Lessons You Learn When You Get the Flu

Sickness is inevitable. Literally, none of us is immune. Yet I always find it a complete shock when I find myself in a feverish state, shivering under a pile of blankets on the couch.

This week, I came down with the dreaded flu. I followed my typical pattern of alternating between complete despair and delirium. Only people who have seen the Netflix show “Stranger Things” will understand this but whenever I closed my eyes for the first two days, I had visions that I was in the “Upside down world”.

Rather than waste an experience like that, I thought I would share a few of the lessons that I learned. Here they are in no particular order.

We live in a broken world

Things are not as they should be. A lot of us recognize this intellectually but the experience of sickness drives it home in a way that simply thinking about it can’t.

During the week, my friend Jim sent me an article with the title “Death is Never Natural”. It was a piece about how all death should shock us and make us feel uncomfortable. God didn’t design our world with death as a part of the plan. Each of us innately knows that in our core.

Sickness touches on the same theme. It is part of living in a broken world and reminds us that the beautiful design we were created for has been marred. We long to live in the world as it used to be.

Life goes on without me

I often overestimate my importance. This hit me as I was waiting in my car in the Wegmans parking lot. My wife Laura was picking up my Tamiflu prescription because I was too embarrassed to go into the store with the mask I was given at the doctor’s office (I looked like a walking emoji). I observed all the people walking by and thought to myself, “How are these people functioning?!”

When I’m not sick, my life is often filled with running around from one activity to the next. Honestly, a lot of the time I think all this hectic movement is really important. It’s only when I can’t do it all, I realize I’m not as critical to world survival as I like to imagine.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

Like a lot of guys, I like to think I have the invincibility of Wolverine or Superman. Why get a flu shot? My finely tuned body will heal itself right away or any virus will simply bounce right off me.

Bad news. I’m not Wolverine or Superman. I’m not even Antman. I have no superpowers. The humility to admit that ahead of time and get a flu shot would have made this whole ordeal a LOT different. There is strength in humility.

The truth about walking with God is sometimes our biggest lessons come in the times when we are at our lowest.

Now get out there and get your flu shot!

Three Reasons You Shouldn’t Marry a Strong Woman

Few decisions will impact your life more than the choice of who you will marry.

Guys, maybe you are seriously considering marrying someone. You might already be engaged. Heck, maybe you are getting ready to walk down the aisle in a couple of hours. Let’s face it, that’s about the right timing for most guys to start reading blogs about marriage.

Even if the idea of marriage is a distant dream, akin to the Buffalo Bills hoisting the Lombardi trophy, let me give you some advice…think twice before you marry a strong woman!

When I use the word “strong” in this context, I’m not talking about deltoids, triceps or bench press ability. I’m talking about a woman with internal strength. A woman who is secure in who she is and who has an emotional resiliency that isn’t dependent upon you or any other human being.

There are many reasons why choosing to enter a life long relationship with a strong woman might not be a good idea. Here are three of them.

  1. She won’t enable your dysfunction

All of us find ways to cope with life. Sometimes these seem rather harmless. For instance, we might eat an extra bowl of ice cream every now and then or turn on Sports Center for a few minutes. Other ways of coping are much more harmful like retreating into our own space for prolonged amounts of time or treating people around us disrespectfully.

Well, if you aren’t willing to engage the dysfunctional ways you treat yourself and others PLEASE don’t marry a strong woman. She will lovingly, and sometimes not so lovingly point out your unhealthy ways of coping. It’s not comfortable! You might even get mad. If you want to stay the same for the rest of your life, find someone else.

  1. She won’t depend on YOU to feel good about herself

She might love spending time with you. She may like the different perspective you bring to her world. Ultimately though, she won’t NEED your approval to get through her day.

If you like to think of yourself as “The Center of the Universe” or “God’s gift to (fill in the blank)” you definitely want to stay away from a strong woman. You will find yourself reminded that the planets of our solar system don’t revolve around you. As a matter of fact, you aren’t even the center of her world! She gets her strength from a place much more consistent and profound than you will ever be.

  1. She will be committed to raising strong kids

Aside from being a husband, being a dad is the toughest job you will have in life. You can “clock in” and “clock out” of work but being a good dad takes constant intentionality.

A strong woman won’t accept a “slack off” father for her kids. She also won’t tolerate a man who belittles her children or tries to intimidate them with fear.

She is passionate about providing a healthy environment for her kids to grow and flourish into the people they were created to be.

If you don’t want to put effort into fatherhood or if you want to replicate the aforementioned dysfunction in your life, run away when you see a strong woman. Run away quickly!

A final thought…

This advice comes after over 17 years of marriage to one of the strongest women I know. She is beautiful on the inside and out. Walking through life with her has truly transformed the way I see the world. Neither of us is perfect (FAR from it!) but together we are becoming more of who God truly made us to be. If you don’t want that experience, think twice before you walk down the aisle. I’m learning it takes a strong man to be married to a strong woman.

 

 

Who are you?

When I was in 2nd and 3rd grade, there was a weird phenomenon at my school. Kids in my class wanted to get married to each other. Even though this seems a little strange and maybe even a tad freaky to me now, at the time, it didn’t seem like an odd thing at all.

When my fellow classmates decided to “tie the knot” there was one person they knew they could count on to preside over the ceremony- me! As a pastor’s kid, I had seen plenty of weddings. I knew all the right lines. I would start with a heartfelt, even misty-eyed, “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today”. There was no doubt I could officiate with total blessing from on High. I probably presided over 4 or 5 of these sacred gatherings by the water fountain.

Fast-forward quite a few years… Even though it was never my aspiration (or even remote desire!) to be in full time ministry as an “old person”, it’s where I’ve ended up.

On a fairly regular basis, I find myself on a stage with couples as they celebrate the biggest day of their lives. It is a true honor to officiate weddings for people I love. Yet, sometimes this thought crosses my mind when I’m about ready to walk out onto the stage with the groom to await the arrival of his beautiful bride, “When are people going to find out that I don’t really know how to do this?!”

There are times I feel like that second grader standing by the water fountain giving this lovely young couple my official blessing.

What I’ve come to realize over the years is my experience isn’t unique. Sure, you might not ever be called upon to perform a wedding ceremony but I bet there are times you are riddled with doubt or a feeling of inadequacy. You are not alone!

Not long ago, I watched an interview with Tom Hanks. As he let people into the layers beneath the surface of his life, he admitted something striking. He struggles with feeling like a phony. One of his biggest fears is that someday people will find out that he isn’t really a good actor. What?!! Tom Hanks?!! If you feel like that too, you are in good company.

When I place my identity in “What I do”, I will always feel like I don’t measure up. No matter how much I try, my actions will never match the ideal I create in my mind.

My identity has to come from someplace deeper. I need to truly experience “Who I am”. This comes from a much different place. Maybe that’s why so many passages in the Bible talk about our identity when we join the family of Jesus…”Child of God”, “Light of the world”, “Chosen”, “God’s special possession” (just to name a few!).

“Who are you?”

When I answer this question from the way God sees me rather than by what I “do”, I open myself to experience life to it’s fullest.