I’ve lost 100 pounds.
I’ve got at least 50, maybe 75 more to go to get to where I want to be.
A lot of you have asked me how I did it.
It goes pretty deep.
The first thing to understand is the formula for weight loss is really simple.
That’s all that there is to it.
Everything else is about your mind. And for me – that was where the real battle took place.
I started putting on weight when my wife got pregnant with the twins, right after we got married. They were born on our one year wedding anniversary.
When we got married, I was a fairly muscular 225 pounds at 6’5”.
Within that year, I crept up to 280. Within the next year, I was 300.
Over the course of the next 20 years, my weight made its way up to 430 pounds. I may have been more at a few points, when I refused to step on a scale because I didn’t want to know.
At least once a year for the past 15 years, I’ve decided to “Get Serious” and lose weight.
I’d try a diet, tracking calories, working out… and I’d lose 30-40 pounds every time.
Then I’d get tired of it. Distracted. Bored. Hungry. And I’d put it back on again.
I lost the same 40 pounds at least 20 times.
I was in a lot of pain. Diagnosed with arthritis in my feet. My ankles would randomly swell up really large – like double or triple in size. I didn’t have energy. My lower back hurt all the time. In fact, my sagging belly fat would put so much strain on my back that it curved forward and pushed my belly forward even more – making me look even fatter, and I lost an inch or more of height. I couldn’t even stand up straight without pain.
The truth is – I had a serious food addiction that I wasn’t admitting to myself that I had.
A couple years ago, my friends were doing a “Whole 30” and I made fun of them.
I don’t know why. They’re hippies and it’s just fun to make fun of them.
Eventually – my wife and I agreed to try it ourselves.
30 days of strict paleo. Black Coffee. No Dairy. No Grains. No Artificial anything. Just whole foods and clean eating for a month. No Cheat Days. That was the first time in my life that I did anything like that. The first week was hell. Detox. Inflammation. Hunger pains. I could eat ALL I WANTED of the right foods, but my body was kicking out the bad stuff, and my brain was crying out for my fix.
I typically would hit up the convenience store for 2 pieces of pizza, a coke, and a king size Reese’s Sticks. Sometimes I’d get it once a day. Sometimes, I’d do it twice a day.
I’d eat healthy meals at home that my wife made, and then I’d go out and hit up the junk food.
And during that Whole 30 – my body was literally screaming for it.
It was very clear to me that this was psychological addiction.
I’m a Christian, so I see things through a spiritual lens. I decided I needed some supernatural help, so I asked God to show me the root. Why was I addicted? What was the root?
And then some weird stuff started to happen.
I started having flashbacks. It was surreal and bizarre… but I could feel the hunger, the craving, and then I could see clearly where the feelings came from. Experiences in my past. Things I had buried and forgotten about.
(Not trying to promote here – but I’m going to share this link because I think it helps tell the story – http://www.manlihood.com/toxic-by-josh-hatcher-rise-x-up/ )
Flashbacks, not only of childhood trauma, but adult shame for stupid things I had done later.
It was all there, like the candy wrappers and soda cans that I had crammed under my seats to hide so I wouldn’t have to deal with it.
I concluded that really, I had been living with some deep depression my entire life. Instead of feeling it, I was using food to numb it instantly. I didn’t know I was depressed – because I’ve been a jolly old elf. I’m not one of those emo whiny kids who gets triggered and snowflakes out on everybody. I honestly smile and laugh a lot, because I do have a lot of joy. But I also had a lot of pain, and instead of processing that pain, I was filling that pain with processed foods…. Before I could even feel it.
30 days of strict clean eating allowed me to SEE the times when I was triggered, when the cravings would come, I felt like they were cravings, and I would treat them. But they were coming for a reason – because I had some deep pain that I needed to work through.
Whole 30 helped me get down 30 pounds in one month. I transitioned to a less strict but similar paleo eating plan – with a weekly cheat meal. I lost another 10 pounds, but then hit a plateau. I was committed to working through my issues – and I was going through it slowly but surely.
