My oldest son recently began growing a bit of facial hair. Now, as most men know, the first couple years of beard growth consist mainly of “practice beards”. You don’t want to get very attached to them, because you shave them off quicker than it takes for them to grow in. You actually get rid of them about as fast as you cover up primer when painting a living room wall.
Yet, for many men, facial hair is still very important to them. It’s hard to explain why. Perhaps its simply the visual proof that testosterone is indeed running through your veins. It’s like having a “I’m A Real Man” sign tattooed right there in bold letters across your cheekbones without the hassle of lifelong unemployment.
And, along with the facial hair comes all sorts of other manly urges: you want to chop down trees, you want to tackle a moose, you want to liberate the hobbits from the evil clutches of Sauron.
But the problem with early facial hair is that the first mustache and beard fall into the “Nice Try” category. It’s right up there with Soy Cheese.
But, to a teenage boy, something happens when he sees this “Nice Try” mustache in the mirror and instead of seeing it as the rest of the world does, he things, “eh… that’s not bad! It actually looks pretty good! I’m a man!!”
When you think about it – it took him 15 years to grow this thing, why would he shave it off? According to his logic, if he wants another one, he’s going to be 30 before it grows in.
Now, my facial hair is something else. I actually fear my own facial hair. It never really grew in right. When I try to grow a mustache, people begin to question my political affiliations and wonder if I support der Fuehrer. I get frisked at airports more frequently. I get parts in movies for villainous roles that I don’t even audition for!
Also, the hair on my face doesn’t want to grow on the sides. It just congregates a little above my lip and sections of my chin. It’s like parts of my face have come “pre-balded”.
But what I am really concerned about is this chin-thing that my son has going on. Now, I don’t want to ruin his manly experience of beard-growing, but it’s honestly just a few stray hairs at this point. I know that at some point later it will develop into something more substantial. For all I know, he may turn into one of those guys who have to shave three times a day or else their beards get caught in car doors or get sucked down sewer drains.
But, today, the thing just needs to be shaved off. The public is simply not emotionally ready to see this.
The family has even gone to offering subtle hints. For example, at the dinner table, someone might say, “Hey, I’m having a hard time keeping this food down, out of disgust. Maybe you should go wash your face… with duct tape.”
So, I’m thinking about taking things into my own hands – for his sake, of course. He’s a pretty deep sleeper. Most guys would wake up if someone tried to shave their full face, but we’re only talking about seven or eight hairs here. And we’re not even talking about full-strength hairs. There just those super-soft mutations that may not even stand up to a washcloth. Two swipes with a half-decent razor and it’ll be over. And he’ll sleep right through it!
Then we can stop homeschooling him at that point, too!
Next, my dear friend Zan joins the show to talk about her addiction to Facebook. She’s so into it that she’s over it. She just wants it to be done. She’s so sick and tired of hearing non-qualified, optimistic life coaches spouting off their nonsense like, “To be happy like me, just try not complaining for a day and see what magic happens!”
Could they be any more annoying?
For instance, if Zan’s dog got hit by a car and lost its leg, she’s not supposed to complain in order to see the magic happen? They wanted $9,000 to fix the 14-year-old, three-legged Chihuahua with glaucoma and an underbite. There are limits to how much “happy magic” can work in some situations!
According to Zan, they should change the name from Facebook to “Unfriend-book”, since that’s all she does anymore. For example, if any of her friends mentioned their laundry more than twice, they are out! Same goes if you invite her to play Candy Crush Saga more than once.
Now, away from the computer, Zan has recently begun a new relationship! The problem is that her new boyfriend hates her sarcasm. He actually asked her to stop being so sarcastic in their relationship. To which she replied, “Wow! That should be really easy to do!”
But, he’s the Golden Boy, so what can she do? According to Zan, he’s handsome, sincere, smart, caring. He often asks her, “What can I do to make your day better?”
All she can think of is, “Well, you can start by letting me be a little more sarcastic!”
And finally, my buddy Bob Kilpatrick calls into the show to discuss his dive into the human experience. Bob has taken on a huge task. He has taken spirituality and looked at it through the lens of art to derive some really enlightening conclusions.
Bob and I met on a trip to Bolivia several years ago, when we went together to see what Compassion International was doing down there with poverty stricken children who needed clothing, shelter, food and schooling. It was while on that trip that Bob became “Yoda” to me, directing me down paths to enlightenment.
My wife and I have now read his book, “The Art of Being You” TWICE! It is significant in our developing healthy perspectives.
And, unlike all the 10-Steps-To-Happiness books out there, Bob’s book is unique because none of them actually work! Most self-help books are like fad diets. Sure, you may loose 20 pounds, but then you gain back 30 a month later.
You see, in his “anti-self-help book”, Bob takes this perspective: It’s not about you making yourself into great art. It’s actually about you submitting yourself to a great Artist and you are actually the materials that make up a work of art.
That is a mind-blowing idea!
This perspective brings hope and humility. Because, if you are not the artist, but merely the materials of the art, then you are not the one in control. This is where most self-help books get it wrong. They sell the lie that we are actually in control.
Think about the homes in Japan that were hit by the tsunami in 2011. One minute, they were standing strong and firm; and the next they were floating on the water like a box of matchsticks. When you think of it, even nature is superior to us in many ways.
We act as if we are in control, but the reality is that we are quite fragile.
Yet, when we view ourselves like clay and submit ourselves to the hands of the Divine Potter and allow Him to make us all who He wants us to be.
Or, as Bob says, our lives are not math. He was reminded of this when the adult son of his brother-in-law and sister-in-law came down with Leukemia and died. It was absurd. There’s no logical equation for something like that to happen. Then, just seventeen months after his son died, Bob’s brother-in-law died at the age of 54. So, in less than two years, Bob’s sister-in-law lost her son and her husband.
And people act as though there is a self-help book for situations such as these. They assume that there is some mathematical equation of “Do A and B Happens” in regards to life’s most absurd tragedies.
Bob asserts that we do this because we see the logic of the universe around us. For instance, the sun will rise in the morning, travel across the sky and then set at night. This happens, predictably, every single day. Also, if you throw something into the air, it will predictably come back down to earth.
So, we tend to want the same type of logic that we see in nature to apply to our “invisible lives”.
Yet, even though death is more predictable than any other thing in each of our lives, it still shocks us.
Instead, we should view it as a reminder that our lives have limits. Just like a painting has a frame and a song has a beginning and an end, or lives are finite art as well. We are expressions of Someone’s grand idea. So, are we going to be people who submit ourselves to the hands of this great Artist, and let Him create His expression through us; or are we going to resist and end up like a lump of clay on the shelf?
One way that we can learn to be more submissive to this process Bob attributes to musician and film-maker Steve Taylor. Steve had a song a number of years ago titled “Since I Gave Up Hope, I Feel Much Better”. You see, there comes a time for each of us when we struggle with our own hope and the futility of our own efforts. When we finally admit that we “can’t do this”, that’s the healthiest place we can arrive at. This is when we are left with no other alternatives than either despair or surrender. And surrender is where the power is.
Bono of the band U2 says that he gets up every morning and physically lifts his hand up to God to surrender himself daily. He recognizes that everything he has and everything he is is God’s to use.
When you admit this – first thing each morning – and surrender it all to God then you eventually will see all of life’s circumstances as God presenting Himself to you for a dance. He wants to dance; and it can either resemble wrestling or romance. We can either move along with Him or we can counter each of His moves.
Life is much easier when you let the Almighty Artist lead.