An excuse for Christian weariness?

In a passage with a lot of local issues going on it Paul wrote, Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God. Now I know a lot is going on here and you might be wondering about food; what I want to focus on is the difficult reality of faith: we are people who hope for things unseen and believe realities that are completely outside our experience; all while accepting that we never fully arrive in this life. 

What I really want to reflect on is the idea that no matter what we think we already know Paul suggests we have more to learn. Obviously this is true as the old adage that the more you learn the more you realize you don’t know claims. At the same time don’t we want to grow in knowledge, especially knowledge of the things that matter most? Such as why there is something rather than nothing, what humans are for, what I am for? Is there a God and if so what are They like? You can add your questions to the list:) 

In that Corinthian passage Paul moves from the mind (knowledge) to the heart (love) and suggests this is the key to being known by God. That sounds weird because we also think God knows the number of hairs on our heads quite independently of our love for him. That little conundrum aside, I think Paul is on to something and it relates to our prayer lives. Where we can study and learn all we want, at the end of the day the point is union with Jesus, to abide in Him and Him in us. 

In my (limited) experience, many faithful people know plenty about God but struggle to feel that they are loved by God or to love God. I am not sure I have ever met or heard about a single christian who came to experience that love (either towards or from) thanks to study. Don’t get me wrong, I think study is important, but without prayer and love it is a bit like the music on a page without ever hearing it, or the description of the taste of a peach without ever tasting it, it is hopeful but partial at best, and we would quickly grow weary of hearing about music or peaches regardless of how enthusiastic someone else is about them. 

My prayer for you, if you are on the journey of prayerfulness, is that you would be bold and patient in your pursuit of prayer and that God would reward you not only with parking spots (if that’s what you pray for because we all know God cares about the small things as well as the big things) but I pray you would experience the sense of being loved by God and feeling that God is one who maintains his promises to you and whom you can love. Anything less is just wearisome Christianity. 

One reason to pray, to avoid violence

Our congregation is studying prayer for the month.  Well studying, practicing, and reflecting upon prayer and its role in our lives. As I read my daily scripture this morning the Holy Spirit highlighted a verse for me that I would like to share. Acts 13:27, For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. It’s about how despite gathering together weekly as the people of God they missed Him when he was present and they killed him. 

On one level this needed to happen so that the salvation story could take place. On another level, it strikes me as sad that they were God-honoring and worshiping people and they missed the boat, so to speak, and turned violent. It is also worrisome because beyond the shadow of a doubt it could happen to us. Nay, it has happened to us if we define us as the church more broadly which has far too many faults and guilts to list in one place. Closer to home, we too could find ourselves among those nominally faithful people who cannot recognize God as God despite our well intentions and our years of church involvement.

It feels like the Holy Spirit is reminding me of an excellent argument for prayer. 

In prayer we come to know God, we come to learn his voice, like Jesus said his sheep know his voice. This happens through prayer. It might happen through study, daily reading, small groups, or even Sunday worship, but the warning of this passage is that people who participate in all those are still likely to fail to recognize Jesus when it matters. 

As we study prayer, as we practice prayer. I encourage to listen for His voice, see if you can get to know it, to recognize it as you do a loved one’s. 

Leaks! Leaks! Everywhere!

My middle age van is starting to show its age. The oil has been leaking, and I, of course, have no idea where it could be coming from but I want it fixed before it creates any more problems. I know it is leaking because it leaves a little stain on the driveway; it is very easy to notice. I know it needs dealing with because I believe, unmechanical as I am, that this could lead to greater and more expensive trouble if it goes unaddressed. Therefore I do what anyone would do, I go the mechanic and pay whatever it costs to fix the issue. I see this as important and urgent and so it is handled quickly.

Another leak that happened is a slow flat on one of the bikes in our house. When, on first inspection, I could not locate the hole in the tube I merely re-inflated it and waited and watched (idiotically hopeful that somehow miraculously the air will hold). Of course, two days later the tire is completely flat (such things never just “fix themselves”). The smallest, imperceptible to the looking eye, leak renders the bike unusable until it is dealt with. In our house, at least, this is urgent and important and so it is handled swiftly.

