Archives for posts with tag: love

Superwhy did I volunteer for this?

Quentin likes watching PBS in the mornings. He loves starting his day off with the “Abby’s Flying Fairy School” on Sesame Street. He loves watching “TCITHKALAT” and “SuperWhy.” Today’s episode of Superwhy started out with the three pigs fighting over how to build a house. The message at the end of the episode is “work together.”

This got me to thinking about things. Those three pigs reminded me of David and Zada. They fight and argue all the time, as if in some sort of power struggle. Overall, they behave very well, but far too often it seems they argue and fight. It’s a real challenge, because I can rarely ever prevent it, and usually it ends up with me yelling at them and sending them to their rooms.

Two positive things about Roy. This was one.

Both have gotten into this bad habit of correcting each other, which is usually how the arguing begins. And it usually ends up, if I’m around, with me giving the correct info followed by one kid pouting and one kid gloating. Then it ends up with two kids pouting. And me thinking of Roy.

Roy was a chubby toe head who wore glasses. I met him through Cub Scouts. I went over to his house one day to work on some projects. I don’t remember the projects, but I do remember playing Boxing on the Atari.

The only lovable Jerk in the entire world.

Roy lived with his mom. I think his parents were divorced. I don’t think his dad had died. Or maybe she was just a single mom. I was 7 or 8, and didn’t pay too much attention to these things. What I did remember about Roy and his mom was that she let him get away with quite a bit. He talked to her in a way that I’d never talk to my mom – if I did, I’d pay for it, not unlike Atari Boxing. I think I only spent one afternoon there, but that was enough.

Some amount of time later, maybe a day, maybe a week, I corrected someone on something. Either I corrected my dad, or corrected someone in front of my dad, but my dad pointed out that Roy corrected people. He pointed out that it made me feel bad – it did, when Roy corrected me – and that I shouldn’t do that to other people. He also pointed out that Roy was rude and a bit of a jerk. At that very moment in time, I made a vow to never be like Roy. And it has stuck with me ever since.

I’m not sure my dad would remember Roy (he didn’t even remember the cake, and that was more recent), but I do. He has been etched into my memory, forever to stay. Funny how one afternoon can have such an everlasting effect on a person’s overall personality? I’m betting Roy probably never even thought of me after that day. He probably didn’t even think of me when I was there, to be blunt…

These two probably needed a Roy in their lives as well.

Now I’m in the position my dad was in – trying to teach my kids how to behave, and how not to behave. Unfortunately, I don’t have a ‘Roy’ to introduce my kids to. I can’t say, “Hey, you don’t want to be a jerk like Roy, do you?” Because they’d look at me funny. No one names their kids Roy now (skip to the 3:00 minute mark).

I suppose now I’ll have to ask at the parent teacher conference who the real jerk of the class is, so I can point out these kids to my kids with the insightful message passed on to me from my father. “Hey, you don’t want to be like that kid, do you?” I’m just hoping that it isn’t my kids who are the “Roys.”

Advertisements
Chicken?

Almost had this for dinner.

Shortly after posting the last blog, I wandered to the cafeteria to see what was for dinner. BBQ chicken. Smelled great, but I wasn’t feeling chicken twice today.

They’re doing painting in the one section of the hospital where it’s just a dog leg trip around the corner to the cafeteria. So that meant I had to go through the “restricted area” to get to the cafeteria. Not a big deal, but the door to go back the same way locked when it shut. Great.

Walked around to the ER, where two security guards were. They asked me a question, and I told them I was going to the women’s center. The lady told me that she was working that area and would escort me. What was odd is that she had a tracheotomy. I didn’t understand at first why her voice was all raspy. Then I got it. She told me I could park out front – which I told her I had. I suppose she was under the assumption I just got there. Nope. Been here all day, thanks.

When I got back to the room, I got a text message from Christy. Doc had just broke her water and she was at 3 cm. So, since I didn’t get dinner at the cafeteria, I headed to Carl’s Jr. Which, I noted, I was the thinnest person in the place. Anyway, I ate, and went back to the hospital.

It was about an hour after I got back that the anesthesiologist showed up. Christy was happy. After the epidural, the nurse checked and Christy was at about 5. Now more waiting.

Reach

Yeah, I'm just putting these in here now.

