Love With A Capital L

A journey towards living an inspired life of love in the modern world

Youth Sports — January 9, 2019

Youth Sports

The subtitle for this post is “An Argument for the Abolition of Competitive Youth Sports,” because I can’t think of any reason for this dinosaur to continue to exist, infecting generation after generation. 

[Full disclosure; I grew up playing baseball, from the time I was 8 through college, now my children play, and I’ve coached them in each of the sports they’ve tried. I am a sports guy. I love all sports (playing and watching and especially talking about) – except maybe soccer – and competition. I can make arguments all day long for the important values and lessons sports teach. My kids are athletic – good at most sports, very good at others. 1 is easy going and less driven, the other is ultra-competitive – I was a maniac, winning or losing on the field set the tone for everything else in my life. There, now that’s out of the way.]

The entire system needs to be dismantled and rebuilt, from the inside out. The one that stands in its place is a monster that has grown hideously disfigured. Of course, as it usually goes, the monster is me, is us. 

Sports do teach ‘important values and lessons,’ but the vast majority of lessons the adults (including me) teach are important, they’re just negative ones. We teach selfish ambition, pettiness and ugly vindictiveness, not class and character. I could tell stories forever, detailing the experiences I’ve had, the venomous words directed at me, the rage-filled stares and glares dripping with hatred focused on me. Oh, the phone calls!!! 

But instead, I’ll just apologize and ask forgiveness for the many times I’ve spoken quickly & harshly. The many times I’ve made decisions about the ability and (much worse!!) character of children that were 6 or 8 or 10, based on commitment and effort – as if who we are at 6 is who we will be at 26 or 46. The number too high to count of times I’ve thought only of the final score at the expense of the lives that had been entrusted to me to care for. I am unbelievably sorry for the damage I’ve inflicted, the friendships I’ve broken, the moments I’ve lost to disordered priorities.

The positives that kids learn can just as easily be learned a few years later, at 13 or 14. Self-esteem? If we are getting our worth and value from a game played every Sunday, Heaven help us all. Friendships? Again, if our teammates a few hours a week are our only relationships, maybe we need the push elsewhere. Physical activity? Seriously – we all need to go outside and breathe a bit more, kick a ball or play catch. Competition? Maybe that can wait. Maybe we don’t need to start to learn comparison and winning and losing until our personalities are a bit more developed, our character a little more solid, our worth a bit more sculpted. 

Maybe our kids don’t need to see the grown-ups behaving like animals because of ‘them’ and their playing time. The coaches are always wrong, right? They always are playing the wrong people, making the wrong decisions, buffoons, trained circus animals riding tricycles in circles. The coaches “don’t know the game,” and the officials are much much worse. From the sideline, the politics of the team, league, and universe have all conspired to keep their kid, my kid from achieving his/her true potential. Obviously, this has absolutely nothing to do with the player and absolutely everything to do with me.

The kids we’re so concerned with hear and see us arguing, screaming and fighting with each other – where are the ‘values and lessons’ in that??

So, I have an idea. There is such beauty in sports, in the artistic expression of athleticism, in the introduction of perseverance, the development of skill and coordination. We can keep sports, keep the practices, the instruction, the camaraderie, just eliminate the games. With the absence of victory and defeat and starters and substitutes that aren’t getting enough playing time, it would only be about kids and the game. I know, I know, how would we display our pride and vanity? I’m sure we would discover ways to do it, (cage wrestling or gladiatorial combat, perhaps), but maybe no longer at the expense of each other’s kids.         

   

Restart — January 3, 2019

Restart

This morning I finished a book of Elisha’s called Restart, by his favorite author, Gordon Korman. It’s about an 8th grade boy who falls off his roof onto his head and remembers nothing; not his mother, not his friends, his room or anything at all about his life. On the back cover, it reads, “Pretty soon, it’s not only a question of who Chase is – it’s who he was… and who he’s going to be.” What a fascinating question this book is asking… 

It turns out this Chase was a football star and a pretty terrible person, the worst bully in the school, awful and making life hell to everyone unlucky enough to cross his path. He didn’t know why – I suppose no one really knows why we do the awful things we do, and to whom. Sure, it’s obviously insecurity and fear, but why do we choose to turn it outward and why focus on that particular him or her? 

Anyway, he wakes up with a do-over.

The principal says, “This is an awful thing that’s happened to you, but it’s also presenting you with a rare opportunity. You have the chance to rebuild yourself from the ground up, to make a completely fresh start. Don’t squander it! I’m sure you’re not feeling very lucky, but there are millions of people who’d give anything to stand where you stand right now – in front of a completely blank canvas.”

