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The Frivolity of Time is Stealing Your Manhood

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“The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.” – C.S. Lewis

I think I was about ten years old when I first saw Terminator. I lived out in the country and didn’t have access to whatever movie or show was popular at the time. So, my grandmother would bring home a stack of VHS rentals to keep me entertained. Most of the time she had no idea what the videos were about but figured guns and robots were ideal for a young boy. I had no clue what I was watching. This amazing and terrifying story of an apocalyptic future ruled by time-traveling robots unfolded into new areas of my brain. After that, I was hooked on the concept of time travel. As an adult I still love the idea, overused as it may be; it opens the door to nearly unlimited and shifting storylines. Lately, however, what has truly caught my attention about the concept is just how different it is from the reality in which we live.

We Are Finite

One of the amazing things about the concept of time travel is that all of time is made available to us. Want to go back in time and chew out your boss and then go forward in time to see what the consequences are? No problem. Wish you knew how life would have turned out if you had stayed with your high school or college sweetheart? Easy. Wish you had spent more time with your kids? Push a button and it’s done. Now contrast this with how time actually works.

You and I have this very moment, and then it’s gone. That’s it. We have no control over the past and very little control over the future. We are bound to bodies and a world that is diminishing. As humans, and as men, we have always placed value in rare things, yet in the last few generations, we have come to have a frivolous view of our brief and allotted time.

A Man Values His Time

“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.” – Ben Franklin

The value of our time equates to the value we place on our lives, for the two are tied together. Yet, our world of ease often leads to the wasting of time, and we have unknowingly adopted the aristocratic Victorian view of happiness: that it is derived from fleeting pleasures and comfort. However, as men, we were made to work and to grow, and the purposeful investment of our time has a strong correlation to our quality of life.

Whenever I think about this topic, my mind goes quickly to the countless hours spent on Facebook or Instagram, or the weeks of my life I have lived in front of the television being entertained by the fictional lives of others. Someone once said, “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time,” though I don’t believe I agree with that statement. There is a prudent use of our time, which includes taking it easy, but I have found that unscheduled time is more often squandered than not.

Final Thoughts

Much of our wasted moments stems from the belief that we (and thus our time) are not that valuable. That we cannot make a difference in our small window of time with our small sphere of influence. The truth is, we are making a difference regardless. To bring it back around, each of us experiences a constant butterfly-effect — geeks, you know what I’m talking about! Everything we do matters. A frivolous view of time steals from our legacy and robs us of the manful life we are called to live. Though our names may never make it into a history book, generations to follow will be moved by our actions.

Article written by Michael Yarbrough. Founder of WolfAndIron.com, author and also chief craftsman at rusticandmain.com (hand-crafted wooden rings). Mike is a true renaissance man.

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Write A Tribute For Dad

June13

When I first heard about this idea of writing a tribute to my dad, I knew I didn’t have a choice. I had to do it, even though I knew it would be a stretch goal. I felt so nervous about it that I procrastinated way too long.

I first heard about the idea from Dennis Rainey from Family Life at a meeting of the Fatherhood Commission in the first week of December 2015. As leaders of the “Fatherhood” movement, his comments inspired us to take the simple action of writing down what dad has meant to us over the years. We were especially encouraged to present him this tribute in person if said father was still alive. As Dennis was showing this idea, I could see how it would benefit me. Through taking some time to think intentionally about and write down my dad’s contributions to my life, I would experience a surge of gratitude for the positive things. But, since my dad happened to be still alive, and we had a relationship, it would also give me the chance to encourage him by appreciating specific things that I was grateful about receiving from him.

In my case, I didn’t work up the nerve to write and present a tribute to my dad until his 74th birthday, which was almost eight weeks later. This was pretty risky because he was already quite ill. In fact, there were plenty of excellent opportunities to share it with him before then: including right away, Thanksgiving, my birthday, Christmas, before he went in for major heart surgery, etc.

Knowing I had no business waiting any longer, I invited our family to come over to present my tribute to him. Now that I was on the hook, I sat down to write the day before our scheduled visit, writing these words at the top of the page: WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME? Then I hit the worst writers block I have experienced in a long time. If I was ever to write something important, now was the time. My mind went blank at the magnitude of the assignment. I wondered, “how can I get out of this?”. It was too late now; there was no turning back.

At first, I tried to write long and flowery prose. To be honest, I couldn’t figure out how to decide what to try to include and how to say it. Then, an idea: just write bullet points. For me, this made it much easier. Just get little ideas out instead of trying to tie things together into tidy sentences and paragraphs. First, I wrote 10. Then 20. Then I walked around and wrote a few more. I was on a roll. When I was in the shower, I thought of about a dozen more. Finally, I ended up with 50. Not bad. Especially since I was kind of nervous about writing at all. I printed out two copies and went to bed wondering how it would go when I presented my tribute the next day.

