2017. I feel like I lived a whole lifetime in this year. From many dark days yearning for the return of the days in the sun, to the eventual dawning of new days, join me in taking a look back at the year that was.
I can’t believe it’s been only a year since this time last year I was writing my review of 2016. In truth, it feels like it has been much longer since then. I’m not sure what your year has looked like, but something I like to do here is write a review of every year. I’m sure some of the posts from previous years will pop up in the related links section at the bottom of the page. But for now, take a walk with me as I try to somehow navigate and spell out everything that happened across 2017 in my life, and hopefully find something in here to help you as you reflect on your own year.
To be honest, this one has been rather difficult to write, but I’ve never been one to really hide anything about anything that’s gone on. If you’ve been reading my writing for a while, you’ll know I tend to be fairly open and honest about things. But I’m warning you now – a lot happened this year. The content is about to get rather dark rather quickly, so if you’re looking for one of those happier jovial reflections on the year, skip to maybe the halfway point here, or look at someone else’s review.
Everyone wants justice, but not everyone wants to be judged… here’s my problem with one of the most frequently used sentences in the entire world: “don’t judge me”.
Judgmental frog is judging you…
Never before in history have the terms Nazi, racist, bigot, or “X”-ophobe (insert your phobia of choice here) been more prevalent in the common lexicon of our society. Well, perhaps maybe during World War 2 where those terms really did apply and some would wear those with a badge of true honour, but I digress. We live in a world that is very much up in arms about standards towards morality, legality and acceptance.
In truth, these issues have always been present throughout history. Recently I went on a big history binge on the history of the Ottomans, the origins of Russia from 2000BC, the history of China, and all the different wars and conflicts that have broken out over the last few thousand years. Ideals and a common set of standards have been heatedly contested to the point of bloodshed for millenia. So I guess the relative (and I use “relative” very loosely) lack of global scale conflict is quite welcome given how many millions of people have lost their lives in the larger scale conquests and conflicts (although many lives are still lost).
As individuals, we strive for harmony and acceptance in our way of life. Rightly so. Who enjoys living their lives in fear or being ruled by some tyrant who suppresses their people?
But on a micro-relational scale, we strive even moreso to have the love and acceptance of people in our circles. Continue reading
While we speak of the power of unity, we can be incredibly guilty of creating a divide between men and women, enforcing a gender ghetto within the Christian faith.
Before I start, I would like to confess my absolute love for the Christian church. As a believer who has been involved in church life for a number of decades, I sincerely hold it with such high esteem. Most nights of the week, you’ll find me helping out at or spending time with people I know from church. Not only have I seen my own life dramatically changed there, but I have seen the lives of hundreds if not thousands first hand transformed and integrated by the power of believers doing life together.
And I’ve already even used the old Christian cliche expression of “doing life together”. Continue reading
Are all commitments unconditional? Are all promises kept regardless of what the other person does? Or are we grossly oversimplifying the truth? Here’s my problem with “Covenant vs. Contract”.
In the 80s and 90s, people of faith were swept by the phrase, “It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship”. The term religion had been broadly used to describe the Christian worldview, from its customs to its outworking in daily life. If you regularly went to church or the tabernacle, you upheld certain traditions and lived your life a certain way, you were said to be religious. One day, somebody woke up and found two words starting with R, and in a memorable fashion, summarised a particular view of the Christian faith, highlighting the relationship aspect of its belief over its religious connotations to that point. Continue reading
One of the most common expressions Christians use today, but not entirely Biblical or fruitful – here’s my problem with “Jesus, take the wheel”.
I wrote a while ago about My Problem with Christian Conferences. It certainly generated a whole lot of buzz. Usually when I write about sex or relationships, everyone wants to jump in on it (to the point where it’s all some people think I write about), and this post actually stirred a similar level of interest. Today I thought I’d tackle another honest concern I have facing the Christian faith today, which is the overuse and perhaps even incorrect theology and understanding of a very common expression: “Jesus, take the wheel”.
I think more of us would be doing it if we knew how – how do you move on?
The past few days on Facebook a friend has been posting about her journey to recovery and healing in her life. While everyone else has been going nuts about getting their Ashy Bines Booty Challenge in to gear or some naked yoga thing happening in Brisbane, she was sharing instead about her decision to choose healing. I wish stuff like hers got half the attention the other crap on social media gets. I’m sick of seeing Evil Kermit memes garnering more interest than the realities of the people in our lives. Continue reading
It seems with another new year, everyone is ready to start again. But is that such a good thing? Here are 8 pros and cons of new beginnings.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, we’ve made it into the most reflective portion of the adult calendar. The advent of another new year. 2017 approaches.
