Friday, February 27, 2009

In pain, but not suffering

It is well understood that the capacity to forgive has been allowed us for our own consolation. Forgiving someone who has hurt you does nothing for his conscience, but it does everything for your own strength of character. It is an exercise in self-healing; in growing through brokenness.

But let’s not forget its wider reach.

When you choose to forgive you absorb into your own person that poisonous smog that hangs about; already fat but greedy and unquenchable. It is as heavy as all the unhealthy thoughts, wicked words, and acts of betrayal that have been, and heavier still if you let it fall on someone new.

When you make up your mind to abide the final blow yourself, you do a little to liberate us all.

It is a mighty strength to bear the end of a thing.

It is a great act of courage to let it rush into you and not be moved.

It is only bitter if you swallow it with a cup of self-pity.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The vain glory of life

I have heard some interesting views on faith lately, and I must admit, of all the basic virtues that stand opposite the basic vices, faith has been the most difficult for me to settle down with.

Let’s review. We’re exploring the theory that everything you do is ultimately driven by good or evil, and more specifically, one of three root sins or one of three root virtues.

And further, everyone struggles in particular with one sin throughout his life.

I have many assumptions.

The root sins are pride, greed, and lust. The roots of good are faith, hope, and love. And they behave in pairs, or as opposite sides of a single coin.

Matters of the flesh have their source in either love or lust.

Matters of the soul are founded in hope or greed.

And matters of the spirit begin with pride or faith.

Following on, the flesh represents your actions, the soul represents your disposition, and the spirit represents the ultimate position of control in your life.

The original idea was that all sins are created equal and that everyone would find himself in a lifelong battle with one of the root sins; constantly repeating the same mistakes over and over again, always able to trace them back to pride, greed, or lust.

I went about examining test cases, observing and diagnosing as much as my subjects would allow.

Of course, no number of examples proves a theory. But just one example disproves it.

And now, one of my test cases has switched root sins on me!

I must revisit the theory, at least in part.

The cleanest design would see us wrestle through in a straight line; first with the stuff of the flesh, then with the substance of our character, and finally, and probably never decisively, with the right to our own existence.

But I can already imagine how tempting it must be to turn back from the most difficult struggle of all, the struggle for control, and return to an easier battle. I must leave room for this in my revision.

This week someone told me the opposite of faithful is to be a liar. I never thought of it that way, but it fits. If faith is an attempt to recognize God as having control of your life, and pride is the taking control of your own life; if there really is a God, and especially if you are a pre-destinationist like me, then of course, pride is a lie!

The question is, how does one ever really settle down with that?

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Blustery-X

I would like to apologize for what is about to happen, for what has already begun. On behalf of my entire generation, I am so sorry.

You may have noticed, Generation X is entering midlife. Our key role in society is shifting from activity to leadership: parenting, teaching, directing institutions, using values.

Warning - we are not qualified!

MistirY is not the only one of his kind. There are many more of us lurking dangerously close to the ledge of promotion. Our egos are too big to admit we are not prepared.

Watch us as we seize upon opportunities we have not earned. Watch as we allow ourselves to destroy everything we get our hands on. We will usher in a secular crisis the likes of which no one alive has ever seen.

There is no solution.

In fact, this is not a problem; it is a condition of this moment in time. And this moment has only just begun.

“It’s going to be a wild ride” all right.

Thank you, William Strauss and Neil Howe, for all your depressing insight.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Sometimes speaking into the void is all you can do

It’s always the thing that reminds you of yourself that you hate in someone else.

Two times in my life I have said to someone ‘we should not be friends anymore,’ and to be honest, I thought it was a logical thing to say at the time. I guess I thought you could break up with friends just as you would a lover. If you already know that the friendship is going to fade away through distance and time, why not set the expectation and mutually agree not to pretend or bother?

I don’t claim to understand friendship, nor do I claim to have ever been a real friend to anyone. At best I can say that there are people in my life with whom I can always pick up where we left off, no questions asked, no apologies necessary. And beyond that, there are people I see and chat to every day. Is any of that friendship? I have no idea.

Yesterday Nathon said he didn’t think we should be friends anymore. And because it reminds me of me, I hate him for saying it. Whether or not it’s logical; and even if he’s just kidding, testing me, or amusing himself is irrelevant now.

Sometimes lovers get back together after they break up. They say love can cover a multitude of sins. But what about friendship, can it ever recover?

Forgiveness, maybe; but reconciliation, I don’t know.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Still struggling to determine your root sin? Perhaps we can learn something from your prayer life.

Pride vs. faith

A faithful person discusses many of life’s moments with God, generally before the moments occur. A prideful person discusses fewer of their moments with God, and usually in retrospect; more of a telling than a confiding.

