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Thank the Giver vs. Give Thanks---"Meat-up" this Thanksgiving

Holiday cheer can be hard to muster when there’s chaos in the air; with more tasks and less time, ‘tis the season that puts a squeeze on our emotions, priorities and finances. Some men paint on a grin and roll through the routine with low expectations. Others face demons from the past, broken families, pressures and circumstances that bring up pain. For many, it’s not survival of the fittest; it’s just a matter of survival.

 

Holidays can be so much more. Allow me to tweak your perspective this year, starting with T-Day.

 

Typically, we go into Thanksgiving with hunger in mind, an appetite for turkey, stuffing, all the fix-ins and a football game, all in the name of gratefulness -- just like the pilgrims celebrated the harvest, right?

 

Wrong. Did you know Thanksgiving was the original men’s “meat-up” dinner that started with a prayer? Thanksgiving was actually evangelism in action, introducing other men -- in the Pilgrim’s case, Native Americans -- to God. It was a gathering of men to thank God for the harvest. Not just a time to be thankful. It was a time to address the person behind the provision, not randomly recite positive thoughts. 

Comebacks Need Setbacks

We don’t plan setbacks and that is exactly why they set us back so far emotionally. They are unwelcome, unexpected, and unmercifully longer than necessary. The toughest part of weathering a setback is that you must emotionally reset to zero and start all over. Brutal.

 

Ironically, setbacks are the birthplaces of all comeback stories. Just like diamonds are best seen against black velvet, recoveries are best seen following our tragedies. Ask my wife about each of her three miscarriages which were each followed by the healthy births of Cara, Ryan, and Jenna (my kids). Brutal losses followed by beautiful babies and magnificent maternal bonds.

 

Job is one of the most incredible, if not the greatest, ‘setback to comeback’ story of all time. Every man can relate to his story in way or the other. If you find yourself depleted, broken, lost, confused or angry with God right now, consider Job.

Putting Faith Back Into Your Future

Worrying about the future is big business and a big burden. We ask our kids what they want to be when they grow up. Tiger moms and dads pressure their kids to perform at a high level at very tender ages in order to get little Johnny and Jenny out in front of the future. In the process, we are creating kids who are paralyzed by the prospect of not meeting expectations. Case in point, I asked a high-school senior the other day what her college plans were and she walked away from the whole group. In her mind it was easier to excuse and embarrass herself than to take on her future.  This obsession with controlling the future is getting out of hand and adults are no better.  We are constantly peering into the crystal ball, planning ahead, forecasting, imagining what may be, dreaming of new realities, and how to avoid potential pitfalls.  But what happens when my future fails to meet my own, someone else’s, or culture’s expectations?

 

ANSWER: It becomes a burden.

 

Achilles Heel: Men's Greatest Weakness

A friend has been learning a lot about the Achilles tendon lately. At 47-years-old, locals nicknamed him “Old School”because he is still able to teach the young guns a few basketball lessons. However, the wear-and-tear from years on the court has started to wear-out the oh-so-critical tendon. So now Old School just feels old and (gulp) has to admit he has a weakness.

 

But more importantly, he has to admit he has a weakness. Now, he can do something about it, and perhaps get Old School back in session someday.

 

I think the greatest weakness men can have is being unaware that they have them. That’s why we call them “blind spots”because we all have them, but often can’t see them. An unexposed blind spot can cost a man everything. You are thinking everything is great but those around you have had enough and slowly start withdrawing. On the other hand, openly addressing a blind spot can be one of the hardest, but best things a man can do. The big idea is this: a man’s greatest weakness is not the blind spot itself, but being unwilling to recognize or admit to it.

When Daughter Disaster Strikes

The scariest news a dad can hear is that your daughter’s innocence has been stolen. Perhaps she was raped after a “roofie”slipped into her drink. Or her virginity was taken by a more experienced boyfriend —or man. Or maybe she was sexually assaulted, abused or traumatized by a relative, teacher or neighbor.

 

Dads can hardly imagine allowing their underage daughter to date, let alone imagine the unthinkable. But when daughter disaster strikes, what can a dad do? While pulling out a shotgun, clinching fists or mentally rehearsing a tortuous revenge may seem like a good idea, it’s not.

 

Helplessness, hurt, anger and sadness will settle in. But, the Bible —in particular Jesus —offers some guidance. In my years of counseling wounded young ladies and dads, I’ve seen the despair and frustration caused by rape, overdose, divorce and other daughter disasters. Fortunately, we serve an all-powerful, all-knowing God who is trustworthy. From this premise, and my experience, I offer the following outline to help dads deal with trauma associated with daughters.

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