Tag Archives: neighbors

Popularity that isn’t

Since who knows when the thing a lot of people have wanted was to be popular, to be liked, to feel like they belong.  To know what they say and think is important and heard.  There is nothing like going to school and quickly learning where you stand in the order of the world.

Popularity is something I struggled with growing up and is something I have and will continue work through with my kids.  There is something appealing about being part of the “in-crowd”.  It is glamorized particularly by Hollywood but in so many other realms as well.  If you are not hip, up on all the latest, part of what’s going on right now then obviously you are not cool.

My oldest daughter who just started high school struggled with this in middle school.  She saw the allure of being part of the in crowd and being popular.  After having been through this myself my advice to her was to find some solid, good friends and enjoy the time with them, make memories that will last.  Don’t worry about trying to fit in, once you are out in the real world and living your life it does become less about being popular and more about being comfortable with who you are and how you want to live your life.  Good advice right?

I’ve been contemplating the advice I gave her and our discussions about it.  To some degree I believe there’s a lot of truth in it.  To a degree I wonder if it really never ends.  For me I see this happen at work, ladder climbers who will step on others to get to the top. Always trying to be the best and do things to get them recognized.  There’s always a group of folks who are living it up and seem to be the “in crowd” who have an edge on everyone else.  The neighbors to keep up with the latest toys and gadgets that my kids think are totally awesome.  Trips, parties and the ones who everyone seems to talk about as if they are royalty.   Even in church there seems to be an élite crowd.  I’ve had experiences in churches where I had to compete and prove myself worthy to them.  They won’t talk or acknowledge you on Sundays even when you pass by them, you can come close to touching them and they look right through you.

I feel like that transcends to the online world and social media that I take part in.  If you are a writer or blogger you are trying to promote yourself.  For those that aren’t but engage in it, we project an image.  If you write and write well you get lots of comments, feedback and people will promote you as well as tell others they should read what you have written.   It can be intoxicating, you can feel like a celebrity who is incredibly popular – having a lot of followers and friends can also reinforce this.  The drawback is when you try to engage or take part and feel like you are not part of the conversation or what you had to say or share was completely ignored.

In many realms of life there is always going to be the in-crowd, those who are at the top of the game and seem to gain attention and notoriety.  The are the ones who everyone else talks about, wants to emulate and drops their name whenever theirs an opportunity.  Does all of this matter; I guess that depends on how you look at it.

I believe we are all valuable.  God created and designed us all by his very hands.  He gave purpose and value to us when he brought us into this world.  We all have gifts and talents we can use to impact the world.  No two people were created the same and for good reason.  We are all important and no one is more important than anyone else even though it may seem that way.  Just as a parent looks at each of their children with tremendous love and doesn’t choose favorites instead realizes the uniqueness of each of their children.  I believe God looks at all of us the same way.  While the world may try to tell us that some or more important or valuable than others it’s important to remember as quickly as the latest fad passes is as soon as the person passes.  We are not fads we are God’s handiwork and we matter.

Popularity is a man-made thing and one day that will end.  In the end I come back to having true and lasting friendships.  Using my gifts, talents and the story of my life to reflect what God has done in my life.  I don’t need to worry if I am not the most popular for the things I do have are more valuable than being the “it” person.


Mondays with Peter

Saturday night I closed a chapter in my life that I didn’t think would happen, or I should say not this soon.  As one season of life ends a new season of life begins. In Ecclesiastes 3 it speaks of different seasons/

1For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

7 years ago we were living in a 3 story house that had been built in 1913. The house had been turned into a duplex. Our family had the 2nd and 3rd floors and below us a newlywed couple had moved in.  Peter and Jessica, they had moved out here from Nebraska where they had attended college, gotten married and moved to Portland to start a new life.  As with anyone that moved in below us, we greeted them and welcomed them to the neighborhood.

At that point in my life I wasn’t much for starting a conversation let alone engaging my neighbors in them.  A casual hi to the neighbors was the most you got from me.  Over the next couple of weeks as our paths continued to cross.  Once morning I was getting ready to go to work, sitting in my van waiting for it to warm up not really paying attention, suddenly a man is standing pressed up against my window growling at me.  It scared me to the point that I actually yelled out loud.  Peter was having a great laugh at my expense.  He thought it was quite funny seeing the look of shock on my face.  Score 1 for Peter.

