understanding the privileges of life coaching

We need to talk about privilege
I have somethings to admit and let you in on. This idea of restoring vision is somewhat pretentious. What I mean by that is that it is quite assuming of our social position. Jus the basic level that I have the time to write, coach, and think about restoration, passion, and vision is a privilege. I am not saying this is not work and I am not doing my part in the world, but there are some privileges that have gone unrecognized. If restoration is going to be practiced and utilized in its full capacity then the privileges will have to be recognized, considered, and adapted into the plan of reaching and teaching. Here are 5 privileges that we need to be aware of when restoring passion to pursue our vision from the perspective of the coach.
1. Free time and money
Time is money and money is time. As a coach there is an assumption that you have the time to absorb the information I have to give and the process is trustworthy enough to take your time and money. If I think of somebody that is economically disadvantaged, racially disenfranchised, or under resourced by any other means; I probably do not think they would be able to financially afford the investment to pay for coaching to pursue their dreams, their passion, and their one true desire. Most working class people can not afford coaching programs like this because they are so expensive. Often times in the entrepreneur world I hear this being talked about as a “target audience”. If the population of people does not fit your goal than that is not your audience, is what I hear, and that sucks for a large chunk of the population that gets left out.
The privilege is that I can financially afford the time to think, process, and teach these coaching programs
Within this same presumption is the presumption of time. It is one thing to financially be able to afford it, but can you afford it with your time. When people are under resourced they often spend their time working 2 or 3 jobs to get by, maybe providing for a family, just to get through each day. No big dream pursuits, no ambitions to create the next nonprofit that changes the world, just the drive to take care of themselves and their family to make sure there is food and a roof over their heads. Yes there are dreams of things that would be nice, but dreaming about nice is not too wise. My privilege is that I can speak to people that have time to think about the big picture vision of life, coach them to their goals, and to figure out ways to not be held back by everyday struggles and responsibilities. Sometimes I look up to this way of life; it has dedication to family and faithful work. The simplicity of it is envious from the outside, but we can not assume that their struggle is any different than ours because we all have the same amount of hours, but different resources that display our privilege for opportunities.
2. Coaching will do it
I think as a coach, I as well as many other coaches think we have what it takes to get you to your goal. coaches that try to promote how well rounded their research is , which is in-turn their practice, without listening and investing in the person first; is that it comes off as narrow minded. It assumes that the only thing holding the person back from their manifest destiny is themselves. I believe this is true, but not all the time. Coach’s talk about it is how you organize your life and figure out your priorities. I do believe everyone can benefit from a coach, but a coach will not get everybody to their goals. Sometimes there needs to be training, a tool developed to cross a physical barrier, and the most restrictive and frustrating limitation of being lawfully or culturally segregated so opportunities are not available
This reminds me of the cool Runnings story. The Kenyan bobsled team and how unlikely this group of 4 Kenyan men from Africa would make it to the Olympics in an ice bobsledding competition. It hurts when this presumption is racially bias and we discount people based on what we think their capabilities are based on their race. The Kenyan bobsled team had to overcome this in their journey to the Olympics. Coaches can only do so much. They can not make the goal happen, the dream come true, or the restrictions disappear. The coach can guide, a guide is helpful, but guidance is only responsibility a coach can fill. We would be foolish to think there is more a coach can do. Let’s embrace our privilege of being a guide and be realistic with what our help is as a coach.
3. Vision is everything
As much as this is something I promote and believe in, it just is not true. Some will say there needs to be a decision. You need to decide that you want change before change actually happens. Without turning this in a chicken before the egg standoff I want to emphasis that vision is important and is a turning point, but there are many other vital impacts that affect your ability to move forward. I have the privilege of talking about vision because it is an all-encompassing aspect that I can use to speaking to various avenues of change. Vision is almost a synonym for belief, identity, social change, and goal setting because it speaks into each of those areas.
The most common way that this privilege gets portrayed is by people saying things like just imagine your dream and let that guide you and be your power, or you need a vision of your goals before you can go pursue them. These things sound good but they are not exactly true in the simple sense they are being portrayed. Yes you need to have an idea, but making vision the focal point is not necessary and comes from a place of privilege. For most people, just putting one foot in front of another is hard enough, so I do think vision is important, but when we put it in front of decision making and taking action the priority gets messed up. In the coaching world vision helps you to dream and think in the big picture. Seeing life in the big picture is a privilege for most because the small picture of essential task does not bury them so they have the privilege of having the ability to dream.

