Those Quiet Moments…

The holidays are said to be the loneliest time of the year. I would agree. With the hospital shifts my wife works she misses out on a lot, so we do not make many plans as far as getting together with others. Thanksgiving was just another day, except instead of working I was raking the yard. My wife text me asking if any of my family had plans, she did not want me to be alone. It did not matter, it would not be long, and I would feel out of place. Home is where the heart is except my heart was at work and our house has not been a home in over a year. On the weekends she works, I stay away from it as much as I can, its empty, depressing and soulless.

Thanksgiving night on a friend’s recommendation, I watched Ragamuffin, a movie based on a true story about a singer. The preacher that mentored him caught my attention, Brennan Manning, so I looked him up. He wrote a book that I quickly bought it, devouring it and a few podcasts of him speaking. It stayed on my mind throughout the week, especially when I was in the solitude of the mountains hunting. I was trying to wrap my head around what Brennan seemed to specialize in, teaching about Grace. I tried coming up with analogies, personalizing it, still it did not sink in further than my thick skull. I am not very good at accepting gifts; often feel like I do not deserve them, which is the point of a gift. Its kindness and love, a couple of other things I am awkward around.

The next day was a sermon on loneliness at church. Though I am better with small talk, enjoying the banter, it is not the same satisfying feeling I want. When Pastor Rod did an altar call for the lonely many people stood up, even my new acquaintances. I was not alone in the feeling, but I did not stand. Shyness and insecurity trumped asking for help, I would suffer…in silence by my own choice. Not healthy I know.

I continued reading The Ragamuffin Gospel, highlighting and copying from it. One principle from it was we all have shadows and skeletons in our backgrounds, and the minute you shift the focus from our badness to Jesus’s goodness we can start to forgive and accept ourselves because God has. I am my own worst critic, I cannot even enjoy a victory for very long, my self-worth rising and falling. It is living by an equation I saw: accomplishments + other’s opinions = self-worth. For me it is less other’s opinions and more “I can do better”.

Brennan wrote when living by grace its how Jesus sees you that is important, he is proud of you when you do good and forgives the mistakes. After reading that I thought, “That’s nice, I wonder if God’s proud of me?” An emanating feeling from my heart that he was followed my question.

“WHY?!?” I asked.

An IM popped up from a friend asking a group of us what song described our life. I thought for a moment and replied Just As I Am by Travis Cottrell.

I come broken to be mended I come wounded to be healed
I come desperate to be rescued I come empty to be filled
I come guilty to be pardoned by the blood of Christ the Lamb
And I’m welcomed with open arms, praise God, just as I am.

I looked hard at the past after reading a Bible Passage in Ephesians 2 that addressed my struggle as of late. I turned away years ago, living first by wanting to be accepted by others by wearing different masks. Then after reading Thorin’s work, I started to construct my own person, working from bottom up. The problem was I let it make me narcissistic, making my own self-perfection a god. I had become my own god.

I was a jealous and judgmental god who turned out to be powerless in the end. A god who was shown mercy I did not deserve and given a gift I could never pay for. Like the song’s chorus says, ‘I came broken and wounded, yet accepted just as I am’. The same God I competed with took me in, put my old nature to death, and was born a new creation that was no longer condemned for the smallest lie or my greatest sin.

Yet, I still do not grasp the depth of God’s Grace and wrestle with loneliness, however progress is being made.

Breaking Point

On a Sunday night a few weeks ago, I listened to a guy who had seen a bit of the worst that humanity has to offer. He was now a police chaplain who ministers to those that stand on that line I learned after hearing a story that hit close to home about a call he went on. He had even been pushed to the line of considering ending it all…more familiar territory for me. I listened to the story of (and from) a veteran officer who a year earlier was sitting in his truck under a bridge, staring at his pistol after his world fell in. He just stared at the reflection in the silver, polishing it, harder and harder.

