Reflection

Why am I a bottom feeder?

By Adam Crawford
**Disclaimer – this might be an emotional read (on my end).**

Some days I feel as though I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel for the energy to be the man I’m supposed to be. Some days I wake up and feel great, only to be derailed by something trivial.

I’m fairly confident the trivial incident is not the root cause, I’m sure it’s something else that’s bothering me most of the time. Or the frustration that comes along with the trivial incident is the output of buildup from the previous day. I think this is something we all experience. I just wonder why I feel like a bottom feeder searching for the gumption to be the husband and father my family deserves.

The days where you have to scrape along the bottom to find such energy seem as they drain the life out of you. They seem as if you’re struggling just to make it to the next second, the next minute, and finally, reach the end of the day. Hoping desperately, you don’t do something you shouldn’t. Hoping that you don’t say something you don’t mean in the midst of stress and frustration.

It seems impossible to control the frustration. One thing leads to another, and then all of a sudden you find yourself in this downward spiral of anger and bewilderment for why you’re angry.

What follows, at least for me, is the guilt. I become guilty that I’m angry for no reason. That I’m frustrated, openly frustrated, and wondering how I can fix it. I’m wondering how I can climb out of this spiral that’s pulling me further and further down. Then I crash. I become so tired of being frustrated, my body is exhausted, and I sit down on the couch.

I sit down on the couch and wonder if tomorrow will be better. I wonder if there’s something I can do to make it better before I go to sleep.

Then I pray.

I pray that God will give me the strength to handle the stressors of my life. To have the wisdom to alleviate the stressors whenever possible. And to have the ability to understand my frustrations and bring them to Him instead of letting them bottle up inside.

While I do this consistently, I still find that there are days it doesn’t work. Of course this is not God’s fault, it’s my fault. It’s my fault for not turning to God before I get frustrated.

I can’t expect God to just simply fix my problems, He has already given me the ability to fix my problems, I just either refuse or forget to use them.

God can fix things in an instant, but as we all know He rarely does. Because if He just fixes our problems then we’re likely going to just find ourselves back in the same situation. If He just leans down and whispers our problems away, then we don’t learn how or why we had the problems in the first place. We are his children. If we were to just follow our children around and fix every problem they have for the rest of their lives, then we aren’t teaching them anything. That’s not to say we shouldn’t help them, of course we should. But we must teach and mentor them along the way.

This is how God father’s us.

We have to remember that He will never give us anything we can’t handle. It’s hard to keep this in mind when we’re in the middle of something that makes us feel like a bottom feeder. But God will never, ever, provide us with a problem set we can’t figure out. It may just take time, or discipline, or practice.

God doesn’t work miracles on our timeline. He works them on His.

If you’re feeling like a bottom feeder today, take a break, relax, and pray. God will take care of you, you just have to let him.

Pride Keeps You From Grace

By Adam Crawford

I’ve been reading Donald Miller’s book “Blue Like Jazz. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. It has challenged me in my faith like no other book has (other than the Bible), and it’s also given me several nuggets to think about.

While I’m not quite finished with it I won’t provide you with a full review or breakdown, but what I am going to do is give you something to think about in hopes that you’ll give it a chance. I think, thus far, it’s a must-read for any person who has ever struggled with their faith.

In one of the chapters he talks about God’s grace. He goes deeper into explaining how he always felt as if he was undeserving of God’s grace, not because he didn’t have problems of his own (everyone does), but because he didn’t feel as if his problems were as bad as other people’s. He felt as if other’s were more in need of prayer and God’s love than he was. The beauty of Donald Miller’s writing is that he isn’t afraid to tell you what he’s afraid of. And he isn’t afraid to tell you what he learned from admitting that he’s afraid.

It’s this wonderful, naked, honest narrative of what goes through our heads as we struggle with something, and in particular, faith. I know that I’ve had points in my life where I’ve done the exact same thing. I’ve felt as if I should be praying for someone else’s problems before I pray for my own. It felt wrong to be praying for myself. My problems weren’t that bad. That mindset shifted when my daughter passed away. The problem was that it shifted so far to the other end of the spectrum that I just stopped praying at all.

