This is a Post I don’t want to Write

A little less than two weeks ago I had to got through the unfortunate experience of laying my Mother-In-Law to rest.  What a completely different experience than when my own parents passed, but for different reasons that you might think.

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When I picked my wife up from her house and met her mom the first time it didn’t really go very well.  The first few weeks of our relationship took place at summer camp so it was almost a month of us being together before I actually came to her house and picked her up for a date.  I’m a pretty shy person until I get to know someone, although some people may say the opposite.  I don’t recall really saying anything to my future Mother-In-Law, but when I asked my wife about it a couple of days later she mentioned that her mom wasn’t very impressed, or didn’t like me.  I was 19 and this was the first time I had dated a woman to the point on meeting her parents so I didn’t know how to act or what to expect.  Over time I’m pretty sure that she tried to convince my wife to leave me.  I deserved it, I didn’t do anything to change her mind in the early years of our relationship.  I know that as my wife and I both grew up and changed, so did my Mother-In-Law’s opinion of me.

About ten months ago she called my wife and asked her to accompany her to a doctor appointment to have some tests done on some abdominal pain.  My wife immediately thought the worst, I think we all did.  We were right to think the way we did, and we were all correct about the diagnosis, she had developed stage one pancreatic cancer.  The doctor was pretty sure it had been identified early enough that removal and maintenance chemo should take care of it.  This was news to me, because until before this I was under the impression that pancreatic cancer was basically a death sentence.  I understand it now can be controlled similar to diabetes.  She was up for the fight, as I figured she would be, since she had already beaten cancer once in her life.  My Mother-In-Law was a very tough woman in many ways.

After many months of treatment and some other problems that developed, we think from the treatment, Barbara Miller was called home to God on June 23, 2018.  This was a shock.  My wife had just brought her home from a chemo treatment the day before and she was in good condition.  Through her whole treatment she was still eating well, there were a couple of times we had meals with her and it was not uncommon for her to eat as much as I did.  Her appetite was still there.   We knew her time was limited, but we thought we would have a few months yet.  It was a shock to say the least.  We know now that she is now longer suffering, no longer having to be strong and fight.  She is at peace.

This experience with her death is different from what I went through with my own parents.  The obvious difference is that I would go through a different set of emotions than I did with their passing.  I loved Barb, but it goes without saying that this was a different level than what I had with my parents.  The biggest difference in her passing compared to my own parents is my understanding of death.  With the strengthening of my faith I’ve come to a better understanding of what death is all about.  I processed this death from a much different perspective than I did with my own parents.  I’m pretty sure I still would have processed their passing with the same outward emotions that I did, but the everything that I processed internally would have been vastly different.

I haven’t stopped praying for my Mother-In-Law since she passed away.  The prayers I say for her now are for different reasons.  I hope by these prayers she knows that I will do everything I can to make sure that her daughter is comforted as well.  I have to make sure my wife makes it to Heaven so that she can be reunited with her mother as well as with Him.  I have to do this, I don’t have any other option.  This is what I’m called to do.  There has been few things as clear to me in my life as this.  I cannot fail.

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Rest in peace Barb.  Thank you for everything you were able to do for my family while you were with us.

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This Post is Overdue

May 24, 2018 v5 p9

I haven’t been posting as regularly as I have in past, and at first I wasn’t sure why.  I think I may have figured out the reason.

Over the course of my blogging I’ve written about a wide range of topics.  I started doing this to write about sports.  Journalism is what I was planning to study when I went off to college.  He had different ideas in mind for me, and I’m thankful for that.  I wrote mainly about University of Michigan football to start, my favorite sport.  That was pretty much because it was the middle of the season when I started.  After that I wrote some about other sports, but didn’t get quite the same response.  Every once in a while I would venture off to a different topic.  Some of them that I have written about include parenting, family life, and leadership.  It was some of my posts on leadership that other people started to pick up with more regularity.  I could see that I needed to branch out to more than sports on a regular basis.

