I know this is a fairly lofty title but my life experiences have shown that it deserves such. For how valuable these things have been to me I’ve never read them anywhere and hear them talked about none and I believe that they deserve more airtime. These are some things that I have learned from observing many relationships around me but especially my own with my wife. There may be presuppositions that you disagree with but I would encourage you to look beyond the differences and see if there might be any truth that you could learn from my experiences. It was quite possible for this entire post to be one continuous disclaimer about how much we’re all different and how much I don’t know but I decided to forego all of that and just assume that we have some things in common and that it was better to just put my thoughts out there. These are more thoughts and impressions than scientifically proven facts so please engage the ideas as such. Some of the thoughts are redundant and this was written more as a flow of consciousness than to be a published masterpiece. These thoughts assume the reader has a belief in marriage, agrees that there are differences in male and females in physiology and role, and is pursuing a gospel centered approach towards life. Others are welcome to read but the discussion should begin on a much more basic level.
I’ll start off with a story. 7 years ago my friend and I planned a surprise trip for our wives to Hawaii. It was to celebrate our 5 year anniversary. We had arranged childcare and announced the trip with less than a weeks notice. In the short time we had to prepare, Kami confided that she was worried. Our son was 9 months old and it would be her first time away from him. We went on the trip, had a blast. It was our first time in Hawaii, we had a great week with friends, snorkeled, and I impulsively got Kami’s name tattooed on my arm. To this date, Kami and I think of it as one of our best memories. And it almost didn’t happen. My guess is that if Kami and I would have discussed it democratically the trip would have been a coin toss because of Kami’s difficulty in leaving the baby. I’ll speak more on this later but this and many other smaller (and some bigger) examples have led me to the following conclusions: The only thing women want more than what they want is for a man to love and understand them more than they love and understand themselves.
Let me draw this statement out a little more to clarify. In a typical marital conversation it is expected that 2 people approach the table with 2 opinions that they want to see win. When the husband and wife disagree, often the best case scenario we picture is the man acquiescing to what the woman wants. While not always, this often concerns issues of what is best for the family, children, or things of a more practical nature. Sometimes it comes along with some statement like “Whatever you want, Dear”. It also comes along with feelings of buried resentment and de-masculinization for the man. But both people are happy ish because they feel like they are equal and have done the best they could in a democratic process while not stepping on anyones toes or taking any huge risk. The statement I am making is that there is a better story out there. It is better because it involves more risk, more love, more sacrifice, more understanding, more unselfishness, and a better outcome. It does assume that one party is more responsible than another party. Not in an earned or qualified sense. But in an accountable and design sense. While we have seen the abuses of the burden of more responsibility lets take a break for a minute and imagine a world without the baggage. The man and the woman would come to the table to discuss something. There would be some different viewpoints but hopefully common goals. There could be differences. But in these differences the woman would feel cared about and understood. Input would be received by both parties but a past history should make no specific piece of data a huge surprise. The man would make a decision based upon what he thinks will best love his wife and his family and satisfy their collective and agreed upon mission as a family. If there is a track record of this the wife does NOT feel taken advantage of, manipulated or second class in any way. The primary goal is NOT to come to a conclusion that feels good to both partners instantly. The goal is to develop the type of relationship that practices and displays sacrificial love. This will never be the easiest path.
Let’s focus on a few aspects of this…
For the last 3 months I have been learning to run. Here is how:
Step 1 - I read Born to Run.
It was super awesome, educational, easy to read, and most importantly, inspirational. Instead of making you guilty for not running or watching TV, by telling stories of super disciplined olympic athletes, it told stories of individuals and even cultures who ran just because they liked it. It reminded me of my days in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade when I used to race the bus to school and ran just for fun before competition and fitness ruined it for me. I’ve bought the book as a gift for 3 people and you should consider checking it out. If you do, let me know what you think. BOOK LINK
Step 2 - I set up a way to run naturally.
I knew that treadmills weren’t going to cut it. I wanted it to be a part of my life so I incorporated it into something I’m already doing. For me, this is going to work. I decided to run into the office. It’s 6 miles roundtrip and I don’t need to provide myself some imagined or lofty purpose with my runs. I’m just trying to get to work and enjoy the outdoors and city on the way. It’s a great way to decompress and clear my head after a day of meetings too. It was kind of a pain to set up but I gave myself 2 weeks to get everything in place. For me this means extra clothes and shoes at the office, I bought an extra laptop to leave at the office because I want to run light, and I don’t plan any engagements 45 minutes before or after my last meeting. Continue reading
Today is September 11th. 11 years ago a tragedy to the human race as thousands died in one event for no apparent reason. Since then a phrase has been floating around: “Never forget.” This is not a new or unique idea. When we went to Jerusalem the main thing I cared about seeing was Yad Vishem – The Jewish people’s living memorial to the Holocaust. We walked through exhibit after exhibit of images, videos and artifacts from the most vivid atrocity in human history. Two things stood out to me. A stack of shoes. And a video of a bulldozer moving dead bodies like they were a stack of dirt. The museum culminates at the end when you walk into a room and you are surrounded by books that have the names of people who were murdered in the Holocaust. The room was dedicated to the memory of the people and devotion to never forgetting their loss. It was walking into this room that I cried for the first time because above the door post was a verse from Isaiah in Hebrew and english. It said:
“And to them will I give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name (a “yad vashem”)… that shall not be cut off.”
