Tag Archives: friends

Tired, lonely and …


I’m not sure if it’s the time of year or something larger.  Last year at this time I went through some very painful and tumultuous times.  I disconnected from all forms of connecting with others.   A handful of people I was closest too, ended up not being the support system I thought and had hoped for.  It was as though I wrapped myself in an old quilt and stayed wrapped up.  I passed a significant milestone in my life, it seemed as though things were beginning to change.

Life is truly never what you expect.  The highways we travel along don’t always bring us to some sun drenched golden valley.  Some roads take us to dead ends and take us on a detour.  If feels as though I have been left stranded along the roadside with no one in sight.  The journey I thought I was on has gone awry and I no longer have the internal compass I once believed I did.

I find myself standing here looking all around, holding on to memories in my mind of faces and people I once held firm to and treasured.  Reflecting back I remember feeling a sense of hope, new life being breathed into my soul as we walking and experienced life together.  Traveling down life’s terrain with a companion was much sweeter.  How happy I had become with my new companions, really beginning to feel and experience life.  They would be for me what I would be for them.    I am brought back to the reality it didn’t quite work out that way, those people and relationships left me cold, lonely and longing for more.  The memories weren’t reality; they were a bitter reminder of the reality of it.

I walk for a very long time and look up to the heaven and cry out to God. Hoping the one to whom I have run to in the past when I have been lost will speak.  The clouds will part, the sky will open up and his voice will ring so loudly it will shake my very soul. I continue to walk, feeling once again all alone.  I need him, I know I don’t follow him like I should, I forget the very truths I know.  More times than I can count I choose my own roads believing they will bring me a sense of fulfillment. Along my roads I find the sting of poison, working its way through my entire body.  Each time I venture down these roads the poison hurts less and less.

I remember feeling and being alive at one point, experiencing God in ways word fail me to describe.  That time too has long since passed and for many seasons of life I have manufactured a relationship with him based on what I was told would bring me true joy and happiness, yet has left me feeling empty and alone.   I pass a stream, seeing my reflection, but it isn’t really the man I recognize.  The face I see is dirty, tear-stained, swollen from poisons and toxins, weathered and worn.  Not the face of young boy any more, and not yet like the face of my Grandfather, worn and leathery but full of love, life and wisdom.  For that is the face I hope to see reflected back one day.

I am unsure about which path to take, the path that leads guides and directs my steps is the one northern star I have always been able to return to when I have been lost on my path. The path I long for most leads me to the one who will embrace me in his loving arms, just like my Grandfather did when I was a young boy.  His love will be like a torrential downpour that will wash away all the poison, dirty and pain and when the storm is over, breathe new life into this parched and dry soul.

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Silent Sound


Growing up and being rejected I tried hard to get used to the fact that no one wanted me around and to learn to be content with just me.  I was never one who enjoyed the silence.  Left alone with my thoughts my brain never stopped.  I was and have always been my own worst enemy.  The things I dislike most about myself and the things I ruminated on.  Being told you don’t fit or belong time and time again only played into this.  I have never been one of those people who are very comfortable in my own skin.  If people didn’t want to be around me, my Dad didn’t want to be around me, clearly I wasn’t all that desirable.   I kept to myself, my thoughts and my world, I shut down and shut out the world, crying wasn’t any use because that would only make me a target for people to mock.  So I would walk around fearful of people, trying hard to blend in, not be noticed and just left alone.

I believe this is where my first love of music came into place.  I didn’t want the silence, that was deafening and a reminder of all the rejection.  So, I found music to be a place I could lose myself.  Since that time music has always been a place I could find solace.  The lyrics of many songs often identified with how I was feeling.   I don’t remember at what point but I used to make tapes of music I loved to listen to and depending on my mood a lot of the times my way of coping with being alone was to make tapes of really sad and lonely songs and then listen to them over and over.  As I listened to the words blasting from the stereo it would bring me to the point where I could actually cry and feel emotion.

Over the years music has always remained the one thing I carry with me.  I’ve had my headphones, Diskman, iPod and my phone.  I’ve always got music on the radio, computer or laptop.  Music is with me from the time I wake up in the morning till I fall asleep at night.  It’s been there more than anything else and I can always count on it.