One area I decided to start sharing in was my faith.  It wasn’t too long after I started this hobby that my wife and I returned to the Catholic Church.  When I look back on the statistics, it’s those posts about my faith journey that have received the most clicks/views/reads.  It really isn’t even close for the rest of the categories I write about.  I realized that this may be where my voice needs to be heard.  I still enjoy writing about University of Michigan football, but when I post things about that I don’t expect much response.  That part of my audience has actually become pretty small.  Most of the discussions about those posts come on my personal social media sites.  I’m not supposed to be a sports journalist.  I’m OK with that.

My faith has become the number one part of my life.  I can’t get enough.  I want learn more.  There are some times when I wish I could go back to myself in middle school and convince myself that I was already headed down the wrong path.  I do my best to live my faith out in my everyday life.  I hope the people around me see it.  I want nothing more than to be able to help them experience what I have experienced.  I realize that a lot of people don’t think they need God in their life.  That’s totally understandable.  That’s also why He gives free will.  The ability to choose to follow Him, or to follow our own wants.

I have asked people for a response to my posts, but often don’t get one.  I don’t know if that’s because people think I’m way off base, or if they aren’t willing to admit that what I’m saying has some worth.  Over the past couple of weeks I’ve come to realize that most likely it’s neither of those cases.  When it comes to faith for most people it’s a pretty personal topic.  If they aren’t comfortable sharing their own faith, within their own lives, then why would they share it in mine?  I know I’ve been guilty of that myself.  I have been able to share on this platform, but when it comes to sharing it with other people in a face-to-face setting, I tend to clam up.  In the men’s prayer group I’ve started going to at my church I have no problem at all speaking out, it’s in those situations outside of that where I struggle.

So that’s what I’ve come up with.  I really want to share my faith.  I have a platform where I really don’t struggle to speak, I just need to utilize it better.  I’ve been putting off some changes to this blog out of fear, but I need to put my trust in Him that it will show if I’m making the right changes.  Keep an eye out over the next few weeks for more from me.

St. Francis is often accredited with saying, “Go out and preach the Gospel, if necessary use words,” but nobody can confirm that.  I’ll just stick with Mark 16:15, And he said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.”

 

This Post is Manly

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a man.  I’m not speaking of the scientific definition that is defined by your reproductive system either.

If you go by the definition of a man that you see on social media it looks a lot different to almost everyone.  The most common definition, the one you find according to everyone posts, doesn’t match up with my definition.  That shouldn’t come to much of a surprise to me, as I’ve never really looked at things the same as everyone else has.  That has become pretty evident, especially lately as I’ve turned more to my faith.  As I’ve learned more about my faith, I’ve learned more about myself.  That has led me to where I currently am in my faith formation and my personal growth.

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That most common definition of what it means to be a man can be seen all over the place.  You see if in the entertainment world by how Hollywood glorifies sexual prowess as being manly.  You see it in the athletic world by how athletes brag about how successful they are because of how much money they have or what accolades they have received.  You see it in the business world when people brag about those same two things.  You see if in the everyday man by how boastful they are about their sexual conquests, or how much alcohol they can drink, or how many people they offended by their opinion, or by how much of a lift they have on their truck.  In reality these are all measures of how insecure a man is with himself.

In The Bible we are told that the man’s job is serve.  To serve God.  To serve his wife.  To serve his family.  None of the things in the previous paragraph show leadership.  The only thing they show is that most men really don’t think about anything else besides themselves.  That all started in Genesis with the story of the forbidden fruit.  I’ve heard a lot of men, probably myself included, make the joke about the fall of the human race is all the fault of Eve.  It was she who took the forbidden fruit from the serpent and ate it, and then gave it to Adam because she didn’t die.  And while that is true, guess who was standing right next to her when she took the fruit?  Adam.  And he said absolutely nothing to try and stop her.  When God spoke to him right after what did he say?  He passed the blame on to Eve.  Does any of that sound like he was fulfilling the duties to serve?  No.  It sounds to me like he was only thinking about himself.

