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Keep Your Head

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Keep Your Head

Yesterday, after coming home from worship, I changed from my Sunday best into my “not so best” and went into to the kitchen to make myself from lunch. I grabbed a burrito shell, sprinkled a bit of cheese on it, popped it into the microwave and “viola!” a cheese burrito. While the burrito heated up I picked up the cheese and burrito packages to place them back in the fridge. As I was doing this I dropped the cheese package on the floor. I bent down, pinched it with my fingers, lifted it up and began to stand up. However, I had misunderestimated how close I was to the fridge. As I swung my body up my head came in contact with the edge/corner or the freezer door. “Ow!” It hurt so badly I thought I might pass out for a second. Keeping my bearings I backed away, stood up all the way and held my head as it throbbed. Later, when Beth got home, she looked at it and noticed it was swollen. “You have a nice Goose egg right there!” I didn’t know what birds had to do with my head but I did know I wish I would’ve paid more attention to where my head was at.

We’ve heard people say; “I lost my head!” when they’ve let their temper get the best of them, forgotten something important or have no idea what’s happening around them. Keeping our heads, being focused, in the present moment is essential. Knowing where we are, when we are, how we are doing and what can save us from injury, harm, pain, and Goose eggs.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Anger

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Anger

One of the first questions I have, when teaching a new class or working with a father, is “Tell me how you express your feelings. Can you show you are angry, disappointed, frustrated in a healthy way or does it all come out as toxic anger?” Toxic anger is dangerous and greatly inhibits a child’s growth, impedes communication with others, and can lead to abuse and neglect. Understanding how a father deals with his feelings is key to understanding his relationship with his family, friends, and community.

One of the most common responses on how men deal with the feeling of anger is; “I want to hurt someone else. I want another to feel pain. I don’t want to be alone in my suffering.” This can surface in many ways, a bruising hand, a mouth filled with hurtful and caustic words. Other men leave and don’t come back, others come back but never talk about the emotion that erupted like a volcano. A lot of men simply get mad and stop talking, letting their silence oppress everyone who is near them.

Most men have never learned to deal, and healthfully express, their feelings. This is why for most men anger is their default emotion. The saddest part is they pass these traits along to children and the unhealthy cycle starts all over again.

An old Zen proverb says; “To hold on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging  (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Falling

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Falling

The last few weeks the winds of Fall have been blowing into our area chasing summer away. It’s warm today, summer still has some fight left, but it won’t be long until these days are but a memory. The wind has also begun blowing the dead leaves off of the trees. The yard, once green, is quickly turning brown; both the grass and the leaves falling on it.

I read a quote not long ago but cannot remember the author…

“There’s nothing like fall to teach us the beauty of letting go.”

In my life, there is a struggle happening when it comes to letting a few things go. The leaves remind me each day that sooner or later that which harms us, brings us pain, must be released. What’s interesting is that I’ve let go of these before but, like the seasons, they keep coming back around.

Inwardly, however, there is a stirring, a desire to let go, to not think of what tomorrow may bring but to be fully in the present, in the now, and today the results surround and show me how beautiful it can be to let go.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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What You See, Hear, Say

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What You See, Hear, Say

“When brethren return from a journey,  at the end of each canonical Hour of the Work of God  on the day they return,  let them lie prostrate on the floor of the oratory  and beg the prayers of all  on account of any faults  that may have surprised them on the road,  through the seeing or hearing of something evil,  or through idle talk.  And let no one presume to tell another  whatever he may have seen or heard outside of the monastery  because this causes very great harm.” #RuleofSaintBenedict

As a Benedictine Oblate (http://www.osb.org/obl/intro.html), one of the disciplines we are asked to employ is reading the “Rule of Saint Benedict” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_Saint_Benedict) each day and apply it’s principles to our twenty-first-century lives. The sections which deal with simplicity, humility, poverty of spirit and servanthood are ready-made for our loud, brash, celebrity and money/possessions obsessed culture. The other sections which deal with life inside of a monastery can be more difficult to figure out how to envelop into the life of a middle-aged man living in Columbia, Tennessee.

The section of the “Rule” above is from Chapter 67. I have reflected upon it much of the day, especially the part of laying on the floor during prayer times at the monastery and “begging” the brothers to pray for them after their journeys outside of the cloistered community. It says the reason for this is; in case the monk “sees or hears something evil” or participates in “idle talk.”

