because one day the time to do the things we’ve always wanted to do will be lost for forever. Why wait? We never know when God’s timer for us will drop its last grain of sand. We’ve got to act on our bucket list immediately and often, because there will always be things to add to that list. It’s a dynamic list that should be revisited and edited regularly.

What makes a good bucket list? I think a bucket list shouldn’t be about trying to one up another’s list; it should be real and personal to each and every one of us, diving deep into our soul and asking it what adventures we want to partake in. A great bucket list will reveal things about ourselves throughout life not only to ourselves, but those we surround ourselves with by maybe even allowing them to sample our list with us. This list is not so much about the checkmarks themselves, but the actual experiences. A check mark only defines an item as done, but the memory and the experience is why we even added anything to that list in the first place. It’s not a contest in seeing how many checkmarks you can get, but enjoying thoroughly the items contained within, whether there are hundreds or just a few dozen. By knocking out some of the things on our list, it begins to shape our lives as a whole and the checks begin to dissolve away, leaving only a life of adventure and excitement. It’s taking the simple joys of life and writing them down how you see fit, whether that be skydiving or just laughing with a family member after a long separation. As I contemplated my bucket list, I found myself adding several “big” things but also including little joys that just keep the heart happy and full. It’s not about the greatness of the item, it’s about the greatness of the moment…So, submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, I call this story, the tale of the Bucket List…

1.) Have a Bobblehead made of myself.  This would be incredibobble…

2.) Be drawn as a comic book character. Another epic Christmas gift if you’re needing ideas.

3.) Be able to completely change someone’s life for the better and not have anyone know it was me; not even that person.

4.) Watch a sunrise and sunset and pee in all 7 continents. (Gotta mark the territory when you’ve been there) I’ve got 4 down, 3 to go…

5.) Have a speaking role in a Nationally Televised show.  The Dean Boyd commercial doesn’t count…

6.) Complete the Texas Bucket List.   I’ve only knocked out 6, but will hit a few more before this year is up.

7.) Compete in a triathlon next year. I’m dumb.

8.)  Run a marathon before I’m 40. I’m completely stupid.

9.) Skydive. I redeemed myself.

10.) See the firefly squids glow in Japan.

11.) Take the PERFECT Road Trip. First few months of retirement.

12.) Watch a space shuttle launch.

13.) Have the most incredible woman look me in the eyes and say “I Do”.

14.) Spend the night in the St James Hotel in Cimarron, NM and see a ghost.

15.) New Year’s Eve in Times Square. Obviously have to have someone to kiss too. Gotta be an app for that…

16.) Crash a wedding and make it out with a phone number.

17.) Take a volcano hike.

18.) Run with the bulls in Pamplona, and not die.

19.) Save someone’s life. Maybe in Pamplona.

20.) Set a World Record.

21.) Be cremated and at my memorial service, have my best friend “accidentally” drop my urn while carrying it, spilling ashes everywhere. Then it’ll be revealed it was actually just Nesquik powder and I’ll have my final prank pulled on everyone there.

22.) Be there for my wife as she gives birth and welcome our children into the world.

23.) Become International President of the Lions Club for a year.

24.) Get my pilot’s license and buy a plane.

25.) Always be able to have close friends I can call for whatever, whenever.

26.) Be grateful for everything I have at all times, and even more grateful for what I don’t.

27.) Visit the Colosseum and yell “Are you not entertained?!”

28.) Write a book.

29.) Throw out a first pitch. AND do it better than 50 Cent

30.) Swim in the Great Barrier Reef.

31.) “Say something meaningful and see it become a popular quote.” – Chris Prock

32.) Revisit the area in China in which 3 of us were detained for evangelizing….and evangelize some more.

33.) Host a foreign exchange student.

34.) Be brought to tears by both sadness and joy fairly regularly. It flushes out the emotions very well.

35.) ZORBING….

36.) Speak to over 10,000 people at once. Applause at the end would be ideal.

37.) Be a friend that several know they can call for whatever, whenever.

38.) Be the type of father, son, brother, uncle, husband, grandfather, cousin, etc. that all know they can call for whatever, whenever.

39.) Hit a homerun in softball after I’m 60.

