dying to self

Killing Me

Here liesDad

The last two months have been tough. Going from one kid to two has its challenges. The baby has been easy: sleep, eat, poop, repeat. My wonderful wife has been great and for the most part is the one that has to focus on Cecilia (the baby). Most of my time and focus has been on Claire (the four year old). This started of really well, but it has quickly spiraled into chaos.

Everything is a struggle with Claire.

Waking up, getting dressed, eating, going to preschool, coming home, play time, snack time and definitely going to bed at night. There isn’t one thing that we do during the day that doesn’t have the potential to explode on my face, and it usually does. Claire and I will have a great time playing and eating a snack, when suddenly she will fight with me about getting a bath. Claire will be dead tired and fight getting into bed; she will then wake up at 3am, 4am and 5am because she “can’t sleep”. WHAT THE HELL!! There is no rhyme or reason to it (at least I can’t see one).

I realize that change for a four year old is difficult, and lets face it…she is only four years old. Regardless of this fact, I am exhausted. I literally feel dead and spent every single day and night. The nights where Claire decides to wake up at 3am because she’s hungry are the worst. It takes all that I have to not run off to Mexico and seek asylum.

The kid is killing me.

When I am able to see past my exhaustion I recognize that this is exactly what is suppose to happen.

I need to die.

In the last couple of weeks I’ve come to realize that it isn’t my daughters fighting, crankiness, random 3am wake ups that are killing me. Sure this is tough for any person, but the fact is that my comfort, my desire for control and order are being purged out of me. They are unbalanced and unrealistic.

I don’t want to be purged. I want comfort. I want control. I want order.

I have known that I am “particular” about things; I believe its one of the reasons why I am successful at work. However, I never would have consider myself so rigged that I would be stressed out the way I currently am. I guess its always different in the most sacred of inner sanctums like home.

Comfort is good to some extent, but there is no growth in it. Comfort doesn’t allow for testing and purging. Trying to control things and people isn’t freedom, its slavery for them and myself. Order has value, until it turns your wife and daughters into tasks, objects that must be taken care of.

The kid isn’t killing me, she is an instrument of Gods grace that is taking this overly comfortable, control freak, that values order way too much; and is slowly, painfully, yet beautifully changing me into something else. Something better.

Something worth dying for.

I never would have thought that I would have these things messing with me, but I do. My spiritual director and counselor tell me that I am in a beautiful place, a sweet spot of sorts that has exponential opportunities for growth and transformation. I see more and more through this crazy, beautiful gift of a four year old that discovering fatherhood is not just about what I can do to help my children become holy, loving and responsible adults. It is also a journey of discovering that this father has to become a holy, loving and responsible adult.

Man! Never a dull moment in this journey.

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Categories: being a man, best self, Catholic, dad and the kids, dads, death, dying to self, fatherhood, fathers, Parenting, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Demands of Love

sick kid

My wife and I had made plans to drop our daughter off at grandmas so that we could have an entire Saturday of Valentines Day festivities. It had been a while since our work schedule’s had synced. We were super excited to go hiking in the mountains, have dinner not involving sippy-cups and bibs, and going to watch a movie. I cant tell you when was the last time I saw a movie on the big screen.

The Valentine’s Day get away was brought to a screeching halt a few days prior due to our daughters vomiting. Claire was not feeling well Thursday evening but it wasn’t until she puked that we realize it was more serious. Friday she had puked again, only in the morning but we knew we wouldn’t be able to drop her off at grandmas if she had some kind of stomach bug. All hopes of a potential romantic get away ended Saturday morning when Claire clearly hadn’t gotten better.

We spent most of Valentines Day comforting our little girl. Claire, who is usually running around as if she had drunk a six-pack of red bull was very calm and subdue. We actually had her cuddling on the couch with us, which is hard to do because she is so active. We spent time comforting her as we watched a few episodes of her favorite cartoon, Sofia the First. My wife did some homework since we weren’t going anywhere and I spent most of my time taking care of the little one.

