Monthly Archives: February 2014
(Due to technical difficulties, several of my shared social media outlets were not included in my last four posts. Please forgive me for duplicating, but did not want to leave anyone out. Thank you.)
I have intentionally left out the goings on of the past week, mostly because I didn’t want to be embarrassed just in case I didn’t handle things well. From this point forward i’ not editing anything i this post unless thank the Lord for spell correctihjg, you get it fromn Him. On Wednesday I underwent a pretty major back surgery – a double disk fusion. Whey call it double fusion when they fuse together THREE vertebra I do not know. But It reallyt isn’t important right now because understanding muy intent is. You seem if I can communicate well with you while coming off of two heavy days of morphine, virtually any time I wanted it as lojng as it was only every eight nominates of the day, (that’s jiuuuiust a little heavy for me on any day), then i ought to do pretty good job most all the time.
The truth is though as much as anything I’m having trouble typing with this pulse ox thing typed to muy indue finger. I think you can credit about every nine out of ten mistakes to the index finger – which means since I just spelled it “indue” finger inn the last sentence, that one was probably the drugs.
As a matter of fact I was coherent enough – AT 4:12 AM – this morning, to snap this clever photo:
My new alarm clock. Hope I’m not here long enough to operate it!
Here are the instructions. More morphine – long course.
No more morphine – “likelihood” of “start up” instructions
Never mind it took me 24 minutes just ty type that message so i felt good about people unhderstandihbng it.
But during nmore coherent hours of the past few days I have given this entire process a bit mnore thought Even before the surgery God had this thought “running inn the background” of ny operating system (OS).
Since our purpose here at Realtime is to endouarge and challenge one another to “Bieng real” when it comes to becoming “God’s mnen,” husbands and fathers, I think it a pretty important thing that we explore our OS.
Think just for a minute of what all is required to have a good OS as a parent OR a spouse (and of either gender). All the responsibilities – the expectations – the duties – the obligations – the ways we show each other love – how we respect another – and most importantly, how we live out God’s character among another.
Now try to do all those things while either being OBN drugs, or conning OFF drugs – or a bout with alcohol. What about coming off a MAJOR LIFE SURGERY – a divorce, the estranbgenment of a child, the death of a family member, the diagnosis of a mental or emotional disorder (yes ALL those things DO happen to GOOD people).
But the one that we struggle to recover from the most – and the onje that we can do the most about . . . it’s the busy-ness. It’s the stress. It’s the lack of rest and quality timne. It’s not having enough battery to be God’s man or God’s woman. Oh, it’s not having the ability – it’s not appropriately USING the ability – HIS ability – provided in us.
Now, tell me you don’t know what the following screen is, and what is happening as a result. Since I’ve probably done enough damage thgis morning, I’mn going to lean on all of you to tell me what you see, and what you interpret.
Would you take some time from your busy day to comment on what you read and see?
And, as always . . .
(Due to technical difficulties, several of my shared social media outlets were not included in my last four posts. Please forgive me for duplicating, but did not want to leave anyone out. Thank you.)
When someone asks me to think about something, or asks if I have thought about something, I often reply, “When I think it makes my head hurt.” Of course it is said in jest, but being an ADD/Type “A” person, I don’t easily just “sit and think” unless something has really grabbed ahold of part of my tiny brain, and continues to rattle around inside my head.
But as I was reading some articles the other day about how men “treat their women,” I was kind of struck first by the concept of “their women.” Even as a man, those words, which did begin rattling around inside my head, didn’t feel quite right. But hurting head or not, this idea seemed worth the discomfort of simple cogitation. (I learned the meaning of the word cogitation from Mrs. Hodges, my English teacher in the 11th grade. I try to throw it into conversation occasionally to impress others with my vast vocabulary) 🙂
Men and women often mention the relational stereotypes of the past, and joke around with such images as the man dragging his wife around by her hair, peeling his grapes, fanning him with fig leaves, and similar references. And although there is no doubt that the passage of time and the evolution of society has changed us all, I’m thinking there may be some evolutionary changes that have not been for the good.
