Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Guns and School Shootings in a World of Broken Halos

I was 13 when Columbine happened. Anytime you can reference an event with one word you know it was impactful. It was the beginning of what is now become the norm. When the Sandy Hook shooting happened it hit home in a much different way because I have kids in elementary school. These are kids with their entire lives ahead of them. It is one of the saddest things in the world. I can't imagine what those parents are going through and I don't want to imagine it.

I'm writing this post a little off of topic from the Broken Halo's theme, but in all reality, we are dealing with very broken people. My hope here is to look at the sides everyone is choosing and hopefully address some solutions with logic.

A realistic view of gun control
I don't own a gun. I am not super comfortable around them. I haven't handled them enough so they make me a little nervous. I don't think there are a lot of people in our country who believe that unstable people should have access to guns. I think we all agree on this. That being said, there are a few things that are pretty clear.

1. Passing more gun control laws won't take guns off the streets. There is in the neighborhood of 300 million guns privately owned in the US. If you stopped selling guns all together there are still enough guns for each adult in the US to have two.

2. Passing gun control laws seems nearly impossible. We have split down the middle on this. Half the people will never be satisfied with enough restrictions, while the other half will fight against even one more.

3. Passing more gun laws only keeps honest people from getting them. You can't argue this. With 300 million guns already owned, if someone wants a gun they are readily available. All this does is increase the number of black market deals. People with enough resources will always get what they want, and people in hard times will always cut deals for extra cash. I'm aware of people who have their girlfriends buy a gun for them, because they can't legally buy one.

Video games, The Walking Dead, and Youtube
When Columbine happened I was a huge DOOM fan. I remember the talk then that video games and other 1st person shooters were the reason for such carnage. Realistically, there have been around 150 mass shootings, not school shootings, in the last 60 years. The most popular FPS (First Person Shooter has sold 30 million copies of Modern Warfare 3 in 2011. It just seems like a reach to blame something like this that hasn't affected, to this extent, the other 299,999,990 people who play the game. Are we desensitized to gore and violence thanks to popular shows like The Walking Dead, or the crazy disturbing things on youtube? Absolutely! Not sure it equates to mass shootings though.

These people knew what they were doing. They didn't think it was a video game and that people would get a second life. They wanted to kill people. They have deeply hurt individuals. They showed signs that got overlooked or ignored.

Short-Term Solution
What can we do now?
The most prized possessions in this country are guarded by security. If you have ever flown in an airplane it is likely that there was an air marshall on board. The White House is heavily guarded, I am not talking about the armed military at the doors. Soldiers with automatic rifles could cause some anxiety and distraction, but trained security in civilian clothes at each school would be nice. There isn't an air marshal on every flight, but knowing you might have one would at least deter you to a degree. Our most prized possessions also require you walk through a metal detector. Is it sad that it has come to this? Yea it really is. If I had to pick a school or city for my kids to go to, all things being equal, I'd pick the one with a metal detector and a school marshal on staff.

Long-Term Solution

I do believe that mental health issues are on the rise. I also think we live in a world that over medicates, under disciplines, and is off of its moral compass. We are seeing a crisis in sexuality, absent parents, and kids overloading on social media at a very young age. Our kids now are dealing with things I didn't deal with 15 years ago.

Maybe this seems trite, but our kids need our attention and to feel loved. We won't stop bullying in schools, but we can stop it at home. Our kids may not feel appreciated on Instagram, but we can marvel at their unique gifts at home. They might be weird and anti-social in public but they need to know they are of immense value to you.

Hug your kids, turn the wifi off, and play a board game.

If you think I have lost my mind please leave a comment.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

How a Mormon Changed my Life

I almost became a Mormon at age 16.

I am going to go on a rant about churches for a  moment so if you aren't a churchgoer or you think everything your church does is perfect you may want to just stop reading here. I want to speak for a moment to those who believe in the local church but are aware that there are some issues we need to deal with.

Someone drove away from KFC/Taco Bell without their Mountain Dew. I looked at my coworker and said: "you want it?"
She said, "no I don't drink caffeine."
"What? Is it against your religion?" this was a line I used frequently when someone made what was in my mind a ridiculous comment. Was it insensitive? yea but when you're 16 you can get away with saying stupid things, and honestly in 2002 people were a little more thick skinned.