Dinner was one of our typical recipes that we rotate through every few weeks. We had some wine and dessert from an earlier grocery store trip. We rented a Red box movie that my wife had wanted to see for the last year. It wasn’t the Valentines Day we had hoped for but in the end it worked out.

As parents we find our plans interrupted constantly by our children. It can be frustrating, especially when you’ve been planning something for a few weeks. Yet, the demands of love require that we be capable and willing to be interrupted. As disappointing as it was to not be able to do any of the things we had planned, there was something deeply beautiful in spending time serving our sick daughter. By no means was it as glamorous as a romantic outing for the day, but it was what love demanded and what love demands is always worth while. I know I write about this concept often, but a willingness to surrender to ones desires is so necessary; especially in being a parent, especially as a man. At the end of the day Valentines Day is about spending time with those you love most. It is amazing how sickness can reveal our love for our family. The cleaning up of vomit, having your child in your arms for the entire day, or the simple pat on the back for comfort are gestures of love that say more than weeks of planning an outing, cooking the perfect dinner and buying a gift.

To love is to serve. To serve is to love. This is what love demands of us.

Categories: dying to self, fatherhood, husband and wife, Sick kids, Uncategorized, Valentines Day | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Prince Charming is a lie, but real men aren’t!

 

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I am sharing this post from an article I recently read on the website: The Chastity Project. It is written by a young woman named Esther Rich. I think she touches on something very true that sometimes men (at least this man) we feel like we are not the “Prince Charming” that we are supposed to be. Esther’s word are worth sharing. Enjoy.

LEO
I LOVE the song ‘Lead Me’ by Sanctus Real, but I can’t listen to it without getting emotional. My friend and I cried to each other over the phone when we first heard it.

Why?

Because it hits a sore spot. It hits that wound in all of our hearts that bleeds the phrase “how come there are no real men anymore?!” Most of us have heard it asked. Nearly as many of us have asked it ourselves. But the reason we don’t see them isn’t that they don’t exist, it’s that we tell them they can’t.

God created us for union and communion with each other. His unmatchable creativity is such that he designed us to fit together. Our lives are the most fruitful and we feel the most fulfilled when we’re exercising that complementarity. We need men in our lives—not just husbands, but fathers, brothers, friends—and they need us. We unlock an extra level of potential in each other.

Sometimes as women we put far too much pressure on men to become the ideal we think we need. We’re often guilty of underestimating just how difficult a job they have! Supporting us and leading us takes an immense amount of strength. But that strength comes from God alone, and must be continually renewed through prayer and abandonment to Him.

Disney has taught us to expect perfection and settle for nothing less. But Prince Charming is a lie. No wonder the divorce rate is rising so rapidly: we’re in for a serious shock if we marry with the false belief that the men who swept us off our feet and carried us to the altar in their strong arms will retain that guise of perfection for long.

No man is flawless (neither are we!), and expecting them to solve all our problems will only end in more heartache. Christ called us to love one another as He loves us. That means that the most fruitful relationships will be built on grace and mercy rather than pressure and judgement. We’re called to love each other including our flaws, because without that merciful love no relationship can survive.

Disney’s version of “Mr Right” may be far-fetched and idealistic, but deep down we do have a natural longing to be supported and guided by a strong man—spiritually, physically and emotionally… and that’s no coincidence! What we long for is actually the root of what men were intended to be, we just don’t realise it. We want them to be strong and gentle and decisive and loving all at the same time… and they can be! But to benefit from that, we have to allow them to develop those strengths. To have a “real man,” we have to allow him to be a real man.

Culture insists on mourning the loss of ‘real men’, but perhaps it’s simply the definition used that needs challenging. A real man isn’t one who works out twice a day, earns a six figure salary and buys extravagant presents with money he won’t miss.

A “real man” is one who will lead you with strong hands even when that means humbly admitting his mistakes.

