Thursday, October 6, 2011
And do not be conformed to this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,
so that you may prove what the will of God is,
that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Steve McQueen was my favorite movie star.
His crazy free spirited roles greatly modeled the person I was pretending to be in my youth.
His later life obsessions evolved into wasting his life away ... collecting antique cars, and old gas pumps. How boring that must have been. Shortly before McQueen died, he met a real life free spirited pilot who he hired to teach him to fly WW2 crop-duster planes.
This man also convinced Steve to commit his life to Jesus Christ. The mighty Steve McQueen, the man who had come to understand that being Mr. Big Shot and having everything actually meant very little, and it surely did not lead to happiness.
Steve McQueen became a Jesus Freak.
This was the wisest decision Steve McQueen ever made ... and without question, his most important life accomplishment. A short while later McQueen got sick and died. It was as if God was waiting for him to humble himself so that He could bring him home.
Jesus Freak ... that is how some of my friends from my younger life might surely describe me now, especially those who are not spiritually minded ... and who are still just as wild and crazy as I used to be.
I understand where my friends are coming from ... but that which they might see as a negative; I now know is my most important character quality.
Hopefully, they would never see me as legalistic or judgmental towards them. I try to never push my beliefs on others but I am confident, opinionated, and wish the best for my friends and family, whom I love very much. I am committed to helping others know the Truth, even if it means the loss of friendship, for a time.
When you think about describing yourself, what words quickly come to mind?
Be honest with yourself. This is an interesting exercise. Next ask your spouse or your most honest friend to list ten words that best describe you. Now ... how do the two lists match up? Viewed properly, this should give you much insight, and new ideas for areas that you need to work on in the quest to become a better person.
Here is my personal list: Christian, Bible, ministry, loving, honest, transparent, intelligent, creative, conservative, committed, serious, blunt, politically incorrect, family, friend, humorous, loyal, trusting, tired, salesman, books, music, writer, strategic, manager, salesman, counselor, angry, opinionated, listener, debater, confronter, computer, clutter.
Here was my wife Cheryl’s list for me: honest, moody, caring, loves family, intelligent, short tempered, opinionated, Christian, creative, entrepreneurial, sedentary. I’m glad I told her only ten words, I got a mostly positive review.
There is much for me to learn here, especially from my wife’s list. Hint: moody, short tempered, and sedentary. But also by some specific words that are missing from my personal list such as humble, prayer, meditation, exercise, and diet.
Now, you must admit a lack of transparency is not where I am lacking. Bluntness and insensitivity have sometimes caused me much trouble. Many people can’t handle the truth; regardless of how much they tell you to the contrary.
Here is a question I was recently asked by my doctor that I would not have thought of, and this is the primary focus of this post.
How have you handled the major traumatic events in your life?
Now this is getting more personal and transparent than I had planned, but here goes.
My response to the doctor’s question was that I am a very non-emotional person which is apparently common for men. I then went on to explain that I have not had much trauma in my life. Our conversation then uncovered a list of events that most people would find traumatic and often devastating.
The doctor then asked what about when you were thirteen and your father died.” I replied, I cannot really explain it, but I was not emotional. The doctor felt this was not normal, and shutting out my feelings was possibly blocking my recovery from my health problems. He described this as emotional blockage.
With my counseling training and experience, I have a hard time accepting this, but that does not mean it is not the truth, and I want a healthy body … so here we are. We are all subject to having potential blinders.
We are working as a team, and I want to do everything I can to be the best I can be health-wise, so I have been considering this question in more depth.
I will try here to consider this question and better understand and explain to him what I think might be making me the way that I am. Hopefully this may be of help to some of you as well … especially those who tend to hold things inside: men … ha?
My father died of a heart attack early one morning, shortly after I heard my mother’s screams. I clearly remember the fact that I felt very little emotion. I can actually remember wondering if something was wrong with me, since in my family of six children everyone else was very upset during the weeks that followed.