Anyway, she said yes it is LOL! She is Mormon and I felt like an idiot, but it began my first real dating relationship. It wasn't long until we began talking marriage, not in the sense of we should get married but the topic came up and that's when I realized that I had to make a life decision. Mormons can't marry non-Mormons.

In order to continue in this relationship one of us was going to have to switch religions. I started digging pretty deep into the Mormon beliefs and used every tactic I could to convert her to my way of thinking. It ended with a tear-filled conversation at a pizza joint where we concluded that it made no sense to continue the relationship if it could never move past dating.

A New Years Party I Won't Forget
That New Years Eve, I remember being in a spiritual crisis. I was still really mad about the break-up but there was something so attractive about the Mormons that I had gotten to know that past year or so. It was this simple: they were nice and they stuck to their convictions in a nice way.

So here I am at a new years party at 16, the only underage person there. I had a lot of the jello at that party, and as I was laying around on the pool table thinking about her and looking at my jello intake at 16, and I realized I may be wrong about my convictions and beliefs.

I put the jello down, got off the pool table, and went upstairs where I sat until I saw the sun come up. I was arguing with God all night, not about a girl, but about the church. If simply being nice and holding to a certain set of convictions can make a person contemplate their entire belief system. No doubt, "infatuation" with a girl played a part, but if what they believe is not true and what I believe is true, why am I the one "jello-ed up" on a pool table, with a lot of hate in me, and they are the ones who look and act a lot more like the Jesus I say I believe in. To add to that, why is it that the church people I associate with have more mean things to say about them, and about a lot of people, but this Mormon group has never said a mean word about anyone I know or my beliefs.

God spoke this into my heart that night, "I want you to be nice, and I want My Church to be nice." It was through that relationship that God made it clear to me what a man named Paul wrote in a letter to the Roman church around 60 AD. "Or do you show contempt for the riches of his (talking about God) kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?" Kindness has a power to it! Kindness can be used in all sorts of ways. It can be used to manipulate, to sell, to convince, but it is also what God uses to bring people to Himself.

Here is a thought, what if the, I don't know, the world defined the church, and those in it, by the way we love. I think I think Jesus said something about that. "They will know us by our love" We can't even love our own right. The people we share deep spiritual truths with, a people who believe in the same God and savior can't be kind even to each other.

Before my broken halo experience, I was a pastor of a well-respected church in the community. I would frequent other churches when I had time off and I will never forget hearing about this particular discussion that was had about me. It came out after I had blown my life up, but here is how it went: "We knew he was broken because we were discussing how he wore jeans and sat up front at our church when he visited" How boring is your life that you would discuss the state of a mans heart based on the clothes he wore to a church service? Is it any wonder why a generation is growing up and not even giving the church a second thought. They are growing up hearing us discuss trivial aspects of other people's lives and making judgments about them. You know why I sat up front? Because I wanted to hear what was going to be said, you know why I wore jeans? because I like them. Churches don't get to define what "nice clothing" is.

Let's be nice! How about we love the broken people in our midst instead of blasting them. I know the Bible doesn't talk about this but what if we didn't gossip (sarcasm). Oh my goodness, what if we tried to help each other. What if when people were at their lowest we went down to where they were and sat with them.

Side Note for people dealing with Broken people
Let me help those who have Broken Halo people in their lives. "Let's get lunch sometime" "I'm here if you want to chat", these are platitudes whether you mean well or not. We don't know if you mean it or are just being nice. Here is what you ask, "When is the next time you are available?"  This shows us that you are more concerned with what we are going through than your schedule.

I walked away from the Mormon church going I don't agree with what they believe but they're really nice people and I can understand why they are growing. What if the church looked like that. What if the world looked at us and thought "You know, their beliefs are a little out there, but I wouldn't mind if my daughter dated one", or "I'd hire them to work the books, I love having them in customer service" His kindness leads us to repentance, your kindness will lead others to contemplate His.

When is the last time you had an all-out honest discussion with God? Even if you aren't sure you believe. When is the last time you even argued with the ceiling or yourself for 3 hours? These moments can bring clarity.

Share a time when simple kindness had a huge impact on you. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Financial Margin

I have been through a lot of ups and downs in my first decade of adulthood. In my mid 20's I took a class that will forever change my life. Through my many broken moments, there was an aspect of my life that I didn't have to dwell on.

The less you have to worry about when you go through Broken Halo experiences the better equipped you will be to focus on the important decisions at hand. I hope this finds you before you experience deep brokenness, but if you're in the midst of trial right now it is not too late to get one major part of your life on track.