These quotidian little adventures in life has me thinking about where there might be leaks in my life that I am failing to notice or do anything about, or, maybe even more likely, leaks I know about but willfully ignore or simply hope will magically “go away”. I heard someone on a podcast recently say the hard part about hitting middle age is accepting who you are because it is increasingly less likely that it is going change; as in “I used to think I would ‘magically’ ‘grow out of’ character trait XYZ but that hasn’t happened, it turns out this is just who I am.”  Sometimes the leak, like the van’s oil, is easy to notice, like anger that bubbles up too easily or often or the inability to turn down a strong drink when one has had enough already, or watching porn. Other times it might be, like the bike tube, more subtle: has my financial savvy turned into a lack of generosity, or my daily prayer time rendered me prideful? 

More often than not, in my experience, we want to ignore these truths, we may naively hope they will just go away, but they don’t just go away.

The good news is that we are on still in process. We all have leaks of some sort and those leaks only lead to one outcome if left unaddressed. If we are to flourish as God intends us to then we must pray for the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to where we are leaking and then to help us to actually fix the issue. Being in Christ means knowing we are loved and forgiven and this gives us the power to face the hard truths in our lives. Christ being in us also means we are not alone as we face them and strive to resolve them (God as car and/or bike mechanic???).

As a practice sometime this week resolve to fix one issue in your physical life (the door that sticks, the lightbulb that needs changing, notice these are intentionally small and easy to fix) and one spiritual or character flaw that needs working on. You don’t have to pick the biggest hardest problem (though that might pay the most dividends in your life) just take on something you feel you can handle, like sweeping out the garage or cleaning the pocket in the car door of your soul.  You will be glad you did. 

What are you doing with all your covid free time?

In the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic I was weirdly hooked on the numbers. I remember I would rarely miss the moment when the Ontario Dashboard was updated each day. How many new cases? How many deaths? What did it mean? What did it mean for my family, my wife-come-homeschool-teacher, or my church? What was next? How long would it last? What would the government do? On and on it went. 

It was partly the anxiety of living through something entirely new and threatening, but it was also, at least in part, a reasonable response. It makes sense to want to know more about something that is important, it makes sense to create a daily habit of checking in on matters that impact our lives and families. 

I wonder how come I, and many others, had the time to check in daily on those numbers but maybe not as much time to read scripture, pray, journal, or meditate? Why did we find the time for all that information gathering and responding but not find the time to check our bank statements and make sure our finances are in order, or check our blood pressure and make sure our bodies are functioning well, or check in with our spouses to make sure our core relationships are doing well?

I don’t check those Covid numbers anymore, I have no idea what ballpark the numbers are in. 

So what is eating that time up that I used to find for staying so up to date? The time I used to refresh the dashboard page, the time I used to read about what it all meant, the time I used to strategize about what to do as a father and as a reverend. 

I would love to sound pious and say it has transformed straight into time with the Lord. After all I firmly believe the spiritual side of life matters, I have staked my life and adult work on the importance of having a relationship to Jesus. There is absolutely no sense in which that is less important than Covid. For those in faith knowing where we are going and into whose arms we are to be welcomed trumps even death itself. 

And yet here I am.

A bit more time and I imagine it goes into Facebook scrolling, and Netflix and Youtube, and sports news for teams playing games I don’t even watch anymore.

As spring arrives there is a sense of freshness, of new life, of starting again. I intend to start again by grabbing back those precious minutes and putting them to good use. This is not a burden, it is more like the fresh air that blows into our homes as we finally open the windows after a long winter, it brings change and it brings life, and it brings hope. 

How did you spend your time in Covid? 

What sorts of elements in life do you count as critically important? Have you been taking care of them? Your finances, your health, your relationships, or spiritual well-being? 

How have you spent the “extra time” I assume we all have now that we are no longer riveted to our devices seeking clarity about a pandemic?

We just finished walking though lent, a time of reflection and for many a time to recognize which patterns we have slid into a little too easily or thoughtlessly and to commit to correcting course. It may be a major change or a minor adjustment but if we are honest some sort of shift is needed. 

The good news is that it is not late, the patterns can be overcome, health of all sorts can be just around the corner if we commit to changing what we need to change. As the flowers poke through the ground and eventually blossom may we blossom alongside them. The Lord be with you as you take on the day!

Losing the ability to read!

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Phil 4.8

When I was younger and in grad school my wife would sometimes marvel because she would leave the house for the whole day—commuting by metro, studying at McGill all day, maybe hanging out a bit with classmates—and when she returned I would be sitting on exactly the same chair as when she had left, reading the same book (obviously I got up from time to time for water, coffee, and the resulting bathroom breaks). Back then I was studying and studying hard and my capacity had built up over years and so I hardly considered this ability to be a meaningful one. 

