Category Archives: Spiritual Growth

Birthing a Warrior

COMMONS-CREDIT-TOnordic_warrior_by_tansy9-d336dr4I have done things no one else would contemplate. I have risked and lost, I have loved the most broken and vulnerable creatures and people. I have chosen in one instance to forgive, in another to smite my enemies with a vengeance and delight that would cause even my brothers in battle to avert their eyes. I have known an awesome and humbling power which compels others to conscript themselves to my cause, come ignominy or glory, death or brilliant life, riches or regrets. I have lain awake and known the gravity of the universe.

Yet today I hold the keys to greater means, influence, and creative power than I have ever imagined. From humble, damaged roots I have adopted tools of the masters, Robbins, Hill, Rand, Peale, the words of my Lord and Savior, and thereby hewn a rough path for myself, a circuitous but victorious journey to this plateau and that vista, ever searching in vain for the narrow way of peace, self-knowledge, real power. I have glimpsed it, ever out of reach, but here and there have come close enough to detect the scent of the fertile peat that lays along the edge of the way of greatness.

I am now, with my work, my children, my wife, at a place where my path must end, where there is no safety or solace in trudging along on the wits and talents with which I came screaming and naked into this world. I must do, see, and become more than even I can imagine, yet as I submit. Those powers and that intellect others made note of, envied, flattered, I now know were as parlor tricks for their amusement and my own. Squandered. Yet the blush of youth has left my cheek, and there is no wizened sage who will appear to point to the error of my ways; I myself must define the moment. I must, in fact, let my light illuminate for my own earthly father the first step on the path of his enlightenment, as with my own children: by my example – while bearing only my burdens and not what is theirs to carry.

I know when I reach the path of my destiny, obscured as it is by that wispy layer in the rarefied peaks and planes above, I will come to a serene pool and be able to look down into it and see revealed my sanctified countenance, that which God sees when he gazes upon my soul. But as I have experienced in my marriage, in the eyes of my children, those who catch the vision of my business, I must allow the faith placed in me by others to help light my way to those awaiting realities and vistas.

For I can see greatness of potential in others, in ideas, in the world around me – yet I often stand as an artillery-shocked trooper, unable to find my way out of the front from which I fight. Unable to rebuke my own demons and cast them into the putrid craters of the battlefield where they belong. Unable to claim my destiny, even as I take yet another enemy stronghold, rescue another villager on my way to that very place I’ve only vaguely imagined.

I now know there is no hill I cannot take, no gift my Father would withhold from me. Yet, the thirst to taste another bottle of pillaged wine, or even to hoist my flag from another ridge has waned. The battle of without has run its course; to be, to do, to have anything of meaning and permanence, I must lay down my sword and face the battle within.

It is said, “Know thyself”. I am ready to leave it all on the field in exchange for even one moment, face to face with the future and the fullness of who I AM.

RainbowShip

Tides of Change, Shoals of Commitment

For some time I have been aware that change in my life was coming. While I believe that I have been pursuing what God put me on this Earth to do, I knew that as written in Ecclesiastes, there is a time and a season for every purpose under Heaven.

I know in my bones, the sun is setting on this season in my life.

Yet also I have long held a core belief that my life should be lived on my terms, not terms dictated by others. Living by those terms means taking action and responsibility. Commitments, relationships, expectations develop. Therein lies a natural dilemma.

What to do when the tides of change threaten to dash me against the shoals of commitment?

For weeks now, perhaps months, my ship has drifted. I do what I must to stay afloat, but fail to chart a course decisively. Questions plague me as I gaze toward the gray horizon, as I lie down and as I wake: How will I navigate? Will I founder on the rocks approaching beneath the water’s surface? Who will I leave behind on the shores, disappointed, angry, or in need? Yet, these worries are the sure way toward Death.

My ally, my love, my partner in all endeavors, has lost her eye for the compass and the sextant. She cannot help me in turning the craft about, in plotting by the map and according to the signs in the sky. We kiss away tears of our children, break bread in the galley, partake of love in the night as the moon dances atop the points of restless waves.

Yet for whatever reason, God has left this task to me, and me alone. This in itself is a sign, a test of anchor, of the sinews of my soul straining against the depths.

But chart a course, and set sail I must. My family are on board, trusting my hand is upon the rudder. The tide rolls. Danger lies in drifting.

Missions and dreams unfulfilled, vistas unseen, await.

