Let's Go Below The Surface, Shall We?

I decided about a week ago that it was time for me to write another blog. It had been about a month since my last post and I just thought that I should just hurry up and get something else out there. I did what I usually do when I get ready to write. I found a nice quiet place, got out my yellow legal pad and my favorite pen, grabbed the dictionary (which I use often), and sat there for a moment thinking about what might be a good topic. The word “passion” kept popping into my head. I decided that’s as good a topic as any, so let’s write about passion. And write I did!

I spent the next 5-6 hours writing about what I thought passion was all about, and about what it meant to me. I was passionate about this! I was passionate about that! I was passionate about a lot of things. I thought, WOW, I’m a very passionate kinda guy. I had several pages put together about all the things that I was passionate about . I wrapped the whole thing up with some nice quotes from some famous people, added some remarks on how we can all find our passion in life, and signed my name to it.

Boy, was I proud of myself. I had put together another blog that I could share with the world, and now I could go and sit down and relax and watch the football game.

Janet, my wife, my rock, my best friend and my biggest supporter, had just gotten home from running some errands with our good friend, Bre. I asked them if they would please read the blog before I posted it (which Janet always does). A mere formality because, of course, I was passionate about this blog.

Thirty minutes or so went by and I went into the kitchen where they were hanging out and said, “Well, ready to post?” The looks that they both gave me were not what I was expecting, looking for, or had anticipated.

One of the reasons why I love Janet so much is because she is brutally honest with me. Always! She always lets me know exactly how she feels. She pulls no punches with me, or with anyone else. And she punched me right in the gut on this one.

“John”, she said, “what is this about? What does it even mean? You listed off a bunch of things and activities that you get excited about, but this is not passion. Everything that you just wrote on this paper is surface stuff. None of it comes from the heart. Passion is from the heart. You need to go below the surface. You need to share your heart, your feelings, your deepest thoughts with the reader. You need to drop a few layers of protection and get that ‘tough’ man in you out of the way.”

Okay then, I thought, that was brutally honest!!!

I thank God every day for Janet. I thank Him for putting someone in my life who is not afraid to speak the truth to me. Someone who doesn’t sugar coat everything just to make me feel good. I thank God that this woman has stood by me for 33 years through thick and thin, good and bad, happy and sad.

I grew up in a household where real feelings were not shared. Hugs were not commonplace, and the words, “I love you”, were seldom said. I grew up in an environment where we never went below the surface. Janet has taught me, and obviously continues to teach me, that I need to go below the surface. She has taught me what it looks like and what it means to open your heart, to bear ones soul. She has shown me how to peel away all of those layers that we put on to protect ourselves and to get down to the real self.

I spent the better part of last week thinking about what it was that I had written in my feeble attempt to describe passion. The more I thought about it, and continued to read it back to myself, the more it reminded me of a very bad Seinfeld episode. I said a lot of things about nothing really important, AND, none of it was even funny.

It became clearer to me as the week progressed as to what it was that Janet was talking about. She knows that when I do open up my heart, and bear my soul, that what I then write about is real, and not sugar coated.

I can’t sugar coat writing about the child that we lost years ago. I can’t sugar coat writing about the struggles that I’ve had in the relationship between my son, John Shay, and myself. I can’t paint a pretty picture about how Janet and I went through counseling on several occasions throughout our marriage and came close to calling it quits a few times.

Writing, I have come to realize, is a special gift that the Lord has given me. It is a gift that allows me to go below the surface. To be able to open up my heart and my soul and to share things which are important and meaningful in my life. It allows for the possibility that others might find some meaning, or connection, or insight into something that they may be going through as well.

When I sat down to write that blog post a week ago I was doing it for the wrong reasons. I was doing it just to get something out there. I was in a hurry and remained completely on the surface.

God, and my wife Janet, continue to remind me and to show me that it is completely okay to be a man AND to have feelings. These two things do not need to be mutually exclusive from each other. Men, just like women, do have tear ducts, and we do cry. We shouldn’t have to do it only when no one else is watching.

I have come to better understand over this past week what I am passionate about. I am passionate about my God. A God who grabbed a hold of my heart on that cold, crisp day back on January 12, 2008. A God who long ago brought a woman into my life who fueled a passion for what it means to have a meaningful relationship, a marriage, a true friendship. A God who allows me, and encourages me, to go below the surface and to share my heart, my soul, and my faith with others. To not be afraid of looking too meek or mild or being concerned that others may perceive you that way.

 

As I continue to read through scripture, and try to understand the life of my savior, Jesus Christ, I find that not only was he a man that was very meek and mild, but also that he was at the same time the greatest warrior that mankind has ever known. I pray that I can continue to strive to be more like Him, and to be able to share my life and my story with others.

This is what I am passionate about, and I am only beginning to scratch below the surface.

Have a blessed day,

John Early
The Shoe Shine Guy