The Good Reason We Wish Bad Things Upon Other People


She misses yet again.

My daughter Caitlin and I are playing ping-pong. She’s only eight years-old and still waiting on some of her hand-eye coordination (it may never arrive), so she misses the ball almost every time. Nevertheless, with a solemn look on her face, she persists, swinging with determination at every ball I send her way.

Then, several minutes into our play, she catches one solidly, firing it right back at me.

I’m shocked and unprepared for the event. I quickly try to recover but I’m too late—I swing and miss. Suddenly, the solemn look on her face is transformed into something that looks like a sunrise. And she says with delight, “Oh good, I’m not the only one messing up!”

I’m not the only one messing up!

It’s a delightful revelation in ping-pong, but it’s an even more delightful revelation in life, isn’t it? Because in the back-and-forth, ping-pong chaos of life, we are always swinging and missing. We do our best, but our life-eye coordination hasn’t quite arrived (it may never arrive). And I’m pretty sure there’s a name for this situation. It’s called being human.

To be human is to make a mess of things.

Continue Reading »

Week 17: The One Illusion We Cannot Afford to Believe In [Loveable 018]

“Experiencing our worthiness does not lead us to believe we are self-sufficient; it helps us to be at peace with the knowledge that we are insufficient. We are interconnected. Interdependent. As big as a limitless soul, but as small and as fragile as a human body.”

In Episode 18 of The Loveable Podcast, we focus on the truest fruit of embracing our worthiness: embracing the worthiness of everyone else as well, and remembering that we are all ultimately connected.

loveable podcast episode 18

This week’s episode explores the following topics:

  • How to relinquish our attachment to mental narratives that keep us miserable.
  • Why allowing ourselves to feel sadness and pain paradoxically produces energy, creativity, and joy.
  • The importance of asking for a mentor or guide if venturing into our emotions becomes overwhelming.
  • How embracing our own worthiness helps us to raise kids who have a resilient sense of worthiness.
  • Why life is about connection, not competition.
  • A challenge to identify the people in your life who have been the voice of grace to you.
  • A practice to cultivate awareness of, and gratitude for, your connection to others.
  • A teaser about the next episode entitled, “A Kid Named Lonely.”

Continue Reading »

Week 16: The Fear (and Joy) of Removing the Masks We Wear [Loveable 017]

“Grace is what happens when someone or Someone sees through our many masks, recognizing and celebrating the innocent little one that still resides beneath all of our disguises…Grace is the assurance that everyone is of equal value and equally worthy, so all you have to do to be loved is show up.”

In Episode 17 of The Loveable Podcast, we focus on naming the masks we wear, and daring to take one of them off.

loveable podcast episode 17

This week’s episode explores the following topics:

  • How the counter-intuitive choice to be uncertain can reduce our stress, decrease our conflict, and increase our self-esteem.
  • The importance of building margin into our schedules—room for imperfections and mess to happen—so you can take the time to learn from mess, pain, and disappointment.
  • How practicing vulnerability is similar to learning how to drive.
  • Why self-acceptance cannot be a group effort and the harm we do to our relationships when we try to make it so.
  • How to have grace for yourself when you “relapse” into looking for your worthiness in your relationships, rather than in your self.
  • The dangers of successfully wearing a facade or persona.
  • Why Halloween is sometimes more grace-full than Christmas.
  • What Jesus shows us in the last week of his life about how to find belonging.
  • A practice for identifying our masks and removing them.
  • A teaser about the next episode entitled, “The One Illusion We Cannot Afford to Believe In.”

Continue Reading »

How Your Phone Is Robbing You of You

cell phones psychology

My son is waiting by the road for his ride to school.

I remember being fourteen and waiting for my ride to school. Sometimes, I would try to walk the balance beam of railroad ties separating our yard from the shoulder of the road. But I bored of that quickly. Then, I would pass the time walking into myself. I’d think thoughts. Feel feelings. Wonder about who I was and where I was going. Daydream of dating girls who were way out of my league. Feel insecure, even in my own daydreams. In other words, I’d wander into my humanity.

