Trapped by Choice


There is a weird gravity I’ve experienced personally and still see unfolding continually.  It happens at different ages for different people but the pressure is usually felt by all.

It’s choice.

Now I’m talking about a specific type of choice that is related to stances/values.  Most people will call this your political views… your own politics.

I watch young people feeling the pressure to be this or that and I see older people applying the pressure.  I guess it’s their way of identifying recruits or targets.  The young are the impressionable… this isn’t a new phenomenon.  I watch young people blindly re-post false liberal/conservative platitudes because they’re desiring to fit in.

But misery loves company.

Sure you get to be in a “party” but once you’re in it, you’ll realize that the party has become more about fighting those not in the room.

If you resist this gravity, you’ll feel isolated more and realize that thinking about things becomes more of internal dialogue as opposed to an external argument.  You’ll be called flaky.  Interestingly, you’ll also be called something you’re not because others might mistake for their opposition.


You’re not their opposition.

You’ll be able to say “maybe” to a lot more.

You won’t have to turn a blind eye of somethings to keep a fictional narrative alive

And eventually, you’ll find others that see that the choice is not “this or that”, but rather it’s a choice of fitting in or not.


Lotus Eaters


In Greek mythology (Homer’s Odyssey), there is a story of the “lotus-eaters”.

In short, this is a group of people that were eating fruits/flowers that sedated them into apathy and losing track of time (thus keeping them from doing what they set out to do).

When I think about this, I begin to wonder what “lotus” exist in our times….

….screens of any kind




….fantasy football

….Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, BuzzFeed, Reddit, Etc.


….cat videos (personally addiction confession)


Now these aren’t inherently bad but these (and others) can trick the mind into believing that something is being accomplished when really not much is, or even worse they are for escaping reality.   In small doses, there can be benefits, but now it’s all unlimited… and that’s dangerous.

They can end up being a drug.

Example:  There will be people that watch the debate tonight, then the commentary, and then get on the internet to “fight”, then show up the class or work tomorrow “hungover”.  And zero things were accomplished (although that person will feel defeated or victorious).  It’s like a person strung out on chemicals and everyone around them thinking they aren’t getting anything done, but the person that is addicted doesn’t care (or see it).

We all can become “lotus-eaters”.  The vice may vary, but the inclination exists.

Luckily, God gives us the gifts/wisdoms of Sabbath and fasting to offset this.  The best way to know if you have an issue is to rest from it and see how bad the “cold sweats” are.   Sometimes you’ll see that “thing” was keeping you from the “thing” you really need.

Backup QB…


It’s hard being a back-up QB.

I was listening to sports talk radio this morning on the way into work and they were hammering on two different guys for not being “ready” and “taking their jobs seriously”.

Now on one hand I agree with them because their analysis was sound, but then I wanted to defend these guys (the QBs they were attacking).  A back-up NFL QB is not like other positions.  In the course of game, you rotate almost every position except QB or a kicker (which most teams only have one).  So in most games, between offense, defense, and special teams, every guy on the roster makes an appearance.

…. Except the backup QB.

He is only coming in if someone is hurt or the game doesn’t matter.

I know life can feel this way at times.  Feeling like we are only getting to “play” in crunch time when others think there is a better option (and they aren’t available) or in “garbage time” when it doesn’t seem to affect much.

Sometimes my life feels like this and I empathize with the difficulty of staying sharp, alert, motivated, and ready.

But there are advantages as well.

  • There is time to study
  • There is time to work on skills
  • There is time to work on the “intangibles” (coaching, play calling , etc.)
  • There is the ability to see things that the starting QB can’t see (different angles and emotional distance)

So in times of being the “backup”, we need to see the opportunities we have to learn something that we couldn’t while in the game.

The hard part is the waiting, the payoff is patience and integrity.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

Abraham Lincoln

Meditative Coloring


So I was at Barnes and Nobles with the kids last week and came across an entire table of adult coloring books (and books describing the benefits of coloring).  The table was full of $20+ books of coloring sheets.  I had many thoughts that ranged from “who is spending money on this?” (which I ask often about many things) to “these are cool”.

I wasn’t surprise by this “trend”….It’s just the bottled water of crafts.

I was surprised that people are having a revelation that coloring calms the mind.

I’ll let you in on a little secret (and no I’m not selling a book in the process): Do anything that you did as a kid to find some peace of mind.  And if you can’t remember, just watch what a kid does naturally.

So if you are stressed and don’t want to buy $20 coloring books* try the following:

  • Color or draw.
  • Swing at a playground.
  • Build/Play in the sand.
  • Play with play dough.
  • Toss a ball.
  • Blow bubbles.
  • Throw rocks into water….hell…. just throw rocks…
  • Play with flowers.
  • And on and on and on…

God didn’t make it hard for us to learn this, He is constantly giving us children to teach us this.

*FYI, you can go to, search “coloring pages for adults”, and buy card stock for much cheaper

Reconciliation of Sucking at Somethings Sometimes


There is push to be good at everything.

  • Good at work.
  • Good at home.
  • Good at church and good around those that will never step into a church.
  • Good at relaxing.
  • Good at exercising.
  • Good at playing.
  • Good at being serious/mature/wise
  • Good at relationships.
  • Good with being alone.
  • Good in a team.
  • Good with who you are but not too good because you need to be good with growth.
  • Good at organization but also good at creativity.

And on and on and on….

Now these might not all be things that pull on everyone, but I rarely meet someone that doesn’t feel the need to improve on a weakness.

The tension here is that striving for balance is not a bad thing and there is nothing wrong with improving on deficiencies and weakness (I am constantly doing this so I’d be lying and two-faced to suggest otherwise).  However, I will say that there also needs to be some self-acceptance and self-forgiveness when approaching this.

I’m good at coming up with “stuff”, whether it is ideas, actions, or ways to solve something.  It’s natural to me and honestly, I’m good at it.  But by default, I’m going to get bored with repetition because while some are good with the repetition I’m still working on coming up with “stuff”.  They are both important but it would be ridiculous for me to mask what I’m actually good at to work on what I natural struggle to do.

In the gym, it would be the equivalent of me refraining from working on jumping and pull-ups to improve my deadlifts.  Deadlifts are an important exercise (and I do them begrudgingly) but my body isn’t necessarily designed for them.  *Now guys/girls with a different (wider) build would argue with me about this until I put a plyo box in front of them and asked them to join me.

The point is:  You and I were designed for certain things and working on those things will probably bring us the greater joy (and subsequently to those around us).

Think of it this way:  If I am an 8 in ________ (insert random skill and/or attribute) and work my ass off to become a 10, then I am going to be able to make a legitimate/significant difference.  If I am a 3 in _______ (which is a lot of things for me) and work my ass off just as hard, then I might be a 5.  Don’t misunderstand, you can work from a 3 to a 10 but you can’t do that with everything.

  • So I want to be a 10 husband/father, which means I’m probably not going to be a 10 at work or with my buddies.
  • I also want to be a 10 with the “lost”, so I’m probably not going to be a 10 at playing church and speaking “christianese”.
  • I also want to be a 10 at physical “stuff”, so I’m probably not going to be winning any hot dog eating contests.

I will try to improve at the other attributes, I just have to learn to not stress about when I suck at what I naturally suck at.  Plus, I’d rather be “10s” at what is important and what I’m design for than “6s” at everything.

***Caveat*** Sometimes working on a weakness will catapult a natural strength, but I see too many people harping on themselves about their weaknesses while neglecting their strengths…and honestly, that hurts all of us.

A Novel Idea


I’m never going to write this because I don’t read a lot of fiction so I don’t really see myself as a fiction writer.

I want someone to combine two ideas: Hunger Games* and Inside Out.

Basic premise: (which is free for anyone to steal) is that we are all born with a wide variety (more than just the 5 that Pixar went with) of emotions/perspectives.  These emotions all start off on equal ground but because the mind favors some emotions (because of either nature and/or nurture) some rise to prominence and control everything leaving the others starving and cold.

The outcome is that we get lopsided.

I’m guessing the system could fall apart (the conflict) when they’re is a major crisis of identity.

i.e.:  Mid-Life crisis, terminal diagnosis, empty nested, left by a loved one, etc.

It would play out like a revolution of the repressed part of the self, but the outcome would really be just reclaiming who you were before the world got ahold of you.

Parker Palmer wrote a great book on reclaiming the self years ago.

Anyways, if someone needed a paper to write for a psych or literature class (or a screen play)….create this…. I’d read or watch it.

*FYI  Hunger Games, Elysium, In Time, Fight Club and many other movies contain an old Hebraic teaching (Lev.25) called the Year of Jubilee (which never happened).  Jubilee (or the year of the Lord’s Favor) is when all is forgiven (crimes and debts) and a reset button is hit to give the next generation a fair chance to create a new future for themselves and their family.  Surprisingly this idea is mocked in many circles today while missing the fact that this a biblical teaching.  It’s about lighten a burden and giving hope to the hopeless.  It’s also about realizing that things get out of line from creation the further we are removed from it.  Not really a liberal idea as much as a teaching from Moses and Jesus.

Free Range Mind


Remember daydreaming?

What about zoning out?

How about playing back a conversation/situation back on the mental projector?

It’s getting tougher to let the imagination just roll.  I’m sure the creative (genius/daemon) in us all gets tired of just being called up to work, to find a solution, or to figure it out.  We all have this ability to create but “it” gets sick* and tired* of only being called upon for productivity’s sake.

(*And I don’t just mean frustrated but actual sick and tired)

It needs it’s space and it’s getting pushed into a small amount of space and time.

… and I’m pretty sure it’s claustrophobic.

Play is good for the body, spirit and for relationships, so I’m going to assume that it’s good for the mind as well.

The truth is it’s hard for me to connect with what’s going on internally while being stimulated externally.

Quiet isn’t just the removal of sound anymore…

Confirmation Bias


We are all susceptible to this mental process.

If I put a picture of Obama up and then gave you 5 statistical facts that were positive under his administration and 5 statistical facts that were negative during the same time, your brain would remember one set of facts and discount the other based on how you want to see things. (some would believe that I’m a fan or a critic of him simply by sharing this thought….FYI… I’m neither)

I play this experiment out all the time and I get the response in some form “All bad is because of him and all good is in spite of him” (or vice versa).  I know at this point that confirmation bias is on autopilot and there really is not much of a debate in the near future.  (I’m starting to understand why most people don’t enjoy talking politics or religion with me…)

We all have this in some areas of our lives.  We all get caught where we are stuck in this mental safeguard (it’s an evolutionary trait that makes us tribal, afraid and defensive).

It has nothing to do with politics (although being just one sided on everything is a good living example of it).

It is the same mental synopsis that fires off when you buy a new car and see that same car everywhere when you never saw it before.  Or it’s like us naming our oldest Kai, having never met a Kai, and all the sudden seeing the name more frequently.  It is how a pessimist or an optimist can see only one narrative.  It is why most people only read and watch narratives that are reflections of their own.

It makes us feel smart and secure, but makes us very ignorant as a result.

The process is simple:

  1. You decide a narrative – “All ________ are _________”
  2. You collect the data that reinforces narrative and ignore conflicting data.
  3. Your narrative gets stronger and thus will be easier for the brain to manipulate new data.
  4. Rinse and Repeat. (the more cycles, the harder to break)

It reminds me of the quote:

“The brain must trust what the eyes see, but it can tell the eyes where to look”

The hard part is not the understanding of this process… the real struggle is how to respond when we are aware that our brains are doing this to us.

Before the internet and proliferation of ideas over the last 20 years, reinforcing narratives was a very easy thing to do (most people had access to one encyclopedia … and generally it was the same version).  Now we have to work to be ignorant because there is so much data that counters our narratives.

I had a history prof in college tell me after class “that most curriculum (mass public history curriculum) has to be spun into a narrative where the most people will believe it… whether it’s the truth or not, doesn’t really matter”.

It’s okay to believe that “all ______ are _______” but we are always going to have to work really hard to keep that as the truth when we come across evidence that the opposite is also true.

I’m a Narcissist*


This is little longer than usual…most of my ideas are served from my mental microwave but some are from the crockpot.  And yes, most of my ideas are a “crock” too.

Over the years I’ve been called arrogant, prideful, or some derivative of narcissistic.  I’m aware that I am and most of the time I don’t refute that observation.  However, in my rebuttal I generally try to point out that “they”, whoever they may be, are just the same.

It generally doesn’t go over well.  Go figure.

The tension is that narcissism is generally stereotyped for certain personalities or specific behaviors.  I know because I have one of those personalities and exhibit those behaviors.  So my contention is not whether I am a narcissist or not, it’s that we all are.  It’s not my suspicion that people are secretly thinking similar thoughts as I do or behaving those “behaviors” when they are alone, it’s that pride will disguise itself with so many masks that we’ll believe that some struggle with it and others don’t.

There was a quote that I’ll paraphrase that has stuck with me.  It states “the pride in another person exposes the pride in me” or “only the prideful person can see pride in others”.  I believe it was C.S. Lewis that I’m quoting here, but I love this thought that when I see someone else’s pride it’s because my own pride is agitated.

Ergo, when I’m being prideful or a narcissist, I’m awakening it in other people.  (and vice versa)

So my point here is not that we are all this way all the time, but we are all this way at times.

The problem with this thinking is not the logic but the consequences.  If I’m acting narcissistic, then I’ll pull out the narcissism in those around me, which snowballs into a gigantic avalanche of ego that destroys us, our relationships and the option for experiencing peace, wholeness and Holiness.

So I’ll get to the resolution momentarily but I’d like to expose a few forms of narcissism that are subversive when standing next to my blatant “look at me” narcissism.

  • Narcissism of Nostalgia: the I wish things were like they were… Let’s make America Great again.  This is the I want things to be better for me and screw the fact that back then they were really horrible for a lot of other people.  i.e. The 1950s weren’t awesome for minorities, whether ethnic, gender, religious, or sexual orientation.  As a student of history, there are no “Glory days” anywhere in the world at any time.  I suffering from this from time to time, but reading about the past, through various lenses, reminds me how narcissistic I’m being.
  • Narcissism of Hindsight: this is the Monday morning quarterback that looks at yesterday or 10 years ago and believes they would of done it better.  It’s a weird form of mental time traveling that makes me think that I could go back and make better decisions even though I did nothing special to have information that was cloudy at best when decisions were made.  It’s like watching the 6th Sense for the second time and feeling smart that I know Bruce Willis is dead.
  • Narcissism of Nationalism: the where I was born makes me ________( insert “better” or worse” here because it doesn’t matter…pride doesn’t necessarily need us to believe we are better to destroy us)
  • Narcissism of Depression (heard this from a psychologist): the thought that I’m so special that no one gets what I’m going through.  Minus the severe chemical imbalance cases, everyone struggles from time to time.  The only ones that don’t are outliers, but most likely are just liars  (which is just another form of pride…go figure).  Thinking that my problems are too big to relate with others or that they are too big for God is just a wicked form of pride as well.
  • Narcissism of Insecurity:  this can mask itself as meekness or humility.  This is the perspective that I’m not going to “rock the boat” because my ego (pride) is better preserved/protected internally.  This is a very sneaky form of narcissism because it will dress up as a ninja.  This narcissism makes a great critic.  When I’m being critical, I know it’s a very sneaky pride that tells me that I’m being arrogant when I’m actually experiencing fear.  Pride is smart here because when I try to attack it, I actually am attacking the wrong thing.
  • Narcissism of Vicarious Progeny:  I love this one.  This is us showing off our kids and thinking it’s about them.  It also prompts us to believe that are kids are “special” compared the rest of the population.    I take a lot of pictures of our kids and try not to take a ton of picture of my wife and I, then I think “they are just us… half me … half her”.  Not that this bad because some of it is instinctive and protects them, but there is an ugly side to this narcissism… just go to a preschool, sports field or parent/teacher meeting… you’ll see it.
  • Narcissism of Politics:  simply “they are idiots, ignorant, won’t listen, spin everything to their narrative, and only do what benefits them” while doing the exact same thing.
  • Narcissism of Suffering:  I feel like this is newer in the evolution of pride, but maybe not.  This is the ego of suffering.  “oh I work so hard”, “I’m so busy”, “just carrying my cross” and on and on and on…  I’ve seen a lot of this, hell, my ego loves to flaunt the suffering like a trophy.

And lastly…

  • Narcissism of Ability:  Again, this can mask itself as both positive or negative.  This encompasses intelligence, physical abilities, EQ, height, body composition, and so many things that people are subtly prideful about that they didn’t even have a say in.   The way it usually presents itself is with two words: hard work.  It loves to convince me that I work harder than others.

These are rooted in the same vice…pride.  I confess that I’m not always aware of my pride and I have people around to help me work on this.  However, I’ve experience so many people that point this out to me without the understanding that it’s their pride with a mic in a room without mirrors.

Narcissism, Pride and Arrogance don’t take sides and are happy to work their way into the dichotomies and paradoxes.  Any division or dividing lines are fertile grounds for them.  All they need to do is convince me to think about me.  Whether the contention is that I am better, smarter, and faster, or worse, dumber and a turtle….pride lives.

The only solution is humility.  True humility.  The great thing about true humility is that it has the same snowball effect.   So my advice would be the advice I’m taking, surround yourself with people that are truly aware of their own pride and can be honest about it’s destructive path.  At the same time, look for where it is in you.  And lastly start focusing on others, but not just those that share your DNA or thinking because that just another way narcissism breathes.  The only way I’ve grown in humility (which isn’t much) is by empathizing with people that I share very little or nothing in common with.**

Two quotes to leave you with:

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less”

-C.S. Lewis

“Empty never felt so full”


*Click HERE to read on the mythology of Narcissus

** Funny thing is the more that I empathize with those that we haven’t nothing in common, I usually gain common ground.

Out of Hand


It amazes me how things slide for me so fast…

  • Attraction turns into Lust
  • Respect turns into Idolatry
  • Awareness turns into Fear or Apathy (unawareness can do the same)
  • Concern turns into Anxiety
  • Relaxing turns into Laziness
  • Celebration turns into Addiction
  • Desire turns into Greed

What is interesting to me is that the latter (lust, greed, etc) are elements of our fallen-ness.  They are of the world.  No one wants to be associated with them until they become them.  A porn addict wants to keep looking at porn.  A fear mongering person gets a sense of accomplishment by scaring us.  An anxious person wants you to join them.  A lazy person doesn’t care once they embrace it.

These (the latter) are incredibly deceptive.

They use the former to lure us in.  The former (concern, attraction, etc) are God given elements of us designed to draw us to God and appreciate (worship) Him and respect our surroundings.  But people that are operating out of latter know that they can convince us to join their ranks using the former.

Things I’ve heard in the last month…

  • “Isn’t she attractive?”
  • “Why aren’t you worried about this?”
  • “Look at how great _______ is, did you know he ________?”
  • “You need to do what’s best for your family (concerning making money and not a God lived life)”

And on and on…

And once we are operating in the latter, we will spend our time, money and energy there.

That’s why God is so important… He keep things in check.

When these are directed correctly, we get “fruit”. see Galatians 5v22-23

  • Attraction turns into Love
  • Respect turns into Faithfulness
  • Awareness turns into Patience
  • Concern turns into Goodness and Kindness
  • Relaxing turns into Gentleness
  • Celebration turns into Joy
  • Desire turns into SelfControl
  • And the culmination is Peace.

With Growing Peace

***Technically Love is the ultimate fruit…


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