40.) When I was in Africa, I encountered a young man that wanted to learn about God but didn’t have a Bible. He stated he could read English, so I gave him my personal Bible I had kept for years with the required promise he would read it while he kept watch over his own sheep. My prayer has always been that he would be part of the family that welcomes me to Heaven one day…or that I would get to do the same for him.

41.) Hope to be half of the quality of parent my parents have been to me and my sister.

42.) Befriend somebody I don’t like. Bonus points if you know why this is exactly right here on the list…

43.) Live in the country and own several acres to build my own house complete with horses, dogs, honeybees, a swimming pool, outdoor kitchen/bar, and a firepit.

44.) Use my mistakes in life to help counsel others.

45.) Watch my children be baptized.

46.) Have a ring bear at my wedding, even if it’s a kiddo in costume. It’s going to be legen…..wait for it……………………………………………………………dary!

47.) Find someone that will randomly sing with me Garth and Kat style.

48.) Sing in public.  For those that know me, singing in front of a group is something that is probably the biggest insecurity I have, stemming back to 5th grade and hyperventilating in front of an elementary school the entire time. I’ve led worship and what not in front of people, but I absolutely hate it regardless of how many people are within earshot. If I have sung in front of you or even in the car with you where you could hear me, consider yourself lucky (or pretty unlucky) because I dropped all walls and completely trusted and respected you in that moment. I need to get to the point where it doesn’t bother me and do it again.

49.) Sing Karaoke. See Above.

50.) Get another tattoo. I’ve already decided what I’m getting, but that’s another post probably due out before the summer is over.

51.) Throw tomatoes at La Tomatina.

52.) Stop procrastinating. I needed to put this one higher, but I kept putting it off.

53. Use my knowledge of anxiety and panic attacks to help others know they are not alone in their fight, they are not weak against their fears, and they can overcome this incredibly debilitating thought process.

54.) Read a book a month for the rest of my life. After chiropractic school, I hated required reading; this should end well. Audiobooks do count!

55.) Always release (but learn from) the past, live fully in the present moment, and don’t worry about the future.

56.) Geocache more often. It’s hide and seek for us nerdy adults.

57.) Visit P. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way Sydney. 

58.) Witness a miracle.

59.) Teach my grandkids how to Dougie and have them watch me Whip….AND Nae nae.

60.) Never be too calloused to laugh at myself and never too afraid to make a fool of myself.

61.) Be in two places at once.

62.) Walk my daughter down the aisle to give her to the man of my prayers for her.

63.) Be there when my son shoots his first buck, and teach him how to field dress it.

64.) Be a TED talker.

65.) Write and produce a movie.

66.) Swim in a pool full of noodles.

67.) Laugh everyday. EVERY. DAY.

68.) Make someone close to me laugh so hard on their deathbed that they forget about their pain, even if for a few seconds.

69.) Write a will and give something of great value to someone unsuspecting and unrelated.

70.) Bury (or cremate) my wife. Sounds morbid, but this is so I can ensure she won’t spend a day alone.

71.) Leave the world a much better place than when I arrived.

72.) When the last grain of sand has fallen on my life timer, I want to hear that sweet sweet phrase “Well done, thou good and faithful servant!”

This list would go on and on if I typed everything out, but it’s a starting point to knock some out. There will be additions and hopefully never any subtractions as the rest of life plays out. If  you read this, I want to know what’s on your bucket list. I want to see what joys you want in life. Send me a message on Facebook or text me or comment here or however you know how to get ahold of me. Let’s knock out some bucket list items this summer and rock out in the game of life. We never know when that final buzzer will sound…