What should be expected of a man when it comes to the way he treats a woman? I wonder if the concept of ownership is more prevalent than I (or we) have thought? I doubt that there is any man who could consider that he owns his wife or significant other, and treats her with much, if any dignity or respect at all. Fortunately, I was raised in an environment where we were taught to care for women, and not to consider them some kind of possession. I’ll admit that I don’t like every woman that I meet or know. Some of them are for one reason or the other off-putting to me. And likewise, I am absolutely positive that there are others who feel the same way about me. But in my attempt to learn and develop more of the character of Christ, it is not an option to interact with any person, much less women, in a disrespectful or undignified manner. If I hold that expectation of myself with the general public, what then should I expect of myself when it comes to my wife? My God-given gift?
1 Peter 3:7
“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”
Some will see the weaker partner reference as an opportunity to dominate – to take advantage of those “weaknesses.” And I don’t think that the “some” I am referring to exempts men that have committed their lives to Christ.
What are some of the ways you show respect to women in general?
Your daughters? Your wife?
And ladies, what are the things that we, as men, are missing? How can we better facilitate the feeling that you are a gift, rather than a possession?
I think that for most of us, the things we should be doing, but may not be doing, are going to be simple. But don’t think we’re going to get away without having to think about them, and desire to do them!
. . . even if it hurts our heads.
I look forward to your input!
And, as always . . .
My taste in music is changing . . . so say my kids. But after a lengthy study of my own musical tastes and listening habits, I’m pretty sure they’re wrong. I have different playlists on my various modes of musical listening. Typically, my mood determines what I listen to on a certain day. And looking at those playlists (classic rock, jazz, classical, modern country, and Christian), I became aware that my tastes have indeed not changed all that much, but that I am a person with a quite eclectic musical palette. And although my personal palette may search for different tastes for different days (just like food), it has stayed pretty consistent throughout my lifetime. There are some themes however, within my musical collection, that require a little more intentional self-discipline to carry out than just what sounds good on a particular day.
There is a song that was several years ago recorded by Christian recording artists, Phillips, Craig, and Dean. The song is called “A Place Called Grace.” I encourage you to click on the colorful link and listen to it! The chorus of the song includes these words:
I know there is a place,
Where arms of compassion welcome me home.
Sweet mercy falls like rain.
I know there’s a place called grace.
While I was recently listening to the words of this song, the question popped into my mind, “For how many of us is our home truly a place of mercy and grace?”
I’m not talking about the instances when our kids come home and know they’re in for it. Maybe we got a call from the school, or there’s been some texting going on throughout the day that indicates certain doom “when your father gets home.” What I’m wondering about is the consistent climate of our homes, and whether or not those who live there know that the leadership of said home is gracious and merciful, or if that leadership is harsh and critical.
There was a period of time, when my kids were much younger than they are now, that it seemed I, as the appointed leader of The Hargrove Asylum and Dog Pound, was constantly in “grouch mode.” I think it was probably more prevalent when the kids were between the ages of about 10 and 13. They seemed to constantly push boundaries and parameters, and to be honest, from my standpoint, it got really old. And probably, truth still being told, I became somewhat ugly.
I was tired of having to deal with issue after issue, incident after incident, and couldn’t for the life of me understand why these kids couldn’t hear something once – maybe twice – and know what was expected of them one way or the other. And to have to continually return to either the same issues or similar issues time after time started wearing on my willingness to be nice. So much so that I can recall a few instances when what was needed from their leader was compassion, mercy, and a helping of grace. Instead, I was busy.
Busy holding grudges.
When you add that dynamic to the entire household, including the marital part, I’m fairly sure that the different components of the family that I led did not view me as the dynamic leader they longed to follow. It wouldn’t surprise me even now if they wouldn’t admit to keeping the pot stirred in order to in one way or another, voice their frustration.
Because you see, there is no way I was representative of the father and husband that was approachable, kind, loving, and gentle. And it’s not that I was a total jerk, but in the times of that life period that they needed me, they were probably afraid to come to me. In reality, I had alienated myself from this family that I had prayed for God to give me. What could possibly be right about that?
