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Similar

This morning, on my way to a meeting, I was driving on the main two-lane road in Columbia, Tennessee. I was about to switch lanes when I happened to look up to see a red truck all of a sudden swerve from behind me in the right to the left lane. He didn’t use a signal or proceed cautiously. He seemed in a hurry to get wherever he was going and I waited for him to pass before signaling and merging to the other lane. A few minutes later a white truck ahead of us both quickly jumped from the right lane to the left lane in front of the red truck and then turned on his signal to turn on to another road. The driver of the red truck had to slam on his brakes and I watched as he shook his head at the carelessness of the other driver. I wondered if it ever dawned on him that they had driving habits in common? Probably not. I reflected on the fact that we recognize bad driving in others but rarely notice it in ourselves. The rest of the way to my meeting I followed the driver of the red truck and pondered if I was also a bad driver but hadn’t realized it yet.

We often spot the bad in the other person. Judge harshly another’s words and actions. We jump to conclusions and condemnations about people we see for a moment and allow it to become the lens by which we determine their motivations and value. We are too quick to label people as something negative because of a lapse in judgment. Our world doesn’t have a lot of empathy. We don’t want to walk a mile in another’s shoes. It’s easier to pronounce them as bad or stupid, unqualified or evil.

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.”
-The Master, Gospel of Saint Matthew 7:3-5

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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the Other

the Other

Last night I was speaking to a group of men and we were discussing the needs men have to develop self-awareness. I told them; “Self-awareness is the ability to look into a mirror and see yourself for who you truly are, the good, the not so good, areas where you excel and places in you which need improving. The ability to know yourself is the first step in understanding what needs to be done to become the man you should be.

Knowing, accepting and loving yourself is also the key to loving others. Unless we’ve learned to see ourselves; flaws, hang-ups, habits, hurts and love ourselves we will be incapable of truly loving others. Often times our shortcomings and failings cause us to judge ourselves more harshly than we’d ever do to others. We stew in our self-hatred and weaknesses. This corrupts us from the inside out and results in a distorted view of ourselves which bleeds over into the way we see the world and the people in it.

It is only when we accept who we are, all of who we are, and love what we like and don’t like can we be free of a soul that is bitter and barren. Released from the prison which contains our hearts we find that others, like us, are frail and broken. We recognize the same limitations and discover in each other the strength to travel the path of life together.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Outside

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Outside

A few weeks ago I was working outside in my overalls. A friend stopped by and was shocked I looked so “country.” “What are you wearing?” was the first thing he said to me. I was taken aback by how he couldn’t get over my overalls. “I actually have a couple of pairs and wear them to keep from getting too dirty, they have multiple pockets to put things in, and look great with my boots!” I thought he might faint. He’s known me primarily in work and play clothes, never in yard work attire. It was as if a pair of overalls changed his view of me.

Yesterday, I almost threw myself into a political/theological argument a friend was having on Facebook. I thought better of it and remembered that social media is not the place to have deep conversations. As I read the thread of the discussion the primary antagonist held several views I disagree with and supported his arguments with not so pleasant words of attacks and insults. I finally stopped reading the conversation because my view of this man was becoming negative, judgemental and I didn’t even know him!

His beliefs and convictions are not mine but too often, like my friend when seeing me in overalls, differing points of view cause us to see people in certain ways. We use political, theological and a host of other convictions as litmus tests to place people in certain categories, judge them as unworthy, unintellectual, strange, sinful, or label them in other insulting ways.

People are more than their outward appearances and opinions. When we allow our view of them to be shaped by what we see or hear on the outside we are actually revealing more about ourselves than them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

All that Glitters

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All that Glitters

Today, before an addiction lecture, I sat and chatted in a room with several men. One of them was an intelligent, well spoken, good looking older gentleman. He asked good questions, had a gregarious personality and didn’t fit with the rest of the mostly younger, lower class, good ol’ boys who occupied the room.

After the lecture, he came up to me shook my hand and I asked him; “What is your occupation?” He replied; “I am, was, a dentist. I’m hoping to practice again, but we’ll have to wait and see.”  We talked a little more, he left and flashed a perfect smile with straight, bright white teeth, as he departed.

To look at this man, one would not think drug addict, alcoholic. One would think of a big house, nice car, country club, kind of life. One would be very wrong. He didn’t have much of anything in the way of material wealth and was sharing life, going to group, sleeping, in a room with meth heads, cocaine addicts, drunkards, pill poppers. At his core, he was exactly like them.

Wisdom tells us to be extra cautious judging the outward appearance of a person. No matter what one looks like we do not know their story, the battles they’ve fought, what they’ve possessed and have had taken away.

But for the grace of God, go I.” But for the grace of God, goes us all.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Growth

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Growth

Whew! Spent most of the day framing in the porch. We are almost ready for the screening and the end is in sight. There’s a good tired feeling after a day’s worth of hard work and feeling as if you’ve accomplished a lot.

To finish out the day I watered our plants and flowers. It’s been a couple of weeks since we’ve had any rain and they were quite thirsty. In the front yard, we have four Blue Spruces. We bought them at the same time and they looked the same; small and a bluish-green. However, today, when I was watering them I noticed they all looked different. They were planted at the same time, are basically in the same place. They receive water, mulch, pruning at the same time and yet they are growing in disparate ways. One is taller, one is “fatter”, one has two stems on top, and one looks bigger than all the others. Even though they’ve received the same amount of attention, sunshine, rain, hot and cool days, the are not the same.

