Confessing … August 29th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2677)

XVII.

I confess so I can heal.

If I deny, I remain sick.

They had been married just four months when their pastor asked them if they were willing to allow a traveling family to come and use their condo while they were away on vacation.

Being good Christians, they agreed.

We were that vagabond family–my wife, three children and myself, touring through the area, being blessed by the courtesy and hospitality of strangers.

The condo was beautiful–a blessed departure from the B-rated motels where we usually found ourselves. So we enjoyed the week.

There was even a downstairs area which had a pinball machine and a ping-pong table.

About three days after our departure from this lovely facility, I received a phone call. It was the husband of the pair who had so graciously provided us lodging, asking what had happened to the ping-pong table.

I explained to him that I had never even gone downstairs during the visit, and he shared with me that it was broken.

I told him that I was unaware but I would check with my sons and find out what happened.

I did. Both of my older boys denied any knowledge of the incident.

This placed me in a dilemma. Should I believe my children or should I take the word of these hospitable souls?

I got on the phone, called the gentleman back and told him my boys had not broken the table.

God, I felt noble.

I felt like “Dad of the Year,” sticking up for my children.

Obviously, the fellow insisted, causing me to dig my heels in, which led to an emotional tug of war followed by an all-out bitter fight.

Yet I insisted there was no way that my sons would lie to me about the situation.

As my original benefactor hung up the phone, he said, “Well, we’ll never do this again.”

Let me tell you–good kids don’t always tell the truth; they just eventually tell the truth.

I had good kids, but it was two weeks later, after a church service, when one of my sons tearfully admitted they had broken the ping-pong table, but were so embarrassed that they didn’t know what to do.

I was flushed with anger with a side order of foolishness.

I couldn’t decide what was the best path for handling the matter, so I did nothing.

The young couple who had been so open-minded never received my apology or an admission of guilt from my child. I convinced myself that the damage had already been done and could not be mended.

It was stupid.

It proved what a baby I was instead of the mature man I envisioned myself to be.

And because of my original stubbornness and the absence of a heart-felt apology, that young couple were led to believe that openness is a dangerous pit instead of the entrance to God.

 

confessing ping pong table

 

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Confessing … August 8th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2656)

XIV.

I confess so I can heal.

If I deny, I remain sick.

When I began this series on confessing, I made a private covenant with my ego to avoid revealing current events and basically stay focused on sins of the past, long ago resolved.

But unfortunately, I continue to transgress.

I travel on the road.

That’s what I do right now because it’s my way to try to speak some simplicity into the complexity of our world, and sanity into the raging din.

Arriving at my lodging on Monday, I found myself disgruntled. It is summertime, so motels and suites are more expensive, and therefore my budget does not allow me to stay in the top-of-the-line institutions, but rather, places me in Mom and Pop establishments, which are often a mixed bag.

Usually I have pretty good perspective.

For instance, I don’t call the carpet “shabby,” but rather, “quaint.”

I don’t refer to the furniture as being “outdated,” but rather, “antiques.”

But for some reason, this particular week I was fussy. I didn’t like the room. Rather than considering it spacious, I thought it was convoluted.

It put me in a mode: “I’m feeling sorry for myself.”

That sentiment is the soil for the seed of all iniquity. If you catch it early enough, you can keep it from going any further, but I was in no mood to be introspective, so I went to Phase 2: “I feel like blaming you.”

Self-pity never allows me to take any responsibility, so we grab the closest innocent victim and thrust him or her into the role of the villain and the source of all inconvenience–and that particularly dastardly profile was placed on my partner, Janet Clazzy.

So I growled at her a little bit. I expressed my superiority to the meager station of my surroundings. Since she’s the one who acquired the room, it was obviously her fault that they had not changed the paneling since the Eisenhower Administration.

We argued.

It wasn’t really an argument–just a general “blooming onion” of complaint, which had no real center to it, and therefore, no completion.

Shortly after finishing my griping, I went into the third phase: “I’m feeling stupid.”

This is the most important phase. From this point of feeling stupid we can either move to repentance–or we can simply recycle and start all over again with “I’m feeling sorry for myself.”

Matter of fact, I will tell you that a good portion of the population lives in a meaningless, constant circle of feeling sorry for themselves, blaming others, feeling stupid to return to feeling sorry for themselves.

It must have been a good day, because fortunately, rather than feeling stupid and going for another try at feeling sorry for myself, I repented.

I apologized.

And it was amazing how quickly the room went back to being a room instead of a prison cell.

I am the master of my own destiny. No one’s calling the shots but me. If the shots suck, it’s because I suck–not having the sense to avoid feeling sorry for myself … insisting that I got screwed over.

 

confessing room

 

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Confessing… August 1st, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2650)

XIII.

I confess so I can heal.

If I deny, I remain sick.

In the summer of my sixteenth year, my human sexuality cornered me like a ravenous jackal.

I discovered that my penis also had a “wonderful plan for my life.”

