Love With A Capital L

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

The Joy of Overthinking — January 14, 2022

The Joy of Overthinking

I’m sick AGAIN!!!!!! You know, I moved out of my parent’s house (and our cat, of whom I was allergic) when I was 23 and for the next 20th years, I can count on one hand the number of times I had a cold/flu/sinus infection/earache/whatever. Sometimes headaches were a problem, but never ever sick. But now, since the pandemic began (I have had COVID more than 1 time, but like most of us, who could possibly know how many more?) I have been some level of ill, always a little under the weather. There have been weeks that I begin to feel tip top, but they are soon replaced by more of congestion and fatigue.

What I do is look up “Why am I always sick!!!!!!” Google tells me to stop drinking so much alcohol and quit smoking. Ok, no problem, I don’t do either of those. Then I should exercise (I do nearly every day), wash my hands (obviously, I’m not an animal), sleep (I usually get 7 hours a night, maybe not all of it is great sleep, but I’m in bed with my eyes closed), and eat well (I could probably do better here, but it’s not like I’m a garbage can).

It doesn’t take long to get to the worst-case scenario articles, where I clearly have a disease, condition, or alien parasite.

What you already know is that I am a man who is driven by growth and becoming more of who I have been created to be, and this sort of mindset brings with it a certain amount of reflection. But the thing about that reflection is knowing where the ‘certain amount’ is, when does healthy self-examination become obsession or at the very least overreaction?

When a basketball player misses a shot, it doesn’t necessarily mean she should quit the team, totally rework her shot, or even was an ill-advised shot. Sometimes it just means she missed. No more and no less. If I slip and fall, it might not mean I have awful balance, or need new shoes or have an inner-ear disturbance – maybe I just fell.

Now. It might mean she should quit, or that I need to see a doctor about my ears, right? Healthy reflection. But maybe there’s no why. Maybe there isn’t an answer. Maybe it just happened.

Maybe I have an alien parasite, or maybe I just got COVID and it messed up my immune system for a while. Or maybe neither. Maybe I just have been unlucky and been around some walking germ farms. Patience and perspective are underrated and can be really hard to practice.

Maybe I didn’t do anything wrong and just need to relax and give myself and my mind and my internet search bar a break.

Saying Yes — January 8, 2022

Saying Yes

For the first 40some-ish years of my life, I had a pattern, It was an unhealthy pattern, but it was a pattern nonetheless. So, life would get big & heavy and as it would threaten to crush me under it’s vicious paws, I would fully, completely check out. If you would happen to call me (and later, text me), I wouldn’t call you back. I wouldn’t respond at all. If we had plans, I would break them. I’d listen to tons and tons of Morrissey songs. Life was lived squarely from a NO posture, deep in the dark. The suicidal thoughts (that seems weird to write so nonchalantly, but since I wrote about it a little in my book, it is a little easier, and since I’m not that guy anymore, it’s a lot easier. I’m not him, but I do love him, which is much more than I could ever say then) came with the darkness. That darkness was so total and my desperation so loud, I truly believed it might never be light again and if it wouldn’t be light, then… you get the point.

Anyway. Then my faith in the darkness was replaced with faith in Jesus, and with it, the suggestions of suicide were replaced with (what was at first a flimsy) hope. That’s more awesome than I can tell you, but my pattern continued.

Now, 2 things. There is a good book called Yes Man by Danny Wallace, and a less good movie adaptation with Jim Carrey. The premise is that a guy just says yes to every single thing that comes in his direction. That’s first. Then surprisingly, George Costanza is second. In an perfect episode of Seinfeld, George discovers that, “It became very clear to me sitting out there today, that every decision I’ve ever made, in my entire life, has been wrong. My life is the opposite of everything I want it to be. Every instinct I have, in every of life, be it something to wear, something to eat… It’s all been wrong.” Later, Jerry says, “If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.” So he does the opposite and it’s hilarious, but it got me thinking. This pattern has not served me well. It is not who I want to be and it’s not what the who I want to be would do.

