Sunday, February 28, 2010

Blood and Betrayal: Why the Cross Matters

“You did it again, didn’t you? I can’t believe it. You are such a loser! She quickly turned away and walked toward the back room. He drew in a breath as his chest tightened against his pounding heart. He felt the adrenaline rise along with the anger and hopelessness. He followed her into the bedroom. He tried to speak but was interrupted with cussing and soul-tearing accusations.

Defending himself against her fiery darts he had to take a stand, had to be heard. Bringing the back of his right hand down into his other palm he prefaced his statement. Loud and in staccato he said, “I was on the computer signing up for a group to help me with my ‘problem.’ That is why I am late.”

The call came the next day as he was pulling onto the home street. “You have one hour to take a suitcase and get out of the house. If you are not gone I will get a restraining order from the local women’s shelter.”

They sat in the office of the marriage counselor. She shouted, “I am done-done-done (more staccato) with this marriage.” She made it perfectly clear that she was not going to talk nor do any work toward healing and reconciliation.

He found the bills by accident: The plane ticket for two to Las Vegas returning to Los Angeles two days before the meeting with the marriage counselor, the restaurant bill for 300.00 two weeks after he was forced to leave the house.

Years later the marriage is over. The wounds have healed. The questions linger and doubt’s still stirred by a scene in a movie or a conversation with his kid.

Where do you go with that pain? Who can you talk to who will understand? How can you get out of bed to face another day in an unfair world?

Christ was betrayed by one of his close friends. Convicted in a kangaroo court and crucified for sins that were not His. The purest man killed in the foulest manner.

Talk to Christ. He understands betrayal and back-stabbing. Roll out of bed and put those feet on the ground. Give the evil of the day to Him who “suffered leaving you an example to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in his mouth; and while being reviled He did not revile in return; while suffering uttered no threats but kept entrusting himself to Him who judges righteously.”

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Recalibrating: Reading, Riding and Relaxation

I pulled the hands away from my throat. I moved my hands down and placed one hand inside my pocket. I pulled out my asthma inhaler and took a quick puff. I moved deliberately to avoid disrupting the people behind me who were focused on the players upon the stage. My enjoyment of the play was interrupted by the old lady sitting next to me layered in fur, polyester and perfume. Initially I presumed she was just vain. Soon afterward I would realize that she was suffering from depression.

Science proves that our physiology and our mental state are inextricably intermeshed.
Scientists from Tel Aviv University recently linked depression to a biological mechanism that affects the olfactory glands. It might explain why some women, without realizing it, wear too much perfume. Physicians such as Dr. John Sarno are convinced that significant back pain significantly correlates to deep repressed anger.

I observed my boss’ look of amused concern as he stood next to me and I asked my vendor if he knew “where in the hell my delivery was.” The angry reaction was out of character for me. I knew it and, apparently, my boss knew it. The anger had been percolating all week. I took it out on vendors, myself and other innocent folks that I had short-changed as I dealt with them from a base of anger. There is one other person who always gets the fully brunt of these emotional outbursts. That’s one of the dangers of being a Heavenly Father-your imperfect kids throw temper tantrums.

I stomped around life for some days lacking energy and zeal. Disconnected from God I focused one-hundred percent on myself, as opposed to good days when I focus on myself ninety-nine percent of the time.

This particular flare-up came up against a 58 mile charity ride on Saturday which motivated me to take Sunday off work as well. The ride went well though I still felt ambivalent without focus. Sunday morning I planned on church but ended up bowing to my pillow. I rolled over and looked at the alarm clock. Had I really slept twelve hours?

Taut and tired I was in need of rest. The pressures of the previous week; driving 6 hours to visit dad in the hospital, the dryer blowing up and stagnation at work had affected me. Vigilance failed and I’d let wariness seep into my bones and soak into my spirit. I needed to recalibrate.

When the ship I’m in consistently crashes against the reef I know that my anchor isn’t grabbing ground at (at least) three main points.

