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Power

Power

The late Stephen Covey tells a story about a time he was speaking to a group of people in Sacramento, California:

… I was speaking on the subject of proactivity, a woman in the audience stood up in the middle of my presentation and started talking excitedly. It was a large audience, and as a number of people turned to look at her, she suddenly became aware of what she was doing, grew embarrassed and sat back down. But she seemed to find it difficult to restrain herself and started talking to the people around her. She seemed so happy.
I could hardly wait for a break to find out what had happened. When it finally came, I immediately went to her and asked if she would be willing to share her experience.

“You just can’t imagine what’s happened to me!” she exclaimed.

“I’m a full-time nurse to the most miserable, ungrateful man you can possibly imagine. Nothing I do is good enough for him. He never expresses appreciation; he hardly even acknowledges me. He constantly harps at me and finds fault with everything I do. This man has made my life miserable and I often take my frustration out on my family. The other nurses feel the same way. We almost pray for his demise.

“And for you to have the gall to stand up there and suggest that nothing can hurt me, that no one can hurt me without my consent, and that I have chosen my own emotional life of being miserable well, there was just no way I could buy into that.

“But I kept thinking about it. I really went inside myself and began to ask, ‘Do I have the power to choose my response?’

“When I finally realized that I do have that power when I swallowed that bitter pill and realized that I had chosen to be miserable, I also realized that I could choose not to be miserable.

“At that moment I stood up. I felt as though I was being let out of San Quentin. I wanted to yell to the whole world, ‘I am free! I am let out of prison! No longer am I going to be controlled by the treatment of some person.’ ”

It’s not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us.”

Obviously, there are exceptions to this rule, tragedies, sickness, and death, but for the most part, we are a direct result of the choices we’ve made with the experiences we’ve encountered in this life.

I read a quote yesterday that I’ve been reflecting upon; “The world we see and interact with is the product of how our mind perceives the world.” We are assaulted each day by an overabundance of visual, auditory, sensory stimuli. It is hard not to be separated by what we experience. However, if our minds, emotions, and spirits are ever to be free we must train our minds to be still so we can experience the world anew and break free from what we’ve known, what we’ve thought, the life we’ve lived.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Protection

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Protection

Today I weeded the grass around our trees and bushes. Tomorrow I will mow. As usual, I grabbed my phone and earbuds going out the door. I also took my clip-on which cradles the phone, protects it and comes in handy when doing chores or other jobs which require two hands. I don’t use the cradle much because it’s too bulky and in most work settings would get in the way when I sit down or am driving.

Though not used often one thing I know about the clip-on is the phone’s screen is facing inward not outward. This way the screen is protected anything you might brush up or hit it against. If you faced it outward, which I’ve seen many people do, it puts your phone’s screen at risk of being scratched or cracked.

When I see people with their phone in the clip-on screen facing out I am always tempted to say something but never do. I don’t want to seem nosey and think; “They have to know it’s not in correctly! Perhaps they have it in backwards for a reason?” I also don’t want to embarrass or make someone upset. So, I try to ignore it thought my instinct is to walk over and put it in the way it belongs!

There are things in our life which offer us protection; jobs, insurance and medicine. Family and friends who care for us and help meet our needs. What we will allow or won’t allow in our minds, hearts, and lives. We make the choice to be protected or unprotected.

There is never a 100% guarantee that even if we avail ourselves of every protection offered we will not be harmed, heartbroken or wounded deeply. Wisdom, however, teaches us how to be protected and what’s worth protecting.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Code

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Code

This afternoon I stopped by a store to pick up some sodas for our incarcerated father’s class. I grabbed and carried them to the cashier station. I waited on the woman in front of me and when she was finished stepped up and watched the cashier scan the drinks and stick them in plastic bags. When it was time, I scanned my card and then entered my pin number. However, as soon as I punched the digits in I knew it was the wrong pin. I told the cashier and she reset the scanner. For a moment I couldn’t separate all the pins and passwords in my life and choose the correct one but finally settled on the right one. It worked and I walked out with my purchase.