Then I had a series of hard circumstances hit – I lost a job that I was working – and hit a very stressful time. I did continue to work on my stuff – but I had to recognize that I couldn’t do both at the same time. I couldn’t pay the bills, and get emotionally healthy and physically healthy at the same time. That may sound sabotaging, but it’s true.
So I took the time to work through the emotional things. I talked about some of my past with some good friends. I prayed. I read my Bible. I journaled, and walked through some of that pain.
I also put that 40 pounds back on.
Meanwhile, my friends Brian, Dennis, and Justin were watching. All three of them called me out.
Brian told me that basically, what we were doing was slow suicide. We were killing ourselves – just a little slower than other people.
Justin, who has lost 600 pounds. (http://justinwilloughby.com) just kept encouraging me, and never gave up on me.
Dennis had recently had a major transormation of his own – he started eating keto and making massive changes in his life and mindset. He called me up, and that ultimately let to my D-Day moment ( http://www.manlihood.com/d-day-josh-hatcherrise-x-up/ )
So. How did I lose the weight? It took a lot of long hard mental changes before I could even do it. Honestly, I’ll tell you what I did – but I need you to understand – it couldn’t happen until I understood how I got there. I couldn’t go back until I knew where I was and where I was going.
So – the last year.
I weighed in at 430 pounds.
I ate a ketogenic diet.
There are many types of keto. I basically ate lazy / dirty keto.
You don’t need to subscribe to an MLM or buy shakes.
All I did was eat in such a way to pull my energy from fat, rather than carbs.
I ate less than 20g of carbs a day. For the past few months, I don’t even count them. I just try not to eat them.
A very rare or occasional cheat meal, or even cheat day would happen. Usually, if this happens, it’s once a month or every couple of months. I still avoided certain things that I know would cause me to just slip into old habits. No Reese’s Sticks. No Pizza from the Convenience Store. No sugared soda. Cheats were rare, but I still had to be careful — if I went overboard, I’d pay for it with painful toilet time. What’s that? TMI? Ah well. I won’t varnish the truth.
Sometimes, I’ll do intermittent fasting for a day or so- drinking water and black coffee from morning until 3PM. I’ll eat a snack at 3, dinner at 6. A snack at 9. Then I do the same thing for a day or two. If I’m at a plateau, or if I have had a cheat day – it always kicks me back into ketosis.
Strict Keto is counting macros, eating more specific counts of food. I may have to do that later.to help me lose more as it will get harder as I have less to lose.
Lazy Keto is still eating more whole and less processed foods, but not worried so much about the macros and the detail counting.
Dirty Keto is basically – eat WHATEVER YOU WANT as long as your carbs are less than 20 grams of net carbs a day. This is typically where I have landed this last year.
I drink diet soda. I don’t eat enough veggies. I eat way too much processed foods like pepperoni and cheese. BUT – I was able to lose weight doing it, because I kept my carbs low enough to force my body into ketosis to burn the fat.
I do exercise, but not consistently. I walk, with little bursts of running – for about half an hour a few times a week. I lift – very inconsistently.
Most people don’t have hundreds of pounds to lose. It’s a lot easier to shed a lot of weight early on for guys who start out weighing 300, 400, 500 pounds.
And it gets incrementally harder as I continue to shrink. I WILL have to get stricter with what I eat, more disciplined with my workouts. And I’ve been starting to do that a little at a time.
In terms of resisting temptation – I have to call sugary carby foods what they are – poison.
It’s really annoying to everyone – because I make a big vocal deal about it when someone offers me birthday cake – NO! GET THAT AWAY FROM ME! IT’S POISON! ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME? Overly dramatic? Sure. But it reminds everyone around me that if they care about me, they can’t offer me that stuff.