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That was then and this, as they say, is now:

I am reading a wonderful biography of one of the most influential people in my spiritual journey (Colin Hansen’s Tim Keller: his spiritual and intellectual formation) and as well written as it is, I am a week in and not halfway through the book but back in the day I would have finished it in a day or two (and far more of it would have sunk in!). The book itself is reminding me of this because the man it is about is a prodigious reader, known to have walked around New York City with a book open on the sidewalk, and to drive around (it was the 70s) in Virginia with a book open on his steering wheel, and just generally to always have his nose in a book. His reading was critical to his own spiritual life and his ability to share it with others, it is a model for someone like me. 

That’s why this decline in my ability to read matters (and yours does too if you are in the same boat as me): because I read far less books and absorb less of what I am reading than I used to and yet my effectiveness is in many ways tied to this ability. Even if I do read I often have to re-read a page because my mind was wandering so badly while reading that I have no idea what I just read. We are all called to pursue God’s truth, to dwell in the Truth, and to be able to explain it to others. It is important to me because as a minister I can only give to others from what I have, I must be able to receive well if I am to give well, and as I take my role in the community seriously I see my reading difficulties as a major issue. 

Maybe you have encountered this diminishment of reading focus too? If so, have you found any good ways around it? I have read my share of books on productivity and spent my life as a reader so I am not oblivious but I would be interested in tips and tricks you have picked up on. 

Photo by Josh Kur on

We can blame any number of realities for our collective loss of ability but that doesn’t move us forward unless the blame leads to actions, like taming our phones and screens meaningfully. For my part I want to commit to doubling down on meditation which helps train the mind to focus and to blocking out times that are digital free and meant for reading. For several years reading (other than my morning bible time) has been put wherever in my schedule there happened to be space, I think getting back to a more daily routine of blocked out time for reading and reflection is going to be important. It is simple really, screens off, book open, sit there. 

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Gratitude Silences Complaint

The title of this post is from Paul David Tripp’s excellent lenten devotional Journey to the Cross. He writes that “it is impossible to give thanks and complain at the same time.” As you well know, lent is a season for reflection and for looking at how we lead our lives and where we are in need of changes and even saving. One of the practices in my life that could use changing (and forgiving) is grumbling aka complaining. 

It is a well known truth that among the easiest ways to lose a habit is to intentionally replace it with another one, like smokers who learn to chew gum (nicotine gum or not), or nail biters who learn to put their hands in their pockets. Perhaps if one finds oneself complaining a lot then replacing the complaint with a thanksgiving would slowly shift one away from the complaining. This plan permits the complaint but turns it into a trigger for a thank you (at least I hope it will).

I am capable of complaining with the best of them, speeders in their steel traps upset me, don’t get me started on OC Transpo (which I don’t even use because I am privileged to live a mostly walkable lifestyle), mention certain people or organizations in my presence and be prepared for a speech; I bet you get my drift and have your own list of complaints. I might never forget the man who was upset one day in my office because his wife of 50 some years was away for a girls weekend and she had turned the dishwasher on before she left (leaving him a clean kitchen!) And he was upset and lingering in my office because he knew when he got home he would have to unload the dishwasher himself (gasp!). This sort of thing would be funny if it didn’t rob us of the pleasures right in front of us, like being thankful for the many privileges that man had, or for the fact that I am not reliant on OC Transept to get around. 

1 Thessalonians calls us to give thanks in all circumstances, and gratitude is called for in many other places in the bible. Gratitude is an important practice in the faith. We give thanks not just for our circumstances, though writing this by a fire, typing away on a multi-thousand dollar apple desktop with fair trade coffee by my side and listening to my children get ready for school all gives me much to be thankful for, Jesus gives me more to be thankful for. 

Jesus can overcome my spirit of grumbling and point me in the right direction. Jesus can forgive where I fail to be grateful which is good for my soul and also empowers me to apologize for a lack of thankfulness. Holy Spirit promises to help me out as I seek to turn complaints into thanksgivings. Jesus did what I cannot do so that I can live and eternal life I could not otherwise live. And while I am here I can live with a freedom, generosity, and abundance that would be beyond me on my own. It all amounts to eyes that see all there is to be grateful for amidst the brokenness.

To complain is to find lack. To complain is to fail to see all that is gift. 

May we each receive the gift of gratitude as the snow melts and the flowers being their journey skyward, resurrecting from their winter sleep.  

