Intensely looking for Fun…

My closest friends, my Pastors, my covenant relationships have all told me in the last year a continuous theme:

“You need to have fun”…

I suppose its due to my nature which is a combination of a highly strategic prophetic persona mixed with a heavy dose of “High D” or dominant behavior tendency…my natural and adaptive scores on the DISC test are 99 and 100% Dominant respectively…so I’m a driven individual with a strong desire to create strategies and solutions and apparently I have no idea how to have fun…

So I want to explore that a little…

Knowing my drive as a “D” means I score really high in competition I think I need to approach this by removing competitive elements out of the equation…I know myself well enough to realize that if I go try to do something recreational that involves “points, score, or ranking”…I will soon turn it into a breakneck race to the top and will avoid the fun part of it while trampling on others in my pursuit…which is obviously “no fun” when I finish…

So eliminating that aspect of it kinda removes most of the sports activities I would generally get involved in…and unfortunately my history proves this to be true, anyone who has played me in table tennis (or “ping pong” as its is referred to by people who have fun playing it) can attest, my competitive nature has a tendency to over-ride the simple pleasure of getting the ball over the net and I can’t seem to do it without burning a hole in the other persons paddle…

This is the first road-sign for my journey to successful fun: obviously it needs to be fun for other people as well…which means I need to stay out of the competitive arena…this eliminates a whole lotta of stuff that most men my age are doing…but I do want to learn so I’m willing to handicap myself in the process.


The other side of this “no war” approach to fun is the balance that comes from my friends in the audio industry…one of the engineers I know has a saying…”If everything’s BIG, then nothing is BIG”…the idea being that value and significance come from uniqueness, in other words “Hey lets do the dishes, that would be fun!”…is not really fun because we do the dishes all the time, they are always big, so today they are not anymore fun than yesterday…because…well they always are…


There is a part of me that can enjoy the mundane, the boring, (I’ll demonstrate that in a bit) but honestly as a single male coming home to a quiet house every night stops being fun…because …well its every night…I know there is a certain pleasure in routine, and some of it even qualifies as fun…but we have to define what can make the mundane “big” or other ordinary, rather than always ordinary…not sure I get that one yet…it could be the “alone” factor at play here…but without a lab partner the hypothesis cannot be verified.


So here are the area’s I currently look at to discover fun:


Science and technology: Nope, I compete to stay ahead of the curve on this stuff and usually am


Music: My own is a product of intensity, it is usually born out worship/prayer  and what isn’t, is a product of driving to excellence, I do play for pleasure and most of that happens naturally…late at night on my own…so its sorta fun…but it doesn’t seem to translate into the world of my relationships outside of a worship environment…so I gotta place a “no” here as well.


This kinda drags me into a discussion I wasn’t ready for…how much fun can you have by yourself before its no fun, and why doesn’t that make you a “fun” person to be around…?


See the issue I am being told about is I need to have fun because I am to intense around other people…so its not that I don’t have fun alone, its that I am not fun because I don’t let others relax or something bizarre in that range of understanding that I haven’t gotten a clue about yet…


And this confuses me a little…do I need to “have ” fun, or do I need to “be” fun…


I suppose I am a bit intense, but I do try to keep things light, I guess it comes down to learning to shut off the side of me that wants to strategize, conquer, overcome, and generally drive people to the next level at a really fast pace…


So back to my list:

The list is pointless now because its not about me its about how I engage others…


And I think the best way for me to approach this is to change my environment variable a little to help me reset how I engage…most people want me in relationship for a certain level of the intensity I bring, so dinner, or lunch almost always involves a process of encouragement and me pushing people to believe beyond the current mindset…its what I do, I always bring a different perspective and unfortunately my viewpoint is almost always rather intense…(if not downright extreme to the average mind)…


Which means going to lunch and or dinner is only fun with me if we avoid intense topics which means shallow conversation about the weather…yep I can see loads of fun in my future…after awhile everything gets big again and nothing is big…but at least everyone else is having fun…


I do realize I need to turn off the “Goes to Eleven” setting on my intensity amp and allow people to engage with me at their own pace, I am not faulting anyone for not enjoying the breakneck intensity that comes with a relationship with me, but I also get to be me at some part of the equation and a certain level of this seems like the drive for fun is a one sided deal that I don’t get to have, what if strategy is how I get my fun?


