No matter the result tomorrow, keep your humanity. How we talk to each other matters. What we say matters. It’s hard to hate up close. If you wouldn’t say it while looking someone in the eye, then don’t say it at all. Resist the easy way out with cheap shots in the comment sections and useless divisive posts on social media. We are human. We have that package that can deny one impulse because we know a little self-restraint, discipline and common sense will keep us alive. It’s a package that doesn’t seem to be in heavy use, but we still have it. It is God’s greatest gift to us, our will. And this isn’t the first time He’s watch us with an inability to control it. One of my favorite bible passages is when Jesus was people watching and realized how much they were like sheep and then he cried. I laugh out loud every time. We haven’t treated each other humanely because we don’t communicate human-ly. We have Netflix documentaries about all the fake food we are consuming. Moms carefully monitoring the amount of artificially lit screens the children look at. But no one is talking about how we talk to each other. You can zoom, skype, facetime, text, email, call, snap chat, direct message, instant message and tender swipe. All are forms of communicating and none of them are natural. Think about all the beefs you’ve had with someone… All of them, high school drama, wedding invite drama, offended by the pastor drama… Election drama… How much of that conflict was in person? How much of the he said, she said was said to he or she while looking them in the eye? Me too. Humans are at their best when they talk the way humans were meant to. Anything else gets weird real quick. I mean anything else. Even public speaking is a relatively new wave of comm on the timeline of mankind. The way greeks were posturing in front of the senate wasn’t the same way they went to dinner and spoke to each other. A heart next to a picture is not the same event as your buddy putting his arm around and saying I’m proud of you. A burn on Facebook isn’t the same as speaking your mind and taking it outside. Our brain, still the reigning supercomputer, needs eye contact, touch, sound of a familiar voice, facial expressions. That’s how we make sense of what’s real. The other stuff feels fake because it is. The human kind of communication feels real, because it’s risky. It’s hard to tell someone how you feel. It’s electrifying to hear someone say they love you for the first time. You don’t run your mouth without preparing to dodge a punch in the mouth. Online you don’t get any of that. Words mean nothing because we took away the consequences… Except there is one, our humanity. Slowly, one thumbs up, or snarky faceless comment, we slip down the food chain until we’ve trained ourselves to give into our every animal like impulse. Until we take the bait and get ourselves killed. No matter who wins, it’s up to us to make sure we don’t all lose. Struggle Well Friends
I’ll admit I’m a curmudgeon when it comes to over used sayings with under used thought. Nothing solicits a sharp eye roll more than the adage “character is who you are when no one’s watching. That’s stupid. And more importantly who cares?
Mostly the trait in question when character comes up is morality. What do you believe is right and wrong and how do you live that out? If you treat someone kindly but don’t feel like being kind, was it still an act of kindness. Yes. And more importantly does your feeling of frustration really indict your character. NO. What you did was kind… How you felt was a temporary weaker version of you, you had to strong arm internally. Your character has everything to do with what you’ve wrestled with. The lonely internal labor and the treatment of your fellow man you deliver. That’s your character.
Are we all going to look each other in the eye and pretend we don’t hang the phone up and curse each other’s existence when we argue who left the garage open last night? That we don’t fantasize choking the barista when they put whip cream in our milkshake of a coffee? If lying is part of the morality game, isn’t this thing unraveling before we even start? The “When no one’s looking” philosophy is a shame game. All of us are dealing with thoughts we’d rather not have anyone know about. It’s a struggle as old as sin. What’s not helpful is feeling bad about the way we feel for a moment instead of dealing with it. Psyching ourselves out into non action and convincing ourselves we’re just bad people.
We need to give ourselves a little more grace about the internal battles we have, so that we can fight them better. You're not a bad person for thinking your sick kid is whiny and should get over it. It’s only bad when you act on it. How you feel about the way you felt and didn’t act is irrelevant and a waste of mental energy. The way I choose to live out right and wrong, kindness or evil, has everything to do with what I’ve had to fight with long before I got in the arena with you. Anger, spite, jealousy, comparison they are my morality sparing partners, after hours when they’re isn’t anyone in the gym. I have to wrestle with the way I want to treat someone. Is this out of anger? Is this right? Yes I am angry, no this isn’t right so I need to get over it.