4. Speaking from an a-historic perspective
A-historic means that the present is only view through the lens of the present. When folks look for a coach they are usually looking to get over a hurdle to accomplish a goal or just get life straightened out to pursue something richer and fuller. Most take the perspective of what is your goal, where are you at now and what do we need to do to get there. Unfortunately this will lead to burn out and disappointment in the long term. This framework only works for so long. When looking at the future the past needs to be incorporated to work in the present. The most powerful journeys of transformation are the ones that dive in the past and are determined to reconcile with it and not repeat it.
It is the nature of coaches and counselors alike to stay focus on the present and meet you where you are at. I understand the frustration of going to a doctor, a therapist, or a coach and spending an hour on the history when they did not even use the information or even more frustrating when they do not use your history and just guess about the condition and the solution. It takes the dignity and humanity out of the person. The privilege is being the one in control because the coach, counselor, doctor, or whatever is the one getting paid. If somebody says they take a holistic approach make sure they take a full holistic approach that includes the past because it is important to listen to the whole person.
5. Not everybody wants to change, change is not for everybody
This is the hardest one for me to grasp. For me this goes beyond my practice of coaching and into my personal values. I believe everyone has the ability to change, but the reality is that not everyone wants it to happen. The desire has the meet the ability. This is frustrating because potential is left on the table when a fuller more abundant life is possible. Coaches promote change and make money off of change. They are in the results business, so if the customer does not notice or feel the change in their life then business will die, so there is in an invested interest in change. The ability will always be there, but the desire is the one that is always in question. It is a privilege to always be in the mindset to pursue change. For the majority of people they have to just rely on their abilities to get by in life and take care of the priorities of putting food on the table and maintaining a roof overhead. I ask many people what their passion/desire/ dream is and many of them do not know, not so much because they have not dream, but because their dreams have been limited to their abilities. So the dream is to be the best mom, just to be happy and a good person, to have a good family, to love and care for my children. For most of us our abilities have pushed down a path and the path is not something that we consciously choose. Some people work on just being present with what they have, which is a dead end for a coach because there is nothing more abundant than be grateful and present with what you value.

The only question I will leave you with is do you like what you value or is there something more that you want for life?
I find it important to recognize privileges so that we do not take things for granted. I believe this practice has helped me be more compassionate and allowed me to walk the extra mile in the other person’s shoes.
If you have a coach, share this with them and see what they think
If you do not have a coach let these questions set in a see if any of these hold you back from having a coach.
There are people out there that are willing to lessen their privilege, so that you can have the ability to pursue your desires and dreams.
You are powerful where ever you are and I hope you are able to find abundance where ever you are at.

