Maybe God’s hands hold the contents of our heart, too.

November 7, 2016

Jack Freed featured this quote from Martin Luther in a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog – “I have held many things in my hands and I have lost them all; but, whatever I have placed in God’s hands, I still possess.” 

As I thought about that quote what is perhaps a corollary to it occurred to me – Many things have come and gone in my head; but the things that made it to my heart have stayed with me.

We have many possessions during our lives, most of which are lost over time; and we learn and remember many things as we journey through life the majority of which we eventually forget. It turns out that the really important and valuable things in life are not possessions gods-hands-3or facts, but rather have to do with highly personal and emotional feelings and memories that we keep tucked away in our hearts. Perhaps they are the things that we place in God’s hands, as Luther suggested.

After all, what better place could there be to entrust your feelings, your hopes, your loves, your sorrows and your joys than in god’s hands. We say that they reside in our hearts, but I suspect that the safe keeper of our most personal and innermost feelings – the ones that we say that we keep in our hearts – is really God.

When you think about it, most of the things that live in our hearts had the hand of God in them somehow. Whether they involved births, deaths, those we love, our marriages, wonderful events, tragedies, great successes or horrible failures; in all of those moments we called upon God, either to thank Him or ask for His help. Maybe, when he answered our call, he took a snapshot of the emotions of that moment and wrote it in our hearts for safekeeping. We can go back and recall those moments and those same emotions will well gods-hands-2up in our hearts again. Maybe that’s God saying to us, “Do you remember when we did this together?”

There’s that old familiar insurance company ad – You’re in Good hands with Allstate. I’d submit that your emotions and memories are in good hands with God. Let Him be the caretaker of the things that live forever in your heart. So, maybe Luther was saying the same thing in a slightly different way…those things that we put in God’s hands and let him write in our hearts, we will have forever. Think about it.


The tracks of our tears…

March 2, 2016

“Sometimes memories sneak out from my eyes and roll down my cheeks.”  (Andrew Guzaldo) – as seen recently on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Professional actors sometimes use the recall of sad or painful memories in order to summon up tears for scenes in their movies. For the rest of us it is often unintended or at least something that we are trying not to do when our eyes weal up and tears start running down our face. I usually can’t get through a funeral without that happening, but many crying-2other things get to me enough to cause that reaction. I absolutely don’t think there’s a man out there that didn’t have tears in this eyes while watching the moving ending to the movie Brian’s Song or perhaps at the ending to the movie Love Story. Those things didn’t even happen to us, yet we are so capable of empathy that they cause us to react as if we were an actual part of the story.

Letting our emotions come to the surface and spill down our cheeks every so often is good for us. It releases the tension that we caused in the first place by trying to “keep a stiff upper lip” and it serve to remind us of our own humanity. If it comes at the price of a little bit of humility, that’s probably not a bad thing either. There’s probably not worse advice that we get growing up than the whole “be a man” thing – man up, shake it off, stiff upper Crying-3lip, be strong – or for girls to “put on your big girl panties” – big girls don’t cry. There is certainly nothing wrong with trying to act mature about things that happen in life, where that maturity is focused upon taking everything in, thinking things out and making good decisions; however, there is nothing in that string that precludes taking a moment or two to let your emotions find an outlet through a few tears or even a good cry. Smokey Robinson and the Miracles had a 1965 hit “Tracks of My Tears” that talked about trying to hide your emotions behind a fake smile.

I don’t espouse walking around crying at everything or in reaction to every bad thing that may happen in life. I think we must become mature and emotionally stable enough to deal with most disappointments that come our way, unlike the very young who may cry or throw a tantrum when disappointed. We must also learn to deal with rejections in life in a better way than to immediately start crying. Life’s failures may be better met with resolve to keep trying than with tears of frustration or defeat.

There are still many things that can happen in life, or memories that can be recalled out ofcrying-1 some new incident, which may warrant a few tears. We can have tears of sadness and also tears of joy. So, it’s not just memories that sneak out of your eyes and roll down your face, it’s your emotions finally getting out showing the world that you are human and that care about something. And that’s a good thing. Often we might cry when recalling a failed relationship, either one that we let slip away or one that just wasn’t meant to be. This Jennifer Nettles song talks about that being a “Good Time to Cry.”