As I drove to the jail I thought about the men in my class who were receiving their certificates of completion tonight. I thought about the different men in the program and how each of them has certain “codes” which work for them. For one humor might be the key, another is not being singled out in class but letting him join the conversation when he’s ready. Our goal at the jail is to give the men a collection of tools and skills which will keep them clean, responsible, have abilities that many people on the outside take for granted. However, getting them to participate and accept the knowledge is tricky. Not any one approach works with all. We must take the time, learning about the men, connecting with them, understanding the way they think so we can “break the code” that will help them make life changing choices.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Destiny

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Destiny

A few nights ago I began watching a documentary; “American Anarchist” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6032170/). It is “the story of one of the most infamous books ever written, “The Anarchist Cookbook,” and the role it’s played in the life of its author, William Powell, now 65, who wrote it at 19 in the midst of the counterculture upheaval of the late ’60s and early ’70s.

An interesting, frustrating, and paradoxical character, William describes a time in the 60’s and 70’s when he is swept up in the protest movement of these two decades and writes a book that is both a declaration against an unjust society and a “how to” manual on building, bombs, guns, and other weaponry. Powell’s book has been used all over the world to commit acts of terror and revolution. However, after the turbulent time in which the book was written, Powell moved on to become a teacher of students with special needs.

In the documentary, he is surprised and saddened when confronted by his book’s place among many terrorists and criminal’s library. He’s even contacted some major book sellers and tried to stop his book from being sold. In most of the interview, he seems at a loss that this book, which took him only a few months to write still holds sway over him after almost 50 years. He wonders if he’ll ever be free.

Some poor choices we make are able to be overcome and put behind us. Other decisions, and their consequences, are ours to carry for life. Who we are, what we do; our thoughts, words, and actions have lives of their own once we choose to enact them. As always, we must choose carefully.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Routine

Routine

I watched a video this week about an important military leader giving graduates a piece of advice. He said; “If you want to change your life, improve your life, make your bed every morning.” He went on to elaborate and talked about how a simple disciplined act at the beginning of your day can positively shape your day, your week, your life. I’m not sure I bought all of what he was selling but I do think good choices today lead to good results tomorrow.

Tonight I spoke to a group of guys who have each made the decision over the last two months to come to class and learn how to be better men and better dads. I tell them each week it starts with; “Good choices which lead to being good men and then good dads. It all starts with the choices you make today and they determine the type of man you will be tomorrow.

Moments, hours, days, years from now, when we lay in a box and people stand over us staring, what will they say? A lot of what is said will be determined by the decisions we make presently, the routine of our everyday life.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Change

Change

I was speaking with a group of men last night and we talked about the ability to be someone different from the person we are currently. I told them; “What you do today determines who you will be tomorrow.” If you want to be the man and the dad you need to be you must first know what you need to change and then begin making the choices that will lead you to your goal.

I went on to explain that everything we do presently, what we watch, listen to, speak about, participate in, everything! makes us into the person we will be in the future. Our present choices shape our destiny. “It’s when we see that now, this moment, is all we have and need to transform, that we finally have the wisdom to become what we need to be.”

As I talked to the men the truth of what was being said also resonated with me and my spirit. The truth, when revealed, is powerful enough to impact both audience and speaker.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stuck

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Stuck

Today I was stuck somewhere I didn’t want to be, doing something I didn’t want to do for over 6-hours! A quarter of my day was spent enduring, trying to stay calm, doing much breathing exercises and practicing stillness.

This wasn’t my plan for this day. I had it all laid out and then boom! From out of nowhere, life took a hard turn and I had no choice but to follow. There are moments and seasons in life when you’re given one of two or more choices. This wasn’t available to me today. I walked a 6-hour path of misery, by sitting in an uncomfortable room and an uncomfortable chair, and thankfully came out on the other side.