the best of the books i read in 2014

This was a year of books for me. there were some I liked and some that I did not wish I started and then there were some that I wish I did not finish. 2 years ago you would not have caught me reading a book any day of the year except before finals to study and write papers, but a book called King’s cross changed it all for me. after that book I have read over 200 books. Most of the books are nonfiction and focus on personal growth and short story telling. Half way through this year I realized the majority of the books I have read come from two dominate context of the male perspective and the Christian theoretical stand point. This is something I hope to change and develop. this coming up year I hope to get into fiction, so that I can experience the expanse of the mind of other people’s creation. This year I read close to 100 books an di had come up with close to 20 books that had left an impression and would add to a favorite pile to get sorted through at the end of the year. So without further a due here is my top book list for this year in descending order
1. the return of the prodigal son Henry Nouen. A great book using Rembrandt’s painting of the prodigal son narrative as the back drop of this insightful book on the father child relationship, but more importantly the emphasis on the transformation from the child into the father. If I described anymore I would give it away and I would not want to do that with this wonderful book. Truly transformational.
2. faith works Jim Wallis. Seeing the practicality of faith in it can be lived out in practical steps , but this is more than what you will just hear at church. This will allow you to see real life holistic community built churches do big things in the everyday life by living with the marginalized and working on business
3. mountains beyond mountains: Michael French and Tracey kiderard. This is the story of Paul Farmer. For those that know him his name should be infamous if you don’t know him you probably should. This 1 man doing a million things and saving a million people, sounds interesting huh, well it is. it’s worth the read
4. a million miles in a thousand years: Donald miller. Inspiration, motivation, guidance, all unnoticeably will come from this book of real life stories of how one man found his path and started living it to the fullest.
5. people before profit Charles Garber. The title pretty much says it all. Corporate power influences our sociological and our personal development, this may not be a bad thing , but the main value that is behind this is profit. This is a critical and analytical look at how we are forgetting the importance of the individual and humanity as a whole. Very important read for our times to see how corporate power influences us.
6. unleashing the real me: Brennan manning. This was adapted for his more famous book Abba’s Child, but focused on the transformation aspect of being the child of the father. Come to a place of peace and comfort in how the father has created you is what this book is focused on, but it does it from a place of affection and acceptance.
7. the circle maker: Mark Batterson/ a great story about a guy that had a vision and pursued it. bringing people together in urban Washington DC to create a community that cared for the city. His visions are led by prayer and a circle of what the goal is, but only his goal is to provide opportunity for the city to come to a place where they will be cared and provided for. entrepreneurs will enjoy this with the goal oriented church planter, but not only that he starts organizations and mechanic shop sand meeting place’s that turn into coffee shops.
8. turning my mourning into dancing: Henry Nouen. Want to be able to have joy through the tough times, to be able to dance in the futility of life, well see how Henry sorted through it and practiced dancing in his life. he takes you on a journey through loneliness, identity, and purpose and then comes to terms with the end of life on this earth. This will take you through the highs and lows of life
9. ruthless trust: Brennan Manning. Ever wonder how much faith you need to believe, here Manning shows us that faith and trust should not be rendered synonymous more, but instead we need to realize that trust is where we are lacking. We are not so much lacking in faith but our trust is not ruthless enough.
10. getting out of the boat to walk on water: john Ortberg. I think we all wish we could walk on water. How cool would it be to walk on the ocean during the middle of a hurricane. John shows us how much power we have when we are with Jesus. The more we connect and trust god that is here with us and for us then we will be able to do things that we did not think we would be able to do, but this is not a self-help book that is going to help you reach a goal. It will be a book that brings you to a greater understanding of how god desires to connect with you in all of life.
11. relationships a mess worth making: Paul David Trippp. A great book that will help you see the reality of relationships, the messiness and the value of great relationships. This is not just the boyfriend girlfriend context, but the wider range of general relationships. Paul is a psychologist that brings his faith and truth into his insights on relationships. You will not only leave this book knowing more about yourself, but holding higher value in depth and connection in your relationships with others and with god.
12. importance of being foolish: Brennan Manning. I bet you never thought being a fool could be radical or transformative. Manning shows us how he has discovered that Jesus looked like a fool to the world because of how counter cultural he was and he denounced everything that the people of his time thought was right. The journey that Manning takes you on is not only one that points out the radical nature of the gospel, but it is one that will encourage you to step into the uncomfortable atmosphere of being foolish.
13. Lazarus awakening Joanna weaver. Raising somebody from the dead and bringing life back, I do not think that can be topped. There are many things that we can resurrect inn our own lives. We may feel that our dream is dead or the passion in our marriage has weltered away, but Weaver reminds us that there is hope. Bringing things back from the dead will be a messy process and will take effort, but it sure will be worth it because in the end there will be so much fruitful faith.
14. free yourself be yourself Allen Wright. What gets in the way of you being you and not what society and peers have pressured you to be. Wright believes that only a small amount of who we are is really displayed to others and the rest we form around social norms and what we believe about ourselves. Wright shows us what it looks like for us to be free to be real and to be honest with who we are. You will be sure to find the power that comes from this freedom, we just have to learn how to continue to live inn that freedom.
15. everybody’s normal until you get to know them: John Ortberg. I listened to this book out loud with a group of friends on a road trip and I do not remember many main points of the book, but I do remember some of the great discussions that it provided, so on that premise it makes the list. One thing that you can expect to get from reading this book is the proof and illustration of depth in relationships. Ortberg provides many compelling points that point us back to our created nature of being relational and how we are all uniquely created, but often we do not take the time to enter into meaningful relationships, so we have settled for a case of normative relationships. Ortberg will leave you seeing so much more glory and uniqueness in each created being and life form on this earth.
16. the search for significance: Robert McGee. We all want to know we have done something purposeful, but do we want to know we have a purpose or that we have significance. The futility of life often takes us over and we live to feel good instead of living for a significant purpose and meaning. this book was helpful for me to reflect on my life and find the theme of restoration taking place in it so far. We search not only for purpose , but to know we are significant and not just somebody aimlessly passing through this thing called life. McGee uses his experiences of encountering god as his loving father as the back drop of coming to terms with our significance.
17.Integrity the courage to face the demands of reality: henry cloud and john Townsend. These guys are some of my favorite authors and psychologist, so it is surprising that they are this far down the list, but they can not win all the time. This book is important for those of us tat know there is more in life, but often we can not grasp it because of things we find weighing us down in this place we call reality. You can expect to have your reality check by the time you finish this book, but you can also expect to finish knowing you have the strength to be truer and more honest without being conformed by the outside pressures of the world.
18. Christianity after religion, Diana butler Bass. the title was what got me. I do not join with the “ I hate religion but I love Jesus” crowd, but I was curious where this book was going to take me. oddly enough it made me see religion in a truer way and allowed me to appreciate it more than I did before. While reading this I was brought to a greater understanding of formalized religion and how it form. Since I was able to understand the roots of the formation I think I was able to objectively see the purpose of religion. Formalized religion has great potential if it is used in eh correct manner and of course the incorrect uses get highlighted and Bass also provides examples of those. a very balanced book.
19. Friendship with god, an uncommon dialogue: Neale Walsh. Ever wonder what those people mean when they say I have entered into a relationship with god well here it is in its unfiltered manifestation. We talk, we hang out, we do things, we go on adventures, and we want our friends to be there to answer the big questions with us; well this is how Walsh approaches god. Walsh takes us on his journey with him and god and how he came to converse with god as if he were a friend. I felt for the longest time that people talked about a relationship with god and praying and talking to god, but it always seemed so ambiguous, but now Walsh has written it out and described it clearly. A great way to take the next step of diving deeper with god.
20. living as the beloved: Henry Nouen. Another one from my favorite author. This story takes place with Henry writes to one of his friends who asked him to explain the importance of being the beloved. Henry’s friend did not see the great importance coming from a secular background. This book was great because Nouen explains the beloved identity in an understandable way, but still in his witty eccentric self. you do not have to be a believer, person of faith, or secular to appreciate this book. It truly comes from a heartfelt place and the passion that Henry has for his friend and for being the beloved come together and get magnified in this book.

Scars move: an interesting look at how wounds touch us

               this past week I took a trauma healing class and while in the class I was reminded of traumatic events in my life. This class was focused on the training and equipping of how to help others deal with traumatic circumstances inn their life and of course in the intention of helping and blessing others I intern get blessed and helped . what I started to notice as these traumatic scenes started to replay in my head is that they move. Some of the wounds have gotten smaller, some have gotten bigger, some have been reopened, and some have changed location. Wounds can move and transform in different ways in different points of life and if they are approached in a healthy way they can heal into a small mark that is an unique beautiful little scar. Wounds can be displayed in a variety of different ways and change in character, but scars will just end up leaving a bold mark.

               Wounds may move in physical ways, but scars can move in spiritual ways. scars have a way of connecting us with each other. “Pain is pain”. When wounds are talked about it has a way of connecting us because it is something every person can relate too. The difference in most circumstances is whether we choose to address or hide the wound.

I notice we often hide what hurts. we want to come off as strong as possible. We are taught to shake it off or to put a band aid on it and get back into the game when that is marginalizing the feelings of the person. These could be emotional heart pains or physical body wounds. Rushing somebody back into the game with a quick fix is like putting on one of those cheap bandages that do not stick and fall off every time you move. A healthy band aid will stick to you for the time needed for the wound to heal in the proper way. It is natural for a wound to heal, but if it is not taken care of it can be infected and then it will lead to more problems and a deeper issue. This will prolong the development of the scar.

               A scar is a mark of restoration and says this spot marks a story that has a past. they are often still sensitive area’s even though they look healed. The more a wound is open and closed the tougher the scar will be and the greater the callus will be on the wounded area.

When we hear or experience a touching story it is usually bringing to light a scar and a story of how restoration was produced. The ones that seem to be the most touching are the ones that cut the deepest and are the freshest. I have noticed that I do not get moved by a story or experience until hope is seen and a new beginning is pursued. I think this moves me because this is when I can see restoration.

Scars are not inevitable though. a wound won’t heal if you keep opening it or if it gets infected. There are certain things that need to happen in a healthy healing process to allow a scar to form and a strong story of hope to be developed. The most essential thing is to move past anger and denial because without this step we can not have a change in our vision. The most difficult part is getting past the part where we do not see hope. This is a normal feeling and it may be tricky to not get stuck in this elaborate phase, but it is also important to note that scars can be moving while they are being developed. Wise vulnerability can be a great tool to not only allow others to see your brokenness, but is a great technique to move towards a new beginning with the newly healed wound.

               The sacrifice that we see others make as a healer is the connection that we long for. We are created to connect and when we connect we can see a purpose behind our wound and this is what leads us to hope. The sacrifice and the hope combined is where we find that feeling of being loved

when we see somebody interceding to be a doctor for somebody that is wounded we are moved by the sacrifice. This is when we are moved because we are able to see love and the connection we long for. this is what touches us, moves us, gives us the heebee geebee’s and those goose bumps. We have to be willing to share our scars for this to happen because without this our vision can not be reoriented to hope. the process of a wound healing into a scar is something we can all relate too. There is a great connection in sharing our hurt and pain. we have wounds, but are we willing to allow our wounds to be the agent that allows others to be helped by healing in a more healthy way. Scars are healthy and they are not to be shamed, so let’s share our stories and connect with each other. let’s see scars as something to celebrate. Scars show our restoration so let’s celebrate them.

What has held you back from finding your new beginning and letting that scar heal in a healthy way?

a theif on the cross: restoring my vision of grace

There is a student that knows she has a test coming up and she is a good student and a hard worker so she studies ahead of time. She is prepared and goes to class the day of the test and she walks in a the other students in the classroom are doing some last minute cramming before the teacher comes in. the teacher comes in and says I hope all of you are ready because we have a test today that will determine whether you pass or fail the class, I hope you are all prepared. The professor instructs the class to not turn over the test until after all of the test are passed out so it is fair to everyone. After a few minutes he passes all of them out and while this is happening the girl is very confident that she is going to do well because she was a dedicated hard worker that was diligent with her work, so she is expecting to do well on the test. When everybody received the test the professor told the class to flip over the test and on the bottom of the test the girl read “ all the answers are filled in correctly for you, you have received 100 percent on the test, and all the work you have done is good in my eyes” all the students had the same thing written on the bottom of their test and they all looked up at the professor with astonishment and the professor said to them “ your professor has already done the work for you, there is no extra credit needed, no answer that is going to be more correct than the ones that are already on your answer sheet and no matter the amount of work you have done you will all have the same grade” the students were overfilled with joy
This past weekend this story was told to me and really helped restore my vision of grace. I come from a background where the word grace is not commonly used and is hardly lived out. You can imagine coming to understand grace may take a bit of time for me. I think I had sort of a break through this weekend if that is even possible with grace, but it was really helpful in clarifying what love is. Grace is one of those things that I think we will never fully know and experience. We may say we have experienced it or that we know what it is, but I question if we can say those things in their full capacity.
I have another story it is about 3 people being put to death for something they did. depending on what side you are on you would argue that some were innocent or guilty. All of them were revolutionaries in their own regard and as they were all there awaiting their death two of the persecuted convicts said something to the other convicted person. They each said something different. Person 1 had mocked person 3 because he thought he had enough power and strength to get himself free and out of the dire situation and person 2 said to person 3 remember me. 1 was mocking and 2 was pleading for help. person 3 had said to person 2 you will be remembered and because of the plead person 2 was accepted for eternity. If you could not tell already this is the story of Jesus on the cross. I do not want the focus to be on Jesus, though.
The other two people being put to death had two different responses in their last words, in the place where they could do no more in their life or try any harder to face their fate after their time on earth. each of them knowing this and from what is known they understood who Jesus was, but yet both of their responses were different. When a sacrifice was made for the sake of restoration one person was ignored and the other was brought into paradise. This man was convicted of a crime and in the last hours of his life he was accepted into eternal life. some may say he got the easy way, but I say he received grace.
This grace that is given when it is not deserved is what I hope my vision can be restored to someday. If I am honest I do not see grace fully in that way yet. This grace shows me that I am fully justified and thought about. All the prayer rituals and bible studies are just add one’s in know the restorer in a deeper way. Just like the girl that studied for the test, she had received the same grade that the students had received that were studying for the test right before class. For her benefit she had a greater knowledge of each component that the teacher was going to test her on that allowed her to see into the core of the teacher’s purpose. Just like the students that did not study or the man being put to death next to Jesus we need to recognize that we do not deserve what was done for us and even when we are staring death in its face we can call out for help and ask to be remembered. You have the choice to accept or deny the restorer. Seeing grace from the vantage point of these two stories has really helped my comprehension of grace and refocused my vision on returning to my heart to its original state.
When you are faced with the test what are you going to do?

