Tag: Personal Health

Be clear about your values to help prevent a ‘Patchwork Self’

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Being One
BY DANIEL GRISWOLD
danielgriswold@gmail.com
November 6, 2013

In mathematics, an “identity” is an equation that is valid for all its variables.
For a human, the definition is similar. A quick search on Dictionary.com shows that most of the definitions of the word “identity” tend to assume “oneness.” For example: “the condition of being oneself or itself, and not another” and “the sense of self, providing sameness and continuity in personality over time.”

I first started thinking consciously about identity when I was taking classes in youth ministry with Dean Borgman, and he asked us to read David Elkind’s book, “All Grown Up and No Place to Go: Teenagers in Crisis,” which describes a disease of identity known as the “patchwork self.” This is a condition that happens to teens, or any age group, when they are under great stress without guides and relationships that encourage wholeness of self. This wholeness is inclusive of one’s value system and how one acts in the world according to those values.

The patchwork self is one who never created one homogenous set of values, and thus, acts according to whatever the norm is in the group they are in. An example would be a businessman who extorts money from a company with fellow co-workers, then chastizes children for stealing at the grocery store.

So why is this a problem? Why is it bad that people act differently with different groups? Isn’t that just part of getting along? I’m not talking about what brand of soda you like, or what type of frosting should be on the cake. I’m talking about the big things in life that require us to dig deeply into our value system and make decisions appropriately. These decisions forge new destinies.

One image of this that really got my attention was in the movie “Valkyrie,” starring Tom Cruise as a man who is charged by a secret party to assassinate Hitler. After the assassination attempt, communications would be sent telling the outside world that Hitler was dead. When the attempt came, they relayed the false message, and began relaying all the information that a new government had been set up.

A problem arises — Hitler is not dead. He restores communications and sends out messages to arrest the group. The communications hub receiving these transmissions then has to make a decision. Orders are going out for arrests of both sides. It is utter chaos. The leader of the hub is either committed to Hitler and his government (that is killing people and perpetuating war) or the opposition’s node and a revolutionary.

Either way, neutrality means losing. How is one supposed to be trusted if a simple decision cannot be made? In times of uncertainty, who leads? Sometimes situations require us to decide who we are and where we stand. It causes stress until the moment a decision is made.

What are your values? What is important? What decision would you have made?

In the letter written by the Apostle Paul to the Romans he states, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.” He’s calling us to unify ourselves in common goodness with God’s purposes.

Meditate on these words for some time, and begin to think through the question: “Who am I?” and “What makes me who I am?” If chaos ensues, begin to work it through — take some time.

Sometimes there are patches on us that we didn’t know were there. The point is to discover and find the oneness that the definition of identity entails. And when you’re well along that trail, perhaps you can help a few others start that road and have fun doing it.

Columnist Daniel Griswold is the director of youth at St. Andrew By-the-Sea United Methodist Church. Follow him at twitter.com/dannonhill. Read his blog at http://www.danielgriswold.wordpress.com.

Read more here: http://www.islandpacket.com/2013/11/06/2765209/be-clear-about-your-values-to.html#storylink=cpy

Pass It On: COWs are Used for Everything!

 

(image from gizmodo.com)

This pic blew my mind.  I knew that cattle gave us milk, meat, and eyeballs to dissect in 5th grade classes everywhere, but I bet you didn’t know that their skin was used in the white sheetrock in your McMansion!  This shows two things.  (1) Americans find a use for everything like the Native Americans did, and (2) The Chic Fil A cows pointing people to eat “Chikin” aren’t nearly going far enough to save their species.  I’m glad I’m human.

Stats for Youth Ministry: Internet Porn Usage

For those of you who minister to young adults, Gizmodo recently posted an article with an image visualizing the usage of Porn on the internet.  I am a regular Gizmodo reader because I love tech news, and I usually skip over anything related to the Porn Industry, but this is actually useful.  Particularly, take a look at Numbers 10 -14 in the breakdown.  Exposure to Porn starts young (11 years old), child pornography is a big problem, many people are exposed to porn accidentally (unwanted emails), and the biggest day to look at porn is Sunday (God’s day, right?).

