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Us and Them?

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Us and Them?

I was in the checkout line this week behind a Hispanic family; a mom and three children.  Two of the kids were hanging with mom while one was at a bargain bin admiring a bracelet with glass beads. The mother finished checking out, gathered her things and headed for the door. The problem is she forgot a child, the one admiring the bracelet. The cashier caught my eye and said; “You can come up now.” I smiled, gesturing to the girl and quipped; “I don’t think she’s ready.” “Oh. They do that all the time! Forget their children and leave the store. Come on up.” I wasn’t going to push the girl out of the way and so asked her; “Where’s your mom? Did she just go out the doors?” The little one stared at me and I’m not sure she understood what I was saying or was intimidated by a stranger. She moved and I kept my eye on the door while the cashier scanned my items. She continued to insult the mom and lumped all Hispanics together with condescending phrases; “They all do that, don’t care about their children. When I was growing up my mother would’ve never left me. She always knew where we were but they don’t care.” I finished checking out, retrieved my bag and headed out the door. I was annoyed and concerned.

When I got outside I scanned the parking lot for the mom and sure enough, she realized her child was missing and was heading back to the store. My worry dissipated. My annoyance at the cashier persists now as I am writing about it. I don’t understand how a person can casually dismiss an entire race of people. This child with the bracelet, this mom with her hands full, didn’t need judgment. They needed understanding instead of insults, someone to help the mom not forget her most precious cargo. Moms of all races have their hands full. Moms forget. Moms of all nationalities are burdened with remembering all kinds of things and if they are new to the United States of America there’s more she and her family has to deal with in a nation where a growing section of the community is hostile to them.

Instead of a fist offer a hand. Instead of a look of contempt offer empathy. Instead of judgment offer humanity.

For more posts, reflections, poems, and other writings, please visit
thewannabesaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

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Hangover

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Hangover

Today I am feeling the impact of three intensive days of training. My body hurts and my mind hurts. My eyes are tired from staring at a screen for too long. I have both a migraine and fuzzy brain. It’s hard to process new information today because of receiving so much from earlier in the week.  The data and detail are still bouncing around in my noggin and hasn’t found a place to settle. New thoughts and ideas are like puffs of smoke that never quite become solid enough to grasp. A couple of days of quiet and rest should do the trick but until then giving it my all will be less than.

Growing in our learning, understanding, and wisdom takes a toll. Its tough work which may be why we are hesitant to do it at times. Immersing ourselves in new thoughts, ideas, studies, to become more capable in our personal, relational, connections and jobs takes commitment and courage. Commitment because growth is effort and energy. Courage because when we dare to learn, understand gain wisdom, we change and we’re never sure who will be on the other side.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Still Growing

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Still Growing

Today I was finally able to mow our grass. We’ve had needed rain this week and the yard dried out enough that I could cut it. It had been eight days since I the last mow but the height and thickness of the grass made it seem longer.  As I drove around the yard on my riding mower I was reminded that even during the rain and storms the grass was growing. I often forget when the storm clouds are present, the lightning flashes and the skies open up and the rain comes down the grass doesn’t wait for it to stop.

Wisdom teaches us that even in the stormiest seasons of our lives growth, depth, understanding is possible. We are busy trying to make it through the storm we don’t recognize our strength, maturity, awareness, humility has grown in proportion as well.

Never mistake the storm as a reason for stopping. We are still growing.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Defenses

Defenses

Earlier today I was mowing and weeding the yard. While doing so I came across a three to four-foot King Snake hanging out in the grass. I didn’t want to hurt it so I nudged it with the wheel of my push mower and it didn’t move. I bumped it again and the snake curled up into a ball. I was hoping the third time was the charm and tried to get it moving but it wasn’t going anywhere. I then went and grabbed a wooden stake, found the snake still rolled up and not willing to budge. As a last result, I pushed the stake through the center of the ball, picked it up and placed it in another part of the yard where it would be safe. “Sheesh!” I thought to myself. It just had to be difficult.