When someone has to deal with the aftermath of violence, they have a hard time fitting quite back into society, or it seems that way from my experience. The more they deal with, the limits of their own resilience; at what point do you lose your soul? Pastor Tommy gave only two verses, Philippians 2: 15-16, that rang through me.

15 so that you will [a]prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you [b]appear as [c]lights in the world16 holding [d]fast the word of life…

Just the speck that I have dealt with still eats at me at times, the flashbacks, fatalistic attitude, fear, etc. How do you keep it together, I asked to myself as much as to God, after the sermon. Another verse from Philippians came to me; “I can do all things [a]through Him who strengthens me.”

It is the lights in this broken world that keeps us from falling apart. Despite stubborn pride that says otherwise, our strength IS limited, we have a breaking point. That is where God comes in at, His strength. Use that to be a Light, something good among the bad, we just might be a reason someone keeps going.

 

If you are having suicidal thoughts, please talk to someone. Contact http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

 

Those Who Mourn

The holidays are approaching; they still are not any easier it seems even with the time that passed. I went back to the mountains to hunt this year instead of walk and process. My fatalistic streak remains to a degree I learned. When I got back, I looked at a picture of our godson, remembering how happy he was right before the accident and the shattering of the world. Tears came towards the surface yet refused to fall.

I have been looking at the Beatitudes in depth, a verse a day through three translations and cross-references. ‘Blessed are you who mourn or weep’, Matthew and Luke respectively, ‘for you will be comforted and laugh’. I am not sure about the original meaning of “blessed” whether it is “happy” or “in God’s favor”, but one day I will be comforted and laugh. It is an uphill progress shared by many and at one point or another, everyone. Like the lady next door, whose son died in a wreck last year, friends and family lost to accident or illness over the last year or so.

Remember, we will not forever grieve; we will be comforted and laugh once again, in time.

I Shrank…For Now; 2014’s Last Assessment

Last Assessment of the year, the next six week cycle will end early January, and I’m continuing my plan to do the Total Tension Complex for hypertrophy. With that being said, what did the modified Simple Strength program do? As far as my one-rep max I’m still at 62lbs or 41% of my bodyweight, a stalemate except for the improved trunk strength from hardstyle planks, farmer walks and suitcase carries. I cannot complain there though I think I would need more time to coax the press strength up. I’m already plotting out the first part of next year. Now to see what my body composition looks like.

Body Composition (inches)

Body Part                      Before                  After                   -/+

Neck                               14.2                 14.0              -0.2

Shoulders             43.25                  42                   -1.25

Chest                      37.5                   36.2                              -1.3

Waist                             33                        32.5         -.5

Biceps                    12.37              12.3                         -.07

Forearms                   11            11.1                                      +0.1

Thighs                         21.25                 21.2                          -.05

Calves                          13.75                   13.5                          -.25

Weight                  153.4lbs          153.8         +0.4lbs

Body Fat %                16.7%                16.1%         -0.6%

Lean Body Mass    127.8lbs            129.1         +1.3lbs

Small shift in weight, little fat loss and muscle gain, and overall I shrank. The next 6 weeks will be interesting with the double kettlebell complex. Time to put the twin 44s to use.

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How To Respond When Your Spouse Wants Attention

I read an article someone posted on relationships on Facebook, one part stuck out to me. Now I make a point to look every time Casey gets my attention. “Turn towards” echoes in my head. It is called emotional bidding, and your response to your partner determines the quality of the relationship. For example, do not be negatively critical towards any ideas or news she has. I could not find the exact article but found another on the topic here: Staying Connected with Each Other

When it comes to relationships, I am a big softy, maybe because I see so many fail or end. I was teary eyed when J posted a picture of her veteran husband in honor of Veterans Day with “until we regroup again”. Seeing the lives her husband touched, I had a long talk with God about it. We were not close but I miss the big guy and I hurt for his family and close friends.

Remember it is not you versus her/him, it is us vs the world. I highly recommend reading the link I posted, it’s full of great ideas.