The pastor started out this morning’s message with the question; “What’s worse than finding a worm in the apple you’re eating? Finding half a worm.” The insinuation being you are already eating the other half. It’s gross but it’s funny. His message was about being good, having true character, inside and out.
Google defines authenticity as; “the quality of being reliable, dependable, trustworthy, credible; accurate, truthful.” That is a lot for a person to live up to. We live in a world where the president’s lawyer said last week; “What is the truth? There is no truth.” The president himself is seen as a man whom constituents from both parties agree has a difficult time with the truth. The cardinals, bishops and perhaps the pope(?) in the Catholic church, the head coach at Ohio State University, Republican and Democratic congressional candidates, and many others from all walks of life seem to find telling the truth, being of true character, a challenge.
True character starts from the inside and makes it way out. Who we are, what we are, will always be revealed sooner or later. The question; “Am I an authentic person? A person of true character?” is one of the most important and ultimately life-defining we can ask. However, don’t stop until you can answer it with certainty and clarity.
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Good Looking –
I heard someone say the other day that a person needs to be good-looking in order to see. I liked that turn of phrase. Often we think of being good-looking as being, handsome, pretty, “easy on the eyes.” We think of it as someone looking at us and thinking we are attractive. Much of our culture is obsessed with being perfect, interesting, and wanting others to think good about us. To be good-looking is the goal when we are focused on ourselves.
Let’s turn it around. What if good-looking was about finding the positive in others and in our world? What if good-looking was a concept we took to heart and a discipline we developed? What if we stopped being concerned with whether or not others found us, our lives, attractive and we started finding the unique beauty inherent in almost all things? Our world would be transformed if we thought and focused on others more.
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” #CSLewis
Yesterday I made a promise to my wife. Actually, it was more of a threat. I threatened to leave the hose pipe outside all winter instead of putting it up in the fall. The reason for this is no matter what I try it all seems to be one giant tangled mess when I pull it out in the spring. One of my chores on Thursday was to untangle the jumbled mess of about three hundred feet of hose pipe. First I grabbed and dragged out most of it. Then I detached the ends to make them easier to work with. After this, I pulled each pipe end going over and under the other until I finally had one section free! When I did this six or seven times all the sections were in their own place and then hooking them together again one at a time I was able to run the hose pipe to the different areas of the yard. Whew! It was a hard, difficult job but had to be done.
In my work with men, fathers, and families, the initial times we meet to set up a plan of learning and action can seem like wrestling with a jumbled mess of hose pipe. However, with time and patience slowly learning, finding and breaking down the challenges, habits, hurts, and hang-ups, we can begin to put the pieces back together again.
It is COLD today. Thankfully the sun is out and the icicles and patches are melting. The yard looks so brown and bland. I went to check the mail last night and the ice on the grass crunched under my feet. It’s winter and though I try not to have favorites this particular season isn’t in my top three.
It’s hard to see the green for all the brown but knowledge, wisdom and experience tell me that it won’t stay that way. Even today, in spite of the cold, seeds are germinating and sometime, hopefully soon, they will make themselves known. I anticipate that day but need to be patient. Long, cold, seasons have their place in our lives. True, they help us appreciate other seasons when they come but finding peace and acceptance in the barren times is an important discipline.
Too often we project our lives to a period in front of or behind us when we can discover life, real life, exactly where we are now.
Last week was the first time I had heard the words; “Pokemon” and “Go” together. A couple of folks in the office were talking about it and I was listening trying to figure out what they were saying, describing and deriving so much joy and interest. Like a newbie, I asked several questions but still didn’t understand the concept. Little did I know this conversation would be the beginning of an information immersion into this app game for a cellphone I would receive over the last several days. I’ve heard about it on the news, podcasts, social media and more. I’ve seen pictures of people, phone up to their faces, meandering around, running to areas where “creatures?” can be found and trying to “catch” them.
Reflecting on this latest phenomenon I am reminded how each of us have goals we pursue. We seek the elusive, the valuable, the treasured, the thing that will bring contentment and meaning into our lives. However, unless we are pursuing the truth each goal we grasp only leaves us unfulfilled and a new goal appears with further promises of purpose and peace. If we’re not careful we can spend our lives chasing, finding and capturing that which will not satisfy.
“Truth is easy to understand once it is discovered; the point is to discover it.”
Fear Doesn’t Work that Way
Last night, the Mrs. and I were late going out to water our flowers and bushes. I grabbed my brightest flashlight and went out the front door. Just beyond our porch there is a huge Oak tree. As I stepped off it something falling from the tree caught my eye. I shined the light on the flowers beneath the tree trying to find the object. Seeing nothing I then illuminated the area where whatever fell came from. That’s when I noticed movement and it didn’t take me long to see it was a large Rat Snake (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rat_snake), in fact there were two of them. As soon as Beth heard the word snake she wouldn’t get near the tree. I told her they were non-poisonous, not fond of humans and kept the mice and rodent population down. This didn’t dissuade her nor reduce her fear of snakes.
In an episode of; “Sports Night,”(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sports_Night) Dan and Casey, two sports anchors, were discussing a fear Casey was experiencing. Dan says to Casey; “Don’t be afraid!” Casey smiles and replies; “Fear doesn’t work that way.”
Fear has a way of reaching down inside of us and finding a place to reside where mere words, logic and assurance have a hard time dislodging. Being afraid is primal. It often triggers; fight, flight or freeze response. Too often we judge and don’t understand another’s fears, especially if we don’t share it. We try our best to talk them out of being afraid or tell them how to work through their fright. The best response, however, is to listen, understand, don’t judge, don’t push and allow them to work through their fears in their own time and their own pace.
Thursday I wrote about a piece of reclaimed lumber I picked up and hoped to use. I knew it would require cutting away the decaying pieces to see if there were any useful parts.
This morning I grabbed my jigsaw and went to work searching, hoping to locate the good. Truth be known there wasn’t much. Time, dampness, bugs and weather had stripped it of its strength, sturdiness and purpose. I was able to salvage a nice sized piece in the middle where nature and neglect hadn’t yet destroyed.
We’re similar to the wood. Our outer edges, the parts of us the world corrupts and compromises so quickly. The inner, the center, the part of us that’s protected, shielded, and remains good. This is worth finding and worth saving.