A Story to Share

It’s been six months since I have written anything. Some of that’s due to writer’s block which I get on occasion and some of it’s because life simply happens to steal all of your time. Honestly though, the greater hindrance for me has been related to two themes. The first being that I have some deep, personal issues that I would love to write about but it would involve me writing about extended family members and that’s just something I’m not willing to do.

The other theme for a long time has simply been that I just don’t want to share too much of myself with others. The easy, superficial material is easy to cover. Sharing stories about my kids or relaying moments of parenting greatness and also those mistakes I have made are a lot of fun to write and hopefully, as helped others over the years. But to truly show any vulnerability has been off limits thus far.

This past Sunday I was given the chance to lead in facilitating a class at church. I pointed out to the group that it has been my experience and therefore, my belief, that when God allows us to experience trials and tribulations in our walk with him, it usually serves two purposes (there are probably more but…). One purpose is that He is trying to grow us in some way to be more like Christ. The other is not so obvious but at times can be a critical component of us growing in our faith.

This other purpose, as I know it, is that we are to share our story with others. Both the good and bad. I’m not talking about updating your social media of choice, although at times, that could be appropriate to do. I’m talking about being in tune enough with the people around you so that you can recognize the opportunities that you have to share your story. As I see it, our story really is a reflection of our faith.

For some their story reflects their faith in either themselves, family, work or any number of things. Regardless, we all demonstrate our faith in something. Others, as you look at their life, you see their faith story revolves around Christ. It permeates every junction of their life. You may not be able to describe it necessarily but it’s tangible and you recognize it.

So back to class, as I was relating this message, which I’ve done multiple times with various groups and individuals, I was convicted that I need to be doing more of this myself. In one on one situations, I have always been willing to share my story. My wife would say a little to willing at times. Now I recognize that I am to share my story through any platform that God provides for me, including my writing.

Our faith is a process, a journey as we develop and grow. And for each of us we have a responsibility to share our story with each other whenever possible. The ups and downs that we experience along our journey are to be shared with others. Someone you know needs to know that they are not alone, they can get through this, or maybe just that you are there to support them.

Here’s a profound thought, at least for myself, we each have a unique story that is truly our own but eerily similar to any number of people we may know. But my story and your story are just chapters in a much greater masterpiece which is God’s story.

So as I begin this new intent or purpose if you will, to be more open, transparent in my daily walk, I will look to do so in my writing. I’m have no idea how this will work or that I’m fully committed to this as of yet, but I know I have to start somewhere and just be obedient to do this. Ah! maybe I’ll start there, being obedient. The times I’ve done this and many, many times I haven’t. That would definitely show some vulnerability.

Anyway, will see what happens.

Peace and thanks for reading!!

Life Lesson Series – Listening

ears

I originally posted this back in December but thought it was worth a re-post for this series. 

This is one life lesson that is very much a learned skill and discipline. Ask yourself, How often do you truly listen to the world around you? When in conversation how often do you truly engage the person and listen to what they are telling you? More times than not, I catch myself thinking of my response more than I am actually listening to what is being said.

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say”. Bryant H. McGill

I love the quote above and think it’s absolutely true. It’s amazing how much more we get out of a conversation when we truly listen to what is being said instead of just hearing them speak. Another aspect of listening and respect is to have eye contact with the person you are conversing with instead of looking at our phones or fidgeting with this or that.

As a kid I had to go to speech therapy 2 times a week for a couple of years so that I could learn how to speak properly. Being born with a cleft pallet caused this process to take longer for me than it did other kids but looking back on it now I realize what a blessing that was, as it taught me how to listen. Time after time, my therapist would say a word or a sentence and then I would have to repeat it back to her. Another benefit of this is that with time I learned how to read lips proficiently. This ability has proven very beneficial over the years.

One of the things I had to overcome and still struggle with to this day is that I have a tendency to look at people’s lips when talking with them instead of making eye contact. As I said earlier, eye contact, is another key component of showing someone respect and something that I made sure to teach my children how to do. When you keep eye contact with someone as their speaking to you, you will also notice that it allows you to see more. Maybe not into their souls but it allows you to see more deeply into the person.

