What I love about our faith is it’s power to reconcile. At the birth of the Christian community, just after Christ went to be with the Father, the Spirit was sent to reconcile Jews and Gentiles (and yes, even Muslims) with no shortage of truth. But the spirit of that movement was love and peace, even if it caused an enormous amount of tension.
A couple years ago, I spent a month in a cabin on Bainbridge Island. I was working on a book and I wanted to get away from the city and the temptations that keep me from writing. If you’d have asked me when I left Portland for the island whether I was stressed, I’d have told you I wasn’t. But the island revealed my stress level was at an all-time high. I only knew that when I began to calm down. There’s something soothing about the ocean and the forest. It’s as though God reminds us through creation all things live, all things die, and He is in control.
Years ago a psychologist named Viktor Frankl stood up to Sigmund Freud. Freud was teaching what man wanted most in life was pleasure. But Frankl believed man wasn’t seeking pleasure as much as he was seeking a deep sense of meaning. In fact, he went on to say “When a person can’t find a deep sense of meaning, they distract themselves with pleasure.”
I used to think people liked compliments and so I gave them compliments. And it was true. People liked them. But the older I’ve become and perhaps the more healthy I’ve become spiritually and emotionally, the more I’ve realized my compliments weren’t given in altruism. I’d have to say, without knowing it, I really just used compliments in order to make myself more likeable. It’s true if you are kind to people they think you’re pretty great. But the end of that is still about me.
Have you ever tried to quit a bad habit but went right back after the first relapse? Let’s say you’re quitting caffeine, then a bleary day hits and you have that one cup of coffee, only to go right back to the old habit. It’s almost as though that first slip up lets go the flood. I used to be all or nothing about stuff like this but I recently had a conversation with Bill Lokey who helped me understand that relapses are actually part of the process of changing a behavior.
It’s Advent, otherwise known as the season when retailers you didn’t even know existed are bombing your email inbox with coupons for crap you didn’t even know existed. Buy a dog bed online, and Hammacher Schlemmer will send you an offer on a John Deere Cuckoo clock, complete with a different tractor sound on every […]
Recently I found myself wanting to fix somebody. It’s a bad habit. I’ve had it all my life and I’m getting better in percentages. Wanting to fix somebody is basically codependency. Perhaps in its mild form, but codependency all the same. If there’s been any health evolving in my life over the years it’s been in learning that other people are other people and their psychological health is not my responsibility [...]
At Storyline, we’re pretty even keeled. We don’t get too excited or worried and things pretty much get handled ahead of schedule. How that happened with a group of artists, I don’t know, but everybody who works with us seems to appreciate our flow of business. Essentially, if we are rushing, we know we’ve done something wrong. Of course there are plenty of great reasons in life to rush. If you’re an ER doctor or a professional ping-pong player, rushing seems appropriate. But in most endeavors, feeling a constant sense of urgency and panic means somebody hasn’t done their job.
The truth is, you are likely very skilled in business, in parenting, in writing or in any other career of choice. And chances are what separates you and me from the greats is more than just skill. What separates us is how we respond emotionally and mentally to challenges. I’m not the best writer in the world, but there are plenty of writers at my level who are producing much more work. Why? They’re better at the mental game.
If you share yourself with the world you’re going to be criticized. The world may seem like a nice, safe, warm place, but as soon as you put yourself out there’s a good chance you’ll be a target for criticism. If you’re not careful, you’ll start feeling like a character in The Lord of the Flies. So how do you survive it? How do you keep putting yourself out there?
Years ago I lived in a small condo with about twenty other tenants. They were mostly an older crowd, educated, dignified and retired. During my first few months in the condo, I was watched like a new pet. I remember one evening when I took my trash out, turning around and seeing more than one person leaning over the balcony to see if I was recycling. Legalism isn’t just a problem for Christians, it seems.