Five Minute Sherpa

an espresso shot of thoughtful guidance

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On Healing

The way we heal the wounds in our lives is to tell the story. Tell the story of your harm over and over again until you are no longer limited and harmed by what has happened. This is the essence of therapy … to become familiar with our own truths (and lies) and live honest and peaceable lives.

You cannot do this alone. We are not unbiased about our wounds, nor the words we use to describe our experiences. We need others to hear our stories, and to help us to see parts that we’d rather not see. Parts that we hate.

Untold stories (secrets) poison our hope, dreams, and relationships. Yes, there is much pain in these stories but pain is only there because there has been a fracture of relationship. Just like cold is not it’s own created thing, it is the absence of heat, so too is pain. Pain only exists because a relationship (love) has been broken.

If we cannot forgive those we hate the most (and this doesn’t mean that we have to like the person we’re forgiving), we will never be able to accept the forgiveness of others. Telling our secrets—our stories—is the process of grief, of forgiveness.

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Myth #1: Divorce Pain is Temporary

This post is part of a series in response to an article about reasons not to be afraid of a divorce. The bolded first sentence/statement are the words from the author in the linked article. The following comments are my opinions in response. Read the introduction to this series of posts here first.

Myth #1 – ”Divorce pain is temporary.

Temporary pain means that whatever causes the pain wasn’t that significant to begin with. We make pain temporary by escaping and numbing ourselves. Ultimately the pain resulting from a divorce does not just affect the couple, it affects an entire community.

Marriages are an essential building block of how our communities were formed. Yet we are increasingly viewing marriage like it’s shopping mall. When we don’t get the desired product, we return it, go to another store and get different one. Disposable relationships cannot hold love for long, thus they cannot hold pain for long either. Find me someone who has lost a child that says the pain is no longer there. It’s just not true. Marriage has been reduced to a pursuit of happiness, which creates an untenable position: ‘If you don’t make me happy, someone else will.’

Marriage is an unseen fabric that binds our homes, restaurants, businesses, and community together. Without the marriage fabric there would be a chaotic “free-for-all,” making every man, woman, and child available for whatever pursuit the moment called for. Marriage provides the safety and protection for a community. By staying, loving, and committing to my marriage, I am allowing and asking for you to do the same.


Typically, a marriage happens before friends and family allowing for new friendships to be forged. If that marriage ends, it fractures these relationships. It’s like two cities that have been connected by a bridge. When that bridge is destroyed, so too are the comings and goings of those cities. My people stay my people, and the same for you and your people.

Unfortunately, as divorce has become more common, the strength of our communities has deteriorated, thus leading to more divorce. I rarely hear a couple talk about what is best for “us”, instead most talk about what is best for me, and what I’m not getting. The pervasive idea is this: “I deserve to be happy. I want what I want when I want it. To hell with anyone, including my spouse, who stands in my way.”

The pain in life is temporary because we want it to be. Divorce is no different. We humans are pretty adept at finding ways to escape from our pain. Very few people actually travel the road of healing by facing the pain they feel. This reality is true for all aspects of life, not just marriage. It’s why relapse rates for addictions are so high. The more we escape pain the more entrenched we become in our habits.

Like a piece of candy, pleasure is short lived and always leaves the consumer desiring more. If the pain of a divorce is short lived, it’s because the orientation of the marriage was towards immediate gratification. We wouldn’t marry if self-gratification delivered the goodness of life we all desire.

Marriages will never thrive if happiness is the sole purpose of the relationship. The hope of marriage is that my spouse will be as oriented towards love as I am. If we can join together in that love, the pain of ending that hope would deter pursuits of divorce, not encourage it.

Next Up — Myth #2: “Society says divorce is bad, that may not be true.”

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Debunking the Myths of Divorce

Several weeks ago I ran across this article from Cherilynn Veland, a clinical social worker, giving women 15 reasons why not to be afraid of divorce. The author takes what she considers cultural myths, and debunks them to give women support in their divorce process. In some ways, I understand where she’s coming from. Historically women have not been treated as equals to men, and this has caused much pain, especially in the context of marriage.

This much is true: Our culture, and we’re not the first, objectifies women. Turn on the TV and within a couple of minutes the message is loud and clear: Women are sex objects. This creates an incredible tension to speak up and have a voice because boobs, legs, and vaginas don’t have voices. Seeing women as subjects, not objects, is not something we men are very good at doing. We tend to try and fix (often times fixing is relational violence), which presupposes that we have the answers, and that she, the woman, is broken and needs our fixing.