I have never grown comfortable with silence.  Even as an adult I hate conversations that don’t flow easily, gaps of time where no one is speaking.  It is always awkward riding in a vehicle when the conversation comes to a halt and no one is talking.  My mind begins racing about what should we talk about next so there isn’t a lull in the conversation.

In my adult life it’s been odd, I have periods of time where I have a lot of friends that I do a lot of things with and then somehow through circumstances those friends move, change jobs or churches and the relationship is not the same and the communication fizzles out.  I end up going back to feelings of being alone with no one to talk to.  Even though I do have friends and really good friends it is still remains difficult and sometimes I harsh reminder of my past.  More times than not I feel like I put all the energy into most of my friendships. When it’s not reciprocated or I get nothing  for a long time I go back to feeling all alone, it’s then I just pull back completely and return to music.

Even in my walk with God I have struggled with this.  There are times I have purposely made it so I did have quiet time and could shut out the world to focus on God.  I don’t practice this as much as I should, I do believe it should be a regular practice.  The world and the things of this world drowned out God so we can’t stay focused on him.  All part of Satan’s plan I believe.  I do try to make it a priority first thing in the morning either going for a walk or on my way to work, just spending time alone with God praying, listening and waiting for him to speak to me.

Maybe that’s why I had a large family and a house full of people.  I don’t want to be in a place where something isn’t going on or happening.  I want to be in a place where someone talks to you.   My house is always full and our house in our neighborhood is the spot to be.  People are constantly going in and out, and there are times where I do need a break and just need some silence and I try to take it, but give me 5 minutes of silence and it immediately takes me back to being alone and I hate that.

The struggle of silence will most likely be a battle I face all my life.  Taking time out and just being silent is healthy, listening to your heart, your mind and your body will tell you a lot.  Most importantly taking time out and spending it with God is what I need for to center and give myself direction.  Silence has a place; it’s just a hard place to be for me.


Social Media and Death


Over the last couple of years I have seen this happen a few times.  I was reminded of it again a week ago when I saw a friend shoot out a Tweet about a blogger who had passed away and how devastated he was to find this out.

As someone who grew up in the 80’s I never fully imagined how advanced technology would be when I was 40 years old.  The leaps and bounds by which technology has advanced in the last 20 years is mind-blowing.  We can instantly talk with folks around the world in a heartbeat.  I can text, instant message, direct message or shoot an e-mail to anyone anywhere at anytime.  Today I can click on Skype on my computer or my cell phone and carry on a conversation as if the person is standing right next to me.  It feels like something out of the Jetsons.

I’ve never really considered myself a tech geek, but I guess you could call me one.  I absolutely enjoy technology and desire all the latest gadgets.  I use Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare and have been blogging for a couple of years.  I can maneuver my way through all of this fairly quickly.

I remember back when AOL was king.  I met a guy on a chat board for Promise Keepers and began exchanging e-mails.  That was 12 years ago.  Over the years we have used social media as a way in which we have grown closer and have a solid friendship.  The crazy part – we have never met each other face to face.  He lives across the country in Ohio.  We continue talking about when we are going to actually meet in person one day.  I enjoy how our friendship has developed and consider him a dear friend and brother.

Over the last couple of years my abilities to connect with others through social media has significantly increased.  I have over 40 people who I interact with on a regular basis through various means such as Twitter,  Facebook and Skyping as well as e-mails, phone calls and texting.   These are people I consider friends and greatly care about.  My life is richer and fuller knowing them and they are all people I met through social media.

In light of seeing my friend shoot out his Tweet and with the crazy and unpredictable weather, it has me thinking.  As we build relationships like this, what happens when we do die? How will folks know?  How long will it take before people realize you are no longer updating your status?  How will others find out?  I would venture to say the longer you use social media and build on these relationship,  you will be connected in ways you didn’t imagine.  Unlike real life where we usually attend funerals and celebrate the life of the person who has passed away,  what happens in the online world when you’ve tweeted your last tweet or posted your last post?  How will your life be celebrated?  Who will notify others of your passing?