When we arrived at my parent’s house, it was nothing like I had dreamed. My dad was clearly in the middle of something, and we ended up crowding into his office—six of us in a space where two would fit comfortably. I handed him one copy and started reading down the list, item my item. There was seriously no magic, no chemistry. He didn’t look at me once but instead kept his eyes drilled straight ahead on his computer screen. He sneezed once, and we helped him clean up. His eyes were watering pretty bad, but I wasn’t sure if it was emotions or a cold. I got to the end, feeling more relief that I had finished than anything else.

Now that my dad is gone (he passed away about ten weeks later), I am so glad that I took the time to do this thing which seemed so hard at the time. I am glad that I got to read it to my dad in person while he was still alive. I am glad that my kids got to observe this exchange. I am glad that I took the time to think intentionally about 50 things that my dad did for me over the 48 years of my life he was alive. By the way, the experience was so valuable that I repeated it just a few weeks later for my mom.

Some of you may not be ready to write a tribute to dad—yet. Some of you couldn’t think of 10 things to appreciate about your dad. I had far from a perfect relationship with my dad, but we did have one. And in some way, although he lost much of his ability to reciprocate as he became sicker, the experience of writing a tribute somehow made it easier for me to thank him for the things I did appreciate.

If your dad has passed, or you don’t have a relationship now with your father, or never did, there may still be some things that are worth valuing. One lady told me “I will never have the opportunity to meet my dad. But I know that he gave me good genes for nice skin and physical fitness.”  This could be the opportunity of a lifetime to see how to make the positives grow in your life and give you clues about how to overcome the negatives.

Tim Truesdale is a son, brother, and father of 4 who is still figuring it out. Want to join him on the journey? Check out his blog entries or subscribe for periodic content like this here. Be sure to check out practical ways to be an honorable father by downloading the UNCOMMEN app at uncommen.org.

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Check out the Honor Your Father campaign for more inspirational stories and ideas on how to honor your dad at honoryourfathertoday.com.

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Why Interview Dad?

June9

Ever since I was a kid, I liked to pretend that I was interviewing people. Seriously, I remember walking around with a camera and just asking people random questions. Maybe you never imagined interviewing celebrities like me. I would like to tell you about my experiences with interviewing my dad over the past few months before he died.

It’s said that every time an older person dies, it’s like a library burning down. By telling you about my experience, I am hoping that you are inspired to consider doing what I did, and collect some of that vast wealth of experience before it disappears.

Before the interview began, I shared the “why” with my dad. I told him that I wanted to capture things on tape so that the rest of his descendants and I could know a little more about him. I let him know that I wanted to ask him some questions about “details”—like places he lived. I also wanted to ask him about special memories. Lessons learned along the way that he would be willing to share to help us on our life path. He was more than willing to help. I got the feeling he saw the value of our work even more than I did.

There was a more personal reason I had to interview him that was too hard to put into words at the time. It continues to be imperative for me as a man to get a picture of my dad as a fellow man; what made him tick, what was he about, what helped him excel in some areas and contributed to his weaknesses in other areas? In short, I still feel the need to understand my dad from a somewhat impartial interviewer position—as an adult who contributed quite a bit to who I am—both in my DNA and in shared experiences.

In the beginning, at his request, I shared a list of questions with him. This turned out to be not a great strategy. He became more concerned with giving the “right” answers rather than only sharing from his heart. I wasn’t trying to trick him into sounding like a jerk like some TV interviewers do, but it was important to me that he share from his heart without a script.

Rather than creating one marathon session, we took the interview process in 30 or 45-minute installments. That helped both of us stay fresh and energetic about the project. I prepared 10 or 12 questions per session, but always gave myself—and him—permission to go down any “bunny trails” that seemed important at the time. The essential part was giving him time and an opportunity to share what he felt was important.

Interviewing my dad gave him an opportunity to reflect on the amazing things he did through his life in a focused way. In some small way, I feel the experience helped him to see the things he did well and the lessons he learned along the path. It helped me to see him as a real man; flawed and imperfect, warts and all, who took on many challenging assignments to give me the chance to stand on his shoulders.

The best questions will be the ones that you come up with yourself. Here are some good ones to help give you a jumpstart, provided by the Legacy Project.