The institution of marriage is a subset of the larger culture. Great harm has been done to women in the name of religion, gender norms, and cultural values. These realities are not spoken to in Ms. Veland’s article, which I think is a massive oversight. Advice is often easy to give when we give little to no consideration to the cultural contexts.

As I was reading the article, I was struck by two things. First, nestled right next to the article is a visual advertisement for a TV show titled: “A Girlfriends Guide to a Divorce.” It pictures a woman, clearly happy and/or excited, holding up her left hand ring finger (clearly a middle-finger to marriage) with the caption, “go find yourself.” The message is clear: Marriage is holding you back from being who you’re supposed to be, so “screw” (PG version) marriage.

The second thing I noticed was how shallow the advice was from the author. I began working on counterpoints to her 15 reasons of why divorce doesn’t have to be scary. I work with a lot of people struggling to make a decision on their marriage. I am unabashedly pro-marriage (which will clearly come through over the forthcoming dozen-plus posts), but of equal importance I am am pro-growth.

Ultimately I believe the the greatest opportunity for growth in our lives comes through the conflicts we share with our spouse. Most marriages work really hard to avoid conflicts, which inevitably leads to failure because couples develop no strength to handle difficulties together. I see so many men and women doubling down on follow-up relationships after a divorce only to find out that their problems have followed them.

My hope in writing these rebuttals to the above article is to promote opportunities for growth in the context of marriage, especially if there are children involved. Even with an in depth understanding of the effects from divorce on children and society, people will still choose to divorce. Perhaps something written over the next several weeks might provide a glimmer of hope to a marriage in crisis. These are my opinions largely formed and influenced over the past 10+ years in my work with individuals and couples surrounding issues like marriage, sexuality, addictions, and divorce.

Myth #1 – Divorce pain is temporary.
Myth #2 – 
Society says divorce is bad, that may not be true.
Myth #3 – Miserable and Married
Myth #4 – Forever is a Long Freaking Time

Note: This series will be published regularly over the next several months, so if you want to follow, make sure you subscribe (top right side of page) to receive notification when the next article is posted. 

 

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Just One Point

I did good. It was my wife’s 30th birthday, and I had the ultimate celebration for her.

We were in our first year of grad school in Seattle, thousands of miles away from friends and family. She was a bit homesick, and just beginning to understand that any season other than Summer means lots of grey skies and rain.

I arranged for some of her closest friends to send her a teacup that was unique to her, and write a note explaining the selection. On her birthday morning, the kids and I setup a tea party and she unwrapped a dozen teacups to complete the setup. It was glorious, and I was feeling quite proud of myself. She felt celebrated and all was well for that day.

I felt like I’d earned the mother lode of “points.” You know, “points” being the relational banking system (which I’m sure was created by men, for men) that illustrate how much one cares for another person. I was convinced that I’d proven my dad’s theory wrong that men can only earn one point per day with their wife.

If you’re not familiar with the point system, it’s pretty simple. Regardless of how great the act of service, expensive the gift, or sacrificial the behavior: Men earn one single point that says they loved their wife well. This point is non-transferable, expires at midnight, and cannot be redeemed on any other day than the day it was earned. It’s somewhat of a joke in our family that even if a husband buys his wife a diamond ring, he only earns a single point. It’s only funny because it is true.

This illustrates one of the great challenges men face in relationships. We want to fix, which is rooted in our nature that we are made for work. Fixing is a part of the drive that men use to make their mark on this world. Intuitively, men know that there is an infinite amount of work that is required in relationships. Searching for that elusive multiple-point gift or act is an ever present goal.

If there were such a gift or act that could solve the relational demands of a marriage, it would reduce marriage into an objective. This objective is what we men say we want, but it’s not what we are made for. The reality is that men don’t want to spend all day working in their jobs to then come home and do more work in their relationship. As a man, I don’t find fault in this desire but I do understand the challenges it presents in relationships. The mystery of a relationship is what creates the context for marriage.

Marriage is a divine mystery, and is something that we unknowingly admit when we get married. We join in this ceremony of matrimony that is far greater and bigger than the two people gathered at the alter. If the goal is to solve this mystery, it requires a view of marriage that is centered around a need we all, men and women, have for ultimate security. There is little security in a mystery, conversely there is little security in marriage. The security we hope to have is worked for and earned, which gives credence to the truth of the “point system.”

