cleansing

Stuff

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My family and I are moving to a new house in the next week. Needless to say we are in full-blown packing mode. We have only lived in our current house for a little over 3 years and it is amazing how much stuff we have accumulated. You would think that two adults and a 3 year old wouldn’t have so much, but man…there is a lot of stuff here!

What is crazy to me is how often in this packing process I have found things that we should have gotten rid of a long time ago. Clothes, food, toys, random things that I cannot even remember buying, etc. Some things I just shake my head at and wonder why we ever thought it was necessary in the first place.

A few months back there was a smell coming out of one of our lower kitchen cabinets. My wife thought it was the smell of the fish I had cooked the night before that had embedded itself into the cabinet. I figured, like most food smells, it would go away or be overcome by the next thing we cooked. The smell remained. Neither my wife nor I really paid too much attention to it. One day (sadly to say, this was about three weeks ago) I reached deep into the cabinet to get the food processor and amongst the movement of stuff I released a foul smell. I was immediately repelled back by the stank that came out. I recovered myself, took a deep breath and went in to investigate. I pulled the food processor out, some pans, and pots and finally there it was: a really old, really decomposed red onion. Thankfully it was in a bag and I was able to pick it up and throw it outside.

We threw the onion out and right away we could smell the difference in the kitchen. My wife and I laughed about the whole thing, but it got me thinking about how often the same type of thing happens inside of us. We can accumulate so much stuff inside our mind, heart and soul. Things we should’ve let go a long time ago. Regret, doubt, failures, what someone said, what someone didn’t say…the list goes on. Sometimes we don’t even realize that this stuff is affecting us.

Kind of like a decomposing red onion.

At some point I bought that onion and placed it in that cabinet. For some crazy reason I forgot about it but it affected me—it affected the whole household. As a man I recognize the desire to push things that are bothering me away. The “get over it” mind set may lead this, or maybe I convince myself that it really isn’t that big of a deal. The reality is that the serious stuff, the things that bother us do need to be dealt with or else they rot inside and whom are we kidding—it affects everyone we encounter: especially our family.

There is a lot of stuff—red onions—that I have stored up over the years deep inside the “kitchen cabinet of my being”. Some are based on old situations with my dad. Some are insecurities that are common to many men. Some are silly, but for whatever reason have a hold of me. As I continue to find random things in my house that we don’t need to carry on with us I am challenged to reflect on what I need to let go of so that I am not carrying it within me anymore.

Who knew moving to a new house would be such an existential exercise.

Categories: being a man, best self, cleansing, fatherhood, getting rid of junk, home and family, letting go of the past, moving, packing, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shame

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A few days ago Claire was having some digestive issues. I don’t know if it’s the mangos or what but it was interesting. Claire is also getting use to the whole potty training thing, which started of well, but now we have now regressed. So we are hanging out playing with her toys and suddenly I notice that Claire is doing this weird dance. I ask her if she needs to go to the potty and she says “no”, which means she really does have to go. I put her on the potty and she sat for a minute and kept trying to get up. Finally, I had enough and picked her up from the potty. I guess that the upward motion of picking her up followed by gravity pressing her butt back down onto my arm caused bombs to drop on the floor. It kind of startled me at first and when I looked at my arm and saw a giant lump of poop I was brought back to reality.

My wife took Claire, changed her and I cleaned up. A few minutes later we had restored order. My wife went to work and Claire and I continued playing. After 10 minutes or so I got a big whiff of Claire’s work…again. I picked Claire up and changed her and we continued playing. Another 10 minutes went by and Claire moved away from me and hid. I was confused. “Baby what are you doing?” Claire continued to move away from me, her face showing what I first thought was concern, mixed with fear. I had never seen her do this before. Was she scared? Did she see or hear something that caused fear? Finally, my nose told me what was wrong. Claire had pooped again. I approached her and she coward with that same weird look on her face. Finally I recognized what was happening. I had seen this look before in others, but I did not expect to find it on my baby girl.

Shame. My daughter felt shame…

I slowly walked up to Claire and she began to cry and yell, “no, no!” She continued to run away from me. I bent down and took Claire’s hand, “It’s okay baby. Lets go change your diaper.” Claire wasn’t sure what to do. She resisted some more and continued to have that shameful look. I picked her up and changed her diaper. I wiped away all the filth and told her how much I loved her. Claire’s shameful look disappeared with each wipe that took away her stains.I put Claire down and she went back to playing. I watched my little girl run, shout and laugh. I smiled and had one of those moments where you just take it all in and thank God that life is so good.

Its difficult to put into words how painful it was to see my innocent daughter experience shame. I don’t know how Claire could ever think that she needs to hide from me, even if she pooped 3 times in a row. I guess we all experience shame at some point, I just didn’t think it would begin this early on in my daughters life.

Shame is never helpful to a person. Guilt is the recognition that we’ve done something wrong and our conscience responds appropriately (at least it should). Guilt helps us to make the change or seek forgiveness for the wrong we have done. Shame however, is different. Shame tells us that the wrong we have done is bad and that we are bad as well. Shame diminishes us as a person. Shame tries to rob us of our dignity. Shame makes us run away and hide. We do this with God all the time. We fall and think that somehow what we have done is too bad. Unforgivable. Yet God the Father comes searching for us—as if we could actually ever hide from Him.