1) Reading. If I’m not spending time in the bible my focus will be off. Surprise, surprise; carving out the time to read allows a solid chunk of time for decompression.

2) Exercise. Adrenaline pours through my veins accompanied by caffeine. A dangerous mix when combined with stress, anger, depression and self-pity. Exercise casts those demon energies out of my system.

3) Rest. Deprive me of rest and I become a roaring monster. Running on five to six hours of sleep makes me a coward. I bend to every evil and succumb to every sensation that strolls into the unguarded castle of mind and emotion.

Like the scent of perfume from a fur encased lady the stressors of life will choke out peace. It is up to me to live on the qui vive against these marauders. I shouldn’t have to crash-and-burn only to be saved by the flashing red lights of my own emotions.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Fatherhood: An Equal Reaction

I catch a glimpse of the wall behind my computer. Squeezed in-between the world map and cycling goals are notes from my daughter; “Dear Dad, thank you so much for helping me move my bed! You Rock!” There is an envelope next to it addressed: To The Best Dad In The World.

If I reach inward I can taste and feel the anger. I was aware of it at seventeen. I was achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. I knew that even if my dad attended the ceremony he attended in name only. The award had been achieved with no involvement from him. The same could be said of my turning eighteen.

The phone calls from my dad’s wife, Ethel, are predictable. She will be (understandably) at the end of her rope because my dad is pulling on it. He will have been angry, violent, abusive or---D: All of the above. The calls often incite guilt in me (see last weeks’ post) for not calling or visiting.

There are two basic laws of physics known to everyone: ‘For every action, an equal reaction’, and ‘an object in motion will stay in motion.’ These two laws have made me a different father than my dad.

An object in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an external force. Simmering anger was normative in my life. Christ taught me to forgive and give up control. Being acted upon meant the last thirty years with my dad in my life and a grandfather in Hailey’s’. Reacting to being fatherless I am aggressively involved in the life of my daughter.

A driving force guiding my decisions is to be the father for my daughter that will prevent gaping holes and vacuums in her heart. The key is to do it with a focus on her being a whole person and not letting my chinks and chasms get in the way.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

A Platform of Peace

“Take your age and subtract two. That’s the number of years you’ve spent forcing yourself to say “yes” when your essential self wanted to say no.” Martha Beck, Finding Your Own North Star

I own the entire Magnum P.I. ‘Season One.’ I became a fan of the series during its’ original run in the 80s. The good P.I. that he was, Magnum would oft follow his hunches. To key you into his thinking, Magnum would say something such as, “A little voice told me not to visit her vast coastal mansion.” When he listened to the little voice, things went better. Failure to listen to the little voice meant disaster.

My dad’s Jewish and from my youth I’ve come to strongly identify with Jewish food and Jewish guilt. Everybody struggles in this area, but I struggle more. My whole life people have been telling me, “It’s your fault.” During one dating relationship my mate had me convinced I was responsible for the start of World War I. At the same level I’ve chosen to listen to the voices of other people and to stifle my own. After I became a Christian this talent made it easier to quench the voice of the Holy Spirit.

While married I often kowtowed to the voice of my spouse knowing in the depth of my heart my own opinion was contrary. As the marriage disintegrated and counseling was integrated I grew in regard to listening to that voice.

Now when the midnight call comes saying, “Dillo, yah dad’s sick and you need to come down here immediately,” I process the information until the voice is solid. I run the information through a grid.

1) Am I just responding to the tyranny of the urgent? In high pressure situations people want me to make immediate commitments. Usually immediate action is not necessary.

2) What does God say about it? These are the easy ones. Many an issue has no obvious moral or biblical solution.

3) What are my priorities? Does it interfere with my goals at work? Does it negate promises I’ve made to my daughter?

4) Try standing on the different options. One of the options will be a platform of peace. Stand on that platform.

Who’s voice is loudest in your life?

Helicopter swoops in to save the day; music rolls in and fades out.