Relationship Advice from a Single Guy

Relationship Advice from a Single Guy

The title alone may lose people, but stay with me…I know it seems completely ironic, much like calling a Psychic hotline and getting their voicemail, but I’ve had some terrible relationship advice from married friends before, proving that you don’t have to be in a relationship to observe and know what is needed and important for a successful one. After all, arguably the best NFL coach ever never played a down of professional football. (Vince Lombardi) Sometimes observing the actual game and setting strategies for success are best done from the sideline without ever having to take part. That being said, I want it to be known that I’m not a desperate guy and that I’m single completely by choice….I choose to like the ladies that choose not to like me back….a completely mutual situation. I’m still young in terms of life and actually enjoy the single life, not having to consult a Tball schedule to schedule my own activities, so I’m just enjoying the schedule I get to put together all by my lonesome at the moment. This freedom still shouldn’t stop those of us that are single from envisioning a family life if that’s what we feel called to eventually live. We should be constantly preparing for our future significant others in life, always progressing ourselves in God’s eyes and His will to mold our soul and heart into the creature we need to be for that one we will eventually find. If you’ve found them already, that doesn’t mean you get to be lazy and passive. When the excitement of the first kiss and the honeymoon butterflies have faded, it is even more critical to be working to become better in the relationship.  The only benefit you get is that you have your love there physically and mentally to work as a team to improve your lives on your own, as well as molded together in God’s hands. So this advice is for every single one of us, taken or single (even those currently bitterly single).

If you are one of the married population, consider yourselves fairly lucky. The dating scene is completely messed up nowadays, with the popular increase in dating apps and websites. There’s several “big name” apps out there that most of us have heard of, and there’s a different stereotype to most of them. Tinder is basically the meat market of the dating world, where a single swipe will allow us to fish the waters based on a picture alone, lefting those we have no desire to talk to and swiping right on those we hope will mutually swipe right back. If they don’t we will always wonder what could have been. Now we even have the SUPER like, which enables us to REALLY mourn unsuccessful match. The super like allows you to really show the person you are interested in their face and 20 word description they put on their profile, hopefully enticing them to swipe right just at the chance to have an awkward conversation right out of the gate. POF and MeetMe lets you see those around you, creepily allowing you to even sort them by distance. You can chat with whoever you want, as long as they decide to message you back. “Ghosting” is fairly common with these, with your initial message being seen but unanswered. They don’t even want to say hey back, so they let it ride and you’ll never hear from them again. Not even an “thanks but not interested”; simply a check mark next to your message knowing it has been read, but complete silence. eHarmony and Match let you sign up for free and see those around you, but if you want to find your soulmate, you’re going to have to subscribe to their monthly subscription, or risk losing love for forever. There are others, but the overall theme is the same. It’s turning into more hanging out and “Netflix and chill” than actual dating and courtship (Google that for you youngens). The serious values of a relationship are lost in the mere fact that we might be able to sleep with them a few times and move on to our next match when need be. Relationships are even more muddied and confusing that ever it seems, with the important aspects being casually tossed aside for instant gratification. This is really why I’m in no hurry to completely dive into the dating world. It’s an odd world out there, shifting and changing throughout the entire time I’ve been a resident in the dating realm. Throughout my past relationships, I’ve analyzed each one of them and gleaned the do’s and dont’s so that going forward I can intentionally apply those lessons and have better outcomes and better relationships when the time comes. There are a few main things we have to learn if our relationships are going to thrive….

Communicate

This is one of the easiest things to do, yet often we fail miserably because it can also be the most difficult. I’ve learned at a young age that you can’t bottle things up and try to let them dissolve away on their own. The pressure and thoughts have to go somewhere, and if they’re not tossed voluntarily into the environment, they will eventually explode unwillingly in some aspect, whether it is road rage or snapping at a family member unexpectedly. We were created for communication. If there is a problem, communication is the best way to reveal it and to heal it. Ignoring it and walling yourself from each other only makes things much worse. When you get real with each other and openly exchange a vulnerable conversation, healing and growth occurs in ways you never knew. We’ll go to friends for advice, but they aren’t in the relationship, so why are we wasting our time?? They don’t know the intimate details about the problem within the confines of that relationship, so they don’t have full understanding. Nobody is in the relationship except you and the significant other, so the person you should go to about the problem FIRST AND FOREMOST is that significant other. It might be awkward to talk about things if you’ve never had a deep problem solving talk, but what’s more awkward is wondering what the other person is thinking and coming to your own conclusions in your mind. There is nothing good that ever comes from assuming, and I think they made a saying about it….

From the spring of communication will sprout honesty, truth, loyalty, intimacy, and so many more great attributes of an amazing relationship that is has to be the most important aspect to work on. A deep connection is based on freely being able to communicate with one another, and if you don’t have that established, you’re in trouble.

