Monday, September 28, 2015

Prayer In A Snap

Having a hard time praying or knowing what to pray for? Maybe you get so busy that there is no time to pray. Maybe you think prayer is so important and sacred that it requires a lot of time to set aside to do it, but you can’t find the time and don’t want to half do it.

If you are the kind of person who feels like you should pray more, but has a hard time doing it, then this may be of some help to you. Prayer doesn’t have to be this long and drawn out process all the time. Sometimes prayers can be super short and simple, like a quick text or snap to a friend – just checking in or sharing a quick little thing that has momentary importance, but nothing of global consequence (or perhaps maybe it is majorly important).

Here are 9 Snap Prayers you might want to try.

9 Snap Prayers

1.       Morning prayer & Evening prayer. Quick morning and evening prayers can be as simple as checking in with God in the morning asking for a good day (help me on my math test) while in the evening being grateful for at least one good thing that happened that day (thanks that my locked wasn’t jammed today).

2.       Prayer of desperation. This sort of prayer comes when there is an immediate need. “God, help!” is enough.

3.       Interceding prayer. When you see someone else who needs something or is in trouble, this quick snap prayer can help you empathize with others and call upon God for help.

4.       Confessing prayer. Sometimes you just blow it. You said something stupid, hurt someone’s feelings, or realize that you just did that thing you promised you would never do again. Tell God what you did and share the burden rather than carry it all.

5.       Listening prayer. This sort of prayer can really have two parts. Part one is like sending a text to God, “Hey, what’s up?” and then awaiting the rest of the day for the return texts.

6.       Gratitude prayer. A quick “thanks” is always nice when something good happens. Plus, it helps you remember to be grateful.

7.       Seeking virtue prayer. Sometimes you realize that the task before you requires something more than what you feel you have (e.g. patience). A quick text asking for growth is good. "Gonna need help with this one - patience please."

8.       Spontaneous prayer. Randomly thinking of God for any reason and just checking in is good. Again, you randomly text your friends and this is really not that much different. "Rainbow this morning. Nice"

9.       Lord’s Prayer. This 71 word prayer is slightly longer than a quick text, message or snap, but it is simply 71 words of awesome that takes less than 20 seconds to say.

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.


Saturday, September 26, 2015


Pride. It’s ugly, it’s toxic and it’s part of the human condition. Whether humans are born with it or just pick it up along the way, there is little doubt that pride walks along with us, climbs inside of us and so often just takes the over controls and makes us a walking impersonator of ourselves.

Pride is clever and crafty as it wears many faces and does impressions of other attitudes and even virtues. Pride is so invisible at times that it can be up and running without anyone detecting it for long stretches of time – infection without detection.

If pride were not so much a stealthy, complex, and perpetually reincarnating individual and social process, it might be easy to quickly diagnose and treat. But the reality is that pride has no interest in being diagnoses and treated, it has no interest in compromise, and it has no interest in sharing. It is a relentless force that seeks to fill every single little patch of real estate in your soul it can find. Any little crack where humility has not filled, pride will occupy, take up residence, and defend as its sovereign domain. Pride is nothing to be trifled with.

One of the great ruses of pride is to define itself in obvious terms. Arrogance is a form of pride that is often obvious and overt, but pride would like us all to believe that arrogance and pride are synonymous – that arrogance is the only form of pride. Pride would like us to look at overtly arrogant people and compare ourselves and find ourselves to be something other, better than they are. Pride invites us to separate ourselves from that overtly arrogant person and declare ourselves humble since we are not like that arrogant person. That is a major win for pride. Any occasion that results in some declaration of immunity to pride allows for the undetected processes of pride to continue unfettered.

Pride, though it has its obvious and overt expressions, spends most of its time behind the scenes and under the surface, carefully constructing houses of cards that look and feel real, but in the end result in seemingly irreversible devastation. Pride likes to hide and lurk

One of pride’s favorite ruses is false humility. With enough practice, there are people who can simultaneously be consumed with and controlled by pride and be regarded by friends, co-workers, and family members as the most humble person I know. When pride engages the power of the social system and event he culture to perpetuate itself, it is almost impossible to detect. It is up to the prideful person to do all the work of detection and remedy. And if detection and remedy is initiated by the prideful individual, the social system around them will actually work against the remedy. Why? Social systems do not like to change, especially when the change feels like an indictment. In short, the prideful individual who is seeking to change is essentially telling the social system that you have supported and helped perpetuate my prideful living. No one really wants to hear that, so they’ll usually persist and dismiss that the person was ever prideful in the first place.

Another ruse of pride is internal defiance with external compliance. Sometimes this process isn’t pride because it is a redemptive subversion of oppressive forces, but much of the time it is simply just pride. This process of pride can emerge in work, in family, in school, at church, with God or in just about any situation when there is a power difference or intimate relationship. In short, this manner of pride says you can compel me to change my behavior, but I will not soften my heart.