Those who are trying to stop the proliferation of porn and the harm it does to healthy images of Family, Dating, and Sex could find this data useful in estimating the breadth of the issue.  40 million people in the US use porn (there are only 300-350 million people in the US) – that’s a big number.  Notice also the percentage of 20 something males that are being exposed.  Probably connected to the amount of time that young males are online, alone, and due to the fact that they tend to be tech saavy (lots of gadgets).  It’s a big issue that needs to be addressed more directly as a culture.

Here is the image:

From Gizmodo.com

Stuff Guys are Supposed to Do

I’ve almost been married 7 years now, and I’ve come to learn that the woman (I mean my woman) expects certain things.  No matter what else, these are my basic responsibilities.

(1) Unload the Dishwasher.

(2) Load the Dishwasher (this we take turns on – ish)

(3) Take out the trash

(4) Lock the doors (Protect!)

(5) Turn off the lights at night

(6) Lift heavy things – get things that are annoying to get

(7) Get Milk, or the Sunday Newspaper for the coupons.

(8) Hold the purse (when multitasking is at hand)

(9) ALWAYS answer the phone (no excuses)

(10) Listen, AND Understand.

Not complaining – just saying.  These are basics.  There are more, but I can’t remember them right now.  I’ll keep you updated as I remember more.

-Dan

Being Human, pt 4: On Identity and Community

In mathematics, an Identity is an equation that is valid for all its variables.  For a Human, the definition is similar; a quick lookup in Dictionary.com shows that most of the definitions of the word Identity tend to assume “Oneness”.  Here are two of the examples:  (1) “the condition of being oneself or itself, and not another” and (2) “the sense of self, providing sameness and continuity in personality over time.”

I first started thinking consciously about Identity when I was taking classes in Youth Ministry with Dean Borgman, and he asked us to read David Elkind’s book, “All Grown Up and No Place to Go: Teenagers in Crisis,” which describes a disease of Identity known as the Patchwork Self.  This is a condition that happens to teens, and any age group, when they are under great stress without guides and proper relationships (helping relationships) that encourage wholeness of self.  This wholeness is inclusive of one’s value system and how one acts in the world according to those values.  The Patchwork Self is one who never created one homogenous set of values, and thus, acts according to whatever is the norm in the group that they are in.  An example would be a businessman who extorts money from a company with fellow co-workers, then chastizes children for stealing at the grocery store, stands up straight and acts wholesome at church or when the preist/pastor is present, and then goes home and talks dirty with his neighborhood friends.  It does not have to be so stark, however, and one may simply take different stands on an issue.  It is somewhat well known that many who voted for McCain in the 2008 election would not admit it when in the company of the jubilant voters for Barak Obama.

So why is this a problem?  Why is it bad that people act differently with different groups?  Isn’t that just part of getting along?  Though I do feel that it is sometimes right to suppress your opinion sometimes for politeness or for the sake of timing on some less important issues.  I’m not talking about what brand of soda you like, or what type of frosting should be on the cake.  There are more important issues, dealing with war, abortion, governance, etc., that require us to dig deep into our value system, and make decisions appropriately.  Otherwise no action in our world would be possible, and we’d all be living in caves.

One image of this that really got my attention was in the movie Valkyrie, starring Tom Cruise as a man who is charged by a secret party to assasinate Hitler.  To set the scene’s context, a plan was made, that when the assassination attempt occurred, a communications officer at the bunker where Hitler was governing from, would rip out the wires at that bunker’s communications hub.  Simultaneously, the opposition party would take power in Berlin, use reserve armies to arrest the SS under the guise that they attempted to kill Hitler and take over, and then notices would be sent out that there was a new government in charge, and ultimately peace would be negotiated with the allies and the war would end.  Unfortunately, there was a kink in the plan.  When the plan took effect there was a communications center, where women would type out messages, give them to an officer, who would review them and send them through another channel to their intended destination.  At first, they relayed the message (that was false) that Hitler was dead, and began relaying all the information for the new government.  Eventually, however, Hitler restored communications in his bunker, and begins sending messages that the new government is a coupe that needs to be arrested immediately.  Here – two simultaneous messages are given to the communications center, and the officer in charge decides at first to be neutral.  All messages for both sides are to be sent.  This sets the stage for the reserve army to receive to arrest warrants, for leaders of opposing sides.  The reserve army Officer in charge sets off to make the arrests, but is perplexed by the contradictions. The contradiction is broken when Hitler himself talks to the reserve officer on the phone, and the voice is recognized.