Love at 100%

Far too often we are bitter and broken by past relationships, leaving us to enter the next relationship guarded. It is unfair to ourselves and our significant other to not give 100% every time a relationship is started. They didn’t do the damage our past relationships delivered, so why should they pay the price for it? Not being vulnerable in a relationship can leave us scared, constantly wondering when this one will end, and even finding ways to sabotage it when it could be one of the best experiences we would ever have. Having said that, there are definitely lessons we can and should take from previous relationships to carry forward to benefit our future relationships. I’m not saying we should just forget all lessons and start the new relationship ignorantly blissful; we just need to let go of the negative restraints we sometimes easily handcuff to the relationship out of the gate. We are never promised tomorrow, so in every relationship we should forget our past baggage and love with a new love that has no scars or memories or hurts. It honestly could ultimately end up with more baggage and scars for the NEXT relationship, but it could end up in the most incredible relationship you’ve ever experienced, resulting in a lifetime of awesome memories. You can’t base current love on future fear. Love like there is no tomorrow, and if tomorrow comes, love again.

Realize there is no THE one

In the Christian world, finding THE one is shoved in our faces constantly. Wait for THE one, is she THE one for you? I honestly don’t believe there is THE one. How depressing is it to think I might’ve swiped left on my THE one and now will never see her again? If I chose Taco Bell and she chose Sonic for lunch and we missed each other by four lanes of traffic, am I going to miss out on love for the rest of my life just because I wanted a Gordita Crunch that day? I’ve seen relationships shatter because of this flawed belief. The guy or the girl or both are praying and waiting for a sign that they are THE true one and never get the illuminated Touch by An Angel experience, so they begin to doubt their partner is the right THE one. Everything is going great and God is embracing their relationship, but the fears of marrying the wrong THE one get so big, it destroys the partnership. I’ve personally experienced this tragic love story, and while I don’t spend time constantly dwelling on lost love, I’d be lying if I said I don’t sometimes simply wonder what might have been had she shared a different point of view about THE one. I can’t find in the Bible where it specifically says we only have ONE shot at love, so we have to start realizing there are a possibility of several THE ones, giving us that God-glorifying amazing relationship most of us envision. When you find someone that may be THE one and it feels like it could be right through God, instead of waiting for definite answers that may never fully appear, we need to make them THE one and live the adventure ahead, with God as the tour guide. We’re not doing a puzzle, looking for that piece just the right size to fit; we’re doing a relationship, and that’s a dynamic process with everchanging pieces. A great relationship and marriage is constantly built and repaired, allowing adaptation to the environment outside. Pure Joy in a relationship won’t come from finding someone that fits your expectations and wants; it will arrive from both of you working and adapting to serve the other withing Christ’s love.

Closed Doors or New Chapter

Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team; Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper for not being creative enough; Steven Spielberg applied 3 times to film school and was rejected each time. Can you imagine life today if any of those would have seen those circumstances as a closed door and not tried and tried again? Without a doubt, problems and failures within a relationship are going to happen. EVERY relationship will have them, but the important thing is the perception of that failure and the response after. We can either end things quickly as a closed door, or try and work through them, seeing it as a new chapter starting and learning more about the relationship itself. Some things in life we have to see as doors, others we need to see as chapters to a storybook. So many things happen in life that most of us see as doors either opening or closing, to be journeyed through or to never be opened again. While this is true of some events in life, it is also true it might just be an ending to a chapter, leading to another chapter we are yet to write. Very toxic and damaging situations are definitely things that should have a closed door option, as we have no need for those things in life going forward, but others shouldn’t always be so permanently strict. We all know someone in our life that wouldn’t be where they were if they lived by the closed door policy and not the new chapter policy. Unfortunately all too often, a fight or argument leads one to close the door forever, not even willing to see it able to open again. While it may be for the best eventually down the road, slamming the door shut immediately might be the worst thing we can do. Several relationships have come to an end for other reasons that aren’t so negative, only for the relationship to begin anew down the road bigger and better. High school sweethearts breaking up, only to end up marrying each other would have never happened if they subscribed solely to that closed door in between. I have a family member that broke up with their high school sweetheart and they married other people, only to eventually divorce those partners and find each other once again. The stories are endless. Close friendships that explode would never be mended if we had a one strike and you’re out believe. While God has a YES and NO answer, I also think he has a NOT RIGHT NOW answer that will evolve into a YES or NO later on. We have to carefully examine situations and see whether it should be a door or a book we are working on. Is it supposed to be closed forever or are we just about to start a new chapter in our larger story that we are yet to write?