Another of the many ruses of pride is depressed defiance. There is a particularly clever strain of pride that leverages perceived helplessness to gain, power, control, and even dominion. This manner of pride can emerge when there is legitimate helplessness (this is distinguished from resilience and resourcefulness), but does its best work when conceptual helplessness transcends actual helplessness and it is the conceptual helplessness that is acted on. It preys on the goodness of people to do for the individual what the individual could do for themselves. In its most extreme form, it will lead the individual to perpetrate on oneself and then endure dangerous suffering in order to control others.

If pride is so clever, so stealthy, and so…intelligent, what can a person do?

The first act of humility is to recognize one’s own perpetual vulnerability to and propensity for pride. This is not easy; however, working from the assumption that you are always at least vulnerable to some form of pride is itself a very humble posture.

The second act of humility is to seek an ever increasing sensitivity to pride, to be willing to detect its presence. Depending on comparison to other people as a barometer of one’s own pride is too crude a measure. It is unnecessary, but it may be a fair place to start. However, it is best to go past comparison as quickly as possible as it has a whole set of built in pitfalls. Introspection is important and necessary, but it, too, is likely to be insufficient. Some other ingredients to getting better at detecting one’s own pride includes having a small group of people (1-3 others) who you invite to help you detect it, tell you when they detect it, and have zero judgment in the manner in which they relate to you concerning pride. Another is to have an external code for processing experiences. Some people use the wisdom of the Bible to help them along. Submitting oneself to legitimate sources of wisdom helps to make one sensitive to one’s own pride.

A third act of humility is to submit oneself to an authority of some kind. Many people relate to God in this way. Having someone to whom you consistently seek to show respect and honor allows for you to practice the kind of humility with another that would work well in lots of relationships, even people who are not an authority to you.

Pride is nasty. Pride is ubiquitous. The discipline of humility is the kind of the medicine that remedies and extinguishes the scourge of pride.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

How to burn out without really trying

Actually, if you've never experienced burnout, you're just not trying hard enough. But don't be discouraged, there is enough burnout to go around. If you follow my very simple recipe for burnout, I 100% promise that you too can get there. Look, with proper mentoring and some specific changes to your approach to life, you can fully and completely burn out.

Before I reveal the secret to burning out, let's define it. Burnout is the final phase of what I will call the "burn out trajectory." It goes like this: working hard leads to growing tired which leads to exhaustion which leads to work fatigue which, if sustained long enough, develops into burn out. Burn out really needs to be thought of as an injury as opposed to being tired or exhausted. With tiredness or exhaustion, the cure is rest. They are not injuries. Burn out is an injury that needs healing.

Ok, a quick review before I reveal my 10 secrets to guaranteed burnout.

Work hard > Tired > Exhaustion > Fatigue > Burn Out

Here's how to do it:

Desire to Please. Let your desire to please people, especially your boss, drive everything you do. Prioritize everyone else's happiness over your own and take responsibility for them being happy. Neglecting some important things for the sake of pleasing others is paramount. If someone else is not happy, make sure you tell yourself that it's probably your fault.

Fear of Disappointing. In order to get to burn out as fast as possible, use fear as your primary motivation. But to really get the greatest impact out of fear, do it this way: make sure that if people are disappointed, it was because you weren't good enough. In fact, gather up your entire self-esteem into a single bundle and hitch it to the emotional reactions of your boss, partner, children, or any other significant relationship - heck, tie it to an insignificant relationship. Doing so will really help you get through these phases in the burnout trajectory.  

Ambition. It is important to have high goals and do whatever you can do to meet them. Furthermore, make sure the right people know how ambitious you are. Let them know how available you are to do whatever it takes to make it happen - at any time of day. You always have time to succeed, right? Here's a winner's tip: keep your cell phone with you at all times. You never know when an opportunity might need attention right now.  

Huge Ego (get addicted to affirmation). Burn out is not for the humble. If you are humble, your chances of burn out are low and you might just want to give up on the notion. However, if you have a huge ego and you know it, then turn up the ego volume to 11. Here is a special trick, if you can pass for humble while having a huge ego, you've really got the best of both worlds. No one hates for you being Trumpian in your inflated sense of self, but you get to have it anyway. One way to really increase the capacity of your ego is to get lots and lots of affirmation. Want it. Crave it. Get addicted to it. Stealthfully manipulate it as much as you can. Make sure as much of that affirmation is public as you possibly can without looking like that is what you are doing.
Low Self-Awareness: Capacity. If you are self-aware, accomplishing burn out is going to be a problem. However, if you are not, then there is still hope for  you. Having no idea how much you can do is key to burn out. If you do not know how much you can actually do, then you'll never know when enough is enough, because, let's be honest, it is never enough. Low self-awareness will allow you to say yes when you should be saying no. Ignorance is bliss!

Low Awareness: Task Size. Just say yes without even looking into the size of the yes. This is critical. Actually knowing what you are saying yes to might lead to cold feet and second thoughts. That is the death knell for burnout. If you know the size of the yes, then you might begin to get self-aware about your own capacity and then the whole thing falls apart. Just agree to everything and burn out will come looking for you.

