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Perfect Love

June 14, 2010 Leave a comment

Hi, my name is Ken, and I’m a recovering self-help junkie. 

A follow up to my last post…

“Without the love of our parents, sisters, brothers, spouses, lovers, and friends, we cannot live. Without love we die. Still, for many people this love comes in a very broken and limited way. It can be tainted by power plays, jealousy, resentment, vindictiveness, and even abuse. No human love is the perfect love our hearts desire, and sometimes human love is so imperfect that we can hardly recognise it as love.

In order not to be destroyed by the wounds inflicted by that imperfect human love, we must trust that the source of all love is God’s unlimited, unconditional, perfect love, and that this love is not far away from us but is the gift of God’s Spirit dwelling within us.” ~Henri Nouwen

Lord—help us trust your love, help us love like you, and help us appreciate your love no matter who else loves us.

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Love Can Bite You and Leave Teeth Marks

June 12, 2010 1 comment
Hi, my name is Ken, and I’m a recovering self-help junkie. 
“I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, only more love.” ~Mother Teresa
 
I’ve spent over half of an average lifetime to get here and it isn’t quite where I had planned to be at the marker called my mid-life moment. That is, where I sit tonight staring at this computer monitor, writing once again. But I’ve learned more lessons than I’d anticipated, traveling the road to this street I’m parked on named Right Now.
  
I’ve learned that what you thought was love can turn up empty, and that the people you never guessed would love you can. I’ve learned that those you were sure as death and taxes would love you, are just as capable as anybody of failing to. I’ve learned that love is never devoid of risks, and love involves risk if anything.
 
Heartaches may not await the faint of heart when it comes to love, but the faint of heart inevitably die of a lonely one. 
 
I’ve also learned once again that while love can be deep, life is fragile and can turn on a dime. I’ve had my precious writer friend and new found mentor sucumb to his sudden bout with terminal cancer, my best buddy from high school hang himself after losing the fight of his life with depression, and a close comrade fall prey to a longstanding battle with infidelity and in turn found myself on the other end of the phone as I listened to his wife of 30 years weep tears of agony and sorrow in return. All this—within the last three months. Friends I have loved and hurts that have followed.
 
It’s these types of harsh and puzzling happenings that feed my fears and fuel my doubts about love. Because had I never loved, I wouldn’t have been hurt. And when I am hurt the questions surface.
 
C.S. Lewis writes, “To love is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken.  If you want to be sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even an animal.  Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket of coffin of your selfishness.  But in the casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change.  It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.  The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation.  The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”
 
Lewis continues, “If a man is not uncalculating towards the earthly beloveds whom he has seen, he is none the more likely to be so towards God whom he has not.  We shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering  hem to Him; throwing away all defensive armour.  If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this way in which they should break, so be it.”  
  
It’s safe to say that a life spent trying to protect oneself from being hurt will turn out to be a life which never knows the joy of what it is to love or to be loved. And you can take this to the bank—if you want a love that puts a spring in your step and makes your heart skip a beat it’ll never happen if you’re not willing to risk being hurt and love first.
 
Yes, love can bite you and leave teeth marks.
 
But only love can heal you.         
 
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We Are Staying

January 26, 2009 3 comments

The following is an excerpt from one of my book projects. 

                  

165644277_e0d719e6ba1Do you doubt you are chosen?  Then say your prayers and you may conclude that you are.   ~Martin Luther 

     

A pastor friend of mine grew up in Brooklyn, New York. As a kid he heard all of the tales regarding the New York Yankees and the dynasty they created. One such story involves ‘The Mick.’ 

 

It has been well documented that Mickey Mantle was a fierce and abusive alcoholic.  There are certainly others who have fared much better when it comes to recovery pertaining to such additions and compulsions.  Mantle’s battle with the bottle eventually took his liver.  What tends to be overlooked however, is that Mantle was also a son, a father, and a teammate.  And as it is for many alcoholics, people tend to forget those things—they remember these individuals as monsters.  According to Tony Castro’s book, Mickey Mantle: America’s Prodigal Son, Mantle’s own father died of cancer at the age of 39 and one of Mickey’s greatest hurts during his lifetime was that he never told his father that he loved him.  Say what you will about Mickey mantle, the man had a heart.