Many studies have shown that lottery winners end up worse off because of the wealth they luckily won. They no longer need to work, thus they no longer have purpose. Similarly, earning a lifetime of points in marriage would create an absence of work, an absence of purpose. Instead of hoping to earn multiple points in marriage, we men need to view the process of “earning points” with our wives as a process of getting to know them better. Not for the sake of arriving, but for the process of the journey.

(article originally published at Start Marriage Right)

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Finding Light in the Darkness

(c) http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2013/04/20/news/final-shootout-in-boston

Celebrations in Boston after the news of the 2nd bombing suspect being captured.                                                                                Image curtsey of MN Public Radio.

Over the past week the people of this country have once again proven one of the most powerful human laws: Grief brings people together. This reality struck me on a number of levels last week as we watched an entire city be terrorized by two young men, a small town shaken by a tragic explosion, and a suburb locked down for almost 24 hours for a manhunt. I’m always amazed at how the experience of grief unites and connects people. No other experience matches it.

Each of these events, though two of them one of the same, brought to light the same story told over and over again throughout history. When people are unnecessarily hurting, we gather as friends, not enemies. We hug, cry, celebrate, and dance together.

Friday night after the second Boston gunman was caught, the celebration rang throughout the country. There were no party lines, no religious differences, and no declarations of morality. We were all united. United simply by the same goal we all share: To be treated fairly and respected. Tragedy breaks down walls.

I hate tragedy, but I respect it’s unjust place in life. We cannot keep it from happening, but we can keep fighting on behalf of good.

Tragedy doesn’t bring darkness, it invites light.

Tragedy says, “Look over here, I am broken, vulnerable, and afraid. I wish for peace, but cannot guarantee it for myself or my loved ones. Come some light, shine in the darkness and bring hope to this scary, uneasy, and very lonely place.”

In the end, tragedy exhausts the callused. Tragedy invites allegiance to the common good, the commonality that all humans share … the commonality that goes deeper than sexual preference, religious affiliation, or political party lines. Tragedy is an invitation. And in the end, tragedy is what fuels the sleepless nights on a manhunt.

Though I would never wish any semblance of human suffering to befall anyone, nor myself, I know of no other way to grow than through adversity. Adversity of the soul is the only way the soul is stretched, challenged, and matured.

Understandably, depending on where one is in the process of acceptance, the message that tragedy invites might be offensive. I too have felt this truth in my life because coming to accept my human finitude requires first that I find the end of myself, and thus find the beginning of Something larger, greater.

If you want to see “United We Stand” in action, visit a hospital waiting room. Atheists pray, grown men cry, enemies embrace, and the Tin Man gets his heart.

There are few experiences in this life that are as sacred as the grounds of grief. If you look closely, the light is ushering you to come forth from your hiding place to be welcomed and loved by friends and strangers alike.

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5 Virtues of Marriage

Looking back over the past year is one of my favorite traditions. I get to remember the ups and downs, the growth that occurred, and see what themes continually show up. This is the first year that I’ve applied this to my professional life, probably because it’s the first full year I’ve had as a private practician (previously having split my time in a non-profit agency). In looking back over the past year, I’ve seen an emphasis on 5 different virtues about marriage.


1. Choosing marriage is choosing to give up control of your life.
I cannot emphasize this virtue any stronger: Marriage will cost you your life. If you value your own authority, singleness, or ego more than that of others, do not get married. Choosing marriage will require you to give up control of your life. You will make decisions that will affect at least two people (more later when you have kids), and this is a very difficult change from that of a single life. It might be the best gift ever given to a single person, and it’s the costliest.In a very real way, marriage is much like salvation. In accepting God’s plan and will for your life, you are setting aside your own to be submissive his his plan. This means that you’re an active participant in his plan, but your life is not about your happiness. Marriage is about giving up of ones life for the sake of the other, which translates to a giving up of control.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for another” (John 15:13).

“You complete me,” might be one of the most famous lines in the movie Jerry Maguire, and it might be the most misleading. Marriage will offer you the unique and unparalleled opportunity to grow. Marriage will not fill you, rather it  will make you more aware of your emptiness and need for God, and only God. Unfortunately there is no real way that Hollywood can show more than an infatuated love. So we don’t get a real picture as to what mature, longstanding love looks like. Instead we get a glimpse of the joy and warm fuzzy love that we all want to have. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it’s not a lasting version of love.