Prideful people talk to God a lot, while faithful people usually listen.

Prideful people pray for shorter periods of time. Their lives are more about themselves and when they can fit God in.

A faithful person probably has time set aside specifically for prayer and studying the Bible.

Greed vs. hope

A hopeful person spends a lot of prayer time in what some might call meditation; or for those more versed in church-speak, just being in the presence of God.

And this might sound obvious, but greedy people ask more during prayer. They might ask for "good" things, but there’s a subtle giving of responsibility back to God, which leaves less for them to assume. "Please make this work out according to Your will," for example, as opposed to, "I already know You have everything under control."

Greedy people prepare to pray.

A hopeful person sees prayer as a means of building his relationship with God, coming into prayer just as he is with no agenda.

Lust vs. love

The only pattern I have found in a loving person is that he generally prays for other people. This person maintains a long list of prayer requests and prays through them incessantly.

A loving person is at risk of becoming robotic in his prayer life. In spite of his good intentions to pray for everyone, he simply cannot put forth the amount of empathy he wants to for each request, but he cannot not pray for the people on his list either.

Lustful people spend most of their prayer time in confession. Not confession and moving on, but almost a dwelling on their sins and how bad they are.

They, more than any others, are aware of and sincerely desire some sort of deliverance from their sin. These are the people who know what it means to truly grieve over sin.

Someone sent me a quiz recently that starts by asking you to give a word that, to you, describes a dog, and your answer is supposed to reflect how you view yourself.

Interestingly, my lustful friend used the word dirty.

I used friendly, a quality to be "proud" of, and my greedy friend used loyal. Perhaps signifying his commitment to pursuit?

Certainly we must fluctuate between two extremes; sometimes offering a spirit-controlled prayer, other times clearly controlled by our sins.

And though the root sin theory still applies, we must move on to the broader concept that all our behavior is defined not only by one root sin, but also its opposite good; from now on, the fundamental manner theory.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Why are so few of us afraid to fall asleep at night while so many of us are afraid to die?

Aren’t these moments very similar, a going from someplace known to someplace unknown?

Perhaps we trust the statistics, having slept and woken up safely so many times before.

I wonder if babies are afraid to fall asleep. Is that why they need to be rocked and cuddled?

Some people have actually found a way to control sleep.

Ailyne can wake herself up a few minutes before an alarm clock goes off even when she doesn’t know what time the alarm is set for. And my husband is the same way. He never lets the alarm go off in the morning.

If I were left alone, I wouldn’t stir before noon. Sleep definitely controls me. But then again, it’s arguable that I control my sleep with the way I live the rest of my life.

Another one of those things I could manage, but don’t; my life.

I really must find a therapist.

I have never understood how some people can say they feel ready to die.

That said, I can imagine how someone burdened with greed, always chasing the future, would see death as a relief, a peaceful end to a constant struggle.

It’s not ‘what happens next’ that makes death hard to face, assuming that is already settled for you. It’s that one moment of passing.

Do you think everyone reaches a point where they feel ready to face that moment?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I only blog when I feel skinny

Speaking of volleyball, I just realized why I hate sports. It’s because I never feel in control.

Not only can the ball go anywhere any time, but the other players are also looking for every opportunity to surprise me.

It’s a helpless feeling, no matter how much I have practiced. The dreadful wondering what might happen next is…well…dreadful.

I think that’s why I like running, because there are no surprises.

And yet I hate running, because, although I control my progress, I don’t progress.

The only thing that feels worse then being out of control is being in control and doing nothing about it.

I don’t understand why I hate being out of control, and yet I don’t tame the things that I hate that I can control, like these fat thighs.

There is some joy in masking a weakness, but it will always be there distracting you from any sense of achievement.

Vanse is the kind of guy who is ready for every surprise, in sports at least. He welcomes the challenge. And although he does a lot of training, I think the key is that he is first of all not afraid to fail.

Being skinny might make me better at sports, but the real test of my progress will come tomorrow morning when I decide whether or not to wear shorts in public.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Confessions of a snob

For many years our company held an annual volleyball tournament, and people from all our regional offices gathered for a weekend of ‘team building’. I had just joined the company when the last of these legendary events was taking place.

I had only made a handful of friends, but I was not without a boogie partner at the main reason most people came to the event, the disco.

The immoderation began in the theater, a massive stage at one end where the DJ stood, tipsy ladies being lifted up onto the stage.

The only reason I noticed Eren in particular is because she and I were both new. She seemed to have bonded with a petite blonde that all the guys were very fond of, and by association they were smitten with Eren too.

You can imagine how ridiculous I felt when I found myself wanting to know how she got to be so popular so quickly! And when I realized I was wondering what was wrong with me, well, I knew one day I would blog about this.