Here, on the post I wrote for New Years, I stated that it was a good year. What made it a good year? So many bad things happened, wheels fell off, bones/relationships/lives were broken, hope and people were lost. Last week, we set a new record for numbers of COVID cases. By most objective measures, it was not a good year. What made it good in my perspective?

If every instinct I have ever had about checking out, about isolating myself, about disappearing, has been wrong, then the opposite would have to be right. (Incidentally, the instinct I had about listening to tins and tons of Morrissey happens to be right, in all situations, so that stayed.) So I hesitantly, slowly started reaching out. If when young children get scared, they climb into their parents bed, maybe I should begin to do the same, I reasoned, metaphorically speaking.

I called you, said I was afraid or overwhelmed or angry or frustrated or confused or lost in darkness. I kept the meetings I had scheduled. (I now schedule meetings, phone calls, texts with friends & family. Of course, it feels sort of impersonal, but it’s actually the polar opposite. I decide what is the most important and carve it into my daily/weekly/monthly planner. You write the most important checks first. If we just wait until we think of it or have the time, it’ll be months and months and that conversation will start with “I’m sorry it’s been so long…”) I said yes. I showed up all the time, no matter if I felt like it. You were more important than my feelings right now. I was more important than my feelings right now.

And guess what? In a wonderful twist of fate, my relationships grew in quantity AND quality. I knew and was known, loved and was loved. I opened all parts of me to you (whoever you are) and you were really lovely, trustworthy, and careful.

I teach the Bible and say, “we were never meant to do this alone,” referencing the book of Genesis, always feeling like a humongous hypocrite, mostly because I was a humongous hypocrite. But as my life began to shift into alignment, the doctrine I believed in my head made the wide treacherous leap to my heart, I could see cracks in the oppressive darkness. Cracks where beautifully blinding light could enter.

Darkness still comes (I have a condition) but it’s never total because you’re there. Who would’ve guessed? Well, probably a lot of people could have guessed. I build bridges, but now I do something else. The walls of the cells we create that mark the boundaries of our lives that keep us sick need to come down, we each need to smash our own to pieces, so now I carry a big, heavy sledgehammer to lend to let the light, and life, in. It hurts, it’s terrifying, and it’s sooo worth it.

Looking Around — January 4, 2022

Looking Around

Today I watched Don’t Look Up, a film on Netflix. I had already planned to watch since the trailer premiered, it looked fantastic and I believe that Leonardo DiCaprio should probably be officially classified as a national treasure. Then, last week, a Very Great Friend texted me that I just HAD to watch this movie as soon as possible so we could discuss it. This friend is deeply trusted – the last time I got a text exactly like this was for Into The Spider-Verse, and we all know how that one turned out.

It’s about a comet (referred to as a “Planet Killer” by one of the characters) and it’s path towards the Earth. I’ll try to not tell you how it turns out, but I make no promises.

Sunday night a different Very Great Friend’s mother passed away suddenly, without any warning. They had shared a wonderful Christmas a week earlier. No warning. Yesterday another Very Great Friend’s uncle passed, and the day before we received word that a young husband/dad was declining in the hospital. These last 2 years (maybe it’s the last 2 ,000 or 200,000 years, and I just haven’t been paying attention quite as closely as I am right now) have been an endless painful parade of suffering and loss.

How does this relate to some Netflix original? What does this have to do with a Hollywood produced 2 hours of political propaganda? (I’m only a little kidding about that propaganda jab – it is, but it’s quite a bit more than that.) What does this have to do with comets and yet another amazing Meryl Streep performance and a yet another slimy Jonah Hill character? And what does any of this have to do with Christmas Eve and the book of Genesis? Turns out a lot.