Love Unashamedly

When we first enter relationships, there is a buffer period where we forgive the other for embarrassing us or making us look awkward; we even see it as kinda cute and quirky. When the relationship proceeds into more serious scenarios, the forgiveness sometimes gets on a shorter leash, and leads to fights and doubts moving forward. When you are in love with someone, you are in love with their awkwardness, their baldness, their lisp,their weird hair dye colors, their immaturity, their age, their braces, their laugh, their height, their everything weird and strange. We have to get back to that innocent fun time at the beginning of the relationship, not caring what everyone else thinks as we make a scene and make an ongoing memory. I dated someone fairly recently where this last lesson surfaced for my future goings on in relationships.  It was only for a few weeks but things were incredibly great on both ends with terrific and deep conversations. When we texted and when we were together you couldn’t tell a difference in our age, although on paper it was a fairly sizable difference. It was something I struggled with slightly at first, but the potential was too great not to look past that for me… and she agreed until she encountered one of my friend’s wives. I wasn’t present for the conversation, but there was a doubt and awkwardness placed in her mind after this encounter that she couldn’t shake, leading to a lack of communication and possible resolution and the ultimate downfall of something that was built rapidly yet oddly structurally sound. I’m definitely not a fortune teller and am not saying it would have led to anything different later on (more than likely not because of that breakdown in communication when a serious issue arose that all too routinely dooms relationships eventually), but allowing someone else to talk you out of something potentially good is damaging in life more often than not. When you allow outside factors to influence inside situations, it leads to bad outcomes. There will be something in every relationship we will be embarrassed about. The main question is “Are you willing to risk temporary awkwardness for lifetime satisfaction?”  Some of my best memories were formed by careening through the barrier of caring what others would think. This was something that I had to learn, because growing up I was just the opposite. I always worried about what others thought of me and my actions, whether or not they liked me, if they thought I was cool or not. Once you learn it’s not about others, it becomes easier and easier to make the choices that make you happy without a regard to the thoughts of others; it’s a freeing and incredible adventure. Laugh with others while they’re laughing at you and see how quickly their judgmental laughter fades weakly into the night. Dance like nobody is watching, and when you get caught, get them to dance with you and see who has the last laugh….

This is by no means even close to what all is required for successful relationships….There could be a part 2, 3, 4 eventually added, but I already used too many words and probably lost most of you halfway through…

 

The Power of an Apology

Saying “I’m Sorry” is sometimes one of the hardest things to do in life. To add to the complexity of things, TRULY saying “I’m Sorry” is definitely one of the hardest things to do in life. It forces us to be vulnerable and humble, to have our soul’s windows flung wide open and to be exposed to the very person we don’t want to show “weakness” to.

As a kid, I remember this as being one of the first lessons I had to comprehend. If I messed up (or even if I didn’t and my sister got me in trouble for nothing) you better believe I was going to have to say “sorry” until my mom or dad was satisfied that I truly meant it. Once I grumbled a sincere enough apology, we hugged it out and went on our way. Most of the time it was sincere, but I wasn’t happy about it at all. I didn’t understand the full impact of a heartfelt apology or even fathom the existence of self-righteous pride at such a young age. This household rule hasn’t changed through the generations. I’ve got three nephews and a niece and treat several children in my clinic every week, so I see a LOT of discipline going on. Whether they stole Lego blocks out of jealousy, gave a unsuspected gut shot out of anger, or marked all over the sibling with a Sharpie out of pure fun, the process remains fairly unaltered from years ago. The parent grabs them by the arm, positioning them into a face to face confrontation until both parties have settled their differences. If we learned this lesson so early, why does it remain so straining and so difficult to perform?