But see, behind closed doors for a brief time I felt all these awful things. I had all the terrible thoughts while no one was looking. But if I get in the ring on “fight night” and do right, I won. Former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer leads this thing called ELITE 11. A camp invite to the best quarterbacks in the nation. They’re already shiny 5 star products but internally they have miles to cover before they’re prepared for the laser beam of a spot light they’ll be thrown into. I heard him say to them “you have to do the lonely work to know what’s true about yourself.”
If you are taking the question of your character to the arena of human exchange, it’s too late. Your foundation is sand, and you’ll collapse under the social pressure. You’ll shape shift trying to please everyone and go home hating yourself. Your action comes out of knowing the answer, not in search of it. And you’ll never know the answer unless you wrestle privately with your question. Don’t beat yourself up for thinking the bad stuff. Beat up the bad stuff by knowing what’s going on within. Develop self awareness. Why do I feel the way I do? Is this right? Then do what’s right. It’s easy to live as slaves to our emotions but that’s not how we are designed. Emotions are directions to truths, not destinations of it. That’s why time alone is essential. Doing hard things that make us uncomfortable are self awareness sharpeners. You cannot be who you want without them and you character, your real character depends on it.
Struggle Well Friends
BY PETER KAPLE
What can a 308’ Icebreaker and Antarctica teach you about life?
Short Answer - A Lot
Lesson from the Ice - Master Your Tools
My icebreaker and my home for the last 7 years has been the RVIB Nathaniel B. Palmer. She was built by North American Shipyard in LaRose, Louisiana in 1992. She has a length of 308’, beam of 30’, and draft of 23’. She draws power from four Caterpillar 3608 engines for a combined horsepower of 13,200. The engines are split between two shafts, and at the end of the shafts are controllable pitch propellers. The American Bureau of Shipping classifies the Palmer as an A2 icebreaker. This means she is capable of breaking ice that is 3 feet thick while moving continuously at 3 knots.
She is not the biggest icebreaker. She is not the most powerful icebreaker. She was not built to be either of those things. She was built to do scientific research in the ice and she is damn good at it. Controllable pitch propellers and big rudders make her very maneuverable, allowing her to maneuver around ice much quicker than a larger vessel.
The truth surrounding her abilities is simple, and while she does have her limits, she is only as capable as the mariner at the helm. On top of needing to have a comprehensive knowledge of sea ice, a mariner manuevering in the ice must have an intimate understanding of how the vessel operates. You have to understand how she will react to every adjustment of the controls. Essentially, this 308-foot icebreaker must become an extension of you. Once this happens, even her limits can be used to your advantage.
With an ever changing landscape of sea ice, it can take years to master control of the ship. There are some situations that rarely occur, so learning how the ship reacts to different ones takes time. There are also so many aspects to icebreaking that it’s hard to quickly master a single scenario . Every trip to the ice I feel I learn a bit more about what the Nathaniel B. Palmer is capable of handling. I might see a situation for the first time or finally master an old one. I will always have more to learn. While I gain mastery, I must remain a student.
The RVIB Nathaniel B. Palmer is a tool, albeit a complex tool in a complex environment, but in the end, she is just a tool. The skills and knowledge of how best to use that tool take time. We too often pick up a new tool, whether a saw or a fly rod or camera, use it a few times without producing the results we see on social media, decide we got the wrong one, and walk away from that pursuit entirely.
We idolize guides and professionals, and quickly chalk up their abilities to the tools they use, not the mastery they have of them. We see the ease in which these idols wield their tools and decide that we too can do things with the same ease. That we don’t need to practice or continue to learn. We expect everything to come naturally, and then we quit the first time things become a challenge.
Every time you pick up a new tool, you must realize that you will fail, learning to use it will be difficult, and it will take a lot longer to master than you would like. Failure is only truly failure if you don’t take the time to learn from it and then apply what you learn to become better. If learning something was easy, then would you really want to pursue it? As for how long it takes to master something, the best part is the journey to mastery and all the lessons along the way. Learn to struggle well and in time you will master your tools.