Apparently, 8pm is about the time everyone checks facebook, because that’s when all the messages started flowing in. At some point, the baby bed started going off with a ding dong carnival sound. Then almost immediately afterwards, something else started beeping. And the phone got text messages. SHeeesh. Lots of noise!

It’s almost 9pm now. Grey’s Anatomy is wrapping up and Christy’s watching. I’m typing this up and waiting for the final stretch, which should be soon.

I hope.

Phoning

So, when exactly do you think Lucas lost his mind?

Yesterday I wrote this. I basically talked about what I’d do if handed the task of redefining the prequels. This sparked a
conversation with a friend about just following something blindly – not religion (besides, I don’t consider faith blind, more on that later) – but specifically dealing with Star Wars.

I remember the exact moment when I stopped believing in Star Wars blindly. I don’t remember the exact date per se, but I do remember the exact moment.

TIE Pilot

The big gun doubles as a crutch.

It was in 1996. Kenner/Hasbro had just launched a whole new set of Star Wars figures. I found a whole bunch at the Wal-Mart in Ft. Walton Beach. That should have been my first clue – hundreds of figures on the shelves. I had a cart, and I was putting two of everything into the cart. I remember looking into the cart and realizing that what I was doing – at that specific moment – was the same thing thousands of other Star Wars Fans were doing at the same time.

Hording. “Collecting.” Stockpiling.

And I definitely wasn’t the only one. In that store, there were other people doing something similar – at the same time! For some reason, we all thought these were going to be worth something. We all thought that we were going to be able to sell that one figure for hundreds of dollars. We all were looking to capitalize off the popularity. And I’m sure a lot of us were looking for that nostalgia. But I personally couldn’t get very nostalgic when Luke and Han looked more like Hans and Franz.

I still bought a bunch of figures. I still have them. Some are boxed, some are loose. I used the loose ones to decorate my room. They’re neat, but I have no misconceptions that they’re going to be worth anything. I have pretty much taken the idea that they’re all going to be worth less than what I paid. As in, I probably couldn’t give them away.

Bendems.

And you thought Jar Jar was a bad idea.

There was nothing even remotely nostalgic about these toys. They didn’t feel magical. They didn’t look magical. Sure, the 70’s version of Luke and Vader were far from “screen accurate,” but they had that magic that enabled little boys and girls to use their imagination and pretend that Luke could bend his elbows and that Vader could slash his saber without looking like he was strapped to a board. Telescoping sabers were fantastic – you really couldn’t lose one unless you really tried. What we ended up with were pieces of plastic that would adorn some geeks wall as a tribute to his “fanhood.”

That’s not to say that the Star Wars toys now aren’t fantastic – they are. Marvels. I found one of the HUGE Millennium Falcons on clearance at Wal-Mart once. It’s magnificent. The new AT-AT looks to be just as awesome. But to me, at least, they don’t have that magic.

The one thing that really dealt a blow to my ‘faith’ had to be the Bend’ems. This were little rubbery figures that you could shape and move. They also said they were “collectable,” (they meant collectible) which really was a slap in the face. There was nothing worth saving with these things. No craftsmanship. Not even reasonably attractive. The original Kenner figures were far more attractive, even with only 4 sometimes 5 points of articulation.

Sam I am. Hot Damn.

I can't believe I bought a Mace Windu Bend'em.

But because I’m not into the gluttony of “collecting” Star Wars, it doesn’t preclude me from still loving what I loved originally. I can respect a fan’s opinion, and I can respect the different aspects of Star Wars that someone may be into. What I can’t respect is the sad devotion to an ancient religion collection. No one is above reproach. Even Lucas, who has bestowed upon us arguably the most influential movie in the 20th century, is not above skepticism.

At the end of the day, I owe Lucas a huge amount of gratitude for giving me access to what I consider to be the greatest thing a young boy could ever dream of. I owe him gratitude. I don’t keep gratitude in my wallet.

The moral of the story is that it’s okay to enjoy something, but don’t let that appreciation blind you to the bad things. I love Star Wars. I always will, but I don’t let that love trick me into buying everything that has a Star Wars label on it. I love what Lucas birthed into the entertainment world, but I don’t let it blind me. I think it was fantastic that George Lucas gave us his Star Wars, but that doesn’t mean I have to love everything he shoves on us.

I like helping people. There’s something inside of me that yearns to help people whenever I can. Even people who I don’t think deserve it – I help out to some degree. And I feel good about it. I have never regretted helping someone out. Even if it has put me at a disadvantage at the time, it usually comes back in multiples and is beneficial.

