We just never know when someone – literally out of nowhere – will take the risk of speaking something boldly into our lives.
Something that means something.
Something that was needed desperately.
Something spoken with courage.
Something that is real, and just as importantly, is right on time.
The funny thing though, is that when a person takes that risk because God gently tapped them on the shoulder and said, “Go ahead, I got this,” it is always on time!
If you are new to this blog, then welcome to Realtime! If not, then you may have been wondering what happened, and why you have not received any blogs in quite some time. There are those however, who may be relieved that you have not been bothered with it. 🙂
Regardless of the seasons and/or reasons for the “time out,” it is time for our encouragement and exploration to resume, and I am glad you are along for the ride. I sincerely hope you stay the course as we walk and talk out some of the real struggles, and wonderful blessings we experience along the way. Sometimes it’s pretty and sometimes it’s ugly. Then there are those times when it is pretty ugly. But that’s ok, as long as it’s real. If we’re being real, there are some eye-opening discoveries we need to share, whether or not everyone thinks it’s ok to be transparent.
Jesus was transparent – never leaving any doubt about his thoughts or feelings in any situation. If my goal is to mirror the character and the life that Christ lived among us, being real is not negotiable. It is a must! I can’t wait to see and hear how many of you feel the same.
I’ve walked through some new struggles lately – the kind that throw you off course and cause you to wonder things about yourself that you might never utter to another human being. The kind that slam you onto your back and although you imagine that you’re up again, fighting for your life, it’s really just a mirage and you’re really still laying there, bleeding out ever so slowly. But you don’t know it.
I don’t know if it’s a phrase that is overused or not, but one that is often spoken by or about people that have walked through struggles is, “A Crisis of Faith.” I am not completely confident that I know for sure what a crisis of faith really is. But what a friend boldly and courageously spoke into me earlier this week left an impression that now gives me the latitude to think I have a pretty good idea.
The friend said to me, “Our walk of faith is a balancing act of action and trust. The Holy Spirit is our helper and sometime we sit around waiting for Him to “do something”. But, helper implies that we are already doing something that we need help/support with. So I encourage you in your passion. God will work out the circumstances but I can promise you it will look NOTHING like what you thought it would in the beginning.”
There is no doubt that I am not the sharpest cheddar in the fridge, but neither am I the bleu. Like a delivery of flowers or an important package that is supposed to arrive at a specific time, this God-laced statement arrived with some Gorilla Glue already on it, nice and sticky, and ready to adhere to my heart.
We all find ourselves in places where action is easy, but trust is hard. Conversely, I doubt there are many of us who have not also experienced a time or two when trusting has come almost naturally, while the ability or even the willingness to take action seems near impossible – almost like being paralyzed.
Oh wow . . . do I ever have a story to tell you about that! But in the midst of the struggle, and thanks to some early and wise encouragement from a long-time brother, this part of the journey has been spent looking for ways to Glorify God, even though the struggle has been immeasurably tough.
We have to summon the energy to push through the mental, emotional, and spiritual cobwebs of a personal trial to determine whether ours is an absence of trust or a lack of action. Making that determination is the first piece connected in this large, complicated, and constantly changing jigsaw puzzle we call life.
But once that “absence” (trust or action) can be correctly identified, we still have to stand up on our own feet, learn to walk again, and know that the One we are trusting will hold us up, and dust us off when we fall.
The coolest thing about this encouragement of outrageous words of life? We have neither seen nor heard from one another in at least 35 years. The details and logistics are not important because God directed the whole thing from a curiously hidden place, unbeknownst to anyone other than Him.
And when that friend heard His voice, felt the tap on the shoulder, and said, “It might be bold, and it might be awkward, but Yes, I will,” He sat back in His chair, crossed His arms, and smiled broadly.
As always my friends . . .
(Thanks for putting up with my crazy thoughts. I’ll be asking you again to be interactive with the blog on most occasions. That’s how we “Show up,” and it’s what gives God the chance to “Show off!” I crave, and really look forward to interacting with you, and as always – if you have any thoughts, ideas, or experiences that would make good “Blog-Fodder,” send it on! You can send it through this forum, or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for taking the ride!)