I was in the midst of my first serious relationship with a girl and my curiosity was out to see the cat. I had lived as a good church boy, vacant of any understanding of my body parts beyond my hands and knees for prayer. No one had ever told me what I was supposed to do with what.

Only when.

At the same time, I struck up a friendship with Ben, who was one year younger than me. He, too, was on the quest for fire.

So even though we spent sufficient time working on our church coffee-house together, whenever we were out driving around and talking, we were speculating on the anatomy of the various females we encountered, possessing the knowledge of a new-born baby pontificating on eating steak.

Now, there was a drive-in theater about fifteen miles from our home called the Queensland. On Saturday nights, this establishment showed X-rated movies. I had never seen such a flick, and was beginning to feel the absence.

So I talked to Ben and we decided to make a trip down to this theater and bring paper and pencil to become great students. A couple of other guys got wind of it and begged to go with us. Our first instinct was to say no, but when they continued to plead, we acquiesced.

It was only when we got a mile from the theater that we discovered the other two guys hadn’t brought any money along for admission. So I opened up the big trunk of my Impala and they crawled in to hide, so we could get into the drive-in without paying for them.

It worked beautifully.

Upon arriving and finding our speaker-box of choice, we slyly let them out of the trunk and they came into the car. For the next three-and-a-half hours, the four of us drooled like teething babies.

We saw things we had never seen before. Some of it we liked, and some of it was grotesque and scary.

But we watched it all.

I was the oldest one in the car, and therefore should have had better sense–especially in assessing who I took to see the “skin and sin.”

The following Wednesday, I was called to the preacher’s office. One of the young boys who had been in the back seat had a fit of conscience and confessed his evil deed to his parents. I was confronted, disciplined and told what a “terrible witness I was.”

I didn’t care.

I guess none of these young men ended up being rapists or sex offenders, but I’m very sorry for what I did. I had no right to tie their confusion in with my confusion to create chaos.

What should I have done?

I probably should have complained to the adults around me about how ignorant and devoid of knowledge they had left me, in a world of lions, tigers and bears–oh, my.

So when I became a father, I told my children very early about the sexual aspect of their lives.

I don’t know if it affected their purity… but it certainly eliminated their guilt.

 

confessing car trunk

 

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Confessing… July 25th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2643)

XII.

I confess so I can heal.

If I deny, I remain sick.

I suppose I could lie and tell you it only happened one time. But there’s really no sense in confessing to error if you’re going to leave out important details.

Actually, it was the fifth time that my wife and I slipped out of the house after we were sure that our four-year-old and three-year-old sons were sound asleep, and drove ten miles to see a movie, and returned to joyously find our young boys still deep in sleeper land.

But on that fifth time, something changed.

Apparently there was a noise that awakened our two little fellas, and they started screaming and hollering for us–so much that the neighbors, who lived just below, called the police. So when we arrived after seeing our movie, we found the house vacant.

There was no note–no explanation. So we weren’t sure if our children had been abducted or vanished in the Rapture.

Being in our early twenties and extremely immature, we went downstairs and pounded on our neighbors’ door to find out what they might know. Without opening up, they explained that the children had been taken away, and that the best thing would be to go to the local police to find out what was going on.

I remember having the audacity to be angry. It didn’t even occur to me that we were the ones in the wrong and that my boys had been taken away for their own protection.

We spent the next four hours searching for anyone who could give us details, only to discover that our guys were in foster homes and there would be a hearing about the case in six weeks.

Six weeks.

We were devastated.

Honestly, it took us about two weeks to settle down and realize that we had made a very bad mistake, and that we were the ones who were in the wrong instead of slighted.

I will never forget those forty-two days without my kids. And going to court was very painful.

The accusations were strong and had it not been for four weeks worth of tears and repentance, we might have recoiled and gotten viciously defensive, ending up losing the opportunity to become Mom and Dad again.

But because the judge found us to be truly sorry, we were given a second chance.

I remember the day we picked up our two boys. They were a little frightened of us, partially because they had acclimated to a new environment and also because they had been told that we had deserted them.

It took a long time to build back trust.

Although this story seems to be an extreme–something some folks would swear they would never do–I must tell you that the inclination to find undesirable paths when each of us feels inconvenienced gnaws at the conscience everyday.

So even though I am ashamed to share this story with you, I use it as a cautionary tale to myself, to remind my ever-present ego that simply because I can get by with something and have a really good plan on pulling it off, does not make it right.

 Confessing Josh and Russ

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Confessing … June 27th, 2015

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2616)

VIII.

I confess so I can heal.

If I deny, I remain sick.

I. D. I.

It is an acronym. It stands for “I Deserve It.”

All the sin and stupidity of mankind throughout the centuries have been fostered by that assertion.

Why do we get so confused?

  • No human deserves hell.
  • Nor does any human deserve heaven.
  • So God gave us Earth, which is neither.

It’s just the place where we are supposed to sort through who we really are and cease to insist on propagating and promoting what we think we deserve.