Tim Truesdale is a son, brother, and father of 4 who is still figuring it out. Want to join him on the journey? Check out his blog entries or subscribe for periodic content like this here. Be sure to check out practical ways to be an honorable father by downloading the UNCOMMEN app at uncommen.org.

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Check out the Honor Your Father campaign for more inspirational stories and ideas on how to honor your dad at honoryourfathertoday.com.

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Show Him Some Love: Send Postcards

June6

Sometimes the hardest conversation to start is with the person who means the most to me. When I am in the grocery line, I can carry on mindless small talk conversations with total strangers. But when it feels like the stakes are high, I can invest lots of emotional energy in thinking about building the relationship, but my additional efforts seem to lead to a microscopic result.

In our relationship, my dad was not exactly a phone call talker. He spent lots of time on the phone for his job. So, I guess I can understand why having long heart-to-heart conversations over the phone were difficult for him. I think our average phone call lasted a mere 60 seconds.

Talking in person didn’t always go as well as I would hope, either. When there was a group around, it was hard to feel like we were really in sync. He was the life of the party, with the kind of contagious deep belly laugh that you could hear from two blocks away. Literally. On the other hand, I am a confirmed melancholic, preferring long and deep conversational connection with one or two people at a time.

But when we were alone together, the conversation wasn’t always the easiest either. Over the years, it felt as if we got better at finding streams of conversation that kept us both engaged. But it still felt like a challenge when I was focused on deliberate communication with depth, and he leaned toward light conversation with humor.

This is how I found the value of postcards. When I was a young dad, I experienced a moral bankruptcy and walked out on my wife and two very young children. When I split up the family, we ended up more than 1500 miles away.  Although I was committed to staying in a relationship with my kids, we could only spend time together every few months. And they were too young to engage in much of a conversation over the phone.

One of the books I read about being a dad from a distance recommended doing the postcard thing. They are colorful, easy to carry, easy to send, they don’t create an expectation of long and detailed communication, and they can be collected to serve as a method to connect with the heart over the long term. I tried it.

Whenever I was traveling, I stocked up on postcards from wherever I was. When I saw a series that could be of interest, I bought it: bears, US States, women in science, you name it. I rarely paid more than 50 cents per card, and because I was buying in bulk, I routinely could find them for 20 or 25 cents each. By the time I threw in the stamp, I was always out less than $1 to purchase and send the card. Then it just came down to writing and sending them—once a week, or even more frequently if I was traveling.

How did it go over? I had a few days with the kids when they were six and seven. They brought a lunch box with them that was FILLED with postcards. They told me that was only some of the collection they had saved at home.

Since I had such great success with the kids, I decided to try the same with my dad. Even though we had lived in the same city for the past 18 years, I periodically sent postcards to him.  My efforts intensified as he got closer to the end of his life.

Would you guess that they made a difference? Virtually every week I heard from either my mom or my dad about the postcard I had sent.

If technology has advanced so far these days, why send postcards? With the proliferation of email and the explosion of texting, why take the extra time to purchase, handwrite, find a stamp, and send a message in such an archaic way? In my opinion, each of these so-called barriers only increases the unique value of doing it. In fact, the handwritten aspect could be the most critical factor. Other than face-to-face conversation, I find it to be the most personal form of communication. Whether or not it’s true, it feels closer to the heart than emails or texts.

It’s super easy to get started, and it’s so inexpensive. Next time you see inexpensive postcards for sale, pick up a few. Then get to the Post Office and pre-stamp them. You can even go through and pre-address them all at once. The hard part is done. Then, just put it on your calendar—so you pump it out the same time each week—pop it in the mail, and you are finished.

Tim Truesdale is a son, brother, and father of 4 who is still figuring it out. Want to join him on the journey? Check out his blog entries or subscribe for periodic content like this here. Be sure to check out practical ways to be an honorable father by downloading the UNCOMMEN app at uncommen.org.

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Check out the Honor Your Father campaign for more inspirational stories and ideas on how to honor your dad at honoryourfathertoday.com.

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Give Him A Little Grace

June2

We buried my dad last weekend, after a brutal 16-month battle with a rare lung disease. The grinding pace of the fight was excruciating and filled with ups and downs. With each new treatment option, we held our breath and hoped for the best. He even went as far as to pursue a lung transplant.

In the end, my dad was lying there, hooked to a breathing tube and pumped full of morphine, surrounded by the immediate family.  He died of suffocation—as his knotted lungs were unable to push enough oxygen into his system to keep him alive.

From the outside looking in, our family’s relationships looked good as we were growing up—even above normal. We spent time together, he provided every basic need, he loved my mom, and we took long family trips over summers. But over the years, I felt a distance growing between us. Although he listened to me, he seemed to be unable to hear me when I tried to share my heart with him.

