The Tapestry Blog

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    The Mistress

    “The man that thinks he loves his mistress for her own sake is mightily mistaken."

    - Francois de La Rochefoucauld

     

    Fantasy is synonymous with any affair; reality is ruinous to an affair.

    A married man or woman engaged in a secretive relationship outside of his or her marriage is engaging in an affair.

    What constitutes the relationship?  The obvious answer is any relationship with another person.

    However, humans can have relationships of all kinds; with all kinds.

    Take a man whose wife visits him during his lunch break.

    They take a walk, hold hands, eat a tasty and satisfying lunch, are engrossed in conversation, and end with a short kiss on the cheek.  And immediately after she departs, the first thing this man has on his mind is the attractive colleague in the next office with whom he’s been sharing many a similar moment.

    Take the same lunch date, and yet the man’s thoughts aren’t immediately focused on a certain, attractive woman, but on the next shot of liquor, line of cocaine, or strip club.

    The feelings; the urges; the desires are very similar, though the object of these thoughts and feelings are not the same.

    The Mistress can take almost any form and provide the same result: illusion—

    A false sense of comfort, affirmation, connection, or escape.  It regulates the nerves through emotional paralysis.  The Mistress permeates the life of its benefactor.

    Porn isn’t cheating; many men think.

    Taking drugs or over-drinking isn’t cheating; most everyone would agree.

    Having sex with another woman or man—that’s cheating.

    Yet, is it not cheating when a husband takes time and energy away from his wife and family to watch pornography without their knowledge?

    Is the hurt the husband feels not understandable when he comes home after a typical commute to find his wife starting her third glass of wine and not the first as she had previously told him?

    Most feel betrayed—Their marriage undermined by these objects.

    Secrets can damage committed relationships.

    How is it not cheating?  It’s a life apart from the spouse.  It’s colluding oneself to an object or relationship outside of the marital commitment.

    That commitment is designed to fulfill needs that can only be met within the boundaries of marriage.

    Most people can’t name these unmet needs.

    Most are unaware of their existence and the deep level of influence they have on our lives.

    The short list of needs consists of security, love, meaning, and belonging.

    We are wired for relationship, and if the ones we have aren’t fulfilling, we’ll find them artificially,

    Or mute the desire.

    Is it self love or self loathing that precipitates an affair?  Is it self preservation or self destruction that maintains it?  The emotional conditions ripe for affairs are many.

    For most, they revolve around unmet relational needs—too much of a bad thing; not enough of a good thing, or a mixture of both.

    Vices seduce by introducing themselves as virtue: fulfilling needs that, seemingly, can’t otherwise be met.

    Those courting a mistress, be it drugs, alcohol, porn, or anything else, would state they had it under control; they could stop at any time.  Many would be lying, and not just to their spouse or significant other; they’d be lying to themselves.


  • It's Time To Get Your Family Outdoors Because…

    It Realigns The Soul To God

    The sun has dropped below the horizon and the startling array of orange and red hues draping the sky deepen. The growing shadows heighten the contrast between the ridges unfolding before us. We are sitting on a bluff at over 6,000 feet of elevation in the middle of the Smoky Mountains; the landscape ripples out for what seems like an eternity. The chill in the wind is sharp, but only heightens the beauty of the landscape and the moment. Slowly, the twenty or so hikers who have joined us atop Cliff Tops on Mt. Leconte begin trickling off the bluff and back down the trail. Their chatter and their headlamps are quickly swallowed by the pines and myrtles behind us. My wife snuggles into me as we readjust our position on the rock. She knows I’m not ready to leave yet – we’ll be the last to walk back down. The light slowly fades and our view of the landscape goes with it. Far in the distance below, scattered lights blink on. Above, stars flicker into view and the expanse opens. Blinking - tears brim over my eyelids. Is it the cold wind? Something within shifts. A welcome gift. I am small again.



    In Psalm 8, David expresses a similar sentiment. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them… Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth.

    Yet our propensity is to exchange awe and beauty for comfort and safety as we retreat into our environmentally regulated homes. Well-intentioned, we protect our children at the expense of crippling them – introducing the illusion that with enough caution and prudence security can be purchased. A friend was recently surprised to find a neighbor had called the police to her home… because she’d allowed her boys to play in the rain.

    Street lights shroud our view of the stars; buildings block our view of the horizon. The buzz of traffic drowns out the noise of the local wildlife while an array of electronics clamor for the attention of our eyes. In the din and hum of suburban and urban life, it’s all too easy to lose the awe of God that is so readily evoked upon entering the natural world. Busy schedules, social pressures and the stress of daily life leave us feeling as if the world were upon our shoulders. In such a state, it is easy to lose an honest assessment of one’s own size and influence… of His size and power.