After getting back to my mowing I thought about the defensive behavior of the snake. It wasn’t helpful for it or me. I reflected on my defensive behaviors and unhelpful coping skills. As someone who deals with mental illness, I know first hand what a sense of being in danger, uncertain, threatened can do. It can cause me to make a bad decision, seize up, pull myself into an emotional ball and try to keep the danger out. Most times it doesn’t work but, like the snake, its instinct.

I know if I would’ve been able to communicate with the reptile I would’ve explained it needed to move for its own safety. If it was left alone eventually the snake would relax and be able to go on its way. When people fight, flight or freeze when we try to help our intention doesn’t matter. What matters is understanding and adapting our help to meet the needs of the other.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Everything But

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Everything But

This morning I was shopping at Wal-Mart looking for items to check off my list. However, I couldn’t find one so I began to look for an employee to help me. I spotted a man in a white shirt, blue and white ID holder attached to a lanyard. He was about to leave so I called from the opposite end of the aisle; “Excuse me, sir? Could you help me?” He stopped and I walked up to and asked him where the item I needed was located. “Sporting goods. Over there.” and though I thought his answer was vague I thanked him and began looking again. I was frustrated he didn’t narrow down my search. Then, it hit me. The man I spoke to wasn’t a Wal-Mart employee. He just happened to look like one because I was searching for one. I laughed at myself and wondered about the guy who would tell his family and friends today about the stranger who mistook him for someone who worked at Wal-Mart.

Later in the day, I was teaching a Dad’s Community Group and we were learning about listening. One of the ways to be a better listener is to leave your biases out of the conversation. When we’ve made up our mind about a person to or the topic *before* listening and understanding what the person is saying, and feeling, we are not listening. We are only waiting to speak.

Listening is not about criticizing, advice giving, making the conversation about us. Listening is, at its essence, letting a person know they are valued, respected. Too often we make it about everything but…

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Starting Over

Starting Over

I was speaking with a friend this week who struggles with anger. We were trying to figure out how to take a breath before responding to a situation or a person who triggers his angry responses. We talked about tricks and tips to get him to breathe in fully and exhale before whatever words were forming on his tongue. I told him; “At that moment think, see with your mind what the consequences of your words are going to be.” It’s the discipline of ‘the space in between.’ The greater the space in between the stimuli and the response the better. Take time to think, to breathe, there is healing, understanding, awareness, and acceptance in that moment. Use it.

With each breath is a new beginning, a starting over, an opportunity to live and give life.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Hurry

Hurry

Nature does not hurry.” This statement seems extra? true this winter. It should be spring but every time it warms up, the sun shines brilliantly inviting dreams of shorts and tank tops, warm breezes chase the chill from my bones, not too long after winter takes one more gasp and exhales its frosty breath down my back. Since Friday its been warm and sunny but last night a weather front, complete with window-rattling thunder, swept through and its cold again today with whispers of a chance of snow.

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” If you didn’t step outside today and stayed in the warm indoors and looked out your window there’s the look of spring. Most things are blossoming, a bright, healthy green and the sunbeams dance off the panes of glass in the window. Illusions are powerful. They keep us from seeing, experiencing, knowing, understanding, existing in the truth. Even though its cold spring is here. Wearing long sleeve shirts and jackets doesn’t change this. Spring may seem slow in coming but the seasons have no timetable and come exactly when they mean to. Until then we let go of our demands and expectations knowing, in time, all is accomplished.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

What Did You Hear?

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What Did You Hear?

Listening is an art form. It has to do with more than hearing words. It also hears silences, tones and the organizations of words into sentences and questions. Listening is wanting to hear what the other is saying and being willing for those words to impact, challenge, and change the listener. Listening is not, however, always agreeing with the other. You can listen and believe differently than what the other is saying but you listen out of respect.

