I want to share a painting that hangs on the wall where I do most of my work. When I look up from my desk, this is what I see:
Study the picture for a few minutes. (Okay, give it ten seconds. I know—you’re busy. We all are.)
Now tell me, what happened here? What’s the story?
Whatever yarn you spin will reveal nothing about the painting, but it will suggest a lot about your life, your place in the world, and the impact you’ll have on others.
Friends, is yours a story of destruction and despair, or one of beauty and adventure?
More importantly, how thankful are you for the story you’re living? Continue reading
I’ve lived most of my life with a longing gaze toward a distant horizon, believing in a mystical something-better out there.
The constant challenge for most folks who grow up around here has always been geography. In West Virginia, the same hills that protect you from the outside world also tend to cripple your chances of seeing beyond the ridge in front of you. Most West Virginians remain semi-affectionately imprisoned in their own little hollers from cradle to grave (save the occasional big trip to Myrtle Beach, laughingly referred to as the Redneck Riviera). A few—our best and brightest—get out as soon as they can, and why wouldn’t they? If your ticket out of West Virginia gets punched, why would you spend one more second in a state that is ranked among the poorest, most depressed, least educated, most drug-addicted, least healthy, and most miserable places in the entire nation? Continue reading
(***Disclaimer: This is a previously unpublished journal entry that I’ve tweaked after a recent discussion with a friend. I told her I’d throw it out there.)
Okay, I’ll admit it. I’ve been struggling. Emotionally. Psychologically. Spiritually. I know it’s not true, but—wow!—I feel alone in this place. Regrettably, not enough of us are willing to drop our fig leaves and confess that we’re human, that we hurt, and that things are often far from ‘fine’.
I’ve been praying, but right now that’s like stumbling through a mist-shrouded forest. Within the complex mess of salvaged parts in my soul, I’ve found myself at once yearning for two opposites: the longing to escape for a while and set out alone, and a desperate aching for human connection, compassion, and soul-support. Unfortunately, obligations and busyness have kept me from the former; and the latter? To whom shall I turn? Everyone I know is either mired in their own battles right now or conspicuously MIA. Continue reading
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Leading a group of men through a study based on the book Fathered by God (John Eldredge), we’ve been prayerfully considering what God intends us to become as men. As we wrestle with current struggles, we’ve journeyed back through our personal stories, asking God to reveal where, why, and how our masculine spirits have been assaulted, seduced, and surrendered. For the men who are willing to engage in such an expedition, they discover a gut-wrenching sort of liberation through the process. It’s been the same for me, and over the years I’ve done this sort of thing many times. It just seems God’s not done with me, yet. (I only mention this because I want you to understand why I’m going where I’m going in this piece.)
Having poured out my soul about my marriage (I was blown away by your numerous emails and private messages–Thank you for sharing your hearts, dear ones!), you’re aware that Laura and I struggle like everyone else. However, I’m compelled to reveal something deeper about my wife and our relationship. To do that, I must first tell you how I’ve failed as a man.
Here’s my confession: Continue reading
As I get older, I’m discovering a crippling dilemma endured by most of the souls I encounter: the desire to be known chained to the horror of being noticed.
It’s like sharing a kennel with a self-destructive pair of Siamese twins hell-bent on fratricide/sororicide/suicide.
Meanwhile, the tired, near-geriatric golden retriever doses next to his brother in the early morning sunlight, thumping his joyous tail, dreaming of simpler times of chasing that stupid ball through the weeds.
And being celebrated for simply doing what he was designed to do.
Whose years multiply at a crippling pace.
Envy and pity hang out together sometimes, too.
The text messages went something like this:
Me: “Stuck at the DMV. I may not make it out of here any time soon. You might need a backup plan for this morning.”
Alex: “Who waits to renew their license until the day before it expires? Other than me, of course.”
What could I say? I’m a moron. I often put myself in these impossible situations. I knew I wouldn’t get out of the DMV in time for our group (Alex and I lead a weekly Bible study with teens going through an addiction recovery program). Maybe it’s stupidity, but I sometimes find myself giving hope a chance to prove my inner-realist wrong. Possibly I just like to put myself in a position where I can once more smother life out of that starry-eyed youngster in my soul: “What the heck were you thinking, you freaking idiot?!” Continue reading
A friend recently shared Daniel Carrillo’s tweet and I had to laugh.
From @DanielRCarrillo on Twitter.
In fact, I laughed until I cried. Literally. And the two were only moments apart.
The laughter because of the hilarious accuracy; the tears because of the bitter truth.
My marriage often feels empty, like two distant people simply occupying the same address. And don’t even get me started on grocery lists!
Laura and I have been married for over 26 years, and this relationship isn’t what I once thought it was going to be. For those who know us, some of these admissions will come as a shock (after all, we’re the perfect match, together since the 10th grade, voted “Cutest Couple” as seniors in high school).
But here’s the brutal truth of our perfect marriage: