Is it really so difficult?

I am sorry“I know I got really, really angry.  And I kinda feel bad about that.  But they really, really pissed me off!  And I was justified to get angry — I really was justified!  *hands on hips for emphasis*  I don’t think I should have to apologize.  Well, I’ll just get them a small gift instead.  I don’t feel like saying ‘I’m sorry’ so I’ll buy them some little trinket instead.  There!  I won’t have to say the words but the gift will speak for me.”

I call HORSEHOCKEY on that one!

It takes a great deal of humility to face someone that you’ve hurt.  Or disrespected.  Or maligned.  Or gossiped about.  It takes thinking of  yourself as someone who has done wrong.  *YES! You do make mistakes!*

You! Are! Not! Perfect!

And even if you feel justified in your wrath, you can still err.

So get off your high horse, realize you’re a stupid git and you could be (and probably are) wrong in your reactions, go find that person, and apologize for your response!  To their face!

And don’t explain it away.  Own it!  Don’t rationalize your apology.  Don’t be passive aggressive.  Don’t accept half blame while transferring the other half to the other person.

Otherwise, your apology is worthless.  A waste of air.  A waste of time.  Because your ego is getting in the way!

“I was wrong, and I am truly sorry.  Will you forgive me?”

Blog: “In The Parlor”

question-marksI’ve been on the hunt for blogs and websites to follow.  A friend from Baylor posted this article on her FB page, and I just had to link it through.  The blog is “In The Parlor“.  We’re getting all mired in the details of condemnation .  Yes, we must speak our truth as I stated in an earlier post here, but we must NOT forget the reality.  And that reality is stated so well in the blog post “What You Believe…

*Lots of links in this post!  Thanks for following the jumps!*

I See What You Did There

Dove and SerpentI saw a couple of interviews from Phil on Duck Dynasty.  These interviews were done a while back, but he has a very good take on what’s going on with the media and its twisting of reality.  Phil ain’t no redneck dummy!  Click the link here and have a look.  I also posted my comment to the vids at the end.  Thank you to the blog MorethanDodgeBall.com for finding these and posting!

A Murder of Crows

duck-dynasty-season-31* This is a not cohesive post!  It started out with a singular thought, and morphed into a mass of opinions and responses.  But I will leave it as it is without editing, a jumbled mass, and let you sift through it.  🙂 *

I have been following the Duck Dynasty, much like many others, through Facebook alone as my news feed has virtually exploded!  All I see on my phone or laptop screen is facial hair and camo!  It’s been interesting these past years to see a bunch of redneck Cajuns get so much press and quite a following when they’re just doing what they do.   There’s no affectation.  No airs.  No arrogance.  No treading lightly by how they treat one another.  If one is lazy, another will call him out on his crap and move on.  Case closed.   Call a spade a spade.  I appreciate the honesty.  There’s no hem-hawing around.  It’s refreshing.  I love that I’m from the South!

As you know, I also follow several other blogs and online periodicals.  One in particular is Christianity Today.  I read the article from yesterday, December 20, and was struck not by the article itself but by two comments within the article.  One comment by a David Mathis is that the opinions of Phil Robertson “is not a fight that conservative evangelicals should flock to” and “This is a silly show that, while genuinely entertaining, is doing just as much to marginalize Christians as backwater as it is getting the name of Jesus on television — as if that was ever the tip of the spear for the Great Commission, anyway.”

He’s a moron!  And judging by this brief response included in CT, he’s lazy as well!

Yes, we have to pick our battles.  But if we never draw a line in the sand, how will anyone know what we believe and where our boundaries are?  We won’t all agree.  I don’t think we are supposed to agree.  There are too many of us.  We’ll never have peace.  If a brother and sister who come from the same DNA from the same mother and same father bicker and fight and scrap and argue and taunt and scream and hit and spit, how can you expect two different people from opposite sides of the planet with different beliefs and different culture and different motivations and different priorities and different resources actually get along???  Really??!!  This world is a swirling mass of goodness and crap and how we ever manage to maintain consistent joy and serenity is sometimes baffling.  But we have to choose.  Choose with respect.  Search ourselves and find what is truth for us.  And stick by it.

And if we never stand up for the “small things” and gain momentum in our beliefs, then when the really big offenses come to us, we won’t have the courage or mental fortitude or cohesion to be and to remain strong.  We must speak, respectfully, but speak nonetheless.

