At the Moment

Keep eyes front and try to do

The work you have in front of you.

Write this truth upon your brow:

We’re powerless, save for the now.

Love is Love

How can love be wrong or bad?

I find even the notion sad.

The parental brutality

In damning sexuality

Is altogether sick to me.

That’s not how you treat family.

Love does no wrong to other people

Love is not owned by state or steeple

If no harm is being done,

And if a person’s found “the one,”

Do we have to go erupt

Just ’cause their parts don’t quite “match up?”

Do you think that sex should be

Seen as it was First Century,

Even though it’s likely true

You think this way ’cause it ain’t you?

Until all love is celebrated,

The healing much anticipated

Will keep on stalling at the door

‘Til we’re not judging anymore.

Today’s Poem: Peace

They always say to wait

“One day your peace will come”

It makes us hesitate

To change what’s bothersome

About our days

About our life

About our ways

And so the strife

Keeps pouring in

And piles high

As we begin

To beg the sky

“Come and fix me

I’m right here!

Help me to live

Beyond my fear

Why won’t you show?

This isn’t fair!”

Our spirits low,

Peace isn’t there.

The good news is they’re wrong

It’s not a waiting game

If we cast our glances long

We’ll end up just the same

But if we look inside

We’ll see peace isn’t far

It’s ours if we’ll abide,

Accepting who and where we are.

Peace be with you!

Boiling Point: When the Anger is Too Much

Anger is a funny thing. It occurs naturally and is a perfectly healthy and valid emotion. It’s also perhaps the most negatively viewed emotion.

This is why I have always sought to control it… and by control, I apparently mean bury.

I had a legitimately bad temper as a boy. I fought frequently, and I owe a lot of people apologies. This was due to my tendency to feel in extremes, something I still struggle with.

Over the years, though, I learned to remain more calm, more unaffected. I thought this was because I was adequately processing my anger. I would feel the rage bubbling up, remind myself to stay controlled, and habitually talk myself into what I thought was serenity.

The trouble is that my son has no intention of letting me continue to live my lie.

He is a baby, and as such he is capable of making me feel waves of extreme emotion that are stronger than anything I’ve ever even imagined. When he is upset or hurting without anything clear solution, the helplessness I feel quickly morphs into sheer rage at my own apparent ineptitude. Naturally, I don’t “hulk out” on my 5 month old, BUT I have had to set him down and go punish my punching bag for a few seconds.

I don’t like this. I don’t like that I am apparently two people. One is a calm, frustratingly even personality while the other is a raging maniac, angry at everyone and everything.

As fate would have it, I was expressing all this to a friend last night. After some back-and-forth, she said something that stuck.

“If you don’t say it out loud then you just keep pushing it down until it can’t be held down again, and then boom! There it is.”

I realized that I haven’t been processing my anger at all. I was denying it. I was packaging it and setting it on a shelf that is now crashing down, and all I keep doing is duct taping that shelf to a wall, hoping it will stay up.

So I took her advice.

I went for a run, with no music, naming all the people and situations that ever angered me. As you can, imagine, 28 years worth of crap makes for a long list. As I named things, I said why I was angry, and bit by bit, I felt it start to melt away.

I began to see myself as I am now. Instead of hating my body and being angry with those who made me feel inadequate, I envisioned myself carrying Aidan and all his stuff repeatedly throughout the day. My body is strong and helps me care for and protect him.

Instead of hating my voice and being angry at all the moments my musical abilities were dismissed, I thought of how happy Aidan is when I play guitar and sing for him.

Instead of raging out at all the times I’ve messed up, made mistakes, gotten fired, left the church, hurt my loved ones, or felt abandoned by those I thought were friends, I realized that I am not “that guy” anymore. I am a good father, and I am a good husband. I’ve grown so much over the past few years, and I am proud of that.

As I continued to feel, name, and understand my anger, it began to dissipate. My rage just wanted to be seen, felt, and acknowledged for the legitimate emotion it is. As I did this, pounding my frustrations into the pavement, I felt lighter, more present, more one with myself.

The truth is that all our emotions are gifts. They help us to relate to this life and understand our place in it. Just as joy, excitement, and serenity are valid emotional states, so are anger, grief, and others that we often try to dismiss or avoid. They help us to accept those moments when life hurts.

Just as our lives are full of happy, incredible, beautiful moments, so there are also moments of intense darkness and loss. We need an emotional spectrum that addresses both. Only then can we be truly alive.

That’s why I want to encourage you to not do what I did. Don’t confuse bottling, packaging, and stpring emotions with accepting and processing them in a healthy way. Be what you are, feel what you feel, and enjoy the ride.

Peace be with you!

Walking Contradiction

I’ve reached a point in my life where I have stopped caring about how I am perceived by others because of my interests, thoughts, or hobbies. I pray, read the Bible, and read Tarot. I am a Quaker, but practice martial arts. I live with hope and idealism yet my all-time favorite artist is Nine Inch Nails.

