It could happen to you

“I can’t believe this is happening to me!”

“Could you believe he actually said that about me?”

“I can’t believe she would think that about me!”

These are things we’ve all said and heard. So let me just say this.

If Moses‘ leadership could be questioned.

If Joseph could get framed for something he didn’t do.

If David could be hated by his in-laws.

If Paul could be called a heretic.

If Jesus could be called a blasphemer.

…ya….believe it. It really could happen to you.

Not saying it’s fair, or right, but you better believe it could happen to you. Stop being surprised, and move on with your life.

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You’re Better Off Crazy

**This post was originally posted on an old blog of mine over 4 years ago. I encountered something similar the other day and thought instead of writing a new post, I would repost this one which I thought captured it at least as well as I could now**
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“I Love this Song” he said, and sung a few words. “Is this Journey?”

“No,” said the girl behind the McDonald’s counter “I’m pretty sure it’s Nick Lachey”.

Before I continue this story, you have to understand that this man is crazy. Not in the way you’re assuming, (I mean, who likes Nick Lachey”), but this man literally would be living in a mental hospital, if such things still existed.

I’ve seen this man, (whose name I believe is Dave), around before. He likes to stand on the street corner and ask people for change while drinking tea out of a giant mug, and he REALLY loves McDonald’s. He likes to ambush strangers waiting for the bus and ply them with McDonald’s knowledge and inquire after their favourite sandwiches.

Now to continue the story….

“Well I love this song,” said Dave, “I know all the words. I know lots and lots of words to lots of songs.”

“You ever been in a band?” butted in another man.

“Nope”, replied Dave cheerfully. Blissfully unaware of the competition for musical status he was about to lose.

“Well I have” said Mr. Bandman, “I’ve been playing in Bars for 40 years and know the words to every song that has ever been on the radio”

“You know who else I love?” Dave said, completely unaware that he had just been soundly beaten. “I love Alice Cooper. I have all his albums.”

“Oh ya,” Mr. Bandman’s eyes lit up, as he saw another chance to score a musical point. “What instrument did he play?”

“Probably guitar,” said Dave.

“Ha! Alice Cooper didn’t play anything!” crowed Mr. Bandman New World Champion Of Everything Music. “He just sang!” He looked around the restaurant to make sure everyone was seeing this.

“Well, I didn’t know” said Dave politely, “But I have all his albums and I love all his songs”.

Now I don’t want to belittle Dave’s plight. He clearly is down on his luck, probably because of whatever mental struggles he has. But sanity minus sensibility isn’t all that much better. Dave is totally fine with Dave. And we can all use a lesson from him.

Almost everyone runs around this world trying to prove themselves, comparing themselves. And every single time we find out that somebody out there is bigger, stronger, smarter, skinnier, prettier, more knowledgeable, or even just THINKS they are those things, we are crushed. Distraught. Depressed.

But here is the truth. You are a Human Being. A Person. Created by God. In His image. You were made on purpose, for a purpose.

And if you can think of all that, and still be depressed because you are comparing yourself to other created people just like you, well then quite frankly, you’d probably be better off crazy. Just like Dave. Who thinks that Dave is just fine the way he is.

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Mr. World Music Champion sneered at his foe, the one who couldn’t tell he had been vanquished. He turned towards the server and wished her a goodnight.

“You have a goodnight too!” shouted Dave who was on his way out.

“I wasn’t talking to you” laughed Mr. Insecure MusicMaster. A look of utter superiority flashed across his face.

“Ok!” smiled Dave as he headed outside, still humming the Nick Lachey song he loved so much.

Hunger

Hunger.

What a bizarre thing.

Like when you are really hungry? What an insane feeling. I can remember being 14 and being convinced that I was as hungry as anyone had ever been in the world. My mom basically just gave me a pot of rice to eat in the afternoon because I wouldn’t stop complaining about how hungry I was. Just being a growing teenage boy was an overwhelming thing.

Is there anything that can our affect our decision making like hunger? When you get hungry, figuring out what to eat, or just how you are going to get to where you’re going to eat next is the only thing matters.