The end of the film has a small group of people sitting around a table talking about gratitude, enjoying a meal together, and the line, “We really did have everything, didn’t we?” This was after 6 months of forgetting/ignoring what exactly they had, chasing all sorts of different threads around and around. It’s strikingly similar to a Bible verse, practically a paraphrase of the passage in Genesis. Jacob wakes from a dream and says, “God was here all along, and I was unaware.” And I missed it. We usually don’t know when our mothers or uncles will be gone, the last time we shared was usually unremarkable, spent distracted, or in the worst cases, fighting. We say, “if I had known, I wouldn’t have missed it, I wouldn’t have gone to sleep. I would have….” (That is what the Christmas message was about this year; A baby was born and the people then & now missed it, they/we were unaware.)

The best scene of the movie was 7 people sitting around a table, some of them family, in the sense that they were husbands & wives, sons & daughters, and the rest of them the sort of family that isn’t born, it’s made. They look different, with wildly varied experiences and perspectives, but they held hands in prayer and love. It was the best part of the movie but it’s also the best part of life, having each other to hold our hands, to love and be loved.

I’ve been thinking about a lot this New Year, what has been lost and as variants rise dramatically, what will be lost. A few weeks ago I concluded that the last year was a good one, mostly because my table was also full of both types of family. Maybe the biggest thing COVID stole was our families, our tables. And maybe the true cost was our awareness of our right here and right now, our gratitude, our attention, our experience of these divine moments. We’ll take them for granted, like we do everything else, and eventually have to say, mournfully, “I just didn’t know.”

I know that I very often write about this, but I can’t think of anything else we can do that is more important than to remind each other that we are loved, we are here now, and we are together.

Spider-Man — December 22, 2021

Spider-Man

No Way Home, the 3rd in the Marvel/Sony Spider-Man trilogy, was released last week, broke records, and thrilled me more than I can tell you. I’m going to write about it a little and try not to give any spoilers.

I had a tough time getting tickets for our family and the theater was jammed. The atmosphere was electric, the buzz in the air reminded us all of what it felt like to be sharing experiences. Netflix is awesome but it really can’t do that. Streaming Hawkeye on Disney+ in the living room simply isn’t the same as a theater full of human beings. Nobody wears superhero suits in my house anymore, but they did at the movies.

I don’t know why they wear masks and dress up like characters, seems odd to me. But here’s the thing about that, it doesn’t matter if I understand. I am me and that guy (or girl) is that guy (or girl) and we are different. What I think we’ve forgotten over the last 2 years of quarantine and isolation is that different is a very good thing. We might disagree on cosplay but we all love Spider-Man.

(As you know, I am a spiritual person and that’s one of the coolest parts about the Church and the local church. We can be different, disagree on a great many issues, but we all love Jesus.)

So there are weirdos in costumes and I am totally normal. (That’s a joke. Ha.) We’re all different, but there was a moment, maybe several moments, where none of that mattered at all. We completely lost our collective minds and gasped or cheered or yelled or cried tears of joy or anything. Together.

I get pretty emotional at Christmas. I mean, more than usual. When I saw Into The Spider-Verse, I remember thinking, “this changes everything.” In that animated film, we were forced to confront our ideas of what is possible in a movie. In the context of Christmas, COVID variants, division, anger, riots, and school shootings, this Spider-Man also can change everything. No Way Home gives us the opportunity to confront our ideas of what is possible in our communities, this world, in society, in us.

I don’t know if we’ll take that opportunity, and answer that invitation. I hope we do. I hope we remember who we are and who we can be. I hope we can discover that our differences are actually wonderful and can bring us closer through curiosity, interest & openness.

If I’m totally honest, I do know. Of course we’ll open that door. I’m relentlessly hopeful and it has served me very well. Yes, I get my heart broken and am disappointed from time to time (ok, lots of times) but my trust, belief, faith and love gets rewarded even more spectacularly, much more often. I am one of those who goes in to Spider-Man expecting it to be great…and sometimes, like this one, it’s better than that.

