Monthly Archives: January 2015

Zombies, Vampires, and Black Holes, Oh My!

I realize that I harp on the inborn differences in personalities, but to me this is a key to at least not judging ourselves or others harshly, even if we can’t understand where they are coming from.
I explore the world with my intellect (ideas, not my eyes and not my heart), but I RESPOND to the world from my feelings and values.
Every personality has strengths and weaknesses. And there is an upside and a downside for every personality trait. Responding to the world immediately on a feeling level makes people warm, friendly, mostly kind and caring. But it also makes us vulnerable to hurt, resentment, fear, and depression. We don’t have a protective layer of logic between the world and our hearts. We are “thin” skinned.

It takes grace to become able to minimize the fallout for those closest to us. Though it helps us if they can just hear and accept our feelings, it’s easy for us to fall into garbage dumping on those who love us enough to listen. We have to work to find a balance, so that we don’t overwhelm them with our neediness.
It takes time to develop strength in our weakness( our logic and analytical skills.) But eventually with time and grace, we can develop coping skills and find strength at our core.

And the less needy we are, the freer we are to be loving.

I’ve never been into the Goth thing, the Zombie thing, or the Demons thing, etc. Probably, because I have enough trouble coping with my own inner demons and dark side.
I don’t think anyone has a black soul, but I heard a description once that made me think that I and others might have an inner “black hole” like the ones in space that suck the light out of their surroundings.

The description was: ” A bottomless pit of needs and wants.”

I decided that for a considerable number of years that described me perfectly. And since being needy prevents us from being loving, it explained why I had trouble even loving myself, never-the-less others.

Discovering that God was alive and well and loving us all unconditionally, even us “Bottomless pits of needs and wants,” helped free me to begin depending on God and grace instead of other people and circumstances. And that is what fuels the lifelong process of learning to love both yourself and others unconditionally. With grace we can grow into the unique, imperfect, but more and more loving person God created us to be.
I am definitely in God’s slow learner group, and may never become as loving as many other people do, but I trust God and the process enough to believe I will reach my personal potential, however limited that may be. And that is all I am called to do.

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The Idiot’s Guide to a Happy Marriage: For Men

Great survival advice for husbands……wish Diana had been around “back in the day.” Funny, but oh so true!

A Holistic Journey

If you haven’t figured out these tricks by now, there might still be time to save your wedding or marriage. Might. So here we go. Those few days out of the month:

angry-woman1. Keep a spare pair of boxing gloves on hand for defensive blocks. Think of it as a workout. Build muscle and coordination. How nice, you don’t even have to go to the gym. Hey, give it ten years and you’ll be looking sharp and buff. You should thank her.

2. Accept the fact that you are stupid and anyone who goes near her is stupid. She has a soft spot for the kids but keep kickable pets away.

3. Try extra hard to pretend you’re listening. You just might get away with it if you look up when those lips start moving faster than you can handle.

4. Here’s your chance. Fix something, anything. The shingles…

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What If It Only Takes Ten More People Becoming A Little More Loving to Change the World?

I have been reading and learning a lot about forgiveness. We all have different proclivities for how we handle anger and hurt. Recently a blog post about our responses to horrifying acts of terrorism against innocent children challenged me to explore the polarities of love and anger and forgiveness.
I’m not sure about this, but some scriptures and some experiences I have had myself make me suspect that forgiving someone has healing power not only for ourselves, but for the offending person. And here’s the freaky part: it can happen concretely simultaneously across great distances without being communicated. I can’t prove it. I have not read anything much about it, but I have had some minor, but thought provoking, experiences.

Also, years ago, I read a small book called “The Hundredth Monkey” which had some research statistics that claimed that monkeys on separate islands and continents can suddenly simultaneously learn new “human” kinds of skills. Their conclusion was that when a certain level of a population of a species acquire a new trait or ability, it somehow triggers a leap in the species across the world. And the author’s hope was that if we as individuals became peaceful, eventually the critical number of our species would bring about world wide peace.

I kind of liked the idea and shared it with friends, but my logical self was very dubious. And since statistical studies such as this can seldom control all the variables, I took this with a grain of salt.  Until recently when driving, I hesitated to start across an intersection when the light turned green because more and more people are running lights right after they turn red. And sure enough someone did. In the last four or five years I have observed a steady increase in this disturbing phenomena.

Something clicked for me today. Is this a negative example of the “hundredth monkey” theory?

Again, as David Hume taught, cause and effect are almost impossible to prove, which is why we measure statistical probability.  But even a remote possibility that our own small struggle to become more loving, forgiving, peaceable people might have a lot more significance for the larger scheme of things would be reason enough to expend more serious time and effort on that project!

