“Be Strong” – Chrome-Plated Plastic. Hypocrisy

[2-minute read]

We see chrome all the time. That shiny metal that gives a product some glitz. Perhaps you even know it’s just a coating. Chrome plated metal looks sexy on cars, motorcycles, big trucks and other vehicles. But even plastic can be coated with chrome, for other parts of vehicles, or your coffee maker or hairdryer. It has nothing to do with strength. It’s all about external appearances. Chrome plated plastic breaks pretty easily. It’s all mirrors.

A “trial by fire” might indeed make you strong. Or you may look at others who have suffered greatly, and think they are strong. But sometimes, that’s just a surface coating on a fragile person underneath.

Some people might look strong and shiny from the outside, externally. We think their determined responses are signs of strength. But they may be only signs, not manifestations. Signs can be misleading. They could be *acting* like a strong person – wearing the mask of strength, following a rehearsed script based on seeing other “strong”-appearing people.

The word “hypocrite” comes from the Greek word for actor.

If you’ve undergone trials by fire via suffering imposed from external sources, and you’ve coated your outside to look strong and attractive, you’ve done so out of fear of further victimization. If you “look strong,” you believe you signal to others that they shouldn’t mess with you. That’s acting.

What if your trial by fire has been internal?

You’ve become more perpetually aware of your own hypocrisy. You’ve examined the secrets that you keep from the rest of the world, and the delusions you have been telling yourself. It leads to a place of self honesty. And then honesty with the whole world. It also leads to compassion and the recognition that everyone else is keeping secrets also, out of fear.

Facing one’s own imperfections, hypocrisy, and vulnerabilities is a paradox of strength. Authentic strength, forged by fire from the inside, not the outside.

That’s the kind of person who breathes fire from the inside. And that is not a dragon who imposes fear, but one who embraces the world in flames of compassion and original expressions of love.

That’s the kind of person who cannot be messed with.

Neil D. 2023-01-20

Theology, kids, mom beer on a plane

Long after the little backpack bounced with her skips onto the jetbridge out of sight, this remained on a seat with a working TV…

Row 20 opposite window seat

A half hour earlier, I shared with friends and fam, “Work went horribly yesterday. This AM I’ve seen so many excited kids at the airport, I can’t help but be cheerful. If only we could all be as in-the-moment and full of awe as children are❤️.”

Now, in row 23, a couple asked if I’d give up my aisle and move to row 20. Hmm, a cramped window seat. My mood was wonderful, so, “Ok.”

I disrupted a woman on the aisle to let me to the window. We buckled. Across the aisle, the TV didn’t work, frustrating her 5-year-old daughter who wore a rainbow tie-dye mask, earphones with glitter, bright pants with unicorns, and mismatched socks. I saw her in the terminal, gleefully toting a cute little black-sequined backpack. I learned later they were heading to grandparents they’d just seen over Christmas, but they usually drove the 10 hours, so this was a kids’ treat. Dad and two other kids stayed home.

For the TV fail, a flight attendant offered mom points, a menu drink… She chose beer.

She asked me, “You an Irish fan?” from my sweatshirt. She went there too. I asked what she studied. Theology!

Biology. 3 credits short of a theology minor:)

Her husband – met there – finance, with a theology minor.

At a different place, she got a theology Ph.D. in ecclesiology and church-as-sacrament. Still teaches there for adult continuing education, and is a mission director for a high school.

The family shuffled seats to get the youngest in front of a working a TV. Dr. Mom opened her laptop to work. The son, probably 8 or 10, settled beside me as I held his Canada Dry.

“I’m Neil. What’s your name?”

“That’s a cool name; you like it?”
Nod. Who’s this weirdo stranger danger.

“James, I got 3 little sisters. They can be a pain.”
Wordless smile.

I chose Cheezits.

Since they didn’t have chips, James chose them too. Put his headphones back on, back to TV.

I smiled under my mask, ear to ear, a teardrop fell my mask’s ridge.

My goodness, kids rock.