Most days I go throughout my day and don’t recognize evil. I see a lot of hurting people struggling to get by, battling for a better life but my focus is on them, not the evil that might beset them. I wonder if we miss, have become used to, been contaminated by, the workings of evil in our world. We are blinded by the trees to the forest.

I also was intrigued by the admonition of the returning brothers not to tell others about life outside of the monastery and that this could cause; “great harm.” When people take trips, vacations they come back with lots of pictures and stories. For Saint Benedict, would this be acceptable? Doesn’t seem like it. However, I believe the Rule is going deeper.

In our twenty-first-century world, “idle talk” is everywhere! Social media, television, radio, internet, are all filled with gossip, insults, hear-say. Everything everyone sees is posted online usually with a snarky or judgemental comment. I am in full agreement with Saint Benedict that this environment does cause great harm.

Anyway, that’s what’s been on my heart today as I’ve traveled. At the risk of violating the “Rule,” I won’t tell you where I went or what I did. 🙂

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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What is Received

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What is Received

Some friends and I were talking the other day about listening. More to the point, we were talking about people hearing things which were never said.

In communication lectures I emphasize the importance of knowing your audience. To the best of your knowledge; have they had a good day, how are they feeling, are there any stressors and pressures weighing heavily upon them?  All of these determine what they hear when you speak to them.
What about environment? What is the location of your conversation, do you have privacy, are there bystanders, can you talk without being interrupted by eavesdroppers? Again, these have a lot to do with how your words to another are perceived. And of course, what is your history with the person whom you’re speaking with?
Communication is 80% non-verbal. Only 20% of what we say to another person, or a group of people, is said with language.There are many other factors to be considered to ensure your words are received with the right intent. Unfortunately, even taking most or all of these ingredients in mind, it doesn’t guarantee the words you speak will be what the listener hears.

As one who speaks one on one and to groups of people regularly I have many stories of folks excitedly telling me; “What you said today really spoke to me!” When I inquire about the specifics they share about topics I didn’t talk about and hadn’t even considered! “Thank you!” they say. “You’re welcome!” I reply and walk away trying to figure out how they received what I clearly didn’t give.

It also happens in my writings. A few months ago I wrote about an ugly shirt and a comment someone made about the unsightly garment. As I try to do in my daily writings I gave a lesson learned from the encounter. I thought it was well written and to the point until someone responded to my post in an aggressive way. Though I tried to explain that what he received wasn’t what I wrote, it didn’t matter. Eventually I had to accept what he read and the meaning he took away from it even though it wasn’t my intent.

Wisdom tells us to measure our words. They are incredibly powerful. They build and destroy. Lift us up or tear others down. Too often we are careless with what comes out of our mouths and never consider the consequences until after the words are spoken. Breathe, before your speak and when what is received offends and harms, make sure you apologize with words more carefully chosen then the one which came before.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Blown Away

Blown Away –

Earlier today, after mowing the back yard of the Loging homestead, I grabbed my leaf blower, leaned a ladder against the house and climbed up on the roof. Using the blower I cleaned off the limbs, leaves and gunk that had collected over the past couple of months. Carefully navigating our steep roof I made my way to each side, and with wind power, rid the roof of some unnecessary and unsightly junk.

Last night, I spoke to a group of men about emotions. We discussed how men have a difficult time showing what they’re truly feeling. “We often avoid our emotions, ignoring them, letting them build up and then releasing them in ugly ways with negative results. As men we must have a method of processing, showing and releasing our emotions in ways which do not harm ourselves or others.”

On the roof today I was thinking about these men and the need for all of us to occasionally have a fresh wind blow through our lives. A stormy and chaotic world can often leave debris, junk, littering our spirit and having the unnecessary and unsightly mess blown away is good for the soul.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Run Over

Earlier this afternoon I stopped to get a cold drink. The temps today are in the 90’s with humidity close to this mark as well. I exited the truck and began to walk across the parking lot into the restaurant when a small white Chevy truck, moving faster than needed caught my eye. I stopped, he didn’t. I watched as he passed and he stared back at me. I was thankful to have looked before crossing and wondered why he was in such a hurry.