Being merciful and extending grace to our families doesn’t always feel right. There are days when we’re not in the mood for it, or don’t feel like specific individuals deserve it. It becomes easy to withhold the very things that Christ has given us, whether we deserved it or not. And in my seemingly far-off desire to develop more of HIS character, those two things just don’t match up. Therefore I become inconsistent. Hypocritical. And as my daughter occasionally observed during that period of time, not very nice at all.
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
How can we encourage one another to “stay the course” in ways we often don’t feel like it?
Moreover, what can we do to “hold one another accountable” to a style of leadership that is firm when needed, but then reverts to the Christ-character of giving love, mercy, and compassion?
I encourage and challenge you today to help me and the rest of us with your stories and/or suggestions.
And, as always . . .
Today I will be learning yet another (probably insanely simple) operation about the mechanics of blogging within community. Hopefully in a few hours I’ll know how to tag, or highlight someone else’s blog, so I can send you to other wonderful ideas, opinions, and truths. Since I don’t yet know how to do that, and this blog is already two hours late in being posted, I am probably going to commit some type of copyright crime – but I’m praying that forgiveness is easier than permission (yeah, THAT has worked out well for me before) 🙂
Dr. Kelly Flanagan is a licensed Clinical Psychologist in Wheaton, Illinois. I am a follower of his weekly blog, “UnTangled.” When I read this post, I just couldn’t wait to share it with you – or send you to it – or whatever is appropriate in the blogging world. Nonetheless, I’m COPYING it for you, and taking only the credit of having read it myself earlier. His words could not be more on point!.
If you’d like to follow Dr. Flanagan’s blog, you can find his website at www.drkellyflanagan.com. I encourage you to not only read this insightful piece, but to follow him as well.
Happy reading . . .
And, as always . . .
Dear Little One,
As I write this, I’m sitting in the makeup aisle of our local Target store. A friend recently texted me from a different makeup aisle and told me it felt like one of the most oppressive places in the world. I wanted to find out what he meant. And now that I’m sitting here, I’m beginning to agree with him. Words have power, and the words on display in this aisle have a deep power. Words and phrases like:
Instant age rewind,
Choose your dream,
Nearly naked, and
When you have a daughter you start to realize she’s just as strong as everyone else in the house—a force to be reckoned with, a soul on fire with the same life and gifts and passions as any man. But sitting in this store aisle, you also begin to realize most people won’t see her that way. They’ll see her as a pretty face and a body to enjoy. And they’ll tell her she has to look a certain way to have any worth or influence.
But words do have power and maybe, just maybe, the words of a father can begin to compete with the words of the world. Maybe a father’s words can deliver his daughter through this gauntlet of institutionalized shame and into a deep, unshakeable sense of her own worthiness and beauty.
A father’s words aren’t different words, but they are words with a radically different meaning:
Brilliant strength. May your strength be not in your fingernails but in your heart. May you discern in your center who you are, and then may you fearfully but tenaciously live it out in the world.
Choose your dream. But not from a department store shelf. Find the still-quiet place within you. A real dream has been planted there. Discover what you want to do in the world. And when you have chosen, may you faithfully pursue it, with integrity and with hope.
Naked. The world wants you to take your clothes off. Please keep them on. But take your glovesoff. Pull no punches. Say what is in your heart. Be vulnerable. Embrace risk. Love a world that barely knows what it means to love itself. Do so nakedly. Openly. With abandon.
Infallible. May you be constantly, infallibly aware that infallibility doesn’t exist. It’s an illusion created by people interested in your wallet. If you choose to seek perfection, may it be in an infallible grace—for yourself, and for everyone around you.
Age defying. Your skin will wrinkle and your youth will fade, but your soul is ageless. It will always know how to play and how to enjoy and how to revel in this one-chance life. May you always defiantly resist the aging of your spirit.
Flawless finish. Your finish has nothing to do with how your face looks today and everything to do with how your life looks on your last day. May your years be a preparation for that day. May you be aged by grace, may you grow in wisdom, and may your love become big enough to embrace all people. May your flawless finish be a peaceful embrace of the end and the unknown that follows, and may it thus be a gift to everyone who cherishes you.