As I’ve grown my faith I’ve made the decision that I can no longer be self-serving.  I have to be third.  I must put God above everything else, followed by my wife and children.  Once I have done what I can to serve those two areas, only then can I begin to worry about what I might need.  I knew a few years ago, before I started my faith journey, that I had to do whatever I needed to make sure my wife was fulfilled, and part of doing that was making sure my children had everything I could possibly give them.  I lived by the theory of “happy wife, happy life.”  I was really doing the right thing, I just didn’t have the right philosophy about it.  I have found that the more I put Him first in my service that I usually end up serving my wife and kids too.  There are things I do for Him that don’t always correlate back to my family, but there are a lot of things that do.

So you may be wondering where I’m trying to go with all of this.  I’ve been trying to figure that out myself over the past couple of months.  Earlier this month I attended a men’s conference in Grand Rapids and it started to lead me down the path I feel I need to take this whole topic.  In this society where it is the norm and almost unacceptable to have the viewpoint I have, I feel we need to make a change.  That has never been more evident than before, and it has to start with the men.  I’m not looking to argue with anyone on this, nor do I wish to get into any debates over it.  When arguments and debates happen then there must be a winner and a loser.  In a scenario where you have that you only end up with division, and that is only good for the devil.  The more we are divided among ourselves, the easier it is for him to work his ways.  If he is allowed to continue then we will not have any change and we will only continue down this path that we are already headed down.

So how do we combat this divisiveness?  We can only do that through unity.  I am looking for men who are ready and willing to make this change with me.  I don’t propose anything radical like starting a march on the capitol or some other similar type of protest.  I’m looking for a small group of men who are interested in forming some strong male friendships.  Men who are willing to make themselves third.  If a small group starts of strengthening itself then it will surely grow on its own.  I’m looking for a few MEN who would be willing to get together, probably once per month to start, to be honest with each other.  To be vulnerable to each other about where they are weak.  And most importantly to pray for one another for strength in those weak spots.  I make no effort to hide my Catholic faith, but I don’t want to limit this to just Catholics.  There’s no reason why any group of strong Christian men can be unified in the fight against Satan.  I promise to not try to convert you, because I can’t, only God can.

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Fr. Larry Richards

I’m still working on the logistics of this whole idea, but it’s something I’m feeling called to do.  If you’re interested in becoming the man that He created you to be, then please reach out.

This Post is a Do-Over

February 19, 2018 v5 p6

I had almost an entire post written last Friday about the mass shooting in Florida, I put it to bed for the night with the intent of writing the couple of paragraphs on Saturday.  Then I saw some social media posts and decided against it, here’s why.

If you’ve been following along with me lately you know I’ve been on a faith journey.  I don’t hide any of that.  I’m pretty open about it.  I’m willing to talk to people about it.  I’ve probably shared a lot deeper part of my life than most people are willing to.  All of this has lead me down a path that has proven to be a major transformation.  I mentioned earlier in the year that I wasn’t setting any resolutions, but that I had a pretty big goal for myself, to become a stronger person.  That includes in my faith, my family life, my professional life, and my public life.  This is something I have to do for all of the people listed in there, and for myself.

Last fall I had lunch with a friend.  We’ve only known each other for a couple of years, but sitting down to a meal with this man is kind of like sitting down with someone I’ve known far longer.  He presented me with a book that he had acquired an extra copy of, “Kill the Spider” by Carlos Whittaker.  This is the story of the author’s journey through some intense therapy.  One of the stories early on is about how his father explains that if you have cobwebs to clear out of your mind, you have to kill the spider, or the cobwebs will just comeback.  This hit home.  I started to reflect on my past and how I had ended up where I was.  I could see that I was just doing exactly that.  I would move on from one issue and not clear up the cause for that issue.  I was running away.  I still haven’t identified what that spider is so I can work on killing it, but I’m much more aware of what’s going on in my own mind.

A few years back my wife and I started a Christmas tradition of giving only four gifts from Santa, this was when our youngest was still a believer.  In order to keep spending down we gave gifts that were “Something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read.”  This year my wife found a book for me that was similar to that last one I mentioned, “Killing Kryptonite,” by John Bevere.  This book has really transformed me.  It points out how a person can put the things they want in front of what He wants for us.  When we do that it weakens us, like kryptonite weakens Superman, and if we continue it will eventually kill us.