Divorce can not only break you emotionally, spiritually, even physically, it can and often does break you financially. When we break we have a tendency to stop caring about all the things we used to care about and when we stop caring about our financial health, it makes it that much harder to get emotionally healthy.

In Broken Halo moments, we can hide behind a new car to show others how better off we are. We tend to go out a little more, buy things for others we cant afford for ourselves. My Financial hero, Dave Ramsey says it best; "We spend money we don't have on things we don't need to impress people we don't even like"

Financial Peace class has "10 Baby Steps" and they are worth your time and efforts, but I want to talk about being in a financial place to get through your broken time.

1. Save something!
There is an enormous amount of peace that comes from just having something in your bank or in a shoe box that if something goes wrong you don't have to borrow money or cut back on your lifestyle to pay for it.

Your car no matter how new it is will need maintenance. I promise. Christmas is always on December 25th. Appliances do not last forever. Jobs come and go. Put something away, sell something you don't need, and stack some cash to ease the pain of unexpected or unplanned for expenses.

"But, I'm not a saver" become one!

2. Make a plan for your income
Yes, you need to have a budget, and the more detailed it is the more useful it will be if your life falls apart. There are a million apps and tools for budgeting online. I made my own excel spreadsheet that I have used and tweaked for the past 7 years.

Every year in December I plan where I want every dollar from every paycheck I expect to receive to go. That seems daunting, I know, but it keeps me from being stupid. When money comes in with a plan and I want to change that plan, and I often do, it forces me to make a decision of; "Ok I want item X, but what item in my budget will I take it from. Every time you say yes to something, you say no to something else. A budget allows you to identify what you are saying no to.

It also helps you identify the things you are saying yes to way more often than you realize. When I saw what cable was costing me each year in comparison to things I was saying no to or agonizing saying yes to. Kids activities are one of the things that I knew I wanted to say yes to more often but hadn't prioritized the funds to do so.
A comprehensive guide to cutting cable.

When I went through my divorce back in 2012, because of my plan, I was able to identify a late payment on my car 3 months in advance. I had squeezed every extra dollar from things I wanted to make the things I needed work and I was still in three months not going to be able to make one payment. Listen the bank is much more likely to treat you nicely when you call them three months in advance about a payment. I followed up with them every month. "I called last month said my January 13th payment will be late, just letting you know it still will be."

Everyone goes through hard financial problems, it is not an excuse to be a child. Put your big boy britches on and make a plan. You can email me and I can walk you through the process if you like.

3. End Your life of debt
When you get your budget in place add up how much money you are spending on things you already own or trips you have already taken. It made me want to puke! Here is what I know. I am much more motivated to save up for something I want than to pay for something I already have. Start paying off debt with every extra dollar you can squeeze from your budget.

It creates margin in your life. Margin is what brings the peace in having financial peace. I hate driving in construction zones. There are times I am not even sure my car will fit between those concrete barriers. The anxiety rises up when I realize that just one wrong move could end terribly. That's what I felt like before I decided to start treating my finances like an adult. When you create margin in your financial life it is so much more comfortable to navigate, especially when the rest of your life may be falling apart.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Foundation in Truth and Logic

I have been going to church as long as I can remember. My grandparents began a faith foundation in my life. I loved them, so I loved what they loved. I sang the songs, prayed the prayers and remembered Bible verses for candy and star stickers. I was told I could live forever if I asked Jesus into my heart. Who doesn't want to live forever? and as a child, you simply believe what you are told. The foundation of my childhood faith was built on the faith of others. "You believe X, I trust you, so I believe X too.

I made a profession of faith in Jesus at the age of 13. It was an emotional decision. I felt emotionally pulled. I felt something I had never felt before, and I acted on it.
I was given a Bible and told to start reading it. I did. Every night I read, sometimes one page sometimes for hours. The foundation of my childhood would now be strengthened by faith in a book. I believe this book because you believe this book. I was told this book was the truth.

I believed the Bible said a lot of good things about how to live life. Most of my teen years I lived life with a better Biblical knowledge than the majority of my peers but wasn't really transformed by it. My faith looked like this: You are saved, here is the rule book, now be good.

In High school, my youth pastor took me under his wing. He treated me like a friend. He loved me and invested time in me. He made this book of rules come alive and showed me how to apply it to my life.

Let me get to the point. My faith foundation for the first 18 years of my life was built on other people's faith, emotion, fear of hell, and trusting a book everyone said was true.

I almost lost my Faith in Bible College
I decided to go to college for ministry. If I really believed the Bible then what bigger calling is there than sharing it. I took a class on the Old Testament that completely shook me. I found out what someone never told me in 18 years. God didn't write the Bible. Not only that, it wasn't written in English. I know this seems obvious to you, but when your entire faith is built on a book, it can shake you when you begin to find out new information about it. When I found out that some of what is in my Bible isn't in all of the other Bibles, I had to come to a point of blind faith. I am just going to believe it because I need to believe it. My entire life is built on this so while I cant fully grasp it I am just going to trust.

Foundation update
My foundation now consists of Other people's faith, emotion, community, fear, a book, and when all else failed blind faith. Let's call them faith ropes. Things that keep you tied to your position.

When your entire world comes crumbling down. 
When I went through my divorce in 2012, it was a life-shaking moment. Here is the thing, you don't need a lot of faith ropes when your life is good. I had my family, great in-laws, great parents, a great church, a great job, and good friends. It is pretty easy to have faith when in all reality you don't need it. It's almost like praying for daily bread when you know you have a pantry full of Doritos and food to last weeks. When it begins to crumble you begin to analyze, usually. I was in crisis mode and only one thing mattered.

The only thing on my mind was how do I keep as much of my kids time as possible. Nothing mattered more to me. Was I emotionally stable enough to be a pastor? No, but I needed the money and the prestige for any court battle I may get into. The best way for me to provide for my kids was to be a pastor. Great hours, good enough pay, work from home.

My foundation was weakened
The foundation that was once solid enough to hold up a happy home was beginning to crumble. My emotion was gone. I was mad at God, but I still feared hell, had faith in a book, and needed, more than anything, the community of people that my faith brought me. But, I never dealt with it. I allowed my anger and frustrations to erode the joy in my life.

Why I'm not an Atheist
I came to a point in my life where I had to know if God exists. The emotion wasn't enough for me, the community wasn't enough for me, and if hell doesn't exist then I didn't need to fear it. I had spent my whole life trying to do good, and follow the rules, and it wasn't bringing me the fruits that I wanted. "You're supposed to protect me!" 2015 and 2016 I spent a lot of time digging into does "God exist?" I was still trusting Him and preaching his grace and mercy every Sunday. I knew that if he does exist that He was big enough to handle my honest and open doubts. Like the father in Mark 9:24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Even in my darkest moments, I put one foot in front of the other. I spent hours upon hours reading, studying the evidence, arguing with atheists. 

I steadily came to a conclusion that looks like this. Historically, Jesus really existed and really died. We live in a world where life came from non-life. It is then possible for new life to come to dead life if life can come from nothing. I fond the New Testament documents to be accurate and trustworthy. Not because grandpa said so but because there is a lot of evidence to substantiate them. More so than many of the documents used to compose the history books our kids are taught from in school. 

God was preparing me for a Broken Halo
 He was solidifying my foundation for a moment such as this. When the emotional rope has been cut, when I looked at all I had and said it isn't worth it, I looked at my community and said it isn't worth it, looked at my kids, and my wife and said you aren't worth it, when I had burnt every inch of everything I had ever built to the ground a foundation of truth, logic, and reason remained that I could not walk away from. I was going to try and drag it with me wherever I was going, but because I spent real time digging into who God is, I couldn't pretend He didn't exist, rather I had to turn my back on Him and simply say I don't trust you. I wanted to do it my self.

What is your foundation built on?

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Friends you don't need

"Who needs enemies when you have friends like that." -My Mom

Like I said before, my mom is amazing. I would tell her stories growing up about what some of my school "friends" had done or said to me, and she would respond with the above. I didn't know then but hearing this over and over again makes you analyze your friendships without even realizing it.

When your halo Breaks you find out who your friends are, something I talked about in my last post.

You also find out who your friends aren't. You and I both know we have or had people in our lives we knew were just their for the ride. When you're on top, of course, you have a lot of people surrounding you. Some of this you expected but there are some people that were just along for the good ride that you didn't expect and that is difficult to deal with. People you thought would be there, but are nowhere to be found.

