21 Days of Posts – Day 20 – Connections Between People

Est. Reading Time: 3 minutes

Hello to all who have decided to follow along as I post for 21 days straight as part of our church fast. As you can see, each entry is numbered as a particular day, so if you are reading this and the title above doesn’t say Day 1, then you should stop now and go read from Day 1, or take a peek at Day 2 and pick a topic you are interested in. Thanks for being brave enough to join me.

Welcome to Day 20! In this post I want to talk about connections, mostly connections between people.

Most humans crave connection to other humans. I say most, not all, because there are people out there who would rather connect with their dog, or cat, or pet python than deal with the chaos of connecting to other people. Connecting to other people can be messy and complicated, as everyone brings their own baggage into a relationship, any kind of relationship. It doesn’t always have to be messy, but more times than not, messy is the operative description.

We crave connection with other people for a variety of reasons. Security. Looking for a kindred spirit. Someone to share experiences with. Love. Some things in life are just better shared with other people. Food. Music. Excitement. Laughter. Pain. Sorrow. Heartache. All of these are generally better when shared with other people.

But how do we make these connections in the first place? I could copy and paste both previous lists right here and be mostly right again. Shared likes, shared dislikes, pain, trauma-all are ways that we connect. Some experiences are more binding than others. If all we ever did with our friends was go out to eat or to a concert, we would develop connections with them, but not as deeply as if we were to experience intense joy or deep sorrow with them. Intensity of experience factors in heavily when we discuss the strength of our connections with others.

Another key component of making strong connections is dealing with unexpected circumstances. This can be as joyous as playing a new game for the first time with a group of friends, or as tragic as losing a loved one, family or friend. When unexpected things happen, bonds are formed that are tough to break. Ask anyone who goes through a traumatic experience with a group. Ask a military veteran how deep the bonds with his or her unit are, especially if they’ve seen combat.

Connections between people make the world go ’round. The saying “it’s not what you know, but who you know” is so true in so many circumstances. We find that unfair at times, but just as “luck favors the prepared”, so too can we say “luck favors the connected”. People get jobs and find opportunities all the time because of who they know.

High-dollar, luxury item salesmen know the power of connection all too well. If they can make a connection with a potential customer, that customer is more likely to decide they really do need that giant TV, extravagant boat, higher-priced car, or totally useless memorabilia item. Not making a  connection will tend to result in no sale unless the customer had decided what they wanted before they walked into the store.

Not every connection we make is going to be life-changing or even cause us to think twice, but there are three connections we all should make that WILL make a difference in our lives. You know what they are…connection to God, connection to people, and connection to purpose. Sound familiar? I hope so. How are your three connections doing? What do you need to do today, tomorrow, next week, or next month to make those connections stronger?

Thanks for reading to the end! Only one more blog post to go! Join me tomorrow for one last post in this series, then please follow me as I continue to post throughout my journey to complete a book. That series will most likely be weekly, not daily, and will be interspersed with other posts on various topics. More details to follow!

 

Photo Credit – Photo by Mario Purisic on Unsplash

 

21 Days of Posts – Day 4 – Rejection

Est. Reading Time: 3 minutes

Hello to all who have decided to follow along as I post for 21 days straight as part of our church fast. As you can see, each entry is numbered as a particular day, so if you are reading this and the title above doesn’t say Day 1, then you should stop now and go read from Day 1, or take a peek at Day 2 and pick a topic you are interested in. Thanks for being brave enough to join me.

Hello, lucky reader! This post, like yesterday’s, also has a point, but it comes after considerable confession. Welcome to my head again…

Every feel like those wads of paper in the picture above? They’ve been rejected, deemed unworthy to keep, not even as bad examples, just tossed out.

Rejection happens to everyone at some point in their life. Some of the most successful people on the planet have been rejected more times than they can count. I envy them.

I don’t envy them because they are successful. That’s not my problem. I envy them because they appear not to care they were rejected. They move through their lives with a positive tilt on their acceptance/”rejectance” meter, not because they haven’t been rejected, but because they overcame that to be…successful.

If you know me, you probably know I avoid confrontation at all costs. I hate confrontation. It makes my head spin and stomach queasy. I’ll accept poor service, bad food, bad deals, and more, just to avoid confrontation.

But there is one thing I hate worse than confrontation.You guessed it. It’s our topic of the day – rejection.