My wife eats fairly healthy, but not low carb – so she prepares meals in such a way that there is a low carb version of it for me. My breakfasts and lunches are usually things like tuna salad, hardboiled eggs, meat and cheese, salad, cheeseburgers without the bun. I eat a lot of pork rinds, almonds, pistachios, cashews, skinny chocolate (basically, you mix equal parts stevia, cocoa, and coconut oil, pour it in an ice cube tray and keep it in the freezer) and sugar free pudding made with heavy cream and almond milk. I eat avocados, though I struggle mastering the art of getting them ripe but not too ripe. I eat mayo like it’s no one’s business. Sometimes, I’ll wake up craving it – and eat it with a spoon. I think that’s because it’s fat, and my body needs the fat. I can’t eat much fruit, because it’s full of sugars – but I do eat blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. They are lower in carbs and higher in fiber. A few in moderation are good for me.
I drink a lot of water. When I don’t drink water, my body needs the water, and I have inflammation and pain.
Keto has been a little hard on me. When I’m in ketosis – I pee – a LOT.
I’ll wake up every hour and have to pee. And my pee smells bad.
Because I don’t care for veggies, and I don’t eat a lot of them,.I do have some issues with my hemorrhoids. I need more fiber, and I’m working on making that better.
That’s the “skinny” on my keto experience.
Once I hit my goal, I plan to transition from keto to paleo. I really liked eating paleo – lower carbs, but I could have some potatoes and more fruit. I loved the food, and it was easier to follow. The only thing is that I didn’t lose weight, but I maintained. So I plan to end out with a paleo lifestyle.
I have 50-75 more pounds to lose. I will shoot for 50 pounds in the next six months. Once I get there, I’ll determine how I feel, and if I want to push ahead for the additional 25. I want to be muscular, and I’ve got a large frame – so I want to feel comfortable in that. But I don’t want to be fat. Weight isn’t the best measurement of health – so I want to make my end goal work with me.
75 years ago, 73,000 American heroes prepared to change the world. Loaded down with 100 pounds of gear and ammo, soldiers were dumped on the shore of France, sprayed with salt water and German lead.
In the chaos, thousands of Allied troops fell. It wasn’t one of those victories that felt good. It was a sacrifice made for a greater good– knocking out a genocidal tyrant with a massive army bent on world domination.
D-Day wasn’t the end of the war. It wasn’t the day that brought ticker-tape parades and sailors kissing nurses in the streets. Rather, it was a battle that turned the tide of the war. Up until that day, a world controlled by Nazis was a very real possibility. D-Day means “Decision Day.” The battle at Normandy marked the day of decisive victory in World War II.
Before the battle, General Dwight D Eisenhower remarked, “This operation is not being planned with any alternatives. This operation is planned as a victory, and that’s the way it’s going to be. We’re going down there, and we’re throwing everything we have into it, and we’re going to make it a success.”
As we celebrate this anniversary, I want to salute the heroism of the men who risked and gave it all that day to secure liberty for us all. D-Day has another significance for me personally.
One year ago, I was in a tough spot. I was undisciplined, depressed, overweight, and struggling. I have always tried to pursue bettering myself, but I had been through a series of defeats and failures, and I didn’t know where to start to make it right.
Good friends had noticed my weight creeping up. They noticed that I was distant. They noticed that I was distracted. Most of them had gotten tired of trying to encourage me. I can still hear the words of my friend Brian, “Josh, what we’re doing here, eating junk food, putting on weight– it’s just slow suicide.”
I wish I could say I let it sink in right away, but it took some time before I had enough pain. And as I’ve heard from other wise friends, “We don’t change until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”
I had enough.
So June 6, 2018, was my own personal D-Day. I set my intention on change. I reached out to get help. I changed my diet. I changed my schedule. I started working hard to speak and think differently. I put systems in place to keep my accountable and on track. Like Eisenhower, I said, “There is no alternative. This operation is planned as a victory, and that’s the way it’s going to be.”
Mindset is the first thing that had to change. I used to say, “I am fat.” That directly linked my identity to my problem. Now I say, “I have fat, and I’m working on losing it.” It’s a much more accurate statement. It doesn’t attach my struggle to my identity. It gives me the freedom to see myself and my problems more clearly. I am not my failures. My problems are not me.