Not only did I feel like I’d been the recipient of the most painful thing any parent could ever encounter–I didn’t want God’s help. What could he do for me now? She was already gone.

This mindset took a long time to escape. I still have days where I’m climbing out of that hole. But reading that chapter in “Blue Like Jazz” made me realize that not asking for help is not only not what God wants from us, it’s prideful. It’s basically telling God that you don’t need his help in order to get by. It’s like telling Him, “No, I’m fine God, really. I think these people need you more than I do.”

If you’ve never thought about prayer and grace in this light, you might be thinking I’m crazy. Or that I’m misinterpreting it, and that’s fair. But before you decide that is your stance, really think about it.

God loves us. He’s the only being in the universe that loves you unconditionally. When you don’t ask for help from him then you’re telling him you don’t need him. You should always be praying and asking God for forgiveness, guidance, wisdom, courage, and perspective. Your problems are no less significant than anyone else’s, and they definitely aren’t insignificant to your Creator.

God’s grace is unmatched and never ending, never failing. But in order to receive God’s grace, you have to admit that you need it.

“What would you do?” Something I’m thinking

Man, it’s been a really busy month. I honestly don’t remember hardly anything specific about July. It feels like I was standing on the side of a private pond watching fireworks go off just last night.

It’s Friday evening and there may not be many people reading this, but hopefully you’ll find it on Saturday morning. Anyway, it’s Friday night and I’m sitting at home after a long week at work, maybe 75 hours worth, and I’m sitting in front of the TV after dominating a BBQ chicken pizza. As I look through the channels my wife and I stumble on the TV show SHARK TANK. I love that show.

But after SHARK TANK went off, WHAT WOULD YOU DO? came on. I’m not sure if you’ve ever watched this show, but it’s interesting. It’s one of those hidden camera shows where they stage situations that create uncomfortable settings in a public place. There’s a group of actors creating a situation and the point of the show is to see how “normal” people react to these uncomfortable situations.

On tonight’s episode the setting created was as such: Two gay men are talking at a table with a proposed surrogate mother. They are discussing how the adoption will go down and the “mother” of the child is a young woman who seems to be in her late teens or early twenties.

As the three of them are having their conversation about the future of this child a woman (also an actor) sitting at a table by herself decides to walk over to the conversation and express her opinion about how two men raising a child is blatantly wrong.

The intent of the show is to determine how people (who don’t know these people are actors) will react to the woman telling the gay couple they are unfit to be parents and it’s in the best interest of the child for the expectant mother to not let them adopt the child.

There are a couple of things I need to make clear before I move on.

1. I’m not a person who believes that same-sex relationships are acceptable. I’m a man married to a woman, and I personally believe that same-sex relationships are wrong.

2. Just because I believe this to be true, doesn’t not mean that I believe it’s MY place to judge anyone on how they believe.

The purpose of this article is not to discuss my religious beliefs on same-sex relationships. You know my personal stance as expressed above. It is, however, the intention of this article to discuss the following topic:who’s place is it to judge those who chose to participate in something you don’t believe?

In tonight’s episode of the show, the highlight was watching several groups of people express how rude the woman who berated the gay couple for wanting to adopt a child was. In the situation, several people watched as the woman walked over to tell the gay couple and the expectant mother how wrong it was for them to consider adopting a child into a same-sex household. And the majority of people who watched the woman berate them said something encouraging to the couple. They said things like, “I think you guys would make great parents” or “I can’t believe someone would say those things to you, it’s not her place.”

Here’s the thing—I agree with all of those people who interjected.

I don’t believe that people should be work-a-holics. Neglecting their family in effort to climb any professional ladder. But I also don’t feel it’s my place to go around and police those people up who work 100 hours per week and hire nanny’s to raise their children. And though I believe it’s wrong for people to engage in same-sex relationships, I’m not the judge.

If you’re a religious person, as am I, then you should understand that you are not the judge either. Everyone has an opinion. And we, as a nation, feel as if we are entitled to voice said opinion. Maybe under the “Free Speech” right outlined in the Bill of Rights, we do. But that does not make it the right thing to do in all situations.

