Saturday, December 12, 2015

As Thyself

  Having a hard time just being you today? It's okay, me too.


  There is a winter storm warning this weekend here in the Rocky Mountains where I live. But every joint in my body already figured that out during the night, long before I picked up my phone this morning to check the weather forecast. So I just finished smiling and waving as I watched my family walk out the door to go to our church Christmas party. And now I think I am one plate of red and green cookies away from throwing a totally legit (pity) party right here in my house.

Like I have said before, authenticity is the spice of life, so here comes a dash.

  I crave authenticity, I want that spice sprinkled all over everything I do... like grated cheese on an awesome plate of nachos. Okay now I am just making myself hungry. I can hear that carton of ice cream calling to me from the freezer: "Give in to the blues Chuck! All you need is a spoon and your journey to the dark side will be complete!"

  So anyway... have you ever been reading my stuff and had the thought: "This guy sure writes a lot about staying positive. I wonder if he is one of those annoyingly optimistic people you can't help but want to kick in the shins just so you can see how positively they respond to THAT..."

If so-- come in and sit down, we need to talk for a sec.

  I don't write about things like kindness and staying positive because I think I am incredibly good at being a perfect example of those things (though I do put sincere effort into them) or because my life is free from the significant struggles that make it genuinely hard for a person to have peace in their heart. I write about the things I write about because that is what my life requires from me, and consequently from my amazing wife and kids.

  I write about taking one day at a time and loving people because that is what makes the biggest difference in my world, and I want to share that ideology in the hope that it might help even one other person in some small way. Despite how inherently short-sighted my concept of another person's suffering may be, I believe that every single act of kindness matters because that is ONE MORE moment of compassion in a world that NEEDS all the love it can get.

  Go back in time ten years, and you would not see the same dauntless perspective I carry around with me now. The things I share with you are meaningful to me for many reasons... reasons which even my closest friends do not always get to see. My sweet wife makes it a point to mention that even with everything she knows about my daily life, she "can only imagine what it takes to be you every day." Gosh, I love her.

  Similarly, the things that mean a lot in your life are important to you because there is a story there! And If we ever meet in person, I am being 100% serious when I say that I would love to hear that story and talk with you about the craziness and beauty of mortal life.

  I have a tendency to talk a LOT once I decide to open up, but (believe it or not) I don't even come close to explaining every element of my thought process, or all the details of how I got there, let alone everything it takes to hang on to that perspective each day. (Mostly because nobody wants to read a 27 page long blog post.) But there is something I DO want to make sure to share about what goes on behind the scenes: Just because I win most of my battles these days, doesn't mean they aren't still battles. I still have to fight them. 

  There is a frustratingly ironic phenomenon that occurs when we have invested countless hours into becoming better at something: when someone is really good at what they do, they make it look easy. Everyone has their own personal set of challenges; some are visible and some are not... and those battles don't win themselves. Victory comes to those who stay in the habit of learning and continually work on finding new ways to apply that knowledge.

  But what happens on the days where we stumble and get scraped up? What about the times when we feel flawed and inherently "less than"? Moments like the one I am experiencing tonight as I sit here feeling embarrassed that I'm not at the party singing Christmas carols with my family. It's okay to be disappointed when life doesn't go the way we want it to. But I haven't come this far to let something like being physically incapacitated paralyze me emotionally. My respect for having a mindset of perseverance grows deeper every day.

  That being said, I am still considering staging an epic duel between my mouth and Obi-Spoon Kenobi. But let's watch this video first...

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part;
but then shall I know even as also I am known."  (1 Corinthians 13:12)

  So let's stop waiting for other people to tell us that we are good enough. There is nothing wrong with going through the process of honestly coping with what we feel; bottling things up is unhealthy. It's what we do next that makes the difference! We must learn to self-validate if that is not already a strength we possess. We must make a habit of being kind to the person in the mirror at least as much as we would be toward someone else.

"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."  (Matthew 22:39)

  Let's invest in the process of making those thoughts into a habit and watch for the ways that habit is influencing our personal lives. By learning to see ourselves more clearly as the infinitely valuable soul that we are, the warm glow of that light will naturally affect the way we treat others.

  So the pity party is over, everybody out! Go home and think about being nicer to yourself. Hey, don't forget your coat... somebody always winds up leaving a coat on my couch when I host these things. Oh and someone please take this dish of seven layer bean dip with you, or I will eat the whole thing and no good can come of that.