EMM Main Blog
While holidays provide times to thank God, and celebrate Christ’s birth, so often we get caught up in the familiar patterns we’ve always followed. Turkeys, trees, trimmings. Cookies, cakes and gaining weight. That’s all ok. But I think many men just show up, instead of getting involved and taking the lead. We all have holiday family traditions. Some are handed down, others are created by accident. Some traditions we’d rather never happened. But I think God’s man can play a greater role. What if we intentionally created a new tradition(s) that honored God and others -- and was fun to boot? Here are a couple of traditions in the Luck family:
I broke the rules. I asked overly self-conscious Orange County men and women to stand in the middle of a church service if they had never heard the words “I love you” or “I am proud of you” from their father. A good ten seconds passed before one brave man stood and then several more women and men joined him. The keyboard player began to play some comforting chords which infused this moment of freedom and healing with a gentle and safe spirit. Like a breaker rolling onto the Laguna Beach shoreline it came from the back to the front. A wave of people began to rise up out of their seats. Some were weeping, some were holding their spouse’s hand, and others stood alone. The pure shock and awe of people letting their defenses down and making themselves vulnerable, in a public way, was powerful.
- Mon Nov 24, 2014
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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.
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.
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.