Perfect — December 17, 2021

Perfect

In my last post, about youth basketball, I wrote: “Incidentally, what keeps me up at night is what I may have done to instill this perfectionism in him. I tried to encourage risk, value failure, while celebrating each win. I never withheld my affection or punished a loss, always gave a soft place to land, always threw my arms around him no matter the game/test result. Maybe I’ll never know. Maybe nothing.”

(I wonder how long I can call them “youth” sports. They are in high school, they are teenagers. They are still youths, but when does that stop and I can safely just call this “sports?” The summer after graduation? College?)

Anyway. While thinking about that paragraph, well… Have you ever been to the eye doctor? You know when you’re sitting behind that Clockwork Orange-esque device and it’s clicking and the letters either come into focus or quickly blur? This paragraph was the click where the G’s and Q’s become striking in their clarity.

What keeps me up at night is what I may have done to instill this perfectionism in him. What keeps me up at night is what I may have done wrong. What keeps me up at night is what I may not have done perfectly and how, ultimately, everything everywhere that happens is mine to control. I wonder where he would’ve possibly gotten the notion that he had to be perfect.

I know where this unhealthy perspective comes from, at least for me. I wanted to get it right, be awesome, because only then could I justify my worth. I hesitate to write the next sentence because my mom reads this, but the truth is that I always came after my dad’s addictions. I desperately wanted to be first, and when I was pitching well, or if I went 3 for 4 and drove in 3 runs, I was. I know he didn’t intend any of this, didn’t try to build an insecure little boy with this mountain of inadequacy to unwind. Like all of us (except for the sociopaths, of which I’m convinced there are very very few), he did his best and I loved him to the moon.

But all of life became a proving ground for my right to be here, where I had to be awesome to find a seat at the table. I had to be the best everything, ball player, funniest, coolest, whatever, which turned me into a big fat pleaser who wasn’t particularly any of those things, except an actor who would contort into any shape you wanted me to be.

Maybe you don’t believe in God or Jesus or faith or anything at all, (and that’s cool, we’re all on different paths), but as I began to fall in love with Jesus, I began to discover that my worth wasn’t tied to my performance at all. That I was good enough, loved, that I belonged as I was, as I am. Of course, this wasn’t overnight. That was 23 years, half of my life, ago, and I’m still writing sentences like the one earlier.

But here’s the cool thing. I was totally honest as I wrote that paragraph this week, and that honesty allowed the click. The boy I used to be was mistaken about his worth. He was depressed and unsure of himself and I’d really like to wrap him up in my arms and let him cry. The problem then was so little of my behavior was authentic, so much was a show, image making and fake. That dishonesty keep me fumbling in the dark for years and years.

Maybe nobody will ever read this, but it’s all true. I overshare because I’m through hiding, everything is dragged into the light and exposed. Of course it’s sometimes scary, but when it is, I know it’s absolutely necessary. I could go on forever and ever about awakening to the man that I’ve been able to meet, vital baby step by vital baby step, but it’s times like these where I can face truth without shame and (here’s the best part) give me a break.

I have responsibility, but not control. Maybe I’ve modeled an unhealthy posture, but I can also model steps towards something brand new. Nothing’s set in stone, today isn’t just yesterday, part 2, we can unwind. He’s a beautiful boy with a lot of weight on his shoulders that I’m vary familiar with. This family (the one that lives in this house that shares my name as well as the entire circle surrounding our lives) is a wonderfully safe place to test the ground. And then to jump.

Basketball — December 15, 2021

Basketball

I write an inordinate amount about youth sports. That’s for 2 reasons, mostly. I have youths in sports. And I have always loved sports.

Sports were the main tie between my dad and I. Without it, I imagine we would’ve drifted apart like ships lost at sea. But we did, we were tied together, we didn’t drift. When I coach, watch a game or ESPN, see a batting average, pick up my glove or a football, he’s not far away. I can see him, smell him, feel him. So, the foundation for each of these posts is that relationship, how much I miss him, and how I’d like him to read them.