Sometimes life itself can be so tough, so unrelenting in its oppression or repetitive in its waves of bad news that you feel like crying all the time. There are many places around the world right now that might provide such an environment, perhaps a few right here in America. Rapper August Alsina has a powerful and explicit trailer for his release called Song Cry that wraps up a lot of these thoughts and gives a glimpse of a life that might make one want to cry on a daily basis. To listen to the full Song Cry, click here, but be forewarned that it is raw and explicit in parts.

crying-4So, no matter what reason you have to cry, let it out. Have a good cry, then gather yourself and move on with life. Maybe you needed that cry to put that memory is proper perspective or at least to put it back on the shelf in your mind where you keep the memories of the people and things that you don’t want to forget. Maybe having a few good cries about someone or something will help you turn those tears from ones of sadness or remorse or regret into tears of happiness at having had the opportunity to know them or the good fortune to have survived the event.


Growing pains…

November 5, 2015

mother and childI remember that, when I was a child, any time that I had some unexplained pain with no apparent cause my mom would say that I was just experiencing growing pains and that the pain would go away soon. She was usually right and that advice saved lots of unneeded trips to the doctor. I still get unexplained pains from time to time, but now at the other end of life’s cycle it is hard to explain them away as growing pains. They are just “getting old” pains, I guess.

Many of life’s “growing pains” actually involve not physical pains, but emotional ones. These are the pains of disappointments or failed relationships; sometimes the pain of dealing with hurtful comments or actions and sometimes the pain of leaving behind destructive relationships that didn’t work out the way that one had hoped. Yes, they all hurt; but, we live through the pain and come out the other side divorcebetter off. We have “grown” emotionally and intellectually by adding to our experience base. Once we get to the place where we can look back upon the experience with a little less emotion we are able to see our own errors and make mental notes for the future on things to avoid or things to do differently. We had some growing pains.

While growing pains are most common in the young, they are really with us all of our lives. As we age and learn, we may make fewer mistakes that come back to cause us pain. Maybe we become a little more cautious, hopefully without becoming cynical, about relationships. Perhaps we become more realistic about “changing him (or her)” before we get into a relationship with someone with noticeable faults. Maybe, as we become more comfortable with whom we are, we are less inclined to blame ourselves for things that the other person does or says. Maybe we learn to love ourselves first and then are better listening to musicable to love others. We’ve been through some growing pains.

That last little bit above is one of the keys to a happy life. You must learn to love yourself. You must be comfortable being alone with yourself and not need constant reassurance of your worth from others.  I know people, and you may know some too, who just cannot stand to be alone. They really don’t like themselves and need to have others around all the time. That’s a shame, because we spend all of our lives with ourselves and share but a few moments with others. For some, even sharing those few moments is really hard. It’s a real conundrum for those people – they cannot stand to be alone, but they do not trust enough to let others in. For them having others around all the time provides the crowd into which they feel safe just disappearing. For them life is full of growing pains.

So, the next time you experience some growing pains in your life, take the time to reflect on what just happened;women dreaming be happy that, while it may have hurt at the time, it didn’t kill you.  You’re still standing and the pain is subsiding. Make a memory out of it and learn from that memory. Promise yourself that you won’t make that same mistake again, but don’t let the memory of that pain harden you against the future emotional risks of realtionships. Life is full of those opportunities most of them work out great but a few turn out to be just growing pains.

Momma was right; the pain goes away; the key is to keep growing. Have a great day!


Be there for someone today

November 1, 2014

As seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog – “Be kind.  Remember every one of you is fighting a battle.  Everybody’s lonesome.”  (Marion Parker)

At first, I did not get this quote. Then I thought about it and it is true that even the most popular people often have secrets that they don’t share and with which they struggle in lonely isolation. Most of the world was shocked recently when Robin Williams took his own life. Here was a guy that most of us probably thought had it all – popularity, success, money, al l of the things that we believe lead to happiness – yet he struggled with depression and eventually lost his personal battle and committed suicide. He was lonesome in that battle.