It’s been a year. I’m certainly not perfect. I still have a lot of changes to make. I have, though, lost 100 pounds. I have made tremendous strides in my attitude. I have started to become more disciplined, and started accomplishing many of the goals I set for myself a year ago.
I am not writing my successes to be braggadocios, but rather to demonstrate the power of choosing to change. I wasn’t happy with who I was. I wasn’t happy with where I was in my life. I couldn’t make the change on my own, even though I was the only one who could decide to change. I reached out. I got help. I worked my tail off to change the way I thought, spoke, and behaved.
We all have different struggles. We all have parts of our lives that are holding us back, and left unchecked, could destroy us.
What does this have to do with D-Day? Everything.
Maybe what we need is to declare war. Maybe what we need is to rise up and storm the beach.
I recently saw an internet meme that captured my attention. It read, “If you want to honor our military, be the kind of American worth fighting for.”
Maybe that starts with each of us striving to be better– with each of us making a decision– our own personal D-Day.
Josh Hatcher lives in Bradford Pennsylvania, has authored several books including Manlihood: The 12 Pillars of Masculinity American Poetry: Poems for a Wounded Nation and is the founder of Manlihood.com
An African proverb says, “Initiate the boys, or they’ll burn the village down.”
In the midst of an era where the national media spotlight has been pointed directly at the bad behavior of some men, there are others who wish to focus less on burning the village down, but rather challenging men to be better. Two local men are drawing a line in the sand, in an effort to challenge men to be initiated, to rise up into a noble purpose.
Starting May 1, Josh Hatcher and Louis Costa are working together on a 12-week campaign called “Rise X Up,”
to inspire men to find their strength, both externally, and internally. The campaign will feature blogs, videos, podcasts, and live events created by the pair, in an effort to motivate men to strive for more.
“The ‘Rise X Up’ campaign is about strength, brotherhood, and resurrection,” Costa said. “So many of us need something we aren’t finding in this life. We’ve resigned ourselves to an existence without purpose, of loneliness, depression, and substance abuse.”
Hatcher also shared some thoughts.
“We wanted to speak to what the needs were all around us. I know I’ve spent too long in my own life trapped in habits that I couldn’t get out of,” he said. “When you look at the statistics as they relate to men and suicide, depression, substance abuse, obesity, violence, and other social ills, what we see is that men are in need of something more.”
What is it that men need?
Costa said, “They need to reclaim a sense of purpose. Pride. They need to be challenged mentally. They need to be battled physically. They need to know someone cares about them and have a strong connection with other men going through the same things.”
Each week of the campaign will feature a challenge, encouraging men to put their pasts behind them, to connect and engage with their community, to build physical strength, and to reframe their thought patterns.
“We’re living in a time when we’re more connected to people than ever before with instant communication, and yet, we’re seeing our problems increase, because those connections aren’t authentic. They show us the best snapshots of people’s lives, and they don’t show the pain and the hurt and the struggle,” Hatcher said.
“Rise X Up” will show the struggle,
as the men will share stories of overcoming the hardships and obstacles in their own life, the trials of growing up in rural McKean and Potter counties, and even revealing some of the darker parts of their own battles, including some they are still fighting.
“Since June of last year, I’ve lost 85 pounds. I’m on track to hit my goal of 100 pounds lost by this June,” Hatcher said. “This has been a struggle my whole life. I’m still working through it. I know men whose struggles with alcohol, violence, drugs, or even just a negative attitude, who want to experience freedom, who need to see how strong they really are.”
“And what they are capable of,” Costa said. “We want men to be able to identify their limitations, and then smash past them screaming ‘To Valhalla!’ I want men to feel the difference in their lives when they embrace the pain they avoid.”
Many motivational speakers have used the adage,
“Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”
Costa and Hatcher said that pain of staying the same isn’t worth it.
