Ask Jonathots … January 5th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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How important is self-esteem?

Damaged people.

They are everywhere.

It would be foolish not to include ourselves.

But as important as it is to acknowledge the damage, it is even more essential to prescribe the correct repair.

Self-esteem is like going out and buying a large picture to hang over the hole in your wall. It is not a solution, but rather, a temporary fix.

Self-esteem functions under three very dangerous premises:

1. Because you were born, you matter.

2. There’s no one quite like you.

3. Therefore, you are special.

This particular “candy-bar philosophy” has no grounding in reality.

There are concepts, however, which have proven to have longevity. For instance, the Bible says:

  • All have sinned.
  • There’s none righteous.
  • Whosoever will may come.
  • God is no respecter of persons.

A completely different approach.

In self-esteem, we are encouraged to ignore our problems and deny our commonality. Unfortunately, if everybody is special, then nobody’s special. If everybody matters, then it’s difficult to get personal attention.

So what should we be trying to achieve? Self awareness.

I have some good.

I have some bad.

I have some lazy.

I have some worry.

I have some fret.

I have some genetic predispositions.

I have family.

I have responsibilities.

I have real pressure.

I have phony pressure.

I also have my present talent so I can launch my solutions.

If we cannot be self-aware about our status, we will lean on “puffy” principles, which make us appear more grounded than we actually are.

When we remove the pressure to be right and eliminate the need to be the center of attention, we can begin to understand that the Earth works when we allow place for each other.

Thus, sometimes we’re the head and on other occasions, the tail.

Ironically, self-esteem robs us of the worth we could possess by taking on simple tasks using our ability–and basking in the joy of completion.

Here is the essence of self-awareness:

We are saved by grace.

But we are distinguished by service.

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Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … March 12th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Dear Man Dear Woman

Dear Man: I hope you don’t mind me sending along my ideas and feelings in the form of this note. I just didn’t want to sit down and have a face-to-face discussion, get interrupted and lose my train of thought.

Even though I see us making gradual progress to understand one another, I feel there is one large hurdle that we just can’t seem to get over.

You think I’m weak.

It’s not your fault. You were taught to do it. All the television shows portray women as having great intelligence, but falling apart under pressure.

You and I were born practically equal.

For the first ten years of our lives, our bodies were almost the same. I ran as fast as you, and you cried like a girl when you fell down and skinned your knee. Then the natural order–Mother Nature–came along and changed things to make sure that our species would be able to have a mother and a father to push the plan ahead.

I got estrogen, which gave me breasts, a period and hormones of sensitivity. You got testosterone, which gave you balls and a single-mindedness toward single-handedly procreating the species.

I no longer could run as fast as you could.

I couldn’t lift as much weight.

A few days every month, I found myself nearly out of commission due to my menstrual cycle.

At that point, you looked upon me as weaker.

It infuriated me. I could still think, feel and react with as much smarts as you, but because of my lesser muscle mass and need to mother children, I felt that I lost respect in your eyes.

I hate that.

It seems ridiculous to me that we view one another based upon the conditions of our genetic responsibility instead of realizing that we are both human beings and share almost everything in common.

I am tired of being the weakling–but I’m also tired of apologizing for having an emotional side which you may or may not understand.

So you try to be sensitive to my lack. That can make you consider me the weaker sex, which can end up with me being nothing more than “the little woman.”

Do you understand? I can’t be just “the little woman” and stay sane. I have to be more than a birthing chamber that ovulates three or four days a month.

I yearn for the time when we were children and had a childlike appreciation for each other. There were no “girl baseball teams” and “boy baseball teams.” We played all the games together.

I don’t want to be your weakling.

I don’t want to struggle to get respect because I’m seen as inferior. I don’t want to be viewed as bitchy and pushy.

Do you understand what I’m saying? Can you fathom how horrible you would feel if you were deemed second-rate? Why would it feel any different for me?

I thank you for reading this.

I’m not trying to blame you–I’m just curious if you can comprehend my heart.

Can we escape the futility of separating the sexes into Mommy and Daddy?

You don’t need to respond, but if you do, be candid and not afraid to share you heart.

I was thinking of you.

Woman

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Good News and Better News … January 25th, 2016

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Good News Messiah Lutheran

I arrived early.

Nothing had started popping at Messiah Lutheran.

I was sitting at my book table checking out a few details when I looked across the vestibule and saw the bulletin board pictured above.

My first instinct was to chuckle since I was peering at a snowman while abiding in Panama City, Florida. But I guess because it was Sunday morning and my thoughts had become a bit introspective, I considered the snowman.

It isn’t, you know–a man, I mean.

If you came across a snowman and decided to melt it and free the human being inside, after extensive warming, all you would end up with is a puddle.

There’s nothing within.

It’s an imitation of life–using lumps of coal, a broom, a button, a scarf, a carrot and a top hat.

But it got me wondering if there are frozen people crusted over by the iciness of our culture, who really are more than just snowmen. Is it possible to become so chilled by indifference that you live beneath inches of ice?