Just a question…no need to answer it ….


So back to my strategy of becoming fun…


I think the best way to do this for my personality is change the environment where I engage…create a “fun zone”  where I am not competing, am not strategical, don’t need to adjust perspective, really don’t need to be much more than a compadre spectator letting others enjoy my lack of intensity…


So here’s a new list:


Shopping (as an observer)….absolutely impossible for me to analyze, make strategy, or actually engage beyond “Yes I like that one”…

I know this because I did it for four girls and prom dresses and homecoming outfits and many other times…my opinion was only a window dressing to the experience, and I have to say I did rather enjoy the journey of discovery, its a bit like watching a lioness in her natural environment hunting for the prey, stalking each and every rack and row for the perfect item that only she and she alone understood the true nature of the chase…I can do this but not alone…


Ballroom Dancing (as a student)…I have no skill in this arena, and there is no drive in me to become a champion ballroom dancer, it just seems like it would be fun because I would probably be terrible at it and would enjoy laughing at myself in the futility of it all,and it would be a great opportunity for others to see that I don’t take myself nearly as seriously as they do…again no fun for me if I’m the only one laughing at me…


Motorcycle Picnics (as a driver) because it would be virtually impossible for anyone to take you seriously when you have bugs stuck all over your face…and the open air and road seems fun and the idea of driving a motorcycle again has enough intensity in it to drain away any other need to be intense…just saying…and who doesn’t like a picnic?


Symphony/Arts/Concerts (as a listener/observer)…
hmmmm….seems like I’ve tried this but didn’t get the vote here…apparently I either analyze or push to much…so I need to try this with different subjects before I decide that I am a failure at this kind of fun…I know I enjoy it, and it relaxes me, but not by myself…


Of course all of these things now sound like “dates” which isn’t really an issue to me, a date actually sounds like a great place to have fun, but I’m not sure that this is what the target is, actually in some cases I know this is not the target, but I’m not sure how to be less intense without becoming some sort of total bore…which seems counter-productive to being “fun”…unless as I have suggested I change the environment for me to be myself in…


So I think it comes down to either changing my environment or changing me…(something I’m not sure I’m capable of without being rather intense about it)…


I think what makes this difficult for me is that others don’t really get to see the less than intense side of me that happens away from where we normally engage…


One of the reasons I like coffee is everyday, I stop and enjoy one cup…I drink lots, but there’s always one cup that I pause to simply enjoy, I drink it slower and I smile because I know God made it for me and me for it…(no one ever see’s this) that seems a little fun for me even if no one knows…


I have a song or two that I sing to God and God alone, and then there’s this crazy dance I dance when no one is watching, its totally uncoordinated and more like skipping than anything else and I’ve nearly broken three guitars doing it…(and I always lock the doors and check the windows before I cut loose)…that seems fun to me…but somehow that person never gets to engage with others and he’s frankly a bit of a nut…


I sometimes talk to my food when I’m alone “Thank you Mister fish for giving your life to make me feel yummy, and Mr. Croissant, I ate your mom you know, come and join her…” of course this behavior would get me in trouble if others saw it, but it seems rather fun to me…


For some reason little kids think I’m fun…apparently I know how to turn off the intense setting for them…sigh…


I sometimes go outside in my pajamas and stretch out on the hood and look at the stars…nothing intense there, just gazing absent-mindedly for an hour then back into the warm bed…


I watch a lot of cartoons…really I do…just because they make me laugh…but see that’s not something we do as adults…because well for others it apparently is no fun…(why is that?)…


If you’ve ever heard me on the phone with tech help you’d know I’m really fun…the last time I actually got the girl to admit she was in the Philippines and she said “God Bless You Sir” at the end of the 3 hour call and the entire time I was teasing her about her job and how wonderful she was at it…that seems like a lot of fun to me…I mean whats more intense than a three hour phone call to “tech” as you’re trying to get the computers to connect…and I had fun, and I think she did too…


But I guess I have no idea how to be or have fun…sheesh I must have missed school that day because I just don’t seem to get it…


I guess in my quest to discover fun I have to discover this about myself…I might not be as “intense” as I am maybe “extreme”…

…maybe I was born to live on the edges and everyone else lives in the middle…I like the edge…God lives near here…not many people come around these parts…so the air is cleaner…


But ultimately I guess I need to learn to live a little nearer the “middle”….


