Is That It?

 

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Thirty-seven years, fourteen days, and fifteen hours and forty minutes ago, I almost said out loud, “Is that it?” The preacher had just said, “I now pronounce you husband and wife…” All I could think about at that moment was, “That’s all there is?” “We waited this long and spent this much and planned so intricately, and it’s over?”

The only thing over was that part of the ceremony. The work was just beginning. All-be-it, it has been considerable work. Right babe? Right…babe?

I’ve had it happen with holidays, destinations, stuff, and things. All the time spent dreaming and planning; the time of hoping and wishing is over in a moment of acquisition.

Life works that way.

We get that new car, and after a week we see someone has gotten a better car with more options on top of a better base package, for a thousand dollars less than what we paid.

Sound familiar?

Even though these things happen and happen with frequency, I believe that the question is a great question to ask, “Is that it? Is this all that there is?”

Some save the question for mid-life so that they can commiserate over it. Others try to ignore it all together.

Instead of allowing the question to intimidate you, come to the table with your sleeves rolled up and your strategy hat on. Ask the question. The fact that you are here to ask it means the answer is a definite, “No! There is more, way more.” The fact that you still have breath and thought means that a new course could be charted, a new normal can be achieved, a new standard can be realized; It just requires you to ask and answer boldly.

So, thirty-seven years, fourteen days, fifteen hours and twenty minutes ago, I ventured on a life-altering, sometimes terrifying, always challenging, and totally rewarding journey. It only required four words, “I do,” and “I will.”

What will you do?

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Turn Up The Heat or Wait For The Weekend

The other morning I was listening to one of my favourite artists sing. She dug deep and punched out her lead line with a bit of a growl. I loved it the first time I heard it, and I loved it again this particular morning.

My mind instantly veered down a path of passion, and within moments I was thinking of the great company of witnesses in heaven. (Hebrews 12:1)

My thoughts went to Gideon, David, Elijah, and Ruth and Naomi all who lived fully human, just like us. Then my thoughts continued to the more recent; how about Martin Luther King, Billy Graham, and Mother Teresa? Then there are a couple of my favourite people who lived and sung with passion, Andre Crouch, and Dannibelle Hall. These people from ancient and recent past all stood with an, “I’ve got something I have to do!” attitude.

“Phil, you are going to be greeted and surrounded by a myriad of people that could literally be defined by their passion,” my thoughts injected. “Are these your people? Is this what you are known for? Are you living with passion? Is your passion for the right things?” (At times my inside conversation bothers me.)

Let me ask you. Right now I am asking where things are at. In the last twenty-four hours, has your passion shown through? Or, are you waiting for the weekend?

Time for some changes?

Me too!

Three Unalterable Facts!

Living life has its challenges.

One of the challenges is, what do you do with the storyline in your head? What is it that you tell yourself in the privacy of your mind? You know, in that private world of quick explanation, what is the voice that comes over your inner PA system?

If you haven’t checked that voice, it probably sounds quite derogatory. It probably reaches to a moment of failure that has fought the test of time and broadcasts it back in living stereo to the isolation of your unique world.

“You’ll always come up short, when it matters, you won’t be there.” That was mine, what is yours?

I call this inner voice, or voice over, The Swirl in my book, Path Out – Eliminate the Swirl. Use this link to obtain your copy. https://philsovdi.com/book-offer/

Reject the voice of condemnation! Renounce it! Literally say, “I renounce the lie that…” Don’t allow it to play through one more time knowingly.

Correct thinking, correct biblical thinking, will master that voice and create the new sound over in your thoughts, but you are going to have to spend some time on it.

So, here are three facts that I’m using and you are welcome to adopt.

    1. God’s default position toward me is that he loves me. “God loves me!”

    2. God has a purpose for me to live and fulfill. “I matter!”

    3. God only expects me to be me. “I don’t have to be like anyone else!”

When I keep these thoughts foremost, they conquer the swirl and video loop that wants to play again.

Here’s how it works:

When I face a challenge or shortcoming, I immediately call these three facts.

  1. God loves me, so I know that he is working through love for my best interest and best outcome. I can go to the bank on it! He will not reject me or let me go. He’s got this. (1 John 4:16, NIV)
  2. He’s got me on my purpose. He is directing the course of my life. I will fulfill all that he has for me and all that he has promised. This issue before me is engineered for my good and my best interest. It will work out okay because He surrounds me. (Philippians 1:6, NIV)
  3. I’m the only one here in this personal moment. God doesn’t want me to try and be anyone else. He uniquely created me and gave me the circumstances that have led me to this moment, and he will uniquely bring me through. I just need to respond to him and let him do what he is doing trusting that this ‘personal touch’ is well placed and directly appropriate for my best outcome. (2 Timothy 2:21, NIV)

This is faith at its core. Trust that God is and that he is working in my life. Or, trust that God is and that he is working in your life. (Hebrews 11:6, NIV)

Change your focus, He’s got this!