1. "What will people think" friend
Not going to spend a lot of time on this one because frankly, it's not worth it. This friend has and always will be about themselves. They were with you during the good times because, well let's be honest, your friendship made them look good. Now that your halo is broken and your status no longer improves their status. You don't even have to tell these friends bye. It's likely they've ghosted you at this point anyhow.  In the word of Jay-Z "Brush your shoulders off" and keep trucking. These friends were takers anyway. Spent most of their time talking about themselves and never really brought anything of value to your life.

2. "I don't know who you are anymore"
I can't even read that title without rolling my eyes. People that say things like, "I don't even know who you are", or "what happened to you", never really knew you. Either you never let them close enough to know who you really are or they never cared enough to find out. The people who really know you aren't surprised by your broken halo experience.

The people who really knew me weren't surprised that I had fallen. Don't get me wrong they didn't send up any warning signals either, but they saw what was going on, and when I broke, they simply said: "yea, I can see how that happened".

These friends may linger around, but it is up to you to decide which ones are lingering because they're nosy and which ones actually care. Tell the nosy folks bye, but give the others a chance. Maybe they've wanted to get close and know you for a while and you never let them in because you were afraid of how they might react to your "Dark Passenger" (I'm going to adopt this phrase now that I've already used it twice, Thanks, Dexter). You may have been wrong about them. They know how broke you are and they're still around... they might actually care.

3. The Fickle Friends

This is a hard one for me. Mainly because I love people and a lot of these friends were fun to be around. These guys know how to kick it and have a good time. You have become low on their priorities list. You don't get the invites you used to because you don't mix with some of the people they mix with now. You have a brokenness and a drama that may or may not be your fault but it is a reality, they're not going to give up their friends to be your friend, but when it's convenient they'll be around.

For me, the hardest part about this group is the constant feeling of rejection. You see them out on social media having a good time with people you used to have a good time with. You invite them to things and there is always something going on, and they've gotten to the point that they don't even give you a reason. It is really hard for me to continue to put myself out there.

Don't count on these people. By putting them in this category it may help you deal with them. It hurts because you probably thought they would be different, but you were wrong, and that's OK. You can call them on their BS, or be passive aggressive on social media, but you and I are bigger than that. Who wants a pity invite or a pity friend anyway. Let them do their thing, you do your thing, and when your paths cross have a good time.

The Good In It All
One of the good things about broken halo experiences is the pruning that happens in your social life. Pruning always hurts but it makes room for healthier things to grow in their place. Get out and make some new friends if you need them. It's likely you have found some of your real friends in this process. Just enjoy what you have and say a silent thank you for the removal of the junk in your life.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Friends you need

You will realize real fast I am a huge country music fan. One that has come to mind a lot during my Broken Halo experience is a song by Tracy Lawrence "Find Out Who Your Friends Are."

Get yourself in a bind, 
lose the shirt off your back 
Need a floor, need a couch, need a bus fare 

This is where the rubber meets the road 
This is where the cream is gonna rise 
This is what you really didn't know 
This is where the truth don't lie 

You find out who your friends are 

There was a time in my life where I knew if I really needed anything there would be people that would do it for me. If they couldn't do it for me they knew someone who could. It was as if my friends' list was the size of my Facebook friends list. Like all these people really did want to be a part of my life. Then the Halo broke and not much was left.

This isn't news to you I am sure, especially if you have a broken halo. I go into more detail on some of this in my previous post, When The Applause Stops, so I won't rehash that.  I wanted to take this time to look at what type of friends you need to have in life, and then in a later post I'll rant about people who pissed me off but I'll title it, friends you don't need.

Before we get started I want to stress that none of these types will be healthy in a vacuum. That is you need a mix of friends, and sometimes one friend can be multiple. Some of the best friends are ones who know what kind of friend you need and become it for you but lets not get ahead of ourselves.

1. DTF
To be clear that's Down to FIGHT. Having a a friend that is the other DTF might make your problems worse. This friend has only one person in the fight. Whether your broken halo is personal, relational, religious, occupational or otherwise this person. is in your corner and your corner only. "Everyone one else is stupid, that boss is a moron, of course you did what you did and for good reason" These are often the first people we run to. Grab the case of beer and head over. Let it all out! Spill it all, and they never blink, they never make you feel crazy. Even if you know you are crazy and you know they know you are a little off right now they don't make you feel that in the moment. They will fight a losing fight with you. They will go to battle blindly.

If you don't have a DTF friend, get one. They're fun, they let you get the crazy out. When you have fallen you know you have a lot of crazy in your head, get some of it out. These are the friends you share your outrageous, never going to happen, imagine if, thoughts. This is helpful for one main reason, when you say some of the stupid that's inside out loud, you can laugh, and laughing is what you need when you break.

