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Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

I was in really good shape for about ten minutes of my life, and it happened when I was twenty four.  I worked in a school where I would occasionally have to walk from my classroom to my office and to get there I would have to walk right through a huge room that was built for dancing, and which stil had wall to wall mirrors.

And everytime that there wasn’t anybody else around, I would look in that mirror and remark to myself that I looked good.  Yes, you got that, I would check myself out.

Major D-Bag at the time…and I can see that now.

And yet.  When I was 24 I thought I was the greatest guy ever.  I thought I was religious, prayerful, generous, selfless, oh and talented…did I mention talented.  Yeah, most days I gave myself an A+.

That was then.

The reality is, I’m not a worse person than I was then.  Its just I now realize what a fool I was.  Because when I turned 25, I got married.  And now, 12 years later, my wife and I have six chidren.

Once I got married and had children, I started to get impatient, angry, yell.  I would start to guard my free time and little parts of myself like it was the most important thing in the world.  I have had arguments with 2 year olds that, if taped, would make Alec Baldwin look like a nun by comparison.

The hardest part of being a husband and a father has been realizing that in many ways, I am a total crap bag.  You see, as long as I thought I was an A+ dude worthy of checking himself out, I didn’t have much room for growth.

At least now, its a little easier to see the truth of who I really am, who I’ve always been.

And guess what, it sure is alot more obvious to me why I need Jesus in my life.

And I suppose that’s the best part of being a husband and a father, at least for me.

Although it probably won’t happen any time soon, my doctor still tells me that its medically possible that I could still get in very good shape some day.  So hypothetically, if I ever do, you’d guess that I would  be able to tell you with certainty that I would never ever check myself out again. Right?

Ah, the 24 year old me would have made that guarantee.  But the 37 me can’t.  I’ve learned that much at least.

And you know what else I’ve learned.  There’s some way I act right now, some way I live my life right now, that I think is fine.  But in about ten years, I’m gonna look back and realize what a fool I was.

Maybe it would be a good idea to spend some time reflecting what that be right now…and then do whatever I can to change it…now.

It sure would save me the embarassment of having to write about it ten years from now.

And maybe this applies to you as well.  Maybe there’s something your doing right now, that if you spent some time considering it….would embarrass you a little bit.  If so, ask Jesus for help….to have the courage to change it now.

God Bless!

 

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You’ve probably seen this picture all over the web so apologies to whoever posted it first, but its so good that I wanted to use it to.  Its a visual image of the difference between men and women.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or, as I heard a guy say it one time.  You know those movies where the safe cracker has the stethescope on his ears and he is listening to the internal workings of the safe while he tries to crack it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes they will show the internal tumblers inside the lock while he tries to find the combination.  And only when all of the different tumblers of the lock line up, only then will the safe open.  This guy used this image to explain how difficult it is to make women happy.

I laugh at both the picture above and the mental image offered by my friend because both are TRUE!

Women are complicated creatures.  Brain research seems to indicate that many different parts of the typical female brain are activity at the same time all the time.  This contrasts with the typical male brain which usually fires white hot in one area of the brain while many other areas are off.

And women have hormonal profiles which shift almost daily depending on where they are at in their cycles.  Men are pretty much always the same.

What does this mean?  Apparently that what makes women the incredible and fascinating creatures that they are also makes them a little…er….frustrating…for men, that is.

And so, things could be going well for a women in 9 different areas.  But if something is wrong in that 10th area, then she could well be affected by it.  Men on the other hand are overwhelmed that a human being can even think about ten different areas at the same time.  The thought is exhausting.

So what does it mean?

That trying to make a woman happy by figuring out how to make her happy in all ten areas at the same time is probably a losing proposition.  Men, give up that fight right now.  Because when pushed to really explain what a woman wants out of a man, most will probably not give you a listing of the ten things they want done at all times.  Instead, a woman will probably say something like “I just want a good man who is good and kind to me and helps me raise our children well.”  And so men, go focus on that.  Just be a good man.  Do your best in the other areas but know this, that some days, she just is thinking about so much and has so much on her plate that she isn’t going to be super duper happy exactly when you want her to be.  Instead, just be good to her and over time, that will make all the difference.

And women, here is the good news.  Its kind of like you are a professional basketball player and you’ve been invited to play in the little leagues on the eight foot rims.  Because making men happy?  Its EASY.  All you have to do is ONE thing.

I know what your thinking and I’m not going there.  Yes, somedays, for your man, it may be THAT ONE THING.  But certainly not always.  But at almost any time, its only one thing.  Just figure out what that is.  Then do that.  He’ll be Happy.  Guaranteed.

Simple, right?

So….don’t complicate it.

 

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My wife and I watched Fireproof the other night.

The movie is about a couple that has been married for seven years and is on the brink of divorce. By the end of the movie, they have learned how to ‘fireproof’ their marriage and the audience gets a Happy Ending.

However, you have to make it past the first twenty minutes of the movie because they aren’t very good. The acting is bad and the couple’s deep animosity towards each other is difficult to understand. We don’t know why this couple hates each other so much, we only know that they do and its a bit jarring.

