I heard them board the airplane before I saw them. A mother was pushing one toddler in front of her and dragging another behind. The only available seats were the three right in front of me.
Before this week, I had never considered childproof locks on airline seatbelts. Now, I’m certain there’s a market for them. I would have bought one.
(Picture: Meet Theo.)
For more than two straight hours I watched the younger son—who reminded me of Bugs Bunny’s Tasmanian devil—jump, flail, thrash, flap, flop, hop, laugh—but mostly, scream. I don’t remember the name of the older son.
But I’ll never forget the Tasmanian devil’s name: “Theo.” I know because I heard it 863 times.
Absolutely undaunted, the mother used her large voice without embarrassment to correct Theo. She also informed the rest of us what was about to happen.
Once after Theo took his crayon and marked on the wall of the airplane (see the mark on the wall at left?), she jerked him from the window seat and announced to the rest of us, “Sorry about the screaming for the next 10 minutes, folks!” She was right. Little Theo let us have it.
First, Second, and Third Reactions
- My first reaction was to wonder why the mother hadn’t brought along a gallon of Tylenol PM. (If not for Theo, then for the rest of us.)
- My second reaction to this irritation was—I confess—frustration and resentment. After all, I paid just as much for my loud seat as the lucky people in the quiet part of the plane.
- But my third reaction took my attitude in a completely different direction.
God boarded the plane at that moment and somehow found room in my narrow heart.
Close one eye and look closely at a marble. It seems massive. In fact, the marble is all you see. It dwarfs everything else. But its size is an illusion.
A basketball is bigger. The planet earth is even bigger. Come to think of it, God is infinitely bigger than your marble. Your problems are like that.
(Photo by Sarah Charlesworth, CC-BY-SA-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
Life is filled with marbles. When you fixate on your marbles, you can’t see the reality that they are small in comparison to God’s power.
Sure, they’re real. Of course they hurt. But your life is more than your problems, just as the world is more than your marbles. Or it can be. You can stop staring at your marbles. You only need to sit up, blink a few times, and look around.
God is much bigger than your marbles.
When I first picked up this book, I assumed it would be a lighthearted look at rejection. (Though, I’m not sure how.) It wasn’t.
Instead, Downside Up connected with the ugly reality we face in relationships. In some way, rejection has cut us all—leaving scars of all sizes—and some of us still bleed every day in our work, marriages, friends, churches, and even written correspondence.
Sometimes others’ rejection of us is intentional, but occasionally, it also represents our own inflated sensitivity. Regardless, the rejection we feel is real. By the way, I guess I could feel rejected as a man that the book seems to address women primarily (as does the promo video above), but there’s a lot here for men too.
Tracey Mitchell’s book does more than examine rejection from these various avenues of entry. Each chapter concludes with elements that I found the most helpful parts of the book:
- Chapter Principles—if you read nothing but these, you’d get a good, general sense of the chapter’s contents as well as some great takeaways for application and renewing the mind against the raw feelings that rejection often brings. Super, super stuff here. These little nuggets are the best part of the book.
- Words of Wisdom—offers a simple Bible verse that relates to the chapter’s theme. Good for memorization and even better for meditation.
- Power Quote—a quote from various individuals that says in a few words something worth thinking about.
- Plan of Action—offers a direct application to do what the book’s title says we should do with rejection: turn it upside-down.
My opinion was turned upside down after I read Downside Up.
If rejection is something that’s eating you, you’ll find encouragement here.
By the way, I received this book from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® book review bloggers program. The review is my honest opinion. The FTC requires I tell you. See 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Have you ever noticed how we dedicate so much time and money to feed feelings that last only a moment?
We plunk down twenty bucks for a movie (and even more for popcorn), and it’s over in two hours. We long for that glorious vacation but come home in a week to face the same daily grind. We enjoy the zing of a new relationship or a new church fellowship only to discover it’s just like the last one.
