"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25

"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25
Midnight Blue (1963): Jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell featuring Stanley Turrentine on tenor saxophone, Major Holley on double bass, Bill English on drums and Ray Barretto on conga. Midnight Blue is one of Burrell’s best-known works for Blue Note Records. In 2005, NPR included the album in its "Basic Jazz Library", describing it as "one of the great jazzy blues records".

He said, She said...

"You are not designed for everyone to like you - Wise Man Phil

FRAGILE: Sting, Yo Yo Ma, Dominic Miller & Chris Botti

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Grow up...

Aged: having lived or existed long; of advanced age; old: an aged man; an aged tree.

One of the most important things we can accomplish as we grow old is to grow up. Growing up isn't only about becoming a mature adult, though that is a part of it, what I'm referring to has a much deeper and significant meaning. Proverbs 29:22 states; "The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old". Another version of this verse explains it this way; "...and the beauty of old men is the gray head." Growing old is to be honored, respected and admired but we have to be careful that it isn't our only intention to grow old.

...loafers, no socks. (My personal favorite)

And while many of us would love to stave off old age and remain young and attractive; strong and invincible, and many of us try to do this very thing with mindless medical procedures and thoughtless use of pharmaceuticals, the fact remains that we will grow old. Walt Whitman points out to us that growing old isn't a bad thing and describes it to us this way in "Youth, Day, Old Age and Night":

 Youth, large, lusty, loving-youth full of grace, force, fascination,
Do you know that Old Age may come after you with equal grace,
force, fascination?

...Doesn't hurt to be young & rich too.

It is a fact that we will take longer naps and more medications; we will ask more questions like, "What did you say?" and we will never be heard saying, "I heard you the first time". Our bodies will fail us and our minds will betray us from time to time. We will take less walks and do more crossword puzzles. 

Growing old is a part of life.

Growing old is a natural progression of life but growing up isn't necessarily a given. 

...naps are great companions because you can take them anywhere.

But if we are intentional, blessed and a little lucky we will become less rushed and more purposeful. And as our eyes lose their sight many of us will experience life with more focus and less pretense. From time to time I'm reminded of this fact when I see an older person walking through the airport with an easy smile and a purposeful walk. The same can be said when I've notice an aged person sitting at a table at a bookstore drinking coffee, reading a book and writing notes in the margins with the intent of becoming more knowledgeable. There are many examples, ones better than the two I gave, of people choosing to forge on with the same energy, vigor and focus of a thirty year old. The common theme with all of these examples is that they are choosing to live and not to die. What I've come to admire about many of these people, national treasures as I like to refer to them as, is that they have come to the point in their life where they realize what is truly important. And most of the time it isn't them, their needs or their desires. 

And they are at peace with it...

...grandparents are so valuable and have so much to pass on.

As I mentioned earlier many of us are familiar with what getting old looks like but what I think is important is to understand what growing up looks like. I do believe it to be someone that chooses to live and not to die, but what does that really mean? And more importantly what does that look like? And finally will I recognize it when it's right in front of me?

...focus on his eyes.

As I became more focused and reflective in my thinking I realized that there are a few, four to be exact, qualities that are common in a person who is growing up. And while I don't think that the four I share with you are to be taken as gospel I do believe that they are keys to advancing towards growing up and not just growing old.

