Hidden

051048048057054055054050124053048048124052048048Why are we hiding? Or— What is it we try to hide? Too many of us exert a lot of energy trying to hide, or trying to hide something about ourselves that, if revealed, would expose us.

The artistry of Bev Doolitle (1947-   ) depicts objects hidden to the casual observer. We are so much like the horses in her paintings. If people were to look intently at our life, what is it we would try to hide? I’ve worked with some people whose biggest fear in getting married was being known. I tried to assure them that being known, and still loved, was the best part of being married; I’m not sure they bought it.

What drives us to hide things? Insecurity, fear, shame, dishonesty? Or worse, why do we hide ourselves? Of course, if you’ve been betrayed or used, there is some warrant for it. You don’t want to be hurt that deeply again.

The issue, basically, is one of safety. We ALL want to feel safe. So we hide the parts of us that would expose us. This is wise…, to a point. But our need for safety can also choke the spirit within us. It can bind us in a box with just slits through which we take in the outside world.

Would you like to escape your box and take in more of the outside world? Here are some ideas—

  • Spend time with people. Reflecting off of them will give you insights into yourself. You’ll surprise them; they’ll surprise you.
  • Try something that engages your soul. Doesn’t matter what. Just not too much over the line. Deeper discussion, life challenging experiences. Hold back on sky-diving.
  • Build one-safe-friendship. Create a confident.
  • Create a private novel about the kind of life you’d like to live. Then, slowly, start to live it.

Hiding takes a lot of energy. Think what you might be accomplishing if you didn’t have to work so hard at hiding your true self. Think of the energy you could invest in developing new dreams, new skills or new relationships. Be intentional. Remaining hidden, if pursued over a long period of time, results in further isolation; and that creates further fear of being known.

You do not need to stay hidden. Make the decision to be known.

For what it’s worth,

Gary

Trouble Transitions

Gary, Davis, Christianity, Change, Trouble, Transitions          Far too frequently we hear the cry that our society needs more change agents. The implication is that the way things are presently just isn’t good enough. Pick a field— politics, business, transportation, medicine, religion (especially Christianity), finances, yadayadayada. Everything needs some form of change.

            The problem with change is that it invariably dumps us into a transitional time where even more things become unclear, unsteady, and iffy. O joy. Just what we need— more instability. Well, actually, we do.

Transitions in any segment of life move us out of the predictability, safety and definitions within one life-phase into an arena of uncertainty, a transition.

Transitions aren’t necessarily marked by growth. Though most people would hope they grow within a transition, many people, and businesses flounder, unable to set a new direction, given the changing global circumstances or personal situation. But without the cloudiness of a transition, things would stay too-much-same.

When you think about it, the cycle of phases and transitions, phases and transitions, is constant throughout your own life, or the life of a company, or country. The shifts are marked by what Malcom Gladwell has declared as tipping points— literally, those events or experiences that push us right over the edge and force us to consider something else in the future…, or tomorrow, or next week.

So when you consider becoming a change agent also consider how it will affect you, personally, your business, your family, and the greater good. Do you want to create the circumstances that lead you and those with you into a transition?

Transitions are uncertain times. Just make sure you are ready for the fog that lies ahead. But, by all means, keep moving forward. Besides think of all the fun constant predictability takes out of the adventure we call life?!?

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

A Severe Mercy

 
A Severe Mercy
 (Harper & Row, 1977) chronicles the autobiographical-journey of Sheldon Vanauken and his wife Jean “Davy” Davis from their first meeting at Wabash College through their 17 years of marriage, much of which they kept secret from their parents. In Severe Mercy, “Van” describes his love for Davy as quite pagan; that is, they made a commitment to share everything with one another, to the exclusion of having children, since childbirth was something they could not share together.

They constructed what they described as the “Shining Barrier” that would protect their love and devotion from all external influences. But that Barrier was “invaded” (Van’s word) by Christ when they became involved with a small group of Christians at Oxford University. Davy was the first to “cross the room” to shift her primary alliance and become a committed Christian. Van crossed over later, albeit somewhat begrudgingly.

Then tragedy struck. Davy contracted a virus in the summer of 1954 that quickly took her life on January 17, 1955. She was 40 years old.

A Severe Mercy describes the agonizing struggle Van experienced after the death of his deepest love, partner, and wife. Through correspondence with Oxford Don C.S. Lewis, Van came to grips with this terrible loss, and learned that genuine Christian faith does not guarantee life-long happiness; rather, it offers the resident presence of the true God throughout all life’s twists & turns.

Throughout our own journeys it is true that all of us will find ourselves in places we never expected. We can prepare for some of them: but others will hit us like a bolt out of hell. Life will seem a flowing stream of pain, recovery, and rebirth. Some of us can pass through this progression better than others. Some of us never quite enter the recovery stage. Rather, we languish and fade in our own anguish.

We may believe, like Van and Davy, that we can erect a “Shining Barrier” of love, or isolation, or stoicism, and insulate ourselves from others, from the outside world, from being hurt. If you’ve been on this earth any length of time you know that does not work. But what does work? What can keep us from being hurt? What can protect us.

The simple answer is—nothing. The hurt, the betrayal, the pain, will all come. But the nurturing of personal identity and integrity, establishing a deep faith in God and growing deep friendships, goes a long way toward providing both genuine safety and security in those times of uncertainty. Remember, “… I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

For what it’s worth,

Gary

I like my closet

Some days you just don’t feel like getting out of bed. We’ve all been there. The pressures of life weigh in on us so heavily that we lose the strength to face another day. This is especially true around the holidays— gifts to be bought and wrapped, meals to be prepared for the imminent arrival of guests & family. Added demands upon our already frantic lives.

Some of us, yea verily even extroverts, oft seek sanctuary in our closet, whether figuratively or literally. We retreat to a place of momentary safety, a hiding place, where no one can find us. We seek silence, solitude, serenity— commodities sorely lacking in our present pace of life. [Buddhism has a lot to teach us on this subject.] Large companies are scheduling team-building retreats for their managers and department heads; Christians have been going on spiritual retreats for years; Muslims fulfill one of their Five Pillars by making at least one journey to Mecca during their life-time.

There are at least two kinds of closets. The first kind is within us, holding things private, things which are best kept to ourselves. The other one holds us. It is a place for us to gain perspective and strength, to find solace for our soul. It may be a literal closet, or a place of safety—a friend’s home, a favorite bar, a winter hike through snow, a time of reflection, a rich conversation with a confidant over a wee dram of Glenmorangie. [Note: a roaring fire often aids in melting our resistance to search within.]

So as our lives continue to accelerate, make sure you go into your closet often, to your place of escape, to remind yourself who you really are. To be properly equipped to grapple with the daily barrage of activity and information that assaults us, we all need those times of retreat, wherein our focus must be on refurbishing our spirit, building our character, and finding rest for our soul. And may God bless and honor those who have created a closet for me. I’m ready to go in…, how about you?

Closing the door now,

Gary

Serenity

Even the word feels good as it rolls off your tongue— s e r e n i t y. Like a magic word that calls forth a Genie from a bottle, the word beckons us to come apart to a peaceful place, to find solace, to rest, to be waited upon by a flood of servants! Or merely to be able to close our eyes on a warmed beach under a palm tree, or in a chaise lounge at a mountain retreat.
The serenity I need I find in front of a warm fireplace at the conficated Lakehouse of Alan & Diane Galbraith, deep within the Fall/Winter woods of northern New Hampshire. It is there that I contemplate the deeper questions of life— like…, why my navel is an inny, or how did I ever wind up with such a wonderful wife as Starr, or why couldn’t we have our own children (Josh & Beth are adopted; from this planet, we think), or why God has honored us with His blessings and the privilege of serving others? This emPulse comes to you from my laptop, in front of that roaring fireplace, as I write in deep contemplation and peace.
It seems that every now and again I push myself so hard that I border on collapse. Such was October, and September, and the prior Summer en toto. I didn’t notice it so much as did Starr. Saturday eve, as we climbed into bed, she put her foot down, “That’s it. You’re about to give way to the pressures of caring for people. You’e LEAVING! Go to the Lakehouse and get some rest!” Thus, I are here! Granted, it’s only three days…, but that’s enough for me, I think.
If you haven’t gotten the point of this emPulse yet, let me make it perfectly clear. Any of us can get caught up in the business of life, and work, and family, and other people, so unsuspectingly, that we forget to take care of ourselves— our bodies, our emotions, our spirits, our souls. We start to come apart because we have forgotten to come apart to take care of ourselves. Fortunately, I have a wife who knows when I’ve had enough…, even though I am clueless to the actuality. Don’t lose yourself to the importance of life. Remember to view yourself as expendable. Don’t lose yourself to the importance of life. You will be missed when you get away; but you will come back a renewed man, a refreshed woman.
A little serenity goes a long way to clear the mind and restore the soul.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
– John 14:27 Christian Bible

Dr. Gary Davis

Nobody


When I walk into a room no one notices. Standing among a group of people maybe one of them asks me a courteous, inconsequential question. If I sit down I melt into oblivion. No one notices. When I get up to leave no one stops me. I am gone. And no one notices my absence.

            I own a cell phone—but no one ever calls; sometimes, not even to return my call. I post a message on Facebook, or Twitter. No comments.

            Where I work I have reconstructed some of our procedures to be more efficient. Someone else took the credit and was never questioned. Of course, I never spoke up about it to anyone.

When it comes to deep relationships with men, or women…, well—same story. No one wants to know me. So I withdraw deeper into my isolation and tell myself this is normal for some people. I know I am lying.

            I am nobody.

Too many of us suffer from a form of isolationism that deepens with the years. Sometimes that self-seclusion is learned through the berating and rejection of others:  sometimes it is self-imposed. Throughout my own youth I was constantly told I wouldn’t amount to anything. For a time, I simply accepted it. When I grew up it was an astonishing revelation that I could actually accomplish some things of significance. People who knew me were surprised; so was I.

It is true, “Ships are safe within the harbor; but that’s not what ships are built for.” You have been created by God to make a difference during your time on this earth. Have you discovered what it is? I encourage you to try something new, anything; although, if you have bad luck, sky-diving should not be the first venture. Eat new foods, get lost on a country road (er, with a GPS device nearby), read outside your normal purview; try sports (maybe not Rugby). You have not been designed to hide your life under a soggy cloud.

Now get up, get out of bed, and try to make someone else’s day! You are not nobody. Live with it.

For what it’s worth,

Gary