I’m sure that there may have been a few close friends of Robin Williams who knew about his struggles, but perhaps he shut them out or they just weren’t there when he needed them the most. Many of us are caringthe same way. There are people with whom we may have shared our fears or concerns or anxieties. They wanted to help, but we pushed them away; refusing their help. Why? That’s one of the hallmarks of depressed behavior – the need/desire to be left alone. It is something that true friends need to fight their way through. They need to make sure that we are not alone and not allowed to feel alone in our fight. Everybody does not have to be lonesome.

If you know of someone that you care about who is struggling with a personal demon, the best thing that you can do for them is to make sure that they are not alone in that fight. Be there for them. Make them share it with you. Provide support and comfort or just lend a shoulder to cry upon. “You are not alone” is perhaps the best thing that you can say to them. Make sure that they do not retreat into a shell of loneliness. That only leads to despair and beyond.

It may be hard sometimes to force yourself into that person’s life and you may initially encounter anger and heavy pushback from them. Don’t let them discourage you from doing the right thing; and that is not leaving them alone to wallow in self-pity. You may have to become very pushy yourself, in order to break through that defense; but, keep at it until they either seek the help that you are encouraging them to get or completely break down and share their pain with you. That is the cathartic moment that is necessary to begin the healing process.

listeningOnce they realize that they are not alone; that you won’t leave them alone; they can begin to deal with the issues outside of just their own mind. Talking things out can make all of the difference. Just hearing someone else say “It’s OK. Let it out. You’ll be OK” can make all of the difference. In fact, just hearing themselves, get it out to someone else does wonders. It takes the huge burden of hiding the pain off their shoulders.

When you were a child you’d run to Momma with your pain and she would make it all better with a kiss and a hug and maybe a Band-Aid for your boo-boo. As adults we need to be able to turn to our loved ones or friend for that hug and Band-Aid for our emotional boo-boos. That’s what friends are for, if we allow them to play the role. True friends make us let them play that role.

So, there are two bottom-line thoughts here. One is to not to become lonesome by trying to hold girls huggingeverything in; but, rather to seek out a friend or loved one to share the pain with. The second is to aggressively be that friend who is there for others, so that they can’t become lonesome in their misery. I’ll end today on this note –

“Never underestimate the difference YOU can make in the lives of others. Step forward, reach out and help. This week reach to someone that might need a lift”

― Pablo


Use your mind’s eye to find your happy place…

October 10, 2014

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen, or even touched.  They must be felt within the heart.”  (Helen Keller) – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Isn’t the imagery that we have created around parts of our bodies and how we “use” them in our everyday lives interesting? We say that we see things “in our mind’s eye.” We may make decisions based upon a feeling in our gut or perhaps in our heart. We may love people with all our heart.  We feel things with our heart. We try to “get our head around” things. We can be “touched” by others without physical contact.  We may say that the death of a loved one can make the heart ache; and, thinking of difficult things is sometimes said to make your head hurt.

We tend to use those to describe feelings that are deep and most of the time very emotional and we need a place brain mapto locate them within our physical existence, so we choose body parts.  I suppose that we are lucky that someone in antiquity choose the heart as the symbol for love and not our brains; otherwise, we might be delivering box of candy shaped like the brain. Of course modern science has been able to locate and map out the portions of our brains that are really involved in all of the emotions that we have and so far none of the maps have pointed to the heart or revealed a real eye in the brain.

But, let’s let go of science and accept things as we feel them. Helen Keller couldn’t see or hear, but she somehow came to understand the concept of beauty and could see them in her mind’s eye and feel them in her heart.  Even if you have normal eyesight there are things that you cannot see that you may have some feel for in your mind’s eye. Hypnotists sometimes help people find their “happy place”, somewhere that either they have been to in the past or a totally imaginary place that they can conjure up in their mind. With your eyes closed you can “see it” and feel the happiness that being there brings. Do you have a happy place that you go to when you need to? Usually they are quiet, comfortable and safe feeling places; many times they may even be places from your childhood memories. They cannot be touched or seen but they are felt in your heart and thus seen in your mind’s eye.

If you have never really tried to conjure up your “happy place”, I encourage you to do so. Having a refuge like that, which you can visit whenever you need to, can be a life changer (sometimes a life saver). Some people get Butterfliesto their happy place through a form of meditation; others may use prayer to get there. How you get there is less important that the fact that you can get there and that being there makes you feel better, more at peace and more able to cope. It’s not really so much about escaping whatever caused you to need to go there; it’s more about regaining control over the emotions of the situation, calming down, and getting back within yourself. While you are there, if you look around; you will likely also find the strength and the courage to persevere, once you have to return to your conscious life.