Will Frozen continue to melt hearts: see how our need for forgiveness is displayed in Frozen

            Now that the song “Let it go” is engrained in our minds by either the little children around us singing it nonstop or the hundreds of different versions of it on You Tube, it is undeniable that Frozen has hit a phenomenal level. With the movie release upon us and after the first day of being on sale it sold 3.2 million copies. now , I wonder how lasting the phenomenon will be. whether it will continue to make it into homes at the same rate that it has been consumed while in the theaters. The ability to experience the movie all over again vicariously through the soundtrack allows the connection from Frozen to be felt in a continuous way. Folks that are sucked into the witty, warm, authentically real entrapment that the movie have been stirred emotionally, mentally, intellectually, and for me spiritually. After seeing the movie the first time I left the theater wondering if a Christian screen writer wrote this movie. Yes I know Jesus was not in the movie and it can be picked a part in many ways for having worldly influences in it, but I felt like this was the closest analogical illustration of forgiveness and graceful reconciliation that I have seen in a while. I think this is what will make this movie a lasting mark on the people they have been encapsulated by Frozen.

 

          The title of the hit song “Let it Go” says it all about the way people are connected with the movie. It hits home with people. we all need to forgive and should forgive others just as we have been forgiven. forgiveness is freeing just as you imagine letting go would’ve. You do not have to follow Jesus to know this about forgiveness because we have all experience in some small way, but yet we still keep coming back and wanting more of it. We all want forgiveness because without it we don’t have relationships that are strong and restorative. forgiveness is the foundation of restoration and without it we are just in isolation like the queen and the princess.

          So here are some things we can learn about forgiveness from Frozen, maybe you will be able to relate to some of these and see that your stirring during Frozen was not about a princess being swept off her feet but about the need for forgiveness in your life.

 

  1. Things that we need to forgive are often revealed to us by unintended actions by others
  2. Forgiving yourself is important but not as important as knowing you are already forgiven
  3. To forgive, we need to see where the other person is coming from and not think that our way is the best way
  4. Meeting someone in their pain does not mean confronting their pain
  5. Forgiveness is a state of heart, it is something that does not have to be stated
  6. Reconciliation and restoration can not happen unless you have forgiven
  7. It is best to have somebody walk with you through the path of forgiveness
  8. Receiving repentance from the other person is easier achieved when accepting the person and their pain as one
  9. Our past hurts compound if they are not dealt with
  10. Pointing out how big of a problem the persons hurt is causing will make things worse
  11. If the motive for reconciliation is not selfless then it won’t work
  12. Sacrifice is the best way to start the path of reconciliation

          One of my favorite lines in the movie was “the mind can be cured but when the heart is hit then it can be deadly”. I think this is so true and why forgiveness is in such demand. we often get hurt but we often forget to do the work to restore the relationship. what happens to the heart can not be undone and that scares us so we build walls. luckily those walls can be broken down, but it is going to require selfless sacrificial action. this is what accomplishes reconciliation and restoration. Unfortunately the movie did not touch on these themes too long, but I hope for this in the supposed sequel movie.

Restoring “the word”: how words cause us to disconnect by having a lost meaning

words can become so ambiguous and misleading in their usage that they become unusable in their original meaning, 

I was reminded of this today when is read an article that was about how a particular group of people want to be disassociated with a category of people but the author was displaying that the attributes that the people from this particular group  were putting down were minor things compared to the defining characteristics that were at the root of what it was they were trying to disassociate from. This is all about word play and a label that people do not want to be titled under. A relatable sediment would be like a person claiming to not be a racist and still support slavery or a person claiming to not be a  sexist but still have no problem with prostitution. it is the title that the person is trying to avoid because of the negative implications that are tied to it. the negative aspect of this is that particular words become so abused that they lose their meaning. words need to be restored because it has come to a point that folks are getting hurt because of misused and ambiguity of words.

 

Sticks and stones break my bone but words will never hurt me. this is wrong! Words do hurt and they have great power.  And the miss use of this power leads to hurt and is the result of much pain and suffering. I myself recall when I was younger my peers and I would throw around words like poser, biter, loner, retard and other derogatory’s that we did not know the full meaning of. These words had left myself and other peers that I had with a deep sense of inferiority due to a label that we had heard daily. These words cause a disassociation to take place, not only by the person misusing the word, but by the person it was used towards. Fortunately for disassociation there can be re association  and that comes through restoration from the bad to the good.