A friend of mine a few weeks ago was telling me about a conversation he had with a dear friend and said; “It didn’t go the way I planned!” His friend became upset with the conversation. I asked my friend; “Did you ask your friend what she had heard you say?” “No,’ he replied, ‘Why?” “Because,’ I said, “She might have heard something completely different from what you were saying.”

It’s amazing but communicating with others is a combination of listening, speaking, processing, projecting, interpreting and understanding. When one of these is missing the connection with the other can be lost, disrupted and the moment can never be repeated.

Listening is a sacred act, do it well.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Empathy

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Empathy

I heard a story today about a chaplain who worked in a veteran’s hospital in the 1950’s. There was an African-American soldier in the hospital who had lost a leg in the Korean War. The physical therapists had worked with him trying to get him used to wear a prosthetic leg. Both the soldier and medical personnel tried everything they could think of but nothing worked and the soldier was ready to give up and live life with one leg and crutches for the rest of his life.

The chaplain was made aware of the situation and stopped by soldier’s bed one night to see if he could be of any help. “I can still feel my leg, my real leg!” the soldier cried. “It’s a phantom pain.” replied the chaplain, “It will go away in time.” “That leg!” retorted the soldier gesturing toward the prosthetic one, “will never be ‘my’ leg.” After visiting with the young man the chaplain prayed with him and asked if he could take the prosthetic one with him. The soldier responded with a shrug.

The next day the chaplain returned with the same leg except it was painted a shade of brown to more closely match the soldier’s own skin tone. “What did you do?” asked the perplexed soldier. The chaplain, hoping he hadn’t offended the young man said he took it home with him and thought painting it might make it seem more palatable. “That’s all you did?” asked the soldier admiring the leg. “That’s it.” smiled the chaplain. The chaplain helped the young man to the side of the bed, attached the leg, helped him take his first few steps and from that day forward the soldier made remarkable progress.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. The chaplain helped the soldier not by insisting he use resources given to him by the hospital but by listening and understanding what the soldier was going through and then adapting his help to the soldier’s personal, unique need.

Too often we see people who need assistance and we automatically assume there are places and resources that are available. We surmise that if someone wants help enough they’ll figure out how to get it. The truth is everyone’s story is unique and unless we listen, understand and are willing to personally get involved many will go on suffering and being blamed for doing so.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Second Gaze

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The world today tends to be cynical about most things. We have a hard time believing in an enchanted world, a sacred or benevolent universe. Why would we if we see only at the surface level? Everywhere we turn, every time we watch the news, we see suffering. We have become skeptical about God’s goodness, humanity’s possibilities, and our planet’s future. We can’t help seeing what is not and are often unable to recognize or appreciate what is. I see this temptation in myself almost every day. I have to pray and wait for a second gaze, a deeper seeing. This is my daily bread.” (https://cac.org/category/daily-meditations/) #RichardRohr

The quote above, from Richard Rohr, was part of my devotional reading this morning. I quickly took the phrase; “Second Gaze” to heart. I hadn’t heard it before but it is a primary wisdom discipline. It is the understanding that if we only see with our physical sight we will miss the goodness, the light, the continuing blossoming of creation all around us. We will also miss the ways in which we can be a part of creation by loving, acts of kindness, a gentleness of spirit and humility to each person and everything we include in the circle of our lives.

Let us look around us today without the cynicism and negativity which often plagues our sight. May we behold and become a part of the ongoing miracle that is life in all its universal glory.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Your Last Moment

Your Last Moment

Last night me, Beth and some friends gathered around a fire and roasted wieners, shared how are weeks were going and then rushed inside when it started raining. There wasn’t anything earth-shattering about the evening but that’s what made it special.

Too often, while living in the present moment, our minds are busy thinking about the moments to come or the moments that have gone by. We are rarely present mentally, emotionally, spiritually, in the present moment.

To treat each moment as if it is our last is a difficult discipline but it starts with the understanding that the present moment is truly the only one available to us. The moments which have come and gone are no longer accessible to us. We cannot relive or change them. The moments which are ahead are unpredictable and not within our power to get to until they become the present moment.