Little One, you love everything pink and frilly and I will surely understand if someday makeup is important to you. But I pray three words will remain more important to you—the last three words you say every night, when I ask the question: “Where are you the most beautiful?” Three words so bright no concealer can cover them.
Where are you the most beautiful?
On the inside.
From my heart to yours,
Like the last letter I wrote to my daughter, I wrote this first for her and the day I’ll eventually read it to her. But I also wrote it for every woman who needs to hear the words of a father. Women, no one else can define your beauty for you. But they’ll try.
My daughter is four years-old now. If her awakening to the makeup aisle comes at the typical age, I figure we have about five years to radically alter the arc of history and the subjugation-by-image of the female gender. We’ve got a lot of work to do. And it begins in the heart of each and every woman.
It was that kind of a week. Or month. It’s hard to remember.
If you were to go back and look at the goals and expectations for the week, it was the week where none of them were met. Not only were they not met, the feeling, at least, was that progress stalled – maybe even moved backward a few steps – the weather was crummy, everyone was crabby, the hole in the ozone grew, global warming jumped up to warp-speed, Wall Street crashed, liberty was yanked from our clutches, and it appeared as if it was the end of the world as we knew it.
But did any of that really happen?
Don’t really know . . .
Doesn’t really matter . . .
Because in spite of the likelihood that I spent the week and weekend awfulizing pretty much everything, the world went merrily spinning on, and when all was said and done, doom and gloom did not do us in.
Truth is, during those days of personal struggle, it seemed that everyone around me was having a really good time!
And I hated that – because I don’t seem to have been invited.
If God’s plan for Kyle Hargrove is to challenge and encourage other men to be real and transparent, to write about the hundreds of intricacies that make that a huge obstacle for most of us, then it is also God’s plan for Kyle Hargrove to be challenged to do the same.
So there. I said it. I had a crappy week. And as the deadline for this morning’s blog drew nearer, the reality (and teacher/writer’s nightmare) became clearer and clearer. For you . . . ?
I got nothing.
But isn’t that a place we all find ourselves from time to time? You know, that place where your mind, heart, and subsequent attitude sinks into a cold, dark hole where nothing looks good, sounds good, tastes good, feels good, and you turn into a crunchy old man who is practically convinced that at least in those moments, you got nothing? Sometimes it is hard to remember things like this:
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
But I am discouraged. What happens in my mind when that terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day comes along, isn’t very becoming. Just take the italicized statements from the previous paragraphs for example. For someone that is expected to produce light and life, thoughts such as, “And I hated that . . .” and “I got nothing,” produce a quite undesirable result . . .
And I hated me for it . . .
God, you had a plan for me. It was good. It was exciting. You made it just for ME!
And this, quite frankly, isn’t it . . .
Don’t worry – no need to send out the padded wagon. I’m ok. But it feels weak . . . vulnerable . . . unmanly . . . to be found in such a place. I have to be grounded enough to at least look back far enough to determine the catalyst for this brief period of – well – blah. And I know that the spark that set the week on fire for me was news about pending back surgery – the big one. See, I’ve been in a similar place before. And for me, it’s a frightening and cold place. To be tied to the bed, the sofa, even the house for a period of weeks, unable to be free, to produce, and at least in my mind – to live – is daunting. And depressing. And scary.
But we the people – the men – aren’t supposed to feel this way. We’re expected to buck up, pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, take the bull by the horns, and do what? Be nice? Bake a cake? Sing a song?
Or have a good cry?
Since it’s Realtime, let’s admit that these feelings and thoughts are real. They tend to happen to all of us. For some, a few hours or a day gets it done. But for others, it can become a way of life.
Being real about our circumstantial and subsequent emotional tendencies doesn’t “untoughen” us at all. In fact, it teaches us things about ourselves that can both help us avoid these “pits,” in the future, as well as give us the knowledge that can encourage another guy about getting out of his own.