“As a strength athlete and sports enthusiast for three decades, I’ve injured myself so many times. I know what it’s like to push my body to the edge of its capability and live in the suck of sacrifice afterward. I’ve really learned to embrace the tenacity it takes to push through broken bones, torn muscles and tendons,” Costa said. “But physical pain and emotional pain are very different. Often the barriers that keep people from rising up into what they could be are the hardest to deal with or understand. That is the message that needs to be heard. You hold the power within you. Unlock it, and live better!”
Both men, through Ironmill and Manlihood have had a national audience, but they plan to include some local Bradford events to bring connection.
“We’re looking at some physical-strength training events, some family connection events, and some community-service events. We really want to help men build engagement with their community and with each other,” Hatcher said.
The 12-week “Rise X Up” event starts May 1. More information is available at http://manlihood.com/rise-x-up
For the next few days, local writer Josh Hatcher will be offering his book, American Poetry: Poems For a Wounded Nation for free on Amazon’s Kindle Books. In the first day of the giveaway, the book garnered a top slot in the “American Poetry” category for free Kindle books, and is climbing in several other categories.
“Really, that ranking in the free categories helps to boost the overall ranking of the book. The higher the book is ranked, the more likely new people are to discover it,” says Hatcher, who self-published the book in April.
American Poetry was inspired by a desire to help heal the political divide. “Many poems are about love, about family, about faith, but there is a thread that runs through it, calling out our nation for going against the idea of e. pluribus unim,” says Hatcher, “I think that despite our differences, we can find the kind of common ground we need to make this country work.”
In the final poem, “Greatness,” Hatcher writes of his hope for America,
That the weight and responsibility of leadership would reign in the hearts of those who lead.
That two sides become one side with many facets.
That aisles be replaced with coffeetables.
That we can balance progress and tradition.
That common sense would reign.
That decisions made in marble halls and velvet chairs would be made with the farmer and the factory worker and the barber and the butcher and the baker and their husbands and wives and children in mind.
Hatcher has been published before. In 2003, he co-authored the book “Cheap Ways To…” which was published by Relevant Books. The book was carried in Wal-Mart, Barnes and Noble, and other bookstores nationwide. In 2016, Hatcher self-published Manlihood: The 12 Pillars of Masculinity, which is in the process of being re-released. He also published a book of inspirational quotes for men entitled Wisdom for Men: 500 Chunks of Manly Knowledge, and another book of poetry entitled Sweat, Sawdust, and the Millpond.
Hatcher also runs the website and podcast Manlihood.com, where he focuses on personal development for men. “A lot of my poetry actually is written in a way to be accessible to men. Somewhere along the way, we lost the traditions of the bards and poets, and men have disregarded poetry, when it was once a masculine tradition.”
In his poem “Validation,” Hatcher speaks to men, though he says, the sentiment is universal.
No man is an island. No man is a rock.
I understand you want the whole to acknowledge you. To recognize you. To give you honor, even in the slightest.
But no man can give you
What must come from you.
“I’m really excited about American Poetry for a plethora of reasons. It’s re-ignited my passion for poetry. Since working on it, I’ve written more poems than I had in twenty years,” says Hatcher.
The free book giveaway of American Poetry on Amazon will run until Friday, July 13. Hatcher hopes that the book will be read and enjoyed by many. “I don’t write poetry to get rich or famous. That usually only happens to dead poets,” he chuckles, “but if I can use my poems to inspire or brighten the lives of a few readers, than my job is done.”
American Poetry was released in conjunction with another book of poetry, To Turn the Pen: Begin Again Every Time written by his daughter, Michaelah Hatcher, which is also available on Amazon.
In honor of International Women’s Day, I’ve written a poem for women, today.
I may not be a fan of much of the way that the modern feminist movement has become politicized – but I believe strongly that women are amazing, and equal.
She is a diamond. She is gold. She is a ruby.
She is a treasure, a daughter, a princess.
Heed this, Washington!
You have politicized and ostracized her.
Lined her up in both aisles, stirred up her angers to float your own agendas.
