Category Archives: Emotions

Guilt-Free V-Days

Two days before Valentine’s Day, I find myself sitting at a kitchen table while my student reinvents herself through a group science project. A project that is designed for a group, yet doled out for an individual student while she’s on medical leave….

THIS is what I’m facilitating as a blog from one of my favorite bloggers catches the corner of my eye.

Beauty Beyond Bones is one of the few blogs I read–mostly because I get an email every time the author publishes. But it’s easy to proclaim a favorite when there aren’t many others for which I will sacrifice my time. For as long as I’ve been on this reflective journey as a blogger, her blog has caught my attention. I suppose it’s because her persona reminds me of someone who I once loved. I say this with no guilt, however. And that’s because I gave up guilt for lent nearly four years ago.

That’s right! I gave up guilt for Lent. Here’s why:

This person I once loved, she has a name. But for simplicity, let’s just call her Love. She had convinced me that she was the one the Lord held aside just for me. She’d been praying her whole life for what she called “my sweet king-to-be” (MSKTB) for which became the moniker for this blog thread. She waited her whole life–and I mean she WAITED.

Her unrelenting chastity was something I honored. I’d figured that she was worth the sacrifice especially since she’d already sacrificed so much. But as the years passed I began to question the validly of a “sacrifice” of something that was never experienced. I longed for the integrity of a pure relationship. After all, no relationship prior had yielding a godly outcome.

This particular relationship did not come without its conflict and confusion. This was uncharted territory for me. I’d been divorced for nearly five years. My beautiful children and much-needed experience where the fruits of that union. Alas I’d experienced a sex-free marriage. How hard could an abstinent courtship be?

And believe it or not, it wasn’t difficult at all. The challenge was understanding the “rules” of an abstinent relationship. Love, well she didn’t make it easy. This courtship, as she called it, forced me to recall medieval times when marriages were arranged and fathers held the key to the mystical chastity belt. Weird!

It made me wonder if there were occasions where restricted access was circumvented somehow. Or if the whole concept was more-or-less a myth. I suppose I had a front row seat to my own private show. It was an interactive one-act play where I was both the star AND the antagonist. It hinged on torture, but Love led me to believe that it was necessary to truly appreciate the sanctity of marriage.

She had a hold of me. To my circle of friends, it looked like a circus. I thought I was the lion-tamer. Nah, I was merely one of the clowns (the one without the makeup).

As our relationship entered its first Lenten season, I asked her if she’d given any thought to what sacrifice she’d make for 40 Days. I figured it would be akin to my own fast of soda or chocolate. No! Hers was much deeper!!

Intimacy!

Huh? What?

I was confused. How much more un-intimate could we be??? I pressed her for an explanation. She obliged.

She said she’d spoken to God about it, and he told her to take her sacrifice deeper.

I thought this was a joke. But Love doesn’t joke about God. I began to plead with her. And then I realized that there was no integrity to in that at all. So I encouraged her to explain further. She said “no touching!”

Yeah ok.

“No kissing…”

Huh?

“No lustful gazing…”

To which I replied, “where will you be staying?”

This is where she became confused. I continued.

“When you spoke to God, did he tell you where you’d be staying when you come to visit me?”

I realized at that moment that I was venturing into a very ugly territory from which there’d be no return. But there was no turning back.

I gestured gingerly, “Hun, I know that you come a long way to see me. I know the sacrifice that you make to be with me. You are tired when you arrive, and most weekends you want to lay down; which results in you spending the night.”

“But you’ve also got to realize the challenge that comes from you spending the nights here when my children are home–the challenge created from trying to model this righteous behavior in the face of being “chased”.

My daughter had begun to emulate pristine behavior. She asked for a purity ring of her own. She spoke of the importance of waiting…

What father wouldn’t want that? Now I was offered an opportunity to step up. I’m not taking one for the team. I’m embracing a responsibility far greater than a “man-in-waiting” (is there such a thing?); or was my search for masculinity manifesting into a fatherly responsibility?

It didn’t matter. For a moment–perhaps minutes at best, Love melted. Her eyes gazed upon me and I felt appreciated.

But that too was confusing for me. And so I did what I do best. I stuck out my chest and…

Ruined it!