And be a bit less “intense” or as we now know “extreme”…


And make it fun for others…


I’m going to try…


Really hard…


And am also taking applications for anyone interested in my list…


But it’s not a date…


That’s no fun…





Can single men and women be friends?

I have four very powerful daughters, they are women in their own right and I have watched as each one has developed her own style, persona, and identity while navigating adulthood.


As each daughter evolved, her friendships evolved as well, from the cradle to the covenant I have watched, warned and welcomed three of my daughters friends and as the girls grew from friends to partners in life with their husbands I have seen a change in the dynamic that started as buddies hanging out transform into something deep and connected (but the buddy part still remains and is beautiful now).


With each one of my girls I have had to sit down and do the “guys and girls can’t be friends” talk…each one of my girls protested and denied it only to come to the same conclusion eventually. The three who are married will reaffirm the basic mantra that friendship between the sexes is a limited endeavor because of the primary differences in our identities as male and female, but this is not a conclusion they came to without understanding it from a male perspective, I had to tell them repeatedly that the guys whom they assumed were just their friends were actually not wired to remain that way…and each time they protested, but eventually my perspective became the obvious truth of the situation regardless of how hard they tried to avoid it.


I cannot speak for the women, because I am not female, but I can testify of the male side of the equation, and I think this is the side where the primary problem lies.

In Genesis when God created man, he created them originally as “mankind”, (to help with semantics), the original vignette has them being created together and the dominion mandate to be fruitful and multiply was handed to “mankind”…


But then we have the story where God interrupts the creation and says “It is not good for the man to be alone”…and then there’s the whole naming of the animals event, and in that process it says ” a help meet suitable was not found for him…”


This is an interesting play of events because one of the issues at stake here that always comes up in the dialogue is loneliness…


When God said it was not good for the man to be alone, He did not say “Its not good for him to be lonely”, there’s a big difference  between the biblical alone, and loneliness…and this is at the core of the friendship problem.


My girls all assumed that if a guy was lonely he just needed a friend, and that’s why friendship could work out, because from a female perspective if you are lonely, hey just go get a friend, problem solved…

But the issue is not about companionship which would be easy to assume if he were “lonely”no instead the issue goes to the core of who a man is and his assignment, he is “alone” and its not good…if he were lonely a dog would do the trick, but if he had an assignment, say build a road from A to B and he is “alone” then the dynamic changes… 

There is a core difference in how the sexes approach relationships that never really gets noticed but when I say it you might agree (this is just my own personal observation)…

Women create relationships for environment, men create them for identity…thats why candles, lights and pillows are important to women they are always creating environment to help facilitate a sense of well being and steadfastness…you want to mess with a womans world mess up her stability, and if you really want to tick her off use the guest towels to clean up your greasy hands…you’ve destroyed environment for her its not about towels, they can be replaced, its about something deeper than decorations…(if you want to see a disaster let me be the one setting the environment, I know what I don’t like and that is the sum total of my skill set in that arena).


Men are connecting for a different reason, and that is to identify, its more about territory and boundaries, and environment really doesn’t matter so much that’s why men gravitate around teams and events, they don’t really need stability, they need to identify and become part of something, they can do this on a tailgate waiting for the game to start, they really don’t look for environment they look for sameness…(but not exact sameness, not uniformity, they are searching for something that is the same as a rib gone missing on the inside of them…its a bit hard to explain)…


These two approaches are actually perfect together…but are different in value to the other sex…


Friendship for a man is not as much about relationship as it is about identity…the old saying you can tell a man by the company he keeps is primarily about how men approach relationships and at the core it is about identity and not about emotional connection…


And most of the time my girls just wanted the social connection that could meet some of the emotional need that they had, so a no strings attached relationship was ideal and expected, why not, because women in general are wired for emotional connection and you can do a lot of that by just hanging out together…so for my girls, it was a major hurdle to understand that men are not simply “lonely”…they are created “alone” and in need of something more than a friend.


Frankly I never really expected my girls to understand this anymore than I could understand what the emotional feeling of going through a period was like, its not something that you can understand with simple information, unless you are male, you just won’t get it because language is inadequate to describe what the “alone” part is all about.