This is why the present moment is so special and powerful. It is in this moment where life and all its possibilities and wonder exist. We miss it so often but if we can embrace it, cherish it, drain each ounce of precious promise out of it our lives will be enriched beyond our wildest dreams.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Fear

Fear

I heard someone talking today about a giant animated spider a neighbor has in their front yard along with several other Halloween decorations. The problem isn’t the decor but the animated spider scares the man and his dog each time they walk near the house The spider is motion activated so there’s never a moment when the spider won’t “react” when he and the pooch are near the house. He’s resigned to walk a different way and in a different direction until his neighbor puts away the spider. He’s hoping the Christmas decorations will be less traumatic for him and his dog.

As I listened to his story I thought about fear; our reaction to it and it’s reaction to us. There are different things we are each afraid of. What scares one might not bother the other and the stuff of nightmares to one is shrugged off by another.

The man would be silly to try to tell his dog; “It’s not real. It’s fake. Stop being fearful!” Two things keep the dog from understanding. One, the dog doesn’t speak or comprehend language. Two, fear doesn’t work that way. How the man handled it is spot on. He walked a different way so he and his dog would be able to walk in peace.

Too often we try to convince people not to be scared of things. Sometimes this works but most of the time we and the person we are trying to convince not to be fearful end up frustrated and eventually separated. Facing our fears is fine in certain cases but in others walking with another a different way shows love, empathy, and acceptance.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Directions

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Directions

I was listening to a podcast earlier today and included was a story by the maker of the podcast about needing directions. He normally depended upon OnStar or a similar company for getting directions to a place he hadn’t been before. However, when he pressed the button which should’ve connected him to the service he discovered his subscription had run out. After many phone calls, credit card numbers, VIN numbers and a host of other hurdles he still doesn’t have service and doesn’t know what to do! The person telling the story is a funny guy and told it in a humorous way but you could tell it was also aggravating to him to put this much time and energy into it and still have nothing to show for it.

Each of us has a voice in our heads which tells us how to best navigate the path of life. For some, the voice is positive and good with directions. However, for others, the voice is negative and gives us directions which are wrong and we end up frustrated and desperate. These voices come from

These voices come from a myriad of places; people and places we grew up, mental health issues, trauma in our young or adult lives, being with an individual or group of people who treat us poorly. The voice can tell us We’re stupid, lead us to travel in circles never getting anywhere, or traumatize us to the point we can’t move.

Understanding where our voices come from and being able to identify if they are positive or negative can go a long way in making sure we are able to live a life of purpose and vision. If we have voices which aren’t good for us we can find others. Having a “subscription” to the right voices goes a long way in keeping us on the path toward health and wellness.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

to Lead

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to Lead

Last night I finished watching a movie about Winston Churchill  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winston_Churchill) and his role and his role in what would end up being the last year of World War II.  Churchill was against “Operation Overlord (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Overlord) also known as D-Day because of a similar strategy that went horribly wrong in World War I that Churchill had championed.

The movie focuses mainly on Churchill’s resistance to the Allies plans to invade France and his leadership being questioned until he was sidelined as only a voice to rally the people instead of being involved in the day-to-day fighting the Nazis in Europe. The crux of the film was whether or not Churchill would accept his diminished, but still needed, place in British society. Ultimately, he discovers that he was still a different kind of leader but one his country still looked to and found hope.

It was a good movie and a stark reminder of true leadership. Too often we see leadership as forging a new way, dragging people kicking and screaming in a direction they do not wish to go, or cozying up to the right people to get them and then others to follow. While leadership has some of each of these, lasting leadership is understanding what people need, how best to serve them, working and walking together on this path of life and taking on the challenges and difficulties united in purpose and passion.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

One Thought

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One Thought

Yesterday, a friend wrote on her Facebook page, to make sure you spell check political posts before putting them out there for the world to see. I commented snarkily; “How about not posting them at all?” To be honest, I grow tired of the division the current administration and media seems to thrive on and more tired of friends and family, people I love, choosing sides against one another.

Social media can be a great way to keep in contact with folks down the block and across the nation and world. It can be immensely helpful by giving people an opportunity to supply aid when natural disasters strike and notifying users around the world of prayer needs. I use social media for all of these things plus writing my blog. However, over the last year, there has been a noticeable trend towards nasty, mean and downright hateful posts and replies.

When I counsel men and couples on getting along with each other one of the disciplines I teach is the; “The Space in Between.” It is the understanding that between the action and reaction is a space. In this space, we decide how we are going to react and which consequences will come as a result. “The greater the space in between the better the chance of a good decision with positive outcomes. The shorter the space in between the better chance of making a bad decision with negative outcomes.

When it comes to social media I wonder if we shouldn’t reflect on the question; “Will this help? Build up? Bring people closer?

“No one regrets a harsh word unspoken.” -#Wisdom #Proverb

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

knowing

knowing

What is self-awareness? My favorite quote from Aristotle; “The mark of a wise mind is the ability to think a thought without believing it to be true.” The idea is that just because a thought pops into our minds or we’ve been convinced of a thought most of our lives doesn’t necessarily make it true or real.

The problem is that few people arrive at this level of self-awareness. Few question their beliefs, convictions, and paradigms of how life should be, how it’s supposed to work. In fact, for most, it’s the opposite. There’s never a question about themselves and how they came to think the thoughts, do the deeds, be the person in the mirror.

The most important journey each of us takes is the journey within. Knowing ourselves, accepting our prejudices, biases, preferences, and understanding how they make us unique and how they set us apart from others.

A wisdom proverb states; “What annoys you about others reveals the character within you.” The path to self-awareness is first setting aside your preconceptions about everything and allowing the world to just “be“. Each experience, moment, lifetime is a once in an eternity expression of the universe and it’s Creator. Allowing it to make its impression upon you instead of charging into it wanting to put your stamp on it is the first steps into a larger world and a deeper self.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

 

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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Listen, Understand, Grace

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Listen. Understand. Grace.

This week I had an appointment with a person, at a place, I’ve never been before. Arriving at where I thought it would be I checked in with the receptionist. She looked at her schedule and couldn’t find my name. I told her perhaps I was at the wrong address but she seemed to have missed that because she had me sit and wait. About 10 minutes passed and a gentleman came to the reception area and had me follow him. We sat and talked for a while but I couldn’t shake the feeling something was wrong. After another 10 minutes were gone the receptionist came in and interrupted us and said to me; “I think you’re in the wrong place. You want the building next door.” Frustration built as I, through gritted teeth, told her; “Thank you.” I made my way quickly to the other office building, found the correct place and checked in, again. I was late for my appointment but they worked me in and we’re understanding about the mix up. Their acceptance of my predicament was a gift of peace in a chaotic situation.

It was a great reminder that listening to the other person is essential if we are to help them get where they need to go and giving grace and understanding to those who are lost is like balm, a healing ointment for the soul.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Luck or Life?

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Luck or Life?

On my way to worship this morning a big black cat ran  across the road in front of me! I needed to slam on my brakes to avoid hitting it. The reason for the rush is an even bigger gray cat chasing it. Black cats are supposed to be an omen of bad luck but for this one it was fortunate it crossed the road when it did, as fast as it did, or things might have turned out differently.

During service a special speaker talked about growing up in war torn Romania. Her past included sexual and physical abuse, mental health issues, infertility and an incredibly uncertain future. However, each of these painful, difficult and tragic events have given her a powerful testimony today and many blessings have blossomed from the ashes of what most would call a cursed younger life.

Our understanding of a lucky, blessed, fortunate life or an unlucky, cursed doomed existence is limited by our inability to know the future and how love, grace and peace often come from the most desperate and desolate personal journeys.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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