Writer, Church leader, Eccentric Nut, Marketer

I'm Church Leader, Writer, Speaker, Marketer, Kindness Project Founder, Broadcaster and Superhero. But most important I'm a Husband, Father and a worshiper of Jesus.

26 March 2013

Captain Kindness was an anorexic teenage bully

 My article appearing in the upcoming April edition of The Brant Advocate

I went through a long period of life not liking myself very much. I was the fatish kid. Not the grotesquely obese, sweat through my t-shirt on the walk to school kid... but the kid who had man boobs so hated being "skins" in gym class kid.  And poking fun at yourself is easier than hearing others poking fun at you. In the long run, it doesn't hurt any less... you can just control it. As an act of desperate rebellion (ironically) I decided the best course of action was anorexia, good grades and straight-laced. Figured I’d already tried man boobs... and overall LIFESTYLE boobery.  So for about a year of life, I ate ice cubes for dinner, did my homework and played nice with others. From my 9th Grade student card photo to my 10th Grade student card photo, you'll over a nearly a hundred pound differential.  

If you’ve seen my double chin lately, you’ll know that I’ve recovered.  I was at my friend's house one night and had just finished watching an episode of Cheers when his mom asked me if I wanted a brownie.  I said that I'd prefer a glass of ice.  She placed herself between me and her fridge and said firmly, "Dave.  Eat this."  I ate a brownie and haven't stopped since. In fact I had 3 before Seinfeld came on at 9:30!  Just like that I was good 'ole Dave again.  I decided pretty quickly that I kinda liked the old Dave better anyway.  He ate more and laughed a lot.  Problem was that Dave version 3.0 had let himself get far more jaded than I had ever expected to be and I liked myself even less than ever.

My "comedy" took a very focused, intentional, ugly turn.  Instead doing my homework, at night I'd spend my time strategically analyzing people's personalities and identifying their areas of personal vulnerability.  Wherever they were hypocritical and full of crap, I'd  prepare material for class the next day with the sole intention of attacking that weakness with a mean spirited, verbal, comedic barrage that they'd have no answer to. I'm talking "Grade A” material too. I was GOOD at this. I still am if I choose to be.  I'd go hard, strong and public until I achieved my goal... tears.  I used to be very proud that I could reduce even the heartiest soul to tears should I choose to.  Especially Christians.  They were the easiest because I had insider information. I knew what they were supposed to be, and I knew what they actually were. The secret was to have so many other people laughing with me that my point would win the public perception game.  

But I broke.  Because man can’t keep a game like this up for long. There is too much good inside of people. One day I found myself crying in history class during my 6th year of high school. This was not something that I made regular practice of.  A girl, who I recognized from my brother's church youth group, turned around and saw me in my sorry state.  She was wearing blue sweatpants and a big woolly sweater. She looked at me with a pregnant pause, as if deciding whether or not to jump off a tall cliff into rough waters or not. Then she said asked me something that I didn't recall anyone ever asking me.  She mouthed the words, "do you wanna talk?"  I had no good reason to say yes.... but I did.  Because I DID need to talk.  

So we talked. For nearly a month, this very patient girl who seemingly had a new wool sweater every day, let me spew out every sort of venomous thought that rolled through my mind (and a few extras just to see how she'd react). It was messy but she didn't stop letting me talk.  It was weird quite frankly. Christian AND Cute AND Normal???  We had gone to school together for 5 years and had never noticed each other.  We were from very different social circles and had very little in common... but different something was up.

One day the talking stopped.  Miss Woolly Sweaters decided that enough was enough. She saw Mr. Omnipotent in the room just as clearly as I did and He was asking her some serious questions too.  After listening to my venom for about 10 minutes over the phone one night she said, "Dave it's time for you to choose. Are you going to let God help free you... or not?  There’s nothing more I can do.” So THIS was how it was going to be.  And she was right. I wanted her, but I wanted Him more.  Two weeks later, I said yes to Mr. Omnipotent.  He smiled and hugged me back.  Miss Woolly Sweaters was sitting right beside me crying unrestricted tears along with me. Without having to say a word, we knew that we were "together" forever.  We went home that night with red puffy eyes and each other’s snot on our shoulders. 3 years later we stood at the altar.  15 years after that we have 3 kids.  

Today, many people know me as Captain Kindness. It’s privately a terrific irony to me.  But more than that, it’s a transformational testimony that points to the fact that no man is beyond redemption in God’s eyes.  Most of our negative actions and thoughts are simply a result of us not seeing ourselves how God sees us.  It manifests itself in lots of different ways and often hurts more than just ourselves.  But it’s base... is something inside us.  We all have things that lurk in the recesses of our souls. Think you’re the only one? Please. Get over yourself. We ALL have them.  Today I encourage you to find someone who will stand with you, bring it into the light, and allow it to heal.  It’s a life-changer. Trust me.

25 March 2013

The sort of death and destruction of "Captain Kind"

A fine young man named Pete Thiessen tragically died in a Brantford house fire this weekend.  I didn't know Pete well... but I DID know him in a very unique way.  You see... Pete killed me off a few years ago.  Sort of.  Allow me to tell a story of peace and reconciliation about Pete as I've had quite a number of people ask me my reaction to this weekend's tragedy. 

In late 2011, I was watching my life become more public.  And while that can lead to many great things... when you find yourself in "the public forum" you also become a target.  There had been a recent incident where someone had uttered serious public threats about me and a friend of mine.  It was shortly after the "Occupy" craze. In all the fun of Yurts and fire's in park garbage cans, I had somehow become one of the "1%" who was apparently oppressing the public.  An odd conclusion to make about a guy in a superhero costume giving away hot dogs, but none-the-less, it happened.

It didn't freak me out too much though, as when I started doing ministry as a young man, I resolved to live life FULL ON regardless of consequence. Weird though.  A very weird feeling indeed.  Then one morning I woke up to  NUMEROUS emails from friends with a link to a YouTube video in which a character (who bears a stunning resemblance to Captain Kindness) is emotionally destroyed, has his house burned down and is eventually murdered.
This video was shot in my neighborhood.  At first I was a bit flattered at the homage! To be engrained enough into a community's pop culture to be spoofed is a high compliment.  But the second time I watched it, given my escalated level of safety-awareness... it felt ugly to me. I still don't like seeing it.  And Pete Thiessen played "me" in the video.  Many were very very angry and wanted me to approach the police... including a number in law enforcement.  I was close to saying yes.  But I believed this video to be merely a misguided attempt at humor and left it alone.

This past summer, I got to meet Pete a number of times.. as Captain Kindness. I had the chance to chat with him and his kids. It was so clear how much he loved his kids. He even had them participate in some of our kindness outreaches! Then only a about month ago at Frosty Fest, Pete introduced himself to me (again as Captain Kindness) and told me about that video.  He told me with, noticeable sincerity, that he'd heard that it had caused some issues. He assured me that there was no harm meant and hoped to put in behind us.  I admitted to him that it had caused a stir but ALL was forgiven and forgotten and that I was THRILLED to have him and his family with us at Frosty Fest.  SOMETHING... had been turned into NOTHING because Pete had courage and took a brave step as a peacemaker.  And today I can mourn Pete's life with those who mourn him, including a number in my church.

My reflection today is the Christ-Message of "turn the other cheek." It's a tough one sometimes.  We often mistakenly think of it masochistically. I think it's really more of a "I'm gonna choose to not gonna make a big deal about everything" because as Matthew recorded Jesus saying,

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God"  

So while I'll now never get to know Pete Thiessen well, I will always carry a testimony of his life and how I can call him a "Peacemaker" in my life.

Rest in PEACE Pete. 

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