Meditation and Pain

One hard truth about life is that we have all known struggles and pain. In lent we reflect on where we have caused pain and maybe also where pain has been inflicted upon us. Christianity with its story of the curse agrees with Buddhism’s truth that life involves suffering. Where the faiths go from there varies but experience tells us that they are both correct in noting the presence of pain along the journey. 

In my experience when one gets into meditation our forgotten pasts can bubble up. The apostle Paul tells us at one point to take our thoughts captive, I imagine he knew about this feature of the quiet time many spend with God. Many have experienced past trauma, stuff they had completely forgotten, percolating up for through meditation, this is hard but normal.

In some instances the trauma that comes up brings us to tears. We may find ourselves surprised by what is happening. If we are experienced enough we might be able to hold a certain curiosity towards the emotions and images. If they are too difficult we may even want to seek help in addressing them. This is noble, remember you are empowered by the Holy Spirit of God in addressing whatever it is and we are stronger for facing the past. 

If it is not such that you will want to seek counselling, or if you are the obstinate not-gonna-see-someone-type then I want to suggest a natural process you might try sometime. 

Much of prayer is about healing, healing our world, our community, our friends…it can also be about our own healing. Our realizing we are forgiven, our realizing we may forgive others. If you sometimes find meditation bringing up painful matters, you may try to thank God for bringing these matters to your attention and then asking God what you ned to learn from them. If any clarity comes you may ask God to help you to move forward in whatever manner seems correct. 

God can heal us, he can show us the pains we need to address, teach us how to address them, and see us through the challenge. There is so much promise in this, we can become so much more fulfilled, whole, and satisfied in our lives as we progress down the road, facing fears and tragedy head on. 

At the very least, I want you to know if this happens to you and you find yourself crying know that you are not alone in this, it is a relatively common event, and also that God can and will be with you in the difficulty. Do not stop because of this but forge on ahead. On the other side is something worthy of your striving. 

Do you speak loftily with a stone cold heart?

Psalm 73 speaks of the dangers of wealth. It speaks of getting fat, of not knowing the troubles of life and so becoming disconnected from others, and of the sinful levels of pride that grow some such a position. The line that really struck me today is “They scoff and speak with malice; loftily they threaten oppression…” It struck me hard because I know beyond any shadow of a doubt I have been in this position, arrogant and self-satisfied and so less willing to help others and more willing to uphold systemic oppressive measures. 

It is the position that says tired people should get more discipline in their lives and learn to manage better

It is the position that says some people’s lives aren’t working out because they haven’t worked hard enough

It is the position that says why should I have too…just because they didn’t…

It is the position that says they deserve the trouble they are in

It is the position that says they should have thought about that when they bought the house way out in the suburbs

It is the position that says they should have known that when they took the first toke

It is the position that says she should just leave that @$$ hole who hits her

It is the position that says covid was fine for me and my family, church business, what’s wrong with “those” people and churches and businesses?

It is the position that says such and such could never happen to me because I am so put together. 

It is a position many who live in the developed world have towards one another and often towards other parts of the world. 

It is the position of a black and white world where everything is clearcut and obvious and when I cannot make sense of another person’s choice they must be foolish or wrong. It is a position that refuses to recognize that sometimes there is no good option, no healthy path forward, or no ability to make that choice. 

The assumption underlying all this is that we have somehow earned our positions by “doing better” “working harder” or “making better choices”. That it is right that we should have a bit of money and food and stability, and the implication is that it is right for others not to. We struggle to recognize the privilege of the choices we have, and the abilities we have to make them. 

Lent is a time for reflection, to me that means (among other things) slow reading. So I slowly read psalm 73 and find myself in it. 

I can come up with all those examples and many more, and many far meaner ones, because I have thought them at some point in my life, they lack compassion and mercy and I am not proud of them, but I must recognize that truth if I am to work on it. 

I come from wealth, I am not a self-made man, so to speak. I am not independently wealthy (far enough from it to not exactly know what that even means:) I have to work. Still, beside many folks around the planet I sure am rich. I own a home (carry a mortgage), have graduate degrees (yes multiple), I never worry about where my next meal comes from, I have family and friends, I am healthy, I have a job that I can be proud of and that interests me, and I belong somewhere. I work hard at these elements in life I see as worthy of investment. I am wealthy. 

But to say that I made this be the case, that others who I might be inclined to look down upon or question could have done the same, is a lie the Devil (that king of deceit) would have me believe. It disconnects me from others, lowers my empathy, and my willingness to help. And yet I want to help!