I am tied to my boys by many things, all of them more important than sports. I am not my dad. But if they think of me when they catch a ball or shoot a jump shot, that’s cool, too. They (we) love basketball and the season began last weekend with something called a tip-off tournament.

The thing about sports is how it is a solid metaphor for everything else. Like when I tell you that my youngest feels the weight of perfection and that often sucks the joy out of the game, you know what I mean, right? Have you ever felt like you needed to keep things together, that if you happened to fall, you would ‘let everyone down?’ Have you ever felt paralyzed, unable to act, in fear of failure? Have you ever stayed too long in a relationship or a job because what if…? Have you ever put so much pressure on yourself to be great that it made you sick and certainly kept you up at night? Me, too.

Incidentally, what keeps me up at night is what I may have done to instill this perfectionism in him. I tried to encourage risk, value failure, while celebrating each win. I never withheld my affection or punished a loss, always gave a soft place to land, always threw my arms around him no matter the game/test result. Maybe I’ll never know. Maybe nothing.

Or when they take the court and in the course of the game end up guarding the 6’5” 300lb monster under the basket. Right??? I have felt overwhelmed by monsters real and imagined so many times. There are giants everywhere.

Is the final score all that matters? The bottom line? Does it matter how you play if the ends don’t measure up? Do the ends justify the means?

I love the purity of spirit in giving everything we have for something, anything. Too often we hold back, we detach, we hide, we hedge, we are afraid to empty our tanks because what if we lose? What does that mean about us, our worth, our value?

But what if the value is in the engagement? What if our worth isn’t tied at all to the final score? Maybe that’s what we end up learning, and maybe that’s a lesson my dad couldn’t see. That we are so much more than the game, the competition. That it isn’t about the final score, that it never was. And that it is about the connection, between my boys & I, my dad & I, teammates, coaches, our relationship with our own selves, and ultimately the relationship between us and the God that gave us these wonderful gifts. As it turns out, it’s not the sports at all, it’s simply a background for the beauty of all of life, if we can open our eyes, hands and hearts long enough to see it.

Anyway — December 8, 2021

Anyway

Sometimes I sit down at this computer (which is a actually an iPad and an attached keyboard) and don’t have a clue what to write. The blank screen is intimidating, ruthlessly mocking me, laughing at this idiot sitting in the dark illuminated only by it’s condescending blue light.

Of course, that’s only in my head. This blank screen doesn’t care about me at all. I can write or not write and it wouldn’t care less. Indifferent like the ocean, where I could swim or drown and she wouldn’t even blink.

Yet I still sit down at this computer (iPad with attached keyboard), ideas or not. I start and delete, start and delete, getting 5 or 6 words or 5 or 6 paragraphs before I trash it all and begin again. I listen to music and type the lyrics, poetry that no one will ever read, paraphrased Bible verses, weather forecasts, anything. Just moving my fingers, really, trying to jar some form of muscle memory, as if the inspiration is in my hands. Maybe it is. Maybe they remember. Maybe after 2 hours, I close this tablet with nothing at all.

I do this anyway. No matter what. It’s like the dishes. I don’t ever feel like doing the dishes, am never inspired to clean up the sink, but I do it anyway. I set reminders on my phone for Mondays and Fridays, and do you know why? Because my wife likes when I do them. We’ve been married for 20 years and our marriage is better than it has ever been, and it’s not close. There were moments, days, years, where we didn’t feel like doing the dishes (whatever the ‘dishes’ were, whether dinner or sex or trash or kindness or laundry or whatever.) We have this practice where we come to the front door to meet the other when they get home. Sometimes the chair or couch or bed is comfortable or extra-extra comfortable, and we come anyway. We don’t always feeeel like it. And we go anyway. I pastor a church and there are times where I don’t jump out of bed on a Sunday morning. I don’t always hurry to the gym because I’m sooo in the mood to work out, either.

