Category Archives: Personal Development
I was rereading Harry Potter: the Order of the Phoenix recently when a scene made an impression on me in a way that it hadn’t before. It was the scene where Harry was able to see Snape’s memories of getting humiliated by Harry’s father and god-father when they were fifteen year olds in school. In the story the scene impacted Harry profoundly. It made him question his unwavering faith in the goodness of his idols and better understand Snape’s experience.
This reached me in a new way because I’ve become a father of my own little boy since the last time that I read the book. I thought about what Sebastian might see if he could view my life as a fifteen year old in school. What if the scene was of my worst moment from the viewpoint of someone who had reason to hate me? That’s an ugly little thought isn’t it? The problems surrounding me as a teenager were as numerous as the stars in the sky on a country night. I can scarcely remember a moment that I could point to and use an example of the life I want him to experience.
Frankly, it didn’t get much better over time. Littered throughout the first 25 years of my life are situations and examples that I don’t want my son to have to deal with. It’s interesting how far removed Sebastian will be from that. He was born when I was 36, 11 years after I started making significant strides towards maturity. The confident and capable person that he will experience as I raise him shares very little in common with the person I was before growing up.
That’s what got me thinking. I know I’m not the only one with a past that I’m not proud of that is working towards much better future. But how does that impact our kids? Most of us don’t want to talk much about our embarrassing pasts, least of all to the child that we want looking up to us as they grow older. But maybe that’s just what they need. I feel that quite a lot of the angst and anger that seems to come naturally from the teenage years has its roots in feeling misunderstood and frustrated. How much more meaningful would our advice be if our kids understood where we are really coming from. If they see that we have actually walked down these paths before and have meaningful advice for them based on experience. It’s very difficult for a teen to receive that advice from a boring old parent who doesn’t know what it’s like to go through the things that they are going through. I wager that it’s much easier for them to receive if its coming from a parent who can show that they empathize based on experience.
As I work on being the father that I want to be I hope that this lesson stays with me. There will come a point when he’s 15 and I’m 51 and he will be engaging in behavior that I dislike. I hope that I can still relate to my past and relay my experiences at that point into a meaningful tapestry of experience that he can relate to even if he doesn’t agree with what I’m saying.
My life changed forever about 9 years ago. I can’t remember the specific day or even the time of year but I remember the moment. If my life was a lever this moment would be the fulcrum. It’s the moment that I let go of myself and decided to trust Jesus. I don’t think I’ve ever written about it in detail before and I want to take some time with it today.
The only person with me at the time was my girlfriend Edith. This was before we got married. We were alone in the old apartment that I used to share with my brother Bob on Touchton road. It wasn’t uncommon for Edith and me to spend our time there. I can remember many Friday nights spent there together drinking homemade margaritas and playing darts on our twenty dollar Walmart dartboard or playing Tetris on goofy little game system that we could plug into the TV. Those were some of the best times of my life.
This was the year that I finished losing weight. I was 29 years old, 245 pounds, in good shape and I was happy. I remember that clearly. It was the first time in my life that I was really happy. This was a huge change for me, it was a revelation. I’m embarrassed by who I was before this period in my life. I was very angry. In my anger I rejected God. I knew who he was. I had been saved long before this and I had experienced his love clearly during the period when I was just leaving my teenage years.
Things changed for me though. Events happened that hurt me in fresh new ways that seemed at the time to be indescribably cruel. It felt like I had found a port after coming through a horrible storm only to have it ripped away from me again, leaving me in shock and defenseless against the pain. It was as if I had let down my defenses just to be attacked and defeated anew. This period of anguish peaked with my 21st birthday. I remember it clearly. I had moved back in to my father’s house after I left college before graduating and I was working my first serious job trying to earn enough money to move out. I remember that evening, I spent it utterly alone. I remember breaking down and bawling as I sat on my bed in the dark talking to my mother and telling her how lonely I was. Read the rest of this entry
I was frustrated at work today. No details for you (you nosy people). Oddly enough, it was in that moment of frustration that I had a personal realization of what respect really means and what it looks like. You guys know what personal definitions are. They are things like – Home is the place where when you go there they have to take you in. I had no intention of creating my own little way of looking at respect, but it surfaced unbidden in my mind as I tried to figure out how to get someone to see my point of view without throttling them.
Put simply, you know you respect someone when you can disagree with them completely without the slightest thought that they are stupid, inferior or morally corrupt. It’s a fun way to look at it because it allows you to identify who you really respect as opposed to who you really just put up with. Most family members pass the test in a family that relates to each other in a healthy manner. My relationship with my brothers is a good example. I grew up arguing with both of them about everything under the sun (yes, I know what that says about me). When we were all younger those arguments would lead to hard feelings. I would walk away and wonder what was wrong with them and based on my own words and behavior I’m sure they thought the same about me. As we got older those hard feelings seemed less and less prevalent. Now if we were to find ourselves in an argument it would be rare for me to think anything negative about them personally. It’s just a simple disagreement between people who respect each other. Read the rest of this entry
Hi guys and girls. I’m back from my unintentional two week hiatus. Sometimes real life responsibilities get in the way of other things we had planned to do (like writing articles). That was the case for me recently as I’ve been dealing with mid-terms for my MBA and a wedding that happened at the speed of light. Things are good though and I’ve been jotting down notes for this article all week. I think this may be a two part article if I can find a logical place to split it up. I guess we won’t find out until we get there. Anyway, welcome back!
I was talking to a co-worker about a situation I had observed at work and he reminded me of a cute sign that we’ve both seen in various cubicles – “Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.” We both got a chuckle from it, but it got me thinking about the behaviors that people exhibit. We’ve all been there before haven’t we? Someone is in a panic over something that didn’t get done and they have the audacity to try to blame you for their lack of success because you didn’t jump in at the last second and save the day. I think this behavior is a result of the fact that everyone is the hero in their own eyes. I’ve written about it in the past. For a person to live a happy and fulfilling life it is important for them to see themselves as the good guy. For people with low self-awareness the only way to accomplish this is to siphon blame for their failures off onto nearby individuals. Read the rest of this entry