The second point that I felt had good perspective was a comment made in response to the article by a Rick Dalbey in that GQ KNEW what they were going after, they already KNEW how he believed, and they baited him for a sound byte.  He also says, “This is the rise of the God-hating, hedonist, immoral society that 2nd Peter, Jude or Paul spoke of. This is men going after “strange flesh” inciting the wrath of God as both Jesus and Jude predicted of the end times like Sodom and Gomorrah.”  I agree, and I also believe it goes deeper than any LGBT position, for or against.  I think it goes to the core of Christian versus non-Christian.  We are Christians who believe homosexuality is right.  We are Christians who believe homosexuality is wrong.  But we are Christians.  I believe it is evil inciting to split Christians apart.  To erode us from the inside.

And evil is winning.

Le’go my ego!

red-phone1I read a thoughtful article over on a blog I follow called Facebook Apostles.  The article helped briefly to define our motivation for serving:  ego or calling.  I was struck by the last bullet point:  “Ego wants to preserve the self.  Calling wants to impact others.”  I am discovering this difference for myself now.  Ego will fight to survive and maintain “face”;  calling will fight for another at the cost of self.  But I think it goes a step further.  Following a calling, as opposed to responding to ego, will help to define (or re-define) the self.  With a calling you are aware that there will be risks even though you aren’t certain what those risks are.  And yet you move forward nonetheless.  Take a look at that article here.

Nashotah House

John NashotahToday is a brilliant day!  I have been formally accepted into graduate school at Nashotah House Theological Seminary!  I truly don’t know how I got here, nor do I know how it will all go from here forward.  But for right now I want to bask in the joy and the fear!  This picture was taken the day my cousin, the Rev. Dr. John Toles graduated from Nashotah House in October 2012.  I had no idea then how much my life would change in this last year.  But thank you, Lord, for every second!!!

Pope Francis as Time’s “Person of the Year”?

Pope FrancisI read a post this morning on a website/blog I follow for youth ministers call MorethanDodgeBall.com.  This post questioned the reasons Pope Francis was named person for the year for one of two reasons:  “because of how he embodies Jesus Christ or because of how he embodies Jesus Christ in ways that are ‘nice’ and universally accepted.”  I responded to the article by saying that the Pope should be named “Person of the Year” because he embodies Christ while he reveals his humanity, because I believe he would behave in this manner of life whether he was Pope or not, and because I truly don’t believe he cares if Time magazine names him person of the year or not!  Follow the link above or here to see more…

Make a Wish

cakeTuesday, December 10th, was my birthday, and it was a wonderful day!  From dawn to dusk!  I was reminded of amazing aspects of my life that I am ever-so-grateful for.  I have loving and kind parents who have supported and encouraged me and allow me to be me.  I have the world’s best cousin who is also my very best friend, spiritual advisor, and grounds keeper (he keeps me grounded and reminds me of relativity and perspective).  I am blessed with good health, a good job, a growing church, a refrigerator of food, and a closet of clothes.  This life is my own.  My cousin asked me what I wanted for this new year of my life and one of my answers was to be the master and commander of my own destiny.  Of course that isn’t to be taken literally.  But this is my life; I can do what I deem right for me.  No one else can encroach upon my life unless I allow them to.  That concept is so freeing…I cannot express it wholly enough!!  I also said I wanted to be useful.  I have all that I need.  Now I want to plug in to fill the holes of others’ needs.  This is going to be a very good year!  My best year ever!

Entropic Deterioration

chaosMerriam-Webster:  entropy — a degradation or running down or a trend to disorder.

Chaos is a living, breathing, viable being hell-bent on one purpose:  to devour, to consume, to obliterate.

We arise in the morning facing a new dawn, a fresh chance, a blank slate.  Clear.  Barrier-less.  Free.

Smoke creeps along the edges of the horizon of our minds.  Slinking around the limits of imagination.  Swirling.  Drifting.  Evolving.

Chaos is coming.

Inhaling our courage and desire and joy; exhaling fear and doubt and frustration.

Laughter turns bitter.  Peace turns sour.  Trust turns fractured.

