Saturday, March 26, 2011

Afraid of Intimacy

We are natural loners who have recognized the dangers of isolation and are determined to escape them. This is a line from the reading we do at a meeting of the Samson Society. It's something I recognize about myself. Movies many times dramatize the loner; the tough guy who does it his way and doesn't need other people. As a Christian man I know it's not a good thing so I fight to change.

A subject of discussion at my Samson meeting last night was intimacy. I recognized something about myself and I think it's connected to being a loner: I am afraid of intimacy. It's something I crave but fear keeps it away.

Why would someone want to be my friend or be close to me? That's something I hear in my mind regularly. I think the fear of intimacy causes me to hold people at a distance. Or maybe it's the fear of rejection.

This isn't one of those stories where I talk about how I was and how it was fixed. It's one where I reveal where I am broken. No fix in sight.

When there is distance between me and others or even between my wife and I, I don't know how to fix it. The result is usually a widening gulf. Sometimes it gets fixed, sometimes not. As I think about it, if people move toward me I can relate to them but I have a hard time being the initiator. I hear and read about how to make relationships better but those skills continue to elude me. As you can guess, it doesn't usually end well.

So that’s what’s on my mind and this is my confessional.

Philip

Friday, March 18, 2011

In the midst of his pursuits

Awake in the middle of the night, I was recalling some Scripture. "But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away." James 1:9-11

Here is the line that is caught in my mind: "so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away." It reminds me of the common interview question, "What do you want to be doing when you die?" This guy’s answer is that he was trying to make more money.

Money does determine a lot of what we do; we need it to live. But it needs to be in its right place. We use it, it doesn't rule us.

What we want to be doing when we die (and live) is to glorify God. It's not some huge thing we aspire to; it starts in the next moment, right now. Don't get caught up in the religious words and concepts. It can be easy. Do the simple things that make God smile.

Philip

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My small God

I am nearing the end of my weight loss journey. Another pound or two and I will be done. I see some fat left, my wife says it is just skin. I want all excess fat gone and I want it to stay that way. To God be the glory for the great thing He has done.

To have lost 64 pounds is something beyond my wildest dreams. Once in a while I would think about losing weight but my mind would quickly change channels. I now realize the problem was that the BIG god in my life was me. I thought it was up to me. I was limited by my ability. It scared me to think of my inability to change. I forgot what God could do. He was small and me was big. What happened to "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me?" Philippians 4:13

I want to be a follower of Jesus and have Him in control of all of my life. It really bothered me that I had such a big area in my life that I couldn't change. That was the problem - I/me. I had made God small. He was too little to help me.

I am now greatly encouraged to let God be God. Shouldn't there be a power in my life beyond all the self-help, I can do it crap the world promotes as the way to get it done. Shouldn't the power of the Holy Spirit mean and do something beyond just being a nice religious phrase? Shouldn't I be able to confront other problem areas of my life with confidence that if change needs to happen then God can bring it about?

It's mysterious how God and I fit together on all this. I know that I have a part. There are things I must do to cooperate. In weight loss I had to make daily decisions to eat less and differently. I had to track what I ate so I knew if I was on track. The scale became the judge of my progress. I will have to continue in these behaviors so I don't drift back to where I was.

But, it isn't just me. There has been something sweet and awesome going on. God has done what I can't. He has changed my desires. I haven't had to grit my teeth and pull myself up by my own bootstraps. I have become different; I have become new in this area. The old is passing/has passed away.

I celebrate this victory but tomorrow is a new day. There is plenty of other stuff in my life that needs to change; the other things I hide from; the areas where God is still small. The other things I am trying to overcome by willpower; by my strength. Wouldn't it be nice if a lesson learned in one area was automatically applied everywhere else?

Here is a link to posts about my weight loss journey.

Philip

Monday, March 14, 2011

It Shouldn’t Be This Way

The boy tells the story to his mother and cries in between words. Really he’s not a boy as he will soon be 20. Yet many times he wishes he was just a boy with a much simpler life, but as all older people know, you can never go back to that place.

He has two sisters who are estranged from their family. He tries to hold on to them, knowing it shouldn’t be this way. He is younger than they. They let him into their world and he tries to pull the family back together.

It was the younger sister who used to read to him and share special times with him. It was her who used to watch out for him and be concerned what may happen in his life. Now she is the one who has made such an abrupt turnabout that causes many to wonder how such a thing is possible. It shouldn’t be this way.

I am father to these three and others too. I carry the daily pain of such tearing and turmoil. I constantly wonder what went wrong. Is there fault and blame that needs a place to rest. Should I take it on myself?

The young man says this is not how we wanted things to turn out with our family. I know that more than he. Such high aspirations we had for our Christian family. There were times when all looked well; daughters and sons who seemed to love Jesus and did things to serve in His kingdom. Even this young man teeters on the edge. He finds the allure of the world calling yet sees the damage it has done to those dear to him. He knows what to do but finds it hard.

Life is what happens when you are making other plans. I heard that in church Sunday. How true it is for me. It shouldn’t be this way, yet it is.

Philip

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Stretching

Furniture I built
Many months ago I was reading in a book called The Power of Full Engagement. The subtitle of the book is: Managing energy, not time, is the key to high performance and personal renewal.

One of the things that challenged me was the need for stretching in my life; specifically in my business. I realized that I had become very comfortable in not doing things that made me uncomfortable.

Here are the words from the book that spoke to me:

To build capacity we must push beyond
our normal limits, training in the same
systematic way that elite athletes do.
Stress is not the enemy in our lives. Paradoxically, it is the key to growth. In order to build strength in a muscle we must systematically stress it, expending energy beyond normal levels. Doing so literally causes microscopic tears in the muscle fibers. At the end of a training session, functional capacity is diminished. But give the muscle twenty-four to forty-eight hours to recover and it grows stronger and better able to handle the next stimulus. While this training phenomenon has been applied largely to building physical strength, it is just as relevant to building “muscles” in every dimension of our lives—from empathy and patience to focus and creativity to integrity and commitment. What applies to the body applies equally to the other dimensions of our lives. This insight both simplifies and revolutionizes the way we approach the barriers that stand in our way.

I added stretching to my prayer list and cautiously asked God to bring change in this area. Time passed as I daily wondered what this would mean. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I recognized what God was doing. I realized He had brought two customers into my life, both with a list of work that was way beyond my comfort level. Not only has the work brought stretching in my life, it has also kept me very busy during what is generally a slower time of the year.

I am realizing in a new way that God’s good work in my life may require some stress and pain but it is always bearable and doable and the end result is a greater ability to serve Him.

If you click on the above picture you will see the fruit of this stretching. I built the wood furniture from scratch. My customer had some specific ideas of what he wanted and couldn’t get it at the store. Behind the couch is a shelf that mirrors the long table. Another side table is in the back and the piece on the ottoman can be turned over and function as a tray. While I wouldn’t compare it to what a fine woodworker would produce, I am very happy with the way it turned out. I let God stretch me and pull out of me the abilities He placed there.

I wonder what else He has in mind.

Philip

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