For whatever reason I have a ton of energy around this idea of what makes me mad. Remembering the stomping mat I wrote about last week has made it easier to get stirred up on some things that make me mad, and I’m going to do more with that theme after Easter.
Right now, I’m just mad at myself… frustrated that again I did not recognize what has been happening the last few days. As I write this, I am out in San Diego preparing a Rogue event for pastors and business leaders who will be traveling from all over the country. The last few days leading up to this have been tough. I have struggled with depression. I felt frustrated and restless, and I just could not focus. Most of all I just felt discouraged—I mean really discouraged, the kind of discouragement that makes it hard to get moving. I was doing a ton of doubting why I do all these RHYTHMinTWENTY and Rogue events.
As I was on the plane I was reminded how this happens every time we do one of these events. We have done almost twenty-five of these gatherings now. Pastors and business leaders, gathering and hoping to restore that passionate pursuit of God that made them dangerous in the first place. There is no doubt we have an enemy who does not want this to happen; an enemy who wants to discourage us, neutralize us, and make us useless. We don’t talk enough about the fact that this is a fight, and we have a enemy who wants to take us out and render us useless. And if we do talk about this idea of spiritual warfare, we sure do not live day to day like we believe it. At least I don’t. But I am reminded today that I am in a real struggle. Every time ahead of these events—I mean every single time—I feel weak, tired, discouraged, disappointed.
Again I am awakened to the reality of what is happening. I am mad—mad at myself for not recognizing it and wasting the last couple of days, mad at an enemy who wants to discourage, disappoint, and destroy. Now that I have remembered, I feel more alive and ready for whatever God has in store. I am ready to engage in this fight for these guys who are traveling here.
I think there really is something to this idea of what makes you mad. It has helped wake me up today. It’s helped reconnect me with what I’m passionate about. Let’s do this.
I was going through some old stuff over the weekend and it jarred a memory. When I was a kid, I have been told I had a hot temper. One of the “gifts” my parents gave me was a stomping mat.
When I was on that mat I could be as mad as I wanted to be. On that mat there were no rules… it was an “anything goes” zone. I remember being on that stomping mat and slamming a stuffed snake against the wall with everything I had. In retrospect, it was a brilliant parenting move. It taught me anger is not always a bad thing. It is important to not just bury it, but find appropriate ways to get it out. If it is controlled, and in the right context it can, in fact, be a motivator and a positive force.
I am reminded of something I heard Donald Miller say a couple of years ago: Anger can provide insight into your calling. It can be a window into what matters to you most.
So what makes me mad?
- Seeing the Huskers lose a football game.
- Seeing our family dog have a better NCAA bracket than I do. With the movement of her paw, she picked six of the elite eight teams.
- Seeing people in “power” positions abuse that power, and use those positions to control.
- Seeing someone take a cheap shot when my kids were playing sports.
- Seeing my kids hurt and struggle.
- Legalism. I am convinced I am less certain now about many theological issues than I have ever been in my life.
- A doing, busy, results-driven spiritual culture that quenches the adventure, the discovery, the awe, and the wonder of who God is, and what he has for us.
I could go on, but even as I list these out, there is some insight into what gets me going, and to things I am most passionate about. What makes us mad is not the only question to ask when we think about calling, direction, and the things we gravitate toward, but it is a good one.
Find a good place to put your stomping mat and list some things out. You may be surprised at the insight that comes.
Of all the great games and significant moments in March Madness this last weekend, one really captured my attention. It was the plight of Wichita State, and the comments of their coach after the game. Wichita State was the first team in the history of the NCAA to go 35 -0 in a single season. They played a much younger but very talented Kentucky team in one of the best games I have ever seen. The Wichita State Shockers seemed to play flawless, BUT lost. One play, one shot, one moment could have made all the difference, and may well have propelled them to a perfect season… the kind of season that may never have been matched. That may be hard for those payers to shake
It was not the game, but the scene from their locker room that really stuck with me. It evoked some emotion, and a very familiar theme with me…. disappointment. The crushing disappointment on the faces of the kids who had accomplished so much was hard to get by. It brought back my struggle over the last couple of years with deep disappointment. The faces of those players reminded me of the danger of letting disappointment settle in,because unchecked it can overwhelm and impact our perspective on life. The Shocker’s coach told his players how proud he was of what they accomplished. He exhorted them to remember that they had put together the most successful run in the history of college basketball, and he pleaded with them to know that they have nothing to hang their heads about.
