the reckless dad

‪reck·less /rekləs/ adj. without thinking about the consequences. rash, heedless, impetuous, impulsive, daredevil, audacious, madcap‬

Category: Reality

Reality

An Unpleasant Emotion

fear 1

fear

ˈfir/
noun
  1. 1.
    an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

    “drivers are threatening to quit their jobs in fear after a cabby’s murder”

    synonyms: terrorfright, fearfulness, horroralarmpanicagitationtrepidation,

    dreadconsternationdismaydistress; More

There you have it. Fear.

When I think of fear, I can’t help but to think of The Replacements and the classic locker room scene where the coach asks them to admit their fears. Watch it here.

I have come to believe the reality of life is that we are held back in every aspect of lives by fear. Fear takes on many faces and comes in many forms, but the ultimate reality is that fear controls us all at some time or another. Fear traps us and keeps us from being able to move forward in life. Fear inhibits, prohibits and limits us from moving. It paralyzes. It overcomes and overwhelms. It conquers and leaves devastation in its wake.

Why? Why do we let fear immobilize us the way we do? Is fear really that powerful? Does fear really have that much control? Has fear been unlimited power, rendering us powerless to battle against it?

I think what gives fear its power is the unknown or the intangible nature of what it does to us. There are times when our fears are rooted in reality or in previous experience. But many times, fear is not rooted in anything other than our own fear of fear or a fear of the unknown or fear of an outcome based on insufficient or incomplete information. Let me explain. On Friday I took the youth from Grace Landing’s group home to a high ropes course. A couple of the obstacles we tackled you had to climb a ladder for about 15 feet, then climb a telephone pole for another 15 feet arriving at the obstacle approximately 30 feet in the air. One of the youth was barely able to make it off the ladder. He was afraid of falling. His fear in that moment was fear of an unknown, or more specifically fear based on insufficient or incomplete information. He was wearing a climbing harness which was secured around his waist. He was securely attached to a safety rope by locking carabiner. The safety rope was proper rigged and secured to an anchor point. There was a trained professional belaying this youth. There was literally no way for this youth to be injured while at the ropes course, yet his fears kept him from experiencing the ropes course to its fullest. His fear based on insufficient and incomplete information – if he fell, he would get hurt or die. His fears were never going to be realized at the ropes course.

This happens to us across the expanse of our lives. We face situations and determine our course of action based on what we think could possibly occur and if it is an outcome we don’t like, we are afraid. We begin to fear the outcome and then fear has crippled us from completing the task at hand. Fear based on a possibility. A possibility that is just as likely to not happen as it is to happen. Fear is at its essence being crippled by the possible. Even when experience supports our fear, there is no guarantee the fears will be realized this time around. For the person who gets married and their spouse breaks their heart and leaves them, just because this was their experience it does mean they should withhold from engaging in authentic relationships with other for fear of being hurt again. They may be hurt again, but they may also find a rewarding relationship in which they are surrounded by the love they deserve.

Fear, in reality, only has as much power as we give it. Fear is only as strong as we allow it to be. Fear can only overcome and cripple us because we allow it to do so.

My hope today is identify fear as a force working against us, only having the power we give it. Tomorrow, I want to identify how to limit the power we give to fear.

How has fear limited or crippled you?

So Much has Changed…

Often in life, each day is just another day. Each day is a day unto itself. But sometimes, the day is more than just a day. It is a defining moment.

This day last year was one of those. It was a defining moment. It is frozen in time. It is a day never to be forgotten. It was probably one the hardest days of my life.

Without sharing too many details or the particulars – one year ago today, my brother was taken into custody after a court hearing and transported to county jail and ultimately to state prison. This is an experience my family has not talked about much outside of the ‘Westfall Family circle of trust.’ Today, I am feeling as though I need to share my thoughts on the last 12 months. I am not going to talk about the details, but I want to talk about the feelings and impact this experience has had on my family from my perspective, my point of view.

February 5, 2015 was one of the hardest days of my life. Watching your brother get taken into custody is hard enough, when you add into the mix having to watch your parents as their son is taken into custody and you have the makings for a tough day. I have found it is one thing to cope with your own emotions and to assist others in coping with their emotions… but when the others is your family, it is significantly more difficult to keep an objective presence. Watching my parents explain to my niece and nephew their father isn’t coming home for a long time… as their little minds attempted to wrap around the concept of another parent who would be missing from their lives. As they tried to make sense of something that makes no sense at all. Watching parents struggle with the exact same thing… finding sense, meaning and purpose in a experience that makes no sense.

It was on this day I learned the futility of saying, sometimes crap happens to good people and we have to accept it. This does nothing to comfort those suffering. Knowing it is unjust doesn’t make it easier to handle. I mistakenly thought those were wise words in a time of crisis because they are true. Scriptures teach the sun shines on the wicked and good all the same. But in times of distress, these words are hollow. Empty. Meaningless. We search for meaning, for understanding and we want things to make sense. And when things don’t make sense, posting out they make no sense, makes no sense.