Still, I couldn’t keep myself from analyzing the scene. Their dance floor etiquette was snobbish, and that wasn’t just my junior high insecurities running wild. I assumed this was a club I would never be invited to join.

As it turns out, my desk was near the Tory and Eren fan club. And oddly enough, they seemed all-right.

Not only are all men are worth befriending, (not all women - see previous post) but they are also easy to win over. I just placed a candy bowl on my desk.

Eren would come down and visit on occasion, but there was never a reason for us to meet until, one day, she wanted to get a big group together for a concert. A band I love, and all of a sudden we’re friends.

The band is just one of a thousand things we have in common. It’s so funny to think about the first impression I had of Eren now.

She is not a snob.

And yes, sometimes I am still a fragile junior higher, desperate to be remembered when someone is thinking of everyone that matters.

Eren and I have a new friend who is quite high maintenance. Leah sits beside me, and when Eren comes by, we can make a bit of a scene.

Last Friday we decided to go out for Pad Thai, and I was insistent we go to yoga first, as we always do on a Friday, and then have lunch afterwards. Eren was insistent we skip yoga.

Later on came the epiphany.

If I had overheard our conversation about Pad Thai and yoga, I would have been desperate to be invited or even noticed. I would have thought that we were snobs.

It was very self-centered to have such an exchange in public, not knowing who might still be bearing those junior high emotions around us.

I confess, I am officially a snob.

And now I understand.

Snob is not a verb. Snob is a label.

I can’t snob or snobberize or snobble you. The best I can do is ‘be a snob,’ but that’s a label.

When someone is labeled a snob, I would argue that has little to do with the intentions of that person, and more to do with the insecurities of others.

You can’t invite everyone to lunch all the time. That is irrational. The only thing a ‘snob’ might be guilty of is not being aware of the sensitive people around them. Self-absorption is their sin, but hey, aren’t we all self-absorbed? So we’re all snobs.

After all these years, I can finally join the crowd!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Gray matter

It's not that I believe the world is just or that life is fair. It's just that I have never been so personally offended.

To set the record straight, this person was on the list, so it’s not that I expected more from him.

And it’s not that I expected more for myself anyway, but I did expect more for the others, something better than that!

And the worst thing I could possibly have to write next, I now must confess. Tonight, over a bowl of Penne del Giardino, I was guilty of the same offense.

Had I been awake, I would have seen it coming. I always hate the things in others that remind me of myself. But this time, I did not realize it was me.

Elvis says he is judgmental, and he says it so easily that it is probably not true. Either he has never been, or maybe he was once, but now he knows how to manage it.

Every time we discuss it, I decide it is a struggle I don’t have to face because it is a problem I don’t have.

The word judgmental simply means ‘inclined to make judgments’. Who can say they are not judgmental, then?

But the connotation of the word is negative...‘inclined to make judgments, especially moral or personal ones’…and mostly about other people.

The sin of judgment is not putting yourself in a position over another or believing that you understand more than he does in a particular situation. Both can be true, and you can recognize it without sin.

Recognizing truth is not a sin.

Believing that you have earned or deserve a special place above someone else is sin.

Presuming that your ability to judge one particular matter applies to any other situation is also, probably, sin. There are people who have a special calling to judge, but that is not likely you or me, dear reader.

There is, as usual, a fine line.

And I, as usual, find myself on the wrong side.

These were the signs.

    1. I spoke of many people as if they were one, imposing the negative attributes of each individual onto every one of them.

    2. Assuming that people will always behave as they have behaved one time, I assigned fault based on one or two isolated events by one or two individuals in the past.

    3. And once I had made myself the cop and named them the robbers, I just carried on bad-mouthing them in general.

I have learned a little bit about the law in this past year, enough to know that it doesn’t have to be right or wrong; it just has to be arguable. As long as it’s arguable, and you have a good lawyer, you might wear the other side down and get by with it.

It’s arguable that closely knit groups do, in fact, share the same negative qualities. After all, stereotypes exist for a reason.

And it’s arguable that people really do behave as they always have, and that two make a pattern.

But thank goodness everything with God is black or white. Even a fine line is not gray.

And lest I let the moment pass, I’ll remind you that if you think something is gray, you just haven’t thought about it enough. That is, you haven’t gotten to the root of the matter yet.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Oops, I did it again

Is there one thing that you do, that you know you do, that you don't want to do, that you still do?

And do you sometimes stop doing it for a while and think it's gone?

But then does it creep back up on you, out of the blue, and all of a sudden you're doing it again?

And have you tried to control it, but putting attention on it just seems to make it happen more?

Well, I know exactly how you feel.