At some point, the man (played by Kirk Cameron) is confronted by his father who asks his son to give the marriage another 40 days. The father sends his son a book that includes a 40 day journey towards loving your spouse more fully. The book is called the “Love Dare”.

And its when the 40 day “Love Dare” begins that the movie hits its stride. You either forget about the bad acting, or the acting actually gets better. And its fun to see the transformation of this man into a better husband, a better man.

The movie gets a lot of things right between what troubles men and women. A big element to the couples’ problems is the man’s struggle with pornography. Whether that’s a problem in your marriage or not, I think the movie nails this issue. The man gets angry and feels underappreciated by the wife, rejected even. And so he takes comfort in something he can control, on the internet, something that makes him feel appreciated, like a man.

But the truth is that Pornography actually strips away this husband’s ability to be a real man. The woman feels humiliated, notices the man becoming more selfish, he becomes a worse husband…and so the wife rejects him more. In response to this rejection, the man gets angry and finds comfort in those things that make him feel good, the things he can control…..and so he escapes into his fantasies, whether its pornography or dreaming of the boat he will buy one day. And the cycle continues and things just get worse.

I think Fireproof also does a great job of exploring a theme that I believe is important to lots of men and women. On the one hand, I think men want nothing more than to be loved and admired by their wives. Men want to be thought of as amazing heroes to their wives.

But the rub is that men need to act like heroes to their wives. Deep down, more than fancy houses and big boats and nice stuff, real women just want good men. Men who are disciplined, men who are faithful, men who are generous, men who do their share, men who do nice things for their wives, men who give their wives time and yes, of course, men who provide for their family.

But Fireproof makes a great point….just because you save little kids in fires during your day job (or complete complex mergers and aquisition deals, or write impressive research papers, or coach an undefeated football team) does not automatically make you a hero to your wife.

Artistically, Fireproof is no Citizen Cane. Don’t watch it for that. Watch it if your interested in a good reflection on marriage.

And finally, if you have seen the movie, I would love you to leave comments below on what you liked and didn’t like about the movie. What did you think they get right what did you think the movie got wrong? Did you find the movie to be helpful? Why or Why Not? Thanks!

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Pharisees get a bad rap from Christians.

They’ve become the punching bag for Christian preachers and teachers.  An easy foil for the Gospel Writers.  Even James Cagney famously shouted, “…..you dirty Pharisees!”.

Okay, I took some liberties there but you get the point.

Pharisees are BAD DUDES……right?

Well, no not at all really.  By any Christian Standard today, the Pharisees were pretty good dudes.

The Pharisees were men who wanted to obey God.  And so they spent a great deal of time trying to learn the will of God so that they could obey the will of God.

Hide the children.

If you met a Christian, and he told you that he was trying to obey God in all areas of his life, would you criticize him for that; call him names?

I don’t think so.

Do you really think that God became a man to go confront a bunch of guys who were trying to obey God with all their heart?  I mean, were Pharisees what was really wrong with the world?  Really?

No….and….yes.  What was wrong with the world was sin.  From a Chistian perspective, before a Perfect Eternal God whose nature demands perfect fidelity, we have since the first human sin, been  incapable of giving God this perfect fidelity.  And so upon our deaths, we experience a more profound death.  Lacking the perfect fidelity that would allow us to remain in Communion with God and thus continue to experience Life, we sink into a state of utter loneliness, sheol, hell.

Jesus didn’t walk upon the earth to shout down a bunch of do gooders who were really trying to be faithful and obey God.  Jesus walked on this earth so that people could experience the radical presence of God in Him.  He walked on this earth to do what us earth walkers are incapable of doing….that is obey God perfectly!

Jesus came to save us.

And here is the thing, though it is awesome that the Pharisees wanted to obey God with every fiber of their being….the cold hard truth is that when it comes to salvation…..it wasn’t  enough.

Let’s put it another way.  Have you ever met someone who has hit absolute rock bottom?   Sin, addiction, crime, whatever….and then they find God, find Jesus and turn their life around.  These people have an experience of Jesus that is incredible.  Why?  Because these people understand that they are sick.  They know that on their own, they can’t get it done.  They understand how much they need healing.  They understand how much they need Jesus.

And the primary danger of being a Pharisee or being a Pharisee-like Christian today…..is that sometimes, for some of us, we are so busy trying to obey God….that we forget we are still sick.

Sounds weird, I know.  But sometimes, we get so focused on doing the right thing  that it becomes too much about us….and our perfectness.   Now trust me, at this point the world should only be so lucky if our biggest problem was rampant dogooderism, I know.  But for us who are actively involved in the spiritual journey, this can be important to remember.

We don’t earn Grace with our Perfectness.  Rather, because of God’s free Gift of Love to Us, his Grace, it gives us the strength and courage to want to go Obey God.

Yet no matter how hard we try to Obey God in our own life, we must always remember that we are still critically, mortally wounded.  What we need is Jesus and his Forgiveness.  We can’t do this on our own.

