Thursday, May 30, 2013

I Think I Might Vomit!

It's Thursday evening and I'm exhausted. I am not in a "blogging" frame of mind. In fact, this particular entry should probably not be posted. This topic truly does belong in a REAL Therapist's office. But, the only therapist I ever trusted is in his 80's now and did not return my last call six months ago. I kind of always thought I was counseling him, anyway. Go figure!

One week ago today, I was in the throes of a pity party meltdown. I will spare you the details. (Remember? I'm not THAT transparent either!) Let's just suffice it to say, it was UGLY. I did take a few hostages that day that bore the brunt of my selfish ramblings. But as you may have guessed, Stainless caught more of it than most.

Within just a few hours, I received a phone call making me aware me that my problem would be solved this week. Pride and ego are preventing me from telling the whole story. But the fact is, I was informed that I was about to be the recipient of an OVERWHELMING act of kindness and generosity. Who? Me? NO! Not me!

Why is being on the receiving end so difficult? What tells us we are not worthy? Why do we think that we do not deserve an act of kindness that others are seemingly so eager and  willing to perform?

Stubborn? Stainless just called it plain stubborn! He kind of softened the blow by saying he has the same tendency. But, he turned it on me and said that I would actually be in the wrong if I remained so stubborn and  actually ROBBED someone of their joy from doing this kind act for me!

Wait a minute! Let me digest that. If I refuse the act of kindness, I am STEALING their joy?  The GIVER feels joy and the RECEIVER feels like he needs to vomit? What is wrong with this picture?

I'm reminded of the old preacher's story that everyone has heard who's ever sat through more than five sermons. It's about the man who climbs to his roof top as flood waters rise around his house. When the neighbor, in a canoe paddles up offering aid, the man says, "No thanks! God will save me!" The same thing happens when the Fire Department comes up in a motor boat. "No thanks! God will save me!" The scenario is the same when a helicopter hovers above offering to drop a safety rope ladder. "No thanks! God will save me!"

Obviously, the man drowns and goes to meet his Maker. The first question out of his mouth was "God, why didn't you save me?" To which, God replied, "I sent a canoe, a ski boat, and helicopter! I was kind of running out of ideas!"

I claim to trust God, yet I am still inclined to spurn His kids when He sends them my way. I will need a few more days before I can truly appreciate this blessing. And truthfully, I do feel a little ill. Unworthy. Undeserving. Yet, right at this very moment, I feel gratitude. So grateful, that in spite of myself, I was willing to jump into the canoe!

Monday, May 20, 2013

I'm Schizophrenic and So Am I!

I don't know if any of you are keeping score. But, this morning's post is number 18! Trust me! No one is more shocked by this fact than me. This thing should have died an early death after 3 or 4 weeks. Remember? This was all a joke, right? Apparently not!

Stainless attributes the loyalty of my small band of readers to the fact that I am not afraid to show vulnerability, at the risk of embarrassing the "you know what" out of myself. I don't know if that's true or not. Thus far, I don't think I have posted anything that has made me unique in ANY way. I even went as far as to tread on the sacred ground of prayer requests, and several of you commented, "The same thought goes through my mind every Sunday."

Interesting thing about transparency, though. Seemingly, we are all attracted to it. And most of us think that WE are transparent.  I read a blog last week that was as general, vague, and ambiguous as anything I have ever read. The first comment was, "Love the transparency!" In text speak, I LOL'd! It's clear to me that we are so enamored with transparency, that we identify it, even in its absence.

Which brings me to the explanation of the title of this post. In James' letter in the Bible, the writer introduces the concept of the "double-minded man" in the first few verses of Chapter 1 and continues this theme through all 5 chapters of this short Epistle. I identify with the double minded man in every way. I struggle so much in attempting to "walk the talk." Daily, the task of being single minded and simply doing the "next right thing" in front of me evolves into a seemingly impossible proposition.

I must confess to learning a valuable lesson WAY too late in life. I was in my early 40's before I realized that I was judging myself based on my intentions while you were judging me based on my actions! This startling reality came with a very expensive price tag and the inner turmoil that accompanies it sometimes feels overwhelming. You have no idea how virtuous my intentions really are! Sadly, these intentions are seldom followed by action. Double-minded!

In reality, I'm about as transparent as the muddy water in the Red River, sixty miles north of here. I cannot let you know the real me because I am afraid! Remember, I covered fear a few weeks ago. I'm afraid that if you knew the real Kev, you would hate my guts! Double-minded!

For this reason, I call upon a Power greater than myself every day in order to keep me single minded. I talk to Stainless, Shoe, and others almost daily to hold me accountable and to CLEARLY point out when my actions are not consistent with my intentions.

I have dear friends who encourage me all the time to keep trudging on, fighting the good fight and to "Expect a Miracle." I don't know if you are expecting a miracle or not. I know I'm NOT. No, I'm NOT expecting a miracle, I'm DEPENDING on one! Single-minded!

Monday, May 13, 2013

No Bicycle? No God!

Hopefully, this Post will be the only time I capitulate and write an entry to Cheaper Than Therapy based on a comment or question someone raises in the "comments" section. This is my Blog. I am going to write about things that either interest or irritate me. However, ANONYMOUS struck a nerve with some of you last week by suggesting that God is either lazy, cynical, or just simply not interested in this Planet. So, hopefully, this will be the first and last time.