About a month after they had moved in, one night there was a knock on the door and Peter asked to talk to me. We sat outside on the front steps talking.  He informed me he had been praying and looking for another guy he could hang out with, be real with and just have some guy time.  He wanted to know if I might be interested in doing something like that.  Peter told me to think about it and he’d check in with me in a couple of days.  Ironically, I had praying and asking God to bring another guy into my life that I could build a relationship with and get real with.  The church we were attending was a toxic environment and the relationships I had with other men, had fizzled out.   Although suspicious and apprehensive it seemed as though this could be an answer to my prayers.

I continued to think through this and when we met a few days later I told him I was apprehensive but this I was looking for something like this and excited to start.  Both of us were in agreement during our first time together we would spill our guts to one another, be transparent, open and honest and just get all the junk out on the table. We set aside one night a week where we would get together and hang out, spend time talking, praying for each other and being very real with where things were at in our lives.  We chose Monday night as the night to hang out.

That following Monday night we met. We walked over to the park near our house, sat down and completely spilled our guts to each other.  We shared struggles, hurts and pains we had and wounds from our fathers.  We talked about where we were at with our wives and just being guys.  We both opened up and shared freely with no apprehension.  It was a very new and different experience for me, but one that seemed to come easily. From the beginning we both talked about wanting to be intentional in our own lives, each others and in the lives of other men.  We both wanted to make a difference and have God use us.  Looking back now we just never knew God would use us in the lives of other men.

Since that night Peter (except for periods of times where he was out-of-town because of his job or school) we’ve met on a weekly basis. Our time together have generally consisted of talking and sharing where we were at, praying for each other, and either watching a movie or playing cards.  I developed a love for watching Hero’s, Chuck and V from Peter and he learned to gracefully loose to me in many games of Rummy. Although we never agreed on Micro-brews we did agree his skills for making mixed drinks was awesome.

I am 10 years older than Peter and he’s never let me forget that.  He’s been there for me as my wife and I purchased our first home and brought an additional 2 kids into our home.  He’s seen me at some of my darkest days and never once has he turned away.  I’ve watched Peter change his degree in school, jobs, and outlook on life.  I’ve seen him at his lowest points and I have also seen him at some of the best places in his life.  I’ve watched God move in his life and do some major changes in his heart.  I’ve rejoiced with him as he bought his first house and at the birth of his first child a son (whom I nick named Anakin).

The years we spend together are something I wish everyone could experience.  It has absolutely been one of the sweetest experiences of my life. Spending time in a relationship where investing from both ends has rewards that are life changing.  We both have a passion for life that includes being intentional in the lives of other men, pursuing God, being great husbands and fathers. This also goes along the lines of the great outdoors, Peter being more active than I in hunting and fishing.  We’ve both tried very hard to live out what we have wanted to see and continued to encourage and pray God would work through us in this area.

In the last 3 months, our relationship grew closer than it ever had in the past.  On a daily basis we were texting or checking in with each other.  We didn’t make it through a week where we weren’t challenging each other to be better than we had ever been.  We became vigilant in our quest to spur each other on to greatness.

Peter completed his degree as a biologist and has spent the last 12 months looking for a job.  Off and on he’s been out in the mountains doing stream management and inspections.  I’ve watched as he’s begun to lose hope and wonder if God was really listening to him.  More than anything he wanted to be able to have a career in which he could put all of his skills, education and knowledge into practice so he could take care of his family and his wife wouldn’t have to work anymore.  6 weeks ago he got a lead on a job and headed out to Colorado to interview.  We prayed if this was where God wanted him to be, he’d open up the doors for him.  He had the interview and we continued to pray about it and were waiting.  I got a call informing me he’d gotten the job and they were moving in 6 weeks.  It was a hard call to hear; selfishly I didn’t want him to get the job because I knew what it meant.  Through tears I told him I was happy but I didn’t want him to leave.

Now here I stood on Saturday night, listening to other men talk about how intentional Peter had been in their life. How Peter made connections with men’s from all walks of life and through his words backed up what he said.  Obviously God has worked through him. I was fighting back tears listening to what they said.  I couldn’t say anything out loud because I couldn’t maintain my composure. As he walked me out I held onto him and gave him the tightest hug I have ever given another man.  I will miss you Peter and miss our Monday nights together.  Thank you God for bringing this man into my life and for what we have shared.  I am truly blessed.

So have you ever experienced Monday nights with Peter for yourself?