HAPPINESS LIVES WITH YOUR REFERENCE POINT
The more I try to avoid the hard stuff the harder everything seems to be…. I’ll admit Conflict, hard work, eating half way decent, there not my first choice. I know this though, the further along the pain spectrum my reference point for difficult becomes, the happier I am. The softer I get, the sadder I get. This may not be profound but it’s everything to me. The best news in all of this is tough and happy and soft and sad are not final states. They’re trainable and loseable.
In Japan there is a tradition called Misogi where people travel way up this mountain to this sacred waterfall. Submerging themselves, the freezing cold water is considered a form or purification. It’s hard to get there, it’s violently uncomfortable and the cold water is meant to be a reference point for all other discomfort in the coming year. They believe discomfort “purifies” their endurance to handle tough things that may come.
As KILL BILL as all of this sounds, the principal of the practice applies to you and me. Take for instance the term,” first world problems”. When we murmur such a millennial phrase, we mean things are so good that we have to find extravagant, meaningless details to complain about. Food, water, shelter needs are met. Now it’s time to compare cars, salaries and… well you know. On the flip side if you have ever been working outside and it’s really, really hot and all you want is a drink of water… You’re not thinking about the new Ford Bronco, being the district manager… In that moment, happiness is a cup of water. So simple.
I work with kids for a living… I’m supposed to get them big, strong, fast and tough enough for a gauntlet of social, physical and mental confrontations of a football game. It never fails, kids that haven’t been asked to train hard before feel like they’re getting attacked, picked on, being mistreated. They have no coping skills for the new found discomfort so they panic. They lose all concept of time, they become disoriented, defensive and fearful. The more convenient things become for us, the more comfortable our daily life is, the more our reference point decays. The more discomfort we experience, the more it takes to make us uncomfortable. The more we put ourselves in harm’s way, the harder we are to harm.
The American Dream was never life, liberty and the new IPHONE X. It’s the pursuit… The pursuit makes us happy…. The things that cause us great struggle make us happy because they strengthen our reference point in the most wonderful catch 22. The more things we do…. The less things seem hard. The less things seem difficult; the more peace we feel. Want your kids to be happy? Make them do hard things. Sure, they’ll lose their minds. Hang on, don’t back off. When they realize the discomfort isn’t going anywhere and neither are you, they will adapt. They will harden. The neuroplasticity of their brain will shape around the struggle and their processing systems will come to accept it, and maybe one day be thankful for it.
You ever see a nap needing, hungry 4 year old? As they tear the baseboards from the living room and watch the world burn, they have no idea what they want. They just know they’re miserable. How did so many of us find ourselves in the adult edition gold fish snack deprived state of despair? How’d we get so depressed, so anxious, so triggered? We’re angry, sad, bored and looking for someone to blame. Someone we can pin it on so our misery can at least make sense. Maybe we’re reading the play all wrong. The characters are confusing and the plot makes no sense. Between our aunts’ facebook posts’ of Jesus wearing an American flag robe shaking hands with Donald Trump, and our old history teacher demanding to disband the police force, things are murky at best. Maybe the origin and author of our pain is much more familiar than super rich conspiracy theories and secret agendas of cashless societies. What if the person responsible for all your misery was…. Are you ready? YOU. There’s a guy named Mike Mchargue. He’s largely responsible for many of the algorithms that spit out the underwear ad on your instafeed when you thought about buying new underwear in the shower one time. He notes we all construct our reality by creating a villain and a hero for the story we’re in. If you know who the bad guy is, your seemingly senseless pain and discomfort can be credited to one source. It makes our world make sense. “It’s the liberals making everybody soft.” “It’s the racists republicans oppressing us.” “My dad left” “I’m poor”. It feels better to have a reason why you feel bad. Nothing’s worse than feeling bad and knowing it’s your fault. Where’s the fun in that? The free pass understood excuse? The built in sympathy for all our short comings? Micah Fink runs an organization that helps veterans returning from combat get their life back. His program is based around the idea of the essential need to struggle. In other words, the only way out of the last challenge is the next. In the midst of great and terrible struggle we enter what Fink calls “original thought.” A truth about ourselves that no one else can tell us, or interpret. Struggle makes our story true. Struggle makes our story worth living. The hardest truth pill there is to swallow is the one about yourself. This isn’t to discredited the terrible things that happen to some of us. Yes abuse happens, parents hurt their children, sickness attacks our bodies. Some are born poor, some are born rich. Some have dads, some don’t. But if that’s the end of the plot, the story’s a tragedy. I’ve worked with athletes that come from unspeakable tragedy, violence and abuse and there’s one common route that brings them out. They want something. What do you want now? To want is to hope. To hope is to have purpose. Indifference is death. Our pain is not the product of a system. It’s the lack of want. We sit in depressed, anxiety stricken states scrolling an endless narrative about how wronged we’ve all been done until it’s downloaded in our hearts. The fictional story of our misery becomes our default setting. Want to feel good again? Find what you want. It’s harder than you think. Harder than deciding to eat at Chile’s or Apple Bee’s with your spouse. How do you find it? Put yourself in challenge. Open the business. Go on the trip. Go for a run. If how it makes you feel is worth the struggle, in other words, the juice is worth the squeeze, you’ve discovered want. You’ve discovered hope. When you have it, it doesn’t matter what’s happened before. The previous pain isn’t as valuable as the potential for happiness. You know what you want, what you have to do to get there. You know who you’ll be while you’re struggling for it. And that knowledge is priceless.