Sometimes people try to take advantage of this. And yes, I will help them to an extent – but a lot of times the help is, “What would you do if I wasn’t here?” (Thanks Steve Langevin!) Sometimes the best help you can give is self-worth and self-confidence. You know, “give a man a fish…”

The biggest problem I’ve ever faced is that people tend to mistake kindness for weakness, as if me being helpful is the same as me not having a spine. But I can usually solve this issue by showing the opposite. I can be helpful and unbending.

At the core of my being, my Christianity is that I believe in second chances, trusting others, being tolerant, and accepting people for who they are. All I can do as a servant of Christ is to show others what’s out there. All I can do is talk about God and Jesus. I can’t make them believe. I can’t make them convert. But I can be a friend and show them the wonderful things that happen when you put your faith in Jesus and let Him guide your life.

I don’t always make the right decisions, but if I ask for God’s help and listen, He tells me what to do. And yes, God talks to me. I think it’s different for everyone. I have a friend that got a message from God through someone who was but a chance encounter. I have gotten messages from God through the TV. I know it sounds odd, but it happened.

There was a point where I felt like I needed to give up comedy. I felt as though I was done with it. I prayed and asked for God’s guidance, and I got it. From various things on TV. One was from Desperate Housewives, another from Conan, and I can’t remember right now what the third one was -but the message from all three were ‘stand-up comedy.’ I took that to mean I should continue along this path.

I don’t know why I’m supposed to keep doing comedy. The only thing that I really can see is that I’m supposed to go into this thing and be the shining light. Comedy will always have the dark, dirty side, but I think I’ve inspired others to work on clean material. I know I’ve made an impression on a few people, so maybe I’ll continue to do that and help people see that Christianity isn’t that “Fire and Brimstone – You’re going to HELL!” that is so prevalent in our society. It’s about trusting in God when the odds are against you. It’s about doing the best you can and helping others when you’re not really in a position to help anyone – including yourself!

Maybe you’re not a Christian. Maybe you don’t believe in God. There’s nothing I can do or say to prove to you one way or the other. And truthfully, all I can do is relate my experiences. What those do for you is up to how you receive them. Sometimes a person isn’t ready to receive that message, but that message stays there, and will come back later when that person is ready. It’s sort of like that moment at the end of “The Sixth Sense,” where it’s revealed that Bruce Willis’ character was dead the whole time. What was perceived originally changes when new info is introduced.

Do me a favor – take a moment and look at your life. Maybe you’re really happy where you are. Maybe you’re battling depression for some unknown reason. Maybe things are fine, but you feel as though something is missing. Look around you – God is everywhere, and God loves you. God is love. God does not hate anyone. He does not hate “fags.” He doesn’t hate anyone. He loves us all and wants us to come to him and let him be the guide in our lives.

I think one of the biggest hurdles is that people think that God solves all the problems and when He doesn’t, they lose faith. That’s not how it works. You have to work at being a Christian. You have to have a dialog with God. You have to be willing to make those sacrifices He asks of you. I don’t think God makes people rich with money, but he makes them valuable as people.

At least that’s how I’ve seen it.

The summer before my eighth grade year, I gave my heart to Jesus. I won’t go into the details, but it was a defining moment for me. I’ve always grown up in the church, but it was that summer where my life changed.

Over time, things changed, and while I never stopped believing, I did stop acting. I grew away from God, and did my best to distance myself from “Christians.”

I put “Christians” in quotes because to me, they’re not really Christians. You know who I’m talking about – the guy that screams at you that you’re “Going to Hell” and that you need to change the “error of your ways.” When someone is quick to point out that you are living a lifestyle that will send you to hell, that’s not winning hearts. That’s making true Christians look like idiots.

Last November, I came to a point where I made a decision to realign myself with God. It’s the normal story – the footprints in the sand. Since that point, I’ve learned that it’s in our weakness where God is most powerful. That’s a pretty amazing statement, because none of us want to be weak. But it’s at that particular moment, when we reach out for help, is when we get it.

What I’ve noticed most is the way people treat me. In general, I haven’t gone around singing the praises of Jesus, but I have made certain lifestyle changes that are way more apparent than I’ve realized. People that I’m around behave better – mostly. For instance, a friend of mine was really cursing a lot, and he apologized for his behavior. I appreciated it, but told him it was fine. We all get to that point where we just need to vent, and sometimes dropping a profanity is just the way to make us feel better.