Avoid Communities of Discernment. Other people are a real problem. Your friends have no desire for you to burn out. Be gracious - they just don't get it. They will fight you on this. Just leave them out of the process. It is better to simply make decisions in isolation and then, only when it is too late to back out, share those decisions with your friends. You get their pity without their critique (bonus: that's backhanded affirmation).

Procrastinate the Mundane. When you take on too much, just ignore anything that is boring. You'll get to it later, promise. Focus only on exciting things that get you lots and lots of affirmation. Just tell yourself that since you can't do it all right now (ever), focusing on the important things (read: exciting) is all that matters.

Dismiss Feedback. You may have friends or colleagues who give you feedback even when you don't ask for it. Be polite, of course, but dismiss it as quickly as is socially acceptable. If you have to tell a little white lie for the cause, then do it. Whatever you are doing is more important than your integrity.

Push Through. On your way to burn out, you'll have signs and symptoms that it is coming. Sometimes these are health related or are manifest as disruptions in sleep. This is good. When this happens, push harder. Drink more caffeine if you must. Whatever it takes is worth it.

Like Winston Churchill said when giving a speech on how to burn out, "Never, never, never! Never give up!"

If you really want burn out, you can do it. Don't get discouraged. You can't burn out in a day. It requires persistence. Be patient and trust the process. You'll be in the club before you know it.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Sisters - By The Scars of My Tongue

You're so very loyal,
By the scars of my tongue,
With all my voices carefully managed,
In the silence of my mind,
Never making it past my teeth,
Those simple and reckless thoughts,
Benign and explosive feelings -
My heart and soul -
Obscured from you -
For you.

I lassoed these tornadoes in my mind,
For you,
And you've never felt the breeze.
I think about my thoughts,
And you just speak yours;
I'm so fluent in our difference,
You think we're the same,

Because you need us to be the same,
You can't be you,
If I am not also you,
And letting you think so,
Was the best love I ever had,
For so long,
For too long,
I've done you wrong.

And you'll sip, just right, your just right coffee,
And I'll have what you're having, again
And we're both smiling,
For different reasons,
In our paper sisterhood,
Oblivious to the silence
You enjoy. Demand. REQUIRE.

So, my confession is due,
We're one, but we're not the same,
And I think I love you more,
But so scared you'll love me less,
Sister, it's just me - this time all of me,
And I hope you still think I'm pretty
Now that you see
The scars of my tongue.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

What Your Anxiousness Is Telling You


What Your Anxiousness is Telling You

Everyone feels anxious sometimes; some more than others, but the reality is that everyone knows what anxiety feels like. Anxiousness is often thought of as a bad thing, something to get rid of. Of course people think anxiety is a bad thing - it feels terrible. However, most people misread their own anxiety and it leads to some misconceptions:

1) Anxiety is bad and needs to be eliminated
2) I am anxious and therefore something is wrong with me
3) I feel anxiety therefore I need therapy or medication.
Rather than uncritically seeking to eliminate the feeling of anxiety, how about looking at it differently in order to learn what it might be saying?
Here are a few things to know about your own anxiousness:
It’s normal. Feeling anxious is normal. In general, feeling anxious is the result of your brain telling your body to prepare for something. Some people feel anxious in the morning as they get ready for work or school. It makes sense. Something is going to be required of you shortly and you need the energy to engage whatever that situation is. In preparation, your brain releases various chemicals to give your body the energy to engage the tasks of the day. It is normal.
It’s helpful. Anxiousness is often energy that has yet to be directed into something meaningful, productive, or constructive. Oftentimes simply engaging in that which the brain has prepared the body  for accesses that anxious energy and the anxious feelings resolve. Do not wait for the anxious feelings to leave before getting productive; instead, get productive to make the anxious feelings go away. And if you have not connected the dots yet, procrastination actually leads to increased levels of anxiety even though it is hoped to decrease them.
It speaks. Sometimes people feel anxious when they do not have some regular thing in front of them like a job or school. When the anxiety is not resolved in work or school or routine of life, then it might be telling you something. Perhaps you have forgotten to do something that is not part of your usual routine – mom’s birthday is coming up, need to return that email, didn’t get all the planning done for vacation, or need to fit that oil change in somehow. Anxiousness speaks and it is good to listen.
It’s manageable. If you take a few minutes each morning, evening, or midday, whenever the anxiousness pays a visit, to take 10 slow deep breaths, you will be surprised at how much of the anxiousness is resolved. If you combine that with allowing all muscles to relax, it is almost restful. It doesn’t always completely eliminate the anxiety, but it does bring calm. Really? How? Deep breathing floods the bloodstream with oxygen, which gives a physiological calming effect to the body.  

When you think different about your anxious feelings, you can actually leverage the anxious energy toward a useful end. Developing a friendship with those anxious feelings and working them to your advantage is a much better use of thought energy and the anxiousness itself. Don’t let yourself get caught in the worrying about worrying trap. It’s a psychological black hole. Instead, engage it, listen to it, and manage it.