BY PETER KAPLE
What can a 240’ Icebreaker and Antarctica teach you about life?
Short Answer - A Lot
Lesson from the Ice: Be thankful and enjoy what you have.
I spent my first two years in Antarctica working on the Antarctic Research Supply Vessel (ARSV) Laurence M. Gould. She is a 240-foot ice capable vessel. She conducts scientific operations throughout the Antarctic Peninsula. However, her main mission is to resupply Palmer Station, the US Antarctic Program’s base on Anvers Island.
The trip to Anvers Island takes you along the Antarctic Peninsula. You go through channels with almost mystical sounding names like Neumayer and Gerlache. Places where glacier-capped mountains soar 5000 feet out of the ocean and channels run hundreds of feet deep. The entire peninsula feels otherworldly. It’s a wild, rugged country unlike any I have ever seen. In the time I worked along the peninsula, I rarely took a picture and certainly never appreciated the landscape for what it is—a masterpiece. The mountains were nothing more than a backdrop. The deep fjords were nothing more than a route between ports. I didn’t take the time to be thankful for what I was experiencing. Ironically, much later, a different set of mountains would change my life and leave me longing to return to the peninsula and its glacier-capped range.
While on a hunt in Wyoming’s Sierra Madre Range, I learned the importance of being thankful for the people I have around me and the experiences I get to live out. I entered those mountains with the purpose of finding a black bear, but I left with a deeper understanding of my life. Sitting patiently on the side of a mountain, I was forced to slow down and reflect. I came to realize how much good I had in my life and how many unique experiences life had brought me.
These days, I try to slow down and reflect as often as I can. It’s not always easy. But that’s a huge reason I’m so drawn to the outdoors—to hunting and fishing. These pursuits force you to slow down and focus on the present. After all, in order to really understand an animal, you must understand the world it lives in. And to understand the natural world, you have to be there, in the present and focused on nothing but the world right at your fingertips.
We too often get so focused on what’s next, what’s in the future, that we forget to live in the present. Because we are distracted by other thoughts, we often miss the importance and joy of events that might only happen once in a lifetime. It might not be the chance to admire the beauty of an ice-capped mountain range. It could instead be something as simple as a unique way in which a redfish took a fly. Moments like these are fleeting. Gone in an instant. Enjoy them.
Take a moment each day to be thankful for what you have and the life you get to experience. It’s easy to look at the world around us and be jealous and upset by the lives of others. If you want to make changes to your life, you must realize they will take time. While those changes are happening, take a deep breath and enjoy the process. Enjoy the journey you have in front of you and the people that you will meet along the way.
QUARANTINE TUTORIAL: 30 DAYS WITH A WIFE OF 10 YEARS, HAS BEEN ANYTHING BUT FAMILIAR
Familiarity breeds contempt. It’s a simple truth that lately I’ve had my nose rubbed in. No, more than rubbed, more like waterboarded by. My nose has been scraped off by the fact that the more we are around someone the more fault we find in them. No surprise here. Ole Benny Franklin knew fish and company stunk in three days. Wonder how he thought spouses smelled after a decade?