Most of the feedback I’ve heard on 2016 has been that it was a pretty terrible for people. It’s certainly been marred with a lot of unfortunate passings, including the recent passing of Carrie Fisher. The Republicans won the Election, Pokemon Go came and went, and Harambe was and still is a thing. Continue reading
The massive venues, the steep price tag, the lights and the world class speakers… Here’s my problem with Christian conferences.
It seems like every month there are more and more Christian conferences popping up. Usually launched by churches, but also sometimes by organisations and partnerships, the options nowadays are unreal. From any denomination and any country, there’s something out there for you. Pastors & Leaders Conference and MegaFest at The Potter’s House, Hope and Life Conference at Lakewood, The Gospel Coalition featuring faces such as John Piper, the various events Jesus Culture of Bethel Church puts on, just to name a few, with more and more every day. Some of the hallmarks of these conferences are as follows: Continue reading
Driven by what seems to make sense, but in a world of feelings – here’s a look at one of my biggest internal struggles in life: Being a logical mind in an emotional world.
A shot from Sai Kung, Hong Kong. A bunch of people said this photo looked contemplative, but really it was me just trying to see a stingray that was in the water
For as long as I can remember, I have taken a very structured approach to life. From the earliest ages, my family assured me that I was born 40. Not like Benjamin Button style, but in terms of how I interact with the world. I enjoy good conversation, I like having my ducks in a row, I try to be organized when it comes to events or career, and I don’t usually enjoy unnecessary lead times or standing idle when there’s something that needs to be done. Not always the sort of approach you expect a young child to have, but even in those younger years and into this point of life even now, it’s the approach that others would regularly encounter me taking. One of my older female friends refers to me as “a bit of an old soul”.
To me, in a lot of ways, every issue has a root cause, every end has a beginning, and every decision can be traced back to the ones that came before it. “a + b = c”. I live in the analytical left and I’m probably one of the most logical types of people that my friends know.
So what’s my struggle? It isn’t with the logical aspect of life necessarily, but rather with how this sort of mind interacts with a world that isn’t always logical. Where other people are seemingly driven by factors beyond those that “make sense”. In short, my struggle is being a logical mind in an emotional world.
A track record of success
I think I’ve got to acknowledge firstly that there is a strong reason why I have maintained this approach to life over the years. And the reason is this:
No, it really does. And it’s rarely actually off the mark.
Let’s take my career for example. I work in IT. I’m a software consultant. Throughout my entire career, I have made a living out of successfully negotiating various logical paths in computer software to help produce some pretty fully featured things. Different services, websites and products, formed of an extended set of logic that drives every decision the application makes. I’ve now been a consultant in this world for a number of years, and have been involved in running and/or advising teams of people around creating and maintaining software, and all the decisions around it. Even outside of the software itself, many problems in the business world can be solved by following a logical train of thought. If a project is starting to blow its budget, then there’s a cause for it. There is some problem with either the way we estimated the project, with a team member’s direction or skill level or morale, or with part of the business process we are following. 100% of the time, following this thought process through produces a helpful and usually profitable result.
But beyond that, I have found that logical approaches also work with people. While not everyone always wants to be reminded or is aware of it at the time, there is usually a root issue behind whatever the surface issue is. For instance, I’ve seen people blow up at other people “out of the blue”. Is it because they suddenly had a lapse of judgment and lashed out for no reason? No. If you probe a bit further, you’ll find that there has been something happen to them earlier in their day, or even earlier in their life, that has come into conflict with whatever situation has been presented to them. When someone’s behaviour is entirely destructive, it’s usually because the heart of the person is frustrated or lost. When there is a negative feeling of loneliness or frustration, it’s usually because of someone’s continued thought patterns down a certain direction, or a continued pattern of isolation… which also has its reasons for being. Just ask any psychologist and they’ll let you know their main job is to guide people towards the right decisions, but also in helping them recognize their true triggers and sources of doubt or difficulty.
I find the truth is much more matter of fact than it is emotional.
My source of feelings
That’s not to say I don’t have feelings. I actually have massive feelings. I feel both good and bad experiences in a massive way. In fact, you wouldn’t even believe how big the feelings are I’ve had while writing this. I just find that my feelings follow my decisions. For instance, if I see an event happening at work, my logical mind will find the situation, examine all the reasons why the situation is good or bad, and based on my internal assessment, I will find myself gleeful in celebration, or quickly building anger or frustration and going to have “one of those” sorts of conversations.
In my relationships, even moreso. I think about a number of the people I’ve pursued in my life, and it has always started with a logical train of thought. I’ll see a person, spend quite a bit of time with them (intentionally), allow myself to see them for who they are in all their qualities and seasons and interactions, consider whether or not we enjoy each other’s company and are heading in a similar direction, and make a decision on suitability. I find once I’ve thought it through and made a decision either way, my feelings grow in that direction.
