Tea Bag Tastes Of Journey

Each morning a small white tag dangles from a cotton string leading back to the tea bag gently dancing in my mug. And written on each tag comes a phrase from which to launch my day. Wisdom, inspiration, and soul-stirring caffeine in one tidy package.

Today’s message resurrected painful memories of someone I don’t care for – a person I left behind years ago. Specifically, an earlier version of me.

“Love is to live for somebody, love is not to live with somebody.”

The tea bag’s words kept dragging me back to a time for which I am ashamed but accepting of a journey that needed to happen.

I’ll admit I was a bit of a mess coming into adulthood. A recipe laced with selfishness, materialism, and overly judgmental was a bad road for me that those around me. Maturity, by practice, is learning to leave your adolescent tendencies behind and embrace the values of serving others. And nowhere is that formula more important than with love.

IMG_2042Imagine a traditional shooter’s target with a bulls-eye in the center. As an adolescent, we identify ourselves as the bulls-eye with the world circling around. Things we say, do, and think are crafted to serve the needs of the center – or in this case, us.

One day, if we are lucky, we realize it is lonely in the center.

I may not be alone in having to grow through this stunted stage, but in life, you must hold tightly your failures as you do your successes. From your failures, you learn humility and a greater appreciation for the world around you. Inside are lessons you will never learn anywhere but on the playing field of life.

For whatever stage I am at now, I can promise you I did not start out here. Ask my wife. And God as my witness, she deserves the nod for reshaping this mess of malformed clay into something worth her keeping around.

Love is a painful journey. And to travel the road successfully requires two people to facing each other, not standing side by side. Only by looking into the eyes of the other will your hearts ever meld together. This is where you cross over from living for someone verses living with someone. Marriage is a man-made business agreement in one sense; love is a human bond, full of powerful mystery and emotion. If you are lucky in life, you find yourself blessed with both.

I read once if you are happy in your relationship you carry a haunting feeling as if not enough time remains. Conversely, if you are unhappy or unconnected, time hangs like a heavy blanket of daily dread.

Recognizing the bulls-eye is where everyone else should reside is life changing. The moment you see your earlier mistakes and commit to change, you effectively must start your life over one day at a time, relearning what is important, retraining your instincts.

The road is hard, bumpy, and bone-jarring but I highly recommend the journey.

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Holidays Offer Reason To Believe

I believe.

Every year around this time we run across reminders to ‘believe’. But in each instance, the message is incomplete – never really telling us what to ‘believe’. Here, over the course of 500 words, I hope to share a few personal suggestions.

First of all, I still believe in God – regardless of how cool or uncool, this might seem. The reality is He is there and if you don’t believe me, I’d invite you for a test drive without Him. Traveling without this copilot can be unnerving. Over my lifetime I’ve done it both ways. Having Him along for the ride has made mine a difference of night and day.

Secondly, I still believe in the spirit of Santa Claus. How can you not believe in the power of thinking of others and giving the gift of time, love, or small expressions of your gratitude to those we hold most dear? Also, Santa is one sharp dresser.

Next, I’d have to say I still hold great faith in my fellow mankind. At times most of us will find ourselves questioning what the future holds. But if we’re honest, we’ve got a pretty good track record of doing the right thing when it comes down to it. I’ve seen this too many times to deny that most people are, by default, good and decent. And I intend to continue to invest my energy and strength in supporting them.

The American Dream, bashed, battered, and run over in the public court of opinion, is still the best thing going on the planet Earth. If you’ve ever really traveled outside these borders and touched, tasted, and experienced the other side, you know what a blessing it is to live in this country. Doubt it? Ask around. I’ve spent more than my fair share with people who want nothing more than to call America their home for the simple reason of having an opportunity to break free of the shackles of economic, political or religious restraint.

I also still believe in America. Remember, this is the country that put a man on the moon, invented instant coffee, and where individuals contribute to charity more per capita as a measure of gross domestic product than any other nation on the planet. Not only are we a resourceful and innovative nation, but we’re also generous to others via’ giving beyond anything the world has ever seen. I don’t know about you but I don’t mind being associated with smart, generous people.

And finally, I believe in you. Granted, many of us have never met, but odds are we’ve more in common than separates us. If I’ve learned anything in my continuing accumulation of years it is most of us value our families, friends, and neighbors. We even value strangers we’ve never met before – lending a hand or other resources to help someone in need. Aside from needless divisiveness, we are all pretty much alike.

So next time you see a sign encouraging you to believe look inside of yourself for the answer.

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