10 Words That Might Change Your Life…SERIOUSLY

One day I was sitting in a coffeehouse with my friend Scott. I was pouring my heart out to him over a vanilla latte with whip because that’s about as masculine as my coffee ever gets.

I was telling Scott how it felt like all of the pain I’d ever experienced in life had coalesced into a giant sneaker-wave that grabbed me by the throat and was now pulling me out to sea.

Some of the pain had just “happened” to me because I – like you – live in a broken world and life’s not fair.

But to be honest, most of the pain was self-inflicted. The result of refusing to delay gratification, avoiding hard work because I felt “I shouldn’t have to do it”, and fear. Lots and lots of fear.

By not dealing with the bumps, bruises, and gashes that came along with being human, I slowly became a hoarder of pain. I felt like one of those people who fill their house with so much junk they end up on a reality show, ashamed and lonely.

Because that’s the thing about pain we haven’t dealt with: the more of it we have in our lives, the less room there is for anyone else.

Scott knew all that about me. He knew the chaos I was living in. He also knew I didn’t have to keep hoarding all that pain.

Scott had had built trust with me by first sharing his messes, his failures, and his doubts. So I knew he could handle my “stuff”2 and that I wasn’t crazy for having stuff in the first place.

So after patiently listening to me lament for about 45 minutes, Scott said ten words that changed my life. He said, “Jesse…

…it’s time to be a good steward of your pain.”

In other words, it’s time to turn and face the pain you’ve chosen and the pain that just “happened” to you. It’s time to own it, deal with it, and move past it. For your sake, and for the sake of a world that needs healing, too.

“Your life no longer has to be defined by your pain.”

So with help from others – good friends, a good therapist, even some good meds – I started picking up all the junk, sorting it out, and throwing it away. I started learning to be a good steward of my pain.

And in the process, I learned my healing could become healing for others.

So can yours.

So imagine you and I are sitting at a coffeehouse together. Knowing I want you to thrive, to get more and more free to be God’s best version of you, let me offer this:

You don’t have to keep living in all that filth. Shame and isolation do not have to be your predominant experience.

You have full permission to get started RIGHT NOW. 

WANT TO INFLUENCE A CROWD? TRY THIS.

Looking Cool Is Optional

I often have the chance to speak to an audience at a church or a conference, maybe at a college or a retreat.

I love speaking. I love getting to interact with a group of people that are hungry to learn and grow. Every cell in my body buzzes with electricity. My mind clears and I’m fully engaged in way I’m not with most other activities. I jump at every chance I get to do it.

And without fail, one of the first things I think about as I’m preparing to speak is, “I hope they think I’m cool.”

I’m halfway through life and I’m still worried about looking cool. Seriously??

God knows this about me, and I think he often smiles at my desire to show off. The same way I smile when one of my boys finds himself with an audience and wants them to know how he can do a somersault or climb a little higher in a tree than he did last week.

God gets it: I often look to others for validation and approval. And I don’t think he faults me for it.

But He also knows the stakes are much higher now that I’m a grown man. And that he wants to use me to help others become all that He wants them to be. And that maybe there are more important things than having people think I’m cool.

There’s a very short prayer he gave me a while back that I use every time I’m preparing and delivering some kind of message (even a blog post):

God, help me care more about what they think of You than what they think of me.

 God knows I want people to like me. He knows I care about their opinion of me. This little prayer helps me acknowledge that, to own it without being shamed.

But He wants more for me than I want for myself. And He wants more for others than I want for them. And He knows the only way we’ll all end up getting more – more life, more hope, more healing, more direction – is when He’s allowed to shine through me. When He’s not blocked by my very real concern about what others think.

That little prayer – God, help me care more about they think of you than what they think of me – has been tremendously helpful over the years.

It’s helpful when giving speeches, sure, but I’ve also found it helpful when meeting with someone I care about. Or when visiting a new place or entering a new context. Or when trying a new activity. It works anytime I run into my desire to look cool in front of someone, anytime I want to influence a person or a crowd.

Because I’ll probably still hope to look cool when I’m 80 (I won’t – I haven’t looked cool since the fourth grade). And God knows that. And he smiles at me. And he says, Jesse, I’ve got a lot more for you and others if you’ll let me shine brighter than you.

So Jesus, today, help me care more about what people think of You than what they think of me.

It’s Time To Quit NOT Creating

(Whether it's Thursday or not)

My friend, Bob, tries to quit something every Thursday. Usually it’s a bad habit or something he’s worrying about. He just quits and leaves it right there on Thursday’s doorstep and moves on with his life, getting lighter and more free every week.

I want to be lighter and freer, too.

So I’ve decided it’s time for me to quit something, just like my friend, Bob. I don’t mean it’s time to quit Bob. I can’t quit you, Bob.

Rather, I’ve decided it’s time for me to quit NOT writing, NOT CREATING.

I’ve been regularly NOT CREATING/WRITING for a long time which is NOT ME. And I’ll bet it’s not YOU, either. So starting today, Thursday, I’m going to do (or I guess, not do) just that.

Therefore, ladies and gentleman, may I present terrible writing that is hardly worth reading but is important anyway because I need to create.

(And you probably do, too. So quit NOT CREATING with me!)


Dear blog,

As you know, I’ve not written to you in sometime. But don’t worry – it’s not you, it’s me.

Ok, it’s you.

I’ve not written to you because you scare me. You scare me for at least FIVE of the following reasons:

  1. I want people to like me and I’m afraid if they knew the REAL ME then (blah, blah, blah, you get it).
  2. I want people to like YOU, my blog. I want people to visit it daily and find words that refresh them and inspire them and make them laugh. But I’m afraid they won’t do any of those things, even though I know that’s not the POINT of it all and that I should just write, dammit! Also I shouldn’t curse, even though – let’s face it – “dammit” is barely a curse word at all.
  3. I want to write. I need to write. And I need to share what I create because that’s what people are supposed to do – share themselves and receive the self that others share and blah, blah, blah unicorns and rainbows!
  4. I’m totes insecure and have trouble expressing myself apart from using the word “totes”.
  5. I forgot my password, dammit.

There, now you know the truth.

And if you want more truth: I just spilled coffee on my keyboard which I’m sure is a sign from the universe that I shouldn’t write. I shouldn’t share. I should just keep my private world to myself and go around faking it all the time!!!!

Maybe I’ll quit faking it next Thursday.

Your friend,
JESSE

PS I just realized it was Friday. FUDGE!!!!