Category Archives: Relationships

The Myth of Human Potential.

Showtime. Bad Boys. Come Fly with me.

If those phrases connect at all with you, we are perhaps kindred spirits, children of the days when the NBA was made of real men. (Except to my knowledge, there are no fake men, and it’s still a male dominated league. But I digress too quick.)

One of the great mysteries of that era was a giant named Darryl Dawkins. Mr Dawkins was one of the very first to jump from high school to the NBA, long before “One and Done.” Dawkins was known for 2 reasons. First, he broke a few backboards with powerful dunks, bringing in a new era of break away rims.

Secondly, the consensus feeling was that he never reached his potential. When you looked at him and saw this athleticism, his height, and his skills, those around Dawkins felt sure he was destined to dominate the league. He never did.  Almost every conversation around DD would inevitably lead back to this word: potential.

And Dawkins never got there. He had an above average NBA career, where he managed a championship in a minor role before exporting his talents to the European leagues. He is remembered for giving names to his dunks and breaking backboards.

Wait. I want you to pause here. A man with no more than a high school education leveraged a basketball skill to providing very well for himself and I’m sure a considerable number of other people. He managed to travel the world, and become NBA champion.  30 years later, he isn’t one of the myriad of forgotten players from the 80ies.

Darryl Dawkins was not potential, or even wasted potential. He was a man trying to make his way in the world. His choices made him the man he became.

As someone who has had others give me opportunities, I recognize the head start that comes with. Yet every slick salesman who wants you to sign up for their new thing sells us on potential income, not on actual income of the average person who participates. No one is sold on the average weight loss of a program, or the average money earned on Multi-Level marking scheme of the day.  We are sold on potential.

People have gifts and talents, not potential. Occasionally, those are undeveloped and undiscovered. But you my friend, are not potential. You are a person. I see in you gifts and talents.  But whether you develop what I see or not, I’ll still value you for who you are today.

What I wish Christians understood about depression

“Maybe the World would just be better off without me.”

As I sat and heard the sentiment, my heart broke. Of course, this wasn’t the first breaking. Nor would it be the last. My friend was expressing the deepest reality of a soul tortured and unable to break free.

Immediately, I tried to call out the lie. “This isn’t truth. This is the depression speaking.”

It’s the hideous beast that grows and wanes but never seems to go away.

But for Christians, well, depression is one of those that we think they need to “get over it,” “snap out of it,” “move on,” “let it go.”

Numbers do lie. But they also tell a story. According to various sources, between 15 and 16 million people in the United States, and 121 million around the world suffer some sort of major depressive episode every year. During COVID, that number has exploded.

My son has a form of muscular dystrophy called Duchene’s Muscular Dystrophy. It is a progressive, deteriorative genetic condition. We are 7 years into our journey. The MDA community is organized and beautiful. The grace shown these kids, mostly boys, is incredible. And fortunately for us and him, my son’s beautiful spirit has never slowed down even as the disease has taken his ability of walk, and his ability to care for his basic needs.

Only a few fools have dared to suggest “if these boys would only try harder…” No one says that, because these boys try hard. My son tries to dress himself. He’s figured out how to pull up his pants by scooting back and forth on his seat. He no longer uses the toilet but a urinal because it gives him some privacy and independence.

The genetic factors are clear. Sure I’ve had people suggest that if I had more faith, my son would be healed. Only one person has dared to actually tell me that to my faith. I’ve developed a standard response. “Feel free to heal Joshua since you have more faith than me.”

What does this have to do with depression?

Sick people can not usually “snap out of it.” Cancer, DMD, all the way to the common cold, no one expects these to go away just with will power. Depression strikes the spiritual and the unspiritual. The wealthy and the poor. The highly educated and the unluckily poorly educated. Depression does seem to be more prevalent in certain ethnic communities. Hopelessness is difficult to swallow year after year.

But for Christians, well, depression is one of those that we think they need to “get over it,” “snap out of it,” “move on,” “let it go.”

This is akin to telling a person with a broken leg to snap out of it, heal yourself, and “just walk it off.”

No one who is depressed wants to be. But for those with chronic depression, the spiral is a self defeating cycle into extreme isolation. They want more friends, but can’t bring themselves to reach out. They want to respond to invitations but don’t have the energy. They want to be engaged, to make friends, to be… but wanting is rarely enough.

What Dreams May Come- staring Robin Williams

One of the stupidest movies of all time was “what dreams may come.” (My opinion only, because of the reincarnational themes introduced. And in a very sad way, strangely prescient, since the main actor, Robin Williams, ended up taking his own life and he lost his battle with depression.) The lead character, played by Williams, must go down to hell, a place of colorless depression where his wife Ann is trapped because she committed suicide.

Here’s my take away. Chris goes down into the hell, which for Ann is a lifeless void. When he can’t bring her out, he decides to stay with her. The redemptive analogy is there, though marred by dubious ending.

As Christians who use Christ as our example, should we not descend down into the private hell of the broken around us, even it’s the depressed? If the light in us is truly strong, then shouldn’t that light shine in the darkness where, forgive the mixing of metaphors, a broken reed is almost broken? Even if there is no solution, today, tomorrow or next year?

Don’t give up!

Would be the cry of the soul of the depressed

Don’t believe me!

Would be the hope of the depressed pushing you away with their word. 

Love me!

Would the lonely depressed insecure depressed cry

Don’t leave me!

Would be the honest craving of the soul of the depressed

So to the Christian who believes that depression is a spiritual issue, I would agree with you.

And to the one who believes it’s a chemical issue, I would agree with you.

And to those who believe it’s an emotional issue, I would agree with you.

But after 20 years of this journey, what I can tell you is the solution is sometimes a drug (anti-depressants help only 60% of the clients). Sometimes a counselor. Sometimes a supernatural visitation. Sometimes more sunlight and exercise. Often a combination of all of these.

And sometimes, the solution is not a quick fix, but a fellow believer who agrees that they will walk and love and live with a broken soul until such a time as God chooses to bring deliverance. Today, tomorrow, 20 years from now, or eternity.

Ask yourself- if a friend or family member battled cancer for years, how would you act towards them? How about depression?

Because our depressed loved ones, friends and family, are worth it.

Why this Duck Dynasty Star should never get lucky with his wife.

My daughter’s favorite show these days is Jep and Jessica, the spin off from Duck Dynasty. My little butterfly loves “the Rednecks” original show and so adding kids into the mix is exciting. The show is about as exciting as watching grass grow if you ask me.

Jep and Jessica

In an early episode, Jep does manage a funny comment. Something to the tune of “That decides whether I get lucky with Jessica or she puts on the sweat pants.” That’s actually a funny metaphor.

And also a sad metaphor. Sad because men “get lucky” in marriage.

Listen ladies, if sex in your marriage is about luck, then something’s wrong. Something’s broken.

Sex isn’t about winning or losing.

Sex isn’t “friend with benefits” with God and society’s approval.

Increasingly, our cultural has moved sex into the realm of leverage, of influence, or simply of mood. And this is just in marriage. Don’t get me started on the stupidity of sex outside of marriage.

I’ve never written about this before. And I’ll probably get so blasted I’ll got back to writing about organizational culture. But hear me out.

Love shouldn’t be about luck.

Said NO ONE EVER “Wow, she got lucky. Her husband brought her flowers, or held her as she cried.”

Said NO ONE EVER, “Wow, she got lucky last night. He complimented her, he supported her.”

And they shouldn’t.

Luck has no place in a strong marriage.

Ladies, sex is more important than you understand in a marriage. It’s not just for him, its for both of you. I realize that this aspect can be broken for so many reasons, (prior relationships, physical issues, etc…So get the help you need).

Believe me.

No man wants to get lucky in marriage. Men want intimacy and sex is just part of that.

Let’s change the conversation.

3 ways to help your friends who have a disabled child.

My son has DMD. He’s in a wheelchair. He’s 12. He can’t run, jump, or walk. He used to be able to. But DMD has taken that away.

joshua-porter

His favorite class in school this year is English. He loves his teacher. She’s a superstar.
His second favorite class? P.E.
That’s right. The one class where he can’t do what the other kids do. The one class that could remind him of his disability.

And the one class that’s social. Where instead of starting at a blackboard, he can engage with others. He has made more friends in PE than in any other class. In PE, the other kids have figured out ways to include him in their activities.

I was thinking about that when my wife and I were talking about some of our experiences growing up, how adults other than our parents allowed us to participate in different events. My sister got to go to Austria with friends. I’ve never been. My cousin took my brother to see his first movie.

I sat down today and considered some of the families who have disabled kids. Many of my friends have asked “how can we help?” The honest answer is most families feel guilty asking for helping constantly, so I’ll give you some ideas. Please share yours as well.

1. Take the other kids and do things.

I know it sounds counter intuitive, but sometimes the siblings of disabled kids just aren’t able to participate as much in activities because the parents simply can’t “throw the kids in the car” and run around. Camping, hiking, fishing, bike rides, one way that you can help a family who has a disabled child is including their other kids in your activities. We make every effort to give our kids a normal childhood, but doctors visits, medical accessories, and the million other things that go along with have a wheelchair bound child mean that our 2 other kids don’t get to do some things that their peers get to do. Take them along.

2. Borrow their van.

Being in a wheelchair means transportation is an issue. But if you want to include a disabled child, just ask to borrow the wheelchair accessible vehicle. Those vehicles have insurance just like any other. Take the kid to the movies, to ball games, anywhere you might go that a wheelchair could go but getting there is the barrier.

3. Include.

Lots of people at family reunions just sit around talking. Kids with disabilities can still talk, can still experience, can still laugh. They may not be able to play baseball, but they can sit with grandma and talk during the game. Ask Joshua about super heroes and just sit back and enjoy the ride. So invite and include them in as many activities as possible. Don’t worry about participating completely.

4. Don’t pity.

The last thing a child with a disability needs is pity. Give them the dignity of respect as a human being. Joshua is tiny. Not even 4 feet tall. But his mind is the mind of a 12 year old, not the mind of a 6 year old where his body is stuck.

My son’s favorite class is because someone thinks he’s awesome. His second favorite is because he gets to be with other kids. So consider including a disable child, or his siblings, in your activities this summer.

Please share this, and share your ideas as well. We need to learn from each other.

3 things that Great parents teach that good parents don’t.

3 things that great parents teach that good parents don’t.

what great parents teach

Loving your kids is what average parents do.

Caring for your kids needs is what average parents do.

Appropriate physical affection is what average parents do. (Give your kids hugs. Its not rocket science, though it is simple, good science. ) Grounding your kids in their faith. Basic assumption.

After working with young adults for the last 20 years, I’ve found that young people who start their adult lives with these 3 skills lead healthier, better lives than their counterparts, who come from “good families.”

  1. Great parents teach their kids how to manage money and build wealth.

Many families struggle with money. The expectation, it seems, from children at least, is that education through a bachelors degree should be paid for. However, credit card companies target young adults because they know if they can get them in a cycle of debt, they will keep them there for a long time. Great parents give their kids a firm understanding of the real costs of living, helping them to understand budgeting and money management. Even more helpful would be teaching them to invest. My first job offered a company matching 401(k). I had no idea what that was, and turned down the opportunity to begin early. How I wish I hadn’t, 22 years later. Again, buying a house early means the possibility of a paid off mortgage in your early 40ies.

I’m not getting any kickback (though I’m open to it 🙂 ) But start here with Dave Ramsey’s stuff. 

  1. Great parents teach their kids about relationships

My first week of college, my new roommate latched on to a young lady. Merely a couple days later, I heard him on the phone trying to manipulate her.

“Maybe you don’t love me as much as I love you!” I remember him crooning over the phone.

Three days later? Even my 18 year old self knew that was pure manipulation. Yet the girl let this creep hang around.

Great parents teach their kids how to recognize manipulators, how to deal with difficult people, and how to extricate themselves from unhealthy relationships. Good girls don’t fall for bad guys because they like bad guys, but because bad guys know how to manipulate good girls. They same works the other way around. Start here. 