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When ‘Fake’ Matters

What do I care if the rock panels on your house are fake or not?

It would matter only if I were planning to purchase your house, or if I was going to use your house for ideas for my own home, then it would matter.

Fake is relative to who you are and what you do and what you need.

If you were building a set for a television shoot, fake is irrelevant; it just has to look ‘real’ from the viewer’s perspective.

However, if you are building a life and want ‘real’ in family, friendship, and faith, then non-fake is imperative.

So, who are you? What do you do? How do you do what you do? Are you for real?

And, does it matter?

Address the Mess; Emotional Duct Tape #1

Here’s how it plays out. I have watched this happen over and over.

We’ll call them Darrell and Amanda.

Darrell and Amanda opt to use emotional duct tape.

This time the disagreement is over whether or not Amanda should have bought the new upright Grandfather clock for $683.00 regularly priced at $999.00. Previous arguments have been in the $400.00 range.

It starts by Darrell walking in from work and seeing the new purchase in the entryway to the living room.

As it turns out, this purchase was not planned in the family budget nor was it even on their radar as a discussion item.

Amanda swears by the fact that this is something that she always wanted and that this price was the best price ever, probably never to happen again.

And, so the stage is set:

Darrell – What is this?

Amanda – I know isn’t it the best thing ever?

Darrell – It’s a grandfather clock!

Amanda – I know. I’ve wanted one of these all my life.

Darrell – This is the first I’ve heard of this.

Amanda – Darrell, it was the best price ever.

Darrell – How much?

Amanda – I saved over $300.00

Darrell – How much?

Amanda – I can use my reimbursement from my taxes last year toward it.

Darrell – How much?

Amanda – Just over $600.00.

Darrell – You did this without asking?

Amanda – I didn’t think that I had to ask for my own money. You are acting just like your father. So, demanding.

Darrell – You said that we would talk about our purchases beyond $200.00 Obviously I can’t trust your word.

Plenty of emotion, ample innuendos, and the ‘taping’ begins. Amanda wipes a tear from her eye, and Darrell leaves the house without saying a word.

He misses supper that night and gets home late.

Nothing said that night and the next day there is a strange silence in their home. Amanda knows better than to ask what is wrong and Darrell struggles for words.

About the third day, they start to acknowledge each other in the room, and things begin to calm down.

By the fifth day, things are great, and the marriage is incredible until…until the tape let’s go. Emotional Duct tape actually works, for the moment. The problem happens when used as a permanent solution. It then becomes thoroughly inadequate.

Instead of dealing with the issue in their marriage, these two choose to take the ‘easy’ way. They fix it with EDT and have a solution. Temporary at best.

Address The Mess: Sick!

I had completely forgotten about my legalistic tendency.

I was raised in a Christian culture, and my family was considered godly.

Maybe they were, but I was challenged with a legalism which I have come to know is anything but godly.

We had a doctrine of grace and could teach it to you, but an unwritten code of performance. I, being a ‘good’ leader, in kind, passed that on. Grace was given with a smile, but adherence was expected to follow in a not too distant place. Remember, none of this was written down, just expected. I would probably be called delusional for bringing this up because like Jell-O, this code could not be nailed down.

You can only imagine the mess that this spawned.

In this regard, I was like Saul, before he became Paul, knowing that I was accomplishing big things for God, but in fact tying nooses around other’s necks and posturing a righteousness that indeed wasn’t by faith, and indeed wasn’t righteousness at all.

I am so incredibly grateful that this absurdity broke in my life.

There were two significant moments where this was driven home to me.

First:

It had been bothering me for a while, but when I showed up at family functions, I would frequently tell all that would listen about all that I was accomplishing. I couldn’t get the exploits out fast enough. I needed to let everyone know how well I was doing and how neat things were going for me, at least in my fanciful dreams. It was obsessive.

One day, while contemplating another gathering, I realized how I was ramping-up my preparation for the next day. I actually said out loud, “Phil you are sick!”

In a moment of clarity, I knew that my posturing days were over and I was able to walk free.

I started then and continue now to rest in the work that Jesus did for me. One of my favourite passages of scripture reads like this, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV) This passage is actually saying that God has taken our mess, all of it, and has given us in exchange his righteousness. No posturing, no performance, just righteousness.

God has taken my ‘sick’ and has given me right living, if I want it, in its place. I find that unbelievably incredible.

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Book Offer

I will share Second: next time.

Address The Mess: Not So Perfect Picture

We can assume that it is our job to address someone else’s.

Most of the time that is not the case.

Cruise2017aI recently shared this picture on Facebook, and I love it. It captures the sass and the fun that my wife and I frequently have with each other. One of the comments by someone who knows us reasonably well was that it captures our personalities.