The absence of this difficult yet simple and short phrase has lead countless friends to never speak to each other again, family members to distance themselves both physically and emotionally, relationships to be shattered and ripped in two. Somewhere along the way we have been taught that apologies show weakness, and you can’t be weak in existence. Besides the weakness, it’s not our fault and not our place to apologize first anyway. The OTHER party needs to apologize first and THEN we will follow suit and mend the situation. The walls of pride built in these situations seems impenetrable and fortified, so we choose to just leave the other party on the other side of the wall rather than address the wall itself. Even if you’re not claustrophobic, the thought of walling yourself in and leaving everyone and everything on the outside should make us all scared and concerned. That’s not the type of life to live at all; we need each other. How do we make things right?

Most do see an apology as a trait synonymous with weakness, but I see it as just the opposite. It’s something that requires a HUGE amount of inner strength to get to the point that you honestly and sincerely apologize. Putting the burden of the situation on our own shoulders and wanting to make it right takes an incredibly strong soul, not weakness. Even if the origin of the problem is not our fault completely, we can all look at every situation and see that we could have and should have acted differently. We all make mistakes, no matter how much you’d like to think otherwise. Humility is one of the hardest things to practice, and heartfelt apologies completely require this of ourselves, but it opens the door to incredible growth and resolution.

I had a childhood friend that we did everything together growing up. We would bike the neighborhoods until the streetlights came on (and later during the summer), become the Undertaker and Hulk Hogan on the trampoline practicing our piledrivers and leg drops, gather a group of kids for an entire neighborhood game of hide and go seek, prank call neighbors (before the Caller ID was invented) and try to talk them into buying siding for their brick homes, and more adventures that go on and on. All that being said, something happened one time in middle school and we went our separate ways and never spoke again. We had the kind of fight that almost erupted in punches being thrown, but definitely finished with a friendship that was no more. All the fun memories couldn’t take the place of the prideful present we both owned, so the friendship was no more. It was just about five years ago that we finally saw each other and spoke again. The ironic thing is that neither of us can remember why we let our friendship go that day. We couldn’t recall the petty argument that slammed the door shut on a terrific friendship that was once legen….wait for it….dary. We actually apologized to each other for the general situation and are friends now, but there’s nothing that can make up for the time lost in between from the unknown battle. How is a probability of continued closeness not worth more than the possibility of losing it all based on sincerely placing two words in between the two parties? Why can’t we simply apologize?

When we get to the point of apologizing from the heart, incredible growth can occur. This simple act shows the recipient that you are willing to drop your defenses and be humbled in their presence. You also show how much you care for the relationship and prove that fact by doing such a selfless thing. It’s even more exponential when BOTH parties can apologize from the heart and move on from something disabling. An apology will not erase the error from ever occurring, or cause the previous door that was slammed shut to be removed, but it can open new doors to repairing and mending that relationship and building on the new future based on potential instead of pride.

The good news is that it might not be too late to change those relationships we have closed off. In my example above, there was still time for both of us to make amends and put the friendship back together. Some of us aren’t so lucky. There are countless people I know that have had a fight with someone and never had a chance for either side to apologize before one of them passed away, leaving nothing but regret and the wishful desire of just being able to make things right. If someone in our lives could use an apology from us to make that bond stronger, we shouldn’t wait until death to really know we should’ve corrected the situation. We should never hesitate to bridge relational gaps in our life; we are never promised that the person will be on the other side of the bridge in the future.  Leave everything on the table and never be afraid to apologize. Lives can be changed in an instant, even after years of holding onto baggage. Friendships can be renewed, marriages can be saved, relationships can be restored, families can be reunited. Just because a door is closed doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. Sometimes in life our situations are more of a book than a door. Instead of closing the book and tossing it away, you just need to turn the page and continue the story. A new page brings a new part of the story and just because the chapter is over doesn’t mean that story is quite done being told. Most of the time there is a new chapter awaiting, sometimes even like a hidden track on a record or CD that we didn’t know existed until we discovered it randomly.

Let’s decide to walk the path toward healing and humility rather than self-righteousness. Let’s decide to love each other rather than pridefully distance ourselves from everyone just because we cannot utter two words. Let’s decide to apologize.