Allow me to share.
  • Affirming...
    • Most people that are affirming choose to positively embrace the goodness in everyone around them. They realize that each one of us entertain weaknesses and display faults on a daily basis but would much rather identify with and encourage the best that resides within all of us. To affirm another is to encourage them and validate who they are and what they are trying to accomplish. We all need people in our lives that will affirm us when it is deserved and needed; they are of value to everyone they come in contact with.
  • Flexible...
    • People that are flexible are people that are willing to negotiate away their needs and desires for the greater good of all those around them and with whom they are involved. They don't argue their right to be right and they don't need to have the last word. For the most part, people that are flexible are selfless; not selfish. Their ideas don't have to implemented, their actions don't need to be acknowledged and their thoughts of kindness don't have to be recognized. They have released themselves from the words "always and never". They are principled but not rigid.
  • Compassionate... 
    • A compassionate person is an understanding person. They realize that hurt and pain are real and often they cannot be explained away or ignored. Prayer doesn't seem like enough to be offered and shared acknowledgment of the circumstance seems hollow. A person that is compassionate is a person who cares. They care enough to close their mouth and open their ears; they listen and don't talk. They share your tears and they embrace you with a hug that is reassuring, loving and protective. Compassionate people are action oriented people with their attention and focus directed at you. They often save the day.
  • Confident... 
    • Confident people are often people with strong conviction and resolve. They are not arrogant people. If they are arrogant they are not confident they are just arrogant. Arrogant people are insecure individuals that make up for their insecurity with false acknowledgment of who they truly are and can only feel good about themselves when they can make themselves superior to another, and in turn, make another feel bad about who they are. A confident person lacks internal dilemmas because they have resigned themselves to the fact that others are more important than self. There is no confusion about who they are or what their purpose is. They are free and when you are free you are confident. Confident people have purpose and they are secured in who they are. They are comfortable in their own skin and at the end of the day they don't complain nor do they explain.

...Two men and a boat.

Finally, this past Sunday a good friend contacted me concerning a text message he received from the husband of his ex-wife. The text emphatically challenged his manhood and character when it came to the raising, or lack thereof, of his older children. My friend and his ex have been divorced for 17 years and have two college age boys. There hasn't been much admiration between the step-father and father for many years for many different reasons. And as my friend read the texts that he received, out of the blue, that questioned his financial and physical involvement with his children over the years he became perplexed. When he shared with me the situation; asking me what I thought and what he should do, I asked him what he thought and what he "planned' on doing.

He replied; "nothing". "I'm going to pray for him and for myself; he is being human and I don't want to be human; I don't want to be guided by my natural human instincts... we both need God's help" he stated.

He went on further to say that the unfortunate reality of a blended home is that when a divorce occurs the kids are with the mother more than the father. It is a known fact that the burden of the day to day trials and tribulations fall upon the lap of the mother and her spouse if she is remarried. That doesn't omit the children's father from any responsibility but it still remains a fact that "life" falls at the feet of the mother. Ask any single or remarried mother and she will tell you the same.

"Everything is a trade off" he said; "the mom gets more money and less free time and the father gets more free time and less money."

So true, so very true. Nobody knows this more than I.

My friend also revealed to me that his ex wife and her mate have been having troubles for some time and that at the end of the day he lashed out at him more out of fear than anger. "Does he dislike me" my friend asked..."yes, yes indeed he does but often times men display their fears in the form of anger and violence. We often have trouble when we can't explain something away... so we go looking for things to blame and that often involves other people" he stated. He finished with saying that I have too much respect and love my children's mother too much to get involved in a battle and add another layer of stress upon her.

When my friend shared with me his thoughts I was reminded of Proverbs 17:14; "Beginning a quarrel is like opening a floodgate, so drop the matter before a dispute a breaks out."

There is much more I could say about the situation but I don't need to because I realized that my friend was displaying exactly what I had been thinking about for days. He displayed what it looks like to grow up and not just grow old. He was affirming by recognizing the other person's weakness but not willing to focus upon it. He was flexible with his anger and his desire to retaliate; he didn't need the last word or any word for that matter. He was compassionate towards the circumstances his ex-wife and her husband have found themselves in and my friend realized that it was better to pray for another than to argue with another. 

At the end of the day, my friend was confident in who he was and what the right thing was to do. He was comfortable in his own skin and he didn't need to be affirmed by someone that wanted to do him harm.

I have to say I'm glad he is my friend. What a good example of how to properly handle a situation.

I thanked him for sharing his particular circumstance with me because I learned something. 

I learned what it looks like when you grow up and not just grow old.

sbb  19.10.10

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