One who will discerningly make sacrifices for the greater good of your family.

One who seeks guidance from his heavenly Father instead of relying on his own strength.

One who’d rather walk you to Heaven than drive you around in his Porsche.

One who looks at your heart before your physique.

One who prays for you, not just pays for you.

One who strives to protect your purity not conquer it.

One who loves you as Christ loves His Church.

… and these REAL MEN EXIST!

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Esther Rich has a bachelor degree in Psychology from Oxford University, UK, and is currently completing the Sion Community Foundation Year, working on their youth ministry team. She loves Theology of the Body, Papa Francesco and a good worship band. She is passionate about empowering women to be who they were created to be, and blogs at “For Such A Time As This.”

Categories: being a man, dying to self, fathers, God, manhood, prince charming, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fitting Them In

Photo Jun 17, 8 59 25 PM

Recently I heard someone say that today’s generation of parents are trying to fit their children into their lives as opposed to changing their lives for their children. I had never heard it put this way, but as I have been thinking about it I realize it is true. It has always been understood that children change your life and that you therefore must make adjustments for that change.

Children require us to live differently.

We see this on TV and movies every now and then. A man finds out his spouse is pregnant and he states, “Well I guess I have to change my ways.” The man will tend to stop staying out late with friends, be more responsible about financial expenses, and change habits that are not conducive to being a father. Obviously, it isn’t that simple but the idea is that things need to change due to this new life entering the world. Unfortunately this isn’t really happening with many new parents.

More and more we see that my generation and the ones that follow are not willing to transform their lives so that their children can benefit from it. Instead we are attempting to fit our children into the lifestyles we currently have. Square block into a round hole kind of thing.

A few years ago I had a friend that was into the nightclub scene. This friend would go dancing Thursday through Saturday nights because she loved dancing and that was her thing. Baby came along and after a few months of being a mom she attempted to pick up the nightclub life again. My friend would get frustrated because her baby would keep her from going dancing. Thankfully, reason set in and she realized that she needed to change because a nightclub lifestyle is not conducive to a new born.

Another example.

I have an acquaintance who loves hip-hop. He listens to it all the time on his way to work. One day he gave his mother a ride to the grocery store and he had his music blasting on the stereo as usual. His mom turned the stereo off and smacked him on the chest (while driving). “What was that for?!” he asked. The mother began to chew her son out because listening to the cursing, ill reference to women, etc. that this particular hip-hop song had was not okay with a 9 month old in the back seat. Unfortunately my friend didn’t take his moms advice seriously and continues to play his “dirty hip-hop” as his mom calls it, and now has a 3 year old with a seriously messed up vocabulary, lack of respect for his mother and a bad attitude.

When I first heard about this “fitting them in” style of parenting I thought to myself, “those selfish people, how dare they do such a thing”. However, the more I reflect on this I realize I too am guilty of trying to “fit them in”. I have this fence that we have had up for a few months now and I have been attempting to stain it. Part of it is done and the other part isn’t. My goal has been to stain the fence and fit Claire in when it isn’t interrupting the fence project. I’m sure I can come up with more examples, but you don’t need a 6-page post of my ridiculousness.

Clearly we all have things we enjoy doing and things that we need to do that demand our time and attention. This fitting them in thing is more of an overall mentality that seems to be dominating my generation and the ones following. I personally think it all stems from the selfish-its-all-about-me way that most of us in the U.S.A have been led to believe is part of our Constitution. Entitlement I believe is the word. It is scary to have a “fitting them in” mentality about our children because they become just one more thing. The gym, mowing the lawn, and chores around the house—these are all things that are okay to fit into our lives, but not our children.

I believe we have to live differently when we have children. We can’t be selfish about our lives because our children suffer and we also suffer. It isn’t easy. I struggle with this all the time. So from this newbie dad to those who bother to read this blog lets keep praying for each other and keep each other accountable. Lets not fit our children in like we do client meetings, phone conversations or fence staining. Our children are our priority and they should get first dibs.

