Processing Disappointment #8

Emotionally grieving “life with the wrong currency” will be a long process.  As I shared with the Algonquin process, in addition to the dedicated time spent in deliberately looking at the story line, life casually bumps the bruise randomly.  I drove back to the office this afternoon after a short errand and was reminded of how much I have poured into relationships in the complex where we are, only to be roundly spurned.  Whatever the currency is that works there, I don’t seem to have any of it in my wallet.

Sadness.  Anger.  Frustration.  No denial at all.  Powerlessness.  Sadness.  Stay there for a while and actually feel it.

I am a long way from processing the emotions of a life time of “wrong currency” but Prophet was getting restless, wanting to be unleashed to go hunting for the culprit.  Our mantra is, “Every effect has a cause.”  Someone, somewhere, did something, and it has resulted in THIS.

Being a new effect to me, I had no clue where to look for the cause – and no assurance I would recognize it if I looked straight at it.

I started with the generational question, as usual.

Looked at Mom first.

OUCH!  On a scale of one to ten, Mom was and is a 9.7 in terms of having the right currency at the right time for a wide variety of situations.  Astounding.  So this sure wasn’t any of her junk!!!

Dad didn’t score so high.  I gave him an eight, but noted that he carefully controlled his playing field.  He was like the kids who will never play a game unless they were sure they could win.  Dad edited his environment to be sure his currency worked.  I made a mental note to look at whether I have made a series of really bad choices over time, but it didn’t feel compelling.

Still, you note the possible culprits, because if you run out of good ideas, you circle back around and revisit the lame ones!

But for now, I exonerated my family line and assumed it was my stuff.

So I explored my childhood bit by bit.  To my surprise, there were some really good patches of my currency matching the circumstances.  There were other patches where things were pretty baseline.  Nothing positive or negative in terms of social currencies.  But with the exception of that one school year, nothing was significantly negative.

It would be easy to write off the school year (as I had for years) as just a culturally expected dynamic.  A missionary kid who has been home schooled and isolated from US culture is dropped into the senior class two years younger than his peers.  Of course there would be a lot of disconnects.  Utterly non-surprising.

That is how I have viewed that year all this time.  Highly painful.  Not a mystery.

Life throws you a curve ball now and then.

So I moved on down the timeline, looking for where this pesky thing came in and stayed.

Eventually, I found a smoking gun.

In my early adult years, I made a decision that was socially unpopular.  Lots of people tried to talk me out of it before I did it.  I stubbornly insisted I could pull it off, even though I admitted it was, on the surface, a long shot.  They were very clear I did not have the moxie (i.e. needed currencies) to pull it off.  I admitted it looked that way, but assured them I could grow into it if they would give me the chance.

In the end, I made my choice, bucked the world, engaged in an immense endeavor and was hugely proved wrong.  I didn’t have what it took.  I fell short with miserable consequences for a long time to come.

The boo birds piled on with their “I told you so” commentary.  To this day, there are still people around who remember that episode and still frame me today as the person I was then, and clearly articulate the message that my judgment cannot be trusted on much of anything, as proven by that debacle.

So . . . A smoking gun.  Is it THE smoking gun?  That incident didn’t happen on any of the 15.5 multiples.  Just randomly in between the first and the second.  Could that have triggered the subsequent issues, or am I looking at it all wrong?

Furthermore, how could those judgments made against me have stuck like a tar baby for so long?  I certainly have gone back and revisited that event many times, with and without professional help.  One would not think the boo birds should have been able to define the rest of my life.

Nonetheless, the correlation on my timeline was hugely obvious.  From that time on, my currencies always seemed to be a little or a lot off.

It didn’t seem like a compelling conclusion, but certainly one that needed to be revisited again.  Surely there is a way to get the tar off from a decades-old decision.

There was another thread to follow and that was the Exhorter gift.  The school was an Exhorter school, I think.  I know the church and the ministry were Exhorter gift.  I don’t think Algonquin as a whole is Exhorter, but it is certainly possible that the lake and portage that took me down might have been.