When I was fifteen years old, my brother asked me to babysit his children. I didn’t want to do it. Why? Because I was fifteen years old–did I tell you that?

I didn’t want to do anything. I was even stalled about pursuing what I thought I wanted to do because it seemed like too much of a commitment.

But my dear brother and his lovely bride promised to compensate me financially.

I didn’t have any money. Oh, occasionally I would get offered some finance from my parents if I owed something at school or if there was a special something-or-other coming up.

So the potential of actually holding some funds in my hands made me willing to become a caretaker for nephews and niece.

My brother and his wife had started a business, and they were doing well. Looking back, I realize that they were only in their late twenties or early thirties, and considering their age, they were prosperous.

When I arrived at their home to watch their children and they left to go out on their date, I discovered, in their makeshift office, a tackle box which was open and had lots of coinage and some paper money sticking out.

Being a good Christian boy, I immediately left the room and tried to forget about the temptation a mere fifteen feet away.

But I wanted that money. I became obsessed.

After a while I gave in. I took out six quarters. It seemed like a lot to me at the time, but I thought they might not miss it considering the makeup of the cash in the box.

After that I agreed to babysit frequently, and each time I took out money from their little treasure chest–a little more each and every visit. But I never touched the paper money–until one night I saw two one dollar bills lying on the desk, separate from the other provision.

I took them.

I don’t know whether my brother and sister-in-law ever knew of my pilfering or not. But I realized after a while that I could not go to their house without stealing, so I avoided their invitations.

I was incapable of escaping my I. D. I.

My sense of “I Deserve It” pushed me to do things that I would have insisted, in my Sunday School class, were evil and unacceptable.

I learned that day that as long as we believe I. D. I. and feel cheated when we don’t have it, we will do anything if the opportunity arises.

As I look at my life today, I realize that I am no less a thief. I have just taken my I. D. I. and killed it off daily, mocking it for its selfishness and isolating it for its lack of integrity.

Am I capable of lying and stealing? Absolutely. It is not beyond my scope.

That is why I must take the sensation that “I Deserve It”… and nail it to a cross.

 

Confessing tackle box

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Do As: Heal … January 26, 2013

(1,772)

Spirited set

6:52 P.M. last night–eight minutes until show time in Lake Worth, Florida. Above you see a shot of the stage, which I am about to enter. What do I know?

First, if you don’t mind, let’s look at what I don’t know:

  1. I don’t know if anyone will be out there, in the audience. I mean, the event has been advertised. We tried to stimulate interest with an intriguing press release. But the slightest little thing can come along and keep people from showing up to ANYTHING–even free turkey sandwiches passed out on the street.
  2. I don’t know whether these folks are going to like me or not. I am not famous, so they feel complete freedom to reject me at will. “Reject” is a little strong, but you get the idea.
  3. The best thing I possess is who I am, free of lies.
  4. And finally, I don’t know if everything is going to work. The presumption of the status of all things being tuned and ready has often left me embarrassed, with my pants down emotionally.

So what do I feel eight minutes before the show? Invigorated, excited, careful, curious and humble. And here are the two things I know:  first, I need to walk out there and do what I do as well as I possibly can, without offering lame reasons for why I am not ready. Secondly, in pursuing what I do, if I am intelligent, I will perform my duties and mission as if I were doing it for myself. Yes, I always look out at the audience, viewing a sea of faces which all resemble me. I am not about to give folks less than what I would require for myself.

That’s why it’s important that I begin the process with feel–understanding that if I am not touched by the infirmities of life, admitting that I am tempted like everybody else, I can become a first-class jerk with no heart for mankind, just spouting a bunch a rules and pretending that I’m God‘s hall monitor.

Once I have purified feeling, I am ready to worship in spirit and truth–to symbolically kneel before my gathered host, letting them know that I honor the heavens so much that I’m trying to build a branch office here on earth.

Whenever I am in front of an audience, it’s helpful to be prepared not only to think, but to learn from them. In the process, healing occurs. Sometimes the healing is in them; occasionally it’s in me. But if I insist that I am the thinker and they’re the learners, they will quickly be repelled by my approach and protect themselves from the onslaught of my domineering attitude.

I am inclined to DO AS–to deal with what is going to happen and use it to my advantage instead of recoiling in fear because some unknown factor has surprised me. Yes, I will tell you good folks a simple truth: preparing is better than planning. Yes, preparing your heart, spirit and mind to feel, kneel and heal is ten times more effective than thinking you have covered every eventuality and closed the doors of difficulty.

Right now the stage is empty. In a minute, it will be occupied by the human-flesh spaces known as Jonathan Richard Cring and Janet Clazzy. We owe it to ourselves and those we are about to meet to feel, kneel, heal and finally–deal with what is available.

Are we ready? Have we made a plan? More importantly, are we prepared to be ourselves without shame?

Deal–the process by which we arrive in life with a pure heart, a truthful spirit, a healed mind, without any hidden agenda to control but instead, are grateful just for the opportunity to be alive and breathing deeply.

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