My son is not walking railroad ties.

But even more importantly, he’s not walking into himself. He’s not wandering into the infinite abyss of his humanity. Rather, he’s wandering into the infinite abyss of something else. He’s on his phone. Rather than venturing into his interior world, he’s venturing into his digital world.

This is tragic.

Continue Reading »

Week 15: The Mess Will Set You Free! [Loveable 016]

“Ann Lamott once wrote, ‘The grace of age is radical self-acceptance.’ Life is messy and we human creatures are messy. Life isn’t about eliminating the mess; it’s about embracing the mess.”

In Episode 16 of The Loveable Podcast, we focus on accepting our messy selves by first accepting the chaos of everyday living. It’s fun and it’s freeing. Come and embrace the mess with us!

loveable podcast episode 16

This week’s episode addresses the following topics:

  • How to de-escalate conflict with vulnerability, and how to be wise about where we invest our risk and vulnerability.
  • Why humor reconnects us with our true self.
  • How vulnerability about your own mess invites connection, reduces loneliness, and thus heals fear and shame.
  • The importance of not comparing your healing journey to anyone else’s.
  • A practice for embracing your belovedness in the ordinary moments of everyday life.
  • How changes in mommy blogging reflect our decreased exposure in social media to the normal mess of life.
  • A redefinition of the concept of mess.
  • Permission to feel messy without needing to explain it or fix it.
  • More than ten practices for embracing mess with joy and fun.
  • A teaser about the next episode entitled, “The Fear (and Joy) of Removing the Masks We Wear.”

Continue Reading »

Week 14: The Life-Changing Difference Between Shame and Guilt [Loveable 015]

“Guilt is shame redeemed by grace. Shame tells us we are lousy; guilt tells us we did something lousy. Shame whispers, “Your mistakes define you,” but guilt proclaims, “We are defined by redemption, not by transgression.”

In Episode 15 of The Loveable Podcast, we are focusing on clarifying the difference between shame and guilt, because it is the difference between a redemptive life and a hidden life…  

the loveable podcast episode 15

This week’s episode addresses the following topics:

  • Why maintaining a false self requires so much energy.
  • How life experiences such as aging, suffering, and loving all pave the way for letting go of the false self.
  • Why parents “worry from their wounds” and how our own pain can be redeemed in the way we parent our kids.
  • A discussion about how to balance your true and false self in the workplace.
  • Several practical examples of the difference between shame and guilt.
  • Why embracing our mistakes from a place of worthiness helps us move on, leave regret behind, heal relationships, act with dignity, and live redemptively.
  • A challenging practice to help you begin leaving your mistakes behind.
  • A teaser about the next episode entitled, “The Mess Will Set You Free!”

Continue Reading »

How to Recognize Where You Truly Belong

Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment.

Or maybe, for the moment, I’m just feeling humble enough to hear the answer. Either way, on a random Sunday afternoon, I ask my oldest son, Aidan—a teenager with plenty of insights and opinions about our family—what is the most unbearable thing about having me for a father? His answer:

All the sighing.

family belonging

Photo Credit: GeorgeRudy (Bigstock)

My wife corroborates his report. She says I’ve been walking around sighing a lot. I know there’s some truth to it. Plenty. So, I start paying attention to myself. For the rest of the afternoon, I catch myself sighing more than a dozen times. In part, I’m trying to relax, but more often than I’d like to admit, the sighing is communicating something.

It’s communicating that I feel burdened, not by the stress inside of me, but by the stress around me.

So, here’s my son, in the midst of his adolescent search for a place to belong—a place where he is embraced, not because he is easy but because he is worthy—and hoping to find that place with his father. Instead, all too often, rather than finding belonging, he hears a sigh.

How can we recognize the places we truly belong?

We belong where our worthiness is not dependent upon our easiness. We belong where we can be a burden without feeling like a burden. We belong where we can be needy and still feel wanted. We belong where we can be messy and loved, broken and embraced, complicated and celebrated.

