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Face Time . . .

(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.

Turtle on its back on white background

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.

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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 . . .

FINISH WELL!

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Recovery . . . of the Easiest Kind . . .

(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:

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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.

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Would you take some time from your busy day to comment on what you read and see?

And, as always . . .

FINISH WELL!!

Easy Doesn’t Do It . . .

In a counseling session several years ago, the counselee Cheryl (name changed) was debating the pros and cons of marrying her sweetheart of about a year and a half. As we worked our way through our list, she sighed, sat back heavily onto the couch, and started to cry. After a few moments of silence I asked, “What is it that you’re thinking or feeling right now?” She replied, “I don’t know if getting married is right for me or not. What I do know though, is that being single is just so hard.”

I remember smiling at her and responding, “Cheryl, if you think that being or remaining single is harder than being married, then don’t get married.” She immediately sat upright, wide-eyed, surprised, and asked, rather abruptly, “Why? How can sharing everything – responsibilities, finances, accountability – be harder with two people than it is with one?”

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That conversation has been played out between my chair and the couch in my office dozens of times over the years. And when the expectation is that being married will be easier than being single, my response is always the same, “I don’t think you have thought through or accepted the personal cost of committing your life to another person.”

Bold statement? 

Yes . . . 

But I care too much about that potential marriage being fulfilling and pleasurable to allow the other people to go into it somewhat blindly. 

Oh I don’t have all the answers, and have plenty of diplomas on my office wall to prove it. At least 98% of my degrees were earned from the “School of Hard Knocks.” And in my own younger years, I had no clue about the work – the personal cost – the sacrifices – that were needed for a marriage to become good, and succeed.

Getting married is the easy part . . . 

Staying in a progressive, satisfying union with the same person for the rest of your life is perhaps the most difficult challenge of our time. I am not at all surprised that the divorce rate in our current state is at more than 50%. What does surprise me however, is that 40-something percent of marriages succeed. 

So why all this chatter about the difficulty of marriage? Certainly it is not to scare anyone off from becoming married. Instead, we have to remember that marriage is work . . . Hard work. It’s like a second full-time job – and certainly not less important than our profession. It would help us all, if we paused before walking through the door after coming home from work and say to ourselves, “OK, I’m showing up for my most important job, and I need to work hard when I get in there.”

Our wives need to know that to us, they are the most important person on the planet – bar none. If true, the way that we prove that to them is in how hard we are willing to work in order that the relationship thrives – grows through the hard times – and that we are not only able, but willing to work hard with them so we can all relish in the knowledge that we are willing partners for life.

Everything and everyone around us as husbands tells us, “Be the man. Go for the brass ring. Nobody tells a real man what to do. Satisfy your passion.” The Bible’s message to husbands is exactly the opposite -“Crucify yourself.” Here’s how Paul put it in Ephesians 5:25: 

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for her.”

Let me be real here. I am not always successful in this. There are more times than I’d really care to admit that I have been ego-centric, self-centered, and self-focused and not respected the expectations and hopes that my wife has of me/us in our marriage. I have recently had to explain myself in ways that are embarrassing and humbling. Regardless of my intent, and in spite of my promises, I have lost my focus. Thankfully, little enough damage (in my moments of “braindeadedness”) has been done and she has found within her heart enough grace to understand and forgive me for the errors of my ways.

It’s too easy for me (and I’m guessing you, too) to allow my emotions to escape the confines of reality and common sense . .

And duty . . .

Even the best of us make stupid, selfish decisions. I take my place in the classroom of “jugheads.”

businessman with hand on chin

But the reminder that the cost of commitment to my wife and kids is worth all that seems to be sacrificial to me, is what brings me – and sometimes not so gently – back to earth.

Do you have your own stories of struggle in this area? You know that “putting them out there” serves as an encouragement, or as a learning point to the rest of us. I’ll keep writing about it as God puts it on my heart. But I know I’m not alone in this – and need partners – warriors – to affirm and encourage those that are embattled by the same enemy. I look forward to hearing from you (men or women) about it.

Keep working! Keep winning!

And, as always . . .

FINISH WELL!