Looking Back…

John

Each December 14th… I celebrate another birthday… Many times I have been asked what it is like to reach this age… Here are my thoughts:

First, the alternative to growing old… is dying young… never an attractive choice to me…
I feel so blessed… to have lived long enough… to often be the oldest person in the room… to have the wrinkles… produced by years of smiles and laughter… and the frowns of sorrow and disappointment recorded comfortably on my face… Yes, I wonder who that old guy is… the one I see in my bathroom mirror each morning… But being able to see that image is so much better… than the realization that many others I have known… died… before they could grow comfortable in their own wrinkled skins… It was especially sad when some grew old… even before they grew up…
I now find it is easier to say what I think… because I care less about criticism from other people… I censor what I say less often… and I don’t question myself as much anymore… I’ve granted myself the right to be wrong sometimes… to speak my mind no matter what… to laugh at my mistakes… and to realize that it is not my job to change the world… or what anyone else thinks… I rely on the kindness of others to pretend I am making sense… even when I may not be…
I am free to sing along to those tunes of the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s I heard when I was young… I still know the words… I still remember when movies were 20 cents… gas just 21 cents a gallon… a loaf of bread was a dime…a dozen eggs just 64 cents… A time when my neighborhood was filled with people I knew… and neighbors looked out for each other… which made it safe on the streets for us kids… When respect for others was a practice not just a promise… I’ve come to believe… even if irrationally… for me those were the good old days…
I am also free to shed a tear over lost opportunities… lost friendships… and lost loves… because shedding tears does not define my manhood… my character and integrity are much better measures… I no longer trouble myself when life changes direction on me… there are few things that are meant to last forever anyway… I know now that I will never let the child in me die… and I accept that God shakes things up… when He wants me to see life with new eyes…
I now understand that not everything I have learned… nor every experience I have had… is worth remembering… but I have no trouble remembering the important things… Best of all…I will always remember the thousands of happy moments I have shared with people I loved…
As I’ve aged… I’ve become kinder to myself… and to others… I have become my own best friend… I have learned to tell quickly… the good from the bad… the right from the wrong and I have finally come to a place where I do not “suffer fools easily…” and I place too much value on the real friendships I have made… to regret any not made… I know that I will never understand the complaints I hear… from too many people… about too many other people… We all judge each other too often and too harshly sometimes… I feel blessed that my very best friends… without fail have always been fantastic men and women… and I have been doubly blessed… to have met and loved… the most wonderful, loving, special women …
Over the years… my heart has been broken at times… how could it not be when evil sometimes seemed to have won the day… when fairness and justice seemed to have gotten lost… when someone I loved suffered… or when my children hurt for some reason… When I reflect on my life as a parent and friend… I realize I could have done so much better… especially when I disappointed someone I loved… or when a heartfelt love… ended… But broken hearts… are what give us strength… and understanding… and compassion… A heart never broken has been kept in isolation… it is sterile… and unused and has never really known the joy of having loved… or of being loved…
The loss of loved ones that comes with living a long life… is the hardest part of getting older… It is difficult to overcome the feeling… that you are being left behind by your generation… The loss of friends and family are among the things that hurt the most… but you learn to miss them and still go on… you also begin to realize the incredible contribution… they have all made to who you are… parents and siblings… friends and associates… and you thank God for placing them in your life… even if only for a time…
So, if you are interested… I embrace the blessing of getting older… I pray that my mistakes have been… or will be forgiven… and that the trajectory of my life has been a good one… I pretty much like the person I am… though I am still working on some things… I know I am not going to live forever… but while I am here… I will not waste time regretting what might have been… or worrying too much… about what might be…I will approach each new waypoint like this birthday… with the excitement of a new opportunity to love life… one still full of the potential for a grand adventure… or a new challenge to my thinking… Finally, each morning when I arise… I will ignore the tweaks and twinges in my joints… and remember to thank God… first for the beautiful life He has given me so far… and for the generous gift… of another day…

There He is…

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A wise man was traveling throughout the countryside… when he came to a little village… he stopped to speak to the people… When he was finished… a woman approached him and said… “all my life I have been looking for God… and have been unable to find him…” “I want to love God” she said… “but if I can’t see him… how can I love him?”… Then the wise man said to her… “is there anything in this world that you love?” And the woman answered, “ of course… when I see my son…” she said… pointing to a little boy… “I feel love… But where is God?”… And the wise man said, “There He is”…

Messed up Thinking…

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Filtering:

You take the negative details and magnify them while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation…

Polarized Thinking:

Things are black or white… good or bad… You have to be perfect or you’re a failure… There is no middle ground…

Mind Reading:

Without their saying so… you think you know what people are feeling… and why they act the way they do…

In particular, you think you know how people are feeling toward you…

Personalization:

Thinking that everything people do or say is some kind of reaction to you. You also compare yourself to others, trying to determine who’s smarter, better looking, etc.