(Due to technical difficulties, several of my shared social media outlets were not included in recent posts. Please forgive me for duplicating, but did not want to leave anyone out. Thank you.)
How many times do we hear people – including ourselves – say things like these?
That knocked me flat on my back.
I was flat on my back for a week.
I was so far down the only way to look was up.
I was so confused I didn’t know up from down.
I feel like my back is against the wall.
I have never felt so helpless (or substitute hopeless) in all my life.
Unpleasant as it may seem, when I hear or say statements like these I am reminded of a turtle or a cockroach that has been displaced and ends up on his back, with legs waving in the air. When this happens, regardless of the reason, the animal is helpless – defenseless – and without assistance, will die because of his position.
We sometimes find ourselves in that turtle/roach position – and don’t like it one bit! Any time we lose the ability to control at least basic functions of life, the emotional and physical impact is tremendous. Most if not all of us have been “run over by life” a time or two (did I hear you say ten?). When we’re literally or figuratively on our backs, we become frustrated, scared, angry. It is common to lose focus, the ability to reason, or even the desire to be cooperative. We’re tired, angry, and embarrassed. How did I get here again? Why can’t I prevent this from happening? We often learn and then play the role of the victim, even when we’re not being victimized. I am convinced that for some, “victimitis” is an addiction. As backward as it may sound, some people are unable to function unless they have a soapbox to stand on – an enemy to fight – a bully who is once again pushing them around.
But instead of cursing God, shaking our fist at Him, or crying out “Why me?” God would have us to ask ourselves some serious and genuine questions when we find ourselves in this “backward” position. Why is it that I have been knocked down? Is it truly the result of a bizarre, random attack? Is it a consequence of my own sin? Am I in the line of fire where someone else’s misdeeds are concerned? Think about how often you have asked God for answers while figuratively on your back. Now think about how many answers you have received while you are in that position. Probably not many. Why is this so?
II Corinthians 12:9-10
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Two things come to mind.
First, most of us like to be in control of our own lives – probably too much so. We find false comfort in our own false power. God, however, provides us with more than abundant strength when we become weak! When we die to ourselves and our own selfish desires, He then fills us with the strength and grace we need to conquer whatever battles we are fighting.
I think God allows us to find ourselves in that position for a reason. It does feel helpless, and that’s exactly how He wants us to feel. The less we rely on ourselves, the more dependent we must become on Him.
Secondly, it’s all about position. I hear from God not when I’m flat on my back, but when I am firmly and intentionally on my face. The difference is phenomenal. You cannot take someone else’s word for this. It requires a personal experience to understand the power that God provides when we stop trying to fight off enemies ourselves, from a very defensive position, and fall prostrate before Him, submissive, ready to receive His wisdom.
If I’m on my back, I can still see you. I know where you are and can see you coming if you choose to attack me. My flesh needs to see what is happening! I can fend you off for a time, but I cannot defeat you. Left in this position, I will eventually die of paranoia and frustration.
When I am on my face, I cannot see you. I don’t know where you are or from where you will attack. This is frightens me because I know I am in a weakened position. I am defenseless. I am as submissive as I can be, in spite of my natural desire to know what is going on, and personally defend myself.
In this position, I must be completely and totally dependent on someone stronger and wiser than myself. What an unnatural act for a man! Since God created us, he knows how strong-willed we can be. He knows that we will default to our own strength and abilities in a pinch. So at times, I think He allows us to find ourselves in positions that show us just how unpowerful we truly are. Until it’s about humility, and until it’s all about Him, our back is where we will often stay.
It’s hard for me to imagine what would be attractive about the struggling turtle or roach. But even knowing the futility of that position, I still find myself there anyhow. Today’s encouragement – both for you and for me – is to maintain the discipline to spend more “face time” than “back time.”
When do you most often struggle to “get off your back?”
We can be stronger by sharing with each other. I look forward to hearing from you!
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.)
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 . . .
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 . . .