Charting a course takes quiet hours in observation topside, in peaceful candlelight of the bowels of my quarters. Uninterrupted by the daily catch, the toil and bustle of the scrubbing and the rigging.

Perhaps today I can only take the first steps: Sounding the depths beneath me, gauging the distance to dangerous water, and selecting a new shore for which to set out. Without these, a new course cannot be charted. My soul cries out this prayer,

Heavenly Father, still the waters again with your mighty hand,
Calm the swells and the winds in my heart,
That I may envision a new land upon which to alight.
A promised land upon which your faithful servants will plant our feet,
To tame, to cultivate, to adventure, to lie beneath a verdant canopy upon velvet fronds
Squinting through cracks of sunlight falling gold and warm, a reflection
Of your glory as we rest in the shadow of your wings.

Amen and Amen.

Downsize Your Life and Stress Level – Sort, Sell, Simplify

by Christian LeFer – I recently did a Business Brainstorming video where I proposed a number of ideas for replacing or enhancing one’s income in our tough economy. Some workable, some less so.

One of the five ideas I cooked up was a business that helps people get rid of their unneeded stuff. That idea spurred this video. The subject is a bit ironic coming from me, an unabashed capitalist who is not opposed to people owning as many things as they want.

The reason I stumbled upon that idea is that my wife Allison and I are actually going through that exercise right now: Systematically getting rid of all non-essential stuff that occupies the crevices of junk drawers, closets and much of the garage I no longer have practical use of.

And make no mistake, it’s daunting. But just like the first time you hit the gym after a sedentary stretch, just imagining yourself thinner, more physically fit, or in possession of less junk makes one feel a little bit better and helps you pull through the work, and maybe even enjoy the sweat.

This idea, which I call “Sort, Sell, and Simplify” is not just an exercise program to help your household become more nimble and svelte, it has all the markings of a movement. Shows like Pawn Stars, Storage Wars, and even Antique Road Show in part appeal to people’s latent interest in the value in the junk buried in their basement, garrisoned in their garage.

For many decades, nearly early every gainfully employed family in America has stuff, and lots of it they don’t need. Now, nearly everyone is more carefully making the cut of what to collect, what to keep, and what to cut.

And here’s my caveat, a quote borrowed from uber-entrepreneur Tim Ferris’ book, The Four-Hour Workweek:

And mind you, this is not just for the cold hard cash, but it’s also gratifying for the soul – our “stuff” comes to own us, instead of the other way around.

Three questions my family is asking as we consider what to will make the cut:

  1. Do we need it?
    1. We often buy things because of the feeling we get from the purchase – because of what the thing says about us – not for rational reasons. From the pious Prius Hybrid driver to the Type-A Hummer road warrior, the psychology outweighs the ecology and the utility, hands-down. If you disagree, you are probably lying to yourself, even if only in part.
    2. A great example is the Carbon-Fiber Road bike sitting in my garage. It’s not the bike, it’s what it says about me. I picture myself tooling down the road, clippied into my pedals, on a smooth, straight road. The problem is, I live in Montana, which limits both the season and the suitable riding area. So I take my mountain bike. The featherlight Tour-de-France model is just not practical.
  2. Can it be replaced?
    1. Example: Luggage, tools. This market guarantees you can replace most commonly available things.
    2. Just as we have more avenues to sell things on the Internet today, we also have more avenues to re-acquire them later, if and when we really need them. This should help relieve the “separation anxiety” associated with giving up our prized (but unneeded) possessions.
  3. Should we sell, or give it away?
    1. It can be a fun family exercise to decide how you can bless other people you know specifically with things you are giving up.
    2. It’s easy and also personally rewarding to give items to Goodwill and other cause outlets. Not only does the outlet thrive due to your donation, but the person who buys that item for $5 is happy they found it.
    3. When it comes to selling, we have more avenues than ever to not only rid ourselves of this kind of stuff, eBay, craigslist, and numerous other outlets exist on a local and national level. And keep in mind, video sells, (not just for cars and motorcycles, but for less “sexy” items like tools) – it’s easier than ever to shoot a smartphone video, and its free.

The second irony? All of the things we buy, we really buy in pursuit of better quality of life. Yet, it is those very things that, as they fall into disuse or disrepair, become a weight on the timbers of our soul just as they strain the rafters in the attic.

So don’t wait for “spring cleaning” that might never happen. Take advantage of the winter months, take advantage of NOW. Go ahead, take the plunge.

Go minimalist.

You won’t regret it.