    “There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story.” - Linda Hogan

    So take the hand of your spouse and your children. Go outdoors and then go a little further – a little deeper - until you are beyond that which you can regulate – beyond yourself. Step out from under the awning and into the storm as it unloads its furious burden of water and light and sound. Go and stand in the surf, at the ocean’s edge… withdraw from the lights and gaze up into the unending sky… step to the edge of the bluff, releasing your eye to travel out and over the unfolding ridges. Pull your loves close – squeezing them tight as you surrender your silly little small to His overwhelming Big.



     

  • It's Time To Get Your Family Outdoors Because...

    Once we’d settled in at the base of the two large oaks and turned off our headlamps, it was utterly black. Sunrise was still an hour away and the clouds blocked whatever light the moon and stars might otherwise have offered. No more than 20 minutes later, adrenaline jolted my heart into action as the sound of approaching footsteps became distinct. Black bears commonly passed down the game trail we had chosen to sit near. So close were the footsteps now that I could almost feel the weight of them moving the mossy ground beneath me. And then, abruptly, they halted. Seconds seemed like minutes before a loud snort followed by a stomp and, then, retreating footsteps, let my daughter and I know that it was a deer and not a bear that had almost walked over us. Leaning close and in a whisper that carried the emotional tenor of a scream, my daughter said, “That was a deer, right?!?”

    Thirty minutes later, as light from the approaching sunrise was beginning to fill the sky, movement in the brush caught our eye. No more than 20 feet away, a bobcat meandered into the opening in front of us. Unaware of our presence, he trotted by, eventually disappearing into the brush. Awe-struck and hesitant to say anything that might compromise the beauty of the moment, my daughter and I stared at each other, wide-eyed.

    Four more deer passed by us that morning, but offered no shot.

    Later in the day, as the setting sun cast the sky a vivid orange, we watched a small gaggle of turkeys wander across the valley below and roost in the pines atop a nearby ridge. Senses alive; hearts full; for a moment, all was right with the world. “We should probably go ahead and pack it in.” I suggested. “No.” My daughter replied. “Not yet. Can’t we sit for 10 more minutes?”



    Later this season, I would shoot a good-sized buck and, then, a doe to fill our freezer. But it is that day with my daughter – and not the “successful” hunts - that remains most vivid in my memory. Even as I write this from the comfort of my favorite leather chair, I can feel the ground of those woods beneath me; I feel the morning chill and smell the dank woods – even the musky scent of a deer that got a little too close is present for me. To have shared the magic of those moments with my daughter is an invaluable and irreplaceable gift that touches almost every facet of who I am as a man.

    But the blinking cursor on the electronic screen in front of me brings me back to the reality of the task at hand and the day’s chores before me. I’m distracted, ideas are ill-formed and words come slowly as I struggle to finish this blog; it’s taken far longer than it should have. I’m aware that I am mentally tired – the emotional, cognitive and spiritual demands of the past week have depleted me. Although I had last night to myself and indulged in a mindless evening of television and internet surfing, I’m still somewhat ill-at-ease. I need to get outside I tell myself. Then I am reminded that this afternoon I’m shooting and fishing with a friend; its not a great time of the year for bass fishing, but it’ll get me outside. And tomorrow I’ll hike Kennesaw Mountain at sunrise with my wife. I love those moments with her. And, reflecting on this, something inside of me relaxes.

    There’s nothing I could sell you with greater confidence than the outdoors. As a father, a husband, a psychologist and an educator, I have found no more meaningful or valuable place to be - or share with those I love - than the outdoors. It is not only a place of rest and recreation, but a place of profound learning, healing, bonding and growth - a place of restoration.

    In the short series of blogs to follow, I'll offer 5 reasons why its time to get your family outdoors.  My hope is to encourage, challenge and resource you to take yourself and your family outdoors more often and with more purpose.

     


  • The Fog

     

    Last night, my phone lit up with a weather alert for this morning.  Dense fog alert - visibility limited to 1 mile or less.

    How often we come into a similar season in our life where the future is hidden and we feel swamped and stuck in a fog.  We can barely see more than the next step, if that.  Our future is fogged by the heaviness of what-ifs.  What if the diagnosis is or isn’t true?  What if reconciliation or counseling don’t repair the relationship?  What if the prodigal never makes a turn toward home?  What if the never-ending-ness of the daily slogging ahead never lifts to joy in the journey?

    God has an app for that.

    “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).  We may not have a runway clearly-lit for take-offs and landings but trusting His word and Him as our instrumental guide, we can do both with peace and joy.


  • Rest

    So after running the Thanksgiving Half and experiencing a few lingering reminders of the day, I think I am hanging up my half-marathon hat.

    Today on a run I met up with a lovely couple who have a ministry for retiring greyhounds who have also run their last race.  The grace and mercy and warm welcome this couple gives to these brave doggie souls reminds me of the welcome we have available every day and then ultimately at the end of this earth’s race.

    “Well done, good and faithful servant,” God says to us then; not on the basis of our runs but on the basis of Jesus’ gift of his sacrificial life and death and resurrection.

    So from one retiring greyhound to another, let me say to you: “Go sit at the table where grace is not only said but served . . .”

    Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal.

    -Beverly Elliott


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