I have realized a few things about disappointment in my own journey over the last couple of years:
- I need to name it, feel it, express it. Burying it does only damage
- I have to find that place to be totally real with it
- It can be a key tool of an enemy who wants to turn us away from God.
- It can also be the starting place of needed restoration and hope.
The words of the coach ring true:
There are times we experience success and times we come up short. But it is okay. You have nothing to hang your heads about. Giving all of yourself to something can be tough, but it is worth the risk. I am proud of you, and it is an absolute joy coaching you this season.
Sounds like something God would want to say to us.
There is nothing like March Madness. I grew up in a family that loved basketball, and ever since I can remember I had a ball in my hands. As a kid, there were countless hours playing on a dirt barnyard, shooting at a rim that was attached to the side of our barn. It was like a scene right out of movie… Hoosiers.
In small town Nebraska, most everything circled around the high school sports scene. Just like the movie. I remember our road games in High School, and typically a bunch of cars following the bus into “enemy territory.” I was a pretty good player, but the real talent skipped a generation. My dad played basketball in college, and he was generally known as the man to stop. I have a priceless newspaper clipping of him shooting a shot against the Harlem Globe trotters back in the 50s.
Then there are my kids. All of them loved the sport, and all of them are really good basketball players. My daughter could out shoot all of them when she was playing. One son was a starter on one of the biggest and most talented high school teams in the state. And our youngest, well he got some of the good stuff from my dad. He finished this last years as an All State player, and was his school’s second all time leading scorer. Yah,basketball runs deep, and even as I write this it is giving me some extra insight into why this last winter has been so long and hard, and why it seems like I have been in a funk for months. It is the first winter in a very long time when I have not had “skin in the game.”
And I really miss it.
I actually started coaching my oldest son’s team when he was in second grade, and I was able to coach for like 19 years between all three of my kids. Then we got to watch each of them play through high school. And who knows? We may even have a few more years in the gym with our youngest. That’s a lot of time in the gym, and I loved every minute of it.
I am geared up to watch some great basketball these next three weeks, and I am pretty excited to see the Huskers in the big dance for the first time in 15 years. But nothing comes close to watching my kids play. What a riot.
A couple of things come to mind here:
- Even though I loved hoops, and I certainly had some influence on exposing my kids to the sport, it was their passion that drove them to be good. It was their love for it–not mine–that made it really fun.
- Don’t miss the moments. It is a cliche… but it is so true. I am so glad I made it a priority, so glad I was in the gym for all those games. So many lessons, struggles, exciting moments, disappointments, conversations, fun and adventures happened around something they all loved doing. Now that is worth it.
Time to watch Hoosiers again…
I have never really bought into this Lent thing. I am not sure I understand the roots of it, or even the why, so as a result I guess I just have not taken it seriously.
When I was a kid my parents would ask me what I wanted to give up for Lent. The only specific memory I have was deciding to give up orange juice one year. Citrus was and is likely my favorite food group on the planet, so maybe I developed a bad attitude toward Lent because of that. To me, Lent has always seemed to be a formulaic, inauthentic, performance-driven, and rigid practice of religion, so I really have written it off and just have not given it much thought.
But this morning I was reading in the Message. Jesus is talking about how useless a grain of wheat is unless it dies. Unless it is buried it cannot actually come to life and multiple itself. Only then does it become truly valuable. John 12:25 says, “In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is, destroys that life. But if you let go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.”
What struck me about that whole story was the “holding onto life” part. If we hold onto life too tightly we can really destroy it. If we hold something too tightly, we can quench its growth, suffocate it, even kill it.
Now a lot of things come to mind here, and it does raise some questions: What am I holding to tightly ? Where do I need to loosen my grip ? Is fear driving me to hold something too tightly, and could I be restricting some needed growth as a result? The thought that I can control something and dictate the outcome by keeping my grip tight is a fallacy. I can think of a lot of examples of how I have made things worse by holding on too tightly. So I am going to journal some on these questions this week. Maybe you should join me.
There could be something to this Lent season after all.