In other words, the place we truly belong is where our humanity is not met with a sigh.

Continue Reading »

Week 13: Embracing Your Valuable Flaws [Loveable 014]

“Perfection is overrated. Competition makes us common. The game is over. You are here to be unique. You are here to be you. Enjoy the freedom of that.”

In Episode 14 of The Loveable Podcast, we focus on not just accepting, but embracing, our quirks and flaw and idiosyncracies and wounds and weirdness. When shame tells us that our uniqueness makes us stand out and makes us odd, the voice of grace responds, “Yeah, and you’re beautiful and beloved.”  

the loveable podcast episode 14

This week’s episode addresses the following topics:

  • Why grace embraces us not in spite of who we are but because of who we are.
  • A heartwarming story that illustrates how grace “returns us to ourselves.”
  • The role that embracing our imperfections plays in receiving grace.
  • How grace can transform any shameful thought with one six-word phrase.
  • How hearing the voice of grace restores our sense of playfulness.
  • Why hearing the voice of grace is a prerequisite for finding true belonging.
  • How failing can help us to embrace our worthiness.
  • Why discussing grace in community makes us more aware of the voice of grace within us.
  • An exercise to help us overcome the self-rejection of our most unique and valuable parts.
  • A teaser about the next episode entitled, “The Life-Changing Difference Between Shame and Guilt.”

Continue Reading »

Week 12: The Voice of Grace [Loveable 013]

“Grace isn’t just acceptance of the status quo. Grace contains the status quo—all of our struggle and pain and mess—and embraces us and values us anyway. Grace demands that nothing be changed for love and connection to happen, and that kind of love has power.” 

In Episode 13 of The Loveable Podcast, we talk about how to listen for the voice of grace within us and, perhaps even more importantly, how to recognize it once we’ve heard it…

loveable podcast episode 13

This week’s episode addresses the following topics:

  • Why trying to be happier doesn’t work, but trying to be human-er ultimately makes us enduringly happy.
  • One key difference between the concepts of sin and shame.
  • Why you might need a media detox and what media is doing to deprive you of one.
  • The value of identifying a handful of practices from the podcast and practicing them regularly.
  • Why discovering our worthiness isn’t about trying harder but, rather, about listening more closely.
  • How grace can transform us without trying to change anything about us and, indeed, because it doesn’t try to change anything about us.
  • What it looks like to listen for the voice of grace inside of us and why hearing it there is essential for the health of our relationships.
  • How to avoid turning the concept of grace into an excuse for abusive behavior.
  • Six hallmarks of the grace of voice, so you can recognize it when you have heard it.
  • A teaser about the next episode entitled, “Embracing Your Valuable Flaws.”

Continue Reading »

An Old Man’s 7 Resolutions for a New Year

As we age, it seems, life presents us with two options: denial or humility. And, in my opinion, if you decide to trade-in your denial about your limitations for a little bit of humility, you might as well fold some of that humility into your New Year’s resolutions…

funny new year's resolutions

Photo Credit: Gustavo Frazao (Bigstock)

This year, I’m going to stretch.

I’m not going to stretch because I’m training for the 2020 Summer Olympics or a marathon or a Tough Mudder, or even a 5k. No, these days, at the ripe old age of 41, I’m not stretching out of ambition, I’m stretching for the sake of prevention. I’m stretching so I can walk into the grocery store without a limp. So I can ascend a flight of stairs without pulling a hamstring. So I can roll out of bed without throwing out my back.

When I was younger, my New Year’s Resolutions were usually, in some way, related to conquering the world; now, as I age, my goal is a bit more ordinary: I just want to continue functioning in the world. So, if you’re like me and time has humbled you—if you now realize that mind-over-matter is a privilege of youth and, in the end, matter always wins, by eventually changing form—here is a list of New Year’s Resolutions for you to consider.

After all, it’s a worthy goal to be an upstanding citizen, but the older you get, the more you need to focus on simply standing up…

Continue Reading »