When You Bump Your Head

Do you remember the feelings of frustration, determination, and excitement as you took your first steps?

Of course, you don’t. Well, more than likely you don’t remember that far back.

For those of us that don’t remember learning to walk, it’s good to remember that it was a bit of a bumpy and difficult process. God really knew what He was doing when He created babies to have a little extra junk in their trunk in order to support all the falls.

My nephew has been walking for about a month now. It has been awesome to see his legs become steadier and his falls become a tad less frequent. But he still trips, he still stumbles, and he still utilizes his built-in cushion quite a bit.

It is neat to see his confidence grow though. We have this game we play, I walk somewhere and he follows me, it’s simple and silly but it’s the most fun thing in the world to him.

I was watching him follow me down the hallway, and when he saw that I was watching, his smile grew, and he began to pick up speed. He was booking it! Faster and faster straight towards my open arms. It was at the exact moment that he was just barely still out of my reach that he suddenly swayed back and lost his balance. Normally this would not be a big deal but because of his access speed, he went down harder and faster than expected. His little legs went flying up in the air as he tumbled backward and all I could hear was the gut-punching sound of his head hitting the floor.

A half a second later, tears.

I scooped him up, grabbed an ice pack, and hugged him tightly.

After a few moments he calmed down, tears/snot was wiped away, and he snuggled into my arms. I thought, “ok, well that’s the end of that for now.”

But what happened next surprised and inspired me. He started to wiggle.

With a smile, he wiggled until I finally put him back down on the floor. The instant his feet touched the ground he was off again. He triumphantly power walked right past the spot he had fallen and continued to move undeterred and unafraid.

A few minutes later he fell again, but that beside the point.

The point is, he didn’t let a hard fall take him out of the game.

Too often in life, we let hard falls take us out of the game.

Life is messy and frustrating and hurtful. It is pretty much guaranteed that we will bump our head a time or two or hundred. But what really matters is how we respond to that bump.

Do we shrink away? Do we get angry? Do we blame others? Do we feel sorry for ourselves? Or do we trust in God to pick us back up and keep moving forward?

In the book of Philippians, Paul, who was knocked down plenty of times, by the way, talks about pressing on towards the ultimate and final goal.

“…I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Paul had been broken and beaten down time after time again, but he did not allow bumps on the head (or even his accomplishments for that matter) to keep him from straining towards the goal. He got back up and continued to be used by God. He got back up, kept his eye focused on Jesus, and shared the good news of God’s love.

When you bump your head don’t give up. Allow God to scoop you up. Keep moving forward. Keep straining forward to what lies ahead. Press on to the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16–18)

Pride Comes Before The Card Game

I am not perfect.

I hope that is not ground-breaking news to you.

Each week, and day for that matter, it is apparent that I am still in process. Thankfully God loves to work in and through us, in-process-people. God will use small things/events in our lives in order to refine us and develop our character.

Ultimately, the goal is that each day we look more like Jesus than we did the previous day.

Just a few days ago my wife and I were invited to a good friend’s house for a game night. Our friends introduced us to a new card game we have never played before. We were all a bit hyper and having loads of fun. After the first round, I still didn’t fully understand the game, but there was one thing that was crystal clear. I was winning….by a lot.

Now, I need to explain something for a moment. I am a tad bit of what you might call a “competitive person.” With that being said, for a couple of years now I have been working very hard to become less competitive. Sometimes with success, sometimes not so much. The other night was one of those “not so much” nights.

After I won the first round I made sure to let everyone around the table know about it. We were already having a fun time, but I made sure to let everyone know that I was, in fact, having just a bit more fun than everyone else. After the next round, I was still in the lead and it seemed near impossible that the outcome would be anything but my ultimate victory.

I was feeling good, I was bragging, my pride was oozing out.

And that’s when it happened. I lost the next three rounds. And when I say “I lost the next three rounds” I really mean to say, every bad and negative thing that could happen to someone in the game only happened to me during those three rounds.

In a matter of minutes, I went from “there is no way I can lose” to, “there is absolutely no way I can win.”

As I began to sulk I remembered Proverbs 16:18. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” And also, 1 Corinthians 10:12, “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” And Proverbs 11:2, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.”

Talk about a wake-up call. If I was able to get so prideful of a couple of short rounds of a game, what other things in life am I capable of becoming prideful in an ungodly and unhealthy way? I’m gonna go out on a limb and say, I’m not the only one who has had a realization like this.

Pride is so dangerous because it leads us to think that we can stand on our own strength, and it causes us to selfishly keep glory that we do not deserve. Well, we cannot stand on our own strength, we are incapable of doing anything of eternal significance on our own strength alone. Additionally, God alone deserves all the glory and honor, there is nothing that we are, or have done, that hasn’t been given to/done for us by God.

Pride lies to us and tells us that we are doing okay and don’t need anyone else. That couldn’t be further from the truth. We are so much weaker than we realize. We need others and above all, we need God.

There is no room for pride in the life of a person who is fully devoted to God. We need to do better. I need to do better. Thankfully, God gives us little reminders and teaches us small lessons during card games to show us how we need to grow. Let’s pay attention to those lessons and allow God to be at work in our hearts.

Lord, tear down our pride and make us more like Jesus.

“To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” -1 Timothy 1:17

The Long Journey to the Pie

Pie is always a good idea.

Pie is an even better idea when it is shared with friends.

Not too long ago I got together with some good old friends. It was a typical “guys” night. Way too many buffalo wings, lots of laughter, and a sad realization that we all are a lot older than we used to be. As the night wore on everyone threw out options for what we should do next.