So to my friends, family, and readers, I humbly apologize for stumbling and bumbling through a brief period of confusion and self-pity. Although somewhat humbling to admit, it was real. Now, was that so hard?
Oh, and God, for momentarily doubting Your plan for me?
Please forgive me. I am ready again.
Am I alone? Do you find that circumstances and runaway emotions take you to “a place” that is not where you want to be?
This is a form for sharing – challenging – encouraging! Let us encourage and challenge you when you comment or post about a struggle, or shoot, HELP THE REST OF US by sharing how God leads you through times when the sun isn’t quite so bright!
And, as always . . .
I’m going to be writing next week about duty and obligation.
Here are some questions I’m going to work toward answering:
1. Are duty and obligation the same thing? If not, what is the difference?
2. As Christian husbands and fathers, which of the two are more important for us?
3. What are some of the ways you “live out” duty and obligation in your roles? (Wives welcome too!)
I would value some feedback on these questions if you have a few minutes to spare!
And, as always . . .
“I’d take a bullet for you.”
“I wish I was the one in pain instead of you.”
“I wish I could take on your stress so you could feel more peaceful.”
“I’d climb the highest mountain, swim the deepest . . . blah blah blah . . . ”
Things we say to the people we love. They’re what’s expected . . .
But do we mean them?
Debbi and I took advantage of a Monday holiday and spent the afternoon taking in the blockbuster film, “Lone Survivor.” It is the story of four Navy seals who undertook what was probably a fairly ordinary mission for heroes, but ended up being a virtual, suicidal hell for three of the four.
Although the story itself was both sobering and inspiring, the thoughts it left me with as the leader and protector of my family were equally thought-provoking. As I watched the characters in the movie, the portraits of leadership, servanthood, provision, and protection were stunning. Pondering these traits later, it entered my mind that these are the same traits God expects of me as a husband and father!
Observing the dogged determination these men exhibited, and the valiant attempts to both survive, and leave no one behind, left me feeling – at best – wanting. Thankfully the likelihood that I will ever have to endure an explosive, two-day firefight in the mountains of Afghanistan to care for my family is quite slim. Because what these men did, and more importantly, why they did it, is hardly in my vocabulary, much less shown in my actions.
Paul wrote in his letter to the Church at Ephesus in Ephesians 5:
“Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. ”For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
Have you ever daydreamed, or imagined being in a survival situation? One where you have to decide what lengths you would go to in order to save your own life? What about the lives of your wife and children? Would you do the same for them that you would do for yourself?
Well for most of us, that scenario will never have to be played out. Truth is however, we are, as husbands and fathers, called to act daily. It’s not a “mountains of Afghanistan” type of behavior, but a consistent and willing type of service that virtually ensures the life of the relationships we are called to lead.
I think at our core, we’d all go to whatever lengths necessary to serve ourselves before we even think about serving someone else. Our cores are selfish – egocentric – all about us. But when Paul encouraged us to love our wives as Christ loved the church, what does that say to us?
Jesus loved completely, selflessly,
. . . and always.
The ways He loved weren’t even related to “mountains of Afghanistan” kinds of scenarios. But He was willing to be “The Lone Survivor.” He’d do anything to show people how, and how much He loved them.
So how do we, as men who are not God, show that kind of selfless, reckless love to our wives and kids?
We serve them.
Service looks, smells, feels, and tastes differently for every one of us. But the key is how it is perceived and received by the ones who look to us as their leader. It’s not laying down my life that gets my wife’s attention. It’s me knowing what is important to her, and following through by re-routing my routine, my day, and ultimately my life in order to show her how important she is to me.
Debbi and I were facilitating a marriage conference a few years ago, and she was asked by a female participant, “How does your husband show his level of service and commitment to you? She smiled and simply replied, “He makes my coffee and brings it to me every morning.” Nobody in the room was more surprised at her answer than me. But it illuminated for me how simple it is to show her that I love her. Believe me, just making her coffee isn’t enough to seal the deal – to show her how much I cherish her as my wife.
But it is that simple.
I know that many of the readers of this blog are women.
What are the simple acts of service, produced consistently, that tell you that your husband loves you more than he thinks of himself?