When you make a friendship only about the emotional connection for a man, you have stripped away some of his identity in the process…


So this is about the place I expect a religious response like “Well the bible says I am complete in Christ”, or “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”…good verses…lets talk context…


If you are complete in Christ, then you don’t need Apostles, Prophets, teachers, etc…if this verse can be lifted out of context to mean whatever we want then it can be used to say I don’t need anyone since I am complete in Him, which means I don’t need the church or relationships, or…you get the drift. 

And to say “I can do all things through Christ”, well can I as a man carry a baby for nine months and give birth? IF I can do all things then yes, but the context is what makes the verse powerful, God is not granting a free pass from reality with this verse and we shouldn’t either.


The reason I address this is because many times the standard answer to the “alone” issue is “You are complete in Christ” implying that I am whole and don’t need anything…which is simply not true…if God makes a man to be alone until he finds his Eve, then until he finds her he is incomplete…period.

So the standard next response is ‘Well God will fill your need until its time”…again…NOT TRUE…if God makes a vacancy inside you that was meant to be connected to another person, and then fills it up with Himself, He has violated what He was doing in the first place…God will not fill a spot designed for another person just so the man can feel better…sorry it won’t happen and anyone who says it does is lying.


So what does all of this “alone-ness” have to do with friendship between the sexes?


I have firm conviction that every relationship needs a vision, a purpose and ultimate goal, and men in general are driven to conquer, to accomplish they are task driven by nature, but they also need stability, consistency, a sense of comfort and the familiar.


This might seem at odds with the very nature of relationships, but it is actually a very essential element in any healthy friendship, a good relationship needs to grow and evolve and develop new depth and deeper connections, because anything alive must grow, the minute you stop growth atrophy and worse sets in.


This is where the male element is so powerful, a healthy man will want to take a relationship deeper, stronger and he will be willing to conquer anything to get it there, he is motivated in his core to accomplish something even in his relationships.

(And more times than not an unfortunate side effect of marriage is that the male stops pursuing depth, value and improvement, he actually “shuts down” who he is because in his mind he won the girl, task accomplished… but the goal was never supposed to be win the girl, the goal is to win the girl then connect, win the girl connect, win the girl connect…etc…only same girl every time…how many marriages do we see where environment and identity have slipped into some comatose state because our culture has framed the conversation rather than our Heavenly Father?)


Women on the other hand are wired for consistency, stability, dependability, steadfastness, these are the descriptors that help us see the differences in the sexes, even our muscles reflect this basic design, mens muscles are designed for powerful force events, while womens are designed for longevity, endurance, stability…and we need both.


Just as it would be unfair and unreasonable to expect a woman to be in a relationship that was volatile, unstable, inconsistent and unpredictable, it is unfair to expect a man to be in a relationship that has no potential for growth, no hope for change, nothing to accomplish but just hanging out…


Its wrong to expect a woman to be in a relationship without the female side, and it is equally wrong to expect a man to be in a relationship without the male side.


And this is where the rubber meets the road in the friendship debate, if a guy is truly wired as a male then he is “alone” and will be continuously searching for that part that can connect to his vacancy, even if he does not do it consciously, he will be doing it subconsciously, and many times my girls would say “Oh he says we’re just friends”, but if he’s wired the way God made him then ultimately he will seek to take the relationship into new territory, he will seek to conquer, and fill a vacant spot created by God…and this is what he is designed to do, there is nothing wrong, perverted or shallow about it.

Our current culture tells us a different story though, we assume that women and men need the same things in a friendship, and hanging out will solve the issue, lets just get along and be friends and you won’t be lonely, but lonely is not the problem if it were the animals would have been enough, its a vacancy created by God meant to be filled by something very much like God, (but not quite God)…see the word “help + meet” actually means “deliverer/savior/helper/+ in my face” … (this is closer to the actual definition of help-meet than the way we use the word)

This is a lot more than a friend and any man in touch with who he is knows this, because this speaks to the identity issue in him, this helps him connect to his assignment in ways that being best buddies can never do, its about finding that connection to help him build that road from A to B…there is a sameness in another he is looking for that he might have to draw out but he’s aware of it because it resonates with something in him that no one else can see…


Well what about Jesus, he had friends that were women…really? I see him empowering women, I see him honoring women like no one had ever done, it would be the equivalent of going into Afghanistan and changing the entire culture to make women powerful, but I do not find one verse where it says he was friends with women…there were women who ministered to him, I believe he lifted women up to the stature that was in original design, but frankly even the culture of his day prevented the kind of freedom for women that the Kingdom is bringing…


So what am I saying, am I suggesting that single men and women cannot be friends…?