What Jesus was really telling everybody was a very radical message to hear.  It certainly wasn’t “stop trying to obey God you silly hypocrites”.  The message was, “you need to start following me!”

And the point was this.  If you followed Jesus, and experienced the radical presence of God in your life…that would change everything.  Experiencing the presence of God in Jesus would cause you to recognize that you were sick….no matter how ‘bad’ or ‘good’ you had behaved.  You would repent, you would follow Jesus and then, not in expectation of a reward you knew you didn’t deserve anyways….but out of thanksgiving for the gift of God you had received in your life; you would then go out and obey God…and do good.

Jesus wasn’t really telling the Pharisees that  they were doing everything wrong.  He wasn’t telling his fellow Jews that their faith was a silly illusion.  Rather, Jesus was telling and offering them something new, something they had never been offered before.

Jesus was offering them….Jesus.

Hard to call some of the Pharisees losers for not following Jesus.  Most people that heard Jesus teach didn’t follow him.  Heck, we have the enormous advantage of a two thousand year faith tradition to lean on and yet many of us….don’t really follow Jesus.

So that’s the invitation today.  Are you ready to experience the Radical presence of God in your life by following Jesus?  If you can stop and recognize that you are Sick; that we are all Sick and that we need God;  if you can repent; if by receiving the Grace of God into your life you can lead a life of repentance; if in relying on the Grace of God you can obey God and yes, be a dogooder….well that would be a wonderful life indeed!

So, get off the backs of the Pharisees….after 2000 years, they are tired.  If you’ve got burdens, throw them on the back of Jesus, he can handle it.

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GrandpaGrandmaChris Faddis from the great Catholic site Living Gracefully (http://livinggracefully.net) was gracious enough to allow me to write this post for his site.  Go check out my article at his site (http://ow.ly/d7FP) and start following Chris and the great work he is doing!

 Note:  Although these are my Grandparents, this isn’t me; its one of my billion cousins 🙂

When I was a little boy, nights at my Grandparents’ farm always started out kind of rough.  My tiny bed was shoved against the window, and as I lay there trying to fall asleep, I would stare out the window at the half dead tree, listen to the creaky windmill, and scare myself awake.

Inevitably though, at some point, I would be saved by a familiar sound.

My Grandparents’ room was right below where my brothers and I would sleep, and every night, without fail, Pat and Bly McGill would hit their knees and pray the rosary.  The sound of their prayer calmed me down and helped me drift to sleep.

Whether it was going to sleep, waking up, or driving to the American legion baseball game in town, the constant in my grandparents’ marriage was prayer.

Years later, as my grandpa lay in a small town hospital close to death, it was prayer that once again calmed me down.  But this time it was the prayer of my Grandma Bly together with that of her 11 children and 62 grandchildren.  Together we sang Irish songs and prayed over the bed of this dear sweet man.  It was the most beautiful moment of my life.

The man who farmed all his life but never owned a piece of ground.  The man who, based on the world’s balance sheets was an abject failure.  This Pat McGill left the world guided by the prayer of 73 souls that he had brought into this world with the help of that special lady who stroked his hair and kissed his forehead until his final breath.

Pat and Bly McGill didn’t cure diseases.  Didn’t run countries.  Didn’t create mind bending products.  Didn’t do lots of today’s Great Things.

No, Pat and Bly McGill raised children and…..prayed.

Pretty simple, huh?

And boy do I complicate things.

I have at one time or another made marriage about satisfying my romantic fantasies, finding myself, changing my wife, not changing myself, continuing to be selfish, acting like a child, being undisciplined with money, having a fancy house, making tons of money, becoming famous, having people like me.  You get the point.

I know that my Grandparents weren’t perfect but by the time I got to know them, it was pretty clear that Pat and Bly made marriage about one thing; getting each other to heaven.

So they prayed….alot.

Thankfully, I have a wife who knows how to stand by her man and pray for her husband.  And after lots of prayers and a few difficult years, she and I are finally on the same page.

And guess what?  She doesn’t need me to be famous at something.  She also doesn’t need a brand new designer house.  In fact, she doesn’t need nor want a lot of the things that I’ve been wasting time trying to get.

She has made it clear that what she really wants is a Husband who is a good man.  One who prays with her and helps her to get to Heaven.

Now, at nights, my wife and I pray the rosary from our living room as our six little children sleep nearby.  I hope they hear us and I hope the familiar sound of their parents praying comforts them at night when they are scared.

I’m no longer a little boy….but I still get scared.  And I mostly get scared of dying.  Sometimes late at night, when I wonder about what’s really waiting for me on the other side….I feel two comforts.

The one is my wife, next to me in bed.  I know she will fight and scrape and claw and do anything she can to help me get to Heaven.

The other comfort is the sound I can now just faintly hear.  No longer coming from downstairs.  This familiar sound now comes from above.  It is the sound of my Grandparents, still praying.  They may have gotten each other into Heaven….but there’s still me and a bunch of souls left.

And that wonderful thought helps me drift off to sleep.

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