That cute quirky way the love of your life chews gum, or hold a taco shell, is now an intolerable act of terrorism. Adjusting the thermostat is cold war and your children are a bridge of spies. How did we get here? How did we go from “you hang up first” to hiding in the bathroom from each other. Two kids, 10 moves 5 states, so much time, so much proximity. But 11 years later, she’s anything but familiar. There’s a stranger in my bed. I think there is anyway, I went to bed early and she went to watch Big Little Lies .
Is it possible to know someone so well, we forget to keep getting to know them? Love guru(ish) I know but hear me out. Those 10 moves, those 5 states, those babies, those hirings and firings. They did something to me. They formed new grooves in the ravines of my mind, smoothed over like cavern walls products of wind, water and time. I’m not the same person I was 10 years ago. I’m not the same person I was 3 years ago. But I forget she isn’t either. I forgot to write home because I was too busy being at home. How was she changing? What did she think of all this? What lights her heart up now? No man is an island, and no woman is a lake. They’re rivers, always there, but never the same water flowing in that same spot.
I’m so familiar to my wife, I’m foreign to her. And likewise with her.
10 years later, I’m trying to impress the 21 year old version of my wife, Striking out hard and hating her for it. She isn’t even attempting with me, there’s too much puke, too many butts needing wiped and someone has tears streaming down their face. Someone is always crying. So logic has confronted me with this ultimatum of human exchange. We change over time, and how we feel as well. What worked 10 years ago, won’t work today... What worked yesterday won’t work today. I hear break ups chalked up to “I just don’t feel the same.” Of course you don’t. That’s not possible, that’s not an option. Grandma doesn’t feel like a prom queen anymore. Your wife doesn’t feel like a little girl, giggly you talked to her.
So is “till death do us part,” even possible. Are we just fooling ourselves because we’ve been top of the food chain too long? Should we just stay away from each other, then go in rut every fall and spring, fight each other and the women will wait to see who kills who. Can we stay together, and not just for the kids, but because we’re in love. Not the same love, but love, ever changing, ever flowing, day to day.
Fishing guides make money because they know how to catch a fish everyday, no matter the conditions. Idiots in the outdoor isle at Walmart say things like “use watermelon shads.” The real deal’s, the ones you hand wads of cash to, to put you on fish, know the situation is fluid. The moon, the tide, the temperature, the sun, the clarity of the water. All are playing a factor to where the fish are. We’re that idiot in the isle for each other. “I’ll get her flowers, rub her back.” “He likes going to concerts.” Then dumfounded on the shore line, suddenly find ourselves “skunked.” What used to be a sure thing, sends us home empty handed.
We have to know the daily conditions. How do we do that? You ready? Ask. Ask your spouse “where are they right now?”. “Is this working?” It’s gonna take some practice to not lie to each other at first. It’s going to take time to get over the trauma when you start telling each other the truth. But after that... You start plotting waypoints on each other’s maps, you’ll start finding where they went to hide. And why they went there. But it’s work. Like the guide getting the boat in the water the 100 mornings you were in bed. That intellectual capital of fish behavior and conditions came with a great price... Time, effort and communication.
Knowledge of her heart, or his heart is the product of hard, hard, endless work.
Stop being surprised things change. Take what’s not working seriously, but not personally. The water’s just different. The greatest problem with communication is assuming it
happened. Don’t get tired of chasing her, chasing him. Don’t settle for cordial. Peace without resolution is endless conflict. Rip off band aids. Air out old wounds. Say what you mean, then ask your self why you meant it. Fell in love is past tense. What now?
I’ve never said “I shouldn’t have to” and been happy at the end of that statement. Our internal huff, and the never ending narrative that “I’m always the one that has to say sorry.” “I’m always the one left to clean up the mess.” Is a virus no one is too keen to wash their hands of.