Then the communications hub, still has a decision to make because they were asked to relay that Hitler is not dead, and that the new government is to be arrested and brought alive to Hitler.  Here is the dilemma.  Orders are going out for arrests on both sides.  It is utter chaos.  At this point, if Hitler is really alive, there is a moral decision to be made.  Either you are devoted to Hitler and you are with the current government (that is killing people and perpetuating an unjust war), or you are the opposition’s node and a revolution is to be the communication’s master.  Here is the drama, the decision, and neutrality is no longer an option.  This is where having an identity is so important.  You cannot serve both sides and expect to be trusted when one of the sides wins out.    Either way, if you are neutral, you lose.  And how is one supposed to be trusted, if a simple decision cannot be made?  Leadership wanes, and action becomes impossible in such confusion.  It causes stress until the moment that a decision is made.  According to the values that are within you (or lack thereof) you must make a decision.  What decision would you have made?

Unfortunately, Hitler’s brand was too strong, and the communications Officer decided to support Hitler.  Extremely unfortunate, because they were the turning point in the struggle.  Once messages for the Opposition had been stopped, they had no control.  The brain was disconnected from the body.  Had the communications officer chosen the resistance, Hitler’s message could not have gotten out as quickly, and the Opposition would have had a good chance of wresting control.  WWII Germany’s legacy may have been different and fewer men and women would have died in the long run (at least according to the movie).

Having a unified identity is critical, especially in moments when decision is necessary.  Those who have not made their mind up about an ideal for themselves, and how the world should work, are not capable of doing anything above and beyond.  Greatness for the greater good is not possible without those who are willing to stand on principles of Human Dignity, which are given by our Creator.  But a whole generation of people do not want to take a stand on who they are and what makes them tick!  Perhaps we’ve domesticated our lives so greatly that many of us never have to make a stand, and nominal statements without any salt are sufficient for conversations at the water coolers.  But what kind of life is that?  Can we be allowed to ruffle each others feathers a bit to get our friends thinking from time to time?  And how will that play out, when real times of hardship hit?  Despite our opulence, in America and in the rest of the world, there are still great injustices being performed.  Some people have made up their identities on Racist and Classist ideologies.  Sexual slavery persists and women around the globe are paying a huge price.  They are not allowed to have their own identities.  Genocidal pushes in parts of Africa have sent hundreds of thousands to the grave before their time, and all across the globe, education is denied as a form of control.  What makes us immune from these problems?  And with the plague of suicide in our modern world, what is going on?  If the next generation of people are unable to decide what a “Good Society” is, warfare in our own culture is possible.  Bitterness, and an inability to lead others in worthwhile pursuits will become chronic.  Already, we see in the school, church, and workplace shootings, that somehow people are rotting from the inside out and unable to determine what is good from what is evil.  If we are a culture are not able to determine what is good about ourselves (self-worth), and understand a common set of ideals that all people can live by, then we will see the dark side of pluralism made up by society dismantling individuals (those who love Anarchy do not truly understand its logical consequences).