2. Couples that protect pain from happening are preventing intimacy (connections) from developing.
Its no secret that people don’t like pain. It’s also no secret that being in a close relationship is an inevitable date with pain. The challenge is viewing pain as though it is a gift, not the plague. Pain is not fun, but neither is numbness. I don’t know about you, but when I leave the dentist after getting a shot of Novocain, I cannot wait for it to wear off. The feeling of not controlling half of my face is miserable (not to mention the inability to know when I’m drooling). We were not made to be numb, we were made to feel.

The poet Mary Oliver penned this line, and it speaks well to the realities couples face: “I was once given a box full of darkness, it took me many years to realize that this too was a gift.” Pain shapes our lives either in our acceptance of it or our refusal to experience it. Creating a space for pain to be a welcomed guest in your marriage will serve you well. This is the task of every marriage: To create and develop a philosophy of dealing with pain. You will raise the next generation of people based on how you and your spouse engage each other in times of pain.

3. Marriage is a muscle: Use it or lose it.
Marriage takes work, and will not naturally grow on it’s own. It takes consistent time and energy much like your muscles. If you were to sit all day every day for a year, you would notice a significant amount of atrophy in your body. Your inability to function after that year of sitting would likely take you a more painful and greater amount of recovery to return to your previous abilities (if ever at all). Once you have lost muscle mass, it is very difficult to get it back.

Your months and years of dating and courtship are very much like a daily trip to the gym. You’re exercising the muscles of the relationship that cause it to grow. When you get married, continue your visits to the gym (literally and metaphorically). Read books together, attend marriage workshops, go on dates, spend intentional time together, take trips. Do all of these things regularly and your marriage will not atrophy.

4. One plus one equals three: Becoming one, requires two.
One of the more nuanced challenges of marriage is to become one together, but remain distinctly individual in the process. It will take both husband and wife bringing 100% each to the marriage to make the relationship work. This is not a 50-50% proposition, it’s a 100-100% arrangement. Only bringing 50% of yourself to the table means you’re not being fully you in the relationship.

When a husband or wife begin to lose their individuality, marriage problems will soon follow. Being an individual is not the same as being single, rather it’s being an individual who maintains their autonomy while being 100% committed to the growth and health of the other person for the sake of the marriage. M. Scott Peck in his bestselling book, The Road Less Travelled, said that Love is to tend to the spiritual and emotional growth in another person. This is the goal of marriage, to tend to and care for the spiritual and emotional health in our spouse. We have the best chance of doing this when we are operating out of our fully unique and individual lives.

5. Marriage is Redemptive.
I know no other way to describe marriage more simply than it’s capacity to enact redemption in life. This comes in unimaginable ways as past wounds, hurts, fears, and resentments are all confronted with the woman of our dreams. Surrendering ones life to another is hard, yes, but it is also glorious. I believe this is the hope that beckons us to get married in the first place. We might not know this is what we are signing up for, but the spirit in us all moves us towards a need for being saved from ourselves. Marriage offers us just that: An opportunity to be saved from ourselves.

(This article was originally published at StartMarriageRight.com)

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Rock Bottom

Over the past few years, one of the only television shows that I watched was (and sometimes is) Gold Rush. It’s a Discovery show about some broke and struggling men who mortgaged their lives for an Alaskan summer land claim to mine for gold. It’s the ultimate show about striking it rich. They’d operate their big rigs to dig through the earth, searching for pay dirt. Ultimately though, the gold they were and are looking for was well below the surface. The gold is at the rock bottom, or bedrock. This is true in Alaska, just as it’s true in humanity.

We cannot find the gold of life, that is, the true purpose and joy, until we have hit rock bottom and come to the end of ourselves. This usually happens as a result of our, or someone else’s, poor choices. Rock bottom is a date with suffering, pain, and adversity. This is especially difficult when we are not the ones that chose poorly. But even when we don’t choose what happens to us, we still have a choice in what to do next. When we hit rock bottom, we can choose to be a victim, or find a way out.

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Adversity Matters

(Authors note: This article was originally published in September 2012 at StartMarriageRight.com)

I had someone tell me the other day, “Samuel, I’ve dealt with it. I’m done and have moved on. There’s no changing the fact that my husband just won’t love and care for me the way I need him to. I don’t feel anything about it anymore, I’m apathetic. Numb.”