Over the last year, I have experienced feelings of loss I hadn’t anticipated. Some time ago, I wrote the following words trying to understand my feelings:

  • This feels strange to write this…I find myself mourning my brother. No, he’s not dead. But he is in prison. While the story is complex and convoluted at best, I want to muse more on how this whole story causes me to feel.

    I find myself mourning him. He’s gone, while not being gone at the same time. It causes an odd void in my heart and life.

    On any given day, I communicate with Ronda more than I do any other human being… makes sense, cuz she’s my wife.

    Next in line on this list was my brother. I didn’t realize how often. I called, texted, emailed, facebook messaged, sent him a YouTube video or otherwise reached out to communicate with him. Countless times over the last two plus months I have found myself wanting to reach out to him about something, nothing or anything in between. I actually called his his iPhone last week! Haha. Habit.

    Given the amount I typically communicated with him, there is now a void in my daily communicative expression. This evokes a feeling similar to mourning in my heart because I am unable to communicate with him when and how I want to.

    I don’t know what I expected the feelings to be like…

    At least we can speak on the phone once a day. We could write letters, but that’s not a fun as it might sound. We can visit, but things have been some crazy at work I haven’t had the time to plan a trip to Georgia.

    I know this is only temporary and after this season has passed life will return to normal. But in the meantime, I miss him.

I feel a great sense that can only be described as loss. There is a hole in my life which can only be filled by my brother. A large, special piece of my everyday has been taken away from me. It is missing. This loss has certainly changed our relationship… I don’t know how exactly or what things will be like when we can talk whenever we want, but things have changed.

I know my family has felt the same or similar feelings on loss, too. This has affected us all. We all have felt the pressure, the loss, along with other feelings. We have felt betrayed at times. We have felt lied to. We have felt disappointment. We have felt like we have been left to pick up the pieces of shattered lives. We have felt overwhelmed and unable to cope. We have felt guilt. We have felt responsible. We have felt feelings that are real and powerful. We have hurt and we are hurting. I would argue this is normal. This is to be expected. And this is ok. What’s not ok is bottling the feelings up and letting them gnaw at our hearts and allowing those feelings to adjust or change the love we have for a brother/son who himself is hurting. Maybe more than us. Likely, more than us.

This may be a simplistic approach to the dilemma, but I believe guilt or innocence to be irrelevant. Maybe not irrelevant, but holding no bearing on the reality of my feelings about him or about this situation. I love my brother. I will always love my brother, no matter what. But loving my brother doesn’t mean I am not allowed to have feelings like the ones above. It doesn’t mean when I have those feelings I am in the wrong. But it also doesn’t mean I can use this as an excuse to feel differently about him. What has happened has had a dramatic impact on my family and we are forever changed because of it. And at the resolution of this whole experience, there will be more exploration to finally resolve it. To finally, make sense of it… as much as we can. No doubt, there will be more tears, more frustration, more anger, guilt, remorse, sadness, joy, laughter, more whatever.

I’m not going to pretend I see the silver lining and I know on the other side of this we will be stronger, better, blah blah blah. This sucks, from start to finish. But, this is where we are. This is our life. This is the experience we have. This is the hand we have been dealt and whether God is in it or not, we will endure it. God will use it, certainly. But knowing that doesn’t make it any easier. Doesn’t make it suck less.

For about 12 months I have wanted to share my thoughts and feelings. I have wanted to express what we are going through. And I haven’t. I don’t know if it is because I was embarrassed. Or if if I didn’t want to hurt feelings. Or if I wasn’t sure we were or I was ready. But the sooner we stop hiding in the shadows, the sooner we can have some resolution about what and how we feel.

I love my family. I love my brother. I will always love them. Nothing will ever change that. This has been hard, but it hasn’t killed us yet. And I don’t think it will. If we continue to stand against this as a family, we will endure.

These are my feelings. These are my thoughts. This is my voice. If you are reading this and you feel like you have suffered and are suffering know you are not alone. Know there are others walking through life carrying heavy burdens. Burdens we daily try to give to Jesus, but hang on to because it is hard to give them up. There’s a band called HELLYEAH. They have a song entitled Hush. It talks about growing up in a family wrought with abuse. While it is not always true, emotional pain (regardless of the source) often easily translates from person to person. What I mean is, when we feel emotional pain we can associate with others feeling emotional pain regardless of whether the source of that pain is the same or not. As the scene is described in the song, a line from the chorus says, ‘if this reminds you of home, you better know you’re not alone.’ This is why I write these words today. I want share my pain to let others know they are not alone. To let others know they don’t have to suffer alone in silence. We can help each other. Today I may be strong enough to hold you up, but next week I might need you to hold me up.

