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Relating to Your Children

Snape’s Memory

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.

A Story of Repentance

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.

The source of hours of enjoyment

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

Truth vs. Love

Since my late teenage years I’ve been obsessed with the truth. I wasn’t always like that. In my younger years I was an exceedingly prolific liar. I lied about myself to try and make people believe I was something that I wasn’t. I would lie to stay out of trouble. Sometimes I wouldn’t even have a reason for telling lies. I had a knack for it. I would look the person right in the eyes and do it with such conviction that I often got away with it if there wasn’t hard evidence against me.

I still remember what triggered my shift towards honesty. It happened sometime during my senior year of high school. I had skipped school by walking to the bus stop but not getting on the bus. I walked to a spot where I could watch my parents’ cars drive by on their way to work and then I went back to the house to enjoy my day. When my father got home he asked me if I had skipped school that day. My reaction was a stunned mixture of shock and embarrassment. Caught! Apparently the school had set up a process to call the parents of students who didn’t show up for school each day. I didn’t know it at the time. I was taken by surprise. All I did know was that I was caught. Ten different lies flashed through my mind in an instant but I didn’t think I could get away with any of them. So I did something unheard of in my young life. I took a deep breath and I told the truth.

Now it was my father’s turn to be stunned. That was definitely not what he had been expecting. He stared at me with a funny look on his face as he thought about the situation. Finally he told me that he wouldn’t punish me this time because I told the truth, but not to skip school again. I was dumbfounded as I walked out of the room. That was easy! I couldn’t believe it; I stayed out of trouble because I told the truth? That certainly seemed easier than trying to keep up with all the lies I was maintaining at the time. Read the rest of this entry

Savage Chickens

I have to admit, I’m really growing to like Doug Savage’s work. Corny yet meaningful, just like me 🙂

 

The Impact of Routine

I was thinking about routines today. I know a lot of people who think of routine with a negative connotation. They equate it to being in a rut, something to be avoided. I would say that a routine is more of a neutral than a negative. It’s a lot like money in that regard. Routines are negative in and of themselves. Instead, it’s a tool whose usage reveals the positive or negative intentions of the users.

The thing about routines is that they are so innocuous; they don’t seem to be meaningful at all. When people think about money they immediately understand its power. Most of the time when people think about routines they just shrug their shoulders and think about other things.

I believe that routines are anything other than innocuous. Let’s look at some examples that reveal the impact of a routine. Read the rest of this entry

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