While this is not meant to be morbid, death is a real part of life.  Have you thought about this? How would you want others to know you were gone, have you made plans for that to happen? 


40 Years and a beard


This last Sunday I turned 40 years old.  To celebrate this weekend I chose a weekend get away at the beach here in Oregon.  I invited 17 guys, 11 were able to come and join the party.  I selected men who have played an important role in my life for the last 20 years.  These are men who have been allowed to speak into my life, shaping and impacting the man I am today.

Over the weekend I got to relive old memories, share a ton of laughs and just enjoy being around this group of great men.  Most of these men had never met each other before. This was the first time they all were in one place together.  What amazed me the most was how well they got along with each other, from the beginning of the weekend everyone who was there acted as if they had all been a part of each other’s lives for a long time.  Over and over throughout the weekend, I got continual compliments on how I had chosen amazing friends.

The weekend didn’t start out well.  Due to the horrific Tsunami happening in Japan, the news Friday morning said they were expecting it to reach the Oregon coast.  Evacuations were taking place and we were unsure if we would be able to make it.  Later in the day we were able to head for the beach as the Tsunami warnings were removed.  4 of us arrived first, after getting settled decided to go for a walk.  As we made our way down to the beach we could see the tide was in, but heading out.  After walking about ½ mile we chose to head back.  As we made our way back we the tide had gone out and the rocks and tidal pools were exposed and we headed over to check them out  5 minutes into looking around the tide began quickly moving in and we were surrounded by water.  We mad our way towards the shore, standing on the last rock available and thinking the tide would go back out waited for a bit.  The tide wend down a little but only returned with a stronger force and the water was climbing.  One of my friends jumped and went under, we watched as he disappeared under the water, unsure what to do, quickly he came to the surface and made his way up the beach.  The water went out a small amount and my other two friends jumped for it and headed up the beach.  I stood there on the rocks waiting for the water to go down but it wasn’t.  I grabbed my digital camera in my right hand and held it above my head and placed my cell phone in my coat pocket and held it with my left hand and jumped.  I ended up falling into the water up to my neck, soaking my phone and camera both.  I quickly stood up and made my way to the beach.  We all stood there staring at each other, shaking our heads in disbelief.  Thankfully we were all safe.  The ocean had destroyed 2 cell phones and a digital camera but no lives were lost and we were incredibly thankful.

The rest of the weekend was spent hanging out, eating delicious meals, a ton of laughs and an EWOK cake.  Many games of Settlers of Catan and enjoying being around great friends.  Usually for me it’s incredibly difficult to watch weekends like this come to an end.  I was sad to see it end, I wished it could have lasted for a week.  I am so thankful for all the men who were able to come and join me.  As I think back over the last 20 years I am amazed at the men God has put into my life.  As men have come and gone in my life, other men have come in and filled that gap. For that I am incredibly thankful.

 

Oh yeah, how does the beard play into all this?  In September 2010 I contemplated growing a beard.  Never before in my life had I grown one.  I have attempted a couple of times, but after a week or so, I couldn’t stand the itchiness of it and gave up.  Since my son was born I have always had a go-tee and since the early 90’s I have kept my hair very short.  A friend of mine was getting married in October and asked me to be in his wedding.  Finding out I was going to be in a wedding I decided to hold off until after the wedding.  The wedding took place and that was the last day I shaved or cut my hair.  I made the choice to wait until my 40th birthday to shave it all off.  Despite numerous comments through the months about me looking like Moses or Grizzly Adams, I held true to my word and didn’t cut any of it.  Finally this weekend came and I was more than ready to return to my original face.  I have no intentions of ever-growing long hair or a beard again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was thinking of adding 40 things I learned over the years, but I shall forego that.  What I will add is a few things I have learned in my 40 years.

My relationship with Jesus is the most valuable relationship I have.  When everyone else has failed me he has always been with me.  The model by which he lived his life, investing in 12 other men for 3 years, serving others and living his life for his Father’s purpose is something I will spend the rest of my life trying to emulate.