I will hold you, will you hold me?

Was getting kicked out of the Garden of Eden like the First Day of School?

Therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. Genesis 3:23

Last week was the first day of school for my boys and it evoked in me many feelings and emotions.  As happens often, I thought about what God felt when we (humans) were sent out to fend for ourselves the first time.  That’s what school really is… the first time that our children are out on their own, to fend for themselves and to take care of themselves.  If they get bullied, we can’t step in.  If they trip and skin their knee, no band aids or mommy kisses.  They fall off the monkey bars, we can’t pick them up.  They are at the mercy of their new environment to care for themselves.  This is an exciting and scary time for a parent!

I wonder if God felt this way at all when he had to remove us from the Garden of Eden and he had to remove his visible presence from our lives.  We all assume that it was an easy choice for God to make.  He arbitrarily removed us and put a scary angel in the way to keep us from coming back in, but how did that hurt him?  How did he handle not being able to pick us up when we fall down?  How did he handle not being able to stand up to the bully for us?

The obvious answer is that it broke God’s heart.  This was in fact more than he could handle… he would later die himself in order to restore a relationship with us.  I think this decision was the hardest one God had to make.  Dying for our sins was the easy choice… it restored our relationship with him to what it should have been all along.

Was getting kicked out of the Garden of Eden like the first day of school?  I think so, cuz I know I would do anything, including die for my kids… and they are only a few miles away.  Our sin is a fundamental flaw that creates a distance between us and God, a rift.  Nothing can separate us from the love of God, but sin keeps us from his presence.

God demonstrated his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Thankfully, just like the school day ends, so does our separation from God.

What Makes a ‘REAL’ Hero a Hero?

On Tuesday evening I watched the new Alice in Wonderland with the family. I realized I didn’t remember much of Alice’s story as I watched the movie. Somewhere along the way I realized it was an updates version of the story. Meaning it took place at a later time in her life when she finally made it back to Wonderland after years of being away.

As the story was ending and she was preparing to return to her drab, boring, ordinary life in reality she was offered the chance to stay in Underland by the Hatter. She replied that she needed to get back. I wondered, why? She seemed to hate her life, but wanted to return to it. As I thought this it occurred to me this is a common theme in fairy tales. The hero leaving the fantasy world where they are heroes to return to the real world where they are everday schmoes. Ash did it Army of Darkness. Alice does it here. Wendy in Peter Pan. Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz (ok that was a dream). Those kids in the Bridge to Terebinthia (or however you spell it). And that dude from the Neverending Story.

What drives us to return home? I wonder if the key to being a hero is much more ordinary than we give it credit for… to be a REAL hero do have to take a Jabberwocky? Or face an army of deadites? Is the Neverending Story closer to being on track when the hero fights the Nothing of apathy or hate (now there’s a movie that goes way deeper than it appears on the surface!).

I don’t care what you think of Superchick, they have at least a couple of songs whose message is unmistakeably in line with Biblical principles. The whole hero discussion draws me to think of their song entitled ‘Hero’. The chorus goes:
Heroes are made when you make a choice…
You could be a hero,
Heroes do what’s right,
You could be a hero,
You might save a life,
You could be a hero, you could join the fight,
For what’s right, for what’s right, for what’s right…

These words remind us that there isn’t anythig magical about being a hero and I think they point to the reason the hero always returns home to the boring, ordinary life they left behind to become the hero in the first place – we all want to make a difference to the people that matter most to us. Our friends and families. Our closest people we know. The people who would need a hero most. Or maybe more selfishly, the people who would know us personally to be the most grateful to us as we rescue them.

Jude 23 calls us to save others snatching them from the fire (of hell), what could be more heroic?!?!? It is certainly applaudable to wantto save someone’s life, but what about their soul? I’ve been reading this book called Oikos, and it discusses the idea of evangelizing the 8-15 people that you come into contact with the most. Changing our worlds, that small group of people we interact with daily/regularly. How about being a hero to them? It might be as heroic as saving them from eternal damnation, at first. That might take us some time. But maybe we can save them from having to struggle through a death of a close one alone. Or having to deal with car trouble alone. Maybe work is over-working them. Maybe their family life is struggling. Maybe they just got fired. Maybe their spouse wants to leave them. Maybe their Kid’s behavior is out of control. Maybe life’s stress is just too much to do alone.

Why can’t we save them from that?

Beginning in Luke 10:25 Jesus gives us 2 lessons on interacting with the people around us. First, he clues us in to the fact that all of humanity is ‘our neighbor’ and deserves to be treated as though they were our close friends. Secondly, he reiterates an idea he expresses elsewhere when he instructs us to care for the physcial needs of those we encounter. Like in the parable of the sheep and goats, followers of Christ are told we need to care for people when their physical world is falling apart around them (clothing them, feeding, visiting them when sick or in prison, etc.)