2. Someone who has the t-shirt
Hopefully you have a friend who can relate in some way shape or form to what you're going through. Having this person allows you to see possible outcomes depending on how you take your next steps. If I respond to my situation in the same manner that they have what might my life look like? One of the quickest ways out of your broken place is to be able to clearly see a possible future. It won't be just like theirs, but if they are in a favorable spot what did they do to get there? If they aren't in a place you want to be, what choices can you make differently? Spend time with them. Ask a lot of questions.

This is a great time to process your emotions and think critically about your next steps.

3. A shoulder to cry on
Listen..... you screwed up royally or someone screwed you royally. Cry. Seriously, its OK. One of my first thoughts was "I need my mom". It is unlikely that your mom is as awesome as mine, because she sets the bar real high, but you need a safe place to cry. Stop being all tough for ten minutes and just let it all out. It will feel good. Ugly cry even, sob, get snotty and choked up and let it go! You will feel good.

I'm not a doctor, but there are real benefits to crying. Do your self a favor, and find a safe shoulder to cry on. I think the previous generation as done us men a great disservice in the realm of men crying. Guys... we cry and its OK. You are hurt and its deep, let it out.

4. Truth Speaker
There are more than 4 types but you've probably already stopped reading so Ill stop after this one. I'd go here last. At some point you need someone to call you are your crap. It is likely that in some way shape or form you have contributed to your broken place. If not this probably isn't the blog for you.

A week after my Broken Halo experience I spent about 5 hours with my truth teller. It made me angry and I fought going, but I knew that if I really wanted to move forward in any direction I needed to take a long look in the mirror. I needed to see and hear what I had been hiding. You've heard it before; the truth hurts, but you cant get better if you don't face the facts. The truth speaker will force you to wrestle with the parts of you you want to run from.

Don't take any of their advice
It is likely you will get advice from all of these people. Don't do anything they tell you to do. Don't hear what I'm not saying. Recieve it all but dont make descions just because they told you something that sounded good. You have to live with whatever move you make next. Will it effect others? Absolutely. But you are the one who will be responsible for however it is you choose to move forward. Take it all in, breathe it all back out. Don't let anyone force you to make a decision you aren't ready to make about how you move forward.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

When the Applause Stops

When you are at the top, it is easy to ignore the brokenness you know exists within. When everyone shares with you how broken they are, day in and day out, your "controlled brokenness" doesn't seem so bad. "Of course, we are all broken but at least I have mine under control." Let alone the praise and applause that comes from being on top. "You can't be that broken, look at how everyone adores you".

These aren't lies, really, as much as they are deterrents. Maybe you were better off than a lot of people maybe you did have it together more than most. But the applause and the "likes" drown out the noise of the inner self. It can drown out even your religious or moral conflicts.

I knew there were things inside of me that I was not dealing with, but I'm sure there were worse people doing and thinking worse things. I hope you can see all the PRIDE that is hidden away in this.

My pride came from soaring high, early. I had outdone most of my peers financially, morally, religiously, and academically. Out working and producing people twice my age, and giving advice and coaching people and organizations. I had much older peers in my world telling me how much better I was and my product was than most of the country.

When the applause becomes that loud you quit doing the things that actually got you to where you were. I wasn't lazy in comparison to those around me, but I had sold my self-short. I had become partially satisfied with what I had done so far.

Then the halo broke.....

It got real quiet real fast!
The phone stopped ringing. The emails stopped rolling in. The facebook likes went to almost nothing. People I used to get work from when I needed it, wouldn't touch me. Just commenting on a social media thread would end a discussion. I could feel the awkward stares at the store. The eyes that said "Who are you?" burned through my soul.

They never knew me. They knew the public me, they knew the "me" that was useful to them, but now that they have seen a glimpse of my "Dark Passenger" (Dexter was so fantastic) they couldn't believe that I was just like them. I was no longer useful to them, I was no longer a means to whatever end they desired or that I was once able to produce for them.

For a while, the silence is liberating. Finally some space!!! It doesn't take long for us, who once thrived on the acceptance and love of others, to miss the noise of the applause. I would find myself looking at my phone knowing full well there wasn't an email worth reading, or a social media tag to follow up on. Didn't need to check voicemail or even have my ringer on. When my halo broke I thought about changing my number but realized pretty quickly that was unnecessary because no one was calling.