I think it’s important to write here. I’d decided this about me before I ever sit down, topic or not. I love my wife like crazy. I am also going to love my wife like crazy. These 2 statements are not about circumstance or situation or the weather or motivation or inspiration, they are simply what I do, what I will do. They are non-negotiable.

So I sit down here and give the time, like an offering. I don’t have to think about if I want to anymore, I cannot be talked out of it, it’s value isn’t in question. It is now who I am.

I discovered who I am after many, many years of searching. Many, many years of weight & priority, of digging into my heart and learning what I truly value. I read the Bible, not necessarily because I always want to, but because I want to be the sort of man who reads the Bible.

And when I don’t… Of course I don’t. I’m not anywhere close to the neighborhood of perfect. My Bible can get dusty, the dishes don’t always get done on a Monday and Friday, the Angel doesn’t always know I love her to the moon and back, not every decision is consistent with the me I’m becoming. So when I don’t…well, I also want to be the sort of man who is kind, forgiving, peaceful and loving to everyone (including me) anyway.

Enemies — December 2, 2021

Enemies

In the Bible, Jesus says to “Love your enemies.” This is the sort of thing in the Scriptures that we’ve heard several thousand times and sounds very spiritual and evolved. But sometimes…

Well, you know the song “Irreplaceable,” by Beyoncé? When it was released, it was in constant rotation. You could hear it almost any time of the day or night on one of the local pop radio stations. (It’s like Olivia Rodrigo – right now, I can guarantee that you can find one of her songs on one of the presets in your car.) But in listening to it so much, “Irreplaceable” lost something. It didn’t lose it’s shine, we just lost our sensitivity to the light. It was still AWESOME (listen to it again, I promise you’ll remember how much you love it), we just fell asleep. It was so familiar, it became routine background noise instead of soul-rattling.

There are lots of things like this. Seinfeld. Endgame. The Beatles. Your spouse. Your kids. Steph Curry. Kisses. Pizza.

Loving your enemies is a topic we talk about in churches where we all nod and pretend that we understand and have checked off a to-do list long ago. Yeah, yeah, love your enemies. Now what?

The problem is that this pretense is all well & good, right up until the point where we actually have an enemy. (Well, once we have an enemy AND are finally unable to successfully hide it behind some imaginary religious self-righteousness.) With this enemy’s face forefront in our minds taunting us, reminding us how awful he/she is, the true impact of His words is revealed. And it is here, right here, that we discover that we don’t in fact like this passage at all.

Like “Irreplaceable,” it was so familiar, it became unfamiliar. Unknown. Totally Foreign. We forgot that this is a shockingly humongous ask. It’s practically impossible. Which, I’m well aware, is probably the point. And this impossible dream is very easy to miss as long as we continue this ridiculous practice of image-making, masquerading as perfect plastic people.

The truth is, there are quite a few real-life enemies walking around hurting those we love (hurting our friends and family is waaay worse than hurting us, right??) over and over and over and over on purpose. They are psychopathic in their malice and leave a wide path of wreckage in their wake. Love them? Is that really the command?

Yes, it is. Maybe I don’t love mine, at least not today, but I’m finally hearing the song, and that’s something.

Thriller — November 22, 2021

Thriller

If you missed it, the new Adele album, 30, came out last week.

I sometimes lament the over-categorization of pop music. I remember everyone on earth (or at least everyone in my small town in Pennsylvania) gathering for the world premiere of Michael Jackson’s Thriller long-form music video. We all sat transfixed, losing our minds, by one guy in zombie makeup. Everyone I knew and their parents loved Michael Jackson. A bazillion hearts skipped a beat when he glided across the stage during that iconic performance of Billie Jean when he unveiled the moonwalk that etched itself in our collective consciousness. The Thriller album sold all the copies – you know we all remember our own with the inset of a tiny tiger cub and Michael in a full ‘80’s Playgirl pose.