Every fiber of my being hates rejection and not just overt, intentional rejection (which is usually for a good reason). It’s the unintentional rejection that hurts even more. It’s the lack of enthusiasm for one of my ideas. It’s the “playing along so he’ll get it out of his system” rejection that crawls all over me and bruises my fragile ego. I’m not saying everyone has to agree with me all the time, far from it (and that would be a terrible thing to do), but reject me or my idea overtly and intentionally so I can at least be sure that is what is happening.

Because that is the crux of the matter, isn’t it? Those of us who hate rejection most likely are not rejected as much as we think we are. We imagine rejection by other people as the norm and assume it in every movement they make and everything they say, partially from past experience, partially from a lack of confidence in ourselves. That’s why including rejection in the building of a character in a novel is essential. Characters who haven’t been rejected, especially in a huge, impactful ways, haven’t suffered enough for most authors (or even some readers).

I know I sound certifiable at this point, but I promise it’s not so. When I concentrate and remember that there is someone who will never reject me (here comes the point!), that someone being Jesus, I am better able to let rejection, real or imagined, roll off my back like eggs off Teflon (wow, that’s an old reference – sorry). Jesus will never reject us if we come to him in repentance and commit to him (Psalm 94:14). It doesn’t matter what shape we are in at the time – hurting, angry, ashamed, or addicted (or all of these) – he will receive us with open arms, again and again and again.

Because we are real good at rejecting Jesus. When we choose our plans and our path over his plans and his path for us, we reject him, crumpling him up (as an idea in our head and heart) and tossing him away. It imagine it has to hurt him. Think about an exceptionally hurtful time you were rejected (just for a second) and imagine that happening over and over. That’s what I think Jesus feels every day from those who reject him, whether they do it maliciously or unthinkingly.

Rejection – it’s not just a character builder, it’s something I try to avoid. However, if we truly live the Christian life, we are guaranteed to be rejected (and hated) at some point. That’s scriptural – check out John 15:18-25.

Thanks for reading to the end! Check back tomorrow as I write about writing – what it means to me and what it allows me to do.

Photo Credit – Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

21 Days of Posts – Day 3 – Romance

Est. Reading Time: 4 minutes

Hello to all who have decided to follow along as I post for 21 days straight as part of our church fast. As you can see, each entry is numbered as a particular day, so if you are reading this and the title above doesn’t say Day 1, then you should stop now and go read from Day 1, or take a peek at Day 2 and pick a topic you are interested in. Thanks for being brave enough to join me.

It’s Day 3 of my 21-day post sequence and I know many of you are wondering “is this just some kind of Internet confessional?” and are about to quit reading from either boredom or horror. Bear with me for this post, as it does have a point.

It is time to play some self-imposed “truth or dare”.

Want to know a big, ugly, weird, juicy, truth about me?

Sure you do…

I’m a heart-fluttering-weepy-falling-over-stupid romantic. Yep, I confess, that’s me. It will never, ever come up unless I bring it up, so here it is. Welcome to my hidden thoughts…

I’m a sucker for a good love song (The Cure’s Love Song or Dave Matthew’s You & Me are good examples), a sad break-up song (Liykke Li’s Possibility* and The Cure’s Apart both prime examples), various Nicholas Cage movies (The Family Man, It Could happen To You, City of Angels), some Nicholas Sparks books/movies, and even crazy stupid romances like Twilight (you are free to laugh hysterically at this point, if you didn’t start laughing at “Nicholas Cage”).

People like me love both the romances that make perfect sense and those that don’t. The real question is why are we drawn to contrivances such as impossible romances? Isn’t love and romance hard enough without fighting social norms, ridiculous twists of fate, and death itself? I would wager we (us romantics) have been fascinated with the impossible romances since even before Romeo and Juliet.

Which is why all kinds of people were drawn to Twilight…all three books and four movies. We’re drawn to stories where it seems impossible any peace or equilibrium can be found in a potential relationship. We’re particularly drawn to stories where a huge sacrifice must be made by one or the other romantic partner, or by both of them, to make the romance work. Twilight has this motif in spades. City of Angels also invokes this theme of ultimate sacrifice in pursuit of love. Sometimes it works out great, a la Twilight, sometimes not, as in City of Angels (oops, mini-spoiler).

We like to see the happy couple stay together forever after overcoming such adversity. Sometimes we get that glimpse, sometimes we don’t. It all depends on what idea the story creator wants us to take away from the story. Does the author want us to believe it is better to love deeply for only a brief moment in time after overcoming all odds, or does he want us to finish the story, or movie, with a perfect sense of “all is well” because the main couple fought and overcame <insert terrible adversity here>? Some would argue one is better than the other. I find them equally satisfying, if the author does their job correctly.