Every time you are putting your wants and desires in front of His you are committing a sin.  The more you sin, the more you die.  It may not be physical death, but you begin to stop being what it was He designed you for.  This is just like in Genesis 3:4, But the snake said to the woman: “You certainly will not die!”  While not a physical death, Adam and Eve were no longer allowed to stay in the garden, no longer allowed to receive the gift God had given them.  It certainly isn’t the easiest thing to do, but I have to try.  I have to change my ways so I can be a better disciple, become a saint, help my wife get to heaven, be a better husband and father, and be a better man.

How does this apply to the tragedy in Florida on Ash Wednesday?  The more our society takes God out of its view, the more this type of thing will happen.  As I’ve written before, there has been a trend away from modesty.  There has been a trend toward doing what it is that we want.  The more those trends start to become the normal situation, the more we tend to slip.  We’re on a very slippery slope, and momentum is starting to take us down.

There have been a lot of “solutions” that I’ve been seeing going around social media of late.  Some of them have some merit.  It’s pretty obvious that our current system to vet gun ownership is broken.  I’m not calling for a total ban of guns, that would be worse than the current state of affairs.  However, there must be changes.  It can’t be as easy as it is for almost anyone to get their hands on a weapon.  Another argument is that it isn’t the fault of the AR-15 rifle that was used in the shooting.  While technically correct, you have to ask if a rifle designed to look like a fully automatic military machine gun is something that needs to be made available to the public.  These guns are not being bought for hunting.  Yes, responsible owners are buying them for personal protection.  I have to ask the question though, if it’s this specific rifle being used in the mass shootings, is it necessary?

There is a vast amount of arguments that could be made on either side of this case, but when it boils down to it there is really only one way to go about handling it.  As a society we must be better to each other.  We cannot attack each other for our differences of opinion.  Positing and arguing on social media accomplishes nothing.  You aren’t going to change any one’s mind, you’re only going to make others upset and cause yourself a lot of wasted time trying to defend yourself against others.  That goes on until something else shiny comes along and grabs your attention.  Then all of the outrage starts up again when the next tragedy happens.  Unless you’re willing to take action by helping to hold our elected officials accountable to their constituents instead of the PACs, you’re not doing anything.  Openly mocking the beliefs of your fellow humans on social media doesn’t make your point any more right or wrong than anyone else.  All it does is prove that you’re aren’t as open minded as you claim to be.

In the meantime we can all use a little less kryptonite and a lot more love.  From the Gospel reading today in Matthew 25:40 we are reminded “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”

This Post is Slippery

January 24, 2018 v5 p3

There has been a lot of tragic and disturbing items in the news lately.  While those are difficult to deal with sometimes, the reaction to them may be even more tragic and disturbing.

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In November of 2011 a Grand Jury indictment was brought down on former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.  In August of 2016 The Indianapolis Star released a report into allegations of sexual complaints, which lead to the recent news of Dr. Larry Nassar abusing over 150 girls.  Unless you’ve been living in a cave without internet (if you are, how are you reading this?) then you’re most likely familiar with these stories.  I really don’t want to go into the details of what both of these horrible men did.  All that would do is bring more attention to the sick men who perpetrated these crimes.  That isn’t what I want to focus on with this post.  In order to help illustrate what the point I’m trying to make I need to mention these stories.  What led these men to do such horrible acts?  I don’t know.  I don’t want to try and speculate about it either.

The top goal I have set for myself this year is to strengthen my relationship with God.  I have come to realize that by doing that I will be able to take all of the lessons I’ve learned in my past to be a success in everything that I do.  In Philippians 4:13 we are reminded “I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.”  This has never become more evident to me than it has in past couple of weeks.  I’ve been praying for His guidance for some time now and I wasn’t really sure that I was hearing what he had to say.  When I realized that I wasn’t doing what Priest I gave my last confession to told me to do, I decided I should at least start there.  After I started the first thing I was told to do it made me realize that it was God who told me what to do through the Priest.  I knew this was how confession worked, but for whatever reason I wasn’t putting it into practice.  Immediately my prayers began to come to life again, they had gotten stale for a couple of weeks.  I didn’t change anything about them, but they certainly changed.  So I continued to do more of what I was told during confession, and more has been revealed to me.

