Labels, Pretzels, And Feelings.

Labeling things always seems so dangerous to me. I’m sure you can relate. Do I really want to label my issue with such-and-such an addiction? Do I really want to label this relationship abusive? Or the ones that I struggle with presently would be…do I really want to admit that I’m 50 lbs overweight and living in depression?

I suppose admitting you have a problem or placing a label on something can be freeing as well. For me, deciding Allie was the one I was willing to give my life for and to has reaped the benefits of freedom and love that I could have never fathomed before. The label of faithful commitment called marriage has been well worth the cost.

However, for many of you, in the present-world of dating, everyone has so many options. Swipe right, swipe left – go on a few “dates” and watch a little “Netflix” – okay, now I’m bored – let’s swipe some more. Placing a label on things seems…dangerous…to some. Placing a label on things may cause someone to avoid making a decision altogether (perhaps that is why some people date 5+ years or end up in 3+ year engagements). Committing to another now takes all the other options off the table and that risks making a bad decision.

I don’t know about you, but I hate failing.

Failure is one of those things that drives me crazy. If I put myself in an unfamiliar scenario and say “I’m going to lose x-number of pounds by y-date,” or “I’d like to make z amount of money by 2025,” then I feel paralyzed. Admitting that I have a goal or getting it out into the light is one of the most proven methods for success. Let others know where you’d like to go and surround yourself with an energetic team of others that are already going that direction – be okay with leaving the stragglers behind, because that’s not where you want to be anymore, yourself.

If that’s the method for success, then why is it so difficult?

To place the label on oneself as writer would probably mean that one should write something…right? Hence this silly blog airing out my internal spider-web of feelings.

And feelings…aren’t they just so complicated? I really, truly wonder how anyone makes it through life without therapy/counseling and some kind of stress-release outlet (for me, it’s coffee and reading or disc-golf on my days off). If it weren’t for my own weekly counseling and “me-time” outings, I’d be a pretzel of feelings. I pray for those of you that have yet to have the courage to admit that you need help.

It’s insane that we all thought at the age of 18 that we knew so much and would be conquerors of the world. To have some of that confidence back would be amazing, but perhaps tempered with the wisdom of years of realizing just how much anyone always has left to learn. Remain humble and you will be lifted up, in due time.

One simply has to be themselves to get anywhere in life. You are unique and different and important and you add value to the world around you.

As my counselor put it – “you don’t really have to change or be any different for anyone other than yourself, if you want to.”

Another friend put it growing up, “you will always do whatever it is that you want to do.” It may have been his way of spurring me on toward a more obedient faith during times of abundant apathy and cynicism, but that truth remains.

You will do what you want to do.

What is that, exactly?

I’m still trying to find the answer, for myself. I think I grew up in such a way that I wanted to be perfect and pleasing for others. Focusing my energy on ensuring I was setting the right example – or rather, obsessing over the times I obviously had not set the correct one. Being the oldest of 5 siblings places you in that sort of dynamic by birthright. It’s no one’s “fault” really, more so just where you end up.

Wasting all this energy on wondering what others want of me has proven unsuccessful. So I now find myself beginning to ask the question of, “what do I want for me?”

Sounds selfish. But it’s not. The times that others have been the most blessed and enthused by my presence are the times that I’ve loved myself.

What are your thoughts? How have you personally come to peace with who you are and decided what you wanted for yourself? How can I pray for and encourage your own life-journey?


I’ll Be Honest – Big Guys Hurt Too

Let me tell you something – I hate being overweight. It makes me sick to see myself in the mirror. And don’t worry, I’m not looking for sympathy. I just want to be vocal – to find my voice again. It’s been lost in the darkness of my own self-loathing.

I’ve ventured from charismatic and outgoing to shy and reserved – characteristics that have previously only been on my radar when talking to girls (when I was way younger). In other words, I’m a more sedated version of my previous “self” and lacking a great deal of the power and confidence that used to come from being a smart, personable, tall guy.

I’m still opinionated, vocal, and competitive (in the work-place), but I’m lacking in confidence pretty much everywhere else. One of the most attractive qualities, and a necessary one, is one’s ability to overcome. And I lack it. Zilch confidence in my ability to overcome myself.

I was crying the other night, because hurt people cry. I shamed myself for being a man that was losing it like an adolescent in his bedroom, but I’ve decided that I shouldn’t be ashamed of my hurt. I’m just a broken human-being. Someone else may have an addiction to meth or a problem with their anger that leads to abuse, while I have a problem with being motivated to exercise and I eat/drink too many calories. Person A is broken and Person B (me) is broken too, just different types of broken.

I hope that when I do (choosing to believe, in this moment anyways) overcome, I’ll be able to help others. Because I have so much empathy for big guys (and gals) now. I see them and know how much hurt they face when they decide to go with the second or third outfit they tried on, because they look “less fat” in it, or because the others just plain didn’t fit and your arms couldn’t move. I know that from the moment they wake up – it’s a struggle to believe in yourself – to think “I can do this.” I know what it’s like to sit in the manager’s office and wipe sweat from your forehead during a job interview. I also know that they often do everything in their power to avoid mirrors and being tagged in photos on Facebook that aren’t selfies from Instagram. And that your mortal “enemies” are those perfectly in-shape friends posting their gym selfies – #GetFit, because we know they’re so out-of-shape already (yes – heavy, unproductive sarcasm there – but you know EXACTLY what I mean).

All of that is to say, I get the struggle.

Hurting friends and family (for whatever reason – overweight, in debt, broken up with, treated unjustly, etc.), your feelings matter. They have value. And I don’t care if you’re 18 or 70, it’s okay to talk with someone – obviously probably not everyone – about how you’re torn and bruised inside. I hope someone reads this and says, “That’s me, too (in this area or others).” And to them, I want to say that you matter – that I love you – and that I have so much heart-felt fondness for your perseverance to continue the fight of life, even if you lost a battle or two.

Emotion isn’t weakness. We can harness its power for the greater good. Our tears can lead to prayers, anger to (healthy) action, anxiety to planning, and so on.

You are not yet beyond saving. You have yet to be defeated. Time hasn’t run out yet.

Keep running the race. I’m running (slow, but steady) with you. Let’s pray for, and love on, each other.