Categories: children, dying to self, fatherhood, Parenting, selfishness, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Metamorphosis

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I am changing.

I am not the same person I use to be.

There is a change. It is gradual, but noticeable.

When my wife and I first got married sometimes we would have different days off. My normal response was to rent a new video game and play it for an ungodly amount of time, or watch movies, or binge on TV shows. It was ok. I enjoy video games, movies and TV shows.

Every now and then I get a day where my wife and daughter will be away from the house. Sometimes I spend time watching TV or a movie, but most of the time I am thinking about things like house projects: staining the fence, painting the rooms I never got around to, dry walling the basement we had to gut, etc. More often than not it’s smaller things like taking the trash out or going grocery shopping or cleaning the house.

A few weeks ago I notice that I had a four hour window of time to myself and my immediate reaction was to do something for my family. It was strange in a sense. I think most of the time in a situation like this I would want to do my own thing, relax and let it be a easy day. Yet, there is stuff that needs to get done for our family. I recognize that my wife and daughter probably would say, “chill out and enjoy those four hours.”

However, there is this change in me that desires to serve.

“People that know about these type of things” say that most modern men don’t really mature now a days until they are in their mid to late twenties. Maybe I am maturing. Maybe this desire to serve is proof that this man has reached full manhood status. My response: about freaking time! I am 32.

In discovering fatherhood I am discovering who I am called to be – a servant. Not someone that aims to please himself, because although it is okay to use four hours for R-and-R I much rather use them to make my wife and daughters life better. I don’t know if I would have said the same thing a year ago or six months ago.

But today there is this change in me. It is gradual, but noticeable.

Categories: best self, dying to self, fatherhood, fathers, growing up, husband and wife, Transformation, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

Nails

Hands and feet

One of the more challenging things I do with Claire is trimming her finger and toenails. I remember the first time I did it. It was traumatic—for me. I had the clippers out and was able to get a few fingernails in a half hour. I was so scared I would take a chunk of her finger! I didn’t take a whole finger, but unfortunately I got a little bit of skin and it bled. Man talk about feeling like a bad father.

At 10 months old trimming her nails isn’t a traumatic experience anymore, but it is still challenging. I find myself giving her shinny things to look and hold with one hand, while I try and trim her nails with the other. It is a bit rough to say the least. Claire is able to twist, turn and yank her limbs away all while screaming at the top of her lungs. I guess this is why surgeons have anesthesia.

A few days ago we were at it again (I swear they grow overnight). Claire fought like a mad woman. I would try to calm her with monkey noises (one of her favorite sounds), handing her a tiny flash light we keep by her crib, and finally by trying to reason with her. The monkey sound was the only slightly successful tactic. At one point I pinned her down and tried overpowering her, but quickly realized that this would only lead to more trouble.

Force never works.

As I stood frustrated over Claire, clipper in one hand and pinning her with the other I came to the realization that Claire’s attempts to keep me from trimming her nails is something I do…with God.

God is constantly speaking to us—even to those of us who believe He isn’t there. God is constantly trying to steer us towards Him and all that is good. God does all He can to help us to see that what He has to offer is what we need. I’m sure God has His own monkey noises for us; shinny things to attract our attention and heaven forbid He would try to reason with us. I know I fight Him just as much as Claire fights nail trimming.  Claire’s nails must be trimmed so she doesn’t hurt herself, but she will fight it. There are things in my life that must be “trimmed” yet I fight it.  I kick and scream and in the end the only thing I’ve done is cut myself with my own nails.

I often wonder how incredibly frustrating it must be to be God. To have a bunch of whinny, difficult and crazy children that reject every good and perfect thing He offers. It must be exhausting and infuriating. As I think these things Claire smiles as she lies pinned down by my hand.  I smile back and realize that even in Claire’s fighting and whining I love her beyond her fighting me. I know this is a lesson for me. In all my fighting, whining and rebellion God still loves me.

