How To Wrestle With Faith

Poker Chips

You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table.
There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.”
The Gambler– Kenny Rogers


It is 10:30 on Monday night and I am listening to With or Without You from U2’s Joshua Tree album. If I had to choose my top ten favorite albums this would definitely be on it.

Maybe it is because it came out during my senior year of high school and it is tied into a collective set of memories of hope, endless opportunities and more. Maybe it is because there are a few women who it reminds me of, girls with long hair who shared more than just moments in time.

They are part of my past but once they were part of my present and the future.

Past, Present and Future

Yesterday I took my son to see SkyFall with me. It was a fantastic movie and an exceptional moment in time for us. Movies have been our thing. This year we also saw The Avengers, Spiderman and The Dark Knight Rises.

His eyes get so wide and he gets so excited to share these experiences. I can’t properly express how much fun it is for me. I always say that every age is my favorite, but this one really takes it to a new level.

That is because he really is old enough to appreciate and enjoy these films. He understands the difference between right and wrong, fake and fantasy.

And me, well I get to be dad and remember what it was like to be 12. It makes my heart swell two or three sizes.

I watch him and wonder who my son will grow up to be. He is a cross between his mother and I with a double dose of himself. The days of the little boy he was are rapidly disappearing into the past.

Faith Under Fire

The headline might make some of you wonder about whether this is a religious post, but that is not really it. Sure, I could go there. I could tell you about days of walking through the streets of Jerusalem and moments spent swimming in the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.

I could tell you about when I planned on becoming a rabbi and why I didn’t. I could tell you that it might happen one day, but that is not what this post is about.

This post is about many things and one of them is my struggle to sort and suss out a few things. I am waiting for the click to come and trying to be patient. I can feel it lurking in the recesses of my mind, it is something big.

I think I have figured out the answers to some major stuff but I can’t quite put my finger on it. So I am trying to focus on other things to give it time to surface.

My Best Work

Been trying to figure out which of my posts to recommend people read. If someone asked for writing samples I’d want to be able to say look at X, Y and Z. I’d want them to be representative of my work, but I haven’t decided which of those deserve the recognition.

I have a bunch listed on the About Me page but I don’t know if those are the best. They are good. They are solid and I am not embarrassed by them, but are they my best? I don’t know.

Can’t for perfection because it never comes, but can’t live on good enough either.

Writing is Cathartic

I write because it is part of how I release the things I carry. It is where I say I have to put together a Bar Mitzvah in a year and I haven’t figured out how to pay for it.

Faith says I will figure it out because I always do. I am active, ever moving forward, why won’t it happen again. But that is the thing, the wrestling with faith that comes along with it all.

What if it doesn’t. What if this is the time I drop the ball. What if Lucy pulls the ball out from under me and I don’t see it in time to course correct.

Go West Young Man

My son asks me to tell him who my favorite superhero is. He wants me to tell him who and why so that he can tell me who his is.

I tell him I am partial to Wolverine but that I would include James Bond in all this and he is up there too. I like the guys with edge and attitude, but I like them because they are human.

If we focus on those who truly have no superpowers we are down to Batman and James Bond. I suppose what excites me is that they get by on hard work, wits and luck.

That is enough for me. It is all I can count on. I am confident about the future, but damn, that little voice is still there and so the wrestling continues.

This was part of Just Write #61.

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  1. Larks ( November 14, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Love your section on writing as catharsis. It’s so hard to figure out our “best stuff.” I inevitably find that the pieces I pour my heart and soul into are never the ones that get the most page views but the ones a dash off almost tongue in cheek really seem to resonate with people if “resonate” can be translated into “feel compelled to share.” It leaves me wondering if I just like the heart and soul ones because they’re about me and I’m narcissistic like that.

  2. MizYank November 13, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    Any post that opens with “The Gambler” is A-OK by me. Kenny Rogers was my first concert! Love and can relate very well to your comment about being on the cusp of something that right now is just percolating at the edges.

  3. Bill Dameron November 13, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    It’s tough to figure out our best work, isn’t it? I go back and read some posts and think, ugh, that is the worst stuff I have ever written, but I am sure while I was writing it, I thought it was the best ever. I guess we’re always improving, always evolving and that writing that we do helps us get there. Keep writing Jack, and I’ll be right there with you.

    • Jack November 13, 2012 at 11:46 pm

      Hi Bill,

      I write for myself first and for the readers second, but thank god for the readers. There have been posts that I despised because I thought they were awful and yet they were loved by readers.

      I used to think that meant there was no accounting for taste but have come to believe it is more closely tied into writers being exceptionally hard on ourselves.

      So I have come to see much more value in comments than I once did because sometimes they provide the insight you don’t get because you are too close to have proper perspective.

  4. Kianwi November 13, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    I completely get what you are saying about feeling you have things almost figured out, but can’t quite put your finger on them. Faith is elusive sometimes, and for me it definitely ebbs and flows. I’ve had a dry spell for a few years now, actually, but I feel it bubbling back up in me lately. We’ll see where it goes.

    Your son sounds like a great kid 🙂

    • Jack November 13, 2012 at 11:40 pm

      Hi Kianwi,

      Sometimes it is like trying to hold water in the palm of our hands. We can feel it, see it, taste it and touch it but dare not squeeze for fear of losing it.

      And yes, my son is awesome. We got very lucky with him.

  5. Louise Ducote November 13, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Love the description of your son as having some of each adult and “a double dose of himself.” Right on. (And write on.)

    • Jack November 13, 2012 at 11:39 pm

      Hi Louise,

      I will love my children no matter what, but I love them in large part because of who they are. By that I refer to the portion of their personality which is entirely them and not us.

  6. Matches Malone November 13, 2012 at 11:34 am

    Kenny Rogers got it wrong. You always need to know how much you have in front of you, so you know how to size out your bets, and where you are in relation to the others at the table. This goes double for tournament poker, btw.

    • Jack November 13, 2012 at 11:36 pm

      Hi Matches,

      I suppose there is faith and foolishness. Faith takes time to check inventory and take stock of things while foolishness figures the well will never run dry.

  7. Kristen November 13, 2012 at 11:19 am

    I think parenting is an act of faith. Choosing to have children and then releasing them into the world takes an incredible leap of faith. And then continuing to care for them and provide for them even when the seas get rocky, there’s more faith there. I’d say you’re a faithful guy, Jack, in lots of ways.

    • Jack November 13, 2012 at 11:35 pm

      Hi Kristen,

      Parenting is a huge act of faith. The belief in our ability to teach, nurture, shelter and release our children into the world is nothing but faith.

      When I think about these times, good and bad, hard and otherwise I have to accept faith because without that there is no hope.

      Life without hope is something I never wish to experience.

  8. Betsy Cross November 13, 2012 at 7:05 am

    You are definitely a doer, Jack.
    ” Faith says I will figure it out because I always do.”
    ” But that is the thing, the wrestling with faith that comes along with it all.”
    ” I suppose what excites me is that they get by on hard work, wits and luck.”

    Faith is interesting. It feels like a flame and other times like a dying ember. But there’s heat and light there that keeps you going.

  9. Joe November 13, 2012 at 7:03 am

    I look forward to bringing my son to see the Bond flick as well. It looks great and I agree that seeing this type of movie together can be a bonding experience.

    Yes, these days will move quickly. Make sure to relish each one. They are a gift to us as fathers.

  10. Kaarina Dillabough November 13, 2012 at 4:25 am

    “I like the guys with edge and attitude, but I like them because they are human.” Ditto that. And faith is my fuel. Cheers! Kaarina

  11. Stan Faryna November 13, 2012 at 1:42 am

    The roulette table and $5 slot machines have been kind to me over the years. If I told you my wins, you’d curse me.

    But gambling has nothing to do with faith – most of the time. Faith is something else entirely.

    Faith is all about about the deal – often brokered by third parties. It’s a deal which we constantly fail to honor. But, hopefully, an occasional regret may count for something.

    At least, that’s how it looks to me.

    • Jack November 13, 2012 at 11:28 pm

      Nah Stan, I wouldn’t curse you, others maybe, but not you. Really, I don’t see it/feel it so it wouldn’t happen.

      I suspect we could have some very interesting conversations about faith. I think about it more than I share, it intrigues me.

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