My wife is one of the greatest blessings I have.  I am by no means worthy of her.  She is truly a gifted and amazing woman.  I fell in love with her heart from the beginning and it’s still the one thing that draws me back to her daily.  After spending countless years praying for a wife, God has blessed me with the right woman for my life.

My 6 kids continue to amaze me daily.  I never thought I could love someone the way I love them.  God has perfectly designed my family and each child he has allowed me to be a Papa to is a dream come true.  My greatest desire was to be a Dad someday and it is so much more than I ever dreamed of.

Most of my 20’s and 30’s were an exercise in being unwise and selfish.  I have more regrets than I can count and that is no way to live your life.  Living a wise life, no regrets and considering others as more important is the way to go.

There are so many other valuable lessons I have learned, to many to list out here.  Most importantly live life as though it’s your last day on earth, for one day it will be.

Got any advice for me as I move into my 40’s?


Real Authentic Men – Forgiveness


All of us have had something happen to us that makes us mad, harbor anger, bitterness and resentment.  Events have occurred in our lives that have been turning points.  People are human and born out of sin and because of this; we collide with others and often react or do something that hurts another person, intentionally or unintentionally.  The fact of the matter is, the choices we make will affect others, seen or unseen, knowingly or unknowingly.  It is part of living here on earth.

As I reflect back on my life, many things have been said and done causing deep wounds, emotional hurts and some have paralyzed me to my core.  I feel like I walked around with a huge target on me.  I often felt like I was the poster child for how to screw up a boy.  In looking back at my life, it has not been a pleasant one on many levels.  My good memories pale in comparison to the bad ones.  So what did I do with all of this?

Most of my young and adult life was about taking whatever happened to me and just stuffing it.  I was resilient in my ability to just take and take.  My self-esteem was zero and even though I hated all that had been done to me, I just accepted this was my life, I was getting what I deserved and no one really cared so just suck it up and take it.  Because of this, I became a very angry and bitter young man who hated everything and everyone.  I would find something about you I did not like and that was it, you were dirt to me.  I did not want you around me, nor did I ever want to see or speak to you again.  I pretty much alienated everyone around me.  Bitterness and anger shaped me into something I never imagined.

I attended different churches since the 5th grade.  I heard to be forgiven you had to forgive.  That was the basic message and I never thought much about it.  After I got married, started having a family a friend of mine took me aside and said, “I think you have some serious issues you need to deal with.”  Of course, I got mad and dismissed what he said and being the person I was, I became angry with him and did not talk to him for quite sometime.  Looking back, I know God was trying to show me just how damaged I was.

Finally, I came around and went to talk with him.  We sat down and I went through a very exhaustive inventory of my life.  This included writing down hurts and pains I experienced, people who hurt me in various forms and my responses to all of it.  In the course of that day, I began seeing myself for who I really was and it was not a pretty picture.  My list included incest and physical abuse by older male cousins, rejection from other men in my life.  Names and curses flung at my by most folks from where I grew up.  I had a father who was sometimes present but absent.  There were pages of items listed out.  To see all of it written out the picture was clear for me.  It had all taken its toll on me and I had allowed it to shape the person I was.  I had allowed all this horrible stuff to gain control of my life and it was what fueled me to get through my days.

As we went through the list, I do not think he really had a clue about the extent of what I dealt with.  He talked to me about forgiveness and holding onto all that pain, hurt and anger and the power it held over my life.  We talked about how forgiving people did not mean I would forget it, only God was capable of that.  Forgiving other is agreeing to live with the consequences of their sins.  We discussed how I could live such a different life, a life of freedom if I was willing to let go of all of this stuff.  After talking for hours, it finally made sense for the first time in my life.  The true meaning of forgiveness.

We spent the rest of that day going over page after page, naming each hurt and pain and the persons involved.  I made the choice to sincerely forgive every person and event that occurred.  At the end of that day, I was exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally.  I felt as though I had spent years and years of my life weighed down by a boulder.  Now I felt like the boulder was taken away.  This had been a tough day, one that should have occurred years ago.  That night for the first night in a very long time, I slept peacefully and soundly.  .