She asked me lovingly, “what will you give up for Lent?”

“Guilt! I’m giving up guilt!”

Love was lost.

I defended that if God was going to have a private conversation with my love, I was going to assert my role in my relationship with God. I looked up to the ceiling and continued, “you can’t stay here, wear sexy pajamas in my kitchen, tell me I can’t look at, touch, or kiss you and stay here. It’s teasing and it’s mean.”

Well maybe I didn’t say it was mean. It was a bad memory. What do you want from me?

“I Am giving up guilt for lent!” The Lord died for my sins. The fornication, the lust, the adultery, and all the other illicit stuff that I reluctantly confess to. I don’t need to harbor any guilt.

I sorta thought that I should have consulted a priest on this one, but…

I’m not catholic.

Love left that night. She went home to her father’s house where he and her mother later praised me for raising my own daughter to be a queen. I’m not sure how I felt about that, but…

Now THAT Ash Wednesday did not fall on Valentine’s Day (like it does this year), but the sheets have been cold ever since. Well, cold on Valentine’s Day at least.

As a middle-aged man who is on the cusp of denial, I will love myself this Valentine’s Day. And once you get your mind out of the gutter, you’ll probably do the same.

In case you didn’t know, the boxes of chocolate go on sale after 6pm at most pharmacies. And the Ex-lax is a few isles over.

Happy Ash Wednesday!

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Holiday Dream

I had a holiday dream…

I opened my eyes. I thought I was in my own bed. It looked like my bedroom. The linens smelled fresh like my own. As I descended the staircase, the silhouette of an undecorated tree and the chore of unwrapped gifts still lay on the floor. Running water from the aquarium invited my gaze. The house mascot pawed at me–an unfamiliar sight. My bags were packed and sitting by the door.

The draft from the cool outdoors blew in from beneath the door as I noticed my canvas shoes laid out for me next to a cozy work jacket I once wore in a career long ago.

I looked in the mirror by the door. I was already dressed and my hair and face were well-groomed. With my key fob in hand, I pressed one button, and the lights in the driveway lit up. Was I driving somewhere?

Dishes washed, laundry folded, and trash taken out, there’d be no mess awaiting my return. The most recent message on my phone read “Merry Christmas and traveling mercies”. Where was I going?

I snatched the pre-packed backpack in and headed out the door. There were no voices acknowledging my departure. I turned back for a moment. No lights, no lingering fragrances, no melody looming in the darkness…

Good bye, fare well?

Will I return?

I turned the ignition and a voice from OnStar greeted me with no recognition of the holiday. “Your destination has been sent to your onboard navigation system. Enjoy your day.”

Reverse…creeping into the street; none of the neighbors were watching. The traffic light at the end of the block faded from crimson to go-green! There’s no turning back.

A half tank of gas won’t take me far. But the airport is only 43 miles away. Not a car on the road, the engine hums past 80mph. Whoosh up the highway. Record time!

My destination still a blur. The sun rises over the bridge. All tolls paid. Valet awaiting, and a chauffeur ushering me to my flight. Weeeeeee

I’m not coming back. I can just feel it (at least until after Christmas).

Where am I going, Denver?

Catylist 

He was the catylist. He brought about an inadvertant change.  And her life would not be the same.  First in his mother, and then in the life of every woman whose life he touched thereafter.  

After every guilt-ridden argument he had with his mother (especially in his teenage years), he was left reminded that he was a complicated birth. “The doctor told me that I shouldn’t have you.”

“But you are our love child…”

“We wanted you!”

“And this is how you behave?!?”

And in true Oedipus psychology, he fell in love with a woman who is very much like his mother. He overlooked mental health and insecurity when he proposed. And their love-child was not only conceived in love, but raised with praise. He loved his daughter with his whole heart.  And that level of insecurity was too much for his wife.

He discarded the insecurity as jealousy. And he excused the jealousy to keep his own sanity; and by ignoring what he thought might be wrong, he enabled a woman who otherwise would not be able to get out of her own way.

He watched her destroy a relationship after relationship. She eventually partnered with his mother to collaborate and destroy his inner being. They wanted him to believe that he was crazy. Their private meetings were filled with how to manipulate him.