As a father I recognize that I must do whatever it takes to help my daughter process her emotions in a healthy way. When she is guilty of doing wrong she needs to properly recognize this and respond accordingly. There is no room for shame in anyone’s mind and heart because all it does is distort and lead us away from those who love us, especially God. My hope is that in any occurrence where shame tries to creep its head in my daughter’s heart and mind I will be able to help her recognize it so that instead of hiding she runs to her Fathers arms for healing, forgiveness and peace.

Categories: baby pooping on you, cleansing, daughters, dealing with shame, fatherhood, God, shame, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dust

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Today is the beginning of Lent and in the Catholic Church it begins with going to Mass and having ash put on your forehead with the following words said, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”.  It is kind of a weird thing to say, but it is a physical symbol of death. We recognize that we were created out of the dust and that we will die and become dust again.

There is nothing like the reality of death to put things into perspective.

Death is that inevitable elephant in the room that no one really wants to talk about. Death is very real and it will come to all of us. If you have ever spoken to someone who is dying they will usually talk about things like family, friends, relationships they had. Rarely does a dying person talk about wanting to get the latest iPhone or regretting not having more stuff. Death pushes away the junk of life and prioritizes it.

Thankfully I am not dying, but I still need to prioritize, reflect on my relationships—the things that are really worth living for. Lent begins with dust—death—but more importantly Lent ends with life, new life. A life that is better than the one we have. At the end of Lent we have Easter, the empty tomb, resurrection—New Life.

Lent is an intense time of prayer, repentance, sacrifice, reflection, denial, surrender to God, acceptance of our weakness, recognition of blessings, etc. At the end of Lent I should have a new focus, a renewed desire for all that is most important: God and family. Not stuff.

My wife and daughter need a husband and father that is being purified of all that is not good. They deserve the very best of me and I can’t give them that if I don’t take stock of where I am and focus on the important things of life. It’s too easy to get distracted and knocked off course. That is why I love having Lent every year to help me refocus.

I think that if every father took these next 40 days to pray, reflect, repent, sacrifice, deny, surrender to God, accept our weakness and recognize all our blessings we would be better men. The men our families deserve, the men God has called us to be. In the end we will all face death…return to the dust. I hope that we can all face death joyfully, with the understanding that it isn’t the end but the beginning of something great, a New Life.

May this Lent transform us all!

Categories: best self, cleansing, dying to self, fatherhood, God, home and family, Parenting, surrendering | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Diaper Reality

DSC02881There was poop everywhere

A routine 3:00 a.m. diaper change turned ugly at about 3:01 when I discovered that Claire had pooped up to the back of her neck. How does that happen?! Seriously. The physics of it just blows my mind. I’m sure there is a YouTube video out there explaining it with simulations and quadratic equations, but I digress.

The problem with this particular blowout was not so much that Claire was caked in it, but that the diaper was not disposable. My wife and I’s inner hippie got the best of us before Claire was born when we decided that we would use reusable diapers. This isn’t your great-grandma’s dinner-napkin-with-a-safety-pin diaper. This is a technologically advanced diaper that makes those hundreds, even thousands of dollars a year in disposables vanish. What these “BumGenius” company folks don’t tell you before you buy them is that there’s this nasty, sticky, Spiderman web like poop that doesn’t come off easily. It’s the kind that you need laser to remove it from the diaper. “It’s still attached!” “Get the laser, hun!”

They sell a sprayer attachment that connects to your toilet. It works—20 gallons later.

So I cleaned Claire off, changed her and then did battle with Satan’s forgotten child in a technologically advanced diaper. 20 gallons later, I claimed victory. I thought I was going to need a priest, but it worked out.

I went back to Claire’s room because she was making some noise. She was probably traumatized from the experience. I know I was—it was up to her neck! I walked in and smelled poop. I thought that maybe some had passed Claire’s head and hit the wall or something crazy like that. I sniffed around and found the source—in Claire’s new diaper. Apparently Satan had another forgotten child.

I began the cleaning process again (this time I used a disposable diaper—who’s the bum genius now?!). I began to pull the Velcro strap of the new diaper close when I heard a foul noise followed by a smell. Claire had pulled off a Hat Trick and it was only 3:10 a.m.

At this point I am beyond upset and I lose it. I start quietly yelling (which is hard to do) at Claire for this unnecessary level of bowel activity. She starts crying. I start crying, which is followed by shame, guilt, and many other terrible emotions.

I put Claire to bed and head to the living room to let the whole ordeal set in. “I yelled at her, God! For pooping!” More shame. More tears and the realization that I might not be as good of a father as I think I am. As I sat on the couch upset at myself, and asking God for patience and strength, I felt that God had something to say.

As usual I wasn’t expecting this.

God was showing me that Claire’s bowel movements are an image of my life. I sin. God comes in to clean the mess. I sin again—almost immediately—and God comes in to clean the mess again. As He patiently and lovingly cleanses me I go ahead and make another mess—the Hat Trick. Yet, God patiently wipes away the nasty, foul and unpleasant reality that is my brokenness. The diaper reality is this: we sin, seek forgiveness, God cleanses and heals, and we sin again. However, our heavenly Father is much more patient than this rookie dad. When I look at the analogy of this diaper fiasco I realize God is right and that, yet again, discovering fatherhood is more than learning patience with Claire and diaper cleansing techniques. It demands that I recognize and accept God’s never-ending patience with me, and my own constant diaper Hat Tricks.

*No technologically advanced diapers were harmed in the making of this blog*

Categories: brokenness, cleansing, fatherhood, God, Parenting, patience, sin | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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