I have inherited this in many ways, from modelling of how to parent and husband from my father and grandfathers, to actual cash as I come from a family that has been in Canada for many generations and thus has accumulated some means. I grew up assuming one went to university and have been shocked to learn how few people graduate, sheltered is the only word that comes to mind.

I am sharing all this because an important lenten liturgy is to repent, to stare into the face in the mirror and recognize where I am not living up to God (or my) standards. Too often I sit in the seat of scoffers, too often I buy into a dualistic mode of thinking that I know to be false intellectually but emotionally and spiritually I want to get to the place of compassion and mercy as an instinct rather than an intellectual conviction; just as one must know Jesus relationally not just dogmatically.

So I found a prayer about all this, a prayer that I would be molded more into the character of God. Maybe this lent you need this too, 

Gracious Father, my heart has grown a little cold for some reason, and I am have lost touch with Your love and compassion for others. I ask You to please touch my heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh that beats in unison with Your compassionate heart for those around me. Please open my spiritual eyes and lead me in Your love to others. Amen.

The badges of Lent

I am a sucker for a gamified life. I take more pleasure in earning a Garmin Badge for some monthly achievement than I should, I have spreadsheets I use to track financial progress because that gamifies the priorities I otherwise struggle to focus on. I am not alone in this, many of us have jumped on board the gamified life. From Wordle scores and streaks, to 10 000 steps a day trackers, from to do list apps to dry February, we have made many games to help us. Sometimes these are great, like how some of us try to gamify our finances to encourage us to be wiser with our funds today in order to be more generous with them tomorrow and sometimes they are silly (see below). 

I have been thinking a lot about this element in life lately because my household has added two more such gamified aspects of life and they are pretty opposite. First, we have added Zwift to our lives. It is an interactive video game based on cycling (you must ride and actual indoor bike for it to work). You get “drops” of sweat as points that accumulate faster the harder you are working (say riding up a hill or sprinting) and these “drops” let you “buy” new digital bikes/wheels/cycling/accessories and bike-type-products that only cyclists will care about. You can imagine how motivated we are to earn “drops” to “buy” bikes and wheels we can only drool over in real life. 

But wait! There’s more! You must cover certain distances in order to gain experience points and “level up.” The stuff in the store is only available to you if you are at certain levels! Oh the combined magic and fun makes thousands of us sweat happily in our basements, garages, living rooms, anywhere at all that we can fit the set up really, and sweat we do, you wouldn’t believe how sweaty cycling is without the cooling and drying effect of wind! I am grateful to the folks who made Zwift because my lads and I are fitter for it and we will enjoy the gains come spring when our bikes hit the road for real, the more levels and “drops” the better. 

The other device is a PS4. This is a video game system that involves sitting on the couch for interminable hours. Every game, as far as I can tell, has badges, experience points, international rankings and the like, all meant to motivate to us sit longer. I know some people take these very seriously, many aspire to be “pro” play-stationers (whatever they are called???). But for me, when I saw the points after finishing my first game of Madden with the kids, I shuddered. Imagine if this existed when I was young! How embarrassing it would be to have those endless hours accounted for in stark incontrovertible digital numbers. Ugh, the mortification of my misspent hours. Ironically, these points on the PS4 make me want to use it less, because the higher they get the more time of my one precious life has been wasted time, sorry Playstation. Of course, we bought it to relax, to play to have fun, especially when it hist -42 celsius (as it did the other day) and there are only so many hours one can ride a bike inside Zwift or no Zwift. That does not mean I want a record of the time spent. It does not mean that I will be proud to hit high levels.

The reason I am sharing all this is that it has me thinking about what we are building towards with our lives. How we spend our hours and days is, obviously, how we will spend our lives (someone famous said that). Is it to be spent playing video games or even counting steps? 

Maybe this is where the desire for daily reading schedules with little boxes we can check off came from, they gamify bible reading, or prayer apps with their streaks or meditation apps that count our sessions and total time spent “sitting.”Certainly the Youversion Bible App has this built in and down to a science. They are meant to help us gamify practices that we have decided upon, that we believe will help us transform from who we are to who we want to be, that will help us grow closer to God and make it easier to love others. 

We need so many external motivators to do this simple work of the Holy Spirit because we are all broken people. God helps us! The Spirit must combat Zwift, the PS4, our finances, and whatever games we play as he tries to get us focused on things that matter. The good news is that the Holy Spirit can and will do what needs doing to get us on the right track. 

As Lent 2023 begins, what might you gamify in order to help you move in a more sanctified direction?