(Isaiah, chapter 56, verse 5)
This is God talking to his people saying “even though you have busy lives, even though you reach capacity of what you can mentally handle, even though there are millions of unique individuals, even though life goes on and more tragedies happen, even though you get obsessed with yourselves and new fleeting moments, I do not. And I will remember. I have created a memorial, so personal that it has a name, for each of you and I will never forget.”
This last year we had a miscarriage. In the aftermath Kami and I were trying to find value in ourselves and give value to the life of the baby by saying that “we will never forget.” We were reminded of the verse in Isaiah. There is a God that is more powerful than we are and he knows our child more intimately and permanently than we ever will. And he says that HE will never forget. That’s enough. That’s more than we could ever do or ask for. And it gives us the freedom from making promises that we can’t keep. It’s ok to forget.
ps. For my birthday in July my friend Colin recorded this song for me that he had written. I’ve been listening to it non stop. It’s titled “You call me by name.” It speaks to the personalization and care of a powerful God. I’ve been looking for an excuse to share it so others could listen and download.
Today, Dove (11 year old daughter) came to me crying saying that Seven (7 year old son) had called her a “stupid bully”. Our default is to have Dove express her feelings to Seven and then reprimand Seven and have him apologize. Today I tried something different.
I asked Dove if she, in fact, was a “stupid bully.” At first, she seemed taken aback. She then quickly reiterated that she told Seven not to say that and that he wasn’t doing it out of love. I said that I understood all of that but that she didn’t answer my question. I once again asked her if she was a stupid bully. I could tell that she didn’t know how to answer the question so I opened it up to a broader audience. I asked around the table if there was anyone in the room that was, or had been, a stupid bully. I rased my hand. I shared that I had a history of being a stupid bully. Kami also raised her hand and shared that sometimes she bosses the kids around in anger. Then…… Dove raised her hand. I was able to embrace her with a high 5 and say “Oh, I’m really glad your mom and I aren’t the only stupid bullies around here.” I then expressed how crazy it is that the Bible claims to love us given the fact that we are all stupid bullies at times and far worse. I told her she was loved and has full freedom to accept this and other parts of her identity that are hard to swallow sometimes. Then I suggested that she could actually thank Seven for being honest and pointing this out to her. (He was listening to this whole conversation). She then half begrudgingly/half smilingly/half seriously said “Thank you Seven for bring honest and pointing this out to me.”
Then we talked to Seven about love and his use of hurtful words.
In parenting, we’re learning that modifying behavior and controlling chaos is the easier and far more temporary solution to life. Moments that allow us to teach children about how deeply they are loved and accepted will soften hearts and change a child and a family from the inside out. This is permanent. So, I would like to take this moment to assure you that if you are, or have ever been a stupid bully it is ok. The Bible claims that you are fully accepted for who you are, because of what Jesus has done, and not based upon anything you ever do or anyone you pretend to be.
If we actually were able to embrace our identity as a fallen yet accepted people it would remove the power that we give to others to define our worth. Insults true or un-true will not matter. It doesn’t come from denying reality though, it comes from accepting it.
It’s strange that our children (and even us) may grow up thinking that water comes from a tap or a bottle. That’s not where it comes from. It comes from the ground and the sky. From glaciers, snow, and rain.
I think there is a benefit to putting your children in a situation where you can imagine them dying. Although they are probably more likely to die on a freeway than the wilderness we have adopted an illusion of safety that prevents us from true appreciation and faith.
In our culture it’s unusual to spend an extended time in close proximity with your children. I’m not talking about hours in the same house. I’m talking days within 20 feet of each other. For 9 days we were staying in a 8 foot tent. It was practically and emotionally uncomfortable. At the end of it all, we came back to a nice house with beds and privacy. We now found our family separated by stairs, doors, and walls. Both Kami and I actually found ourselves missing our children even though we are in the same house. It makes me wonder how many cultural living norms in the first world are an actual advancement for relationships.We had a strange interaction where we met a family that recognized us as “the family from the computer”. They had seen our previous YouTube videos of the trail and said that we were the reason that they were out here. This launched into a talk with our children about how beautiful the gift of true freedom is and how exciting it is to show and share that with other people. True freedom is deep, personal, emotional, spiritual, financial, rare, and contagious.Our culture sees babies as a very cute major practical inconvenience. They are so much more than that. One baby can completely transform an entire trip by unifying a team towards servanthood and providing a re-orientation of what un-hindered joy, curiosity, and discovery are like. Having Filia on our trip did not just add a 7th wheel. It completely changed the depth and enjoyment of the experience for every single member of our family. Leaving her behind would not have made a very permanent difference in her life but it would have for everyone else.
To generalize, there are 2 major way of interpreting the existence of a beautiful mountain range. The first is that it’s a unintentional geological byproduct. The second is that it’s a very personal expression of a God who wants us to more know and understand him and his beauty. If you believe the latter, we should be putting a fair amount of energy and resources towards understanding this God though the expressions that he has given us. This will probably come at the cost of the comfort and technology of our modern word.
For more details about our trip..
You can watch the video on YouTube
Or you can view our Facebook photo album by clicking on the image.
Be relentless in filtering out the channels, and even people, that distract you from the best. There’s a lot of good and entertaining people but very few of them will help you towards the goal of accomplishing what it is that you have uniquely been put on this earth to do. Many of these channels ask for you to adopt their story. But not in a committed, life changing sense. In an entertaining, debilitating, yet temporarily satisfying sense – the worst kind. Go outside. Delete apps, un-subscribe from people till it hurts. Make your own content and share it with the people that are REALLY close to you.