EPISTEMIC HUMILITY

Anyone who knows me knows that I love podcasts.  In fact, I frequently find myself frequently relating conversations to a recently listened to podcast.  A few days ago, I was listening to a podcast where the host was interviewing Megan Phelps-Roper, who was once closely tied to the toxic Westboro Baptist Church.  She is the granddaughter of the late founder, Fred Phelps.  Her story was quite interesting.  While still deeply involved in the church, she became active on twitter on behalf of the institution and it was through people she met online who took the time to hear her out and share their own stories that convinced her she was not where she ought to be.  She eventually found the courage to break free from the church and move away from its negative and oppressive atmosphere.  She now spends her time sharing her story and attempting to make amends with those she once hurt.  A phrase was mentioned in her story that really struck me.  The phrase was epistemic humility.  The word epistemic means relating to knowledge or to the degree of its validation.  Therefore, epistemic humility is having an appreciation for the fact that you don’t know and will never know everything there is to know.  Many of the problems we face today stem from a lack of this understanding.  People are so eager to share their viewpoint, which in their eyes is the only correct viewpoint, without taking the time to listen to others.  Spreading disinformation that makes us feel good just because it aligns with our point of view without researching the facts.  We lack understanding because we don’t take the time to empathize and listen to the experiences of others.  The more that science reveals of the universe, the more mysteries it uncovers, prompting more questions to be answered.  Human beings once thought the sun revolved around the earth.  Then we learned about not only our own solar system but have discovered a plethora of exoplanets circling distant systems among the billions of known stars in the billion of galaxies.  And that is just the tip of the iceberg.  Many scriptural misinterpretations happen when the Bible is taken literally and without the context in which it was meant during the time it was written.  While there is most certainly a wealth of knowledge found in scripture, we can not ignore the book of nature that is laid out before our very eyes.  True followers of Christ would understand that the gist of the Bible is love and if you are closed off to your fellow human beings because of some misinterpreted text then you’ve completely missed the point of why God placed us here to begin with.  The joy of life is found in our differences.  In loving those who God places in our path regardless of skin color, nationality, social standing, dialect, or who they were born being.  Epistemic humility is understanding our finite knowledge as human beings.  I don’t think God intended any of us to ever claim we have arrived or have complete understanding of all things.  Otherwise he wouldn’t have made such an insanely complex universe.  I think that the day we are able to meet our creator we will all be in awe of all that we did NOT know.  We have only scratched the surface of understanding.  So, my takeaway from all of this is to stay humble, love others, be kind, realize that you will never know all things so don’t even pretend to have all the answers.  Take time to listen – I mean really listen – and empathize with others.  I guarantee you will find so many hidden blessings you never even realized were there had you been closed minded.  This is love. 

Pain in Vulnerability

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Mr. Lewis said it best, “To love is to be vulnerable.”  Vulnerability in one sense can lead to a deep, joyful and satisfying relationship.  It’s necessary to foster a loving and stable home.  The rub is that when the rug is pulled out from beneath you, and that foundation you worked so hard to form that you once thought would never be shaken, you’re left feeling alone and heartbroken.  That loving embrace that once held you close and wrapped around you like a warm blanket suddenly disappears and you’re left feeling cold and dead inside.  It’s often such a profound heartache that you feel as though you’ve lost a limb or a death in the family.  It is like a death actually, and you begin going through the various stages of grief.  Loneliness turns to sadness, which turns to depression and then you eventually get to anger.  Anger can harden your heart and may help you get by for a time.  Some get stuck in this stage and they become cold and bitter.  It’s best not to get trapped here.  So you have to try and regain your composure and realize that vulnerability is the only way to not become indignant.  You have to move on of course, it’s the only way forward.  But deep cuts always leave a scar.  You put on your happy face and pretend everything is normal just to get through the day, but inside you’re in turmoil – hiding the pain that is tearing you up inside.  Eventually you will be okay, but never quite the same.  Its changed you in some fundamental way.  The memories and echoes of that time spent together continue on even though the relationship is over.  You can try and forget in order to cope with the day to day, and for a time this will work.  But eventually it’s a familiar scent or a song or some other reminder that assaults you out of nowhere and brings the whole thing crashing back over you like a tsunami.  You become crippled with heartbreak once more, and the process begins again.  But much like an earthquake has mild aftershocks, each time this happens it will become less and less intense.  The memories will fade into the background.  The entire relationship will become a short story you summarize to future friends and acquaintances.  Lessons learned and ways you became a better person through it are used as a guide for something else down the road.  And you eventually become vulnerable to someone else again realizing that opening yourself up gives life its deeper sense of meaning, but can also lead to pain.  Spoken word artist Shane Koyczan writes:  “Pain is a part of this life- it just is.  The worst part about pain isn’t that it hurts, it’s that it’s completely normal.  We’re supposed feel it.  We’re meant to endure difficulty if for no other reason than that it gives us a reference point that allows us to navigate towards something better.”