I have always had a problem doing what I knew I should be.  Not really in a sense of my faith, because if you’ve been here for a while you know that really wasn’t a part of my life for a long time.  I would always procrastinate on doing things I knew I should.  I would push timelines to the very last minute, and then stress myself out as I was forced to finally sit down and take care of what needed to be done.  Once everything was completed on time and in a glowing manner I would always look back and say to myself that I just need to pressure of the deadline to do my best work.  That was never true.  I never did anything any different in those last minute rushes than I would have if had started a project weeks in advance.  I was always more interested in what I wanted to do rather than doing what I had committed to.  It’s also not like I didn’t want to commit to these tasks when I made the commitment, but as time went on I would always find something else instead, and it wasn’t always something productive or better.  A lot of the time I wasted was spent on the couch on weekends napping.  I can excuse away those naps in a 1000 different ways, but they were never better than working on what I committed to.

My wife gave me a book this past Christmas which is proving to be one of the best I’ve ever read.  It’s really been eye opening to how I’ve been living my life up until now.  I thought I established a pretty deep relationship with Jesus over the past three years since I returned to my faith, but in reality I’m just scratching the surface.  The section I’ve been reading through over the last few days is all about idolatry.  When most people hear that word they think about the worship of idols.  Idols come in many forms, and for the most part they aren’t small statues that you put on a pedestal and burn a candle in front of.  Anything you put in front of your love of Him becomes and idol.  When you choose to spend money on stuff instead of donating it to a charity, you’re making the money and idol.  I don’t mean you have to give all of your excess money to charity, but if you have some it’s, His preference that you give some.  It’s things like this that are leading us down a slippery slope.

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So you’re probably trying to figure out how this ties to the two sexual assault cases I mentioned at the beginning.  These are both pretty extreme examples, but this is where the slippery slope leads to.  The more you worship your idols, the more you take yourself away from Him.  Those idols then begin to take control of your life.  When idols begin to take over your life you no longer have the free-will that He has given you. In 2 Peter 2:19 we are told, “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.”  You become a slave to that idol and begin to make more decisions the appease that addiction.  Eventually you begin to tell yourself that what you are doing is right.  It then becomes easier for you to add in more or different idols to your life.  If we don’t start changing our ways then there can only be one result, and it won’t be pretty.  If you look back through history to other examples of when people have allowed these idols to take control it never ends well for those people.  If you’d like a biblical reference, just refer to the story of King Saul.  He was told to completely destroy the Amalekites, leaving nothing behind.  Instead he kept the best of the cattle, sheep, and lambs.  He took Amalekite King, Agag, hostage.  He did all of this so he could give his soldiers the best animals for sacrifice, making them remember what Saul did for them instead of God, making himself and idol.  Because of this disobedience Samuel was instructed to annoint a new king.

I have really focused on removing the idols from my life that have lead me down that slippery slope in the past.  I’ve gotten a pretty good foothold, and am ready for the long treck back to the top.

This Post is a Killer

December 21, 2017 v4 p61

We all have something in ourselves that holds us back, if you don’t think so then you’re probably not ready to accept it.  Pinpointing what it is that holds you back isn’t quite as easy as you think.

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A few weeks ago, I met up with a friend for lunch because he had a book for me.  This didn’t really seem out of the ordinary because I know how much he likes to read, and I know that one of his favorite things to do is gift books.  I didn’t quite know how to accept this gift because nobody had ever don’t this type of thing for me before.  I found out that the way this friend is able to gift books like this is because he is often on pre-release lists and gets extra copies.  The fact that he didn’t pay for this gift in no way makes it any less meaningful.  I was extremely touched to know that he had thought that I would be able to get some benefit from reading this book after he had read it, twice.  This particular book is titled “Kill the Spider” and is written by Carlos Whittaker.  It’s a story from the author’s own life and goes into detail about his journey through some therapy.  To be honest, we could probably all use a little therapy.

