Last night Julie encouraged me by saying there hasn't been a single man I've met since we've been together that I haven't gotten along with. I thanked her for her exhortation and began writing in my journal.
Let me tell you about one man I don't get along with... at all.
I've crossed paths with him over the past several weeks. Wherever I went, there he was. His presence pulled me down. He never had anything positive to say and often brewed in his own state of negativity. This man was toxic, and I couldn't seem to shake him off. Almost every party I attended, there he was. He critically judged every environment. I even sat with him at church a few times. I didn't enjoy being around him, and I started realizing I wasn't the only one who felt this way.
He had no control over his emotions and would thoughtlessly vomit them on whoever was around him—usually his wife. I felt so sorry her. She deserved better, but that's just my opinion.
His impatience was attached to a short fuse of aggression, and his rude, judgmental words only broke others spirits. No thing and no one was ever good enough for him, as if he was some sort of gift to mankind. I witnessed his pride overcome his sanity and observed him go to the grave for his small ways of thinking. All he would talk about was "life in his shoes" and about how he perceived the world.
The disfigured look of disgust that frequented his face made others feel less-than. He became toxic, mean, rude and obnoxious. His selfish heart was set on taking, and when he rarely gave, he expected something in return. His inconsistency was unbearable to be around, and I never knew where I stood with him. I felt the need to walk on eggshells—just to keep the peace. He was one of those guys that people don't feel safe around.
The man I am writing about is ME.
I've noticed that over the past few weeks I've been so focused on ministry, networking and building relationships with new friends that I've neglected the two most important relationships in my life: 1) my relationship with God and 2) my relationship with my wife.
I always write "Heart to God. Spread the Stoke." when I sign out of anything. The reason I say that is because of what Jesus said in Matthew 7: 17 and 20:
A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. (…) Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.
If you want to grow an apple on an apple tree, you don't water the apple. You water the tree.
I had a humbling realization last night. I'd neglected my tree for the last couple of weeks, and my fruit, which I've been focusing on, had started going bad.
The truth is the "real me" is founded in Jesus—redeemed, loving, purified, caring, supportive, forgiving, full, whole, enough, kind, patient, encouraging, others-focused, positive, grace-giving, easily approachable, respectful, accepting, warm, consistent, selfless and surrendered to God. This is who I am in Him who gives me all of these fruits.
You see, we've been traveling non-stop for exactly six weeks, and it's been the most difficult form of travel I've ever experienced. Six weeks, 11 cities and 6,000 miles in a Toyota Yaris. I've sat through several meetings, all of them good. Sometimes I catch myself doing "God's work" without God himself.
I encourage y'all to stop, reflect and redirect. And remember friends...
Heart to God.
Spread the Stoke.