That depends on the definition…

What is it that men expect?

What is it that women expect?


One of these things is not like the other…


So who is responsible to adapt?


Is it fair to only expect one side to change expectation?


Good questions…you decide…

I think they can be acquaintances, I think they can hang out and do things together, perhaps work on a projects, but at some point any real man is going to need two things, he is going to want to take the relationship into new territory and he is going to need to fill the vacancy that God created inside him, and when he reaches an impasse in those arenas he will lose interest and motivation for the relationship, he cannot help it, it is the way he is designed…at best he will accommodate a social construct so as not to appear shallow, but he will be discouraged and ultimately it will damage his capacity to trust and hope for something more…


The difficult part is that most women don’t really see this, our culture does not allow for men to have needs, but if you go back to the garden, it was the man who had the first need of all creation…it was the very first “not good” God ever said…but we aren’t allowed to talk about it…


If you want proof just look at a married man…how many single women are his close friends? How driven is he to connect and engage with single women, how many times do you see a married man hanging out being buddies with single women?


Never.


If you do there’s trouble brewing, and you know it.


So if a married man cannot do this, because its not natural, then why do we assume a single man can?


Think about it, you’ll get it…and if you know of single men who seem to be able to do it, there is either a huge amount of discipline combined with internal conflict, or there is something unnatural happening…because they were not designed to ignore the “alone” and not good part…

Gods the one who said its not good for man to be alone (not lonely), why do we think we can change it by substituting a no strings attached relationship?


So is it impossible for there to be single male/female relationships?


No I don’t believe that, but it is very important that we learn to honor our distinctive differences, most men and women  actually are in search of something deeper, its important to recognize that this is a very fragile dynamic, and while it is possible, it also has potential for lots of misunderstanding and we need extra grace to navigate here.


The last thing you should do is devalue women, and the next to the last thing you should do is destroy a mans hope…


She was meant to be adored, and he was meant to conquer something…mess with that and you’ve damaged Gods kids…

*Addendum POST SCRIPT Etc…et al…(or what I’m NOT saying)

After re-reading this today (I actually wrote this quite late) I realize that I might be communicating that men and women cannot have connection and friendship except on a deep level with a heightened sense of purpose, and that all relationships either crash and fade or end up in some kind of covenant defined no-mans land…this is obviously, frankly and irrevocably not true.


I have several women (who are married to my best friends) who are my best friends, the outlier obviously being the boundaries of covenant creates a sphere of safety that allow me the freedom to grow and experience depth in an emotional and healthy connection.


There are a few women that I have friendships with where there is a fairly defined safety zone based on age difference or perhaps “missing mutual chemistry” where we feel safe enough to connect intellectually and occasionally emotionally…


And then there are a few relationships where the respect of our faith and the honor due a fellow traveler allow a restrained connection based on ministry/assignment/or covenant family.


Within all of these relationships I am seeking to edify, build, empower and connect as fully human and and fully male as decorum, dignity, and design allow…so I am not saying that emotional connection is impossible, because it happens frequently and I am always the richer person for making that connection as valid and mutually beneficial as is possible…

…but in my core…

…I am always looking for an echo….


…like a dolphin sending out sonar…


…there is an unscripted and unspoken message waiting for a response…


Something has gone missing inside me and whether I choose it or not part of me is looking for a sameness and the only place to search is in the arena of friends I have (or don’t have yet)…and when I don’t hear the echo a part of me is driven to move on into deeper waters,  to conquer the unknown and the unfamiliar…I have an assignment and I need someone in my face that reminds me of God…my identity needs the reminder…more than anyone knows…


 So I love the fact that women and men are different, are motivated differently, move at different emotional paces, think from different approaches and have diverse ways of expressing many of the same experiences…and I would not know this if connection were not possible outside of some marriage box…


I am assuming that when I talk about friendship it is understood that every relationship must start first as friends and ultimately stay there albeit much richer, there is nothing wrong with being friends, it is the canvas upon which we paint our deeper connections…


And when I truly think about it…the person you pursue for the deeper connections in life should ultimately be your very best friend or it would be weird….


Hope that “splains” it more better…