When the applause stops you can finally hear what is going on inside. Whatever noble reason you thought you were once living for comes into focus and I realized I hadn't lived for the cause in a long time. I lived for the win. My entire career became about proving people wrong, and finding some source of adrenaline. I was never happy with status quo. I was satisfied with my personal status quo, but I was constantly chasing someone or something only to find that when I got there, if I got there, that there was just another person or organization to chase.

What are you supposed to do with this?
My hope is to provide the reader with some sort of application and not just my ramblings. SO what do you do if you find your self surrounded by applause?

If I could go back, I would have gotten out before I broke. Most people aren't wired that way. I thought about it at least once a month for the last few years. Who do you even tell? Everyone is cheering you on and pushing you forward. The reality is that those I did tell I wanted out didn't believe me. Some of the closest people to me didnt beleieve me, so here is what you have to do. Make them believe you! In the end those people are going to move on to cheer on the next big thing and you will picking up the pieces alone. Get out while it's still an option and you have your dignity.

It is far less damaging to swallow your pride and say I can't do this anymore, than it is to have everything youve worked for stripped from you. 

Monday, February 5, 2018

When The Halo Breaks

Likely you know of the story of the prodigal son. A man demands his inheritance goes off and squanders it, only to come to his senses and return to find the Father waiting for him and running after him. The father then throws a party.

 Jesus continues Luke 15 “28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ 31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

We don’t know the rest of the brother’s story. Maybe he went to the party eventually. Maybe he played nice with his brother. He would always feel like the better person because after all he never left. His brother will always be the one who left and was welcomed back. But the one who stayed will always have that sense of self-righteousness and entitlement. Dad owes me because I’ve never left. What happens when life gets rocky for the son who stayed. When he feels like he isn’t getting what he “deserves”. He sees others getting more than what he feels they deserve. He labors and labors and sacrifices. When he sees the parties but forgoes them to labor some more wanting nothing more than the affection of the father. Wanting nothing more than to prove his worth.

I'll tell you what happens. He leaves too, but his road back is much harder. See the first son didn’t know if the father would take him back, he wanted only to work as a servant, but this son knows that he will be welcome back. So he goes a little further. He doesn’t hit financial rock bottom because he has seen how that turns out, he heard the story of eating pig slop, and when he left he vowed he would not stumble like is brother, rather he does it to prove to the family that he is fine on his own and that they will miss all that he did for them. He would make life on his own. He didn’t need anyone. He is wise enough to know the pitfalls but still too stupid to know what being at home meant. Being at home meant you were with the father. You didn’t have to fear. You didn’t have to wonder what was next. You could look storms in the face and know you’d get through them. When you are in step with the father there is nothing that can stop you. The son knows this. He gets further away,; living a life that displeases dad but still looking back to see if dad is waiting…He is. “He better be after what my brother did”. So he goes further and longer expecting at some point for the father stop waiting for him and calling him home.

To make things worse the father keep sending blessings in the mail. Grace upon grace coming in every direction, it infuriates the son but he cashes the checks anyhow. “he owes me” There are days when the son strolls closer to home but can’t push past what life he may or may not make on his own. There are times when he runs as fast as he can in the opposite direction. There are times of extreme guilt for the damage he caused when he left because he went out with a bang. Shame, depression, anxiety, and fear control the sons waking moments. Every now and then he continues to check and see if the father is waiting… He Is. “STOP, LOVING ME! I don’t deserve it! Look at what I have done, and to make things worse I knew better.” The son had spent his life telling people how great home was and here he is far from home with all those people telling him how great home is.

Does the son ever make it home? It will be very different. I may even be better than it ever was, but how can that be? He doesn’t deserve things to be better after all he has done. That’s not fair. He deserves to be banished from the family, he deserves for the world to turn their backs on him, but there he is every day, the father, waiting for him.

 I have not hit rock bottom the way the first son did, financially. But I may have hit in other ways. Even very recently. I have done and said things that I am ashamed of. I have hurt people, that have done nothing but offer me grace. I wish I could articulate the difficulty in coming home. I’ve been asked not to attend different churches, had people make it clear they wish I wasn’t at the church they were attending. This is all my doing. The bed that I have made. There are days when all I want is to be Home, and there are days when my pride will not accept the grace offered before me.

And there it is. Pride. It always comes before the fall.