As someone whose goal is to be a real authentic man, I want to extend forgiveness to those who have hurt me as well as ask forgiveness of those I have hurt.  As a real authentic man, you own up to your mistakes and fix what needs fixing.  If you have wronged someone, make it right as best you can.

As a husband and father, I want my wife and kids to know that I make mistakes all the time.  I own up to them and ask for forgiveness.  If I hurt them with something I say or do, then my response is to go and make it right with them.  It is hard to admit offenses and we were wrong, but I believe more honesty and sincerity comes from admitting you made a mistake and asking for forgiveness.  When we are forces to admit we did something that hurt another person and that it was truly wrong, I think that gets you to stop and think about it a bit more than you usually would.

Forgiveness is not easy by any means.  I still deal with the hurts and pains of what has been done to me.  The anger, resentment, and bitterness I once held onto are gone.  There are days I have ill thoughts or feelings towards those who have hurt me in the past, I remind myself I have already chosen to forgive them, and I left it with God.  I do not want anger and bitterness controlling my life.  I want to be free from that.  People hurt us and it leaves scars of all types.  Release people to God and allowing him to deal with the things they have done.  It is not my responsibility to get back at them, I rest in knowing that someday they will stand before God and be held accountable for their words and actions.  I am ok with that and I rest in the fact that they no longer hold power over my life.


Voices from within


I hear voices.  Not auditory voices that some folks hear, or even those that mentally ill folks hear.  These are not voices that are telling me to hurt others or myself.  I work with folks who have those types of voices. Some might call it a conscience, others might call it intuition.  Whatever you want to refer to it, it’s there.  It’s been there since I was a small kid.

I have days and sometimes weeks where all of these voices in my head seem to be shouting loudly to me.  While I was growing up, anything negative said to me stuck inside me like it had been permanently attached to me.  “Jerk, loser, worthless, waste of time, never amount to anything, fag, pussy, wimp, selfish, failure, mistake, fat, dumb, stupid, lazy, whiner.”  Those and more are what I heard most of the time growing up, and as I got older I heard most of these repeatedly throughout the day.

When I would make mistakes, I would absolutely feel like a loser.  I would start repeating everything over and over in my head that was said to me to reinforce the fact I had made mistakes.  I would sit there in my desk at school thinking about just how awful I truly was as a kid and that if this was everyone’s opinion of me it must be true.

As the years went on and more and more things got slung at me, I would incorporate those into my monologue of things I told myself.  As I graduated, started working and going to school, sure enough the patterns followed.  Anytime I made a mistake, even the smallest one, the voices came loud and clear, reminding me of everything people had always said about me and here again it was true.  I really hadn’t come very far in my life.  I was still the same messed up person.

Even after I got married and had kids, the voices have still been there.  When I make a mistake with my wife or kids, or I mess up on finances, those voices are right there as a reminder.  I take my job as a husband and father extremely serious and when I do something that affects everyone else, that weights incredibly heavy on me.  I feel like less than a man.  Even though I will admit my mistakes to my family and ask for forgiveness, it still takes me a long time to come out of it.  I just feel like I have let them down and there’s nothing I can do to make it up to them for this failure.

I know that Jesus looks at me differently, yet even as a believer, being at church and hearing the opposite, that seems to make little difference.  There are days I feel really good about myself and interactions with close friends and family that build me up, are incredibly helpful.  I know the curses that have been spoken to me over the years really aren’t true or who I am.  I don’t want to be prideful either and inflate my ego, because I can do that all to easily.  On the days where I make mistakes and I know it will pass onto others, those are the days I hear those voices telling me those things.

I don’t want to pass this on to my kids, so I spend as much time as a I can to affirm them and build them up and tell them how beautiful and wonderful they are.  I am so incredibly thankful for them and how blessed I am to have them in my life.

Honestly, this is my gift I want to give to others, to build them up and affirm them.  I know how much it’s hurt and affected my life and I wish it were different.  I don’t want anyone to feel like they aren’t good enough or don’t matter, because in all honesty that is just not true.  We were all created for so much more.

Does this resonate with you? What do you do when that voice in your head tells you things that aren’t true?