I’m not just calling out one aisle or one house.
I’m not just calling out the presidential, the judicial, or the legislative branches.
You are all users, pushers, and you play her like an organ, like a flute.
Your monuments are full of men. Your halls are full of men. And yet you use her to secure your offices. You dress her up in a pantsuit or with a protest sign and tell her what to chant.
You strip her of her voice and her vote. Meanwhile you pad your cushy office with her cash, while she forwards you calls.
She is a diamond. She is gold. She is a ruby.
She is a treasure, a daughter, a princess.
Heed this, Hollywood!
You have painted her, sculpted her, and cast her for a mold for your assembly line.
She was young, and beautiful, but you told her she was not.
She was pure and innocent, but you awakened and corrupted her – and told her it was empowerment.
Convinced her her value was in red lips, swaying hips, and some other color hair.
You told her that to be bare is to be in charge.
You told her that to be touched is to be loved.
You told her that the old ways are wicked, and that it’s good for her to accept your perverted gaze and your dirty intentions.
No, her innocence was not weakness. Her patience and virtue were good. But you convinced her to trade them for love, but what you offered her wasn’t love at all!
Her beauty didn’t need greasepaint.
Her lips did not need puffed, nor her eyebrows plucked. Her hips were not too wide.
She is a diamond. She is gold. She is a ruby.
She is a treasure, a daughter, a princess.
Heed this, Wall Street!
She is not a demographic. She is not a figure in a spreadsheet. She is not of lesser value than any man.
You told her she has no place among the elite. And when you granted her a place, you used it to show her off as a trophy, as proof of your progress, and yet in the back room, you gambled her savings on bloated houses, and you resigned with her pension.
Heed this, Woman!
You are a diamond. You are gold. You are a ruby.
You are a treasure, a daughter, a princess.
Probably way more important than the curriculum you are being tested on is the lessons you learn about time management, stress management, and maybe even learning how to recover from failure. Education is “training” for life. But in the end – passing a calculus final or completing that final research paper, no matter how stressful it may be – means nothing compared to the man going through chemo, or the woman whose husband is leaving her and the kids, or the mother who lost a child to addiction.
As Twin Tiers residents drum up holiday cheer this December, a lack of snow certainly isn’t dampening the mood. We thought we’d give you some tongue-in-cheek decorating advice, so that you can deck your halls with a some solid tips, and a few laughs.
DO —Upgrade your lights!
LED’s are becoming more affordable every year. They glow brighter, use less electricity, and the bulbs last longer than the little incandescent lights.
DON’T — Throw out your old ones just yet.
Especially if they’re still working. Go ahead and replace the strands that aren’t lit up, but if they still light up — more lights means you have a better chance of being the brightest house on the block. Besides, your mother taught you not to waste perfectly good things. You really don’t want a lecture from here over Christmas dinner, right?
DO — Check your light bulbs individually.
If you have the time, and want to get that half-lit strand working, go through the strand, one bulb at a time, removing it, and replacing it with a new bulb. If there is only one dead light, this method should find it. Multiple dead bulbs are usually harder to find.
DON’T — Try to remove bulbs with your teeth.
This almost sounds like useless advice. The kind of statement that doesn’t really need to be said, until you actually try to remove the bulbs by hand. Inevitably, a hard to remove bulb will frustrate you, and you may be tempted to try to gain a little leverage by using your teeth. This is not a good idea, and it will create an immediate and striking painful sensation in your face. It may not be as painful as getting tazed by a police officer, but it is a similar sensation.
DO — Use inflatables!
Lighted inflatable lawn decorations are all the rage, in fact, one house on Looker Mountain Trail in Rixford has more than a hundred of them!
DON’T — Forget to stake them down.
Imagine the horror of a dozen inflatable cartoon characters in Santa hats colliding with a pick-up truck driving by after a wind gust.
DO — Decorate your yard with reindeer!
Reindeer are cute, and a very popular holiday decoration.
DON’T — Be surprised if your deer is shot by a hunter.