I also remember wondering to myself, why is everyone so upset? Since we go to heaven when we die, isn’t that a reason to actually be happy for a person when they die? My father had a hard troubled work life, and serious heart problems and he was not very happy person.
This caused me to question the small amount of misguided Christian training that I had received, and resulted in me not knowing what I believed spiritually for the twenty years that followed.
But still … no emotion, is that normal? Am I blocking my emotions in the traumatic moments of my life, as the doctor suggests? I honestly do not think so. But if this is my unconscious habit, I need to know it. This would need to be unblocked for my overall improved health.
I’m sorry to admit it; but the fact is that with my father, our relationship was not very strong. I was just getting to the point where I was about to be able to relate with my father on an adult level, and sadly he died.
I can’t really recall any quality personal moments with my father. His life was primarily focused on relating with my older brothers and sisters on an adult level, and his long hours of work.
In reality, I hardly knew my father when he died. As a young teenager, my life was focused on playing baseball and my friends. This is sad, but true.
In thinking back, when I consider other points of tragedy or trauma in my life, and there have been many, my reaction has been more emotional. The death of my brother-in-law Rick, the murder of my niece Mary, my sister’s death of cancer, and the death of my mother definitely all brought me to tears and open sorrow.
Additionally, the marriage of my daughters; and sad and or inspirational moments, stories, or movies can sometimes move me to tears. So the more I think about it, I am more emotional than I first admitted.
On the other hand, I definitely can remember keeping my cool and possibly holding my feelings inside when I have been cheated in business or betrayed by close friends that I have trusted. This has happened to me multiple times in the past.
The scriptures clearly advise against internalizing feelings of anger or hurt will lead to bitterness and hardening of the heart, which I have tried not to do. “BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. Ephesians 4:26-27.
I think with more careful thought I can clarify my personal blockage; and it is a direct result of my conversion to Christianity. On October 20 1980, I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. In the years that followed, one of the key principles that I learned was:
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2
I also learned to believe the Words of the Bible literally. This resulted in my current mindset … from that point forward. I believe I am an ambassador for Christ with a ministry of reconciliation. Therefore, my life here on earth is only a temporary transitional period. I am able to abide above and be relatively unconcerned about any trials or traumas that may come my way. I know this might sound fanciful or unstable for someone who believes differently, but it give me peace and rest beyond understanding in the worst of times.
As a result, I have no fear of anything, and am able to turn all of my problems over to the Creator. In the worst of times I have no sleepless nights or worry. Three separate examples of this are: the collapse of my business; my stroke; and my heart failure and the major surgeries that followed. I had no fear of death whatsoever … not even for an instant. In fact, I daily look forward to being with Christ eternally.
“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth; for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4
At this point in my life if someone who I love very much were to die an atheist, that would bring me to tears of sadness … but I believe those who die in Christ are experiencing happiness, peace and joy beyond my comprehension at that instant … tears for them should be tears of joy.
Would my beliefs control my emotions? I am convinced that in many cases … NO, we are all subject to our emotions; but Christ has given us victory over all things including our emotions, feelings, and hurts that are beyond our control. I know that the Holy Spirit and God’s Truth would definitely help me through those feelings that might overwhelm my spirit.
I hope this helps my doctor better understand who I am at my core and how my beliefs may have been contributing to the challenge that he diagnosed as blockage. I definitely have worked to renew my mind with God's Truth and not be conformed to this world. This has definitely resulted in controlling my emotions. Has this helped control my negative emotions? Anger is still a problem, and I could always be a more loving person; but in many ways I am greatly improved.
As a result of these facts, I do not feel I easily fit into the typical psychological box with many others; including the vast majority of confessing Christians.
Do I fit into the Jesus Freak box? … Most Definitely.
This one is for my friends ... not my favorite type of music; but it is one of my favorite songs.
God bless you my friends, Bob