bah! humbug!

Why is it that some people just seem to get out of bed grumpy? Admittedly, I am not the most social a person until I have a cup of coffee in me; or two, or three. OK, I can tolerate conversation on one. But there are some people who wake up to make their day, and yours, miserable.

For some it is seasonal. Seasonal Affective Disorder— the darkness becomes overwhelming; the depression spirals downward. For others it is far more serious; for a cluster of historical and/or environmental reasons their life itself is miserable. For some personal reason they believe it their responsibility to pass their wretched state along to all they meet. O joy!

Though it can be true that this perpetually dark mood can be due to hereditary, it is not true that that it is irrevocable. There have been those who have come to me for counsel who have revealed their consistent struggle with a sense of failure and depression; some, even to a point of desperation, longing for relief. In an earlier phase of life my wife would often describe my personality as morbidly introspective. And she was right. My depression and external moods were deeply rooted in failure.

What did I do to claw my way out of this perpetual Bah Humbug!?

  1. First, I gave up trying to please or impress others. I simply started living within the parameters of my gifts, skills, and passions. I developed and expressed my strengths and addressed my weaknesses in privacy.
  2. Then, secondly, I stopped using others to feed me and started to feed them. I became the vessel of service in their lives rather than always calling on them to empty themselves for my sake.
  3. In a couple months I found I could laugh more. I kept laughing. There is always a tad of joy and comedy is almost every situation.
  4. My conversations with God became less intense, and more receptive. I accepted His forgiveness in Jesus Christ and laid aside the roiling guilt that added to my failure and depression.
  5. To my shock I discovered that there were some people who actually enjoyed being my friends. This surprised me. I shifted to enjoyment in our friendship rather than making them about me.

I know there were probably a number of conscious and unconscious things that went on in that period of my life. But it sure feels great to no longer carry around my own inner Scrooge.

Have a nice week,

Gary

knots

Most of us spend a good part of our lives untangling knots. Marriage knots, business knots, financial knots, teenage knots, new baby knots, change of location knots, unfulfilled dream knots, depression knots, communication knots, engineering knots, philosophical knots…, and the list goes on and on. I just stayed in a friend’s guest house and had to untangle the window blind knots to get them to work properly. Unless you are a problem solver by nature (and some of us are) knots are frustrating.

More often than knot (sorry) disentangling life’s’ knots ties us up in knots. Our stomach churns, gut tightens, heart beats faster, emotions are on edge; and we live inside a silent tension between turbulence and resolve. Yet externally, as far as others are able to see, we are an image of a peaceful garden on a warm summer day. Or maybe not. Deep knots move from our insides to tie us up inside and out. That makes other people r-e-a-l-l-y worried. Nonetheless, life’s knots + stomach knots = a really bad feeling of being out of control.

Let’s look at that control issue a bit. There are many times throughout our lives where we are, truly, NOT in control. We either lose control, others have or take control over us, especially in employment situations, or we have no idea as to how to maintain or regain control. The place to start is not with words or actions that demand we be given control once again but rather how we deal with not being in control.

It becomes a matter of trust, safety, and confidence. If you always panic at every situation, you need to take hold of yourself.  Learn to stop the panic or it will kill you. That is when establishing a modicum of trust is critical. Not that you necessarily trust those who lord their control over you, but rather that you learn to trust in the God who made you. He does, after all, have your best interest at heart. Safety starts there, in the arms of God, then moves to confidence. If you have a sense that God is in control, you can rest more comfortably that you do not need to be. True, you need to exercise your abilities within your area of expertise, within your confidence level; but if your confidence is in your own skills, your own abilities, exclusively, WATCH OUT! You are headed for a fall.

Many of our inner knots are indeed products of the plethora of knots we endeavor to untangle in our daily lives and work. But dare I say that many of the knots, internal and external, could be untied if we just learned how to trust in the God who made us. Maybe we need a bumper-sticker that reads—

Live responsibly— Trust God

Ergo, knots untangled. Jus’ sayin’.

Have a nice week,

Gary

The Search for Sloth

Def. – sloth (noun)

1. habitual disinclination to exertion; indolence; laziness.

2. any of several slow-moving, arboreal, tropical American edentates of the family Bradypodidae, having a long, coarse, grayish-brown coat often of a greenish cast caused by algae, and long, hooklike claws used in gripping tree branches while hanging or moving along in a habitual upside-down position. [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sloth]

I’ve never actually seen a sloth. Have you? I have wondered how they might feel about having one of the Seven Deadly Sins named after them. And what’s up with their hanging upside-down to do just about everything!?! Perpetual preteens?

We seem to be evolving into a society of sloth. Do as little as possible to get by. Move slowly so the work will last. Or, “this isn’t in my department.” Don’t exert yourself too much. Couch potatoes. Remote controls. Automatic this & that. Even doors that open when we approach them. Pre-cooked meals at the grocery store. If we continue on this path we will become a society that has forgotten how to DO, let alone how to THINK.

When asked a question some of us immediately respond, “I don’t know.”  Though we might actually know, it is just easier to respond that we don’t so we will not have to put our mind in gear to think about an answer. Too much effort. Just let it slide; somebody else can put up the effort. At least “Huh?” implies a modicum of feigned attention.

We seem constantly to be in search of the easiest way to do things, demanding the least possible effort on our part. Too many of us cannot wait to get out of work, to get home, to do…— nothing. Of course, we would never define ourselves as slothful; we’re just relaxing. As a nation, we seem to be doing it more and more and more. Complacency reigns.

By now you should be genuinely depressed, disgusted, and even angry at these accusations. Good! You’re ticked off! Now prove me wrong. I’d be tickled pink.

That’s enough energy expended for one day. (Yawn!)

Have a nice week,

Gary