Life is nothing if not unpredictable. Especially when you have everything scheduled and coordinated. It’s interesting how life’s “surprises” continue to shock. Perhaps one day they won’t surprise us anymore. Maybe we’ll learn the lesson of living in the moment, no expectations and accept everything that comes with an open hand and spirit.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Found

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Found

I’m not sure which was higher today; the sun in the sky or the humidity. What I know is it was hot and sticky!

Today was my first summer class for incarcerated fathers. Passing through one of the checkpoints at t, e jail I saw a man who was in our spring class. “How are you?” I asked. “Still making good choices?” “Yes,” he replied. “How’s the weather outside?” he asked me in return. “Hot! and Humid!” I exclaimed. He had to go and I was hit again how isolated the jail keeps the inmates. One of the hottest days of the year and all he knew was the inside of a hallway and his jail pod. Nothing on the outside except what he learned from others who have the freedom he only dreams about.

A little while later I talked to the class about excuses and illusions we use to justify the choices which led us to where we are in our lives. “Until we learn self-awareness and the real reasons we think, do and live like we do we will never be free.” Many of the men I work with have been prisoners most of their lives, even before they were arrested and placed in the county jail. Imprisoned by their habits, poor judgment, and worse decisions learned from parents and peers. Teaching them how to think differently and ultimately be different is the difficult goal of the folks who invest their lives with these men.

Freedom cannot be given it must be found within and brought to the surface of our lives.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

 

Paradox

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Paradox

“par·a·dox” –perəˌdäks – a situation, person, or thing that combines contradictory features or qualities.

I listened to a speaker today talk about his father who was a Jewish prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. He talked about how his father and a German guard became friends over their interest in fishing.

One day the guard told him he was having troubles with his bowels and to go to the bathroom immediately. The speaker’s father was confused but listened, went to the bathroom and came out several minutes later to find all the other Jewish prisoners had been taken to one of the notorious gas chambers the Germans used to kill millions of Jewish people. His friend, the guard, upon seeing him said; “You are the only Jew left. You should leave. The speaker’s father walked out of the camp and went back to his home. “This is a paradox,” said the speaker. The German guard knew the other Jewish people, human beings, placed on the train were going to die but still chose to save his friend.

Human beings are walking, talking, breathing, skin encased paradoxes. We are tough to figure out. We do what we don’t want to do sometimes and don’t do what we should. We take stands for things which don’t really matter and shrink from the spotlight on the most important. Brennan Manning, one of my favorite authors, wrote; “I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer.” He was a priest, an oblate, and a recovering alcoholic.

We are all paradoxes and have that in common with one another. There are a plethora of beliefs, convictions, and certainties we hold that unite us and divide us. However, we are also, every one of us, human beings and this truth should overcome everything else.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stuck

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Stuck

Yesterday afternoon I loaded the pick-up truck with the household garbage we keep in a covered area outside. I placed two bins in the back and another bag shut the tailgate and headed to the Refuse and Recycling Center. When I arrived I hopped out the cab, walked to the back, let the tailgate down and something furry jumped out at me! That’s not what happened but it’s what looked like was happening when the deceased mouse (pictured) plopped down on the tailgate when it lowered. “Whoa!” I screamed, initiating a strange look from another person who was throwing away garbage also.

As I looked closer I saw that it was a dead rat. I emptied the bin and discovered he was trapped by a hole in the bottom of the trashcan. He had wiggled his entire body out with the exception of his hips and hind feet. He died trying to escape the trash he willingly entered into. I used a piece of wood to pry him out of the hole and a thick piece of plastic to grab him and toss him in the dumpster.

As I drove away I thought about the choices each of us makes; good and bad, right and wrong, positive or negative. I tell the men I work with; “The choices you make today determine the man you will be tomorrow.” I also speak with them about how there are some choices which drastically impact them and those they love and care about. “Once you make certain decisions you forfeit the ability to be a good man to those who need you be that the most.”

Each of our actions has consequences. We must be careful not get stuck by the choices we make.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Destination

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Destination

I heard a business investor say today that; “Right choices bring the wrong results and wrong choices bring the right results all the time when it comes to investing your money.” Luckily, I don’t have enough money to worry about whether or not this is true but it did cause me to think about the consequences of our decisions.

One of the core principles I try to give to the men I work with is that; “Choice is destiny. What we do today determines who we will be tomorrow.” I believe this to be true but I am also old enough to know life is never predictable and the unexpected could be around the corner ready to smack you!

As I thought about this gentleman’s words today I realized they were indeed factual. Making bad decisions could lead to something unexpectedly joyful but the odds are long. Also, we make good decisions, not just because they will lead us to something better, but because of who we are in the deepest part. We certainly hope our lives will be blessed by choosing fidelity to ourselves and those we love but no matter our destiny. We choose to be good because we know it is the better way.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Decisions

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One of the hardest decisions a father has to make is whether or not to give up the rights to his child(ren).  I spoke with someone today who is wrestling with this decision. He is thousands of dollars behind on his child support payments and realizes that every day increases the debt he owes.

He doesn’t make any excuses and understands why most people would look on his fathering skills with disgust. He’s been in and out of jail, rehab and has developed the habit of making the worst possible decisions.

Still, however, there is hope. Hope that he can turn it around and be a good man and a good father. Hope that he can have a relationship with his child. Hope that his life even at such a young age won’t be told with head shakes and frowns but with smiles and sighs of relief.

The piece of paper he’s being offered, to give up parental rights to his child, represents both a way out financially but a resignation that he will never be the dad he needs to be and his child will grow up without knowing their dad.

Decisions. Some come with little or no consequences, others with incredibly heavy burdens and life-altering outcomes.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

In the End

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In the End

This morning I watched a documentary entitled; “Get me Roger Stone!” It was a biographical tale of one of the most famous, some might say; “Infamous” political consultants. He helped Ronald Regan get elected, many other Republican candidates be successful, and was one of the architects of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Near the end of the film, Mr. Stone says (paraphrasing); “If I go down as the dirtiest player in the game I’ll consider myself a success.”

I grew up thinking people, as the get older, begin to think on the brevity of life and what comes after. I thought the older people became the more spiritual, wise and kind they became. No matter the type of life they lived when they were young there was always an age where they turned the corner and began to live virtuous lives.

I think my understanding of older people was skewed by the ones I knew. I had two godly grandmothers and the only others were from church. They taught Sunday school, gave praises and lots of hugs, smiled a lot, didn’t judge and seemed to be one step closer to heave n than the rest of us youngsters. To me, this is how all older people acted. However, as I grew up I realized this wasn’t the case. True, there are some people who changed but most older people are just older versions of their younger selves. There wasn’t an age where they ripened into good fruit or a corner that made them spiritual and wise.

The documentary today was a reminder that we are choosing our destiny every day. Each choice we make takes us down a path and at the end of our journey the story of our lives will be told by the choices we made. What’s written on our headstones, spoken about at our eulogy, remembered about us is what we have done, are doing and will do.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Defining Moments

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Defining Moments –

Yesterday I wrote about my very bad, horrible, no good morning.  (https://thewannabesaint.com/2017/03/02/futility/) After reading the post a friend commented that she hoped it didn’t ruin the rest of my day. Thankfully I can honestly say it didn’t. My knee and ankle hurt all day but that was physical pain. The emotional frustration and darkened spirit lifted as I drove to the drug and alcohol rehabilitation center.

On my way to the center, rubbing my leg, and missing my coffee, I asked myself; “Is this going to define your day? Will the men at the center get a grumpy lecturer? How will you react to other drivers and persons you meet? Will the pain, frustration, and lack of caffeine, determine the rest of the day?” I reflected on my rough morning and decided; “No. They will get the best I can give.”

