Self-Control ~ Vomit Diary (Part 10 of 10)

Read and potentially memorize Titus 2:6.

*This story is enhanced if you pre-read “Too Important to Ever Forget.”*

Narrator: As a minister worked in his church office, there is an unexpected knock at the door. There were no scheduled appointments on the calendar. A tall man enters with his son. The son was equally tall but half the weight. Short greetings are accompanied by brief handshakes. The dad directs his son in front of the chair opposite a curious minister and with a firm hand on his son’s shoulder he pushes the kid into the seat.

Dad: My son does not value respect. He thinks he knows everything and he won’t listen to me. As I was taking him to baseball practice we argued in the car And before he steps on the field, he puffs up his chest and gets in my face! I grabbed his scrawny arm, threw his glove in the trunk and brought him here. See if you can fix him before he loses a roof over his head. I can’t get through to him.

Narrator: Dad extends a business card to the pastor with a brief instruction.

Dad: Call me when your done and I’ll pick him up.

Narrator: It was obvious that the kid wanted to be anywhere in the whole world except the office of a minister. Nearly every muscle in his body was tense, even in his nearly reclining posture in the wingback chair. The minister was at a loss for words. How do you talk with someone who doesn’t want to hear you speak? What do you say? How do you connect? Eye contact was out of the question. The pastor decided to tiptoe into the flood of hostility in the young man.

Pastor: So, what happened? (pause)

What did you and your father fight about? (pause) I mean, did you guys get into it, physically? Or just yell at each other?

Kid: (Angrily.) Look! My dad yells. I take it. Someday I’ll be out of his house and I won’t have to take it anymore. Until then, I have nothing to hear from him and nothing to say.

Pastor: What set everything off? (Pause) What made your dad lose his mind? Did you steal the car? Kill the cat? Tape a little brother to the ceiling? (Long pause.) Did you fail a geometry quiz, cut holes in his suit pockets, eat all the Oreos?

Narrator: There were no responses either verbal or physical.

Pastor: We are both wasting our time here. It’s obvious you and your old man have important stuff to discuss but I don’t see how. . .

Kid: Look, I’m never speaking to him again. I have nothing to say. There is nothing to hear. There is no discussion.

Narrator: Seeing that there was nothing to be gained, the pastor decided to poke the bear, so to speak.

Pastor: OK, I get it. You’re just another teenage kid who’s mad at his dad. If I had a nickel for every ticked off young man who sat in that chair. . .I bet you don’t even know why you’re mad! I bet you all full of piss and vinegar and you can’t tell me because you don’t even know!

Narrator: The young man eyes looked up, surprised. He was not expecting the pastor to go on the offensive, but it confirmed his predetermined negative impression of clergy and the church, full of judgement and condemnation.

Kid: You have no idea what goes on in that house!

Pastor: Neither do you!

Kid: I live there! I hear that crap every day.

Pastor: What crap?

Kid: (pause) It doesn’t matter. We are never going to speak to each other anyway.

Pastor: Listen, son, I dare you to vomit diary.

Kid: Huh?

Pastor: Vomit diary. Don’t try to look it up. I made it up. Just grab a piece of paper and spew out everything you are thinking and feeling about your relationship with your dad. What you see on the paper may surprise you. I think you have so much going on in your head that none of it makes sense anymore. Until you get it out of your head and in front of your eyes I don’t think anything is going to change!

Kid: At least the last part is right. Nothing is going to change.

Pastor: (pause) Change is never a big deal. Really. People don’t get it, but change, it’s the easy part. The hard part is the “want to.” Doing something different is not a big deal. But wanting to do something different is a huge deal. If you don’t want a change in the relationship with your dad, it is certainly impossible. If you do want something different…if you want it…then it can happen. No doubt.

Kid: Then I guess nothing is going to change. Are we done here?

Pastor: I guess we are, but let me know if you decide to give the vomit diary a try. I would at least respect your effort to figure out what’s truly going on in your head and not just your imagination.

Narrator: And that was all the youth needed as a reason to bolt. The young man left the office. The pastor called the dad’s cell with the number from the business card and apologized for not having a greater effect on his son.

About 24 hours later, as the pastor worked in his office, there was an unexpected knock at the door. In enters the same young man from the day before, with cleats over his shoulder ready for practice. Short greetings accompany brief handshakes. As the teenager plops himself in the wingback chair, he thrusts a piece of paper on the table with the open palm of his hand.

Kid: There, vomit diary.

Pastor: Can I read it?

Kid: I didn’t write it for me. Go ahead.

Pastor: Can I write on it?

Kid: It’s not like I’m takin’ it home.

Pastor: Cool, OK, let me check it out.

Narrator: After a few moments of silence while the pastor read and wrote, he looked up in the kid’s eyes.

Pastor: Thanks. This shows a lot of thought and effort. It’s cool you trust me with this personal stuff. I’m really sorry for the disappointment and heartache you and your dad have experienced. And I respect what you’ve done here. Let me tell you why. Life can seem so complicated, yet sometimes things boil down to something a great deal simpler. We complicate it by adding irrelevant history and our own junk to it. Um, let me explain. As I read your thoughts, all of these issues have the same foundation: self-control. You have 10 examples of how you feel you show great self-control and 20 examples of how your dad thinks you are out-of-control. Talking about these examples would start a fight for anybody but what if  you just talked about…

Kid: Look, I’m never talking to my dad. I thought the point was to prove that our stuff is real and not made up in my head, not some attempt to force me to talk to him.

Pastor: Yeah, you’re right. Your stuff is real. Be honest. Are you out-of-control?

