All at once; where do I start?


Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate, 

Here’s a letter I wrote to you a couple of days ago, but couldn’t muster the nerve to publish. Fear set in and as I told Mommy “the problem with saying stuff like this for the world to see, is that if you don’t follow through you look foolish.” 

But after a day or two of thinking about it, that’s the whole point – I’m imperfect, trying to listen to that voice growing stronger within me everyday, but still afraid of what someone may think – and still afraid that if I fail I will look foolish. 

I started these letters with the intent of being honest with you 3 three about who I was and what I thought at this age. Here’s another glimpse: 

Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,

I woke up feeling overwhelmed today. I went to my closet and started bagging up things up; the excess I accumulated over time.

It made me think of a letter I wrote to you a while back. So I looked it up:

Imagine my surprise to learn that I wrote that letter to you exactly two years ago today. God is always at work in our lives and if we listen – and even when we don’t.

I feel guilty that I never did lighten the load all that much – regardless of what I wrote to you two years ago. I gave away some clothes and some other junk and felt just okay. I still feel the weight of it though. And I guess God won’t let me off the hook yet.

I had coffee with a friend last week who  left a steady job he’d been in for years, sold “80%” of everything he owns including his nice home and cars, committed to several months of intense language training, and is moving to a South American country to serve orphans.

This is a guy I know. Personally. We’ve run together before dawn on country roads a 100 times – talked about all sorts of trivial things, all sorts of hard things, worked together for a time. I know this man, it’s not just something I read about in a book and thought now that sounds nice, but remained detached from it – because after all it’s just a name in a book and who really does that. I sat sipping my Ethiopian coffee, in Brentwood, listening intently as he described letting go of everything, wearing my I Am Second bracelet telling him how I wished I could do what he’s doing. I didn’t feel like Second all of a sudden.

Mommy dropped you off at friends house to play today, Izzy. We heard that her mother was sick, but its hard to ask people do you really have cancer? We heard it from our kid. When she came face to face with this woman and talked with her we found it that its true. She does in fact have stage 4 cancer. I read some of her blog today – and she talks about the veil of life being lifted for her and the realization that the trivial things in life, as we’ve all heard before, really don’t matter. Why does it take things like cancer to make us aware – and is it even possible for someone to learn from someone else’s trials? We do indeed live in a self-focused world. 

I’ve read a lot of books about God and about being a man and trying to bridge the gap that divides us. I read the Bible every morning. Hungry – even desperate for God’s direction. Memorizing scripture, finally afraid that I need it – as if I didn’t until recently.

I guess at 39 (I already usually say “40”) I’m still trying to figure it out.

But days like today it feels like “all at once” that the world overwhelms me – just like Jack Johnson said. “Which way will you run, when it’s always all around you?” This time I do intend to get rid of most that weighs me down: possessions, social “media” and the rest of the noise that tells me I need more and need to measure up, self doubt, – everything but my belief that “crazy” love and “radical” obedience to God’s pull on me is what should own me.

As mommy and I plot our life lately I keep coming back to the thought that none of it matters if we can’t find a way to help other people somehow. I want new stuff. I want cars. I want a brick home just large enough to prove that I’m successful, but not so large that anyone might accuse me of opulence or pride. Because in my Christian bubble I need to at least pretend to be meek and humble and Second.

But I can’t escape these thoughts lately:

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Whatever you did for the least of these you also did for me.

Care for widows and orphans.

Sell all of your possessions and give to the poor.

How often have I done that? How can I? Where do I start? When do I start? These things when I feel so weighed down by it all. When it’s written down.

Rarely. Just start. Here where I am. Today.

I love you,

– Daddy


Tuesday: Swam 1600 / Ran 6 miles

Wednesday: none

Thursday: Ran 3 miles

Friday: Swam 1500 / Lifted weights

Saturday: Ran 7 miles