Is it possible that we have this sense of needing to return to the humdrum lives we live because we know that we are hard-wired to be heroes in a very ordinary sense of the word? When God created man, the intent was to be in constant community with him. Sin entered into the human existence and foiled the perfect plans as humans chose a different outcome. In a world that is striving to be redeemed God calls his followers to attempt to be heroes in order to bring the world back to the way it’s supposed to be.

Everyday I live as a father who teaches my boys about the love God has for us I’m a hero. Everyday I do the little things that put my family’s needs over mine I’m a hero. Everyday I share in the struggle of a friend or family member so their journey isn’t so lonely I’m a hero.

Heroes are made when you make a choice. You could be a hero, you could change a life…

What Makes a 'REAL' Hero a Hero?

On Tuesday evening I watched the new Alice in Wonderland with the family. I realized I didn’t remember much of Alice’s story as I watched the movie. Somewhere along the way I realized it was an updates version of the story. Meaning it took place at a later time in her life when she finally made it back to Wonderland after years of being away.

As the story was ending and she was preparing to return to her drab, boring, ordinary life in reality she was offered the chance to stay in Underland by the Hatter. She replied that she needed to get back. I wondered, why? She seemed to hate her life, but wanted to return to it. As I thought this it occurred to me this is a common theme in fairy tales. The hero leaving the fantasy world where they are heroes to return to the real world where they are everday schmoes. Ash did it Army of Darkness. Alice does it here. Wendy in Peter Pan. Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz (ok that was a dream). Those kids in the Bridge to Terebinthia (or however you spell it). And that dude from the Neverending Story.

What drives us to return home? I wonder if the key to being a hero is much more ordinary than we give it credit for… to be a REAL hero do have to take a Jabberwocky? Or face an army of deadites? Is the Neverending Story closer to being on track when the hero fights the Nothing of apathy or hate (now there’s a movie that goes way deeper than it appears on the surface!).

I don’t care what you think of Superchick, they have at least a couple of songs whose message is unmistakeably in line with Biblical principles. The whole hero discussion draws me to think of their song entitled ‘Hero’. The chorus goes:
Heroes are made when you make a choice…
You could be a hero,
Heroes do what’s right,
You could be a hero,
You might save a life,
You could be a hero, you could join the fight,
For what’s right, for what’s right, for what’s right…

These words remind us that there isn’t anythig magical about being a hero and I think they point to the reason the hero always returns home to the boring, ordinary life they left behind to become the hero in the first place – we all want to make a difference to the people that matter most to us. Our friends and families. Our closest people we know. The people who would need a hero most. Or maybe more selfishly, the people who would know us personally to be the most grateful to us as we rescue them.

Jude 23 calls us to save others snatching them from the fire (of hell), what could be more heroic?!?!? It is certainly applaudable to wantto save someone’s life, but what about their soul? I’ve been reading this book called Oikos, and it discusses the idea of evangelizing the 8-15 people that you come into contact with the most. Changing our worlds, that small group of people we interact with daily/regularly. How about being a hero to them? It might be as heroic as saving them from eternal damnation, at first. That might take us some time. But maybe we can save them from having to struggle through a death of a close one alone. Or having to deal with car trouble alone. Maybe work is over-working them. Maybe their family life is struggling. Maybe they just got fired. Maybe their spouse wants to leave them. Maybe their Kid’s behavior is out of control. Maybe life’s stress is just too much to do alone.

Why can’t we save them from that?

Beginning in Luke 10:25 Jesus gives us 2 lessons on interacting with the people around us. First, he clues us in to the fact that all of humanity is ‘our neighbor’ and deserves to be treated as though they were our close friends. Secondly, he reiterates an idea he expresses elsewhere when he instructs us to care for the physcial needs of those we encounter. Like in the parable of the sheep and goats, followers of Christ are told we need to care for people when their physical world is falling apart around them (clothing them, feeding, visiting them when sick or in prison, etc.)

Is it possible that we have this sense of needing to return to the humdrum lives we live because we know that we are hard-wired to be heroes in a very ordinary sense of the word? When God created man, the intent was to be in constant community with him. Sin entered into the human existence and foiled the perfect plans as humans chose a different outcome. In a world that is striving to be redeemed God calls his followers to attempt to be heroes in order to bring the world back to the way it’s supposed to be.

Everyday I live as a father who teaches my boys about the love God has for us I’m a hero. Everyday I do the little things that put my family’s needs over mine I’m a hero. Everyday I share in the struggle of a friend or family member so their journey isn’t so lonely I’m a hero.

Heroes are made when you make a choice. You could be a hero, you could change a life…

© 2017 the reckless dad

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