I engaged with some questions to hear more about her apathy, and found the opposite to be true. She was locked in the battle of such intense conflict, she was doing everything in her power to shut down and numb her life.

I’m not sure about you, but when I’m truly apathetic about something, I don’t talk or think about it anymore. Not caring about something creates silence, or a lack of attention. Silence is the only true evidence of an apathetic spirit. The problem with apathy is that until we’re six-feet under, it’s impossible to be completely apathetic. We humans have too much hope, passion, and desire to be alive and fully numb at the same time. It’s just not possible.

Just last week I ran across this website, which highlights 20 or so young women who have taken some sort of movement towards addressing an issue in the world. They have all started with an idea and have built it up to become, in some instances, a thriving social justice platform. Each of these women have embodied the spirit of hope that resides within all of us. I don’t personally know any of these women, but I’ve met many like them and I can promise you they have suffered greatly for their passion.

They have chosen to bleed, sweat, and cry instead of giving in to the ease of anesthesia by way of food, sex, tv, or isolation.

The woman above who claimed to be apathetic is actually caught in a struggle very familiar to all of us. It’s the struggle of choosing to face or dim the pain. Seneca, a Roman philosopher, exclaimed that the bravest sight known to man is to see someone struggling with adversity. Bravery isn’t contingent upon victory, it’s about showing up and facing the difficulties of life. Just as hope is the enemy of apathy, so bravery is to failure.

Whether you want to face it or not, there is adversity in your life. It might feel as distant as your divorced parents, or as numb as your sexuality because of the abuse. The truth is, adversity has often been seen as your unwanted companion in life. This adversity might not show it’s true challenge until later in life, when some trigger summons it’s memory. In choosing marriage, one is inviting these distant adversaries to take residence in your home.

Some of the adversaries are specific stories, such as the time when your cousin inappropriately touched you, the times your father was violent, or when your best friend committed suicide. Each of these deserve your suffering and attention.

Though it may be paradoxical, knowing your adversary is a blessing.

These are the stories representing a cornerstone in your life. Some aren’t so fortunate to know what foundational moments to point to in their life.

It may be that there are no such traumatic stories in your life, which in and of itself in a different way may be traumatic. Sometimes the lack of suffering in life produces intense internal conflict, “why am I so unhappy, I have everything I’ve ever wanted,” or “there is no reason for me to be sad, but I am sad.” I often hear people asking questions about their own sufferings in comparison to those in worse situations. Usually though, comparison only leads to minimizing. The reality? If my hand and your finger are both severed in an accident, it doesn’t make the pain of a severed finger go away by comparing it to my severed hand.

If Psalm 73 is true, all of us experience some level of peace and orientation in life. This season at some point deteriorates and a period or season of disorientation sets in. This is followed by a period of reorientation or a new orientation. It’s the equation for maturation and growth. We start off in one direction, get thrown off that path (by our own choosing, or someone else’s), and then redirected onto a new path.

Perhaps your path today is taking you to something you’re incredibly hopeful about, like marriage. Let me be the first to congratulate you and cheer you on. Marriage is an exciting and wonderful adventure. It’s a hopeful union. Be confident and courageous in your new journey together.

Be on the lookout for emotionally numbing, apathetic responses towards your spouse and life, or unrealistic expectations of the other person.

When adversity happens, take time to consider the source and get help working through that with your spouse. As Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is in the kingdom of Heaven.” Your suffering or adversity is your ally: Will you allow it to be?

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Back to the Future

(…originally published at StartMarriageRight.com)

Growing up, one of my favorite video games was Zelda. In addition to the combat and puzzles, my favorite part was discovering and conquering unknown levels. As the player, you’d know how much of a particular level you’d discovered based on the map in the lower right corner. However, in beginning each new level, the map resets to black. As you progressed in the new level, it would only illuminate where you’d previously been. The main component missing on the map: Where you were going.

Unknown territory, enemies, and lands all waiting in darkness to be discovered. As in real life, the map is a very crucial part of the game. Without it, the player/character would be doomed to revisit the same board or level over and over again. Our life map looks very similar to that of Zelda: Portions are illuminated because we’ve previously visited, and portions are darkened awaiting our visit. Unfortunately, many rarely visit the darkened portions of maps because of fear.