As a friend of mine says in a song he wrote “we need to know the bad before we know the good”, so that we can see the need. in this case it is the need for the restoration of “ the word”. “The word” can be different for all types of people and one key way that you can find out what “the word” is for you is to recognize what some trigger words may be that make you feel distant from somebody or what are you extremely enthusiastic in making sure your stance is known because that will probably be pushing away other people. people want connection with people not idea’s or arguments and when we have the disassociation caused by a misuse of the word then that leads to rejection and eventually isolation and that is not love.

Common conception have been built around  the misuse and ambiguity of common words. Popular ones that I recognize in the culture I come from is: liberal, republican, feminist, racist, missionary, Christian, Muslim, and homosexual. This is a non-extensive list of  words that I have noted to use in a mindful way and even sometimes choosing to not use them at all because I have noticed that the use of the word would not be baring its intended meaning. I have realized this does not help  restore these miss used words but instead leaves room for the demonization to persist. 

Words become lost and when something is lost then its purpose is not known. One of the ways I am seeing this play out in my life right now is with the word missionary mainly because I am going to South Africa to work with a nonprofit, but it has got me thinking about how the use of this word has become lost. It seems the annoying door to door  trying to sell you on their personal revelation or hand you a flyer in hopes to convert you or bring you over to their side has falsely conceived what a missionary is. if you asked me a missionary is someone with a purpose, so you can see how we can all be missionary’s in a way. This is a common misconception taking place. the question is  how can we break the misconception without arguing a point or telling somebody they are wrong. We reject the idea but not the person. We are in charge and have the ability to choose what we believe. When we stand for what we believe in that takes pride, but pride is the enemy of acceptance. We cannot accept everything so we need a basis and the basis I prescribe is love.

This may take effort, but we need to change our words to be more about people instead of a stance or argument. One of the easiest and best ways this has happened for me is simply by asking what do you mean so that there is clarity. this shows you want to learn and that you have a stance of humility and surprisingly when this happens to me it is refining and challenges me to think about what I am believing in. it is alright to say “I don’t Know”, you don’t need to know it all and it actually opens the door for others to inform you about a certain topic so that a word or idea is not misused again. Don’t put the person down for their ignorance or arrogance  because that just shows you do not care about them as a person. Words are deeply relational and can bring people together or break them a part. Restoration of “the word” starts with restoration of the heart, Be accepting of the person that is where the restoration happens.

What words cause you to  disconnect and need to be restored?

why mainstream sucks: a look into restoring creativity

Ok this is for all you people that love generalities, well not really because I was  being sarcastic about loving generalities. It is interesting that I planned to write this post today because just this morning there were two other interesting articles that were posted on creativity. One of the most striking points came from a commenter that  said” All of us were created with creative potential – because we are made in the image of our Creator God.” When we don’t live up to our potential then we get this feeling that things are just not good enough. This is where we can turn back towards our created state. I guess you can call this creative restoration. 

There is a popular critique of mainstream things either it be music, clothes, toys, or fonts. We all want to have our little touch on something and I think at the core of it we want to have our creative expression acknowledged. Creative expression can happen in so many different ways and I think the one that sticks out to me the most is living a life of love to make every experience beautiful for this is when life will become a work of art. I think The mainstream critique comes from a place of not having the creative potential completely fulfilled, so we critique or extend our measures to express ourselves in a greater way.

We often get stuck in a certain formula or structure for what we like or how we live and it often takes the creativity out of things and this is why mainstream sucks. Yes this is the generality and there will be exceptions, but for the most part we live in a silver Honda civic blue jean kind of  society. We stick with what works and for the utility purpose this is good, but for the creative potential this makes us complacent and we start to loose connection with ourselves and the world. One of the biggest ways I see this decline of creativity happening is through mass production and the homogenization of culture and society.( making a norm or a standard) well sorry to break it to you folks that don’t like generality’s but this decline of creativity is because you have been generalized and told what to like by media and corporate driven interest. I am not saying that consumption is bad, but that we should creatively consume and simply by that I mean express yourself don’t let somebody else express you.

One of the most common markets that I hear critique’s about is music and admittedly I am one of the critic’s. music is easy to critique because you can easily get the feeling that you are listening to the same thing or things sound repetitive. Weather it is a beat or a plot of a song they can stop seeming creative after a while because we instinctively realize that we have heard it before. We do not want to be able to guess what is going to come next because we want something new and something creative. Unfortunately for the mainstream music industry they utilize a new sound or style until it is used up to the very end so they can get all that they can out of it and then often it will even be reused again. One of my favorite critiques of the music industry came from an artist named Gungore and he said it is pretty bad when you can turn on a song  by going to a random station on the radio and not know the artist or station and know what the song is going to be about in the first 3 seconds of hearing the song. Gungore was talking about a specific niche in the music industry but I think his point hit the nail on the head about our state of creativity. What I realized after hearing Gungore’s point was that we rely on others to get our idea of who we are or what we should create and that diminishes our personal expression of creativity and the presentation of who we are.