Too often we allow bad moments, bad days, bad weeks, to define our lives. We hold on to them and they turn our emotions negative, our moods sour, our souls bitter. Part of accepting life as it comes is knowing some moments, days, weeks and seasons will not be pleasant. However, the ultimate choice in how they define us is ours.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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The Next Step

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The Next Step

Someone asked me yesterday evening; “So how was your birthday? Do anything special?” “Yes,‘ I replied, ‘I started it in therapy and ended it in jail!” I explained that on Wednesday nights I teach an incarcerated father’s class at the local corrections facility.

The two classes I lead are often two highlights of my week. They aren’t always easy classes to teach but they are usually filled with; “Aha!” moments from at least one of the dads. Last night we talked about things we’ve done that we’re sorry for and how to begin writing the rest of our story; one in which we can be proud. Our motto; “Good choices make Good Men make Good Fathers” is not just a catchy phrase but the basis of all that we learn over the 3 month period we are together.

Most of the men in our class aren’t used to making good decisions on a regular basis. What we try to do is figure out how to live a life where good choices are the norm, not the exception. We understand that if we can do this we can build a good life, be a good man, a good dad, a good person, one choice, one step at a time.

I think these lessons are for us all, not just the men in my classes.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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The Other End

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The Other End

One of the key tenets of our incarcerated father and fathers with addictions class is the understanding that every choice we make has consequences. There may be huge, dramatic outcomes or little and benign results but there are repercussions to every decision. Most of the men in the classes understand they’ve made some big, bad choices to be locked up but in the class, we are discovering that often the momentous poor choice was preceded by smaller ones.

We conversed about this last night as we do each week, “What you do today determines who you’ll be tomorrow.” What they think about, talk to one another about, listen to, read, watch, everything has a deciding factor in the person they are becoming.

Self-awareness, is the discipline of truly knowing who you are; the good, the bad, and the in-between. Until you are honest with yourself about the person you are you’ll never discover how to become the man, the father, you’re supposed to be.”

A wise teacher once told his followers; “When you pick up one end of the stick, you also pick up the other.” A good lesson for us all to learn and remember.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Using Your Head

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Using Your Head

It’s 70 degrees today! Almost January and balmy. Beth and I decided to take advantage of the day by working outside. Perfect weather with a little sun, a few clouds and a nice breeze. Everything was going smoothly until walking off the side of the porch I misjudged the sloped roof and whacked my head on a beam. “OUCH!” After rubbing the area which was throbbing and walking around a bit I decided to nail up a piece of material to mark where the beam was so I wouldn’t repeat the experience.

Wisdom teaches us that sometimes we are going to make mistakes, poor judgments, take a step in the wrong direction, not use our heads for what they were made for; thinking and making wise decisions. However, this isn’t the end of the journey. It’s a time for evaluation, choosing a different course, using the experience as a lesson learned and, hopefully, not repeated.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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The Universe in a Choice

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The Universe in a Choice

The idea of the world having a conscious is intriguing. Many wisdom proverbs speak of the commonality every single human being on the planet possesses. We are united and bound together in much more ways than we are separated. Unfortunately, we focus on those few things that divide and in being pulled apart everyone loses.

The last couple of weeks I have been watching an historical documentary series which focuses on the; “what ifs” of the last 100 years. The premise is that if major figures over the last century would have made different choices, thought and acted in different ways our world would be in a better place. From the first two world wars, nuclear bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Korea, to space exploration, race relations, Vietnam, Desert Storm, financial and housing markets, Operation Freedom, Guantanamo Bay, and other critical turning points that, perhaps, if people would’ve focused on less on themselves and more on others, our world may be a much different place.

Some choices seem to have little consequence on ourselves, those we love and all others who surround us. However, there are decisions which we make that could have a lasting impact on many lives for generations to come.