And why not? Why do we insist on a daily download of disgruntled-ness, rather than gratitude, grace. I’ve never been generous and regretted it. Buried the hatchet with a friend and wished we’d kept fighting. But oh boy, the time I wasted up to that point. Anxious I wouldn’t have enough if I gave that much, Indignant that I should be the one to apologize when clearly they were in the wrong. I’ve gone a full Vegas heavy weight 12 rounds over it in the shower about how right I was. I’ve assaulted friends eardrums with my hurricane of grievances in hopes for an endorsement of my saltiness. And they’d give it, and I’d still be miserable, but at least I had company.
So why do we wring our hands, and nash our teeth at the labors that bring the fruit of the spirit; Love, Joy, Peace, Patience? It’s like a citrus farmer waking up every morning, cursing the ladder he must climb, the basket he must carry and the hot sun for making it all grow. But we do, we so do that everyday. Why? Because comfort. Comfort and joy, contrary to the Christmas Carole, are not the same. And most of the time in different time zones from each other. There is joy in watching your kid take off on his bike for the first time on his own. There is no comfort in teaching him to ride. There is heavenly relief when you and a loved one find forgiveness. There’s nothing pleasant about the conversation you must have to find it. A home cooked meal, you grew, or gilled or caught.. Nothing tastes better on your plate and was hell to get it there.
Comfort is the opposite of the joys we deposit in our memory bank. It’s easier to stay home, save the money than load the kids up and drive through the night to the beach. It’s more comfortable to skip the run, keep your shirt on and sit by the pool at the party, even when your daughter’s begging you to swim. There’s a banner Oxford Pennant sells that reads “Comfort is a slow Death.”
And is it ever. It’s the death of our relationships. It’s more comfortable to not say what you feel than risk such vulnerability in the off chance you’ll find a real exchange the ties your heart strings together. Let’s keep it real real here, It’s easier to visit that certain website than pursue your wife. But y’all aint ready for that talk.
It’s the death of our health. It’s just easier not to stress our heart and just sit and scroll. It’s just easier to hit another drive through than cook a meal with our kids. It’s faster, it’s more convenient it’s cheaper and it will kill you.
What would it look like if we put on different lenses to see our struggles. What if instead of waiting for the phone to ring, we pick it up, called our buddy, checked in and told them we love them. More so, what if we harbored no resentment that we we’re the ones that had to call. That we’re the one’s that had to initiate connection in our love life. What if we picked up the check… again… and didn’t think, “I always have to pay.” What if we thought, thank God I have the money to pay it. The job to make it… To treat my brother, again. What if we thought “I’m glad I could see my buddy needs me.”
There’s joy there. And plenty of it to be had. But you’re going to have to get over some things. Eat some truths. Make no Deals with comfort. You’re going have to be the one that sees love through. And not just expect it, but enjoy it. To learn to enjoy vs endure is a freedom folks don’t no what to do with when they see it. It’s spectacular, convicting and catalyzing. The next time “you have every right to…” Or they deserve it.. don’t. The next time you shouldn’t have to… Do it anyway,
Smile, and Struggle Well
There are two rivers I drink from. One is Fear and the other is Love… Literally everything I do comes down to these two emotions. They drive all my actions. Where I spend my money, my time, the things I say, the stuff I eat, the relationships I choose, and choose to avoid. “Is this a threat?” Or “Do I love this person” That’s it. One gives me and everyone around me life the way a cold drink of water does, the other poison.
We tell ourselves stories justifying our ill will towards others. The more complicated our back story the more excusable our cowardice. Micah Fink, director of Heroes and Horses, a program that helps combat vets get their life back once told me this. “There’s no difference between the worst and best thing that ever happened to you if your life stops after that.
Look, I drank the “know thyself koolaid” with both hands on the cup and my eyes closed. Self reflection, enneagrams and what not. They’re all very valuable at diagnosis, but we tend to stop there and think that’s just the way we are. But we don’t seem to ask ourselves why we feel that way. It’s as if our feelings are omniscient. “Trust your gut” we say. Who made our gut God? Our emotions became indisputable when we proclaimed ourselves our savior. “Make sure you call because you know I worry.” We say to each other as if our irrational selfish fear is some law of physics that can’t be reasoned with. God’s peace and motherly worry arent next door neighbors. They’re sworn enemies and it’s time we take our fears into question instead of demanding everyone take our fears seriously.