We have the ability to be creative because we were created with it, but unfortunately we are not tapping into it. we have value fitting in and sticking with the mainstream  instead of creatively expressing ourselves. Yes creativity takes more work and it even takes practice, but it is worth it because that is when you feel alive and connected. Restore your creativity it is worth the investment.

As I continue to grow in my creative expression and think about ways that I can connect in a more meaningful way I will encourage you to do the same by leaving  you with: 

-a question, How could you step into a new way of being creative? ( let me know I would like to listen)

-a link to a great article on the calling of creativity

http://www.relevantmagazine.com/culture/are-you-called-create

refocusing the purpose of repentance on relational restoration

I recognized a few years ago that I would get really frustrated when people would say “I am sorry” and it took me a while to figure out why that was. I knew it was something I did not like. The words felt hollow to me, like there was not any backing or meaning behind them. .  I recently discovered this through a few conversations with some close people in my life and through further discovery of my great interest in restoration. I noticed the most frustration whenever somebody would say they are going to do something and then do not do it. That is falling short, or missing the mark. Some call it a lie, some call it not keeping your word, or some call it a let down. I would say at the core it is all of these things. A very famous person named Jesus once said, “Do not swear upon anything not even your father or mother because you can not tell what is going to happen tomorrow,” and in a similar instance he said “let your yes be a yes and your no be a no.” We will all fall short of this, including myself, but it is extremely relevant to restoring our vision. Keeping your word and having integrity behind your actions is difficult in many ways but it will bring clarity to how you view life. 

One of the ways that I want to show this is through repentance. This I realize is a difficult and sensitive topic, but I feel it is a necessity if we want to walk in a restorative way. For some, I recognize that repentance can bring up feelings of condemnation, guilt, rejection or self-righteousness. These things I hope can be restored in you. Repentance is a big word and there is much meaning behind it, but I am going to be working with the specific part that looks at the action part of the definition. What I am speaking of is the act of recognizing what is being done or has been done and turning away from it to move towards a direction of love. 

The reason that I bring up this action part of repentance is because repentance is a necessary step in restoration. We often do not keep our word when we say that we repent, but we merely treat it as a way of saying sorry or contemporarily “my bad”. This is not enough because we forget the part of turning away and walking towards love. We can not lightly throw around repentance, but we should do the opposite and embrace it daily and routinely. As Tim Keller says, “repentance is a way of life.” What I am not saying is that we should be ritualistic or religious with our repentance because that would make it a behavior modification and repentance is about heart transformation, which is why it is a necessary step in restoration. 

The reason we need to keep our word or value our integrity is because repentance is the step after forgiveness and before reconciliation in the restorative process. It is the middle ground that brings the two parties back together. If we do not mean what we say when we repent then it is empty, weak, and meaningless. In the great words of Michael Franti, “say what you mean and mean what you say”. For those that have been hurt by people that have used the word repentance towards you in a hurtful way or for those who use it in a ritualistic way, I hope this restores your vision of repentance and gives you hope in the purpose of repentance. Remember if you recognize you are doing something that is missing the mark and do not turn towards love then that is not love, but is rejection and pride. If repentance is not bringing you back into a restorative relationship with love then it is not being used the right way. Open your eyes for the Kingdom of God is here, so now repent. Repentance is the path to restoration.

my second chance: how I came to believe in redemption and restoration

 

a chance is always given, but is it always taken. a second chance can only be made a send chance when it is accepted, received and enacted upon. I would say there are better second chance’s than others some may find their second chance in drugs, school, rehab, but the one second chance that will not have to make you look for another one is Jesus. I did not know that right away when I was looking for my second chance. You see I was only able to get through my onset of my disease that would soon make me blind because of the strength that I found in my sister. at the age of 16 when most kids would be getting their driver’s license, going on first dates, winning championships, getting good grades to get into a good college, getting their first job. well those things were not able to happen for me. I did not have the mind set or the adherence to take this push back in stride. as a teenager that was still forming his identity I took this as a step backwards instead of asking myself what can I do with this, I asked myself what does this make me. to my friends at the time felt it made me lesser of a person because well they left me. at first emotionally, but then physically. I had already been battling not being able to do things the way I had before. I was pretty much lost in school, was not useful at work, hockey team could not use me, I did not know what to do at home, and girls that I desired wanted nothing to do with me.