This argument (question) truly bores me. Seldom a day passes that we do not hear someone, some where say "How could a loving God blah de blah de blah de dah?" The presence of cancer, war, poverty, hunger, and AIDS seems to weigh heavily on the heart of the atheist/agnostic and gives him all the proof he needs to deny God's existence or to prove that God has no interest in this world. I find these musings quite tiresome.

A friend of mine claims to have formulated his earliest ideas of God as a 10 year old, when the 10 year old girls living next door got brand new bicycles. When he asked them how they managed to get these new bikes, they replied that they simply had prayed for them. My friend explains that his personal prayer life took off in ways that one could not imagine and NEVER, EVER did a new bicycle show up in his driveway. Lesson learned---No Bicycle? No God!

Anonymous has formulated his idea of God in much the same way. Since circumstances on this Planet are not meeting Anonymous' EXPECTATIONS (he didn't get his bicycle either) God either does not care or does not exist.

In his book, The Shack, Young sums up man's dilemma here on Earth when God is speaking to the main character and says, "Your world is severely broken. You demanded your independence, and now you are angry with the One that loved you enough to give it to you."

FREE WILL! Instead of creating robots that have no choice but to serve Him, God gave man free will. God gave man his independence. And seemingly man has been pissed off ever since! I'm just too tired and too annoyed to go through the whole story. But even a cursory reading of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden should be enough to grasp what man HAD and what he decided to DO with it.

Furthermore, Anonymous suggests a "smiting or two" might be in order to clean this planet up. That sentiment was echoed in a YOUTUBE video I saw one time and cannot locate again, for the life of me. The speaker was addressing the question of "Why would a loving God......?" This gentleman said that we are asking the wrong question. The question is not "Why would a loving God allow pain and suffering?" He stated, with no apology, that the proper  question should be, "In view of what I thought, said, and did just yesterday alone, why did God not strike me dead in my sleep?" A "smiting or two" might be in order, alright. I'm just not sure who deserves the smiting. Maybe Anonymous knows.

I'm not picking on Anonymous. He and I have a lot in common. My good friend Shoe says that he "wakes up agnostic every morning, until he remembers how important it is to establish a little conscious contact with God." I wake up the same way! At my very best, I wake up self-centered and agnostic, wondering what this day has in store for ME.

Fortunately, on most days, I remember that God gave me FREE WILL. And on the days I determine that I should turn that will back over to His care, I seem to have a much better day. Coincidence? I think not!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Anybody Got a Prayer Request?

I may be treading on sacred ground this week. It is not my intention to be offensive or inflammatory. Okay, maybe it is! But I often wonder if I am the only one who sometimes gets a little cynical about the "prayer request?"

Do not get me wrong! I pray. I believe in prayer. I think we should all pray a lot more! But the internet age has taken prayer requests to a place that, quite frankly, puts me in a state of unease! Actually, that's not true. Way prior to the internet, prayer requests have always made me a little uneasy.

I remember the first adult Bible class Teressa and I attended after getting married. The first 15-20 minutes of class were spent taking prayer requests and having a prayer for all the names mentioned. Extraordinary pressure was placed on the dude who was asked to lead that prayer. He would nervously get a pen and try to scribble all the details on the back of the church bulletin or a checking account deposit slip.

It seemed that many of the requests sounded like this---"I've got a cousin that I haven't seen in over 20 years. We used to be close when we were kids. Our families would go to the beach together. Anyway, he lives up in Rhode Island now. His son just got a new job and his son's new boss's mother just fell and broke her hip. I don't know her name, but would you please pray for her?"

Exaggeration? Maybe...but not by much! Anyone who has ever sat in a Sunday School class knows what I'm talking about. Oh, the requests were many! Almost all of them concerned physical maladies. And on more than one occasion, negative, cynical, pessimistic me could only think----REALLY?

We did have a spiritual request in that class most weeks. There was a man who requested that we pray for his step-kids who had "left the faith." What he could never muster the nerve to mention was that he was a raging domestic terrorist who was beating the high holy hell out of those "wayward kids'" mother. Sadly, he could never manage a prayer request about his rage, confessing to a serious condition that had, no doubt, driven his step-children away.

I know how hard it is to get real in Sunday School. Seriously, can we really afford to to bare our souls in church? Isn't that why we pay shrinks $100/hour to listen to us?  I am just as guilty of not being real as the domestic terrorist. And I've paid money to shrinks, too.. I can't let my christian friends know what's going on. This is church for crying out loud! In church, we only pray about the physical, never the spiritual! So, I just sit very quietly during prayer requests. Or my mind races through every cancer patient, knee replacment, and broken hip I know of so I can have a prayer request, too.

Email and social media have made the prayer request instantaneous. I get several emails a day and almost daily see a request or two on Facebook. The most common response is *Praying*. I so hope it its true. If you type *Praying* in the comment box of a request, please pray about it. Do NOT be guilty of LYING to a friend when they have asked you to pray. I never type responses to those requests, because I don't trust myself to follow through.

Until cancer goes away, we will all have something to pray about. Ninety-nine percent of requests seem to concern cancer, anyway. I have made the same requests myself.

But, my goal in my prayer life is to be LESS concerned with physical sickness and more concerned with everything else. Paul told the Philippians "in EVERYTHING, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

Cancer, knee replacements, and broken hips just aren't everything! There is SO much more....