 

Mickey Mantle’s rookie season came at a time when the hopes of an entire city for their perennial favorites to return to the promised land were as high as ever.  Mantle, out of Commerce, Oklahoma, was raw talent personified.  He had blazing speed, he could clear knock it over the fence, and he possessed a penchant for hard living. 

 

Mantle was greeted with all the hoopla that you might expect in New York, and was quickly anointed the second coming of an icon—the irreplaceable center-fielder, Joe DiMaggio.  He was to play right-field next to DiMaggio.  DiMaggio, age 37 when Mantle showed up, was at the tail end of his highlight reel career. Mantle, at the young age of 19, was merely a promising phenom. That being said, the Yankees faithful were not in the mood to start thinking about a replacement for one of baseball history’s most feared hitters in DiMaggio (which surely made the pressure to perform even more intense for Mantle).  To top that it off, Mantle had to deal with all of the pressure, lights, and the media frenzy that comes with getting the big bucks and fame in wearing the Yankee pinstripes.

 

There is a story Detroit Tiger Hall of Famer, Al Kaline tells, in which he was once heckled by a young fan for not being half the player Mickey Mantle was. Kaline recalls his response to the fan—Son, nobody is half the player Mickey Mantle is. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for Yankees manager, the great Casey Stengel, to become one of Mantle’s biggest fans either.  Oddly enough, it would be during Mantle’s much heralded rookie season that Stengel’s belief in Mantle would be tested. 

 

Mantle struggled to play through a terrible slump that looked as if the young slugger might not be what all of the hype had suggested, and as Mantles’ numbers continued to tank, so did his confidence.  The fans became impatient with Mantle, and his warm welcome quickly dwindled away.  

 

Legend has it that during this stretch of poor play, manager Stengel called a meeting to talk with the frustrated and discouraged Mantle.  Mantle wasted no time in the meeting to share his feelings with Stengel, he told Stengel that he understood Stengel had no choice but to do something.  Mantle spoke about his desire to be removed from the line-up.  He continued on about how he was embarrassing himself, his teammates, and his family.  He was basically ready to give up baseball, so the story goes.  Stengel finally interjected, asking Mantle to stop talking.  Stengel, firm in his words, proceeded to tell Mantle that he wasn’t going anywhere. No questions, and no objections.  His mind was made up.  No matter how well Mantle fared, or how bad it got, Mantle was staying.  He was going to be Stengel’s right-fielder win or lose.   Mantle ended up spending some time in the minors to work things out, but by seasons’ end he was back on the stage called ‘Yankee Stadium’, tearing the cover off of baseballs and rounding the bases like a lion chasing down its prey. 

 

The rest of Mantle’s career is now some of baseball’s finest history as you may know.  Mantle went on to become one of the greatest players to ever play the game.  His team won the 1951 World Series during his rookie season.  And Mantle, like DiMaggio, went on to retire a Hall of Famer (and that, after tearing up his knee that rookie season.  The injury would plague him the remainder of his career).  The ’51 World Series would be the first of 7 world championship teams Mantle played on in New York during his 18 seasons with the team—which included: 16 All-Star teams, 12 pennant winners, and his World Series records that stand to this day for most homers, RBIs, runs, walks, extra-base hits and total bases. 

‘The Mick” ended up staying in New York alright, he owned the town by the time it was said and done.

I tell that story to say this: God’s picked you and me to play on his team.  You might be a short-stop and I might be a catcher, but we all have our place, and even though he could replace us in a New York minute, we’re not going anywhere.  God has far higher thoughts of us than Stengel had of Mantle. The silly proposition that God kicks his kids out of his family is as widespread as it is wrong.   And even if we decide to run off and play the harlot for a season, God never stops being our Father.

     

Like Mantle, we aren’t going anywhere, we are staying.