You may want to make sure your deer is covered in lights, or obviously cartoonish, to prevent an overzealous hunter from taking a shot.
DO — Put a light up Santa in your yard!
Light up Santa Claus decorations have been around for a long time. Some vintage decorations are actually worth a lot of money!
DON’T — Use a seated Santa.
Or else your yard will suddenly be filled with a long queue of school children waiting to sit on his lap.
DO — Use plastic hangers for outside decorations.
They are affordable, and easy to use. They’re also easy to remove, which will make a big difference if you are trying to remove them in ice and snow after the holidays. They don’t damage your shingles or siding, and they help mount the lights evenly.
DON’T — Use nails or screws to hang lights.
For a few reasons. The first, is that if you try to drive a nail or screw a nail in between the wires, you may nick the wire and damage the lights. The other, is that if you wrap the wire around a nail, you may create another unwanted consequence. If you remember from science class, a wire carrying electric current wrapped around a piece of metal creates an electromagnet. Considering the number of nails and wires you’ve used to hang your lights, you are dealing with multiple electromagnetic currents. This could cause an electromagnetic field to resonate with the fillings in your teeth, and you start to pick up a radio signal in your head.
DO — Set up a nativity scene
Christians and non-Christians alike can appreciate the story of the birth of Jesus — whether you view it as myth or gospel-truth, it’s a good reminder that Christmas isn’t just about gifts, cookies, and office parties. There is more to the story, and it involved peace, love, and a powerful story about a baby born in a feeding trough.
DON’T — Be THAT guy.
You know — the one that gets offended when someone wishes him “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Because nothing says, “Jesus is the reason” like an good old fashioned store boycott, or a rude exchange with a stranger! Let’s let peace on earth and goodwill to men be at the center of whatever holiday it is that we celebrate this season.
Phillipians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
After scrolling through my facebook feed and seeing all of the anxiety and fear and stress about the election –
I thought this was a fitting reminder.
In a day and age when we view anxiety as a condition (and I’m not trying to downplay the clinical condition that we call anxiety) I fear we hear this exortation and we hear what sounds like an impossible task.
Let’s call the condition of “anxiety” something else – it may need to be treated with therapy or medication…
But the majority of Americans don’t have such a condition – they have a choice.
You choose what you feel. You choose what you think. You choose what you believe.
And if you don’t LIKE what you feel, think, or believe – there are some clear directives for what to do about it.
Let me give you the “Hatcher Translation” of the above scripture.
Take Joy in God all the time. Yeah. Did you hear me? Take joy!
Make sure that everyone that comes into contact with you sees your kindness. Because God is close.
Don’t worry or stress about anything, instead, no matter what’s going on, talk to God about it, thanking Him, and telling your concerns.
If you do that – he’ll give you a peace that you can’t even begin to understand will be like the secret service for your thoughts and emotions – guarding them to remain close to Jesus.
to sum it up, y’all –
Here’s a list of things to think about if you want to cultivate that peace.
Stuff that is true
Stuff that is good
Stuff that is right
Stuff that is pure
Stuff that is lovely
Stuff that is admirable
Stuff that is done well and that people can say good things about.
Just like I taught you.
God is peace. And He is close.
On a cool misty morning,
the spritz of rain accompanied by the decrescendo of the orange October temperature,
makes gray the vibrant reds and burgundies as they hang on to their hardwoods.
The dust cloud behind the humming street sweeper is knocked down, and instead becomes a trail of brackish oily froth. He hums along, erasing a year’s worth of road grime – or at least relocating it to the curb.
And the little boys, with tousled blonde curls, ready to climb and leap and play in the cool autumn morning are imprisoned by bars of near icy mist and currents of water dripping from the roofs.
“Why can’t I go outside, mother? Why is the sun not shining?”
And the mothers, at least the wisest of mothers, with their infinite knowledge of what happens above the clouds, and on the other side of the earth while their sons are sleeping, tell the little boys,
“Sons, the sun is always shining. He is always shining somewhere.”