Lent 12


I don’t feel like I “sprang ahead” with the time change this past weekend. I definitely feel like I have fallen behind. I thought that was supposed to be in November. I supposed my great disdain for “Daylight Savings” is neither here nor there. And anything else I might say about that is probably of little consequence to folks in most parts of Arizona or Hawaii.

A friend recently said that it is completely untrue and usually an excuse when people say “I’d really like to __________ but I can never find the time.” I appreciate the sentiment, even if I don’t completely agree. We spend a lot of our time doing things we have to, or at least things we feel we should do. I arrived home from at 7 pm, after a long day of work and picking up prescriptions at the pharmacy after work. I ate dinner with Amanda and the kids. To my pleasant surprise, the kids had their homework done when I got home. I only had to argue with my daughter for 15 minutes to get her to do her 20 minutes of daily reading. We snuggled and watched Animal Planet. They went to bed late (9:30). The alarm is going to go off at 5:30 am in the morning.

I did not feel like throwing their laundry into the washer tonight at 10, after spending a few minutes with Amanda that were all too rushed. And frankly I didn’t feel like sitting down to write tonight. I have kind of felt like it has been looming over me all day. But I have committed to this exercise. And Amanda encourages and supports it because she knows how good it is for me (even if it makes me a little crazy at times).

Balance has never been something that comes easy for me. My first psychologist was a huge proponent of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and rightly diagnosed that I struggle with cognitive distortions. Some popular examples are:

  • Filtering

We magnify negative details and filter out positive aspects of a situation

  • Polarized/”Black and White” Thinking

Either/or, all or nothing, little room for grey, little room for complexity

  • Overgeneralization

Consistently expecting negative outcomes based on little, or even a singular bad experience

  • Personalization.

We tend to think what others do or say is directed at us, direct response to our words or actions, rather than stemming from their own shit

  • Shoulds

We have a list of  rules embedded in our heads for how things should go and how people should behave for each situation and get disappointed, hurt or even enraged when life doesn’t bend to those rules

  • Emotional Reasoning.

I feel like something is true, so it is.

  • Labeling

Generalizing, usually of negative qualities, and placing labels on ourselves or others: I’m a loser. He’s a jerk.

This is a very condensed version and only about a 1/3 of the widely accepted list. But maybe you can see where things would get complicated from time to time. Perhaps you can see how the importance of keeping healthy balance in life might come into play. I am not a loser if I fail at something at work or if I hurt someone I love. I may need to step up performance or make amends. But all is not lost. I had some hard “shoulds” in my head for this blog series, as far as content, length, and time of day for posting. I have not stuck to that list very well. Too often, this is enough for me to just throw in the towel. But I can’t. I won’t do that. I believe growth is happening. And it is important for me, if for no other reason than to provide myself an example of positive follow through.

I have not failed if I don’t cleverly frame each post with an explicitly Lenten theme. I am not a loser if I post this at 11:55 pm. In fact, I have not failed if life happens and I miss a day. And that is no reason for giving up and turning my nose up at the computer the next day, if that should happen.

I have some good things formulating. Some things that I think are really worth saying. They are some things about my jobs in customer service and my time in ministry and some unfortunate similarities and a few ways that life in these two paths is completely dissimilar. I really wanted to write that tonight. Throughout much of life if something was on the tip of my tongue, I have too rarely stepped back and evaluated and waited to bring a more thoughtful and nuanced word to the table. I have done the same with writing: I have rushed to share poems that were fantastic ideas, but got half of the love and time they deserved and threw them on the scrap pile when they fell on deaf ears. I have spent sleepless nights trying to write something on a blog a 800 word comment on Facebook, only to find myself deleting or editing and re-editing over and over the next day.

Not everything is so urgent. There are, to be sure, horrific fucking catastrophes in this world. But what happens on a blog or on social media is rarely one of them. I am eschewing a lot of labels, some really ingrained black & white thought patterns and more than a few “shoulds” to say something honest and true about some thought patterns I really struggle with. I may be a bit wobbly. But I am finding my balance. One foot at a time. One keystroke at a time. And maybe later this week I can offer something resembling a more coherent reflection on the overlap between selling merchandise and selling Jesus.

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