What it doesn’t show is the regular, the mundane, the hurt, and the pain that life can hold and sometimes deal out. It doesn’t show the low moments, the struggle moments, or the confusing moments that accompany every relationship and every life. It doesn’t show the hours of conversation or the short nights that it sometimes takes to work through the mess.

We can naively carry on thinking that others have a perfect life and “If I could only have it like them then things would be great.”

Everyone has snapshots that if captured and presented would represent a moment of bliss or euphoria. I am not so concerned about those moments. Instead, I want to address in this series the other 99.99%.

I can think that life is pretty good. I can take care of ‘my side’ and believe that everything is okay. My problem is that I often start with me and work out from there. However, that may not always be the best measurement, and much of the time it can be skewed.

Even though I can look good in a moment to you, or I can look good in my thinking to myself, I also have the potential to affect others, and that will not always have me in a great light. I struggle like you with being human, with getting it right.

I can even go to the scriptural extent that I’m busy trying to take out a sliver from your eye while I am oblivious to the log in my own.

I need to Address The Mess in my own life. That is where I start. Once I come to terms with how short I have fallen, how much I need, how far I have missed the mark of perfection, then maybe, just maybe I can begin to help someone else.

God provides tons of help and encouragement, but it is only available when I can be honest with myself and real with him.

Address The Mess Series: Emotional Duct Tape

 

I had just turned 50. My wife and family gave me an amazing birthday gift of a Fly-In-Fishing trip into Ryan Lake Alberta, in the Canadian Shield.

I, in turn, bought a place for my son as a graduation gift and we coerced a friend to come with us. The three of us had the lake, lodge and three brand new boats and motors to ourselves for five whole days.

The very first day probably not even an hour on the lake and my brand new fishing rod snapped. Yup? I was angry. I was fortunate in that I had brought an old faithful spare rod.

We had a fantastic trip, and I have tons of stories about it.

The last day we needed to use up our supplies and did I tell you that the friend that I brought was a chef? Let’s just say it was an amazing week, and we ate like kings. But, this last day we had to use our steak, veggies, apples, whip cream and oatmeal. So, Peter made an apple crisp pie and baked it on the BBQ. The only thing I had to do was use the wisp and get the whipping cream whipped.

The whisk was taking so long and not seeming to produce much, so all of a sudden an idea hit me. I call it a Red Green moment.

I had a reel that wasn’t being used, Duct Tape for an emergency and a wisp that could use some torque. Within minutes there was pure whipped cream sitting there waiting to add the fifth star to the restaurant review in the middle of nowhere.

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We laughed, ate, and laughed some more. The only thing missing was our wives, a maître d and a bottle of wine.

Duct Tape is made for a moment of need. It isn’t usually meant for a long-term fix.

It just occurred to me yesterday that we have tried to use Emotional Duct Tape to solve long-term problems.

I want to also explore this in future posts.

 

Here is the connect to my recent book, Path Out-Eliminate the Swirl

(Here’s how you can get a copy. https://philsovdi.com/book-offer/)

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Address The Mess Series: Intro

So, I was raised in a religious family culture that pretended to deal with mess. Oh, if it was on the obvious top five, or on the faux pas list, as long as it was the other person, it was exposed and dealt with in great manipulative, religious style. But, if the mess were on ‘my,’ the person’s in control, shame list, the embarrassing, face-saving list, depending on whose face was being saved, you would be told to forgive and forget about it.

A prayer would be given, and hushed ‘biblical’ counsel would quickly be cited.

“… Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14, NIV)

The idea was that the bible supports dropping and leaving important things with a prayer. If that text weren’t enough, you would be given another.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17, KJV)

The bible was used to silence pain and create shame misrepresenting the passage and misrepresenting a loving, healing, and forgiving God.

A rule-keeping setting such as what I grew up in is a ripe environment for pain and shame to flourish. Many people experience life-long struggle trying to get over the dominating guilt-induced system of yesteryear.

I’ve come to learn that you cannot forget what you continue to relive on a daily basis.

I’ve also come to know that you can move on and sometimes even forget, once you have stared down and addressed the intimidating and overwhelming.

It really is possible for a person, you, to heal, be restored and be renewed, like it never happened, having the pain, shame, and humiliation gone.

Over the next days/weeks, I want to talk about what that process looks like. I want to talk about how you can walk free and live totally well.

My new book, Path Out – Eliminate the Swirl will serve as a tool in this process.

(Here’s how you can get a copy. https://philsovdi.com/book-offer/)

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The very first step to moving out of the swamp and milieu of inner despair is to call it what it is. You need to address the mess, “My life in this area is a mess. I’m no longer hiding, no longer protecting, and no longer excusing the mess. I will, with God’s help take the journey to health and wholeness. So God, will you come right now to me in the middle of my mess and help me? In Jesus powerful name, amen.”