What are the things you’d “like” to see – that would be meaningful to you?
And guys, would you share with the rest of us some of the things you have learned, that make a huge difference to your wives? (and ultimately to you?) 🙂
Most of us need all the help we can get . . .
I look forward to hearing your comments!
And, as always . . .
- Always say “I’m sorry”
- Your character is the one thing you will carry with you everywhere you go
- The consequences for “the truth” are much less than those for lies
- It’s good to be important, but it’s more important that you’re good
- Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you
- Forgive and forget
Do you remember all the things your parents taught you? I don’t, and doubt that any of us really do. But some things really stick. Robert Fulghum refers to things that he remembers well as, “like burrs in my mental socks.” You know, things that you can’t forget even if you try?
Problem is, regardless of the intent of our parents and the influences of our younger years, even if their advice was faulty, it does tend to stick. When I say “faulty” I’m not suggesting that our parents tried to teach us something untoward or unacceptable, but some of the things we learned when we were children just don’t cut it.
I’m sure that 98% of what my parents, and yours too, taught us is 100% true and worthy of not only remembering, but putting into action. But a thing or two has not proven to be the absolute best advice.
Let’s look at one today: “Forgive and forget.” Although the intent behind that encouragement is noteworthy, in reality it is poor counsel. When we turn to scripture we are encouraged often to forgive others of wrongs they have done to us.
Not only is “forgetting” a literal impossibility for us, it really isn’t healthy either. In extreme situations – let’s say – where abuse has occurred, forgetting simply puts an individual in the place to be abused again. Forgetting is really something that only God is capable of. However, His “forgetfulness” comes only when we have confessed – recognized our sin or wrongdoing – and asked for His forgiveness.
Putting the past behind us is one thing – and a worthwhile endeavor. Forgetting is for someone that is far above our pay grade.
I have a simple encouragement for us today – to learn to put the past in the past, and forgive those – especially those closest to us, so we can move on and grow in contentment and happiness together. Let’s leave the forgetting to God. He’s the only one that’s really good at it.
I have for years encouraged people to remember the following:
- Angry or resentful people are living in the past.
- Fearful or anxious people are spending too much time in the future.
- God is here. Now. Our efforts and energy are worthy of being in the same place.
Can you imagine the energy expended for those of us who spend much of our time angry or fearful? And truthfully, although God was there in the past, He no longer dwells there. Although God will be with us in the future, He’s not hanging out there either. He’s the God of today. He asks us to be present with Him, not lingering where we were hurt, or worrying about where we might be.
In any family relationship – marriage, parenting, etc. – there have been, and are going to be moments of what we feel to be betrayal, disrespect, disobedience, and other relational dynamics that hurt more than they help. To dwell on what has happened in the past and simply cancel out the opportunity for forgiveness and forward movement is sin in itself. It reflects the unforgiveness in our own hearts. The inability to let things go. To forgive and move on toward better and more fulfilling times. The: Apostle Paul said
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Here’s the catch. Letting go is really hard for most of us. Holding on to wrongs that have been done to us gives us leverage . . . traction . . . and works as a weapon to use against that person in the future.
How is that Godly? How does that make us a better partner? It only maintains stress in the relationship, and ultimately hurts us more than the other person.
Someone much wiser than me once said, “Resenting another person is like drinking poison, and waiting for the other person to die.”
Holy Schamoly! How many of us are guilty of that? It not only betrays our commitment to unconditional love, but betrays our commitment to maintain obedience to God.
Are you “hanging on” to a wrong done to you by your wife? Your husband? Your kids? Family members or co-workers?
It’s time to let go.
Holding on to whatever it is that we’re holding on to not only chunks poison on the relationship, it inhibits that relationship’s ability to flourish and produce valuable fruit.
Why do you think it is so hard to let go of wrongs that have been done to us?
How are you struggling right now in this way? How have you benefitted from letting go?
Could you comment or share your thoughts, opinions, or current struggles? We’re all here for one another and desire to make a positive difference in each other’s lives.
And, as always . . .