Seems as though there is something there.  I don’t immediately see it.  I think I will take a day to scroll through the Exhorters in the Bible and the ones I know to see if there is a clue there.  Do any of them have a pattern of having the wrong currency, or is there something about the twisted Exhorter that causes those around them to not have the right currency?

Need to look at that long and hard.  Goodness knows, there is a lot of data.  I should be able to come up with an answer.

Copyright August 2016 by Arthur Burk

From home

Processing Disappointment #7

I am back in the game after the weekend in Denver.

In the interest of moving the story line along, I am going to skip the section about integrating a painful situation back into your timeline. This truncated vacation was hardly a trauma big enough to fracture my timeline, plus you can get that info later when Megan’s book comes out.

Moving on, we get to what is really the core of the matter.

Burlington, Ontario seems to have an anointing for revelation.  Some of the team members had unusual visitations during the night watches both nights we were there, with high amount of new insights from God.  It was really cool.

One of the team said that God revealed that I had a curse on my time which cycled every fifteen and a half years. That means that this year, when I am 62 years old, I am at the fourth iteration of the cycle.  Their sense was that the Algonquin trip was going to have a huge role to play in breaking the old curse and releasing something huge for me.

It was with that superlative expectation that I left, with hope on top of joy.

Then things didn’t quite soar and I came home, circling around that.  I was hugely discouraging, feeling as though I had botched something critical and significantly re-empowered the curse.  My first step was to break it down and see if I could figure out the pattern.

15.5 was when I came to the States for my senior year of high school.  I was pretty good at building bird traps, navigating the sand bars at low tide, running the pump when the water tank was low, and quoting Scripture.  I didn’t know a doggone thing about the Beatles, yellow submarines, Puff the Magic Dragon, football, baseball, basketball, dating, necking, petting, weed, Mustangs, glass packs or laying scratch.  Oh, and I wasn’t very good at English, geometry, drafting, lunch time or PE.  I also had no clue how those girls produced bee hive hairdos.  Or why they would want to.

At 31 I was the 8th senior pastor in nine years at a particular church.  That was the year we had the church split.  Once again, I brought a lot to the table, but it was as irrelevant as bringing snow shoes to a church potluck in Florida.

At 46 and a half, I was involved with a parachurch ministry, and again what I had was devalued and there was unholy war between me and the leader because I would not give what he wanted because I felt he needed something else.

And now I am 62.

There are several layers here, but I realized that the peaks were accompanied by a huge number of other situations where my best was worthless because I had the wrong resource in the wrong place.

I started to circle around that, trying to figure out what happened.  Then I realized I really needed to feel it before I understood it.  So I spent about three days reliving a seemingly endless stream of experiences where my best was not only not good enough, my best was spectacularly irrelevant in every way, shape or form.

It turns out that THIS was a monstrous emotional waste dump that needed massive bandwidth to process.  So I grimly scrolled through every imaginable sector of my life finding the same old song and dance in every imaginable key of music.

It was staggering.

Copyright August 2016 by Arthur Burk

From the Hub



Pondering about Thursday

Yesterday was quite odd.  The silence was remarkable, but it wasn’t just the lack of ordinary traffic, or the graciousness of the tribe in respecting my study day.  There was a lifelessness to community during the day.

It was quite different from the days when Death is in the air.  Sometimes I feel the desire of Death to take me out on the freeway or any way it can.  Some days, every business deal seems to die in the first two minutes of discussion.  Well meaning e-mails go out and come back with death attached.

Old stuff.  Seen it many times.

This was not the spirit of Death.  It was a lifelessness.  And I am guessing that this was a gift from God designed to teach us something.  My hunch is that we experienced the Shadow of Death in a loud enough, intense enough manner, that we could recognize it and label it.

So what?

I wonder what would happen if I focused on the emotions of Jesus and those around Him immediately after the resurrection?  Jesus was certainly vibrant after the resurrection!

So you have Jesus and Mary of Magdala first of all.  Dripping with emotions.

The women and the angel.

Peter and John and the angel in the tomb.

The two on the road to Emmaus whose “hearts were burning” as Jesus taught them.  Jesus’ emotions as He did a stunning exposition of Old Testament prophecies about Himself.