Wisdom tells us to be mindful, for in every choice hangs the fate of the universe.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Smell of Freedom

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Smell of Freedom

The aroma of six pizza filled my truck cab today as I drove to the county jail. This is Celebration Week as we give certificates, serve pizza to the dads who have put up with me for the last 3 months and, hopefully, have learned to be better men and fathers. I arrived at the jail a few minutes early and began setting things up when I noticed a young man standing on the other side of a heavy steel door with a section of plexiglass in the upper middle. I raised my voice and asked him; “How are you today?” “Fine.” he responded, then added with a big grin; “I’m going home today!” “Congratulations!” I answered back. “I know you’re excited.” “Sure am!” I continued setting up the room and finally, the door buzzed opened and the man began to make his way across the room. As he reached for the door that would take him to freedom he said to me; “Hope you have a good day.” I smiled and replied back to him what the dads in my class have heard many times; “Make good choices! None that will bring you back here!” “I won’t,” he said and disappeared.

A few moments later the incarcerated fathers began to fill the room. They eyed the pizza sitting on a bench in the corner and smiled. “Good choices, make good men and good men make good fathers! Choice is destiny.” is how I begin every class. At the end, before we ate pizza and took pics of the men with their certificates I made them say it loudly! “Good choices make good men and good men make good fathers!” They nailed it and we enjoyed our final few moments together. When I got back to my office I bowed my head and prayed it would be more than words for them and me.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Sum of Life

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Sum of Life

“…the sum of Your words is Truth.”
#Psalms 119 v160

This portion of Psalm 119 was part of my Daily Office reading this morning. It is the longest Psalm in the Bible coming in at 176 verses. There’s a lot of words in these verses and to have one of them say; “The sum of your words is truth,” was humorous to me because I wondered; “Why so many words and verses then?” As I’ve reflected on; “The sum of your words is truth“, I’ve considered; “What is the sum of our life?”

Albert Camus says; “Life is the sum of our choices.” In other words at the time of our death, when we look back over the journey we’ve traveled, it will be the innumerable decisions, made over the countless minutes, hours, days and years we’ve been given which ultimately decides who and what we are, our impact upon the world. Is this true? Are we simply the sum of our selections? What about the tragedies and miracles, unexpected and unwanted events and experiences which happen to us? How do these figure into the equation? Is it also our reactions to these?

I’m not convinced that we are completely in charge of our destiny. There are too many unknown variables, caveats and exceptions. What I do believe is that life happens. How we accept and adjust to it all makes us the people we are presently and will become eventually. I also think we are never done “becoming” and when we take our last breath, however the sum of our lives is ultimately calculated, desiring to make the best choices for ourselves and others is the best way to go.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Bullets and in Between

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Bullets and Breaks – 

I saw my first bullet hole in a human body this week. Well, what it looks like with a thin bandage over it anyway. The leg and the hole belonged to one of the men I teach in my incarcerated father’s class. I had noticed last week he was limping and when he came in on Wednesday I asked how he was doing and what had happened. I had no idea the story which would be told.

The tale included drugs, friends pulling guns on one another, a high-speed car chase, resisting arrest, guns on all sides and finally an arrest and a charge of nine felonies. Whew! By the time he finished I was worn out! The most important detail he shared was before everything fell apart, when he was sitting on the couch with a friend and things began to escalate, he said; “If I would’ve stopped for thirty seconds and thought about what I was doing. If I would have just walked away, none of this would have happened.”

Although there was much in his story I couldn’t relate to I certainly know the harm of acting in haste, not taking time to think before I said or did something harmful, in the heat of the moment, only to regret it soon after. The difficulty is that once we do anything good, bad, positive, or negative the consequence will follow. We can’t take it back. “When we pick up one end of the stick, we pick up the other.”

One of the most difficult yet important disciplines wisdom teaches is the; “space in the middle.” It is that place between the event, the action and our response, our reaction. Usually the less space we allow the higher possibility of making a bad decision and dealing with the results of our choices.

The young man with the bullet hole in his leg is looking at a long sentence in the state penitentiary. I hope that he, all the students and their teacher will learn and put into practice the lesson of; “the space in between.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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