 

Categories: children, dying to self, fatherhood, God, Parenting, surrendering | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The Old Days

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There are moments like today where I miss the calm, ordered, predictable life I once had. I had an apartment that was clean. Everything was placed in a particular way that made logical sense. I got up at a certain time. Went to sleep at a certain time. All was calm, ordered and clean.

Life is not like this anymore and there are moments where I miss the old days.

I miss it because it was easy. When you are alone you can set your own pace. Do what you want and have no one disrupt that. It’s nice because it’s predictable, constant and oh, so comfortable.

Life is anything but predictable, constant and comfortable with a family. Everyday has something in it that you were not expecting that frustrates you, changes your plans, leaves a mess, etc. I currently stand in the mist of toy shrapnel in my living room. It looks like Fisher Price sent bombers and toys blew up everywhere. There are socks (none matching) all over the place. Food is smeared on the baby chair and dinning room table. My wife’s school books are sprawled out on the kitchen table, her own socks lie before the grown and there are at least 2 cups of water lying around in precarious places. Dishes peek over the sink and there is a particularly yellow stain on the kitchen counter that I think just winked at me.

Not predictable…not constant…not comfortable and certainly not clean…

Seven years ago I left the Catholic seminary. I was studying to be a Catholic priest; something I had felt a calling in my heart for a long time. After a few years in the seminary I was hooked and thought this was where I belonged. It was predictable, constant and comfortable. I felt like this was where I was supposed to be. Yet, God had other plans. During my second year I began to get a sense from God that this was a pit stop and not my final destination. I was not comfortable with that. I liked seminary and what it was. Needless to say I left the seminary. Not because I didn’t like it, or had a bad experience or any of the sorts. God had made it clear, that for me, this was too easy. Don’t misunderstand what I am saying. Being a seminarian and eventually becoming a priest is not easy. Priests have very demanding and difficult lives. Ask to shadow your local priest and you’ll see how not easy it is. However for me, and the way I am wired it was going to be too easy.

This may seem confusing to people. Why not do what feels predictable, constant and comfortable? I thought the same thing until I got married. Pope Benedict 16 has a quote that I love, “The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” In my life that which is comfortable and easy never helps me to grow. Sure, it’s predictable, constant and comfortable—all things I love. However, these things only help me to live a life that is comfortable and not great. Comfort in this sense is not the comfort one looks for in their couch after a long day of work. Comfort here refers to someone seeking to do that, which is less arduous, and doesn’t demand as much. Comfort in this sense is a lack of living to our full potential—half-assing if you will.

You and me are made for greatness, but a lot of the time we settle for comfort. It’s predictable and constant. But to be who we are meant to be requires effort, pain, sweat and tears—none of which are comfortable.

I stand before a room that is messy; a life that is no longer done “my way”; a life that demands that others be first and myself to be last. There are moments like this one where I miss the old days. Yet, I know that this new life is turning me into the man I am called to be. The lack of predictability, constancy and comfort makes me a better man, a better father, a better husband and a better person all around. It’s like going to the gym and working out. If I only lift weight that my body is comfortable with I will never breakdown the muscle fibbers that will in turn rebuild stronger and bigger muscles, which will make me a stronger and bigger person.

There are moments when I reminisce on the old days, but these new days are better. I have a loving wife and daughter that make life so much better. We can all look to the old days and say they were good. There was a lot of good stuff there that made life predictable, constant and comfortable, “but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”

Categories: best self, complacency, dying to self, fatherhood, fathers, home and family, manhood, Parenting, surrendering, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Live, Fight, Die

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We have a serious problem with manhood in our society.

I recently gave a talk to 8th grade boys on this topic and when I asked them to raise their hand and tell me if they understood what it meant to be a man, most of them didn’t. When I asked them to raise their hand if they have 1-2 adult men in their lives that they think would be considered good examples of men, most of them again kept their hands down.