The 10 the first time Jesus met them.

Thomas on the second encounter.

Jesus by Galilee when he restored Peter publicly.

Jesus was FREE of the Shadow of Death after the resurrection.  I wonder if we could pierce the Shadow with a celebration of His emotions and the emotions of everyone around Him.

If you know of someone who still has a “hangover” today from the Shadow of Death yesterday, why don’t you call the ungodly spirits around them to attention and give them an ear banging about Jesus’ emotions and the trail of human emotions after the resurrection, and see if your friends abruptly get traction with life again.

This is a trial run.  Not sure this is the best tool against the Shadow of Death, but since we have a large pool of warriors, let’s give it a run and see what happens.

Copyright August 2016 by Arthur Burk  Blessing of Job

From the Hub, early morning before flying out to Denver

What Happened?

Today illustrated the fragility of my connectedness with the tribe.

Almost every form of engagement went silent all at once.  All day.

Go figure.


Processing Disappointment #6


We had a technical difficulty with this blog post after it was initially posted, so it is temporarily unavailable.  Nothing more will be posted here until next week since I am immersing myself in final preparations for the Denver event.



Processing Disappointment #5

The adjustments I made yesterday were very helpful.  When Giver was guarding the door, the focus was protecting myself from pain delivered by people.  When I changed things up, I was able to go vertical and anticipate the gifts God might be delivering.

Very different perspective with different results.  The SLG population did not change overnight.  I still got some messy inputs today.  In fact, I got one of the worst inputs of all so far, but I also got one of the best.  When I looked at each one coming in as a potential gift from God, I found some fun stuff in general, so it was energizing to read the comments, not a walk in the minefield.

Now, back to the issue of disappointment.

The next step in the process is actually grieving the loss – feeling the sadness.  I have learned that this happens organically over time. Something bumps the sore spot, it comes to the front, and I have a choice to lean into it or to push it away.  In most cases, I need to stop and lean into it and feel the loss.

Here is how it works.  I was at home, minding my own business, chatting with Desiree, my photographer daughter.  She happily sent me a picture from her walk that evening.  And wouldn’t you know it, it was a picture of the full moon over her city.

Immediately I felt the wave of sadness at having missed the moon light paddle on the lake.  I rather abruptly got off the phone and lay on the couch allowing the sadness to flow over me.  I grieved the loss for a while until it faded.

This morning was nutty in many ways.  I was busier than a DID octopus on speed with utterly unexpected interruptions.  I was trying to revise one particular section of my Denver notes that means a whole lot to me.  I suddenly felt the disappointment over not having had the big blocks of uninterrupted time to craft elegant transition sentences in my head, try them on for size, then refine them some more.

I was not able to boot the interruptions out of my life like I did my daughter’s phone call, but I allowed myself to feel that loss for a while, during the other activities.

My experience is that this takes weeks or months, depending on the issue and is not something I need to orchestrate.  Life, God and the devil work together to bump the bruise a reasonable number of times.  As the sadness surfaces, I feel it.  On some occasions I can talk to someone about it, or write a kindred spirit and share, but most of the time, it is so unscripted, I just stop and taste the sadness by myself so as not to lose the moment.

Sometimes I have to force myself toward sadness.  I am looking at my fancy blue Osprey backpack that is still leaning against the wall where it got dumped the night I came back.  I know I need to empty it, put everything away, wash it, let it dry and store it.  That is going to stir up a truckload of sadness demanding to be felt.

I have been avoiding it because I didn’t want to invest the emotional energy, but I shall do it tomorrow, since I want to get to those sadnesses while they are still fresh, and not go to Denver with that still pending.

Over the course of time, the fourth step will gradually be done and the fifth step will slide into place unnoticed.

However, there are four more steps not in Kubler-Ross sequence I also need to work on.

Maybe tomorrow we can start those.

Copyright August 2016 by Arthur Burk

From the Hub

Processing Disappointment #4

I appreciate all of the Givers who wrote back and shared their grid, but I was quite jolted by the fairly uniform perspective.  It is not one I feel comfortable with.  Simply put, most Givers reject most offers of caring, with a high reactivity to the issue of perceived insincerity.

