Monthly Archives: April 2014

A bad Christian on Easter

I’m a bad Christian, I guess.

I mean here it is, Easter. The day when Jesus rose from the dead and broke the back of sin forever and made it so we could approach God because through the resurrection of his son our sins are wiped clean. Our debt is paid–literally. Apparently, when Jesus said “It is finished,” what he meant was all accounts were settled, paid in full.

What better day to be joyous? I mean, if you believe all this stuff how could you not be jumping up and down today because it’s the most wonderful day of the entire year?

The answer is, I dunno. I’m just not. Maybe it’s because I’m a Mets fan.

There’s a guy I used to listen to–a guy who is big on Jesus coming with soft footsteps and doing what he did so I could come in front of God and claim that eternal life where there aren’t any more tears. Most of what he said I liked a lot.

Except for when he said it’s inappropriate to be sad in the presence of a loving God. It’s inappropriate to be downcast in the presence of a loving God. It’s inappropriate to be depressed in the presence of a loving God.

And yet…

A couple years ago, it came out that Mother Theresa lived a life of extreme doubt, that her faith often seemed stale and hollow to her. That God often seemed distant. This is Mother Theresa–a soon-t0-be-saint. She’s like Wonder Woman to God, which would make me Cliff Clavin.


The answer to coming depressed, or downcast, or sad in front of God is that it’s what I am. I mean, I could put on a nice show and act happy. I could mainline Pharrell for a few days and be like a room without a roof. I could paint over the gray exterior of my soul with bright vibrant colors and pretend I’m jovial Guy Smiley.

You have to be happy to wear that in public.

But don’t you think he knows?

So I am what I am–probably a bad Christian. And I guess that’s what faith is all about–knowing that even when you’re a bad Christian, you aren’t beyond God’s love.

When the prodigal son came back from squandering his father’s money on whores and booze and drugs, the father ran to him. Fathers didn’t run to children in those days. It wasn’t done. The child was to honor the father, not the other way around. And that guy was a bad son.

So if that guy has a father run to him, then I guess it’s okay for me to be in a funk from time to time. Even on Easter.

What’s your excuse?

A while back, a raging Internet controversy erupted when a mother of three posted a picture of her buff body with her children (3, 2, and 8 months) and and the tag line What’s your excuse?

“Fat-shaming! ” they shouted.

“Shut your damned mouth,” they shouted.

“You’re account is suspended,” Facebook said.

To the best of my knowledge, no similar outcry occurred when Stephen John Hulsey, a 71-year-old ten-time Tough Mudder finisher posted a picture with the same tag line.

It’s interesting, this dichotomy of emotional reaction. After all, there are millions of 71-year-olds who don’t have the option or ability to finish a Tough Mudder, just as there are millions of new moms who don’t have the option of ability to have a body like Maria Kang’s.

But wait, you may saythere’s no way to have a body like that and kids that young without neglecting them somehow. (You may not say it, but it’s been said plenty of times.)

You may also say But there are millions of women who are starving themselves and doing horrible things because of negative self image and this doesn’t help.

And you could say There’s an apostrophe in what’s and I am highly annoyed.

Okay, you got me on that last one.

But the first claim is pretty judgmental and has no basis in fact. If Maria Kang is working out and her kids see it, then how is that different than if she’s reading and her kids see it?

The second claim is more nuanced, and hints at a great dysfunction in society. If you feel bad when you see someone who’s buff, then you can either ignore that impulse or do something about it. That’s the decision strong people make, and the objection about fat-shaming is that it puts women in a place of relative weakness and shame. People are going to say bad things about you whether you’re too fat, or too skinny, or too perfect. You don’t make someone stronger by shutting other people up.

The bigger issue is the type of attitude Ms. Kang’s picture indicates–a smug “I’m better than you” attitude. And that’s where the interesting difference is.

Do you see Mr. Hulsey in the same light? After all, the conditions are the same. Here’s someone who has done something advanced and is more or less lording it over the rest of us. Except the target is elderly people instead of women.

I choose (key word there…choose) to see both pictures as something other than self-congratulatory, demeaning tripe, but as a challenge. I choose to view the challenges not to be about health or fitness, but about whatever I want it to be about. For me, it could be writing. For you, it might be parenting or learning the guitar or gardening–something you want to do, but never quite get around to because of life.

Maria Kang has three kids. Stephen Hulsey is 71-years old. Amy Purdy (Dancing with the Stars) has no legs. Jim Abbott (former big league pitcher) has one arm. Stephen Hawking (well, you know) has ALS. Winston Churchill suffered from depression.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of compassion. And their example isn’t an indictment of you if you’re a new mother, elderly, handicapped, or suffering from a disease.

In my view, it’s not about shaming; it’s about empowerment.

What do you want? What’s standing in your way of getting it?

Now what can you do in order to overcome those things?

And how can you enlist the help of others to move you (and perhaps them) toward the goal?

What doesn’t kill you is awesome!

This week has been a pain in the butt. Work has been a pain in the butt. And there’ve been other stuff going on that’s added to it.

I’ve been eating pretty clean lately and each day has featured one or two meals of Shakeology–chocolate, peanut butter, and banana. And I’ve laid off the alcohol.

Until this week. This week, I’ve had spiced gum drops, spiced jelly beans, chips and salsa, more chips and salsa, a few m&ms, some Dove chocolate, a couple glasses of wine, and a decent amount of beer–decent being enough to dissolve the immediacy of everything.

I’m not kicking myself over it. And while no one purposely seeks out hard crap on purpose, I have to say it’s been good for me. For one thing, it’s kept me and the family fed, clothed, and sheltered. That’s something you take for granted, but it’s important.

The project I’m on is difficult. But it’s also making me more confident and more easily able to handle and recover from the garbage that can happen in life. Stuff that would have made my head explode tens years ago,  would have driven me to distraction two years ago, would have made me an anti-social mess six months ago, is easier to handle now.

I’m not saying I’m perfect–far from it. But I’m a damn sight better than I used to be.

i thought about all this after seeing a Facebook post from Chalene Johnson, motivational speaker and star of Beachbody’s Chalene Extreme program. She’d just been in an accident with a guy in a big truck. The guy was looking down at this phone, ran a red light, and hit her. There wasn’t much damage to her car and she wasn’t hurt.

The picture she posted was of her standing next to her car, damaged and on a flatbed. She was smiling broadly and had her thumb up.


The car, she wrote could be repaired and she was okay. I’d have been cranky at the guy for not paying attention, for almost hurting me (or worse), and for inconveniencing me. I might try to put a good face on it, but inside, I’d be fuming.

Chalene Johnson is enormously successful, and this is part of the reason why. She isn’t faking that outlook– or doesn’t seem to be.

Maybe that has something to do with her success.

And maybe if you aren’t dead, it’s awesome!