Tag Archives: Companions

“Welcome to the Journey, Padawan”

But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment.
1 Corinthians 11:31 (NIV)

Discern /dəˈsərn/ verb [from Latin: discernere]
  1. Perceive or recognize (something).
  2. Distinguish (someone or something) with difficulty by sight or with the other senses.
One of the more intriguing themes I’ve enjoyed in the Star Wars epic is the spiritual journey and formation of the Jedi. In the world of Star Wars, those who are strong in the force begin their training as “younglings.” Eventually, developing Jedi become a “padawan learner” who is coupled with a mentor. The process of development never ends, as Obi Wan says to his rebellious padawan (Anakin Skywalker, aka Darth Vader) in their final battle: “If you strike me down I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.”
Great stories resonate with us because they echo our own human experiences and our deepest human longings. Much like a Jedi, I have found that my spiritual journey on this earth has been a journey of ever and increasing self-discovery. When I was a young man (youngling, if you will) I did many things out a sense of compulsion or ignorance. I had no idea why I felt compelled in certain ways. I did not understand why I said and did certain things. I acted out of my broken human nature without giving it a second thought.
When I became a follower (a padawan, if you will) of Jesus I experienced an acute desire to be more like Jesus and the person Jesus described in His teachings. This resulted in the awareness that many of my behaviors did not match up to Jesus’ teaching and example. A process of behavior modification began spurred by God’s prompting/power along with my willingness to change and be transformed.
Some behaviors were snap to change. Others required a wee bit of humility, patience, and determination. I was making progress and feeling good, but as time went on I recognized that there were the pesky, ugly things of my character and behavior that were of the Dark Side. They seemed hard wired and immovable. Discouragement, doubt, and frustration set in.
As much as I desired for God’s power to simply, and miraculously remove such things from my character, I came to realize that this was part of my spiritual journey. God’s power and grace (and patience) would be key ingredients, but much would be required of this padawan learner along this marathon journey of spiritual self-discovery:
  • Self study: A willingness to take the time to dig beneath my words and behaviors to excavate my past, my thoughts, my relationships, my emotions, my personality, and the desires of my heart and soul.
  • Meditation: A willingness to think honestly and transparently about the things I learned about myself, to fix the eyes of my heart steadily on Jesus, and to ingest God’s Word in my very soul.
  • Conversation: A willingness to have an on-going dialogue, not only with God, but with a select group of trusted companions who are on the journey with me. An openness to listen to and honestly embrace what they see, hear and perceive in me.
  • Professional Assistance: The assistance of professionals (in person or through their writings) who understand both spiritual truth and human psychology.
  • Perseverance: Accepting that the process of self-discovery and the spiritual transformation of becoming more like Jesus (a process theologians call sanctification) continues uninterrupted through this earthly journey’s end.
In today’s chapter Paul is writing to a young community of Jesus’ followers. They are spiritual younglings and a long way from becoming spiritual Jedi. Their behavior and conflicts, as described in Paul’s correspondence, reflect the blunt, early stages of spiritual transformation. And to this Paul says that they need discernment. They need to perceive the spiritual, emotional, social, relational drivers of their behavior and conflicts.
Welcome to the journey, my young padawan. Lace ’em up tight. It’s a long trek…. and an absolutely worthwhile journey!

Getting Away from Crazymakers

Black Hole in the universe
Crazymakers are relational black holes, sucking us into the vortex of their own neediness at our expense. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A troublemaker plants seeds of strife;
    gossip separates the best of friends.
Proverbs 16:28 (NLT)

Over the years I have learned: Just as important as choosing good companions for the journey, it is equally important to avoid sharing life’s sojourn with “crazymakers.”  Like the troublemaker in the proverb above, crazy makers plant seeds of strife wherever they go. They waste our time and suck us in to the black hole of their neediness. They passive aggressively pit people against one another and stir up dissension. In her book, The Artist’s Way, Julie Cameron nails it with her description of crazymakers:

  • Crazymakers break deals and destroy schedules. They show up two days early for your wedding and expect you to wait on them hand and foot. They rent a cabin bigger than the one agreed upon and expect you to foot the bill.
  • Crazymakers expect special treatment. They suffer a wide panopoly of mysterious ailments that require care and attention whenever you have a deadline looming.
  • Crazymakers discount your reality. No matter how important your deadline or how critical your work trajectory at the moment, crazymakers will violate your needs.
  • Crazymakers spend your time and money. If they borrow your car they return it late with an empty tank.
  • Crazymakers triangulate those they deal with. Because they thrive on energy (your energy), they set people against one another in order to maintain their own power position dead center.
  • Crazymakers are expert blamers. Nothing that goes wrong is ever their fault.
  • Crazymakers create dramas – but seldom where they belong. Whatever matters to you becomes trivialized into mere backdrop for the crazymaker’s personal plight.
  • Crazymakers hate schedules – except their own. If you claim a certain block of time as your own, your crazy maker will find a way to fight you for that time, to mysteriously need things (you) just when you need to be alone and focused on the task at hand.
  • Crazymakers hate order. Chaos serves their purposes. When you establish space that serves you for a project, they will abruptly invade that space with a project of their own.
  • Crazymakers deny that they are crazymakers. “I’m not what’s making you crazy,” they will say, “It’s just that … [add something else to blame].”

I have found that the path to increased levels of life, growth and understanding is often the one path that leads us directly away from a crazymaker.

 

A Life Lesson in the Pizza Joint

The Dudes
Me and a few of the wise guys of my youth.

Walk with the wise and become wise;
    associate with fools and get in trouble.
Proverbs 13:20 (NLT)

On Wednesday I was driving on a business trip with a colleague. We were chatting about experiences of our childhood and I recalled an experience I had not thought about in a long time. I was twelve years old. I had gone out for pizza with a couple of guys who were a few years older than me. They were guys I’d known from a team I was on, but I didn’t know them well. The pizza joint was packed with a standing room only crowd on this particular friday night and a line of people were waiting to get a table.

We were finished with our pizza and my elder teammate said, “Come on, let’s go.”

But we haven’t paid,” I said reaching in my pocket.

He leaned over the table and said quietly, “We’re not going to pay. Let’s go!”

Scared but feeling an acute case of peer pressure, I stood and followed my two friends out of the restaurant. My heart was beating out of my chest as we began walking back to my friend’s house. The other two laughed about getting away with a free meal and quickly moved on to other subjects. I, however, couldn’t stop thinking about what I’d just done. I knew that what we’d just done was wrong. I knew that I’d just cheated our server who might likely be liable for our bill. My conscience was screaming at me. I can still remember hearing a police siren in the distance and being convinced that the pizza place had called the cops and an All Points Bulletin had beein issued for my arrest.

We were never caught, of course, but I never stopped feeling guilty about the incident. A few years later I went back to the restaurant and talked to the manager. I confessed what I’d done and gave him more than enough money to make up for the bill and the tip. He looked at me like I was crazy, but my conscience was clear.

I never hung out socially with those two guys again. I can’t recall making a conscious choice, but I think I just naturally realized that it would be foolish for me to hang out with friends who would pressure me to do something like that. This morning I took a moment to recall the names and faces of guys I eventually chose to hang out with through high school and college. I was fortunate to have great bunch of wise guys who constantly challenged me to do the right things. To this day I’m grateful for each and every one of them.

Related Posts:
An index of Tom’s chapter-a-day posts (tomvanderwell.wordpress.com)
We all Follow Footsteps…Choose Well (tomvanderwell.wordpress.com)
Sewage and the Source (tomvanderwell.wordpress.com)
Living in the Mystery (tomvanderwell.wordpress.com)