What’s the deal with this? Why is it that we know how to do manly things like chopping wood, fixing cars and homes, shooting guns, etc. but we don’t know what it means to be a man? Obviously, those things listed above are not enough to make someone a man. So, why is it that a wood chopping, car fixing, gun shooting male can look the part of manhood and yet not be one?

I know plenty of men who outwardly do manly things but are really boys playing the part. I also know men who do none of the traditional manly-type activities and yet are the shining example of what being a man is.

I think discovering what it means to be a man comes down to how men do 3 things:

How we live, how we fight and how we die.

Video games like Skyrim, Modern Warfare and Assassins Creed are really popular. Most guys that play these games do so because these stories speak to the very heart of a man. The desire for purpose, battle and sacrifice are essential to a man. We are wired for that stuff and the video game industry knows it and spends a pretty penny on researching it so that we get hooked on their games.

Take the game Skyrim for instance. The game is about a guy who is in the wrong place at the wrong time and is about to be killed. Nobody knows who he is or cares. You end up escaping and find yourself battling a dragon that, after you defeat it, reveals your incredible power.

You are the chosen one. No longer a nobody. You have gifts and talents, but more importantly, a mission and a reason to live. From there, your character goes on a journey, a battle where you are fighting to save the world of Skyrim. This battle requires incredible strength, mastery of skills and courage. It may even cost you your life. There is another dragon you must battle and it is no ordinary dragon. He is the “world eater”. He is the one that you have been chosen to fight against and it’s very possible you may die in the process.

Men are hardwired for this type of adventure and even though you and I may not find ourselves picking up an axe and shield to go fight a dragon, we are meant to do battle. It is something that we are made for and I would even say that the man who doesn’t do this is finding himself empty and questioning his place in the world.

What do you live for? What are you fighting for? What are you willing to die for?

These are three questions at the heart of what it means to be a man. These are three questions that every man must ask himself and answer. If we have nothing to live for, we have nothing to fight or die for. And if we have nothing to die for, we may find that our lives are not worth fighting for.

As husband and father I recognize that I live to serve God by serving my family. I recognize that the battle I am fighting is primarily against myself—my selfishness (the dragon within). Overcoming myself so that I can serve my family is key to this process. I cannot die (sacrifice, surrender, etc.) for my family if I am not willing to fight, and give all of myself for them. As in the game of Skyrim, I must master the skills needed for this battle. I must master patience, fortitude, temperance, sacrifice, selflessness, and willingness to serve and not expect to be served in return.

My wife is studying to get her masters degree and so it requires a huge amount of time and energy. My job is to make sure that she has the time and energy to work on her studies. I live for her, and my fight is to make sure the house is clean, laundry is done, dinner is ready and our daughter is being taken care of. I don’t necessarily want to do all these things, but I live for my family and I will do whatever it takes for them—even doing most of the chores around the house. It requires a sort of death to self to win this battle, because the dragon within wants to be selfish and inconsiderate and egotistical.

What do you live for? What are you fighting for? What are you willing to die for?

I think that the more men ponder and search the answer to these three questions the more they will find themselves in the path of manhood. The more our children, friends and family see us striving to answer these three questions, the more they will recognize what a man looks like. Our boys and girls need to see this more than ever because what movies, TV and the media reveal about manhood is pathetic, watered down—cheap at best.

So, pick up your battle-ax men. You are the chosen one. You have been given a mission to live out. You have a family to defend. There is a fight before you and it will cost you everything. But it will be the greatest battle of your life.

Live well, fight well and die well.

 

Categories: adventure, battle, best self, dying to self, fatherhood, fathers, fighting, living, manhood, Parenting, surrendering, Uncategorized, video games | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fully Alive: Part I

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There are so many things to fear in this world: death, being mugged, losing a loved one, loss of financial stability, cancer…the list goes on.

I fear never becoming the man God has called me to be.