Kid: No, I’m not. Well, maybe sometimes. I just don’t think my dad and I agree on the same definition of self-control. He has no idea how crazy I could be. He says I don’t have an “off switch” and he has no idea how many times I’ve used it.

Pastor: How do you define self-control?

Kid: Knowing when not to do or say something.

Pastor: Alright. Consider this crazy idea. Maybe the definition of self-control lies somewhere between selfish and self-love.

Kid: You’re kidding, right?

Pastor: Selfish behavior is stuff that provides something for you, regardless of whether or not is good for you. Selfish behavior usually seeks attention, or instant gratification, or avoids responsibility. Self-love seeks what is best for you. Procrastination is a perfect example of being selfish and the opposite of self-love. Getting drunk or getting high is a great example of selfish behavior and the opposite of self-love. Often, unnecessary risk-taking is the hunt for selfish adrenaline and not stewardship of self-love. Pornography, selfish, not self-love. People who are out-of-control are often people who misinterpret selfish behavior with self-love. It may seem complicated but it’s really pretty simple.

Kid: But what if we disagree about which is which? What if you think something is selfish and I think it’s self-love?

Pastor: Great questions and that is at least a conversation worth having. So, are you better at selfish than you are at self-love?

Kid: My dad would say I’m better at selfish. I’m not sure what I’m better at.

Pastor: What would happen, if after baseball practice on Thursday, you and your dad went to Sonic? And what if you ordered your Oreo Blast and started a casual conversation about selfish vs self-love? It might really pay off in the. . .

Kid: Nice try Reverend. But talking with my dad about anything is not my definition of self-love.

Pastor: I understand. But know this. I’m going to be praying for you. I’m praying that you and your dad can find a way to change the way you talk to each other. Cause… change is not always a bid deal, the big deal, is the “want to.” Do you want things to change? (Silence) Do you want it badly enough? Really, dude, what is more important in your life than relating with your dad? Holy cow this is so worth it!

Kid: Not gonna happen. He won’t listen.

Pastor: He won’t listen if you don’t speak! (Silence.) Well, thanks for sharing your diary. It really helps me understand and center my prayers for you. 

Kid: We done here?

Pastor: I guess so.

Narrator: The kid left the office as the minister called the young man’s dad.

Pastor: You can come pick up your son. He’s really cool and he genuinely stepped up with some stuff I asked him to do. Will you do me a favor? Will you please take your son to Sonic after baseball practice? 

*      *      *

Narrator: The pastor never saw the dad or son again. They never spoke verbally. However, about a week later the pastor received a letter in the  mail on the Dad’s stationary that matched his business card.

Dad: Reverend, I will never miss a Thursday trip to Sonic again. Maybe I, and my family, need to work on self-love. Thank you.

This is too important to ever forget. Self-control is a gift and a blessing. It is not a burden or bad medicine taken to avoid guilt. Self-control is not invented as a way to keep you from experiencing life fully. Through self-control, God helps humanity avoid things that cause hurt and pain. Self-control intersects with every aspect of life. Self-control is manifest in your tongue and the rest of your body. It can be found in how you spend your time, your money, and your energy. Self-control has power over your decisions. Having self-control is usually easy; it’s the “wanting to” that’s incredibly hard.

There are a myriad of ways that inevitably separate us from God. Self-control is the best way to avoid that sin of separation. Self-control empowers! Self-control is an act of love, realized through self-love AND loving others. Self-control is a gift one gives to one’s self. Self-control is a gift others receive from you as well.

Regardless how selfishness strives to overshadow self-love, know that self-control is not out of your reach. No matter how many times you have lost the battle with self-control and given in to selfish habits, today is a new day! Perhaps, you can stand stronger on your convictions as you stand on self-love as your guiding purpose. You were born to experience self-control and offer self-control to an out-of-control world. Today, more than any other day, choose self-control as your demeanor. Avoid actions motivated by selfish pursuits. Choose self-control when your actions threaten to create harm. Share self-control, repeatedly and enthusiastically. May this string around your finger elicit a breath prayer every time you see it. May your prayer remind you that self-control is a Fruit of the Holy Spirit. It is yours to seek, experience, and share.

Be challenged. And then be ready to be blessed by self-control.

Tie a string around your ninth finger and may it remind you of the power of self-control.

 

Choose a breath prayer and memorize. Here are three examples for your consideration:

    1. “Holy Spirit, fill me with self-love. Use me to inspire self-control.”
    2. “May the seed of self-love in me, bear Fruit of self-control around me.”
    3. “As I rest in the Holy Spirit, self-control rests in me.”

Repeat this prayer to yourself every time you glance at the string around your finger.

Say it. . .maybe 20 times today.

Mean it when you say it at least 5 times.

Change what you are doing to reflect this prayer at least once, today.

May this spiritual discipline today, bring you closer to God and closer to the person God hopes you will become. 

Take time to reflect, journal, pray.

In the opening welcome and introduction to this website, I shared the Scripture that inspired this online adventure, I Tim 6:20. This text is also the origination of the name; “Sacred Chatter.” However, my intent is not to be a singular voice. I invite your voice to be a part of the “chat” and I base this on another of my favorite Scriptures: Hebrews 10:24. “And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds.” I am considering how I can provoke love and good deeds in places beyond where I live. This is my attempt to enter into a Hebrews 10 conversation with you over social media.digitally. Now, I am interested in your feedback. Consider what provoking you can provide with your own Sacred Chatter.

What’s important to you? What really matters?

Add your voice in Sacred Chatter.

Love is ours to provoke. Good deeds are ours to sew.

That the wisdom of Hebrews 10 may flourish and grow.

Email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, they’re potential mediums for the Hebrews 10 plan.

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