He never really had a dad in his life; his natural father was an alcoholic and died when my dad was only 8. When his mom remarried several years later, the relationship with his stepdad was cordial, but not warm or fatherly.

By the time I turned 14 years old, the tension in our home was palpable. As I was maturing into my independence, my body was experiencing more aggressive impulses in response to an underlying, unspoken distancing between us. And that’s when I left home.

First, I spent time on my uncle’s dairy farm. The next stop was a missions project in Europe. I even tried boarding school for a semester. I had “layovers” at home periodically—sometimes for months at a time. However, staying with my dad, I always felt like I was just passing through. At best, I was living as a stranger with a distant relative. This went on for more than 30 years.

Then, in December of last year, I sat with him as the doctor gave him the news: you have 6 to 12 months to live. And that’s when everything changed. If we were going to figure out how to really talk on a heart-to-heart basis; if we were going to get this right, it had to be now. Grow up, or go home.

I wish I could tell you that everything came together, and we magically saw eye to eye. That we instantly came to terms with the distance between us and years of regrets, for both of us, just melted away. We had no such luck.

Instead, I chose to give him a little grace.  DON’T MISS THIS. I didn’t decide to act like the last 30 years were perfect. I didn’t wish away my disappointments. And I didn’t even discuss this with him; we still never really had that kind of relationship.

But what I did ACKNOWLEDGE in my own heart was that he was human, susceptible to mistakes—just like me. I did let him off the hook for the things he missed that I wanted and even needed. In short, I did recognize that he gave me his best.

My dad continued to deteriorate. We learned that what he was experiencing was a mounting sensation of suffocation as his body gave the signals that he was not getting enough oxygen. And simple things became harder for him like driving, walking and even using the bathroom by himself.

In the end, recognizing that he only had a short time left to live turned out to be a gift for me. Although there was no way to go back and rewrite every wrong, I learned to treat my dad for who he was—a generous, creative, and flawed human being.

Towards the end, when it was hard for him to talk, we did a lot of communicating by text. He was struggling with his keyboard skills, as well as everything else by that point.

After he had passed, I went back and took screenshots of some of the more meaningful messages. Here’s a rough translation of one I had received about four weeks before he was gone.

There’s a need to see our Dads through the eyes of mercy, remembering that they are in totally new territory and are scrambling with some major On the Job Training (OTJ) issues. Love Dad.

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Tim Truesdale is a son, brother, and father of 4 who is still figuring it out. Want to join him on the journey? Check out his blog entries or subscribe for periodic content like this here. Be sure to check out practical ways to be an honorable father by downloading the UNCOMMEN app at uncommen.org.

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Check out the Honor Your Father campaign for more inspirational stories and ideas on how to honor your dad at honoryourfathertoday.com.

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Calendar Your Companionship

MayWk54

How long has it been since we…”

Has your wife ever started with those words and you knew what was coming next? Just once you you hoped she continued with:

“…invited the guys over for beverages around a bonfire?

“…revisited the idea of converting the basement into a man-cave?

“…checked the budget to see if we could do season tickets this year?

But you know the five words that follow: gone out on a date.

If youre like me you have heard the all too common advice about date night.Pastors preach it from the pulpit. Marriage counselors suggest it from the couch. Even your mom says, If you dont date your wife, someone else will!

Our problem isnt that we dont know what to do, we just get out of the habit and let the urgent box out the necessary.

If you and I dont calendar our companionship, it wont happen. Back in the pre-ankle biter days, Jen and I would spontaneously go out for a weekend trip, or grab lunch, or take a walk in the city. In a typical week with three soccer games, two volleyball practices, music lessons, two day business trip, and church small group, the calendar doesnt have a great amount of white space. If Im depending on spontaneous romance at this stage of life, then Ill continue to hear my wife spontaneously say,

How long has it been since we…”

It doesnt require a Masters in marriage therapy to know that what I put on my calendar usually gets accomplished and my wife feels cherished, pursued, and like a priority when I schedule time with her. And shes not expecting a steak house dinner and spa visit every week either. Ive found she loves it when I escort her to the back deck with a cup of coffee in the morning or glass of wine after the kids are down at night and hear about whats happening in her life.

If I calendar my companionship with Jen, maybe next time I hear her say, How long has it been since we…”

Shell follow it with, “…talked about installing a hot tub and flat screen on the porch?

Bible Reference: Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,

Written by UNCOMMEN coach, Brian Goins, a somewhat intentional husband, dad, and author of Playing Hurt: A Guya>s Strategy for a Winning Marriage.

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