Well, I certainly see it in politics.

Freezing out your competition and appearing above the fray, free of fault, seems to be the “call of the wild” in Washington. But I fear if the real heat of pressure and responsibility fell upon any one of them, they would sink into a drippy mess.

How about entertainment?

What could be more hypocritical than a bunch of snowmen in Hollywood who think they are so open-minded and liberal, who make a stand against guns–even as they use pistils, automatic rifles and any number of instruments of mayhem to kill thousands of human beings in their plotlines.

Then there’s religion.

Seems to me that we have sunk to the position of the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, who spent their time counting cups, cleaning plates and decorating their robes.

Snowmen.

Nothing really left inside–just a cold form of what they once might have looked like.

So as I prepared to share with the folks at Messiah, I was reminded of the sarcastic statement of the angel, speaking to the women who came to the tomb to embalm Jesus: “Why seek ye the living among the dead?”

I had to ask myself a two-part question:

  • Is my life the pursuit of melting snowmen, only to find there’s nothing really there?
  • Or, under this arctic exterior, are there still living human beings who would like to have joy and abundant life?

The good news is that Messiah lifted my spirits.

Although at first they treated us as strangers, our hearts soon burned within us, taking away the frigid fear.

It was powerful.

It was good.

It was hopeful.

And unlike the snowman on the wall of their bulletin board, what I discovered were human beings suffering from a little hypothermia from being exposed to too much cold. So here’s the better news: We can warm up society and find out where the snowmen are and where the people just need to come in out of the elements.

1. When you see somebody doing a good job and you know they make minimum wage, give them a buck and a word of encouragement for their extra-mile efforts.

2. When you’re in the doctor’s office, instead of pretending to read an out-dated magazine, attempt to strike up a conversation with a nearby human being and see where it takes you.

3. Let “thank you” come off your lips more and more easily.

4. Lead with a smile long before you come face-to-face.

5. Appreciate the small things and be amazed at how the big things begin to take care of themselves.

6. Sit in your quiet, staid church and clap your hands during one of the hymns and see if anyone joins you.

I could go on and on.

Here are two dangers in life: falling under the spell of the deep freeze, or believing that you have no power to thaw it.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … January 20th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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PoHymn Jan 20

Plain Joe

Plain Joe awoke today

Went to earn his pay

Finding what he can

To become a better man

Avoiding the nasty fray.

But others push on Joe

To join the to-and-fro

And believe the common thought

Purchase what they’ve bought

And get inside the flow.

Yet Joe is a me

A creature who is free

To use his blessed brain

To avoid the furious insane

And find who he can be.

But pressure comes to bear

As the bullies never care

What path Joe might choose

Disagree and he will lose

A chance to be treated fair.

So Joe learns his cues

Although he gets the blues

He laughs extra loud

With the crudeness of the crowd

Hoping for better news.

Then one day he’s laid off

With nickels and pennies, he’s paid off

Left without the job

Separated from the mob

Stuck with his meaningless trade-off.

What will it prosper the Common Joe

To gain approval, then lose his dough

Stuck with a soul he didn’t make

Feeling like a stupid fake

With no place left to grow.

So Joseph made a decision

To escape the bigoted division

And join the human race

Allowing the smile upon his face

To

Shine

Yes

To

Shine

 

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G-9: Easy or Ease… January 31, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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atlas bigMay we take a moment to sum up the human condition?

The gravity of our situation adds weight and pressure to our lives, creating burden. Feeling this added weight, we tend to gyrate to situations where we can float along and be buoyant. Unfortunately, because this climate is not where we really desire to be or in correlation with our calling, we stagnate, which lends itself to feelings of disappointment.

So even though the added gravity of an environment that questions us may occasionally make us feel defeated, trying to stay in an “easy” climate that does not cause us to grow produces disappointment, which degrades itself to depression.

Sooner or later we must understand that we are not meant to be buoyant. We are not intended to be creatures who merely bob up and down, moving with the flow of the world around us.

  • We have legs.
  • We have a backbone.
  • We are not fish.

We are supposed to endure the gravity of life, but somehow find a way to ease the tribulation and be of good cheer.

Yes, there is a difference between easy and ease, and in finding that distinction, you discover one of the key secrets of human life.

The main thing that has to be conquered is despair. Easy does not defeat it, nor does throwing a fit over your inadequacy scare the dark clouds away. We must find a way to ease the gravity of our situation.

Where do we start?

  1. Being too positive makes you ill-prepared for the realities that will come your way.  1a. Think yes, prepare for no.
  2. Being too negative encompasses your time, which could be better spent in planning and learning. 2a.Consider no; prepare for yes.
  3. Being practical is the art of balancing what you have with what might happen. 3a. Ignore yes and no; focus on the details.
  4. Knowing that surprises are inevitable, it’s a good idea not to take too much time acting surprised. 4a. Difficulty is common to all human beings.
  5. Set small goals so achievement is possible daily. 5a. The blessings and trials of life are delivered with each morning’s portion.