In my head, I understand that the Giver tribe is heavily bent toward risk abatement and that the Prophet tribe is equally intensely bent toward outrageous pursuit of vision, at the expense of all logic and caution.  Having said that, however, I struggle significantly with the Givers feeling legitimate in editing out most incoming caring as being too high risk.

I bring two frames to bear here.  First is the issue of God’s propensity to be messy.  If we zoom out far beyond care and compassion, God has delivered an awful lot of wonderful gifts to me of all sorts, through some rather messy and insincere and hurtful messengers.  And this is not just for me.  As I look through Scripture, many of His gifts would not have gotten past the guards at your doors.  That concerns me.

Second, on a macro scale, we have the rather horrifying statement, “He came unto his own, but his own received him not.”  This singular failure by the Giver tribe to receive a rather wonderful gift that came in a rather unexpected package still reverberates through history.

My posture historically has been to risk big in order to receive the most.  Let’s look at deliverance and inner healing from that pragmatic perspective.  At least 25% of all the people who have ministered to me have been damaging or defiling.  Another 50% have been useless.

In spite of the fact that I have a 75% chance of not getting better, I have continued to seek out ministry to become whole and dangerous.  It is a choice.  And it has gotten me far, far down the road, because some of the rough, crude, messy people happened to have a piece or two I needed.

In terms of caring and compassion, I very much agree that a lot of people are serving themselves in the way they comment or the e-mails they write me, while purporting to be serving me.  This is a very common problem with all kinds of volunteers.  I further agree that there is a big difference between what we have in our hand to give, and what the other person actually needs.

I found the discussion of shiva to be interesting.  Basically, I would use the word “synchronize.”  Wise comforting involved synchronizing with the hurting person and letting them lead you in showing what flavors of comfort they could benefit from.

This is simply un-American.  From caring for the baby in NICU to dealing with nations on a global basis, we are so very sure we know what someone else needs and are happy to deliver it in a drive-by shooting style.  Finding what the other person’s needs and desires are is a foreign language to us.

So we have a dysfunctional comforting modality in our culture.  Not going to change any time soon.  I can understand my Giver having a belly full of the nonsense and hiring a thug to block out all unsolicited comfort, as a means of not having to deal with the hurtful stuff.

While I understand that, I do not accept it as representative of my values and my lifestyle.

I risk to gain.




So I had a blunt discussion with the thug and sent him off to North Korea to find something else to guard.

I had a perspective-broadening discussion with Giver and deployed her in a different sector of my life.

Then I brought Exhorter and Mercy to the front, to edit incoming offers of caring and to determine whether to let them in.  As you will see one of these days, if we ever get there, the Exhorter gift figures largely in this whole dynamic.  So if this is where God is going, we should lean into His plans.

And I brought Mercy because she is among the more grounded and non-reactive portions of my spirit.

So that is my restructuring for the moment, so I can get back to the process of dealing with the disappointment that we started with.

That said, it is obvious that we have a stupendous opportunity here for a new skill set to be developed.  What would it look like for someone to facilitate a small group, with a couple of hurting people and three or four people who would like to be comforters, so we could learn how to follow the hurting person, instead of trying to lead them.

This is an old, old skill in other cultures.  It would be a foreign language here, but certainly would be of immense value if we could learn it.


Copyright August 2016 by Arthur Burk

From the Hub



Processing Disappointment #3

Sunday afternoon.

The bounce from yesterday’s land disconnect held.  I went into the evening feeling really good compared to the acute exhaustion of the previous days.

I devoted some time during the evening to reading the comments to the first post, to see if I could get some caring past the thug into my inner world, in order to start the process of rewiring my brain.

I noticed after a while, that the thug was not making the decisions.  Someone inside was and he was simply executing.  Trust me, not all the comments on the blog made it past him.

Some snooping revealed that it was the Giver portion of my spirit who had closed the door, hired the thug and declared closure to pain caused by receiving love.  Under pressure of the current exigencies, Giver decided to be selective instead of running a blanket exclusion of caring, which is quite considerate.