I don’t have more of a one track mind then when I’m hungry. My wife could be telling me the most important information, but if I’m really hungry, It’s like a symphony orchestra is playing beethovans 5th between my ears. I can’t hear anything.

Because food is a need. You must eat. You must have nutrients. Without them you die. And your body and brain know this.

And it takes over everything.

For example…….

I’m hungry right now

And I can’t remember what this blog was about.

All I know is. Don’t work hungry.

You won’t be able to think straight.

I think…..

I don’t know anymore……..

Craziest of all….I don’t think I’ve ever been actually hungry. Not real hunger. Not life and death hunger. That’s a very real thing, and as hungry as I’ve ever felt, I’ve never truly been that hungry.

Surviving Tornadoes

Last Wednesday most people in Ottawa received a text alert that there was a Tornado Warning in Ottawa. And if you live in Ottawa or anywhere close by you’ll know, we don’t get Tornado Warnings much.

So Twitter was fun.

So many people were totally freaking out. Tweeting potential goodbye’s to family’s. Posting about hiding under their desks and panicking. The thing was, by the time that many people received the message, the storm was already past much of Ottawa. In my part of town it was sunny and calm. And yet people in our neighbourhood totally panicked.

But it’s not really their fault. I’m not saying anyone was stupid for freaking out, most people have never ever received a tornado warning. Two people that I know had a very different response. My wife, who grew up in Saskatchewan and witnessed quite a few tornadoes, and my sister, who lived in Mississippi for years, where hearing the tornado sirens go off isn’t uncommon at all.

Having witnessed and lived through real tornadoes, they knew the signs of when it’s not a tornado “warning” but a tornado is actually imminent, and they knew were weren’t experiencing any of them. So they were not worried at all. In fact they were able to calm down the people around them.

There are a lot of life experiences that are tough, scary, and difficult. But after we’ve lived through them, it actually helps us cope in the future. We can even use that experience to help other people calm down or know how to process difficult things.

I once had a friend who was rejected by the RCMP in his initial interview. The reason? Nothing bad had ever happened to him. They couldn’t trust that he knew had to handle difficult situations as a cop if he had no experience dealing with them in everyday life. Another friend of mine who had a difficult past was nervous he would be rejected in his interview, instead he was told “Perfect! You’ll be so much better at helping other people in rough situations”.

I’m not wishing bad things to happen to you. You know the saying “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?”. Well….that’s a stupid saying because as any wounded gazelle knows, sometimes what doesn’t kill you just weakens you so that you fall behind and get eaten first.

BUT, I do think about this. Sometimes getting shot with an arrow, means you just have another one to throw into your quiver to use later.

Maybe surviving your Tornadoes will help you help others survive theirs.

The Quickest Way To Mental Health

Years ago I worked as a driver for a Government Minister. Picking him up at his house every morning I was the first person he saw each day. And each day the first words after “Good Morning Josh!” were something positive about the weather.

No.

Matter.

What.

It started to get annoying.

Minus 40 degrees? “Less snow then yesterday!”

2 feet of snow? “At least it’s warmer than yesterday’s minus 40!”

Raining? “The farmer’s must be glad, it’s been so dry lately”.

37 degrees and humid? “Gotta soak up these days to get us through the winter!”

It wasn’t just me. Other coworkers would make comments. Didn’t this guy know we are Canadian? Complaining about the weather is at the core of our identity. Our nation was settled by a bunch of european idiots who landed in their ships and when the aboriginals were like “ya……there is gonna be 3 feet of snow and you’re going to die of scurvy”, responded by being like “Sweet! Let’s send for our vulnerable wives and children!”. Then they pretty much all died that winter and we’ve been complaining about the weather ever since.***

***There is a chance that this is not a 100% historically accurate interaction***

Anyhow. Complaining about the weather is as Canadian as hockey, politeness and thinking our humility makes us better than americans. (We apparently haven’t fully learned what irony is. But I digress)

Back to the matter at hand. What was with this guy? Why wouldn’t he complain like the rest of us? Then one day he told me. “Josh,” He said on one particularly gloomy day, “Accepting the weather is the first step to mental health.” He continued to share with me his life philosophy. See he had been all over the world, including war zones & political hotspots. He had seen friends gunned down in broad daylight. Narrowly missed being blown up in a terrorist plot. He knew that there are good days and bad days, great days and tragic days, and you can’t really predict them. BUT. Every day has weather. Moreover, the first thing you usually interact with each day is the weather. So he purposely chose to make the weather a constant positive in his life. Everyday would start with him being delightfully surprised that the weather was exactly what it was.