To choose an easy path is to quickly make yourself extinct in your own evolution. To ease the path, you have to consider the factors–every movement is countered by a movement from another direction.

Being aware of that grants you the advantage of not needing to fall into a pit of despair, but rather, pulling up short of the edge, gaining your footing … and living to think and work another day.

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Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

Recess… November 8, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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children playgroundThe bell rang. Time for recess.

I looked around the room into the faces of twenty-nine other young souls like myself, in Mrs. Arnold’s third grade class and realized that the ringing meant different things to each and every one.

Some were smiling, wiggling in anticipation. Others seemed resigned, as if bored with the prospect. And there were those who were terrified–fully aware that in a few short minutes they would be out on the playground with their peers, trying to compete and falling short of the glory of childhood acceptance.

  • There would be interaction.
  • There would be competition.
  • There would be challenges.
  • There would be ridicule.

It is part of the process. And as we pursue a much-needed campaign against the brutality of bullying, we must be careful not to hamper the interaction among younger folks when they are separated from grown-ups–an exposure that brings about the necessary evolution toward character, confidence and realization.

For when you discuss “peer,” there are three different categories. If you think that each and every time children fuss, argue and fight, it is wrong–bullying–you are disrupting the human jungle that DOES provide a great barometer for cleaning out abnormalities and setting apart better paths.

For instance, I failed to be called a “fat boy” enough in school to rid myself of obesity. I was TOO well-liked, too personable and in some ways, too talented to be challenged over a weakness that has now plagued me my whole life. It should have been taken care of by:

1. Peer presence.

This is just the blending of kids getting together to discover solutions on the best way to get along. It is characterized by talking. This is why sometimes it’s stupid in school, to tell kids to be quiet. They are trying to find a way to blend with each other. Not everything can be solved by an adult guidance counselor. We need our friends to talk with, to blend with and to discover solutions. And sometimes this leads to:

2. Peer pressure.

It is essential in the human race that we learn how to bend. We must discover our differences and even be willing to argue about them in order to produce adequate compromises. Too many teachers think that because kids are arguing, it’s a sign of severe difficulty. The truth is, peer pressure teaches us to bend, acknowledge our differences, and if necessary, fuss our way through them.

I certainly agree that peer pressure can go too far and can lead to the promotion of violent behavior. But I will also tell you there is no person who appears to the youngster to be old, who can intervene and produce the results that they can hammer out, on their own, together.

When you live in the adult world, the only power you have over the young is to teach them right, wrong, manners and gentleness. Then they must go out in the midst of peer pressure and work out the specifics. Occasionally this can get carried away and lead to:

3. Peer persecution.

Some kids feel compelled to bind other children by bullying them.  How can you identify what’s bullying and what is viable peer pressure?

Bullying is when the arguing stops, one person ceases to speak and becomes the target of the other one, who dominates.

That’s right. If two kids are arguing, give them a chance to work it out. But if you come across two kids and only one of them is yelling, ridiculing the other child, who is standing there, without speech, just taking it–you have just come across bullying.

It is a mistake for people who are no longer in school, no longer youthful and no longer understand the playground, to try to come in and make things right for everybody by keeping things calm and on an even keel. You are just making matters worse. Learn the difference.

  • The young students in our country need peer presence. They must be given a human mixer to blend, discovering solutions.
  • Sometimes this leads to peer pressure, where kids will argue, trying to bend to one another’s inclinations, and in the process, uncover differences which eventually are included in the flow.
  • But we should never let it go into peer persecution, where one kid binds another one up with bullying. This is easily identified by the absence of the persecuted child offering any verbal defense.

I recently heard about a young man who felt he was being bullied, so he committed suicide. Here’s my problem with that: why wasn’t there a climate where this young man could express to his parents, family or teachers his need for assistance?

And why are we attacking the very delicate procedure of peer interaction, trying to eliminate anything WE would consider negative, just because in this case, the system failed one young man?

I am saddened by his death, but alerted to the fact that the problem here was not just bullying. It was a fellow who didn’t think he could argue back to the peer pressure, and also did not feel that anybody outside the playground would either hear or have the power to change his circumstances.

We need peer presence. Students must learn to blend.

I think we need some peer pressure, to bend, where kids have the chance to produce some of their own solutions through argument.

What we do need to stop is peer persecution, binding, where one person is silenced as the others continue to rail against him or her.

Can we make these distinctions? If we can’t, we need to stop calling ourselves parents, teachers and leaders.

Our society is overwrought. Some things are necessary to create the cultural revolution in each generation that progresses the idea of humanity instead of trying to keep everything calm, but stalled.

I know it is possible. I did it with all six of the sons I raised. I let them blend and I let them bend. Only when they began to bind each other with persecution did I step in. Because of that, I think each one of them has grown up with a better understanding of who he is and how he fits in.

Bullying–it’s when one person stops talking and runs for cover, only to be chased by an assailant.

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