The Bus Stop is a series of true stories about my life, people I've worked with and events I've experienced. Of course the names have been changed. I hope these stories will brighten your day with a few laughs as well as give you encouragement. Hopefully you can avoid making some of the mistakes I've made and if you have already made them, then you can identify with me.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Circle

Several years ago I watched the movie Zorro with Anthony Hopkins and Antonio Banderas. Hopkins, the mentor and Banderas, the student. Banderas was young and angry wanting vengeance for his brother’s murder. Meanwhile Hopkins trained his student to become the new Zorro. The training area was within a circle, and as bad as Banderas wanted to go and find his enemy, Hopkins reassured him that his enemy would come into his circle in time. He needed to wait and be patient.

Many times I have tried so hard to venture outside my circle. I’m not talking about vengeance, but overloading myself with responsibilities or even meaningful desires that were not mine or possibly wasn’t mine for the time being. I’m not talking about moving outside your comfort zone, this is entirely another circle. What I am speaking of falls under responsibilities not our comfort zone. Much of the stress I took on myself was needless. I worried over so many things from the future, present and even the past. These were things out of my control or not within my circle. I remember, for example, some were devastated when they found out the life span of the sun may only last for another billion years.

I’ve worried about such a different array of the things from gas prices to what’s going to happen with my boys. Worrying, I believe, is another word for “borrowing trouble”. We have enough trouble and hardship in this life without having to go look for it. It will come to us in its own time, if it really exists. Most of the things I’ve worried about never even happened except in my own imagination. (Matthew 6:27 (NIV) Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?)

So what ARE we responsible for? Remembering, you are only responsible for yourself, (except for your small children), but you do have a responsibility TO others.

  • What others?
  • Why?
  • What are we supposed to get involved in?
  • Do we go out looking for people to help and rescue?

We must wait patiently, and soon the ones God has for us will come into our circle. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him. Psalm 37:7a This circle may only extend 10 feet from you at this time and may expand and contract. The point is, do you reach out to those in your circle or do they go by unnoticed? It is usually simple to bless those in our own circle. Just bending over to pick something up for them, or offering a kind word or greeting or even paying for something they do not have the funds for. It could be anything, the possibilities are endless.

For the most part we would rather reach outside our circle to find things we can’t do anything about and worry and complain about those things. Could you really fix these things? Could you really change them? Can you even handle it at this time in your life?

It reminds me of the Serenity Prayer which reads:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

What is really in our own circle that we need to look at that is being neglected by going beyond it and worrying about the things we can do nothing about?

Saturday, February 7, 2009


Validation - is the reciprocated communication of respect which communicates that the others opinions are acknowledged, respected, heard, and (regardless whether or not the listener actually agrees with the content), they are being treated with genuine respect as a legitimate expression of their feelings, rather than marginalized or dismissed.

The first thing I would like to ask is do you acknowledge your own opinions? Do you respect yourself, what are you saying to yourself and are you listening? If you do not do any of these things, then how can you expect anyone else to do it?

Many years ago, when I was a sophomore in high school, I developed a standard of validation. One day, I decided if a girl said something nice to me in the morning, I would have a good day. If I didn’t receive my morning compliment or word of encouragement, then by self proclamation, I would have a bad day. As I think back now…Wow! What a crazy way to live my life.

I made some progress in my life and broke the need-for-validation curse, but this continued into my adult life in many subtle ways. Through the years, I was seeking people’s validation and approval so I would feel accepted. Another word for acceptance is love. For some reason, I didn’t feel loved. The truth was many people loved me, but I had a difficult time believing it. In reality, this was my problem and not theirs.

I have heard people say, “I hate myself,” or “I can’t love myself.” This statement is hogwash. I’ve said it many times throughout my life but, if I really hated myself, then I would be glad when bad things happened to me. Think about it!

Do you wish good or bad on those you say you dislike? We are called to love our neighbors (even our enemies). The Bible tells us in Matthew 22:37-39 and this is the first commandment of the New Testament. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself. He wouldn’t have told us to love our neighbor as ourselves if it wasn’t a sure thing. Have you ever rejoiced when bad things fell your way? No, we get angry because we think we deserve better. I think we can say we do not hate ourselves, but we hate the things we do. We have to separate the bad things we “do” from “who” we are created to be. As a man thinks in his heart so is he. (Proverbs 23:7) If we believe we are worthless and no good we can be assured we will act worthless and no good.

If you have put the burden on your spouse or anyone else to make you happy (or to make you feel good) you might as well give up because the only one that can make you happy is you. I wasted many good years waiting for someone to make me happy and I discovered, all this time, it is my responsibility.