Neil D. 2023-01-13.
Friday the 13th is an awesome day

Worthy Because You’re You

You’re not worthy because of anything you’ve done

You’re not worthy because of new friends/partners who like you

You’re not worthy because of a promotion or new job

You’re not worthy because of social media Likes

You’re not worthy because of love from friends/family

You’re not worthy because of your achievements

You’re not worthy because of boundaries you enforce

You’re not worthy because of inner strength you’ve developed

You’re not worthy because of your assertiveness or your vulnerability

You’re not worthy because of your resilience, learning, and growth

You’re not worthy because of your inner work

You’re not worthy because of anything you’ve done to your self or for your self

You’re not worthy because of anything that has been done to you

You’re not worthy because of suffering you survived

You’re not worthy because of your existence and being

You’re not worthy because of your soul

You’re not even worthy because God loves you just as you are

You’re not worthy for any of these reasons

You’re not worthy for any reason 

Any single one of these reasons may be lost – from time to time, or entirely.

You’re worthy because of ALL of them.

Which is to say, you are worthy because you are you, and you are enormous.

Neil D. 2023-01-09

Related: Contrast. Paradox. Fullness.

Love Letter to My Ego (3 of 3)

Person and Soul. New Year’s resolutions 2023

[3 minute read]
[Part 1, 2-minute read]

Dear ego, my sensor of separateness in the world,

You inflate.

You deflate.

That makes you the beating heart of my full person!

Your perpetual dynamics – never still nor resting – generously give the sense of aliveness to my full person!

Sensor of uniqueness in the world, you give meaning and purpose to my full being.

Without you, I am no more.

Without you, I would be nothingness.

Yes, my full person and its other voices know you matter – even *more* than YOU know you matter!

We depend on *your* senses for how to be in this world. When my person fails by the external standards of this world, it is not you whom we blame; it is you whom we thank and celebrate.

When external judgmentalism declares my person a failure, the weight of that burden falls on your poor shoulders to deliver to my other voices.

As our sensor of comparison, it is you who return bloody from that external competition, and herald the moment for us to look inside!

Our love for you is natural to us. You are my full person’s spark that ignites self love. You’re at the center of our full love.

The external contests bloody you.

You deflate.

You inflate.

*Your* sensors are the heartbeat of my full person. My full person knows that the root of the word “courage” means “heart.”

When you deliver me the sense of defeat by external standards of comparison, we see your shoulders droop, we see you deflate. And when my person turns inward, it is not to reject you. It’s to huddle in completeness as one, in love, with you.

Your voice of defeat is the courageous voice which tells *all* the voices of my glorious full person that I am *separate* from the world, and that my being – my person – cannot be denied by the external world!

Oh, my goodness, I love you.

Neil D. 2023-01-04

Related: My love letter to me

Love Letter to My Ego (2 of 3)

Person and Soul. New Year’s resolutions 2023

[2 minute read]
[Part 1, also 2-minute read]

Dear ego, my sensor of separateness in the world,

My full person knows you long to belong to the world.

My full person knows you’re concerned with how I am in the world.

My, what a wonderful gift you are to me.

My full person knows all that you do, and loves you. *Included* in that love are your successes AND your imperfections. Perfection is not apart from imperfection (hard for you to understand because you are a sensor of separateness):

Perfection *includes* imperfection.

It’s OK; I know that is hard for you to hear. That perfection *includes* imperfection.

Yes, the other voices of my full person know it is you who bring imperfections to our whole. Their eyes are very different from yours, and their vision is concerned with you, not the external world.

Their eyes see you entirely. Completely. And completeness is the root meaning of “perfection.”

Unlike yours, their eyes see you completely. Perfectly imperfect completeness. And those other inner voices of me *love* you entirely, for your courage.

They know that they have no being without you. And that brings them no shame whatsoever. Shame is a word in your voice. They have no word for shame.

We all know there is no me – no full person – without YOU!

Yes, we depend on you for our being – for being a human person, of this world and in this world.


Without your senses of separateness, we are not a person in existence, but would instead be mere extensions of some other being. Codependent pawns.

This is why we defend you. And without hesitation we accept the utter necessity of ego defenses. They are essential to my full person.

You matter.

You are essential to us.

The full me is entirely indebted to you. Thank you, deeply and sincerely.

Neil D. 2023-01-04

Continued in “Love Letter to My Ego (3 of 3) [3-minute read]

“The soul seeks notice by the narrow vision of one’s ego-eyes, so that it can lovingly serve its ego.” From Befriending one’s soul