The ebb and flow of life

It’s been nearly two weeks now since the last post. Not that I’m boiling over with things to say, but it certainly seems like I write more when I’m a bit agitated. Though today, I feel pretty good all the way around. I guess that’s what happens when you have a great date night with the wife and friends, sans kids. 

It is also interesting that recently my wife and I were talking about the different states we often find ourselves in, the ebb and flow, if you will. There was a time not very many weeks ago that we were devouring books left and right, plowing through all sorts of thoughts and musings on life, our goals, what kinds of people we hope to be. Yet now, we have slowed down significantly in many ways. We are much more contemplative, silent, perhaps even slow. 

And in this slowness, we have discovered something that we’ve been, in a sense, searching for, but haven’t had language or expereince to describe it. My wife and I have been in some surface-y conversations with my family about purchasing land together and pooling resources. For years this idea has been simmering on the back burner, but this past week things became pretty clear, and clear in ways I’m not sure we were expecting. 

We realized through a pretty difficult conversation that we aren’t in the same place as my family. In fact, we are in very different places spiritually, emotionally, politically, even the prominent drivers of our existence are in completely different places. Having put all the pieces together  for the first time, we are ready to head a different direction. We’ve spent a great deal of our lives orienting them around a family that is fundamentally on a different plane than ourselves and we have finally been able to admit that truth, and it’s been awfully freeing. 

There will likely be more difficult conversations ahead, but we are following the path that best suits our family and that seems right and good. 

Maybe I can start writing a little more out of a sense of peace and calm than anger and frustration. That would certainly be a flow I’m not used to. I’ll see how it goes. 

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Checking in

As this blog, as it were, is primarily a place for me to journal and record things floating around in my head, I thought I probably should take a moment to check in with myself and see how things are going. Though it may be surprising to hear that I’m really pretty bad at this, it is true. 

I aim to be better, to pay attention to my physical body, the mental and spiritual parts that make up this frankly odd gathering of protons, electrons and neutrons that I call myself. 

I’ve not spent time with the quiet today, and I miss it, I long for it. Perhaps I’ll take a moment after clearing out some of this noise. 

I said no to joining a (religious) board at our church. I’m still having a great deal of difficulty with the idea of organized (in a building, primarily on Sundays) religion and the thought of getting involved in church politics, the governing of the physical entity that is our church, just seemed, as Rob Bell suggested in a recent podcast, like an activity that would neither be worth my while or energy providing for my soul. So I said no, which also, is a bit out of character. 

I’ll have to dwell on that for a bit. 

My bike ride was snowy and chilly this morning in to work, but I love the variability of sketchy weather. It is the most obvious and tangible thing that I have no control over, and I can tell you that, in my well ordered and organized existence, I love weather changes. 

I also adore my wife. There is not another human being alive with whom I would rather spend my time. She is the most amazing, strong, well-spoken, level-headed mother, wife and woman I know. Of course, I might be just a bit biased. 

Life is pretty good at the moment. My wife isn’t working, so paying bills may prove to be difficult, but possibly for the first time in a very long time, I am really not terribly concerned about it. Things will work out. They always have. I don’t know how, nor could I provide a set of data that would prove that notion, but somewhere deep in my bones, I just feel like things are going to be okay. Because for the first time we are intentionally slowing down to give ourselves adequate time to figure out what we really want for ourselves and our family. 

It’s fantastic. I have no idea where we are going, but I think the mystery is exciting and I can wait to see where we end up. Or more importantly, I can’t wait to wake up to the journey. 

Until the next round. 

Practice 

You know, some folks often say, “practice makes perfect.” Hell, I find myself saying that to my 10 year old all the time. I honestly can’t begin to imagine the number of times I’ve used that phrase which is quite interesting because there are others in my life who’ve been know to say things like, “practice what you preach.”

Well, we all know it’s much easier to point out the flaws in other people, especially our kids, because they don’t have any say in the matter; “I’m your dad!”

Truth is, I am not great at either of those two aphorisms. I have my days when I toil at something long enough that I gain a skill or actually pay attention to the things I’m saying, being aware enough to know when I’m about to put my own foot in my mouth. 

I think that’s the ticket, awareness. Seems to be a catch phrase lately, but my wife has been onto it for at least 5 years and she’s been doing her best to ivite me along with her on that journey. Sadly most of the time I more closely resemble a stubborn ass than a supportive husband and partner. That will change. As we like to say in our household, I need to “woman-up” and make some positive change for our family too. 

Side note: The whole man-up bit is, in my opinion, pretty ridiculous, especially, dudes, if we’re honest with ourselves, the reality is, we’re the pussies. Put me in a room pushing a baby out of my loins, sans medication. Ha! I can barely get myself out of bed with a cold and my wife is a fully functioning human being with a massive migraine, at the doctor’s office, kids screaming. And still she comes home to cook dinner, schedule a dentist visit, deal with insurance and sip hot tea next to my pathetic self on the couch. 

I digress. For the sake of my wellbeing and the wellbeing of my family, I must be one who practices presence and awareness, living life on purpose rather than hanging on and hoping things go well. 

Hmmm…

So, there’s this guy, Rob Bell, a spiritual leader of sorts. For one reason or another, his method for communicating has kept him as a lamppost in my psyche throughout some pretty major transitions. 

Growing up a certain faith, becoming a leader/pastor in that largely conservative denomination, discovering Rob, falling out of faith (more agnostic than atheist), still catching whispers of Rob’s work, slowly turning the corner back to some semblance of faith (though that’s still debatable in my own head) and now really gaining a great deal of clarity on some things because of, yes, you guessed it, Rob Bell. 

Check this out, from a recent podcast:

“If you don’t name your pain, you’ll store it.”

Yikes! There no telling how much pain I’ve been storing away. Nothing physically or horribly traumatic, but we all seem to carry some pain with us. The question is, does that do anything for you? Does it help me to hold onto and inadvertently store it in my physical body? Am I doing myself any favors to repress my (mostly mild) anger about spending a god-awful amount of money for a degree that in my mind now, is complete rubbish? 

Now, as a follow up to that last point, Rob then asks:

“Who is your social self and who is your real self?”

Great question! Until recently, I’ve never even spent time wondering, much less trying to articulate an answer. Lately, I think I’m much more interested in joining those two parts of myself, but I still harbor a great deal of fear about what that might look like in a social, familial and professional context. That’s not a part of my ordered, comfortable existence. 

Which leads to the final (for this entry) question Rob asks:

“What are the things that keep you alive, what feeds your soul, keeps your heart alive?”

Hell, if had of thought about that 15 years ago, I certainly would not have spent $60,000 on a theology degree with a focus on youth and family ministry. That’s what I thought I was supposed to do, but most assuredly not what I wanted to do. That was not something that fed my soul, in fact, as many pastors know, it tends to work in the opposite fashion; it completely drained both my self and my family, which I am not okay with. 

What does this mean? Well, I’m not sure yet. One thing I do know is that I will be setting my intentions in the future for good, wholesome, life giving activities. My wife and I plan to find ways to be in relationship with people the likes of Rob Bell, Richard Rohr and others. This life is not to be wasted. I’ve already used up 35 years just coasting. I’m not down with that way of functioning anymore. I will be present, I will be intentional and I will be authentic in my journey. 

Check back later.