When Harry Met Sally is one of my favorite movies of all time. I tell my wife that is “our” movie. Some couples have “their” song…we have “our” movie. The movie is about friends who eventually become lovers, who eventually marry, but along the way fight with every fiber of their being at various times to reach a different goal. The movie falls into the “leave the viewer happy” category, and not just for the main protagonists.

Other movies, like The NotebookThe Family Man, and City of Angels all show the work and/or sacrifice that went into the relationship, but leave the viewer, if not sad, at least a bit melancholy at the end. We see incredible devotion and love displayed by those in the relationship, and we see them happy, for a bit, then the movie shifts and moves on, just like time moves on.

I have to admit that romance as portrayed in books and movies is usually problematic. That’s part of what draw us to them. My favorite book/movie series to pick on, Twilight, has all kinds of problems and has been lambasted by critics for its glaring relationship issues (but I’ve read the entire series at least three times). Books and movies by Nicholas Sparks are so dependant on outlandish twists of fate that we all usually breathe easier because we don’t have to suffer through what his characters experience. But we still indulge in escaping to those fictional landscapes, if only to shake our heads at the characters as they struggle.

We haven’t even touched on one of the the most difficult aspects of most book and movie relationships, that of the “love triangle”, where gut-wrenching, heart-rending decisions have to be made by the characters involved. Sometimes the author will ease us out of that frightful tension with a unicorn-and-rainbow solution (see the Twilight series, from New Moon to Eclipse to Breaking Dawn), but sometimes they will not (see The Notebook and the decidedly unromantic Hunger Games series), and we have to vicariously experience the heartbreak and fallout from someone’s decision. At least it is vicarious, and not real.

Yes, love, romance and relationships are hard enough without crippling diseases, terrible accidents, and <gasp> vampires. Why do we subject ourselves to the fictional heartache? Don’t we have enough hurt to deal with? Maybe, but we get to experience, and then discard (sometimes with effort) the pain and suffering of another, and maybe, just maybe, experience a taste of unrepentant and wildly ridiculous romance without disrupting our real lives. Catharsis is a powerful tool and running ourselves through the wringer of fictional, impossible romance every now and then is probably healthy (but I’m no expert).

So what is the point, you ask? I remember; you were promised a point. The point is that as much as these crazy, impossible, fictional romances may appeal to (some) of us, the greatest, craziest, most possible of impossible love stories is that of our God desiring to be in communion with us, his children. This REAL love story has it all – a complete lack of equilibrium, an unimaginable sacrifice, even a happily-ever-after. It outshines all other love stories ever written. May the love of God wrap you up in complete contentment, or as complete as it can get on this earth, for the duration of the fast and beyond.

Thanks for reading all the way to the end! I sincerely hope it was worth it to you and that you will continue to read along with my fasting journey.

*This song, I believe, was originally written as a break up song, but the sequence of scenes it is used with in New Moon make it even more wrenchingly impactful. I can’t listen to the song without hearing Bella’s desperate screams of emptiness. Stupid romantic…

Photo Credit – Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

About Life Getting In The Way…

Est. Reading Time: 2 minutes

It’s funny how the life you want to live keeps getting interrupted by the life that is. Or maybe, it’s not that funny for you. I have to admit, it’s not that funny for me, but I’m set on moving forward.

It’s been months since I have posted, as usual. When last I posted, we were looking for a house, I was looking for some old blog posts, and everyone was looking for some sanity to come out of Washington D.C.. We did at least find a house, but as for those old blog posts and sanity from D.C., those have yet to be found.

Peter Mayhew and Rutger Hauer were still alive, but nobody knew Jan Michael Vincent was already dead (that was an odd one…).

I was determined to finish a book before NaNoWriMo kicked in again, but here it is, the cusp of October, and there is no way I will finish a book before November. Will I start a new one in November? Probably.

I am going to re-post some of my old entries. Actually, I have already done that. I dropped three re-posts right before writing this one. More to follow.

For the two of you who read this, I want you to know that I am re-dedicating to posting more consistently. I have a fairly full head right now, and in the absence of a pensieve, I’ll need to blog to remember it all.

A separate post is coming right up after this one, detailing some moderately deep thoughts about what I have been learning in my Christian walk over the past few months, from searching for a house to going through the life ordeal of seeing my daughter get married.

After that is another post, potentially quite controversial, about how I feel we as a church do a disservice to new believers before they even accept Christ. I will be opening up comments on this post as I really desire to know what others think.

What does the image above have to do with this post? Absolutely nothing…

Stay tuned.