Now, nothing’s wrong with any of these activities, per se. But when joy and satisfaction in life elude us, we need to ask an obvious question with a not-so-obvious answer:
How do I deal with the futility of life when my satisfaction always fades?
Eventually we figure out we can’t exist for the next relationship or vacation or pat on the back. Instead, we need to learn to live for what never fades and what always satisfies.
In order to find lasting satisfaction in a temporary life, the Lord challenges us to look beyond the moment and to love what lasts.
A father walked into the room to see his young son with his hand inside an expensive vase. The boy explained that he had dropped a penny in the vase. Now his hand was stuck.
The dad tried everything to free his son’s hand, but it was no use. It was wedged tight. Finally, the father grabbed a hammer to break the vase.
“Wait, Daddy!” the frightened boy said. “Would it help if I just let go of the penny?”
That story shows more than the mind of a naïve child. It illustrates the baffling priorities we cling to—no matter how old we get.
You know what I mean. We often find ourselves at the breaking point of something valuable because we refuse to release something trivial. We cling to our pennies and break our vases.
And very often, those vases are our relationships.
The best-known Bible verse used to be John 3:16. But those days are gone.
Our culture has a new favorite. In fact, it has become the trump card played to justify any and every lifestyle. It’s even a quote from Jesus.
Judge not lest ye be judged. —Matthew 7:1
Hey, who can argue with Jesus—right? The verse is taken to mean nobody has the right to judge anybody for anything at any time.
The problem? The verse has a context.
When Jesus spoke these words on the slopes surrounding the Sea of Galilee, He wasn’t saying never to judge.
He simply warned about doing it the wrong way—by telling us how to make judgments the right way.
And believe me, it ain’t easy.
We all need people to influence us. God made us that way.
From the languages we speak to the character we develop—it all begins with those who surround us in our formative years.
It starts with our environment, but it shouldn’t end there. It cannot.
When it does, it’s tragic. That was the case with King Joash.
But it doesn’t have to be that way with us.
All godly fathers want to pass on a love for godly truths to their children.
I Call Shotgun is a collection of 64 “letters” from authors and fathers Tommy Newberry and Curt Beavers to their sons.
There are plenty of imitation sources of wisdom that are ready to offer ungodly alternatives to our children. By design, fathers are essential to impart godliness in their words and their actions.
This book purposes to impart wisdom through words.
“You only get one shot at life, son.” That’s a great summary of the book’s goal: to equip a son for life.
The introduction is necessary reading in order to make sense of the book. For example, without the introduction the text messages suggestions appear as pull quotes and don’t always relate to the content surrounding it.
Although the book is written from fathers to sons, the authors address other fathers in the introduction this way:
We are confident that you want to equip your son with the understanding and wisdom to succeed in the world today. We wrote this book with you [fathers] in mind.
Some Great Navigation
The letters serve as a catalyst for fathers to write their own letters to their sons, in order to help pass on a godly heritage.
The book’s title, I Call Shotgun, probably refers to the common phrase that requests someone who’ll ride beside the driver—perhaps as a navigator. The subtitle reflects this implication: Lessons from Dad for Navigating the Roads of Life.
Here are a few parts of the book I liked that offer helpful navigation for life:
You can live better than your parents did. Or you can live worse. It’s true.
Growing up in a godly home is no guarantee you’ll follow God. But it’s also true that a godless home doesn’t doom you to a failed life.
I know of one young man who had as his goal to be a better father than his father was to him. And he did it.
But then he realized that wasn’t enough.
Being better than your parents is doable, sure, but it’s the wrong goal.
I never thought the Lord’s Prayer would relate to anger.
That’s probably because we usually associate the prayer with that flowery, feel-good moment in a service when we all pray the words together (though we’re never real sure whether to say “debts” or “trespasses”).
But the prayer relates to anger?
(Photo by via Andy Dean Photography, via Vivozoom)
It relates especially when we find ourselves asking, Why am I angry all the time? Especially in my relationships?
It’s tough to see the Lord’s prayer helping much with anger. But it does.