A True Scary Story

I know, I know. It’s a Halloween post that’s a couple days late. I was too busy binge watching Stranger Things 2 in all it’s and nostalgic splendor and glory, so FREAKIN’ SUE ME!!!

Anyhow, it being the Fall season (which, honestly, it only started feeling like Fall yesterday. Thanks, California), where the wind starts picking up at night time, creating that haunting whistling noise as it maneuvers around the trees, causing those long, finger-like branches to scratch up against your window pane, begging to be let into your room as you attempt to sleep comfortably, I figured nothing would suit this season better than a true scary story from my own life.

We are going to rewind the clock twenty-one years back to when I was nine-years-old. I was a pretty eccentric kid, and very sensitive (I still am pretty sensitive for the average thirty-year-old dude). I do like my fair share of scary movies, but I hate being scared. I remember every single time we would go to the video store, I would always feel drawn to the Horror section, but the mere look at a horror movie cover would be enough to give me nightmares for weeks, and I would wake up in the middle of the night screaming and crying. Seriously, ask my parents. I’m surprised they didn’t agree to some gnarly, unorthodox parenting methods to shut my crying butt up so they could get a good night’s sleep.

I remember one night in particular, though, that has been forever singed into my memory as one of the most terrifying experiences I have ever had to this day. This was no nightmare. I was wide awake for this one.

The house I lived in was an old house built in the 60s or 70s that liked to make creaking noises as the night went on. And me, being the super sensitive nine-year-old who had trouble going to sleep and staying asleep, was feeling particularly restless that night, and the creaking noises definitely didn’t help the situation. My younger brother and I shared a room together, and he was out like a light at this time. I always envied how heavy of a sleeper he was. Seriously, one time my mom had to douse cold water on him to get him up for school. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that on nights where I got really scared, I would ask to sleep in his bed with him.

My bed was positioned at the end of the room facing the door, and the door was left open, leading into the hallway, so that our parents could hear us if something happened. I can’t remember if I was asleep and was awakened by the house making the creaking noise, or if I was restless like usual and was trying to get to sleep, with my army of stuffed animals surrounding my bed like a protective shield against evil night time visitors. I, myself, was buried deep under the covers, with only a small opening to keep an eye on the door left open. That’s how I always slept. It’s the only way I felt safe to sleep.

There may have been a particular loud creak that startled me as I tried to get myself to sleep, but I just remembered feeling very on edge, like I was sensing something off. My heart started to pick up speed and I used my finger to lift up the edge of my covers to create a small opening, peering at my opened door. My night light was on in my room, but outside my door was just pure black nothingness. I stared at that nothingness for a moment, and then I felt my entire body freeze, as I saw something that still sends shivers down my spine as I recall it.

On the door jamb of my bedroom door, out of the black nothingness, a long brown, hairy finger crawled across it.

Then another.

Then another.

Those long, brown, hairy fingers were attached to a hand that grabbed the door jamb.

I had a scream ready, but it seemed so stuck in my throat since my heart had momentarily stopped, that I couldn’t get anything out. I could only gasp. That’s all my body was capable of doing at this moment.

The long, hairy hand lingered there for a beat. Since I was frozen in fear, too horrified to scream, and too numb to jump out of my bed and shut the door on that hand from Hell, I did the only thing I could in that moment, and that was close the peeping hole in my covers and stay perfectly still for as long as possible.

I remained frozen still for what seemed like an eternity, sweating profusely from lack of air inside my protective blanket casing, until I had to open up another peep hole to breathe. Carefully, I lifted the blanket with my finger once again and reluctantly peered out into the black hole that was outside my room. The long, hairy hand was no longer grabbing at the door jamb. It was just a door, once again.

I don’t know if I ever got back to sleep that night. I’m pretty sure I did, but when something like that happens, you don’t really sleep. It’s more like an 8-hour terror meditation. I remember trying to tell my mom what happened when she was driving me to school the next morning, but she dismissed it as a dream.

We’ve temporarily moved out of our old house in my hometown while my dad is performing some renovations on it. But, I’ll be damned if every time I come home for a visit and find myself in my old room, I don’t feel the slightest goosebumps on the back of my neck as I look at my bedroom door.

Happy belated Halloween, everyone! Sleep tight tonight!

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Being a Champion

Right-o! My very first blog post on this thing, and I decided that it’s going to be a controversial topic, because what better way to start off than by shooting myself in the foot before I even begin! Right? Am I right?

All joking aside, this has been something weighing on my heart recently. In the wake of Harvey Weinstein being accused of sexual assault with overwhelming evidence, Hollywood seems to have been shaken up, and its foundations are feeling just a tad bit wobbly at the moment. Remember what Jesus said about the house built on sand? Yeah…

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of the #MeToo posts on social media. Let me make one thing perfectly clear so that there is no misunderstanding: I have the utmost respect for the women that have come out to share their experiences. It definitely takes a huge amount of bravery to do so. I also understand the anger following these posts. Clearly, there are deep wounds that need healing, and the anger is coming from those wounds, justifiably so. My intention here is not to demonize the #MeToo movement, itself. I’m glad it is out there. But, this also leaves me a bit troubled, because there is a flip side to this whole thing.