Wisdom teaches us that people are similar to the Blue Spruces. They grow at different rates, in different ways, at different times. Often we forget how unique each of us are in how we mature emotionally, mentally and spiritually. We are tempted to judge negatively those who aren’t keeping up with others only later to perhaps discover an unexpected growth spurt from a “late bloomer” has surpassed them all. Patience. Acceptance. Perseverance. These are all needed attributes when measuring the growth and maturation of those around us.

“Never judge a person’s progress no matter how slow.” -Plato

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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The Obstacle is the Path

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The Obstacle is the Path

This morning, on my way  to Fayetteville, Tennessee, I came across a couch in the middle of a 4 way stop intersection. It didn’t take me long to come to the conclusion; “That doesn’t belong there!” It had obviously been dropped  out of a vehicle because it was broken in half and the feet and cushions were scattered. I cautiously drove around the couch, and through the intersection, continuing on my journey wondering who dropped it, why and that someone should pick up the unsightly mess before some body gets hurt.

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A few more miles down the road a baby deer hopped onto the road while its sibling stayed off to the side. I slowed down and thought; “What a beautiful sight!” and proceeded cautiously in case the one, not on the road, decided it wanted to be reunited with its sibling. I soaked in the beauty of nature, wondered where its mother was and was thankful for being present at that time and place.

Two sights, two different responses.

I reflected on how we decide what should and should not be on our road of life. For the unwanted, ugly, messy thing we judge as not worthy, we try to avoid it and want it gone. To others, which we deem as beautiful and worthy, we are thankful and count ourselves blessed to enjoy the wonderment of life.

Wisdom teaches us to accept all things on the road of life. We are not to judge which is good or bad, positive or negative, but to allow the possibility of everything to teach and guide us. It is only when we stop slapping labels on things, (including people) and accept each experience with open minds, hearts, and spirits that we can appreciate, find the mystery and beauty in all obstacles on the road of life.

“The obstacle is the path.” -Wisdom Proverb

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Fear Doesn’t Work that Way

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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.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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On Splinters

Earlier today I was mowing the grass near our wooden fence. There was a weed in just the wrong place and I couldn’t cut it with the mower. I flipped the mower around and reached down to grab the unwanted sprout and ended up with a splinter from the fence under my fingernail. “OUCH!” I jerked my hand quickly back and carefully removed the sliver of wood. Earlier this week, while washing my hands, I noticed I’d picked up a splinter from somewhere but didn’t realize it until I saw it. It too was removed.

Wiping the blood from my injured finger, I thought about both splinters today. One caused great pain and I was aware of it instantly the other didn’t bother me at all. I also reflected on the parable from the Master;

“Stop judging so that you will not be judged. Otherwise, you will be judged by the same standard you use to judge others. The standards you use for others will be applied to you. So why do you see the piece of sawdust in another believer’s eye and not notice the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to another believer, ‘Let me take the piece of sawdust out of your eye,’ when you have a beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye. Then you will see clearly to remove the piece of sawdust from another believer’s eye.” -The Gospel according to Saint Matthew, Chapter 7

We are quick to judge and focus on others instead of inspecting our own lives, allowing wisdom to show us our own shallowness, selfishness and sin. I wonder how many splinters, pieces of sawdust or wooden beams, we’d find if we actually looked?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Where We Belong

This morning I had a presentation in Nashville, TN. I left with plenty of time to spare, didn’t encounter any wrecks, traffic jams, everything went smoothly and I arrived early. I took my time getting out of the truck, making sure everything needed was in my bag and headed into the lobby. Once inside there was a line to the receptionist and waiting patiently it finally became my time to ask where the room I was looking for was located. I said; “Good morning,” and then asked for directions. A confused look came over her face and I quickly figured out I was in the wrong place. Not just the wrong lobby, but the wrong street and the wrong section of town. I scurried outside, hopped back in the truck and discovered my mistake. I had put the wrong street in the GPS. I double checked my calendar, typed in the correct address and it was fifteen miles away! Yikes! I called my co-presenter and told her what happened and I would be there as fast as possible. After arriving again, this time at the right building, I hurried in. I was only ten minutes late but it felt much longer. My co-presenter began her section of the program and I took several deep breaths trying to center myself. When it was my turn I spoke to the group about fathers, everything went fine and I was thankful to actually be where I belonged.

Wisdom teaches us that we have ideas and certainties of where we need to go on the road of life. We look at our gifts and talents and assure ourselves who, where and what we are meant to be. However, we are often not the best judge of where our lives can be used best. To be centered, to hold our dreams and desires loosely and allow the path of life to unfold, to be led not where we think we need to go but where we actually belong.

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

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Facing Our Prejudices

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“Imagine two people coming into your meeting. One has a gold ring and fine clothes, while the other is poor, dressed in filthy rags.

Then suppose that you were to take special notice of the one wearing fine clothes, saying, “Here’s an excellent place. Sit here.” But to the poor person you say, “Stand over there”; or, “Sit underneath my feet.” Wouldn’t you have shown favoritism?…

God chose those who are poor by worldly standards to be rich in terms of faith and as heirs of the kingdom. Don’t honor one and dishonor another…Love every neighbor as yourself.” Epistle of James

This selection of writings was read in worship this morning. They are from a letter tradition says was written by James the brother of Jesus.  It is a powerful reminder of how quickly we are seduced by outward appearances.  Folks that look nice, smell good, wear fashionable clothing with beautiful smiles seem to draw people to them while those without such amenities, too often, are shunned, looked past, avoided or treated as lesser than.

The word “favoritism” or “partiality” literally means “to receive the face.” In other words to look at someone and decide/judge whether or not they are worthy of our time, effort and lives.

True love doesn’t have conditions. Radical grace knows no limits. Sacrificial giving of ourselves is never dictated by the other.

“Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy.” #ThomasMerton

blessings,
@BrianLoging
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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