There is something incredibly frightening at the idea of someday standing before God and Him saying, “What happened? I gave you everything you needed to be what I called you to be, and this is what you did.” Maybe this isn’t the thing you fear the most, but I think its something worth looking at.

One of my favorite quotes of all time is from a man named Saint Irenaeus. St. Irenaeus lived in the second century and died in 202 A.D. St. Irenaeus is known to have been a hardcore Catholic man who fought some nasty heresies in his time. He wrote lots of great works, but the quote below is one that has always struck my heart.

“The glory of God is man fully alive.”

When I first encountered this quote I found it curious and confusing. The glory of God is man fully alive? How is that possible? Man fully alive? What does that even mean?

In a simple way it means that God rejoices when man is being his truest self. A being that lives in grace and embraces love, uses his talents, and is willing to be a total gift of self to others. There are so many ways to try and describe or interpret this quote, but I think that these examples help explain the heart of it.

Claire recently started eating pureed foods—it gives me great joy seeing her take this next step in life. I guess you could say, ‘The glory of Dad is Claire eating her pureed food and growing into a toddler’.

Or

A Dad is teaching his son to ride a bicycle without training wheels. The son starts to peddle and Dad lets go. The son is riding alone. ‘The glory of Dad is his son learning to ride his bike.

We could say in these examples that, ‘The glory of Dad is his child being fully alive.’

If you have experience similar examples you know exactly what I’m talking about. That moment when you see the full potential of your child reached—and it is glorious.  You stand proud at his/her achievement and you can’t help but light up. As Father I rejoice when my child is living to her full potential. We all do. God, as Father does as well. He knows us through and through so when we are fully alive He is in glory. He beams with joy at seeing His children living to their full potential, just as we do.

The question is how many of us are fully alive?

I don’t know about you but I don’t feel like I am fully alive. I know many people who feel the same way. We read the above quote and wonder how is this possible? Have I ever been fully alive, fully me, fully what God has called me to be? There are moments when we brush past this fullness; we get a glimpse and do a double take.

I recognize in my life that the reason I am not fully alive is because of complacency. Complacency is that terrible, insidious vice that tells us, ‘its okay just the way it is’, ‘we’ll get to it tomorrow’,  ‘someone else can take care of it’. Complacency is a cancer to the heart of man and it leads us to being fully dead. The worst part is, we chose to be complacent.

If the glory of God is man fully alive, then the glory of Satan is man fully dead. Complacency is Satan’s favorite strategy to get us to live lives that are not full.

Complacency is what leads man who can be great to settle for good. When you are meant to be great, good is never good enough. Complacency allows a man to recognize that he must love his wife more, but lets that recognition slip away because it is too difficult, or will demand change on his part and so the love continues to fade. Complacency allows a man to sacrifice his goal of health and fitness to eat the cheeseburger because it’s fast, easy and tomorrow he can run an extra half hour.

Complacency kills us…slowly…and silently.

For many, we recognize what is happening too late. We go from somewhat alive, to fully dead. Maybe this is why the whole zombie phenomena is so attractive to us. We recognize in zombies what we see in ourselves—the walking dead.

Yet something deep in our hearts tells us that this quote is true. It may not be true in our daily lives, but we recognize its reality, its tangible-ness. Pause for a second and read it again. “The glory of God is man fully alive.” Does not your heart burn as the words enter your mind?

Fully alive…what a glorious thing to be.

Complacency has stolen our hearts. We have lost the realization that we were never made to live lives that tip toe the surface and never dive in. I know it, you know it, we all know it—but we sit in the shame of knowing this without doing anything about it. We pretend no one sees it, but deep inside our hearts we want this quote to be true in our own lives. We want to be fully alive, because to not be is the greatest fear and failure of all.

So if complacency has stolen our heart, then how is it that this happened, and more importantly how do we get it back?

Categories: best self, complacency, dying to self, fatherhood, fathers, fully alive, God, holiness, Jesus, living, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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