I was grasping for something to give me a hint of life to keep me above water. I did that, but I did it to a point where I was just getting through the days, not caring to much about life, disregarding it had any meaning, but just caring about feeling good . I thought I found my second chance when I met this girl that I feel head over heels for. I thought I found meaning and reason for my disease. it was to led me to this girl. it was my second chance that was going to redeem all my previous relationships and finally find someone that would accept me for me. well that fairy tale did not come true. Some the next 11 months I was heartbroken over that girl and continued my voyage of trying to feel good and keep my head above water. to sum up the next 2 and a half years, I spent it trying to find my second chance in girls, mainly one abusive one that I kept giving the better part of my heart too. needless to say my second chance efforts were wearing thin. I had become desperate in my efforts to find a girl. I had never been a spiritual person, but I always felt life had more of a meaning that what I was being raised to believe, even though spirituality  was not a big topic in my house I still could not break away from this idea that things happen for a reason and there is meaning for what happens in life. my pursuit of girls had distracted me from thinking about this any deeper and once I met “the” girl my mind and heart was just focused on pleasing her, sweeping her off her feet, and making sure she did not leave. well I was successful in that, but little did I realize there was a meaning and purpose for being with her because she had played a role in my drawing near to Jesus. I would soon find out when I would move away to go to UCSB and Jesus would finally show me it is time to give my life over to him. this was the beginning of my second chance, but I did not yet realize it. I was still learning that I was accepted and did not have to try to be anything or do something to please anybody which included god. I think acceptance is the basis of a good second chance. my second chance was built on finding meaning for all the things that happened earlier in my life. the loss of friends, not being able to drive, not being able to go away to school and play hockey, all the heart breaks, the emotional void I had with my parents. there was all a purpose for those things. they were intricately woven to make sure I knew I was deeply and long fully thought about and loved. it took a while for me to understand this, but once I did I started to make sense of all the things in my life. the biggest thing I realized though in this process is that this second chance is not a fresh start or a reboot, but it is a sort of redemption. I still had all the things that happen to me in the past and the impact that it will continue to have on my life, but I was now able to see that the second chance allowed me to put a new meaning to those things that happen to me. this had not only allowed me to be grateful for the hardships, but it allowed me to view and love people in a different way. I was hopeful which is something I could never say before. I was able to find meaning and purpose in my life like there was a reason for me being in Santa Barbara, me having the major I did, and meeting seemingly random people. living this life full of meaning did not only give me peace and hope for what was once broken, but it allowed me to life for something other than myself. I saw others and the reason that I am was to do something bigger than what I wanted to do earlier in my life. something bigger than playing hockey and sweeping girls off their feet. it was to make known this restoration and redemption that happened in my life and show others that they are surely loved. I was able to see where I was at had a reason, where I had been had a reason, and where I will be will have a reason. the only question that is left is what am I going to choose that reason to be. that is the thing about a second chance, it is a choice and you have to choose it and you are responsible for that choice.

the choice that I am making now is to love my past, to love my core, to love myself, and to love my god, so that I can love others. I am a firm believer in the restoration process that I went through. my impairment has allowed me to be prepared to invite others into that process, so they too can have justice with their past. I would like to be able to join both of these things together and teach and implement a restorative justice program that redeems sociological and personal problems, so that others can have hope too.

the toughest thing i have had to do… ending a redemptive process so that the redemptive process can continue

Last year on this date of march 31 I understood and began to believe and personally experience what it meant to walk a life of redemption. Fitting that it was Easter and that I attended a church service  that was outdoors in the pouring rain, I guess you can say I had literally been made clean. Well for the juice of the story this Easter had pretty much nothing to do with it, but I had just returned from a trip to the middle east with a group of friends for a short trip over there. Yes the trip was great but it pushed me to my ends and when I hit my end I had nowhere to go except to a place of redemption. 

I have gone through some pretty difficult, intense, dark, testing circumstances in my life. I don’t want to compare or rank those times because that would be a joy killer, but what I want to display is a tough scenario that has become tough because I have been through all the previous trials. I may have not known it at the time but the dark, testing, difficult  messy trials had instilled hope in me. When I was going through  each situation I did not know or realize what I was putting my hope in.

Later as my perseverance was turning into character I realized that my hope was found in a sort of redemption. All the things that had tested me before had a purpose. They had a rhyme and reason like to show me that you never have to be at the end of your rope because there is always hope. Since there is always hope  and you can rejoice in your suffering.

You are probably asking what is this tough thing that the title refers too

Well, turn to the present, it is giving up on a process of redemption. You see redemption is a process. It is a grueling, painfully  slow process, but it so joyful and refreshing. It is that way because when things are redeemed then they are transformed they turn an old thing new, they make something bad into good, it brings hope out of despair. For me these things are all things I find true and have experienced on a personal level, but I had yet to enter into a process of redemption, at least a significant one, and give up on it. to quit, to back out, to recognize that this is not redemption anymore was the biggest feat. It was Something that all the hope in the world could not fix. There is a point when redemption does not become redemption anymore, there is a point when perseverance is not perseverance anymore and when it becomes a fight against  a wall. Fighting does not build character it just builds pain and resentment, and calluses. 

So why did I quit and why has this been so difficult?

Redemption is purely relational and there is a point when redemption digresses away from being redemptive. That is when the relationship is unhealthy  and yes it can be redeemed again, but hurt and pain will have to be dealt with in the most sympathetic time sensitive manner possible. Redemption takes full cooperation and desire from both parties and for this to happen there needs to be honesty and truth. The humbling and difficult part about this is that I did not come baring full truth and honesty and because I did not do that I started a crack in a redemptive process between myself and this other person. I did not realize this until the problem was imbedded in our process. This crack eventually built  into a split that brought us to a place where we could not trust each other  and growth had become absent. Redemption is a growing process and when it does not progress then it becomes unhealthy. This hurt so much because it was something I had responsibility of and I took the easy way out by not fully disclosing myself which is dishonesty. Not only did I hurt somebody I deeply cared about ; I had to give up on a process of redemption because it was no longer healthy. I broke trust, made somebody feel personally emotionally and spiritually rejected and disrespected which is the opposite of the basis of love and redemption. A restorative relationship can not happen if you keep on crashing. as one of the drivers of this redemptive car I needed to exit because I was causing some painful crashes and exiting a moving car hurts. ( this is a metaphor)