Now, I am off to ride my bike to nowhere:) 

What we fight about when we fight about money—Not just another Valentine

Ah, Valentine’s day. A swell day for a lad like me whose had the same valentine since I was 17. Still, often there are arguments on this day. Arguments that are on-going in some cases. One thing I have learned as a pastor is how often our arguments are not about what we think they are about. I believe it is easier to see this as the third party, the person with a bit of distance from the presenting problems. 

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Jesus was often approached by people asking questions or presenting problems to him. Very often his response appears to ignore the presenting issue altogether as he aptly gets right to the root of the issue and focuses his mind on it. Sometimes this leaves the reader baffled, and often initially really confuses whoever he is speaking with. Still, it is a gift to be able to do so. 

As someone who does some pre-marital preparation with people and who discusses marital well-being with folks from time to time as struggles arise in marriages I have noticed (along with many others) that very often the presenting issue is not really the problem. Next time (anytime) you find yourself getting hot under the collar, maybe take a step back and try to sort out what is really going on. What need of yours is not being met and which need of your partner’s is not being met and how can you all move forward lovingly. 

Often we think something is rational but in reality emotions are extremely important and we ignore them at our peril. To use a somewhat obvious field within marriage let’s look at finances. With all those numbers and equations involved you would think decisions around money would be  purely rational; you would be mistaken. I want to look at two familiar arguments and reflect on the rational-emotional connection involved. There is paying the mortgage off early and there is how the holidays (and the money involved in them) are to be spent. 

Financial planners are relatively split on what is best when it comes to paying the mortgage off early. Folks like Dave Ramsey are adamant that paying down the mortgage and only investing about 15% of the household income for retirement is the right decision (in Canada we might say 18% to take full advantage of the RRSP). Only once that house is paid off  would Ramsey have you invest more. Ramsey has studied thousands of millionaires and countless people can attest to the wisdom of his system, many have followed this route to a paid off house and healthy bank balance. Other financial planners/advisors argue the math is clear, invest invest invest because the mortgage rate of interest is likely (over 25 years) to be on average far lower than the rate of return on investments. Many folks following this advice end up with a paid off house and a healthy bank balance.  What these have in common is the agreement that aggressively saving and/or paying off debt are important in the long term, a reality that requires living bellow one’s means and regular “sacrifice” in the here and now for the sake of the future. Choosing your route is more than a rational question, emotions are involved.

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Some couples will fight about money and fight often because they cannot agree to (or how much to) save and/or invest because it means giving up something in the moment. Others will argue about the best strategy for long-term financial planning. Here is where we start to see the emotions, the hidden elements. To make a caricature for the sake of argument: James grew up poor, his family moved a lot, looking back on it he realizes his family was evicted more than once. James wants to pay that mortgage off pronto. Steve grew up in a nice house, his parents had stock options that worked well for them…Steve wants to invest. They both believe their position is rational and clear. To come to terms they are going to need to recognize the history and the emotions involved and only then will they be able to establish how to handle the money. Thus many advisors will ultimately tell you pay it off early or not, as long as you live below your means you are doing something smart. (If you are fighting me in your head because you firmly believe one or the other route is the only rational option I invite you to take the time to ask yourself what about your life story or emotional wellbeing might be leading you to that.)

Amanda and Jane have 6000$ to spend on holidays. They have worked hard and saved diligently to get the money together. Amanda is an introvert, Jane an extrovert. Amanda grew up with quiet parents who had a small cottage they went to often, a place without the internet and no tv, a place of board games and books and tea by the fire. Jane grew up with a big family, lots of family parties, trips with multiple households involved,  going to waterparks, concerts, and visiting big cities. Amanda wants a quiet holiday, maybe a retreat, certainly not too many people involved that is how she understand and defines “holiday”. Jane wants to gather a bunch of family and friends and rent a big place for everyone to eat drink and be merry together that is how she defines “holiday”…In my experience both will think their choice is obvious. They will often think they are arguing about the 6000$ they have scrimped and saved over the year, but in truth the argument lies elsewhere, deeper. 

this is what our holidays look like

On this Valentine’s day I have no idea what arguments you might be involved in with loved ones. What I know is that often what looks on the surface to be obvious and rational is anything but. Jesus knew a lot about humanity and so he often sought out the root of the issues before him. May God grant you the patience, wisdom, self-awareness, and love to pause and seek to do the same, especially with your most beloved. 

Happy Valentine’s day everyone,