So what is a good identity?  One worth systematizing individual, which can manifest itself in society growth, rather than decay when compiled in community?  There are bound to be some cultural variances on what that would be, and how it would be communicated, but there are some precepts that all human societies must live out in order to grow with health and vigor.  The first five books of the Old Testament are foundational, and the interpretation and revelation of Jesus Christ in the Gospels bring alive the rights humans have as Children of God bearing God’s Image in the world – Stewards of God’s creation.  There is set an ideal, that we often don’t live up to, and that many have tried to put aside because practically, being like God seems like an impossible pursuit (and it is).  But the pursuit of perfection itself, and holding up the ideal despite our imperfections is not hypocrisy if we acknowledge our faults and continue to keep getting back up.  Let us look to perfection to match ourselves up to it.  In the Psalms, Asaph wrote, “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God has shone forth.”  There is a standard that is the embodiment of what is good.  If our identity is sound in a high standard, rather than our own practical pleasure, we become more disciplined, and in the direction of good, we become more good.  Never quite there, but getting closer.  That is the best building block for a good society.

The problem is, that so many have not decided who they are, or have decided that their identity involves running away from perfection and taking whatever they can while this life lasts.  That is a formula for defeat, maybe not now, but certainly at some point in time.  Paul in his letter to the Romans encourages us to get beyond our failures as people and as cultures:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect,”

And soon in the scriptures he gives us an ethical code to live by forged out of his own life:

“For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him drink; for in so doing you will heap coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

(from Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 12)

Whatever background you are coming from, these words are good.  Meditate on them for some time, and begin to think through the question, “Who am I?” and “What makes me who I am?”  If chaos ensues, begin to work it through – take some time.  Sometimes there are patches on us that we didn’t know were there.  The point is to discover, and find the Oneness that the definition of Identity entails.  And when you’re well along that trail, perhaps you can help a few others start that road.  And have fun doing it.

Being Healthy, part 2: Sick Fix

***Caution*** Gross stuff about being sick somewhere in this post.  Read at own risk. ****

I’m going to be brief on this one, because I want to have this as a reference for anyone who had the same symptoms I had and thinks that they are sick.

This Spring I began taking Zyrtec to help with my allergies.  It worked really well, except that I had to drink lots of coffee to counter the drowsy effects.  I also did a lot of traveling for various reasons, so my body was a bit under the weather and finally I got a head cold that was going around our circles at church.  Because I knew that Zyrtec blocked histamines, which block colds, I decided to get off of Zyrtec, and since I was sick, coffee as well.  Zyrtec took some time to get out of the system and was fine, I just got a bit itchy, but I knew that would happen.  Then, I got the caffeine headaches.  They were blinding at first, but every day they got a little better for a week until they were gone.  (Caffeine made my head cold worse, so I was going to have a headache either way).

The problem really arose after I got off the Zyrtec, and off the Caffeine.  I began waking up 2 hours after I slept every single night and I would hack and cough.  I would usually get heartburn from the situation, and my sleep schedule got thrown out of wack.  After these bouts, Heartburn became more frequent during the days, I felt terrible, and sleeping became harder and harder. Coughing got worse and worse, and I thought maybe if I hacked up more stuff, things would get better.  They didn’t.  I was about to make a doctor’s appointment at my wife’s request.

Then I started googling my symtoms one night at aout 2 in the morning.  I went through way too much stuff, but I finally found something that made sense that I’d never heard of before that related to all my symptoms.  It was called “Chronic Open Mouth.”  What!?  There is a think called this?  I thought this was just a way some people breathed?  Apparently, this way of breathing is not optimum.  Here’s why:  The air that comes through your nose, is moistened before it comes into the body.  It does not dry out your throat, and is a healthy way of breathing.  Air coming through your mouth constantly is not moistened, your throat gets dry, and I’ve found that my sinuses drip if I’m not breathing through my nose, and cause myself to need to cough up stuff.

All I had to do to solve my problem was to consciously begin to breathe through my nose and keep my mouth closed.  It was hard, and counter-intuitive at first, but eventually I realized it was far superior, and I began to sleep immediately through the night!  No more coughing fits, the heartburn slowly subsided, my sinuses no longer dripped because the air dried them, and I normalized.  Amazing.

So if you have the same symptoms (coughing fits, irregular sleep, phlegm at night, heartburn, etc) look up Chronic Open Mouth, and see if it is your problem.  Good luck!