We’ve brought to government floors a conflict belonging behind closed doors, calling ourselves out on our own garbage… Our fear. Every gun rights debate. Fear, “I’m scared they’ll take our rights.” “I’m scared of guns being in the wrong hands.” Two sides, same emotion. Border control, “Dont let them in here they’ll take our jobs, they’ll bring drugs and violence.” What you mean to say is “I’m afraid you’ll disrupt my comfy lifestyle, half price appetizers and challenge what I believe in.” Every mean and heartless thing I’ve said or done, came from a place of fear. And never once was my fear excusable or legitimate. It was always selfish, narcissistic and egotistical.
I grew up in church, literally. I know everything there is about the importance of tithing, but I’m miserable at it. Why? Fear. I’m afraid I’ll run out, or won’t be able to afford the “stuff” I want. Fear puts a budget on our resources. Fear makes us believe love is scarce. That only the impressive ones will get love. Fear makes toilet paper sell out, and and the Holocaust a reality. The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s fear. 1 John 4:18 says There is no fear in love and perfect love drives out fear. Your fear is the darkest thing about you. There’s a reason you hate that one dude at work. He challenges you, he makes you uncomfortable and you hate that about him. He might just be a “you know what” but why is he? He’s scared too. Ever try to scare a grown man? They get angry.
Is anxiety real? Yes? But we’re much to quick to own it as our own. We call it “my axiety.” Is diarrhea real? Of course, but I found far less people ready to call it “my diarrhea”. We treat the poops like something our body is doing and we need to get control of it asap. But if we crap our mental pants we wallow in it and broadcast how everyone should understand and feel bad for us.
Try this out. Every reoccurring thought you have today ask yourself this question. Is this fear or is this love? Is me ghosting you on this text message fear of the conflict I dont want to have or love? Is the next time I pursue my wife, because I love her, or because I’m afraid I don’t get loved enough. Am I eating this cupcake because I love it so much, or I’m afraid I’ll miss out on another hit of sugar induced dopamine? Do I love my job , or am I just afraid to try something different? To choose to live in love vs fear is the Greatest Struggle. And the greatest way to Struggle Well.
Stop saying “I love you,” Go home, you’re drunk. You don’t even know what that means. I worked for a legendary coach and in a team meeting he told us this and I quote. “I don’t love any of you, I like some of you. I love my family, this is a business and we are not family.” Harsh? maybe. Honest? absolutely.
He wasn’t saying he hated us, he was saying “I know what love costs, and I can only spend that on my family.” I’m not saying that’s right, I’m saying we have to stop throwing the L Word around without realizing what it’s going to cost us. Especially if we are personally bankrupt. Love bears all things. Are you prepared to have really uncomfortable, really honest conversations with me? No? Then don’t say you love me. Love is patient. Are you ready to wait for me to get right, even when I fail you, over and over, and keep coming for me no matter what? If you hesitated, don’t tell me you love me. Love keeps no records of wrong. Are you ready for me to hurt you, forgive me and then do it again? Didnt think so. Don’t miss this here. To say I love you is not a hall pass for the recipient to run you over, but that’s up to them, not you.
So if we sling the promise of love around, and fail to hold up the standards of the word, we lied. And lies are hate. There is an amendment to the Golden rule in the Gospel of John. Ole Jesus was like, forget about loving each other as yourself. Love like I love you because whatever y’all are doing to yourselves ain’t love. There it is. We can’t bear all things in love for each other, while we lie to ourselves. We can’t be patient with our friends until we get over our own failures. We can’t erase the record of wrongs done to us as long as we feel guilty for our own sins. This isn’t an alter call, and regardless of where you are with God and his existence Proverbs 15:7 is true for the evangelical and the atheist. “What the heart is full of, the mouth speaks.” If you hate you, you cant love me. If you can’t forgive yourself, you wont forgive me.
This is not a call to limit our love to a select few. Our capacity to love is like distance running. The more you do, the more you can do. And we really are supposed to love everyone. but if we walk every morning and call it running, we’re going to look pretty stupid at the marathon. Let’s commit to loving each other but with the honest perspective we have so far to go, with ourselves, with others. We’re all driving around with the marathon sticker on the bumper, but most of us are standing at the starting line when it comes to real love.
Struggle Well Friends