I’ve also used it as an opportunity. Another friend of mine mentioned that he was basically accosted by a “Christian” who was definitely not preaching love and tolerance. To me, that’s not Christianity. That’s being judgmental. And that’s not bringing people closer to God. It drives them away. It’s like trying to get people to hang out with you when you’re pointing a stick at them. And that stick has poop on it.

Who’s going to join your group if you are out there crapping on people? No one. I’m not going to join a Star Wars club who keeps telling me I’m stupid for liking or not liking Jar Jar Binks. I would, however, join a group that encouraged me to like Star Trek, despite my lack of knowledge of all things Star Trek.  (By the way – Star Wars and Star Trek are not diametrically opposed. It is possible to like both)

When I was in the Air Force, I was blessed to be given the opportunity to work with some real leaders. My supervisors were hands on, and they never asked their charges to do something they wouldn’t do or hadn’t done themselves. Even my flight officer was out there loading and unloading equipment during an exercise. (I told him I’d get it, and he said “It’s okay, I was prior enlisted!”) But what I took to be the rule, was only the exception. Other places I’d gone in the Air Force proved that it wasn’t so. It was more of a “do it because I said so.” Needless to say, those people weren’t on my list of ‘best supervisors.’

I took that example of leading by example (My shop chief once policed cigarette butts with us once,) in most aspects of my life. When I was managing at Starbucks, I did my best to not only do the managerial duties, but all the other stuff as well. It goes a long ways when your people see that you’re out there taking the trash out and cleaning the machines. Sometimes that does backfire, because few people would take out the trash… but I digress.

I try to do that with my religion. I know I’m not going to convert you or even gain compassion by telling you how wrong it is for you to do this or that. But if I can show you compassion and love and attribute it to Christianity, maybe you’ll think about it. “Maybe Christians aren’t bad. Maybe I’m just seeing the wrong ones.” I think this is more the case.

Take, for example, Westboro Baptist Church. These are the guys out there protesting soldier’s funerals and declaring to the world that “God hates fags” and “Thank God for dead soldiers.” Something is completely wrong here. God does not hate anyone, and he does not punish people. Sure, He does allow things to happen, but it’s much the same way that your parents would allow you to do things that could hurt you so that you’d learn. Think about it – what teaches you more? Having a bad thing happen? Or having a good thing happen? Chances are, you’ll remember getting shocked by an electric fence more than hearing your dad tell you not to touch it.

I use that example, because when I was a kid, my dad put up an electric fence. I was curious and he told me to touch it to see what it was like. Sounds odd, right? But he specified that I touch it only with the back of my hand. And I did. I learned a lot that day. First, what it feels like to get shocked by a fence. Second, that muscles contract and grabbing an electric fence might mean not letting go. Third, that despite my dad’s odd sense, I knew that he wanted to satisfy my curiosity without getting hurt. That lesson has stayed with me for a long time. Obviously, since I’m writing about it 25 years later.

What can you do when you’re faced with one of these “Christians?” I’m not completely sure. On one hand, I would inform them that they are not true Christians and that the message they are spreading is hate, not love. But that isn’t necessarily the best way to handle things, because it could just turn into some sort of shouting match with both people and on-lookers thinking worse of both of you.

Maybe the best way to deal with it is to ignore it and  move on. If it bothers you, talk to someone about it. Like me – talk to me about it. I’m not the greatest Christian in the world, and I am far far away from being Jesus-like. I’m just a man. Tell me about your experience. I’d love to get the chance to help put Christianity in a positive light for you.

The main thing that I want to do here is show you that the basis of Christianity is that it’s about love and tolerance. Jesus loved all people, and he tolerated people’s lifestyles. He talked to the prostitutes, the murderers, the ‘evil’ people. He talked to them because they were the ones that needed help. They were the ones who did not know about Jesus and God, and needed to make those changes. He didn’t chastise them and tell them they were going to Hell. He knew better. He comforted them and showed them what was right, and that Christianity was about love.

That’s all I want to do. I don’t want to tell you what you’re doing wrong. I want to show you love and tolerance through Jesus. I can’t make you follow Jesus or convince you to become a Christian, but I can show you the light and hope that you make that choice for yourself. That’s all I can do – show you the path.