I’ve got news for you, whether you like it or not, the world is changing. It has changed.

I’m a military man, and the military has led the way in making same-sex relationships on the same playing field as heterosexual relationships, and if my boss (the President of the United States) has allowed the military to recognize same-sex relationships, guess what? I, by law, have to recognize them as well.

Maybe I have rambled, maybe I have created a convoluted opinion. So let me clear it up.

If you desire to be a good person. A person of character. Then the fundamental principal within being a person of character is being respectful to others, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or any other aspect of a person’s life.

If you’re a religious person, then you know that YOU are not the judge of others. You don’t have to agree with what they do, but it’s also not your place to judge their actions. In order to help someone based on what you see as being criteria for needing to help requires an established relationship.

I’m of the opinion that if you don’t have an established relationship with someone, and your opinion is different than their’s, you will get nowhere if you try and impose your opinion on them. So in effect, you’re not helping, you’re hurting. And if you’re ultimate goal is to help, then you’re going about it the wrong way.

Love people and they will love you back. Then you can begin discussing your personal opinion. But prior to gaining their trust and establishing a meaningful relationship, you’ll get nowhere. All you’re going to do is increase the divide between groups of people who could be working together instead of against.

You don’t have to agree with everything a person does to love them. I’m guilty of judging as much as the next person, which is why I wrote this article. That episode spoke to me. It’s not my place to impose a lifestyle on someone who doesn’t ask my opinion. If they want my opinion, they can read it here.

 

732 Days of Pure Love

Some days you wonder why you’re here. Why you’re suffering through the terrible things this world can deliver. Why there is such pain in a world where there doesn’t have to be. Some days you wonder why it’s worth it, to keep pushing, to keep searching for something higher.

Some days you wonder if it’s worth it, to keep pushing, to keep searching for something higher.

Then I think of you, I think of your smile, of your giggle, of your touch. And I know it is. I know that even though it was so short lived, that I’d live my life ten times through fire and hurricanes if I knew I could see you smile one more time.

Yesterday you turned two, and yet you never learned to walk. I watched as your balloons floated away, with a note attached in tow. One from me, one from Mommy, one from Corbin, and our new dog too. 732 days ago you breathed your first breath

732 days ago you breathed your first breath, and it seems like it’s been so long. Two years goes by slow when my heart aches each day for you.

I know I can’t change the things that happened, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting too. I want to rip space and time and start the clock over again. I want to lift the sand from the hourglass and never watch it fall.

Your brother is coming soon, we’ll call him Hank. He will miss you too because we’ll talk about you all the time. You would have loved him, and you’d have shown him the ropes. He’ll know your name, and he’ll share your middle name, just like me.

It’s hard each day to think about what life might be like if you were still here. We’d still be in Louisiana, you’d be a bayou girl. Things have changed a lot in the past year, but one thing that hasn’t changed, I miss you so much it ties my stomach in knots, and that will never change.

Happy Birthday, Layla, we love you to pieces.

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My new book, Run Away: Essays From A Year Of Grievingis available in most bookstores now.

What would you do today if you could see tomorrow?

What would you do today if you could see into the future?

If you knew exactly what was going to happen tomorrow?

You can plan and articulate what you’d like to happen from the time you wake up tomorrow until the time you go to bed. But ultimately that’s a form of hoping.

Not to say you shouldn’t do those things, because I’m a believer in preparing, but who really knows, right?

Over the last few months I’ve come to realize that I’ve been running myself into the ground. I’ve been trying to accomplish so many things at once that I’m doing a lot of things with half-hearted effort.

This creates two problems:

1. It frustrates me because I’m not putting my heart and soul into everything I’m doing.

2. It leaves me with a half-hearted product.

If I knew exactly what was going to happen tomorrow I think I would change the way I prioritize things. But I can’t.

So what am I going to do?

I’m going to act like I know what’s going to happen tomorrow and then I’m no put myself in a position where I’m strung out and unsatisfied by my efforts for the day.

I’m going to focus on one thing at a time. And perform it to the best of my ability.

That’s what I’m going to do today. Because I know what will happen tomorrow if I don’t.

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