The life lesson of listening is one that is typically overlooked but over the years, at least for me, as become one of the most critical for me. Listening is one discipline I am constantly having to work at, as it is easy for me to be distracted but is also one of the most needed. Another component of listening, especially to God, is to simply be still. In  Psalm 46:10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

In order to truly hear God, we must learn to be still and allow Him the opportunity to speak to us. To often I find myself going through the motions with God – my prayers become one-sided and I don’t take time to pause and let Him speak to me or during my study time, I may find myself trying to understand a particular passage of scripture and I simply breeze through it without actually taking the time to study or meditate on it, giving Him the opportunity to speak to me.

Again – Listening, to me, is one of those skills that we can never master but by being diligent to try, we can greatly improve the relationships around us.

Would love to hear your thoughts! Really, I would love hear your thoughts. Honestly, ………….I will listen.

Peace and thanks for reading!!

All about Me

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An incredible game took place Monday night between the Auburn Tigers and Florida State Seminoles has they battled for the BCS National Championship. By and large, last night’s game was a perfect picture of everything that is right with college football and why we as a nation, love it so much. Yet, even in the midst of this spectacular game, I was struck by how often, certain players took the opportunity to say “hey, look at me, yes, I am all that!!”.  I won’t call the individuals out by name but there were several of them.

I understand that in the heat of the moment or in the exuberance of making a play, a player will be excited, jump to his feet and pound his chest a couple of times and then celebrate with his team. Today’s athletes however, seem more likely to run to the cameras (they know exactly where they are), and make Madonna proud by striking a pose or turning their backs to the camera and pointing to their name on the back of the jersey. as Vernon Davis illustrates above. At one point last night, one individual thought so highly of himself that he took it upon himself to taunt the entire opposing team.

There are some players who still understand that it’s about the team first, individual accomplishments second and oh how refreshing it is to here an athlete these days, being genuinely humble. Obviously, it’s football season and especially with all the bowl games, we have been witness to an overwhelming amount of grandstanding these past two weeks. Lest you think this only takes place in football, I will remind you that 80% of the truly great grand standers play in a local NBA arena near you. It’s rare these days that you will ever catch me watching an NBA game for that reason.

I know some out there are probably going to try and make the argument that these kids/young men are just having fun and some have suggested that it is just the culture these days or it’s just this generation. Label it, justify it, excuse it all you want but it is nothing more than being selfish. And shame on my generation for allowing this to become acceptable behavior in sports and really, across all venues of our lives today.

My generation has done nothing to address the trend of – “it’s all about me” and truth be told, we have helped perpetuate the antics of these individual. I know there have been plenty that came before him – Reggie Jackson, Rickey Henderson, Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson, O.J. Simpson, Joe DiMaggio, Dizzy Dean, Satchel Paige and Babe Ruth just to name a few but Deion Sanders was the first that I can remember that truly understood and developed his own brand – Prime Time. In my opinion, he was and still is the most talented athlete to ever play the game and although you may disagree with that I believe you would be hard pressed to find anybody that was better than he was at promoting himself!!

I bring Sanders up because I used to be the guy that would excuse some of his antics by saying he was just a showman that happened to play football, or that he was simply being entertaining and that was true. He was all of those things and I had no problem with it….until he moved on from the Falcons and Braves. I was there when he picked off the pass and danced all the way down the sidelines in front of the Falcons bench. In that instance, he disrespected the Falcons, his team and the game of football. He made himself bigger than the game.

Unfortunately, he was just helping to refine the art of self-promotion that we see is so rampant in today’s sports and society. As I watched last night I realized that I and we need to own up to the fact that we have helped create this “it’s all about me” culture and unless we start addressing it now, it’s only going to get worse and truth is, it may already be too late.

There is a word that is associated with everything I have written and I have referred to it a couple of times already but I will clarify it now. This generation has very little respect for others and I’m not just talking about sports now but rather our entire culture. Anytime an individual places themselves above, in front of  and at the expense of others or without regard to others, that is called selfishness.

*NOTE – there are additional reasons as to why we have this culture today and perhaps I will try and address those in a later post.

Peace and thanks for reading!!