Following my close encounter I reflected on times when people had tried to “run me over.” Moments and seasons when someone had an aim, purpose, goal they wanted to reach and didn’t consider how it impacted those around them. Whether it was an over-powering personality, a self focused agenda, a spirit draining selfishness, their destination was reached at the peril of others.

I also thought about my own pursuits and how, at times, I was more concerned with the journey than my fellow sojourners. Finding the balance between getting where we need to go and being sure our passions and purposes do no harm is important and necessary to ensure we reach our destinations, together.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Unique Approach

Unique Approach

Sometimes working with people can be exhausting. You think you’ve reached a turning point which will make all the difference only to discover that around the corner leads to a dead-end.

I was speaking to a group of dads today and explaining to them each family, similar to individuals are unique. There isn’t a one size fits all approach to helping people get well and healthy. It takes time, effort and a willingness to listen, get to know, build trust and a relationship. Only then are you able to guide folks toward choices which benefit them and those they love.

Too often we approach people and life with a predetermined way of how things should be. We allow our biases, judgments and limited knowledge to build a lens which distorts our view. If we are to be of real service to those we love, our neighbors, those in need ,we cannot skip over respect, listening, building trust and relationships. If we only have a part of the picture and proceed to “fix” what we believe to be the problem we may end up causing more harm than good.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Feel the Heat

This morning I burnt my tongue. I drank too much coffee, too fast and am paying the price. I’ve scalded my tongue before and it hurts, every time. I don’t like the pain or the sensation when I rub it against the roof of my mouth. There are treatments I could try to dull the discomfort but, from experience, time is the greatest healer.

As I’ve dealt with my injury this morning I’ve reflected on both the damage a tongue can receive and deliver. What if hot beverages and spicy foods weren’t the only ways to harm our tongues? What would happen if our tongues were burnt when we used words that were too hot, highly charged, and injured another? What if our speech inflicted wounds upon us when they did to our brothers and sisters? How much more careful might we be with careless, rushed, rude, insulting, judgmental language if we too felt the pain our words can cause?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Intent to Harm

My wife was verbally assaulted last week. I’m not sure she’d use those words but someone certainly chewed her up one side and down the other. It was bad enough that when she finished telling me the story, I asked if she was okay and she began to cry. There’s nothing harder for a husband when the woman he loves is hurting and there’s nothing to do but hold her.

I won’t describe the whole situation but the most perplexing comments the woman made to Beth were; “are you a Christian?!?! You need to go to church! Aren’t you going to say; ‘you’re sorry?!?!’ You still haven’t apologized! You need to apologize to me!‘” The woman went on and on. Beth told me; “I couldn’t apologize because she wouldn’t stop berating me.”

I confess I was frustrated. As I reflected on my negative feelings three thoughts echoed in my mind and spirit…

The first was the way people treat each other; unaware or unconcerned with how their words and actions affect the feelings and well-being of others.

The second was the question; “Are you a Christian?” being asked by a belligerent, judgmental person who apparently goes to church and is a Christ follower. I can’t help but wonder how many believers present an un-Christ like image while holding others to a higher standard or worse, never realizing the distance between their lives and their testimony.

Lastly, when we expect, demand, try and force an apology it shows a lack of humility, empathy and understanding of grace.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

Is it Necessary?

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A friend asked me this morning; “How do I tell someone they’ve hurt me?” The question was loaded with obvious pain. I responded; “Why do you feel the need to tell them?” “Because it affects the way I interact with them. I feel a great distance between us ever since the incident happened.” was the response.

I took a breath and then followed up; “What good will it do? Will it make things better? Will the relationship benefit or be further harmed?” After a moment of reflection my friend said; “It wouldn’t help and might even cause more injury to myself and the other person. I’m not even sure they’re aware of what they did.” I then told them; “If it isn’t necessary to speak it, don’t. Come to grips with your grief of the fractured relationship and then, when you’re able, let it go.”

It’s hard to move on when someone we love, trust, depend on, betrays us. Our need for an explanation, to express our disappointment, deep woundedness, compels us to confess and confront the offending party. We tell ourselves we want closure, an apology a genuine word and act of repentance but often, if we dig down, our motivation is payback, to hurt as we’ve been hurt, to cause the other pain.

Wisdom tells the us way to peace of mind and spirit is to know and let go of our suffering not inflict it upon others.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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