I can’t hear you over my talking

Many people that I personally interacted with today are worried about what President-elect Donald Trump will do to them;  their relationships, their bodies, their jobs.  I didn’t understand until I thought:  Would I be concerned about my religious rights and freedom of speech rights if Hillary Clinton had won?  I am very scared of the trouble her presidency would have caused me and worried if I would be willing to stay true to Jesus in the face of unknown suffering.

These people are also tired of hearing, “Don’t worry,” “Get over it,” and other mindless remarks by friends, family, etc. that may show they don’t understand, don’t care or both.

What I am trying to do is listen with my heart for their heart.  We are all people and we all have a story.  If I interrupt, judge, give advice am I going to hear their story?  Do I really just want to hear myself talk and confirm to myself how brilliant I am in my own eyes or do I want to discover another beautiful human being and their unique story?

Everyone’s opinion makes sense to them.  If I listen long enough they may tell me why they feel the way they do.  Today I heard why someone believes in doing something I wouldn’t do.  And from their perspective it made sense.

This presidential election proved that most people want to be heard.  And “the other side” has feelings and concerns that don’t make sense.

Until you listen.

It’s not so much that I need to know what to do; it’s that I need to do what I know.

The title is from https://i-m-4-u.com/2013/07/14/forgiving-can-be-tough/ and captures part of my struggle.  The other part is that I definitely need to know more.  And yet the two are intertwined.

God will not give me more instruction if I am not doing what he has already given me.  If I want to know more I have to actually do more of what he has already said .  That’s the hard part.

Or is it?  I have the most fun when I am obeying God.

I think for me it is the process of deciding to obey God that is the toughest part.  I have to risk, and trust Him that what I don’t want to do now is exactly what I will be glad I did later.  Many times I feel alone when deciding.  (This may be why I need to be part of a small group).  No matter what help I have, it is in the end my decision.  And if I want to know more, if I want to experience Jesus closer to me, I must obey Him.

Nobody’s perfect (part II)

I am part of a team of people starting “HOPE” for Mental Health at Kentwood Community Church.  We are part of Celebrate Recovery founded by Rick Warren of Saddleback Church.  This group of courageous people, who admit their imperfections and trust Jesus to deliver them, have been a catalyst to me being able to confess my sins to another trusted person (or small group).  I read my Nobody’s Perfect post from August of 2013 tonight and realized I had promised to get back to you when I had put this into practice.

Much better late than never.

I had told Jesus my sins but telling another person with skin on freed me from most of the grip of satan in my life.  No amount of prayer has freed me as much as telling my sin to another person.  Sin loses power when exposed.

I have known for years that I was “supposed to” confess my sins to another.  But I made excuses and told myself it really didn’t matter.  I lost years of my life to satan’s influence simply because “I know more than God.”

God is not mocked.  I reaped what I sowed.

But I have learned.

Hopefully.

If not now then when?

(My apologies for not giving credit to those I have learned from who have written on this).

We don’t control anything in life, except our decisions.
The Past is unchangeable,
The Future, we can prepare for, but not control,
And the Present we know incompletely, and what we do know can be distorted.

And, the only decisions you and I can control are those we are making right now.
Past decisions have made us who we are today,
Future decisions will either be made by us when the future becomes now,
or those future decisions will be made by others if we can’t make them.

What you are deciding right now is in your control and it is all you control.

But it is the birthplace of Hope.

The negative past can’t stop us.  It can inform our decision and influence our decision but cannot dictate our decision.  We are free to change.

The positive past does not guarantee a positive decision.  Again, it can inform and influence our decision, but we are free to fail.

The present decision opportunity is the key to using the past to make the future better.

And, the future can be changed radically by one decision.

The most radically changing decision I have ever made is to follow Jesus.

When I follow Jesus I feel more alive than I have ever felt.  He gives me purpose and significance.  He provides for my needs.  He loves me.  My love for him is shown by the way I treat the people he has made… and died for.  He died for you because he loves you too.  And you are just one decision away from knowing his love for you.  Please decide to love him back right now.  It’s the only chance you have.

