Hats

I like hats!  I started wearing them as early as middle school.  Every day, whenever I was outside, I had a hat on, usually a baseball hat.  I was the kid that was always asked to remove it by a teacher, priest or any other authority figure.  I would wear the same hat daily until it fell apart at the seams.

I don’t remember when, but I also had a habit of naming my hats.  I fondly remember “FRANKLIN”, my Brown Deer High School hat that I wore exclusively the summer I caddied for Milwaukee Country Club.  I adored “Vinnie”, my visor I wore when I was washing dishes at Pepino’s junior year of High school.

In college, I wore a grey cab hat to a Circle K function in the Dells as a delegate.  When I was introduced, I asked the group to help me name my hat. The group settled on “Guido”, named after a character from “Risky Business”

I don’t really name my hats anymore, but I still wear them.  I have many Brewer Hats in my collection, due to the fact that every season I buy a new one to wear at home games.  The previous hat then becomes my everyday hat. After the last Brewer Game in October, I switch over to my Green Bay Packer Hat.  When they are done (or it gets too cold!) I wear my Hamilton High School Knit Hat from the school where I teach until Spring Training starts.

I like all my hats but today I want to tell you about my favorite one of all time!

My “ME” hat!

I apologize for not blogging lately, but last week was my “selfish week”.  This was a week where I only did things I want to do. I only performed those obligations that I also enjoyed, like Ebenezer Food Pantry.  I wanted to write a blog (because I enjoy that) but I enjoyed relaxing in front of the television more.

It’s been a long time since I had a “Selfish Week”  I have been teaching school since last September straight, except for holiday breaks.  My school ended the Friday before Memorial Day. I had two days off after the holiday and then summer school started up and lasted until the last Friday in July.  School starts back on Monday, August 5th, which left me exactly one week.

A selfish week is also a week when I get to remove my “hats”, the ones you wear that define you.  The first one I ditched was the TEACHER hat since I had no one calling me Mr. P. My three sons were all gone or busy with there own lives, so the DAD hat also got tossed aside.  My wife had many days of personal errand running, which eliminated the HUSBAND hat for a good chunk each day.

After I shed all those hats, I got to wear one of my favorites.  I call it the ME hat. I don’t see this one a lot and sometimes I forget I even own it.  I can go weeks, months, even years without dusting it off and trying it on.

The first characteristic of the ME hat is it prevents you from doing something unless it is something you really want.  I exercised because I wanted to. I went out to lunch with my Mother. I caught up on several TV programs I wanted to see and used the computer for games instead of lesson and curriculum planning.

I love this hat!  I also realize you can’t wear it all the time.  It’s important, but not any more than the others I own.  Each hat has it’s own time and place where it is a necessary part of your wardrobe.  I also realize that many people try to wear multiple hats simultaneously, which causes stress, anxiety and other mental health issues.

Unfortunately, I had this hat buried in my closet for many years.  For the longest time, I believed a “true” Christian would never even own a “ME” hat.  I believed God wanted me dead last on any priority list I could imagine. I believed the words “Christian” and “Selfless” were synonyms.

That changed about three years ago.  It was at that time my church hosted a four-day retreat for men called “STARS”.  I had been on retreats before and thought I knew what to expect. I was looking forward to some great food, a little Bible Study and conversation with the other retreatants revolving around what I did for a living and other “hats” people wear to define themselves.  I also expected to be asked the typical retreat questions that boil down to a simple “What do you think about God?”

I can’t really describe what happened those four days.  The only expectation that was met was the food. I will say this though, I was swiftly brought out of my complacency by a very unusual question that weekend.

“What does God think about me?”  Me. Singular, not part of the whole earth or even a member of a specific denomination, church or group.  Throughout the weekend, we were presented with different activities that all revolved around that simple question.  

I discovered that God not only loves me, He (or She) even LIKES me.  He can’t wait to hear what I’ve been up to or how my day went. My Grandma reminds me of God in this way.  Although she had many grandchildren, when we were alone, she would confide in me that I was her favorite. At her funeral, I quickly learned that she confided in all of us the very same thing.  I learned that I am one of God’s favorite.

I also learned that if God likes ME, I should probably start hanging around with this “ME” guy more and get to know him.  After STARS, “Me” and I got reacquainted. 

I rediscovered my serving heart and started volunteering at a food pantry on Saturday mornings. I recognized my spiritual journey as an inspiring event that others can benefit from, so I wrote a book.  I rekindled a passion for writing and started a blog. I began to enjoy where I am in my life instead of wondering what the future will hold or dwell upon the past.

The biggest takeaway I had was the “ME” hat should always stay on.  I always thought that, if I was wearing another hat, the “ME” hat was not necessary.  When I would try to teach or be a Dad without being me, my efforts usually came up short.  Now, since STARS, that hat is always on.

Now I am in no way advocating that other people are not as important.  After all, Jesus did tell his disciples (and us) to love your neighbor as yourself.  Many point to the first part of this verse as an indication of the life of servitude that Jesus wants us to embark on daily.  While this is certainly true, I believe that Jesus is also telling us to cut ourselves some slack!

When you are in an airplane receiving the safety instructions, who do the attendants instruct you to help first?  Put the mask on yourself before you help others are the words echoed into our heads. What good can you do for someone else if you can’t even take care of yourself?

So where is your “ME” hat?  Is it gathering dust or regulated to the bottom of the closet?  Is it ripped, torn or in otherwise poor condition that makes you think it is unwearable?  Do you hate how you look in it and favor your other ones more?

Regardless of how you answered the above, now is the time to find it again. Your “ME” hat will always be with you and God wants you not only to tolerate wearing it but actually make it the centerpiece of your collection!  For most of us, that means it is time to get it fixed.

A great way to mend your damaged “ME” hat is a retreat.  That word scares some people and I totally understand why.  Like you, I was satisfied where I was in life and worked under the age-old adage “If it works, don’t fix it!”.  I believed there was nothing wrong, so there was nothing wrong.  

But, “nothing wrong” is still a far cry from “everything is right”. An event, like STARS, let’s you take off your hats and really begin to understand three fundamental questions:

Who am I?

What is my purpose?

And what am I going to do now?

If those questions sound familiar, it sounds like you can use a reminder of what God thinks about you!

Prayer:  Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for the gift of ME.  Help me to understand what you see in me and what I can do to reflect the image of you to everyone around me.

For more information on STARS, please contact:

HCLC Men’s Stars Retreat

HCLC Women’s STARS Retreat

Or contact your local church and inquire what events they have coming up.  If you know of any events from your church, please feel free to add a link in the comments.  

As always, please feel free to share this with anyone and everyone you know.

1 thought on “Hats

  1. Thanks for WANTING to have lunch with mom. I enjoyed our time together. Our “ME” time is few and far between but when we are together, I can relax and know that you are “okay” and I’m so very proud of the man you are today.

    Like

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