The known or the unknown? A common phrase that holds people back from getting more out of life is “fear of the unknown.” People are afraid of what might happen in the future if they pursue a public speaking job, start a blog, confront a friend or loved one, ask a girl on a date, or any number of risky vulnerabilities. For some the “fear of the unknown” is what to do with success, and for others it’s what to do with failure. These questions about the future are only powerful because this “fear of the unknown” is quite the opposite: It’s the fear of the known.

I’m afraid of spiders because of what I’ve seen—what I know. What they can do to someone doesn’t bring comforting thoughts or feelings to myself (perhaps watching the movie arachnophobia as a kid didn’t help matters). If I’d never been exposed to the harm of a black widow, brown recluse or other poisonous spiders, I probably wouldn’t be afraid. But I have been exposed to these potential dangers and thus I carry a warranted known fear of spiders.

Ultimately, it’s impossible to fear the unknown. We are afraid of what we know—those things we have previously uncovered or discovered. In playing Zelda, you have a sense what’s located in the undiscovered portions of the map only because you’ve been to previously undiscovered places. But you never know what was there until you’ve experienced it yourself.

As humans, we’re born with fear. Fear is that feeling that alerts your senses to potential danger or potential vulnerabilities. We react out of our fears to keep ourselves safe. It’s our human survival instinct, and is often referred to as Fight, Flight, or Freeze. We do any of these three in reaction to danger, to a fear. My fear of spiders is based on different literature I’ve read, movies I’ve watched, and being personally bitten many times by these minuscule beasts.

Though my encounter with spiders is a tangible example, the far more devastating and dangerous fears are what we do with our dreams and desires. Fear elicits feelings of being out of control, and we humans do not do out of control well. These feelings cause our fears to blind us to what’s present today by diverting our attention into the future; to what we can control. If pursuing one’s dream feels scary or out of control, the easiest way to gain control is to come up with an excuse as to why we cannot. The statement of “fearing the unknown” is an excuse. It’s an easy pass out of the tension of facing reality today.

In college my friends and I would go mountain biking in the Ozark Mountains. It was an exhilarating way to spend an afternoon away from studying and the hard life of a college student. Upon cresting a hill, we’d stop at the top and choose a direction downwards. As we surveyed the impending descent, working up the courage to propel our bodies off the ledge, one or all would say, “no falls, no balls.” And with that, we’d push off and fly down the hill. Sometimes flying down the hill turned into crashing down the hill. After a crash, there’d always be an increase of fear at the next hill.

Conquering fear requires facing it head-on. There is no way to get around it. Shortcuts will only intensify and prolong what you are trying to avoid. The way to conquer supposed “fear of the unknown”, is to face the fears that you do know. Face the fears that are presenting themselves today, and take them one step at a time. Look back to where you’ve been, and you’ll find reasons and stories that illuminate the fears of the future. In a sense, by taking a look where you’ve been, you’ll get to go back to the future.

 

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First Half Reading

One of my goals this year is to read more books. Of the dozen-plus books I’ve read so far, here are four that I suggest everyone read:

Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction

A dad reflects on his son’s addiction to drugs (meth). As a parent, this is a terrifying read as I consider what is out there for my kids to face. But it’s a good kind of terrifying. It has forced me to face this possibility and begin conversations with my kids about addictions. Conversations won’t keep kids off of drugs, but my hope is that our relationships will give them what they need through the tumultuous years of adolescence and young adulthood.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

I’m sure you’ve heard of this book, or story, and rightfully so. It’s one of the best stories that I’ve ever read. It’s a story of survival, pain, suffering, tragedy, and the will of the human spirit. All stories have loss, and all stories have redemption. The story of Zamperini has loss and redemption over and over again. Read this book and ask yourself: “Where is the parallel in my story?”

The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict

Written in a conversational format, characters discuss the nature of how war and peace interact, where does peace come from, and how do we engage it with the people around us. It’s got some powerful illustrations that help to bring the read to see that we often focus on what’s wrong with other people, but ignore the majority of what they do right. Furthermore, we often treat others more so as objects than as people and that we expect them to fully trust us even if we don’t fully trust them. This is a great book for anyone who is in any form of leadership (parents, business, marriage, church volunteers, etc — essentially anyone who deals with people in any organized fashion).

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

Probably my favorite book so far of 2012. The first half of this book, if you let it, will call you out and challenge every part of your fear. Resistance is the main culprit to our boredom and lack of pursuit to what we want to create in life. It carries a number of little nuggets that can apply to anyone. This is a book that I will read again, and again.