I was on my hands and knees, weeping uncontrollably. I’m talking about the choking, snot-slinging kind of weeping. It doesn’t happen to me very often, but the heartache and mistakes of the past decade seemed to have replaced the blood in my veins. Every pounding beat of my heart thrust the liquid pain all the way through me . . .
. . . again.
My friend David Terry had been watching and praying. He later told me he waited a long time to come to my side because he was waiting for God to tell him what to say. Not since early childhood had I been comforted the way I was about to experience. David knelt in front of me, pulled my head up under his, and sang to me. For the life of me I can’t even remember what he sang, but I know it was a praise song of love and encouragement.
I know, the visual you may be getting of two grown guys kneeling on the wooden deck of a home in the mountains may seem kind of weird. It would to me. But I was there. And between the cracked tune David sang over me as he fought through his own tears, and what he was about to say next, it was pure comfort. It was healing. It was reconciliation. It was God’s divine plan for that very moment.
As he completed the song, gently holding his hands on the sides of my head, David whispered in my ear, “Kyle, it’s time to get back in the game.”
Instantly I knew they weren’t David’s words. And just as immediately, the pain stopped. The sobbing ceased. For the first time in almost ten years, my heart felt loved by God. The person that I had allowed myself to become based on my life’s circumstances, hateful people, seemingly uncaring friends, and my own poor choices had in my mind become unlovable. But now I felt peace and freedom in a way this guy had never experienced it.
Flash back through a couple of decades. I was made for ministering. God, and many other trustworthy influences in my life had told me so when I was but a teen. So I followed that advice. Throughout the decade of my twenties I served on church staffs as a youth pastor and worship pastor. I was talented. Sharp and engaging. I had the charisma and confidence representative of a young man that knew who he was and what he was doing.
But the real truth in the heart of this person was . . .
I never knew the difference between salvation . . .
And surrender . . .
For the first time in my life I understood what it was to surrender myself both to God and the life he gave me. Please understand, I love to be in control. Ask my wife and close friends, and they’ll give you an immediate “thumbs up” on that one. 🙂
I could say a hundred other things about what happened in the coming months and years, but there was a critical point that had to happen first. In the eight years preceding this event I had effectively left the game. Took myself out. Removed my uniform. Didn’t show back up for a long, long time.
Divorced men can no longer serve in ministry. At least that’s what I was told. From the very day I separated from my ex-wife, my own church told me so much. When I arrived at the counseling center the next day I was told effectively, “You need to gather your things and leave.”
The basis? “People in your circumstances can’t effectively work with other people. We can’t have a counselor setting an example for others like this.”
Although I understood their logic and acquiesced to their request, the hurt and pain I felt in that moment took not only a long time to subside, but painted my heart an ugly grey. And I lived in that dark, grey, foggy cloud for the next eight years. It effectively covered up any light God had ever painted there. And for that time, I lived like it.
I’m revealing this part of me because I know many of you have experienced circumstances and situations in your own lives that have brought you to the same place. It’s a place that is life-stealing. The saddest part about it is that we allow our hearts to be stolen because all we can feel is that pain.
I’m here today to challenge you – to encourage you, to get your game on.
You see, when you belong to God, He never takes you off the team, even if you’re not in the game. There is always more. The apostle Paul encouraged us:
1 Corinthians 9:24-25
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever”
About that crown that lasts forever . . .
It requires the training – the training that can only come by being in the game.
I lost my game. And my circumstances rained down on my life; ministry; relationships; profession; parenting. I stopped training. I just . . . plain . . . stopped.
What are the dead-ends and mud puddles you have been through, effectively taking you off your game, or out of your game?
I love living life with you every day. I know many of you are in pain right now.
Can you share your story? Where you are? Where you have been? Can you leave a comment?
How can we help you where you hurt? God calls us to bear one another’s burdens. Not to completely take them on for others, but to show up. To listen and encourage. To literally kneel, head-to-head with each other, hold the others’ head in our hands, sing songs of praise and comfort, and say . . .
“Come on, It’s time for you to get back in the game . . . “
And, as always . . .