Along with these posts, there comes the question of where are the good, righteous men who are gentlemen, and who know how to respectfully treat a woman? I’ve seen a lot of those pop up as well. I have a hunch, but you may not like the answer. Track with me here, and hopefully you’ll see where I’m coming from.

G.K. Chesterton once wrote, “Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.”

I believe that one of the big reasons why men have not come out and spoken against these awful acts are because our current culture has bought into this trend of shaming men. “Toxic masculinity”, “mansplaining”, “male privilege” are all terms that are getting thrown around right now, and at its core, I believe, is a hatred towards men.

Yep, there it is. I told you that you may not like the answer. Again, I am not trying to invalidate the wounds that women have suffered at the hands of really crappy men. After years and years of perpetuating a culture where women are looked at as objects, it only makes sense that it comes back this way. I’m only shedding a light on the other side of the coin. We need to identify the problem before getting to the solution. Stay with me.

Again, it’s not to say that men didn’t have it coming for all the ways we’ve mistreated women for more than a century. When the pendulum has swung one way for such a long time, when it swings back, it swings wide. But, this presents a problem for the men who are honorable, who are wanting to treat women with the utmost respect and reverence, because they know that men and women are supposed to be each other’s helpers. It seems like the trend is to throw out the entire batch just because of a few bad apples, but is that really fair to the rest of the batch that can nourish and provide fulfillment? It’s hard for men of honor to stand up and say anything for fear of being shamed for being a man in the first place, because that’s honestly what is going on. It breaks my heart.

Look, I get it. Men have a history of being jerks. The media has been portraying them as such since the 50s and very likely even before then. But just because that is how some men are, doesn’t mean that all men are. That is the danger of these current movements and ideologies that paint everything with such a broad brush.

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a home where I saw my father treat my mother with the utmost respect, even when they disagreed with each other. I consider myself incredibly blessed by that. And I also understand that other people have not been so fortunate. Many men grow up in abusive households, only to become the abusers they hated. Why not, instead of shaming them for who they have become, we have compassion for their shoddy upbringing and come alongside them to champion who they are called to be? It doesn’t excuse what they’ve done, because they will need to answer for it, but what it does do is create the possibility for transformation in their life. And, it also creates the possibility for healing within women’s hearts who were damaged by said men.

See, I’m all for bringing the problem to light, but unless it results in healing for both parties, all we’ve done by posting up hashtags, retweets, and social media blackouts is just digital naval gazing. The problem gets brought up, but if there’s no outcome other than demonizing the other party, we’ve done nothing. And it’s going to be an endless cycle of mud-slinging at each other until something changes. Honestly, unless we want a repeat of things like the Weinstein’s and other big Hollywood honchos, along with what’s going on in our own backyards, don’t you think we could do with a change?

I believe authentic masculinity means emotional vulnerability, teachability, the willingness to protect, and being a champion of the other sex. A true man is open about his feelings, willing to accept coaching for areas they come up short, is a protector to what matters most to him, and is a cheerleader for women so they can rise to their destinies. And there are going to be areas where us men are going to come up very short. I know that I’ve struggled with pornography since I was 15 years old, which is the ultimate way of objectifying women, and something I am not proud of at all. I have been putting in the work to change that. I’ve spent time around healthy couples, learning how they communicate with each other, even when they disagree. I am so thankful for the men of honor in my life that have helped re-shape the way that I view and treat women.

So, where are the men of honor to speak out against what has been done to women? They do exist. They’re not unicorns. And, I’d like to think that, despite my struggles, I am one. But, what makes me afraid is that, if I speak up, I would be painted with a broad brush that tells me that I’m just like every other man. Yes, I believe we can be better, but we need the help of women, too, to champion men and call them out to their true destinies.

So, what does that look like, exactly, to champion each other? In my opinion, it means calling out each other’s gifts, reminding each other of who they really are, even if they aren’t exhibiting it in the moment. The Apostle Paul says to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind”, and he was meaning to align your thinking with the way that God sees you, not as you see you in the moment. Our human minds are subject to flawed thinking, and we are quick to go by how we see ourselves based on our own thoughts, or our culture’s thoughts about us, rather than the One who knit us in our mother’s womb. Martin Luther says that we need to hear the Gospel everyday because we forget it every day. The Gospel is as stated in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. While you and I were still a mess in our own sins, Christ died to rescue us from sin and death to raise us up as new creations. I would love to see more of both men and women calling out the goodness in each other rather than each other’s faults.

We were never meant to go this alone. We need each other to call us out of our shells and bring out the honorable warriors within. We cannot do this without each other. Please, partner with us and let’s build each other up. Please, be each other’s champions.