The premise of this book is that we all need to kill what it is inside of us that holds us back.  One analogy used is that people often state they are going to clear the cobwebs.  There is a slight problem with that.  What happens when you clean the cobwebs in your house?  In a week or so there are new ones.  Why?  Because the spider that is making the cobwebs is still there, making new cobwebs.  So you can’t just address the problem, you have to figure out what the cause is and change that.  This book really hit home.  It came to me at exactly the right time.  I was in a pretty tough spot in my professional career, not really feeling like I was getting the things done that I needed to in order to continue on the path I had set for myself over the past few years.  I was having some doubts myself and my ability to grown into the leader that my company needs me to be.  Coming to this realization was a big step in the right direction.

I thought it would be easy to identify what my spider was that caused all of my self-doubt.  I tried to pinpoint it on my dad.  Growing up he wasn’t the greatest father figure in the terms of leadership.  He always did what was right, or at least tried to.  His heart was in the right place.  He was never one to be too big into sharing his emotions though.  This kind of made me feel like we could have had a closer relationship, one on a different level than we always had.  I tried to pinpoint it on my older brother too.  Growing up I always looked up to him, as most younger siblings do, but the more I look back at that relationship I realize that he wasn’t interested in taking on the role of being the big brother example for me.  So I can’t nail my spider of self-doubt down to just one of those two, there has to be more to it.  Then the holidays really started to get into full swing.  My schedule got busy and this discovery process kind of worked its way to the back burner.  I think just realizing there was an issue to figure out kind of cleared up some cobwebs, but as I mentioned earlier, that doesn’t get rid of the spider.

I’ve been praying for guidance on a daily basis for over a year now.  It kind of seemed to me that maybe I wasn’t getting that guidance I needed from those prayers, so I started to focus my prayer a little more on that.  I added a little extra to my prayer over the past week or so to try and ask for more clarity in what it is I’m being called to do.  I feel like I’ve been heading in the right direction personally and professionally but I think it really became obvious to me earlier this week.  The other day when I woke up I got pretty frustrated with something at home first thing in the morning.  By first thing I mean before I had even started to make my morning coffee.  Well, as most people do, I let that five minutes of bad attitude turn into a whole day of bad attitude.  It really ruined my whole day.  It wasn’t until almost the end of my work day when I realized what I had done.  That made me remember that there was no way I was going to get anywhere with this company by letting that insignificant of a thing end up ruining my whole day.  At the end of the day when my wife and I were going through our examen prayers I asked for His forgiveness for my discretion.  I had to.  If He didn’t know I recognized my own faults and I needed forgiveness, how can I expect anyone else to give me any?

So while I still haven’t figured out what my spider is, I now have a renewed sense of how to kill it.  The past two days have really been different.  I feel myself moving through my day with more confidence.  The end of the year is coming and we have some holidays when work won’t get performed so it kind of escalates everything.  We’ve had some pretty high profile shipments I’ve been having to deal with over the past two weeks, and our customers kind of freaked out yesterday.  My buyer was feeling the pressure from them, but I was able to handle all of her concerns without issue.  It’s moments like that when I remind myself of how high of a level I can perform at that help me take swings at that spider, even if I’m kind of doing it blindfolded right now.  Maybe I won’t need to take that blindfold off until I’ve killed it though.  I have come to realize that with Him aiding me in my fight, there is nothing that I can’t overcome.  I just have to trust in Him.

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I’ve been unknowingly fighting this battle for years, and the past few have started to give me the right tools for the battle.  It was just this week that I discovered that I had the greatest ally with me in this war all along.

This Post Looks Different

December 12, 2017 v4 p60

If we all do the same thing as everyone else, we lose our identity.  Our identity is what makes us unique.