When he realized what was happening he confronted them both.  He refused to deal with the recent loss of both his brother and his father. He mustered what strength he had to assert his authority in his own life.

The fallout was immeasurable. This was his first lesson (of many to come) that he can no longer be too nice to the wrong people. He internalized that he created this problem.  He believed that the turmoil in his life was a direct result of him being kind for too long.

Every relationship thereafter came with caution-and a fear of betrayal. He would trust strangers more than his loved ones. It did not take long for new relationships to deteriorate as a result of his mistrust.

He began to realize that building walls was not only good for keeping others out, but keeping the wrong element in.  He wondered if he was keeping the wrong people too close. So he removed his walls and let everybody in.  He had to be on guard more than ever.  He began to question everything.  

Questioning everything evolved into challenging authority or anyone who tried to have dominion over him.  He believed that only if he understood the world around him, he could be a part of positive change. All he wanted was to leave the world a little bit better and he had found it.

He knew that if he modeled strong manhood and effective leadership, his daughter and son would come to have the moral fortitude that others lacked.

He wasn’t wrong.  

He grew stronger.  His eyes opened.  He awakened to a world that loved…

He became excited and built new relationships.  These relationships were stronger and healthier.  He became discerning.  He began to choose his own destiny.  His energy inspired others. But he didn’t want to inspire as much as he wanted to help.  Instead of allowing his passions to keep him from the people he loved, he encouraged them to love life with him.  

He loved. He loved life.  He loved people.  He loved the creations that God formed.  He acknowledged bad things as necessary evils to evoke change.  

He became aware of his passion.  He prayed more.  He took better care of his body.  He considered the alternatives.  He explored his options.  He moved away from what he knew.   He became uncomfortable.  His discomfort became tradition until he learned to be more mobile.  Now he can’t stop.  He was once lured drama.  But he learned  that drama can inhibit. He wanted to focus more on growth.

He became a catylist for change by rejecting the norm.  He won’t look back.  Never look back…

her Roeck

What we want is a reflection of who we are. Why would you want someone who would give so much of themselves that they would neglect their own needs? What is it about someone who is so forgiving and so giving that they would neglect themselves? How desirable is a person who would forget their own needs? Are their gifts so great that it’s possible to overlook their own self-care?

A firefighter who goes into a burning building to save another (without putting on his protective gear) is no more likely to save the victim then he is of becoming a victim himself. Although it seems heroic, it borders on the careless. More often than not such a hero will need to be rescued as well.

Women who want a man to put her needs before his own may be overlooking the fact that he may not be able to take care of anyone’s needs for a larger period of time.

“Here’s a nickel’s worth of free advice…”
Ladies reconsider what it is that you seek. Gentleman think twice before you leap.

The Ultimate Rejection

Women refuse men all the time. They refuse eye contact; they refuse conversation; they refuse any acknowledgement of anyone with whom they are not interested.   Men don’t refuse as often.  But men are hunters, no?   They seek out and find partners that are suitable. The are rejected sometimes (some more often than others). Charismatic men know how to mold and shift those rejections into challenges and opportunity.  Those less skilled often give up. 

Women however get to choose more often.  Now, there are surely some women who are thinking, “not me…”.  We are subject to the standards that we set for ourselves.  Some of us have high standards and refuse to settle for less.  With that decision comes periods of loneliness abbreviated with occasional opportunity.  Others have lower standards.  Those people to whom less is given, less is required.  And those whom don’t demand as much are seldom disappointed.  

But there’s more…

There’s the afterlife (said in my Prince “Let’s Go Crazy” voice). 

There are folks like you and I. We have flexible standards.  We reserve the right to change our minds.  We say “no” sometimes to the invitations we receive.  We celebrate those people we allow to come into our lives by giving them our time, attention, and devotion.  And in between we wonder how things could have gone differently if our decisions conflict with circumstances outside of our control.  

It’s natural to wonder why things didn’t work out.  It’s reflective to suppose how things could have had a more favorable outcome.  Weither we realize it or not, we are building relationships daily.  Each one is an opportunity to change our lives; to build on our experiences; and to create positive outcomes.  

But there are negative experiences too. We reject those (hopefully).  