  1. Great parents teach their kids self-discipline.

I was amazed during my years in college at how many of my fellow students slept in and had to drop out because they stayed up late every night playing video games, and then didn’t make it to class. I used to joke that my dad would kill me if I lost my scholarship for bad grades. I’m sure he wouldn’t have done so, but I also know that self-discipline was something that many young people have never had to have. Helicopter parents have scheduled their lives to the minute. At the first moment of freedom, young people who have led an overly scheduled life can fall apart.

On very practical area is eating habits. I, like many people, grew up in a home where salad was on the menu every night. My mother worked hard at providing good, nutritious meals. What I, like most others my age, failed to get was the whole idea of portion control. Cafeteria food is not only not as nutritious, but it is also abundant. The “freshman 15” reflects someone who has not had to make self-discipline choices until away from his/her parents.

This is particularly true for many who were student athletes in high school. Competitive athletics means, by necessity, consuming volumes of calories. That reduced demand in young adulthood leads many of loose their way. I know I did. 🙂

Here, in random order, are things you can help your young adult figure out.

1. How to buy stock in a company.

2. How to save money on cars.

3. How to use a hammer.

4. How to rewire an electrical socket.

5. How to shop for a mortgage, and pay off a mortgage in 7 years.

6. How to make wise eating choices.

7. Sleeping in is not an adult habit.

8. How to break up with a girl/boy.

9. How to do a job interview.

10. A practical skill (carpentry, masonry, electrical work, plumbing). These alone will save thousands and thousands of dollars.

11. How to make a 5 year financial plan.

What other things do you think parents could help kids with to better prepare them for life as an adult?

 

The truth about Christians and Infertility

“Just take another wife. You can love this one, but that one can give you kids.”

Sounds like something right out of the Old Testament doesn’t it? But this conversation happened just a few short years ago. My wife and I were serving as missionaries and this muslim friend was trying to tell me how I could “help” my wife as we dealt with infertility.

How does a Christian woman deal with infertility? Only one who has walked though this valley knows the depths to which that path takes you. And at a quick glance, the Bible itself seems to send a very negative message. Wasn’t Michel, David’s wife, cursed with infertility? And what about that weird scripture where Paul says a woman is saved through child bearing?

Then there are the well-intentioned but extremely fertile friends. You know, the one’s who can’t stop getting pregnant?

Then there are the well-intentioned but extremely fertile friends. You know, the one’s who can’t stop getting pregnant?

 They hide it from you because they don’t want to hurt you, and end up doing just that. Do they invite you to a baby shower or not? They don’t want to exclude you but don’t want to hurt you.

Tahnya and I wrestled. We wept. We tried medical methods. We went broke trying stuff. At the end of the day, God had a unique journey for us. It involved adoption. It involved waiting for many years. Part of that journey involved for us both a true return to what the Bible says about the nature of a woman.

One day, in dealing with another one of the pressure filled situations for my wife, a scripture seemed to scream at me out of the pages of Genesis.

“God created them male and female. And he said “it is good.”

Before the fall, Adam and Eve were perfect, all theologians agree. Did you catch that? God said woman was good. Years before any record of children.In God’s eyes, Eve was perfect, part of God’s unspoiled creation, before she even had kids!

In God’s eyes, Eve was perfect, part of God’s unspoiled creation, before she even had kids!

According to the opening pages of the scriptures, upon which every believer says they base their lives, is the foundational understanding that a woman is created in the image of God. That image, though marred in both men and women, remains. The daughters of Eve are as much image bearers as the Sons of Adam and children have nothing to do with that.

So if you are struggling with infertility, I’m sorry. I don’t wish that pain on anyone. My wife’s journey took her into the valley of despair and depression. Unconsciously, Christians allow our reading of the scriptures to add condemnation and guilt when it shouldn’t be.

You were created in the image of God. You were created with a purpose and a destiny. You have an identity offered to you through relationship with Christ. Regardless of your status in regards to motherhood 

You have an identity offered to you through relationship with Christ. Regardless of your status in regards to motherhood.

Share your story in the comments or on Facebook.

Mommy Porn and the ugly side of romance novels

Are you addicted to Mommy pornography?

