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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Inside Out


My wife really likes going to the movies, and I enjoy it, too, so that is often where we go when we get an evening out.  She usually selects, because I am very forgetful when it comes to movies, and have been known to unknowingly purchase tickets or rent DVD’s of movies I have already seen at least once or twice.  It just works best if she makes the choice.

We recently went to see that animation movie that is out called, “Inside Out.”  I had heard ahead of time that it was considered a pretty good movie, and that women especially like it.  It’s all about feelings.  Which is probably why it is from the perspective of a young girl.  Personally, I kind of related to one scene in particular where the dad is suddenly aware that his wife is talking to him and all of his feeling characters are totally oblivious…until he realizes he has to come up with something to say.  After all, he’s a guy, I’m a guy, and at least I spell feelings right!

Watching the movie (and hopefully without giving away too much if you haven’t seen it yet), the story is about the internal workings of emotions and memories, and their impact on personality formation.  Fortunately, it is presented in a much more interesting way than that last sentence would imply!

In the twists and turns of the girl’s life, as she faces dramatic changes, some of what are called her “core memories”..those especially formative and impactful experiences in life…get shifted with a stirring of emotion.  As a result, some that were once joyful memories get overlaid with a coating of sadness that transforms them.  At the same time, new memories get formed that vie for the position of a core memory in her life, some of which are not so happy.  The shift is apparent in the personality and relationships of the young girl.

Guess what?  As I watched it, it made me think very much about divorce.  So many memories that an individual has gets overcoated through divorce.  Memories that once were full of joy get shifted to bittersweet or even sorrowful memories.  The core essence of the values and experiences that have shaped your life are challenged, shaken and sometimes exchanged into something new, and that can be a very painful process.  

It is amazing how many internal things are affected by divorce.  Some people who were once bubbly and happy become melancholy and timid.  Some who were the most trusting and caring individuals develop a protective coating that keeps them from getting too close to anyone again.  In the movie, the parents share memories of the first days with their infant.  As a divorced person, I realize those memories are no longer shared with my spouse, and the person who did share them with me is no longer part of my life and memories around her are not the joyful things they once were.  If I am not able to remember those special moments myself, then they are gone from me, unless triggered by something unexpected.  

People are often aware of the external impacts of divorce:  moves to a different home, financial stresses, often strong hostility and family life that is fractured.  But the more subtle inner shifts are sometimes the most difficult to deal with, because they can be much harder to identify.  Nevertheless, even the most painful of experiences can be used by God to shape you for the next chapter of life’s journey.  Sometimes, it just takes a little patience to get there.  

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Birthday, America


I saw an article on the internet the other day about a book that has recently been published.  It is called, The Girl With Seven Names, by Hyeonseo Lee.  The article recounted some of the stories in the book, which is about her escape as a refugee from North Korea, and the subsequent rescue of her family.  I am looking forward to reading it.  The various blurbs about the book I have seen mention such things as the possibility of being arrested if you didn’t have a picture of the nation’s leader on your wall, and even if you did, it had to be “properly” cared for.  She apparently tells about the fear under which she lived, in a country where everyone is afraid and cannot trust others because many become informers out of fear.  She also talks about the controlled information she was given growing up about her country and the world, and the fact that she had no access to accurate information about how the rest of the world really lives.  

I have heard about people working with young African boys who have grown up in a war torn world, whose experience is that soldiers come and force them into the military.  Their first task of service, to harden them and make them learn to obey, was to shoot their own parents, then they were hauled off to battle.  Once the army tires of them, they are discarded like trash and left as orphans wherever they happen to be.  I have read about repressive nations living under Sharia and near Sharia law, in which a single hair showing outside a woman’s covered head is a crime subject to beating or other such punishments, and a starving person caught stealing food will have his hand instantly chopped off, while bystanders are forced to gather around to watch.

I’m guessing today is just another day for many people in the world.   But when I know of things like that going on in the world, I realize how blessed I am to have been born in the country that celebrates today as its birthday.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am the first to admit the U.S.A. isn’t perfect and has made our share of mistakes.  And let me tell you, there are some presidents we have had whose pictures I have NO interest in hanging on my wall.  But I do believe ours is a country that strives to value individual lives, and believes that individuals should be permitted control over much of their own lives through the exercise of freedom, and our nation desires that not only for ourselves, but for other nations in the world.

I had a friend from Swaziland, Africa some years ago.  He told me that he had very fond affection for the United States.  He stated that it had not been that many years since they had gained their freedom from colonialism, and were seeking to establish their own free nation.  He went on to say that, although there were other countries with historical ties who should have helped them with aid and support as they began, those countries did not do so.  However, he went on, the United States did, even though there was no obligation or expectation for them to do so.  He went on to state that the United States provided that aid without any strings attached that required any kind of subservience or conditions.  After years of hearing people bash the U.S. for its international behaviors, some of which have definitely been very misguided, as my friend shared the story of Swaziland, I felt a great deal of pride, knowing we had also done some things right when others had not. 

We will see fireworks tonight, and have picnics today, but there won’t be tanks rolling in our streets to make sure we remember who is boss, or to see if the President’s picture is on the wall properly.  Near as I can tell, more people are trying to escape from places like North Korea INTO the United States, than are trying to escape from the United States into places like that.

I was honored to receive an invitation to the Change of Command ceremony for a Colonel friend of mine down at Fort Hood next week.  I am sorry I won’t be able to attend, but I appreciate what he and his fellow soldiers do to help keep or spread freedom in our world.  My father served in World War II, my brother served in Desert Shield and my father-in-law was career military, and I appreciate what they have done so that I was not forced to shoot my parents or to watch someone’s hands being chopped off by thug policemen.  The U.S.A. may not be perfect, but it is a lot closer to it than many nations in our world.  Ask Hyeonseo Lee, if you don’t believe me.   HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AMERICA!