Obviously I feel things deeply. I’ve never liked small talk. Generalities bore me to tears. Substance has always been on my plate.
As the oldest of 4 boys I can act silly with the best of them, but when it comes to deep reflection about the hard issues of life I know how to put silly to the side. As a conservative I feel strongly about my values, but I can have a conversation with someone who doesn’t share my values. One of my favorites quotes is the following. I don’t know who penned it.
Nothing can be won by force what can only be earned by submission.
There are no shortage of people who try to force their will on others. It happens daily in traffic, weekly in classrooms and monthly in churches. People think the way they see things is the way others should see them, and if you don’t be damned. That’s a very bad way to look at life. We’ve got to look at life from another person’s point of view, and with kindness and gentleness express the way we see things. We’ve got to listen more. So much of life is watching people yell at each other. Television is the worst at it. If you’re constantly formulating what you’re going to say how can you listen intelligently to what the other person is saying? And if you’re constantly living in a state of fear how do you expect to move on with the goals and dreams you have buried beneath a mountain of fear? You’ll never leave the house. I’ve been there, and it’s torment. I got out. I got help, and even though I’m not where I want to be I’m in a better place because I care. It takes baby steps. It’s not going to happen over night. Bad habits didn’t arrive over night, and they won’t leave over night. It takes small deliberate choices to overcome long periods of bad choices.
Experience itself shows you the right way to go. As a man of faith I lean heavily upon the LORD Jesus Christ. He’s been where I am. He walked this earth as a sinless man with a divine purpose before him that he accomplished. I’ll never be sinless, but God hasn’t called me to sinlessness. I strive not to sin, but when I do I strive to make it right when I do. Satan knows what causes me to sin, and you better believe he is leveraging situations to that end. Now like my friend Joe Beam writes it may not be Satan himself, but there are evil angels who strive daily in my circle of influence to trip me up. They will use anything to do it. I take the unseen world very seriously because they are serious about destroying me.
I would imagine most of you who read this blog are believers. I don’t have any hidden widgets to be able to ascertain that, but my assumption is that you connect with my posts because we have similar world views. Some of you fight depression, are in recovery, fight other mental illness and some are doing quite well in post-recovery life. I can’t wait to join you.
That leads me to the “normal” we all want to feel. I’m thankful this time of year to gather with family. It’s even more palpable as we grieve David’s passing. It’s normal to hurt when those we love die. It’s normal to want them with us but obviously David will not. I’m coming to grips with that as are many others. Society has created this thing called normal out of a need to know what to expect. God partners with us in that regard. When a group of people are discussing basketball, and one of them brings up Donald Trump that’s not normal. They weren’t listening to the conversation, and even if they didn’t know anything about basketball they could quietly listen, or ask a caring question about basketball to seek understanding. Getting along with people is normal, Christlike, and it’s the loving thing to do.
I think what I’m going to fixate on this holiday season is not the pain I feel, or the aggravation I have for people who aren’t “normal”, but the thankfulness I have that we have time to spend together. I’m going to leave my phone face down, and when someone wants to play Rook I’m going to play as I drink a cup of coffee. I’m going to talk to someone I don’t normally talk to because Jesus gives me that power through the Holy Spirit.
Even if you aren’t a believer in Judeo-Christian values the Golden Rule is still in effect. Life goes better when we do for others what we want them to do for us. Look at situations through others eyes. Don’t force your will on others, and smile at people as you say hello.