Today at church was one of the most real conversations I’ve ever heard. A pastor and his former protégée spoke on stage about the man’s moral failure, related to pornography and who knows what else. I’m glad they didn’t go into details. If you want to be blown away, take the time to watch this sermon. #JRCLife

http://vimeo.com/110802933

But if you are one of the few people leftover in a Siberian gulag and you just got out, you might not be aware of the amazingly devastating effects that pornography is having on our world today. Pornography is one of the fuels of the global sex trade industry. It costs economies billions of dollars a year (just do the research on the bandwidth it takes up in Africa, where bandwidth is at a premium.) Porn, by even non-religious standards, is an evil, demeaning, dehumanizing putrid evil. Its also incredibly addictive.

I’m sure you’d agree.

However, I’ve noticed that the same people who will “tut-tut-tut” those poor souls addicted to visual imagery do not have the same moral compass when it comes to their reading habits.

The whole category of “mommy porn” applies to literature mostly targeted a moms, who fuel the romance novel industry. You know, the flowing hair guys with big pecks and the poor distressed lonely woman recovering from a dude who broke her heart. Half way through the story, he comes back in, love triangle. Repeat ad nausea.

I confess. I loved Jane Eyre. I read the book with Mr. Darcy and it was a good story.

But recently I picked up a novel where the author went into the mind of a sexual pervert. A rapist. My favorite author. My favorite genre, a spy novel. And I put it down.

If I wouldn’t watch the movie, why would I read the story?

I don’t want that in my mind. And just because the images come from words on the page doesn’t make them equally powerful. Equally addictive. And equally wrong.

When a man’s pornography habits are exposed, society places huge shame upon his shoulders. And rightfully so.

But If I were to read those steamy passages from those romance books, out loud, to your kids, would you feel good about it?

Where do you ideas of adult interactions come from? Your lustful books? Your sexually charged romance scenarios? Your flower-powered , verbal love fests that lead to a romp in the sheets?

Maybe I’m wrong. But when something comes onto TV that wrong, I was trained by my dad to look away. But we never really talked about books.

Maybe it’s a conversation we should have…..

with Jesus.

The bullet holes in your marriage.

With the Ray Rice debacle no where near being done, I ran across this article on Coffeestains.com and thought I’d repost today.

Original article appeared here. Written by David Porter, the Coffee Stains guy
Rome visit, June 2008 - 57

Several years ago an agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration was lecturing a group of kids about gun safety. As he was saying that he was the only one there professional enough to handle a Glock, he shot himself in the foot (or the thigh according to which account you read).

Michael Quinion reports a sobering event recorded in the Appleton Crescent newspaper of August 1857, “Mr. Darriel S. Leo, Consul to Basle, accidentally shot himself through the foot, four or five days ago, in a pistol gallery at Washington, and died on Sunday of lockjaw.” link

People have been shooting themselves in the foot for a long time. But the phrase has taken on another sense in more recent years. According to the Free Dictionary the phrase means, “to do or say something that causes problems for you.” (The Free Dictionary)

Last week I talked about ways to guarantee a divorce. But, those five aren’t the only ways to cause your marriage to flop. Here are three more ways to shoot your marriage in the foot: Continue reading The bullet holes in your marriage.

3 Conversations to have to save your marriage while on your honeymoon

Honeymoon conversations

Honeymoon Couple
Its your honeymoon. Your perfect day just finished. The cake was great, the best man didn’t drop the ring, and you are now on the beach, after the perfect first night. Suddenly you realize. The wedding is over, now we have to be married? How do we do this?

note: If you aren’t married, file this one away for the week after the honeymoon.

I’ve been married 17 years now. It was NOT only yesterday that Tahnya and I said our hopeful “I dos.” Though marriage is not nearly in as much danger as the forecasters have said (the divorce rate is much lower than forecast), broken wedding vows are everywhere.

I can’t turn off selfishness with a post, though I’ve tried.
I can’t heal broken history, thought I’ve tried.

But here are 3 conversations that I wish Tahnya and I had learned to have, and had repeatedly through the years. These are based on my own experience and some small input from friends. Continue reading 3 Conversations to have to save your marriage while on your honeymoon