I was a perfect parent… until I had children

About 18 months ago

“I was a perfect parent… until I had children” was “I AM for You!” blog’s first post.  Since then and about post per week later it has been buried under almost 90 posts.  I brought it up to the top of the blog again because it is one of my favorite pieces of writing and I would like to make it known to those who had not seen it before.

Preface

The great thing about being young and inexperienced is that you know everything.  At least I did.  Before I had children I knew what every misbehaving kid needed.  Before children I had all the answers.  After children I don’t even remember the questions.  But it is not just the young and inexperienced who suffer from omniscience.  Experienced parents who believe that what worked for their kids will work for all kids cause greater pain.  And the parents of special needs kids, in my case kids with mental health challenges,  feel that pain.  Sometimes from the disapproving looks of strangers, but many times from the comments of their own parents, family and friends.

I was a perfect parent… until I had children

By Jim McNaughton B.S. (Barely Sane)
(Style inspired by Dr. Seuss, only for parents)
Some children are brought home and sleep through the night
They are corrected according to the books
They don’t fight and they don’t bite
And fall in line with one stern look
The parents of these
Children that please
Sometimes take the credit
They write books and give others looks
When the others just don’t quite get it
But we are not the parents of these that please
Our children not only don’t get it
They study us intently to learn our faults and
Our buttons in hopes to upset it
They can weave a lie without batting an eye
They love the crowds all around
To yell “you’re hurting me” and “I can’t breathe”
Though you’re NOT and they CAN
(And YOU just want to LEAVE)
Try Love and Logic they say
It works the best
(Unless you’re kid has no
Cause and effect)
Put up a chart… Charge him for you to do his chores…
You just need to be firm… You just need to love more…
We know the answer… (Though we hardly know your kid…)
We think we know him much more than you ever did
So the next time you see my child and me
Struggling while we go through the store
Please lend us some of your compassion


Advice… We don’t need any more.

It took going "crazy" to discover what real sanity was

I am grateful to God for the mental illness He gave me.  (But I would never want to repeat it).  Looking back I was “crazier” when I was “sane” and sane now that I’m mentally ill.

Let me unpack that.

Before mental illness I wanted to be a aerospace engineer.  I wanted to impress people with how smart I was.  I wanted fame, fortune, power and pleasure.  I had bought the whole commercial-driven American media world-view.

Most of the girls in my high school graduation class wanted to be social workers it seemed.  I thought they were crazy.  Helping people seemed like a colossal, boring, unrewarding waste of time.

It was at this point that God publicly invaded my private world.  God told me I was a sinner, but I didn’t believe Him.  What I didn’t know was that I was in love with myself, looked down on everyone else, and thought the world should serve me.   That’s when God gave me mental illness.  And my life and the lies I told myself, about myself, fell with a great crash.  God humbled me.  I couldn’t get much “lower” in superficial stereo-typed status than being intermittently locked up in mental hospitals.

For the next ten years I fought God and the meds.  At the end of ten years God gave me the wisdom to take the meds.  Then He sent Bonnie, who knew and loved Jesus, to tell me Jesus loved me.  I wasn’t interested.  Then Bonnie told me that if I rejected the love of Jesus, the only thing left for me was hell.

That got my attention.

I chose to turn around and follow Jesus.

He forgave me, loved me and gave me a heart that cared about other people.  Now I am a Certified Peer Support Specialist working with others who themselves deal with mental illness.  I encourage, give hope, and care.  And I love it.  It took most of my life to discover my life’s work.  And it took going “crazy” to discover what real sanity is.

To whom much is given

There is a man I have the privilege of working with on a leadership project for our church.  He loves Jesus, his family, his church and more.  He has been the video production backbone of our team.

And he recently turned 14.

I wish I had had his wisdom when I was his age.

Luke 12:48b NKJV

For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.

This verse at first glance seems like a downer to me.  But this verse is like a coin.  One side is responsibility.  When God gives us much we are required to use it all and make the most of it.  The other side of the coin is blessedness, happiness, and joy.  When God gives us much we have the opportunity to love God and others with more.  And that results in ourselves and others having more opportunities to experience joy.

I believe this young man will continue with Jesus.  And make the most of his relationship with the Master.  And I believe he has much joy in his future: for God, others and himself.