In the words of Dylan Thomas, we must “rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Wisdom Denied

To Build a FireIt’s -19 degrees in Billings, MT, today.  I went outside to shovel a small patch of frozen ground out of the ice and snow for my long-hair dachshund to potty.  As soon as I stepped outside and I breathed the ice-crystal-saturated air, my nose hairs bristled and my eyes stung.

It.  Is.  Cold.

And my imagination shot immediately to the Jack London short story “To Build a Fire”.   Yukon.  -50 degrees.  Man.  Pride.  Huskey.  Instinct.  Matches.  Sleep.  Frozen.

And I think how often we ignore the wisdom of others.  I’m not talking about the whinings of those who speak from veiled interest or those who have done and experienced everything in life, so they must know it all.  You know the type….

I mean the wisdom of those in our lives whom we trust.  Those who have proven their love for and interest in us.  We ignore them.  We scoff at their words.  We stare at them with affected interest, nodding in “knowing” understanding, commenting with emotionally laden “ah” and “uh huh”, all the while thinking, planning, plotting, organizing, hatching our own plan.  Those words of wisdom “going in one ear and out the other.”

Our plan, our path, will be different.  We won’t fall into the same situation that they did.  No way.  Can’t and won’t happen.  We’re different.  Unique.  Bold.  Smart.  Creative.  Mentally / Physically / Emotionally agile.

Is it lack of humility that keeps us from allowing those wise words from sinking in?  Is it arrogance that builds that wall of imperviousness?

Sometimes our own path is a success, and we are vindicated for taking the road less traveled (there’s another blog post on that poem for sure…).

And then there are those times when we fall flat on our faces.  Angry.  Humiliated.  Gutted.  Hopefully, we aren’t like the nameless man in London’s story who has no hope of redemption.  Hopefully, we have a chance for a “do over.”  Or at least to sort out the rubble from our exploded plans and eventually move ahead.  We might need to eat a bit of crow.  Or, perhaps, a bit more than just a bit.  But at some point we move ahead and onward.

And then we gain perspective.  And more people come into our lives.  And one person in particular has a choice in front of them much like we did at one point in our past.  And we speak those words of personally-gained and painfully-acquired wisdom to them.

And we see the oddly familiar stare of affected interest in their eyes.  The slow nods of comprehension.  The emotionally-laden “ah” and “uh huh”.

We shake our heads.  We denied wisdom those years ago.  Wisdom is denied from us now.

And we trot off, like London’s husky, towards the camp filled with warmth and shelter and food and security.

Busted!

838-02494105 When we get caught doing something wrong, whether is it secretly snatching a cookie, gossiping about someone, or cheating on a loved one, why are we sorry?

Are we sorry because (1) we committed the wrong in the first place?  Or, are we sorry that (2) we committed the wrong, got caught, and ultimately hurt someone in the process?

I choose door #2.

My opinion is when we get caught doing wrong and then we apologize for said wrong, that apology is worthless.  To me, it is insincere and empty.  The question raises for me:  would you have continued in your behavior if you hadn’t gotten caught?  Answer:  it is highly likely!

If you felt guilty for doing something wrong, you should have gathered your self control and stopped the behavior earlier…knowing it was wrong and would have potentially hurt someone.  If you wait and continue to sneak around in that behavior in an attempt to convince yourself that you won’t get caught, that one more time won’t hurt, that one more slanderous conversation isn’t so bad, that you’ve made it this far without getting caught yet, you are compounding the issue by adding lies and deception to the already wrongful action(s).

Justification and rationalization do not wash you clean.  They merely assuage your guilt and make you feel that you deserve to continue in the behavior, that you are owed an opportunity to continue.  You are simply covering the shame of your wrong by playing the victim in a fantasy situation.

I call horsehockey on that one!

Next time we do something wrong, like gossiping, and we get caught, apologize for the wrong, but don’t be surprised if your tears and pleas are met with a wall devoid of emotion.  After all, the apology came after the fact.  It may take time for the trust to be regained, if it ever will be.  And learn from this episode that the world does not revolve around you and your reasons for committing the wrong.  Be honest and own your actions and the guilt you might rightly carry.  After all, no one twisted your arm into that cookie jar in the first place.

The Bulkhead Did It!

Image

I’m in the airport looking forward to my return flight home to Montana.  I’ve got all my security items with me:  cell phone, books, planner, laptop, lip balm, cinnamon gum, small Americano.  I have had a wonderful Thanksgiving visit at my parents’ with Dad’s family visiting.  Too much food.  Lots of peace and quiet.  A smidge of shopping.  Excellent trip.  Dad’s OCD about time has gotten me to the airport exactly 2 hours before my flight.  I have a chance to sip my coffee and read my book while I wait at the gate for the first leg of my trip.  Ahhh, all is bliss….

Fast forward a bit…  I am luckily on row 4 of the plane but an aisle seat.  I’m the last group to board, and the plane is full.  However, I pause before getting settled in as my seat mate is not on board yet.  She arrives and says she needs to go to the restroom before she sits down.  (Really??  Didn’t she just come from the waiting area where restrooms were abundant?!)  So she reaches across my face and tosses her bag and coat in the seat and just stands next to me.  (I guess she’s waiting for permission or something.)

When she arrives from the restroom, I stand up to let her in and hit my head on the bulkhead. (Dangit!)  Then she says she’s not ready to get in yet.  (What?!)  I sit back down.  (What is she DOING?!)  Finally, she wants to sit down.  She apologizes for having me wait.  I stand.  Hit my head again.  (I should’ve known that bulkhead was so low.  Dangit!)  She gets in jabbing me in my side while she gets settled and buckles her seatbelt.  She apologizes again.  I get settled now, pull out my laptop, plug in my David Gray, and try to regain the bliss I was basking in earlier.

(Ugh!)  Because her entire arm is smothering the arm rest, I cannot type properly.  Now she wants to get up (again!) and use the restroom.  (You’ve GOT to be kidding me!!)  I stand…yes, hitting my head again!  (This person is completely pissing me off!)  I sit back down and wait for an eternity.  It’s no use getting settled because as sure as I do she’ll be back.  Finally, she comes back.  I stand sans hitting my head this time.  I’ve put away my laptop as that is a fruitless pursuit.  I’m armed with my book and my David Gray again.  As she steps in front of me to get in, she apologizes again.  I stand in the aisle to allow her to get settled (See how generous I am??).  I get in again, sit down again, buckle my seatbelt again, plug in my earphones again, a pull out my book again.  She says she’s really, really sorry.  I say it’s ok and bury my face in the book…again.

Fast forward a bit…  How did my bliss turn to bust?  How did my peace turn to pissed off?

Lesson to Learn:  Life is not always about me.

Did I notice how uncomfortable she was?  Did I notice how she crossed herself twice before we took off and again when we landed?  Did I notice how sad she seemed when she kept inconveniencing me?  Didn’t I see how she continued to wring her hands throughout the flight?

Yes, I did notice all these…and more.  Sadly, I was so self-consumed about my own agenda and desires that I didn’t even give a second glance to her needs or fears or sadness or discomfort.  All I could think of was how gracious I was being by smiling, getting up when she needed me to, nodding to her pleas of apology, scooting over and leaning into the aisle so her flopping elbow would stop punching me in the side.

Me.  Me.  Me.

Now that we are separated and have gone our own ways on the planet, I am so very sorry for my behavior.  I could have pulled myself out of my own pious self-righteousness and talked to her.  At least initiated a conversation… if this was her first time to fly.  If she is feeling okay.  What is her reason for traveling.  Anything.  In my efforts to be so outwardly accommodating and genteel, I was inwardly rude, arrogant, and prideful.

It is not all about me.  My interactions in this world, this life, are not all about me.  What I do should be for the benefit of others.  Josemaria Escriva said:  “If thou aim at and seek after nothing else but the will of God and thy neighbor’s benefit, then shall thou enjoy interior liberty.”  While my actions may at times be for me, I need to be mindful of, no absorbed in the fact of, the results of my actions.  My words.  The tone in my voice.  My facial expressions.  These behaviors that I exude reflect my heart.  And my heart during the last 2 hours were most certainly not how I would wish to treat this stranger.

‘Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”  (very loose quotation)  The abundance of my heart was for me.  In spite of my smiles and nods and responses of “It’s okay”, she knew I was irritated.  I should have stepped out of my own selfishness and irritation, noticed her discomfort, and been attentive (if even for a brief moment) to her.  A kind, sincere word might have meant the world to her.

And I blew it.

Wherever you are, I am sorry.

May I remember that I am not the center.  I am merely another orb in the universe.  And may I remember to lay myself aside and seek after my neighbor’s benefit.