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Archive for May, 2010

Often, when I am listening to a client share about their life, they are typically elaborating on some monstrosity that has created such pain and difficulty. They are in anguish,  confusion, and disorientation. What I find  true is that the most common question that surfaces is Why?  Why did this or that happen? What did I do to deserve this? Why am I the one to go through this difficulty? Whether it is loss, divorce, physical, illness, an accident, or even near death, the universal question that follows is: Why did this happen?

How do you answer  this question? What do you say to yourself when bad things happen and seemingly you have done nothing to cause the event? Or maybe you have contributed somehow, but certainly not to  the degree of consequences that you are experiencing. We struggle for a rationale. We struggle for answers. Sometimes we just simply want the dots to connect.

Why won’t the dots connect? What is it about life that allows for these times of hurt, or such disorientation? All of us have heard or perhaps said, “just gotta pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” Is that what we need to do or is that what we are conditioning ourselves to do? Sometimes life is just perplexing. It does not make sense nor does it remedy our current circumstances. The “so what” question then is, so…what does this mean? Does it have to mean something at all? Maybe life simply does not make sense. If that is true then at times we are living senseless lives. Or are we?

This indeed is a conversation of life that warrants a great deal of reflection and understanding because how we answer this question decides two very divergent paths that will follow. Either life is fatalistic and remains periodically senseless or everything possesses a reference point that can create something that contains ingredients of life.  How do you see it? How do you have conversations about why?

 

Photos courtesy of  Flickr Caitlin Marie & WorshipHim 24 7

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In amazement, I find myself moved by the conversations that I am privileged to share with people who are attempting to “connect the dots” of past and present experiences in their lives. Not only are these conversations earnestly seeking for truth, they are conversations that draw upon courage. I classify these interactions as Conversations of Courage.”

These are not average conversations where common rhetoric or talk are merely exchanged to convey information back and forth. I am talking about the type of conversations that require vulnerability in the “guts” of a person and on a profound level make a decision to no longer hide from the truth of an experience.

I suppose a story or example would help illustrate what I am trying to convey. Perhaps in future blogs I will submit one for your perusal. For now, I wish to explain what I am trying to say first.

A choice must be made for “life” to continue. Courage is revealed when the vulnerability of a person’s situation evokes transparency and decision-making. Another way of saying this comes from author Gerald May, “A person must learn to become willing rather than wilful.”  Willingness actually leads to a more open space available for transformation. Wilfulness has within its make-up the attitude of being closed to secure a more immediate and self-focused aspect of interest. Willingness creates an attitude open to learning and growing. Wilfulness postures control and possible dominance where inwardly there is insecurity and fear.

For a time, the late Joe Batten from Des Moines, Iowa was my mentor and friend. He gave me an illustration that spoke to this point of willingness versus wilfulness. He would say, “Matthew what material is stronger,  leather or granite?” Naturally, like many who answered this question, I would say, “granite.” He would go on to state, “If you were to take a hammer and hit a piece of granite it would shatter. If you do the same with leather it dimples and still holds its shape.” The point: leather is actually a stronger material because it is flexible and open to change. In the scheme of life, leather is better.

Courageous conversations, I have found are: open and flexible. They require something of us, include vulnerability, and promote the refreshment of an other’s impact to develop and change who we are capable of becoming.”

I challenge you; be willing to have a conversation of courage. Take note whether you grow and develop as a result of your conversation.

Photos courtesy WordPress, Flickr, stephenK1977 & maxcady808

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For those of you who know me, it does not require any boldness on my part to write the following:

 “You stir us to take pleasure in praising you, because you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”  Augustine

Why have I begun this post with such a bold proclamation as stated by Augustine? I believe that ultimately a conversation with life is a conversation with God! God is life. Where we enter into life represents itself as a conversation. There are many entry points.  Usually, we are entering at a point of pragmatics, survival needs, getting the job done, or simply self-service and maintenance. Other times, the conversation may be tasks and accomplishments, or goals and objectives. Eventually, our conversation with life presses into purpose, values, reasons for being, and understanding our own personal identity and the identitiy of the author of life. This is a much deeper conversation that requires who we are to be receptive to all the authoring that has developed up to that point in our life. That is why I call it the ultimate conversation of life.

When I was in my teens, I had such a conversation. I met my author, his name is Jesus. We have a relationship that as a mentee, I am continuously learning. I invite you to continue reading my blog. I welcome your comments and questions that you may have as you listen to the various blogs that speak to leading you life in an age of opportunity and challenge.

Finally, another quote from Augustine: 

 But the abyss of the human conscience lies naked to your eyes, O Lord, so would anything be secret even if I were unwilling to confess to you? I would be hiding you from myself, but not myself from you.”

We have this incredible ability to think that we are hidden from God. Conversely, we are really hiding ourselves from Him. Conversations with life is an invitation to knowing and being known by another and by Him.

Photos courtesy of www.crossroadsinitiative.com & www.wordpress.com

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This past weekend I was with a few men at a lake house. All of us were there for a single purpose-to complete construction on  a basement of a newly constructed home. While our focus was concentrated on framing, running wire, installing insulation, hanging drywall and such, there seemed to be a conversation that paralleled our efforts that accomplished a greater purpose:  We  connected through conversations that sought out the heart. What do I mean by heart?

In the Hebrew language, when using the term heart in the Old Testament it means the intersection of the mind, emotion, body, spirit, and will. Questions amidst the “construction” were seeking to know and understand each other as men on a deeper level. Ripping boards with a skilsaw, driving 16 penny nails with hammers, and running hundreds of feet of Romex was surrounded by intermittent questions that were seeking  to know and understand each other as men. Everyone seemed to take part. It became the attitude of work and our time together. I noticed three qualities of masculinity that surfaced throughout the weekend:

  • Men are passionate 
  • Men are determined
  • Men are devoted

I appreciated the conversations and found that men have so much to offer each other. The wish to fulfill and carry out goals, get the job done, and create the connection while working was rich and satisfying. Thank you men for your masculinity that created conversations of the heart.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and BUF Shots

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