             

a prodigal son for the modern era

January 4, 2009 4 comments

2246678466_edbcbab8a5_oI’d like to offer my own version of the prodigal son found in Luke chapter fifteen.  Since I have lived the parable, I figure I might have the kind of outlook it takes to re-write it.   Rather than recount the ancient Gospel account, I have made my version up to date and much more palatable.  Sort of a prodigal son for the modern era.  Of course, I have deleted the most offensive part—the celebration the irresponsible father wasted his time and money on. 

Here goes…

A guy with two sons learns that one of them has plans to leave and collect all he has coming to him before his departure.  The older brother stays home while the younger one goes—and although he’s as much of a scoundrel (or moreso) than the younger son—the father doesn’t mind so much because he is needy and would do anything for acceptance.  After a brief stint away spent carousing, womanizing, and living like a rock star until he is finally broke—the younger son returns home.  When the father sees his sorry excuse for a son making his way down the street towards the family residence, he runs into his study and grabs the latest ‘Christian’ book on relationships.  He and his wife hurriedly thumb through the pages looking for the authors soundest advice.  After reading for a couple of minutes he makes up his mind.  When his son gets to the front door he is prepared.  Once he reluctantly greets his son, it becomes obvious to the father that the prodigal son has not spent enough time away reaping what he has sown. 

The father then shoes his undeserving prodigal along as if he were some peddler of trinkets and trash—all to the satisfaction of  the onlooking older brother of course.The father is confident that his prodigals apologies and cries for mercy are not heartfelt.  But before the younger son can turn in shame and leave, the father reads him his rights.  He advises the son that when he can demonstrate a more obvious repentance and clean up his act he will be welcomed home—on several conditions of course.  The first condition being he will need to remain sober for an entire year before his father reconsiders.  Secondly, he will need to start going to church on a regular basis.  Thirdly, he will be required to read the book ‘Boundaries’ and be able to recite its key principles.  Fourthly, he will need to prove his sincerity by agreeing to give a public confession followed by serving as the older brother’s subordinate in the family business for an undisclosed amount of time.  And lastly, if he messes up in the least bit, he will be escorted off the father’s property by the authorities never to return again. 

Months later in his bid to earn his way back home, the younger son realizes he can’t live up to his fathers standards and decides he’ll just give up.  Two years down the road he succumbs to his prolonged battle with paralyzing guilt and takes his own life.  The townspeople all gather and pay their respects to the father.  The father decides after burying his son that he can help other parents with prodigal children by launching a national tour endorsed by some of today’s leading experts to lecture on what happens to children that don’t learn to honor the rules.  He becomes an international phenomenon and speaks to crowds in some of the biggest churches in the world.              

Tragically, that is pretty accurate.  It is the untruth many Christians have been taught.  Thankfully, Jesus didn’t teach what I have outlined.  But you wouldn’t know it unless you read his account.  He mandated that his followers embrace one another and reach out to prodigals and every other slimy individual no matter popular opinion. 

To read the actual account visit BibleGateway here.

Maybe it is time some of us question what we have been taught—or worse yet, what we have been teaching.

How many marriages would last and prosper and how many families would remain together if this were the way we lived?

a still frame caught in forever

November 6, 2008 1 comment
       
a still frame caught in forever
         
was thinking I’d move along
and realized I’d be leaving
the one and only
 
I had to remember
the moment frozen in time
a still frame caught in forever
 
it didn’t come easy
and it didn’t come fast
the moment frozen in time
 
one thing is certain
which I cannot deny
the moment frozen in time 
 
it’s always the first
and it’s ever the clearest
the moment frozen in time
 
it’s never forgotten
and it cannot be replaced
the moment frozen in time
 
you are that frozen
moment in time
         
Categories: poetry, relationships, thoughts Tags:

You never let go

October 22, 2008 1 comment

…every now and then I need to be reminded—and cry. 

I may have let go of Him from time to time, but He has never let go of me—no matter what others may have told me.

We all need a reminder once in a while.

where have you been?

October 6, 2008 1 comment
where have you been?
               
gonna make me wait
where have you been?
seemed like yesterday
a thousand years ago
 
I told you once
can I say it again?
where have you been?
life is not the same
 
looked up and down 
and all around
you are missing
where have you been?
      
where have you been?
why’d you leave?
got me feeling low
a thousand years ago
                       
 
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