I would still like to know what the algorithm is.  Can we crowd source this?  Givers, what is the flavor or style of caring, or compassion, or love, or ___________, that you simply don’t want anywhere near you?  This can’t be an original problem.

Historically Givers are the hardest tribe, by far, to give to.  Your rejection factor of gifts is over the top.  Could you be persuaded to share what your grid is?  What flavors of love ARE acceptable to you?

On another front, the Swiss psychiatrist Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross did some wonderful work back in the ’50s and ’60s regarding grieving.  Her five stages of grief are still a widely used tool in many applications today.  While people do not necessarily go through them in this order, and might cycle through some of the steps several times, the general model is this.

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression/grieving
  5. Acceptance.

I have been looking at those the last few days, as part of my customary inner work.

The denial certainly was front and center on Monday.  I knew when I had made a bad choice, and why, but kept holding onto the belief that it was not so bad, and I could bounce back and pull it off.  By Tuesday morning, reality had intruded with sufficient force that it could not be denied.

Then came a few hours of bargaining.  There were a lot of variables for the trip.  I could delete this or that, lengthen this, change that, move the sequence, etc.  But, by 11:00 a.m. when I HAD to make a critical choice to go forward or go back, bargaining also bit the dust and I committed to the exit.

Another face of bargaining is the “what if” game.  Had I missed a cue?  Was I not listening to the Lord?  Did one of the intercessors warn me and I brushed it aside?  I gnawed on that bone all the way to sleep time on Tuesday and never came up with a clue suggesting I had messed up.

Since I have been back, I have gotten a significant number of e-mails from intercessors who were alerted by the Holy Spirit to pray for me because I was in trouble, but they were emphatically told by God that everything was going to be fine.  Really strong, positive, validating words flowed like a river — in the midst of the mess.

So, at this point, I have completely abandoned the bargaining.  God and the devil teamed up to set me up and mess me up, because God has some grand and noble outcome in mind, and it will come out that way.  I walk forward with confidence that there is purpose in this weird situation.

The anger is an interesting dynamic.  I don’t think any redemptive gift gets to anger as quickly as the Prophet, and I have been legendary for my hair trigger temper in the past.  However, I have also learned to defer the anger to later.

As I shared at the LAC seminar, a consumer defaults to anger, and then looks for solutions later.  A builder feels the anger as keenly as anyone, but defaults to solutions, then addresses the anger later.

I deferred the anger until the two flights home.  Lots of time.  No energy to do anything else.  And a whole lot of skill in feeling my anger and finding the root.

First up was missing the moonlight paddle.  I set the date so it would be full moon.  I love paddling up the silver strand of moonlight on a still lake at night.  Didn’t happen.

-Mad at myself for my choices.

-Mad at my body for not being 18 anymore.

-Didn’t appreciate the government’s inadequacies that contributed to the situation.

-Angry at the lost chance to get revelation through long, quiet meditation on some anointed land.

-Really missed engagement with the animal kingdom.  Saw a few loons and other birds, but nothing special.

I worked the list intermittently for hours, adding details and categories, prioritizing the pain and languaging the losses.

Then I circled back around to redemption.  My anger does not last long because I have so much experience in seeing God take really rough situations and give me beauty for ashes.  If you were to give me a magic wand that could take some mistake I made out of my life history, I would burn it instead of using it.

I have so many riches, but many of them came from ugliness.  If I remove from my life the stupid things I have done and the mean things done to me, I would usually have to remove the redemption that God gave me, and I don’t want to give up any one of those things.

To me, The Redeemer is not an eternal concept.  It is a here and now, tangible, complex, mysterious, astounding, profound thing.  The way God can redeem the past is beyond belief.

So, before the plane landed in Orange County, I smooshed all the anger into a pile, admitting the pain which still raged, but refusing to allow it to morph into bitterness.  I made a faith proclamation that none of this was a surprise to God, none of this was beyond His ability to redeem, and none of the redemption had been shown to me yet.

I limped off the plane with a dozen kinds of pain, but with faith in front of pain, knowing that someday, somehow, God will write the final chapter to this strange story, and I will simply NOT be defrauded.

Copyright August 2016 by Arthur Burk

From home