We stood in the parking lot for a solid 15 minutes trying to decide.

  • Go-karting? Too expensive.
  • Mini Golf? Too lame.
  • Video games back at so-and-so’s house? The baby was asleep.
  • Pie? Perfect.

“Why don’t we just walk there!?” I exclaimed. “It’s literally right down the street!” My idea was met with a lot of enthusiasm and even called, “the best plan of the night.”

So, we set off walking. And it was just about a half a block into our journey that I realized the pie place was quite a bit further than I had originally thought. Our short walk was not going to be short at all.

After about 10 minutes the group caught on that our walk was no small stroll. One person even asked if we should turn back and just drive. But the collective answer was, “No. We have come this far. The pie will be worth it.”

And let me tell you, the pie certainly was worth every step of that brutally long (I’m exaggerating just a bit) walk. At the table, one of my friends suggested I write a blog about the event (this is your shout-out Steve) and so here it is.

And here is the point…

Often times our journeys turn out to be a lot longer than expected, and that’s OK.

Many of us are faced with situations and seasons that cause pain, frustration, and fear. Maybe for you, it’s a frustrating situation at work. Or a broken relationship with someone you love. Or maybe you are dealing with health problems that just don’t seem to go away. Or maybe you are like my wife and I and are waiting to adopt and experiencing the pain of childlessness. Whatever your journey is, it may seem unbearable, or at least unbearably long.

But we must patiently endure and pray that God would help us to be content.

Proverbs 16:9 is clear that even though we may have our own plans ultimately it is God who directs our journey. “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

And because it is the Lord who “establishes our steps” we need to remember that He knows what He is doing. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

As I walk through my own unexpectedly long journey I find comfort knowing that God is with me through it all. King David knew that truth as well. In the 23rd Psalm, he wrote about walking through terrible, dark, and deadly times, but he did not fear. Why? Because he knew that God was with him. We need to remember that truth as well.

The journey may be long, but we have a wonderful companion.

We also need to learn to be content in the midst of our journey. Now, please understand that contentment isn’t just simply saying, “I guess I’m fine with this for now.” Contentment is saying, “Lord, if I have nothing else in life other than you, I am ok with that. Because you have already given me everything I need, and you are what I want above all else.”

If you are reading this and you resonate with the frustrations of a longer-than-expected journey I want you to know that I am praying for you. I am praying that God will give us the strength to endure, joy in the midst of pain, and peace that can only be found in Him.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

Say What?

Communication is hard.

It took me a solid four minutes to settle on that first sentence. I typed a few initial sentences out only to highlight and delete them seconds later. I even went back and changed a few words in that previous sentence before writing this one. And now I am writing this sentence in an attempt to explain to you just how difficult good communication can be.

Clear and helpful communication takes times and effort.

We all have a lot of words floating around in our heads. And most of us, are able to put those words together into a coherent string of sentences in order to communicate a specific point or idea. The problem, however, is that sometimes what we say is not what we mean. And what people hear is not always what was intended.

Years ago, I was with some friends in a tea shop in Prague. There was a wide variety of loose leaf teas on display behind the counter and, after deliberation, I had made up my mind, I wanted the Early Grey. I walked up to the clerk, who still had not said one word to my friends and me, and I began to order.

But at the exact moment I opened my mouth I realized three things.

First, I wasn’t actually sure how to order loose leaf tea. Did I order a container? A bag? What wording should I use?

Second, I didn’t know if the clerk spoke English or not. Should I try to speak Czech and make a fool out of myself?

Third, if I did make a fool out of myself I knew my friends would mercilessly make fun of me.

I panicked. What I wanted to communicate was… “excuse me, do you speak English? If so, I would like to purchase some tea. However, I am unsure of how it comes packaged. Can you please assist me?”

What actually came out of my mouth was, “Um, how do I tea?”

The clerk looked at me strangely, and I quickly recovered with, “I’m so sorry. Do you speak English?”

Her response, “Yes. Do you?”

Now, that’s a funny example of bad communication, but at that moment there wasn’t all that much at stake. However, there is always something at stake when we communicate with spouses, our children, friends, co-workers, and bosses.

It is important for us to communicate well, especially when there is a problem or frustration that needs to be addressed. When we have a difficulty with someone, we show that we care about them by being conscientious with our communication.

So here are four principles of communication that can be found in the Bible. I must state that these initial principles or rules are not original with me. I simply am passing on what I have learned from others, and hopefully, you can pass it on as well.

Four Principles of Communication

Found in Ephesians 4:25-32

1- Be Honest -found in verse 25

There are three ways that this rule can be broken:

An outright lie -Yes, this includes “white” lies.

Deception -Not telling the whole truth or intentionally misleading.

Avoidance -Not talking about the issue because it is hard to deal with.

2- Keep Current -found in verse 26

Deal with the issue or situation immediately, or at least as soon as feasibly possible. Stop what you are doing and devote time to figuring it out. Don’t let things fester.

3- Attack the Problem, Not the Person -found in verse 29

Attacking the person gets you off topic and brings up other issues you haven’t yet dealt with. Usually, you end up saying something out of emotion that you really don’t mean. Also, avoid using absolutes. “You always…” “You never…” Absolutes normally are untrue and unfair.

4- Act Biblically- Don’t React -found in verses 31-32

Act in a way that honors God and the other person. Avoid reacting to situations. Think through the situation, then act in a way that is consistent with how God has called you to live.