I remember a story that the well-known dutch missionary Brother Andrew used to tell. In Holland the saying isn’t “Got out on the the wrong side of the bed”, instead it’s “Getting out of bed on the wrong foot”. So Brother Andrew said he named one foot “Praise The Lord” and the other “Hallelujah”. That way he had no “wrong feet”.

It’s a similar choice. It’s saying, I’m going to start every day being grateful. Each morning I will choose to start by finding the positive, no matter how cold, rainy, snowy, or humid.

I am well aware that there are people who struggle with mental health issues completely out of their control and in no way am I suggesting that if they think more happy thoughts there problems will be solved. But for many of us who are simply too busy, too anxious about work, too worried about our finances, choosing to start the day off making a deposit in the account of positivity instead of negativity, truly can be the first step to mental health.

 

 

The wikipedia page of your life

Most of us aren’t ever going to be famous enough to have our own wikipedia page written. But it’s a very interesting thing to think “what would the wikipedia page about me say?”.

The reason I find this such an interesting question is because of the rules that wikipedia has in place to make sure that the entries stay as objective as possible. The main rule is that opinions must be clearly marked as opinions.

For example, while Jordan Peterson’s entry lists many “controversial” incidents, and even though many of the articles cited use the term “controversial professor”, the actual entry never calls him such. Rather it makes it clear that there are people who consider him controversial.

A great example is the way it allows musicians to be described. It doesn’t say that Taylor Swift has a “sweet and soft” voice. Rather it references that specific critics refer to her vocals as “sweet and soft”.

Where am I going with this.

Could you write out the story of your life and actually consider where your own opinions of yourself come from? What would it look like if you just stuck to the facts. So many of us carry labels that others have put on us as if they are the truth. We would write “Despite being stupid, John Smith managed to graduate with honours from university”. Or would it be more truthful to write “John Smith graduated with honours from university, the only member of his family to accomplish such a feat. This despite the fact that at the age of 10 his teacher had referred to him in a parent/teacher meeting as stupid”.

It’s a challenge I have for myself. Do I carry the labels and opinions that others have put on me, both negative AND positive. Or do I realize that other peoples opinions of me are just that, opinions. And that not only do I not have to carry those labels, but I also have a lot of my own story left to write.

Who eats better than you?

I didn’t used to be very good at eating.

Now mind you, if you have ever watched me eat over my entire lifetime you would not think I ever struggled with eating. But I’m not talking about my appetite, I was just a typical North American kid who had one style of eating. Is it deep-fried? Crispy? Crunchy? Salty? Feeeeeed it to me!

I was not a food-cultured person.  (Ironically my mother is a really good cook. But that didn’t stop me from demanding my steak be cooked well done).

I was the punk who went to the sushi restaurant with my co-workers and just loaded up on a plateful of chicken wings instead. As previously stated, I would go to the Keg and order steak-well done. And I ordered coke with everything.

Then one day I started working for a guy who knew how to eat. Years of working as a sales rep meant he had to learn how to go to restaurants and know exactly what to order to impress the clients. And the best thing happened to me. He just would order for me. He picked Sushi that wasn’t intimidating until I learned not just to love sushi but I could be the guy who ordered for the table.

He refused to let me eat steak well-done.

And he taught me that Ginger-ale is a superior drink with many meals.

And I’m really glad he did. As someone that has spent a lot of the last 4 years on the road, knowing how to order and eat well is a big benefit. Not just that, but I in turn have learned to help other people have better food experiences.

And it’s all because I found someone who was better than me at eating.

But importantly, I had no pride in my ability to order food. So I didn’t mind if someone told me I was doing it wrong.

But I do have pride in other areas of my life. That’s not so good.

I hope I find people that are better than me at all those things and that I am willing to just say, “Sure. Just show me what you do.”

I think it’s called being a disciple.