Fallacy of Fairness:

You feel resentful because you think you know what’s fair but other people don’t always agree with you.

Blaming:

You hold other people responsible for your pain, or take the other tack and blame yourself for every problem or reversal.

Expectations for others:

You have a list of ironclad rules about how you and other people should act. People who break the rules anger you and you feel guilty if you violate the rules.

Emotional Reasoning:

You believe that what you feel must be true-automatically. If you think someone is stupid and boring, then they must be stupid and boring.

Fallacy of Change:

You expect that other people will change to suit you if you just pressure or pressure them enough. You need to change people because your hope for happiness seems to depend entirely on them.

Global Labeling:

You generalize one or two qualities into a negative global judgment.

Being Right:

You are continually on trial to prove that your opinions and actions are correct. Being wrong is unthinkable and you will go to any length to demonstrate your rightness.

Reward Fallacy:

You expect all your sacrifice and self-denial to pay off, as if there were someone keeping score.

How’s that working out?…

emoji-1585401_640Everybody wants to have great sex and an awesome relationship… but not everyone is willing to go through what it takes to get to that… The struggles to connect… and really understand each other… The late night conversations… The loss and re-establishment of trust… the aimless bickering… leading to the awkward silences that grow more frequent… The late night wondering… “Is this all there is…?”… to “What went wrong?”… Well if nobody is willing to put in the work… then when the lawyers are done… and the alimony check is in the mail they both end up saying… “What was that all about?”…

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Self-esteem… is really only the ability to know your own worth… without having to depend on others to confirm it…

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Why not try more often… to be somebody’s reason… to smile…

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There are only two days in life… that you cannot affect… one is yesterday… and the other is tomorrow… so today is the only day you have… to grow… to serve… to believe… to do… and to love… Don’t waste it…!!!

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God gave us all the freedom to choose… but that does not free us from the “consequences” of our choices…

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Since faith is believing in what you cannot “see”… in the end… The reward for faith will be “seeing” what you have always believed…

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If you look into the quiet corners of your life… You will find there an image of yourself… who at times did not receive the love you deserved… times when you deserved love but didn’t always receive it.. So… take some time today… to show some love to yourself…

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Maybe it’s time to do away with the absolutely ridiculous notion that everyone has to “earn” a living… “earn” the right to live?… It is a fact today… that a few brilliant people can bring about technological changes… capable of supporting all the rest of us… several parts of the world can produce enough food to feed us all… Robots and computers are already replacing much of the joyless work we perform… but we keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery… because of some senseless thought, we must “justify” our right to exist… as God’s creations… we already have that right… but we continue to create work… where workers are not needed… The true business of people should be to educate themselves for service to others… to pursue the ideas for progress and service to others they had… before somebody came along and told them they had to “earn” a living…

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Today… would be a good day to remember… We have to be willing to let go of the life we have planned… so that we may enjoy the life that God has planned for us…
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Whenever you think of yourself as inadequate… incomplete… weak in some way… You are being influenced by what is called the “Scarcity Principle”… and it affects all of us…. When we believe that something is missing in us… that we are not attractive enough… not smart enough… not desirable enough… we tend then to look for those missing things in others… For that reason… We often fall in love with others… seeking what we feel we lack in ourselves… There can be no greater mistake than that… real love is not a search for something we wish to acquire… real love is more about giving… not receiving… If we feel incomplete… or unimportant… trying to enhance our lives by seeking external approval… external possessions… and external “love”… we will always fail… The “You” that God created… isn’t incomplete… and “needs” nothing… You are already complete… safe… loved… and loving… you only need to look for opportunities to share what you have… not get something more… No one else can complete you… God has already done that…
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Let’s agree to start resisting the temptation to so quickly judge others… Maybe we could begin by treating everyone with dignity… recognizing that they have a story too… and reasons for who they are and how they are…and why they do what they do… The more we accept other people… for who and where they are… the more likely they are to accept us… and the likelihood we can find peace within ourselves… and understanding with them… When we feel the urge to judge someone else… let’s just remember… that we are not God… !!! Have a blessed life… !!!
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In times of crisis and stress… we should know that maturity and emotional intelligence exist… only when we possess the ability to feel… express… and interpret our feelings productively… and clearly… It is something we cannot expect from everyone…