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Wedding toasts are normally awkward, funny, or moving. If you can avoid the first and combine the second two, you're doing something right. I went to a wedding recently, and was deeply moved by a simple acknowledgement from a father to a son. "Son, I have never been disappointed in you, and I am so proud of you." Maybe it was just me, but it felt like something shifted in the atmosphere of the room. I'm pretty sure every male there at least had a tear creeping at the edge of their eyes. It was a beautiful moment none of us will forget.
There is something in all of us that's raw, painful, complicated, growing, beautiful and we rarely show it. It would be embarrassing, it could hurt our reputation, it might be too heart-on-the-sleeve, or "too much information." Vulnerability is a buzzword many talk about. We can all dip our toe in the shallow end, but how about the deep end? No way, I'll stick with the subtle references to "hard times" and "difficult situations." I'll talk about my impatience and neat-freak tendencies but not the real ugly parts.
I've had an issue with being passive aggressive for the majority of my life. A few years ago I became aware of it and started making an effort to be more immediate and upfront about expressing my feelings. The problem, though, is I think I have leaned more towards the overtly aggressive side in my efforts. I stuck my foot in my mouth a couple weeks ago and immediately regretted it. We were trying to leave town and couldn't do so until the appraiser was done at our house.
It's no secret Lacie and I love animals. We currently have one per 270 square-feet in our home. Lacie is excellent at picking them out, too. They're all rescues, and they're each awesome in their own unique way. I want to talk about one in particular, though, because she's taught me something about our relationship to God and to others. We adopted Eleanor at a time when we were "just looking" at the humane society, as the story always goes.
I was meeting with someone last week who noticed my ring and asked how long I had been married. "Marriage is grand," he said, "and divorce is five hundred grand." You could feel the tragedy even through the joke. I laughed somewhat nervously and paused to let him elaborate. Just behind the humor was an obvious sadness. A few days later another person told me about his childhood and the pain he felt from being made fun of for being overweight.
I think we all have default modes we go to when we are tired, bored, angry, or hurt. I remember a time in my life when I intentionally tried to do whatever the opposite of my first inclination was, even with unimportant, simple things. Once it was raining when I pulled up at my apartment, so instead of running in I stood there and got soaked. You don't realize how relaxing an outdoor shower is until you aren't running to escape it or complaining about getting wet.
There is a gas station I stop at periodically on my way home where a very angry man works. I'll refer to him as Angry Ninja because in conversation he once told me he practices martial arts. Angry Ninja towers over me and is always wearing a hip, knit beanie. If you walked in right now he would tell you his grievances with little introduction. You've met these people before. They're always prepared, ready to unpack today's dose of "everything sucks" at the first opportunity. Always something different, always negative.
I spend a lot of time trying to see the world through a positive, hopeful lens. I realize, though, some of you might feel left out. What about those who want to strike a match and watch it burn? What if you're really trying to mess things up? Well, this week is for you. Here are ten surefire ways to make it a little harder for all of us. Oversimplify complicated issues, then have a very loud opinion about it. Share those opinions as often as possible, especially on social media via memes. Limit your influences and embrace confirmation bias. Only seek information that already supports your existing beliefs. Live in an echo chamber. It feels real nice not having anyone disagree.
I sit down with hundreds of individuals throughout the year. Sometimes it's a business transaction, but other times it's an eye-opening conversation. Like I described last week, some people are especially gifted at discussing the deeper things, and that often means hard topics. "Do your clients ever try to ask you about politics?" I hesitated before answering a new client of mine. I've been around long enough to know when I'm on the precipice of a volatile conversation, but this didn't feel like one of those.
There are days I wonder how I am having an impact in this world. The vast amount of suffering and pain is almost immobilizing to a heart that cares about it. Where do I even start? It starts right where I am. Many world-changers never grow into their own shoes because the problems they hear about solving are a continent away. When in reality, tragedy lives next-door. There are days I wonder how I am having an impact in this world. The vast amount of suffering and pain is almost immobilizing to a heart that cares about it. Where do I even start?





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