Most of us reach a point in our lives where we recognize that we cannot change others, we may can facilitate their attempts to change, but we can’t make anyone want to change and we can’t magically change them even when they seek change. It’s a helpless feeling and tends to make us feel pretty hopeless about things like drug addiction, terrorism and war, and the gross inequality of resources and standard of living across our planet. And even when we are consciously on a Spiritual journey putting time and effort into becoming more loving, forgiving, and peaceful, there are times it hardly seems worth the struggle, if we are managing at least to avoid breaking the big “TEN” in case there really are a heaven and a hell.

What if it matters a lot more than we can imagine for us to clean up our only mildly toxic act: our cursing bad drivers, keeping people out of our lane when they have ignored the warning that theirs is closed further down the road, turning people against one another through gossip, holding grudges, spending a major part of the rest of our lives seeking vengeance under the name of justice for real harms done us or those we love, or even just blaming everyone else for our own failures?

I tried to teach my children to judge the effect of their actions by the age old excuse, “Everybody else is doing it.”  What will the world become like if everyone else does what you are doing? What will hotels have to charge if every person steals a towel or a pillow? What will driving anywhere be like if everyone drives like it’s a race to beat out all the others?

Or maybe even more pertinent, perhaps everyone not doing the same things you are not doing. Not offering help to someone that hurt our feelings, not reaching across differences, not sharing from our abundance because we assume the worst of others. Not picking up trash. Often we simply ignore our sins of omission.

The infamous butterfly fluttering on the other side of the world isn’t making a moral choice, but we do each make numerous moral choices as to what we do or neglect to do each day.

What if it only takes ten more truly loving people to change the world? Not by their accomplishments, but by their love, forgiveness, and peace? Will you and I be one of that ten?

Opportunities In Trials

Inspiring thoughts from a Christian Blogger completely paralyzed by 18 years of ALS. Bill writes using a machine that he controls with his eyes.

Unshakable Hope

In the midst of a trial, the greatest temptation we face is to hunker down and wait for the storm to pass. I don’t believe this is ever God’s will.

We tend to view trials as a kind of imprisonment, thinking our life is on hold until the day we’re released from the grip of the life challenge. ALS has made me a virtual prisoner of my own body for the last 18 years. It has been a very cruel warden. But I look around me and see other people fighting illness or trying to overcome addictions, depression, abuse, debt and so many other cruel masters.

We must continue to hope and pray for freedom from whatever is trying to “holdus,” and we should do everything in our power to move toward that goal. But, in the meantime, we should look for opportunities for God to use…

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The Future is no Scarier than the Past / Old Age has its Perks

 

at 18

at 18

at 20

at 20

 

 

 

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at 36 with my family

 

at 75

at 75

I finally figured out that all the people I ever was from infancy on still live inside me. It makes for an interesting group most days. And if I don’t like how I feel today, I just return and watch the world when I was having a better time. Young people actually seem impoverished, because they haven’t got a clue about the riches we old guys carry around within us. I wouldn’t trade, because we can go back and be their age inside our memories, but they can’t come forward and enjoy the pleasures of a party without having to drive miles, spend hundreds or pay later with a hangover.
We do know more dead people and we have seen more tragedies up close and personal, so sometimes we hover protectively over our grandchildren. But we can look back at the past and our track record helps us trust that grace will continue to get us through even the hard things the future may bring.
As bad as our world seems in 2015, anyone having experienced life even in America for almost eighty years has witnessed a lot of rough history. Though we now know more about the evil in the world than we once did, the evil was always there. I find when I focus on the evils we haven’t overcome, I fear for coming generations. But when I look back even just on the changes in the world that I have experienced personally, I become more hopeful for the future.
Is having an armed presence in your school any more terrifying than living in homes with blackout curtains for fear of enemy bombers in the nineteen forties or huddling in a school hall during practice warnings of atomic attacks in the fifties. Is the number of families in this generation with members lost fighting in foreign countries anywhere close to the number in the second world war? Is fear born of lack of information as severe now as it was when we huddled around a radio to listen to news of Pearl Harbor or the beaches of Normandy. Children still die or are crippled from disease even in first world countries, but nothing like the numbers in the years before the polio vaccine. Are the numbers of African Americans isolated in ghettos, killed by police, harmed and held back by prejudice anywhere near the numbers in the fifties? Are all the top jobs in the corporate world still held by men? Are people still dying from aids at an alarming rate even in the first world? No matter how horrifying terrorists are today, have they managed inhumanity on the scale of Hitler or Stalin or Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, or even Harry Truman at Nagasaki?   The answer to all of these is no.
Yes, there are new diseases, new dangers, new stresses and new groups struggling for equality. It is obviously not heaven on earth, but humanity is a work in progress. Our track record gives us reasonable hope that we will find ways to overcome more and more of these problems in each era.
Age, if we look at even our own life span’s historical picture, can give us a perspective.