Some of you may be thinking that I’m putting a stamp of approval on you getting a divorce when actuality I’m saying the opposite. What I’m saying is no other person is going to make you happy. It starts with you. So quit blaming each other and start working on yourself.

I recently read a letter my wife sent me over 5-years ago. We both had come to the realization that we could not make each other happy and neither she nor I needed validation from the other. This was so freeing for the both of us and it opened the door for us to genuinely love each other.

There have been many times I had received hugs and approval from so many people and it really felt wonderful, but inside, I still felt something was missing. That was when God spoke to me and let me know that no matter how many people validated me His validation was the only one that really mattered. What are some of God’s validations?

  • “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:14
  • “We are more than conquerors.” Romans 8:37
  • “I can do all things through Christ.” Philippians 4:13
  • “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

The first step - Take God at his Word. Believe it to be true regardless of your circumstances. Easier said than done I know. It takes time to believe the truth because with me those were just words. John 8:32 says, Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

The second - Choose. No one can make you believe you are loved, accepted, wanted, cherished. You will have to start making the choice to believe that what God says about you is the truth.

The third - Don’t make it hard for others to love you. We still have a responsibility to love and encourage one another, but this should be the icing on the cake. We provide the cake. They provide the icing.

Lastly, encouragement and praise should confirm your belief about yourself, not contradict. We could line 1000 people up and they could tell us a positive quality we have, but if we don’t believe it, then they are wasting their time. No matter how much water (Love and Affirmation) they pour into our glass, if we have a hole in it, (disbelief) then it is in vain. Have others been fruitlessly pouring water into your glass? After a while, they will get tired of pouring love into a glass with holes in it.

If God said we are okay, then we have to believe we’re okay, and that settles it!

Thursday, February 5, 2009


When John Kerry was running for the presidency, the Pope visited one of his rallies. Kerry’s campaign manager thought it would be a good idea if the Pope would speak on John Kerry’s behalf and declare Kerry was a saint. The Pope was torn because he knew Kerry wasn’t a saint. The campaign manager promised a big donation if he would say this and work it into his speech. The Pope finally agreed and during his speech, the Pope said, “Compared to Ted Kennedy, John Kerry is a saint.”

Many of us have been taught that we are never supposed to compare ourselves to others nor are we to think more of ourselves than we should. However, we are insecure around wealthy people, popular people or those in authority over us. We all struggle with the “grass is greener” syndrome at some time in our life. Why can’t I have a wife or husband like them or, that person seems to have a perfect life. Why can’t I be as attractive as that person? In actuality this should never happen. We should acknowledge that people are just people! One day we will all stand before Jesus to give account of what we have done with what he has given us! If you’ve been blessed with the looks of Brad Pitt, what did you do with that gift? If you can sing like a song bird, who did impact with your voice? If you’ve been blessed with a spouse and kids, how did you help them grow in Christ?

Many of us also compare ourselves to ourselves. This was something I discovered today that I had never really thought about in this context. How many times have we felt guilty for something we have done in the past? The twist to this is how many times you have said, “I was a better person in the past and it seems like now I have fallen away and now I’m a lousy person.” Sometimes this comes with age saying; “I used to run 5 miles and now walking the dog is a struggle.” As illustrated above in the cartoon, do we see the truth or only what we believe to be the truth?

Comparing yourself to yourself can be dangerous. I’m not saying we shouldn’t aspire to do better or work harder. But, there are some things in life we have to accept as the past and we may never be able to do them again. Here’s the grace that God adds: there are new opportunities we need to be searching for. I love to go snow skiing, but I may never be able to do this again and I may have to accept this, I had to give up the desire to be an underwear model after my 20’s (just kidding) and give up being a gymnast when I turned 30. None of these things define who I am or the other things I can do.

Before my surgery I thought I was doing fairly well in many ways. Since then, I’ve struggled with feeling less than. I’ve been comparing myself to what I was rather than whose I am. I am a child of the Most High, a prince. There are several things I will have to learn to accept as time goes on. The one thing I have learned is all you and I have is the “NOW” our daily bread. What are you doing right now at this very moment? We can’t change the past and we do not know what lies ahead of us in the future. All we can do is hold on to the “now” and allow a sovereign God to lead our future.

We can think of the greener grass, waste time and hope the future we have in our mind exists. The truth is you still have to mow that grass too. We hope the; new job, new husband, new wife, new car or new whatever will finally give us that satisfaction we have always been looking for but the “best” is right in front of you.

It is not wise to compare ourselves against others or ourselves. We are “uniquely created”. Your story is not my story. My gifts are not your gifts. My talents are not your talents. Your purpose is not my purpose. Stop comparing!

This scripture says it all: “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” (2Cor 10:12)