The ultimate rejection is not when we say “no!”   It’s when we shun a relationship or when we shut someone out of our life.   When we refuse to communicate with them…

When we refuse to perpetuate a relationship…

When we insist on ignoring someone that wants to be in our life…

When we find contentment in never talking to them again…

This is the ultimate rejection.  

(Not) Making Love To The False Prophet

I shall use this as an opportunity to reference a lesson that I’ve spent the past three years learning.  When I thought that I was in the presence of God, I was instead being protected by him (which is far more personal). I endured a storm so harsh, others could not have survived it.  But I came through unscathed.

I’d been fooled and conditioned into thinking that I was on the path to blessings.  All along, however, I was being led by a temptress who called herself the dream maker. My naivety cloaked her harmful ways.  And although she could spew scripture and scoot in and out of sanctuaries unaffected, she was no angel.  To the contrary, she may have been a minion–a false prophet indeed.

I’m safe now, but she’s only begun to call upon the next like a siren.  The next guy is the son of a preacher man. That guy may not stand as a good a chance than I because, as a descendant of a holy messenger, the bounty is far greater.

I pray for his soul; that the Lord create a hedge of protection around him; and I pray that he is more discerning than I was.

Much has been written about false prophets, but as I searched for images, this is what I discovered instead.

False Prophets Mimic the Spirit of God!

The Story will be told by many men.  It will be a story of a woman who claims to be the heir to the throne.  She will argue that if she has to prove her legacy, her challengers simply lack faith.

She demanded that each man she tempted believe in her. In doing so, those “kings-to-be” will have a Devine connection to the Almighty.  It was believable.  I admit that I too conceded. I tasted the forbidden fruit, and it came easily. Am I condemned as well (for trusting this wolf)??

Do we chastise the ones who believe the lies?  Do we judge the fools?

God protects the children and the fools.  The children do not know better, but the fools are in peril because of their simple ignorance.

“Tomfoolery is alive and well,” she used to say!

In short, she was a liar!  Or was she??  She choose a narrative that was not genuine. And she sold it.  A sucker is born every minute…every minute that he spends with her.

Her entire story was a cover up of a life she choose to live–a life of ill-repute and a life of regret; a life that could have been forgiven by her Savior. She may never gain forgiveness because she choose to lie about it instead of testifying.

After searching many scriptures, this one gave me every certainty that I was in the midst of a raven:

“If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. That prophet or dreamer must be put to death for inciting rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. That prophet or dreamer tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.”‭‭(Deuteronomy‬ ‭13:1-5‬ ‭NIV‬)‬

She inspired a higher belief in God (accidentally).  Having survived her clutches, I am affirmed that He protected me. I was bathed in the blood of Christ.  Her plan was foiled. She did not mean for me to get closer to Him.  She wanted my essence for herself.

While in the midst of a spiritual attack, during a fast or consecration, I would to say to her, “are you ReAlly surprised that these attacks would come now?” I’d say this to her each time we witnessed God’s glorious works; each time he protected us from certain destruction. Any time we weathered a spiritual attack, we knew He’d protect us.

She must have secretly been crossing her fingers.

My prayer today is simply that the Enemy release His hold on her life so that she not be destroyed nor damn her victims.

Peace be unto her, for I refused to sleep with the enemy nor make love to the false prophet.

Suspend the Rules

We deal in the “what if’s”

when recognizing how fortunate we are

We convince ourselves that there’s a single point

in our own personal history that our life changed

(for the better or for the worst)

 

But let’s suspend the rules

Let’s release…

Let’s offer the responsibility up to a force greater than our own.

Things happen!

 

We convince ourselves that things happen for a reason.

As intellectuals, we accept the premise of cause and effect.

Things happen…

 

…and we convince ourselves that we can take measures to prevent

…things from happening.

 

Be humbled.  Accept that we don’t know!

 

Not knowing IS ignorance,

But ignorance doesn’t need to be blissful.

 

The bliss comes from not caring.

But the bliss can come from gaining knowledge.

The bliss can come from the release.

 

The release of defeat.

The release of deceit.

The release of something sweet.

The receipt of…

Knowledge

 

…the knowledge that comes from wisdom

…the wisdom that comes from an awareness

…and the awareness that what we know to

be true…

 

…is WRONG.

 

Suspend your beliefs.

Slowly close your eyes.