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A lot of people are afraid to go against the grain.  They are afraid to stick out and draw attention to themselves.  I get that.  There’s part of me that wishes I could just go with the flow.  It would be so much easier to just fit in.  But I’m not wired that way.  I never have been and I don’t think I ever will be.   When I did try to act like everyone else I found myself divorced, living with my parents, and at the bar more nights than not.  If I wasn’t at the bar I was probably at home drinking, or in the midst of some other self-destructive habit.  It wasn’t leading me down a very good path.  When I finally realized that if I would spend more of my money on rent than beer I could afford an apartment with an extra bedroom for my son when my parenting time was one thing that helped me get out of that rut.  Since I only had him for three nights per week that left four others that I could still be self-destructive.

My wife and I reconciled and she moved in with us, which helped control some of those behaviors even more.  My life had turned from being a part-time single parent and part-time single guy to being a full-time family man.  There were a lot of bad habits that I had developed over a three year period that I thought I could hide from wife.  I thought I was pretty successful, but really I was just ignorant.  In my ignorance I ended up creating a huge mess.  Through nobody’s fault but my own I was driving my wife away, and my family apart.  I thought I could continue to ask for forgiveness and keep doing what I was.  All that did was drive my wife into a depression that was totally my fault.  It took some pretty major events to change my perspective.  My parents both passed away, she left her job, and we lost our house, all within the span of about 10 months.  When the dust all settled from that I started to change.

At my last job I did a lot of the “going with the flow” stuff and didn’t really push back against my boss.  I showed up every day and did my job to the best of my ability.  That ended up getting me promoted into lead positions.  Along with promotions comes more money, so I was never in a place to turn them down.  What I didn’t realize was that because of the increase in pay the management thought that meant I could be given more responsibilities that two people could handle.  As the amount of work I was expected to perform increased I started to let things slip.  Although I was doing things in the same manner my manager was, she didn’t like it.  If I took the same short cuts she did it was unacceptable.  When I reached the point where I was averaging 65+ hours per week I started to push back.  They didn’t like that.  Everyone else that they tried to do this type of thing would just accept what was being forced on them and went about their day.  I was trying to get the culture changed, they didn’t like that.

Ultimately I left that toxic environment because I was starting realize that if I continued I wouldn’t get anything changed and would only be stressed.  After a couple of months on the hunt I found my current job.  Over the last five plus years with this company I have grown more personally and professionally than I ever have.  It was my first manager here that encouraged me to return to my faith.  That has been the single most vital thing that has happened in my life in my professional life, in my family life, and in every other area of my life.  Returning to my faith has allowed me to find peace that I had been missing throughout most of my life, probably dating back to my days in middle school.  It certainly has changed how I look at things, and I would guess that if you ask my friends they would say that it has changed how I look from other people’s point of view.  That has really become evident as of late.

As I am scrolling through my social media on a daily basis I’m constantly reminded of the life I used to live.  I shake my head almost constantly and wonder if having a social media presence is even worth the stress.  I seriously think about deactivating my accounts on a weekly basis, but then I remember how my timeline has changed.  One of the features on Facebook is to see your “memories” which is just a different timeline of what you posted on that specific date over the years that you’ve had an account, I’m sure you’re familiar with it.  There are two distinct differences in my Facebook history.  The first one comes from anything posted in Mid-May of 2012, when I left the toxic job, and the second comes in early 2015, when I returned to my faith.  There has been an even deeper change that has occurred over that last six months, but that isn’t viewable through that option.  If someone were to scroll through my personal timeline they would see it.

A few weeks ago it really hit home how much different I have become than most people.  I really don’t like getting into conversations with some people because I know it’s going to lead in a direction that I’m not interested in.  I see all of the sexual innuendo posts on social media and in people’s conversations and I try my hardest not to get drawn into that.  But as they say, old habits are hard to break.  I’ve come to notice now how I’m not leading the life I want to when I get drawn into those types of conversations.  It’s almost an immediate thing for me, like when a light bulb appears over a cartoon character’s head.  I began to reflect on whether or not I wanted to look that much different than everyone else.  It didn’t take me long to answer myself with a resounding yes.  If I don’t look different than everyone else then my children won’t either.  I don’t want them to head down the paths that I did.  There’s no hope in that direction.

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In Matthew 5:11 the disciples are told “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”  If I lose some contacts or get insulted because of my faith, then that just proves that Jesus was right.