Not just romantically, but friends, family, work relationships, all the rest of it. It’s the same thing. Assess, process, feel. Usually in that order. I don’t usually allow my feelings to go first – to me, I believe any feelings that I have are already following whatever decisions I’m making, whether consciously or otherwise.
If it makes logical sense, if I’ve sought all the advice and spent a suitable amount of time processing whatever it is, my heart will follow soon thereafter.
The point of conflict
If you’re not this type of person, you’ve already seen a point of conflict with what you’ve read so far, and if you are this sort of person, you can relate. Either way, both types of people know where my struggle lies, and that is in interfacing with others who aren’t as structured or formatted as I am.
That’s not to say I don’t get along with people. Quite the contrary – I love people, and I strive for peace with all men and women. I know there are definitely people who don’t like me (I could even name some of them), but for the most part, my interactions with others are pretty pleasant. I’m a big believer in grace and forgiveness – in giving people chances to grow and become all they’re meant to be.
And yet in my own life I’ve had to balance all this with the inner frustration of running into decisions that you could deem “illogical”. The ones that don’t seem to make sense. When someone’s initial words or behaviour go one way, but then the follow up goes another. In a similar vein, people in these sorts of boats find me frustrating because I have set my formulaic approach that is not playing nicely with their approach where a + b might equal c, but it doesn’t mean c is the answer. In fact, I can think of several big conversations in different areas of my life that have literally started with another person (or a few people) saying, “It is logical, but…”
Factors beyond logic
But maybe it’s not that their behaviour is illogical – perhaps it is that there are factors beyond logic that are more important in their decision making process. Namely, feelings. Ironically, I understand this very well, as my personality type is actually feelings heavy. The conflict is that my personality type seems to be a contradiction of itself. But what do you do when logic says one thing, but your heart says something else?
And my logical mind would continue to go down this train of thought with a few different answers to that question. First of all, how can you understand a situation when you can’t even understand yourself? I think most of the worst decisions we all make in our lives are around a failure to understand or face what’s going on within our own hearts. I think back to times I’ve snapped at people or locked myself in a world of anxiety, and it’s been because I haven’t properly allowed a deep enough understanding of myself to develop. I haven’t been in touch with my own decision making process and led myself into a place of feeling trapped (even inducing panic attacks in one particular work situation). As a man thinks in his heart, so he is.
Another thought that comes to mind is that the heart is deceitful above all else. This is probably why I don’t usually follow mine unless I’ve done the due diligence of working it through. Or rather, as described above, I find my heart following the accepted train of thought in my mind. And there are so many examples of really terrible or nearsighted decisions being made by listening immediately to the feelings of the heart on their own. Relationships that shouldn’t have started because there were so many factors that would lead to a dead end… or relationships that should have started, but didn’t for lack of the actions that lead to intimacy and developed trust. Fights with friends over stupid small things that were actually triggered because of a bigger feeling in the heart. Walking away from truth because of an immediate sense that it doesn’t seem to be working out right now. And yet on the other side, the desires of our heart can be very directional in leading us into the path we should take.
The final thought is that we have to learn to live with the decisions of others, whether logical, illogical, or some combination in the middle. Whether it be that the path of logic leads us against each other, or our feelings are incompatible, we have to learn to negotiate life with others in the event we reach the point of conflict. At the crossroads of our disagreements, where will we go from here? Will we adhere to a common path, or decide to go our separate ways? Will we allow ourselves to be challenged, or will we accept our current train of thought or emotional state as the final word?
What’s the right answer? Yes. No. Maybe. All of the above.
And I’m sure you can relate. We all face this in our approach to life. Head or heart, logic or feelings, reason or intuition. I think faith lives in both. In some ways, faith is the most illogical choice you can make, but since it’s always the right one, it’s also the most logical choice to make.
I guess we are all on our journey, trying to find our path. Where do we go from here? The answer, my friend, is up to you and me.
Thanks for coming on this little introspective ride with me. I’ve done quite a few of these sorts of posts and people always tell me in person, comments or messages (yes I see them all!) that these sorts of posts resonate with them, so hopefully this one resonates with you too. How about you? Do you find yourself driven by logic? Or are you on the other end of the spectrum and in regular conflict with people like me? Would love to hear from you.
Trapped in a memory, unable to move past what they did to you, and forgiving is the last thing you want to hear… here are 5 reasons forgiveness is so hard.
I think it’s safe to say that when it comes to relating to people, one thing is guaranteed – you’re going to get hurt. I heard it once said very well that love is permission for people to let you down. But when it happens, you’re not always ready for it, are you? And it’s not the people who are distant from us or those total strangers leaving comments on your Facebook page or your YouTube video, or the acquaintances who make an off-comment about things that they have no idea about – it’s the people you let into your life, the ones you let close, who can really catch you off guard. Continue reading