Do you know those phone calls you dread to receive? The person on the other end tells you your worst fear has come true, your loved one has passed, your company is shutting the doors. A pit opens in your stomach, and you feel yourself falling into the black hole of despair. I will never forget one of the stupidest things I did as a teenager that resulted in my parents receiving one of those phone calls. "Mr. Butler, this is the Hoover Police [long, unnecessary pause for dramatic effect]. I have your son, Chase, here with me now."
I tend to write three types of blogs. One, I fulfill my weekly commitment and offer an observation and lesson. Two, I actually hit a nerve but make sure the points are general enough to not be too personal. Three, I cut right to the core with less regard to social expectations. The third normally stays saved in the drafts. I know this about myself because I have an iPhone full of notes I've never shared. Many get deleted. Few get posted. Why? Because I'm afraid if I post the ones I wrote therapeutically, with no regards to audience or perception, it would be too much. It would fall outside the bounds of what you expect.
When I was little I told my parents I wanted to be a "chireman." I couldn't say "fireman" at the time, but that wasn't going to stop me from saving people from burning buildings. Then it was Batman. Then it was a full-time musician. I'm none of those things now (though I'm still working on the Batman part), and that's totally okay. It's okay that you aren't doing what you dreamed you would be doing.
The highlight of my fishing career came around age ten. Early before church one Sunday morning I took my Batman kiddie rod and a whopper of a grasshopper out to my grandparents' pond. I wanted to try my luck before leaving for church. To my surprise, the line took off, dragging me right along with it. Seeing my struggle, my Dad quickly came to assist, sloshing into the mud in his Sunday best. I'm sure the soggy bank of the pond ruined his dress shoes. He wasn't going to let this opportunity pass by for me, though, even if it meant getting down in the mud.
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.