I imagine now that we would never agree because Michael Jackson would only be played on R&B radio stations, while the country fans remained truly oblivious and the indie snobs pretended not to know while talking about obscure garage bands on vinyl. It’s pretty much an either/or situation, instead of a both/and. We don’t like Asia AND Kool & the Gang anymore. We like Asia OR Kool & the Gang. And I don’t think that’s too awesome.

This lack of communal experiences hasn’t yet wrecked films, although the streaming “Same Day As Theaters” premiere is threatening. TV has already been lost – water cooler moments where we gaped at cliff-hangers and huge surprises are antiques. SO much of the beauty of art is its ability to connect us, and the connection is lost when we’ve nothing in common.

I guess it’s cool that we can watch what we want (choosing from infinite possibilities) when we want, further individualizing our lives. But maybe isolating ourselves isn’t what any of us need right now. Or ever.

Anyway. I was kidding when I said “If you missed it,” because Adele sort of transcends genre lines of division. Every radio station and entertainment forum knew and waited breathlessly in anticipation for this record from this ridiculous talent to drop.

And it did and we all listened together, no matter where we lived or who we voted for or what we thought about masks and vaccines. And it was simply beautiful, to do this with you, with everyone.

It hardly mattered that the album itself was largely underwhelming (with a few glorious exceptions). What mattered was that we were there together. Finally. Again.

What Is The Truth? — November 8, 2021

What Is The Truth?

I’m thinking about the well-known saying, “There are 3 sides to every story; his, hers, and the truth,” and am discovering that I don’t agree at all. In the Bible, the Roman Governor Pilate asks Jesus, “What is truth?” And I’ll ask that now. When we say “his, hers, and the truth,” what are we talking about? Simple facts? Can something be true without being strictly factual? Is truth only what can be objectively stated? Can something be real, genuine, authentic and not be true? Or are real and true interchangeable synonyms?

Maybe.

Maybe there are different kinds of truth. Sometimes truth changes with more research or information, changes with years and generations, changes with circumstance. And there is the Truth that stays exactly the same forever.

I’m talking about the 1st kind, and in that case the cliche should read, “There are 2 sides to every story; his & hers, AND they’re both true.”

This idea began to take shape for me when I got married. A general maxim is that “perception is reality.” If one believes/feels that the other works too much, there is no amount of data that can change that one’s mind. 99 out of 100 can think he/she does NOT work too much and 99 out of 100 don’t matter at all. What does matter is the one who lives in that house who is empty and disconnecting because their spouse works too much. There aren’t enough PowerPoint presentations that can convince him/her otherwise.

When my wife felt neglected or in second (or 10th) place, I had work to do and changes to make. I couldn’t reason my way out of it by invalidating her experience, even if I wanted to (which I really really did, then). Her neglect was completely true.

This tiny shift has allowed me to hear with new ears. I don’t have to, in fact I can’t, decide if someone is right or wrong, I just have to accept the existing paradigm. I just have to be present without judgment or taking a side. Actually, maybe they’re not new ears, maybe they’re just ears. If we could be free of the natural tendency to pass judgement and declare winners and losers, we could simply listen and truly practice empathy. What happens if we don’t have to know who is right and who is wrong? What happens if we are able to just be where our brothers and sisters (and selves) are, compassionately, totally engaged?

I don’t so much care what happened anymore. Sometimes I do. Maybe that makes sense. Life and relationship require us to not only know the right thing, but the right thing at the right time. And harder still, when the right thing at the wrong time is no longer the right thing. Unless it is.

There are 2 verses in the Bible – Proverbs 26:4 and 26:5 – that are direct opposites. 4: “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.” And 5: “Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.”

They didn’t make sense to me before, now they do. They make perfect sense and are both absolutely true.