There also tend to be a lot of faith and hope to be found in your happy place. That gets back to getting back in control of your emotions. You can once again have hope, maybe based upon faith or maybe just based upon taking a calmer look at the situation.  Even if the situation is beyond hope, there is still faith; for it is faith that allows you to step off into the abyss that you can see knowing that you will not fall due to the power that you cannot see. It is so much easier to take the step of faith if you are already in your happy place and at peace.  women dreaming

So, get off by yourself this weekend; maybe with a little soft music in the background and a nice glass of wine, perhaps sitting in front of a crackling fireplace, and find your personal happy place. Go there. See it in your mind. Remember it and how to get there; then use it whenever life starts to overwhelm you or when emotions overtake you. It’s a beautiful place that you will feel in your heart.

Have a great weekend! I’ll see you next week. I’m off to my happy place for the weekend.


Dealing with life’s pains…

September 27, 2014

“Knowing that there is worse pain doesn’t make the present pain hurt less.”  (Real Live Preacher), as seen recently on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

We all experience pain from time to time, whether it is real, physical pain or emotional pain. Sometimes people will say things like “shake it off” or maybe “it could be worse.” Those sage pieces of advice seldom help in the moment. In fact, recent studies have shown the harmful effects of decades of sports coaches telling a player with a concussion to shake it off and get back in the game. There are tons of stories from ex-athletes about how they wish now that they had taken better care of their bodies, instead of “playing through the pain.”

On the emotional level, people who have just experienced the loss of a loved one or child cannot be consoled by adviceremorseful from others. Theirs is a deep person pain that only they can feel and understand. What is really needed in those moments is a hug and a shoulder to cry upon. The release of letting it out through a good cry is much better than trying to maintain “a stiff upper lip.” The emotional pain that we experience in such times is our minds trying to get itself around the overwhelming senses of fear and confusion and loss and concern for the future all at once. It is too much to process and organize and compartmentalize, so we break down in tears and that somehow helps. The tears provide a way for it to all wash over us at once and get out.  After a good cry, you head can clear and rational thought return.

Once the initial pain subsidies we often settle into a period of dull, persistent pain, whether the injury be physical or mental. That can come in the form of a throbbing, back of the head pain or as sharp little jibs of pain as we are reminded of the loss or the initial injury. We begin to learn how to deal with the persistent pain and perhaps start the rehabilitation process to try to get back to a new “normal.”

Soman on cruthesme injuries in sport are career ending and many losses in life are life-changing. Things can never get back to the way they were, so you need to focus upon living with things the way they are. That is hard on ex-athletes and on people who have suffered the loss of a loved one. Many ex-athletes suffer though bouts of depression because they can no longer perform at the level that they were used to; but, more importantly, they are no longer a member of the team that defined them as people and served as a “family” of sorts.

People who lose their life partners suffer the greatest sense of loss of all. It is hard to lose a child, especially for a mother; but to lose your life partner is much worse. A successful long-term relationship with a life partner results in the melding of the two souls to such as extent that the loss of one will leave the other feeling only half there. The pain of having half of who you had become in life torn away is beyond that of all other human pain. Yet, we survive. We may cry longer and with deeper emotions that at any other time in our lives; but we live on.

When you are a child and got hurt, your mom might kiss your boo-boo and make it all better. You probably never toldcaring her that kissing the boo-boo really didn’t make the pain go away; but that being held and loved made bearing the pain a little easier. As adults we seldom still have mom around to kiss our boo-boos; but, if you are lucky you have friends or relatives who are there to give you that hug of assurance and tell you that things will be alright. In that moment, let yourself go; become that child again that finds comfort and relief from the pain in someone’s arms. Have a good cry; then, thank them for being there. They may not even understand what they just did for you; but, they’ll be glad that they were there to help.

An what if they aren’t there when you need them? Remember that you are never alone. You have only to acknowledge that God is there to comfort you to begin feeling the warmth of His embrace. There’s no boo-boo too big for God to handle, if you go to Him for a hug.