So, “Who are we going to be?”

It’s New Years, and I love New Years! I always get squishy and reflective around New Years. Maybe more so this year, wondering who I am, who I’m going to become. 

The message of the Gospel is that today is new, we are new. That today is not just an extension of yesterday.

But still we repeat lies like ‘it is what it is,’ ‘I’ll always be that way,’ ‘it’s just the way he/she is, the way I am, the way we are,’ or ‘they’ll never change,’ along with so many others that keep us stuck. So we stay in jobs we hate, unhealthy relationships, or unfulfilling lives believing these hopeless stories that cast us as helpless victims, chained to narratives that lack imagination and suck our souls dry. 

We don’t usually get a cliched soap opera twist to provide us this opportunity, but we don’t need one. We already have a reason, an opportunity – we just don’t take it. 

We are more open to the possibilities at New Years, right?

There’s a favorite story of mine in Genesis, where Jacob wakes up and says, “God was in this place, and I was unaware.” I think of that often, that I don’t want to wake up and say, “I was unaware.” What if we live our whole lives with the invitation to be new, to change (us, the world, anything and everything), to imagine, to find peace, to give/receive/experience Love… And we miss it? What if we leave that invitation unopened?

We probably don’t have to leave those jobs or relationships or lives, (maybe we do), we just have to transform the way we see them. We simply have to see them from a different angle with different eyes. What if we woke up with a blank canvas, free from the disappointment of unrealized expectations – of ourselves and of others? What if we had today to ask and to answer who we are going to become?

We don’t need amnesia, just a mustard seed of faith that things could be different.  

The book was amazing, by the way.

  
Continue reading

Rest 2019 — January 1, 2019

Rest 2019

I know resolutions don’t usually work, so I won’t be making one.

What I will do, on the other hand, is use this time to look back, reflect, consider what, who and where I’ve been while giving some attention as to where I’d like to go, who I’d like to be. As the Cheshire Cat said, “if you don’t know where you’re going, it doesn’t matter what path you take,” (or something like that. You get the point.)

I choose a focus word every year and for several years it has been some variation on letting go, releasing. This year it’s rest. What I mean by that is not that I am super busy and working myself to death. In fact, if you saw my life – routine, schedule, etc – you’d rudely laugh at my word. Instead, my study has led me to a belief that ‘rest’ is essentially synonymous with ‘trust.’ Can we trust enough to stop, to cease, to be unproductive? It’s a hard question. And where it gets tough for me is; can I trust enough to release you? You see, I create (these posts, sermons, a book you’d just love, my life, and on and on) and the important thing about creating is that you do it, right? The second most important thing is that you’re honest – that the work comes from a place of authenticity, and it’s very difficult to do that if my concern is if somebody else likes it, if it’s valuable to him or her, if it elicits some form of positive response. Those things are not for me to decide, and once they supersede the simple beauty of the offering, then they stop being honest and turn into pandering, needy drivel. And there’s enough of that, isn’t there?

I faithfully give everything I have to the work, and then offer it up, and where it goes from there is anyone’s guess. The second ‘where it goes’ becomes the point, the offering is ego-driven and selfish, and the ‘offering’ drifts into control, and that’s gross. The big question is, will I trust enough to release my grip on expectations and control?

The truth is, I don’t know. I hope so. I know I’ll sleep better if I do. But today is January 1 and I’ll try to rest/trust today – I’m doing ok so far – and then I’ll try again tomorrow. Happy New Year!

A New Thing — December 29, 2018

A New Thing

Well, good morning! This is a new thing – I think I know what it is, I guess we’ll see.

It’s interesting to think that you have something new to offer the world, something of value. The impulse can appear vain and self-aggrandizing, and that’ll be something I work through (probably here… out loud), because it is also an expression of a gift. We are all gifted in certain ways – being created in the image of a wildly creative God makes us wildly creative. Only, so many of us have decided that, though this may be true for others, it is not for us. We say things like, “I’m just (whatever)” or “I’m not the creative type,” and we are wrong.

Because we are gifted, it is vital for our growth and development that we use these gifts before they atrophy and we forget that we have the image of God on us. Namaste, right?

So.

I write for the faith community I pastor, and recently published a book. This space is different. I mean, it’s virtually impossible that I see the world any type of way other than through a spiritual lens, through a prism of love, but those avenues have a structure this one will not have. I love music and movies and culture, opinions on religion and politics and art – this is where I will explore those things any way I choose.

It’s pretty exciting to see where we go, right?

The Journey Begins — December 27, 2018