Summer of change

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It’s been a while since my last blog post and mostly that is because I’ve had so MANY life changes!  At the end of March, I started a new job working as an office manager for True Value.  The RDC where I work is in Corsicana (about an hour south of Dallas).  So, naturally I moved back to Texas and after a brief stay in Garland, I moved permanently to Dallas.  Then in May, I finally accomplished what took me 20 years to finish – I got my degree!  I graduated with honors from Liberty where I had been taking online courses.  My older brother Matt lives in VA, so I was able to fly out and visit him and his family and also walk the stage for my graduation.  It was an emotional time and needless to say I felt very proud of my accomplishment.  So I guess you could say I have come full circle from where I was a couple years ago.  I feel so blessed and I’m proud of how far I’ve come.  I’m excited to see what’s next – the future is bright!

Another Year and a New Chapter

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Monday was my 41st birthday.  Many times I was asked, as we all are on our birthdays, “how does it feel to be another year older?”  The canned answer given was “no different.”   And that is mostly true.  However, aside from “feelings” I can honestly say that I AM different.  The past few years have not been kind to me in many areas.  Some were my fault, many were not.  But through these struggles, I have been incrementally changing in fundamental ways.  It’s not in the easy times that we grow, its in the tough times that force us to re-examine our attitudes and propel us toward inner change.  And so, I’ve learned how better to deal with the curve balls that are thrown my way.  And I have a renewed sense of purpose that has been lacking for a while.  At my core, my heartfelt desire is to be used by God to bless others, to love my family in a way that they feel that love in their inner most being, and leave that legacy of love and servant leadership behind me where ever I am.  Many good changes are up ahead this year, and my time in the valley are what has prepared me for it.  It’s so easy to dwell on the negative, but I am choosing each day to focus on my blessings in life and those far outweigh the bad things.  So, here’s to being 41:  A new year, a new chapter, and I’m so blessed beyond what I deserve.  I’m thankful for each day I have and intend to make the most of it!  I’m beyond grateful for my amazing kids, my family, friends, and loved ones.  Here’s my big public praise to God for all He has done in my life!

Exciting News

Today I officially signed contract for broadcast media and commercial print with The Clutts Agency! I’m so thankful for this opportunity and am excited to work with a reputable agent who just celebrated their 20th anniversary in business! Things are starting to look up. Please be sure to like/follow The Clutts Agency and watch for updates on future projects on my website!

Perseverance

The ups and downs and the ebb and flow of life can be quite a roller coaster.  We set our sights on achieving our dreams and plot a course to get there.  Sometimes our fears keep us from even beginning and we settle for less.  And sometimes we allow others to dictate or distract us from pursuing what we think we were meant for.

The past couple of years have been nothing less than immense changes in my life.  Many were difficult and some were painful.  However, some were long overdue and life altering.  I’ve not shared this with hardly anyone, but there was a time a few years back I was living out of my car for a short time.  I didn’t know where I would go or what I would do, but I persevered and eventually rebounded in a stronger position than when I had started.  I was moving in the right direction.  Then late last year I lost my job.  It was a soul crushing punch to the gut.  My sense of worth and accomplishment were tied to my career, and losing that threw me into a depression.  Which looking back, I think that was the point.  I needed to learn to differentiate my sense of self with my career.  And while I’m still far from achieving my dreams and goals, I know I’m on the right path.  I’ve been able to accept more work on commercials and television, than I ever would have been able to before I lost my job.  And then just a few weeks ago I got a new agent, which I know will open even more doors for me.  I’m far from having arrived, but I’m moving in the right direction again.

Progress comes day by day.  Never give up.  It’s so cliche to say these one-liners but there’s a lot of truth there.  There were days I felt so hopeless.  But then often the very next day something would come along and reinforce my optimism.

I try to teach my kids the lessons that I had to learn the hard way.  Figure yourself out early, reach for your dreams, set a course and follow it, but most importantly be true to yourself at all times.  And when life gets tough, which it will, always persevere.  Because things will get better.  It’s always darkest before the dawn.