You get the idea.

Back in the day (up to a few years ago, actually), I never wanted to catch hell for being a hypocrite or “out there.” I wanted to be accepted, normal. It was always implied that variatious aspects my life was inconsistent with what others expected of me, and that such a disconnect was worrisome, a “bad witness,” or just plain strange.

So I buried things. Music I loved, opinions I held, beliefs that bothered me, all packaged and sorted according to whatever criteria would get me through the situation at hand with as little damage as possible. All the while, I was only suffocating myself. No one knew (all of) the real me.

The truth is, though, that contradiction is part of life. It comes with experience. I’ve experienced relentless love and hope, but also abuse, loss, and despair. These realities are all a part of me and my story, so I find ways to express them.

I’ve experienced the power of Christ, and over the past five or so years I’ve also experienced an expansion in my view of God’s activitites in various traditions all over the world. Ergo, my spirituality is hybridized, yet powerful and effective. Some criticize this by saying I’m crafting my religion according to my own rules, but what’s the alternative? Let someone else do it for me? Thanks, but no.

My point is that people are complex. YOU are complex. You have beliefs, hobbies, and insights that are unique to you and your life experience. Further, I bet you have also felt the need to stifle or cover up those unique aspects of yourself for the comfort of others.

But…

What if someone needs to hear you?

What if someone needs to know they’re not alone and you have just the words or interests to make that happen?

What if what you have to contribute could be just what’s needed to add depth and insight to a conversation?

We all have a story that’s supposed to be told. With every story that’s fully expressed and shared, the narrative of humanity gains more depth and meaning. This is indispensible work, as we are constantly being sold oversimplified narratives that serve the powers that be.

So how do we tell our stories? First, we must accept them ourselves. Stop denying the things that make you… You! Secondly, we have to let go of the idea of normality. For every place we “fit in,” we will be alienated from ten others, so outsider opinions should be taken with a grain of salt. Finally, we must live out loud. Share what gives you peace and passion. Embrace what makes you kind, what makes you feel. what makes you think. Take your place as a member of the human family and contribute to it in your own way.

Don’t be afraid of contradiction. Embrace tension and mystery. After all, it’s in the midst of these things that life is found.

Peace be with you!

Security is a Lie

Maaaan, we humans like to feel safe and secure. Alarm systems, pistols, baseball bats, confirmation bias, the 2nd Amendment, doctrine, prejudice, all of these things are means by which we try to ensure our sense of security. This sense can be emotional, intellectual, or physical.

The problem is that true security/safety is impossible if you actually want to live your life. There is a nothing wrong with taking some basic precautions or having a solid bit of confidence. However, there is a difference between that and living in fear of difference because it threatens to shake up our foundations. Too often, we tend toward the latter.

Life is not conducive to safety. It involves risk, taking chances, and being subject to influences and powers external to ourselves. To try to control or eliminate this often leads to an existence based on fear or suspicion. Ironically, such a lifestyle is fertile ground for more issues, not less.

It’s true that our sense of fear and security can be healthy and definitely helped our ancestors survive. We had to be careful about strange sights or sounds, as anything could potentially kill us.

Today, these instincts manifest in a variety of ways. When our core beliefs or opinions are challenged, we get defensive or even aggressive. Many carry weapons with them everywhere they go. Fear of strangers leads to prejudice, racism, or classism, resulting in isolationist or avoidant social behavior. When our financial prosperity is infringed upon, we hoard our resources and will often pay any price (moral or, ironically, financial) to keep our status.

None of these behaviors are healthy. They might make us feel better, but the tangible, positive results they produce are minimal at best. Furthermore, life isn’t made any less dangerous or unpredictable!

So what’s the alternative?

Acceptance.

I sometimes find myself terrified. I’m scared I’m going to lose my wife or son or friends or family. I worry about our finances, my training business, or my impact on this world.

At the end of it all, though, I have to choose between fear and acceptance. Fear feeds itself and leads to a limited existence. Acceptance, however, allows me to feel what I feel while also pushing me to live my life.

Sure, it all could end tomorrow. I could lose everything, be shot in a Wal-Mart, or I could die in my sleep… but none of this is in my control. All I can do is handle what is within my power to handle, leaving the rest to whatever powers may be.

This may sound like indifference, but it actually allows me to live a life of reckless love and delight in the people God has brought into my life. I kiss and hug my son every chance I get. I flirt with and embrace my wife daily. I check in on my family and friends, eat the delicious food, put down my weapons, give of my resources to those in need, and do my best to leave the world better than I found it.

Security is great in theory, but it just doesn’t exist. Life is wild, unpredictable, and extends beyond the grasp of our control. We can either respond out of fear or acceptance, and I hope we all can chooe the latter. Past that point, all that’s left is to jump in and LIVE!

Peace be with you!