Below the Surface

TruthBeTold The Blog

April 8, 2021 • Trey McGuire

As I walked up to the rock wall dividing the Louisiana Boardwalk from the banks of the Red River, I expected to see the same thing I usually see...a River, a couple bridges, some birds, maybe some logs floating downstream, and the Shreveport skyline. As fate would have it, I walked straight back from my favorite store (Under Armor) and directly to the riverfront. Did I see what I expected? Yes. Did it take me a second to look past literally what was the only nasty place on the surface of the water? Yes. I know that the river tends to be “rough around the edges” (just like, if we’re honest, most of us), but in this moment, the place I stood to look at it was the exact place that exposed the biggest flaw of what is usually, with all of its expected and natural blemishes, an absolutely beautiful scene. Especially on a beautiful day like today. Compared to the enormity of the Red, does this little bit of silt, sediment, and debris effect the power this river has? No. Does it change the life giving power this flowing stream has had for centuries? No. Does it diminish the fact that it is the sustaining resource to two cities? No. In fact, back in the 1800s, Shreveport was actually founded because of a much much much bigger issue than a little dirt and debris swirling around. A log jam that literally dammed up the river and the efforts to clear it is what actually led to the settlement of this area. From that point, it has continued to give life to unthinkable amounts of wildlife and millions of people. With that reality, the swirling mess still distracted me. If even for a few seconds, robbing me of the sheer beauty I was looking at in the much bigger picture. So, I’m that, I learned a few things. 1. Don’t give that blemish unnecessary power. 2. Do my part in preventing said blemish by making sure my trash doesn’t make it to the river. 3. Even with the mess, there is still purpose. Now, go look in the mirror. What do you see? A little dirty blemish, a huge log jamming failure, something in between? Are you allowing that to overpower reality? Can you define the problem? Call it out? Do something about it? Cause, like the river, you’re not defined by whatever problem you see staring back at you. Your not diminished because you may be a little dirty. And that understanding will help you take the steps to actually clean up the problem rather than letting it rob you anymore. Then go look at the people around you. Did you immediately see the flaw? Is that flaw distracting you from their inherent value? Maybe they can’t see reality when they look in the mirror. Maybe they need your help. Maybe, just maybe, you can be the one to look beyond what’s on the surface and help them out, because you see that what is underneath has unrecognized and untapped potential, just like this river did back when Captain Henry Shreve led a team to rid the river of the biggest natural disaster to ever hit our area. Therefore, leading to everything we experience today. Today, look beyond the flaw you see staring back at you. Whether it’s in your reflection or in that person around you. You both have no clue what’s under the surface. And you’ve allowed flaws to overwhelm the potential for too long. -Trey

Someone Like You...

July 21, 2021 • Trey McGuire

“UNLESS SOMEONE LIKE YOU CARES A WHOLE AWFUL LOT, NOTHING IS GOING TO GET BETTER. IT’S NOT." -THE LORAX Look in the mirror. What do you see? Many times, the person looking back is not necessarily someone we like. But...what if... What if that person, in all of their messiness, was someone that simply cared? What would this world look like? What would culture look like? More than that... What would THEIR world look like? What would the culture around them look like? You and me both know what it's like to get or send a text with the words "How are you doing?" We know the response that comes naturally..."I'm fine." Right? That is the typical exchange. And we also know that that answer is, for the most part, a lie. But....what if..... What if both the sender and the receiver found enough safety in the context of the relationship at hand to go beyond the "I'm fine." + What if we could be seen? + What if we could be honest? + What if we understood that our honesty can help others? + What if we saw how our authenticity pushes us further than we could ever imagine. + What if we felt the security to really let people in? Many times, we don't feel or experience any of the above "what ifs" because we've never seen it modeled. We can not begin to grasp the fact that... 1. We CAN face our storms. 2. We CAN own our reality. 3. We CAN share our stories. Yes, you're probably thinking that those are far reaching realities for everyone else out there except for me. I've thought it too. We all have. But what if... ______________ One of our friends, Phil Myers, posted about his own journey as he presses forward through his battles with depression, bipolar, and PTSD. This is what he recently wrote on his socials... "You would never know anymore unless I told you, but I’m crashing again. Yes I pushed but not “too much.” I pushed harder than ever this time and found another limit. So I backed off, just like you would in the gym, and I’m giving myself time. Time to rest and grow stronger. It’s exhausting, self imposed ups and downs with depression...it sucks. But it’s better than just staying stuck and down all the time. But I’m learning and growing each time. Maybe one day I’ll actually push or grow enough to beat it. Something a small part of me feels is possible even though the doc’s says it’s not. But heck, you all know I’m a little hard headed, so I’m going to keep going. Just keep going, It does gets better little by little. I truly feel if I can learn to make these changes within me. I can not only show and teach others how to do it too, but show the world a path to start healing as well.” - Philly _____________ You see, he has dealt with the thought of suicide on multiple occasions. He has faced the doctor telling him he has bipolar and PTSD. He has struggled with relentless depression. He has also faced the WHAT IF question... + What if this doesn't have to win. + What if there is purpose for me? + What if the pain can help me grow? + What if I can help change the world? For him, he had every reason to give up. He had every reason to quit. He had every reason to end it all. He had every reason imaginable to allow his story to be silenced. But...he didn't. He looked in the mirror...and even though he saw a lot of things he didn't like, he saw something deep down, almost seemingly microscopic. He saw that someone like him was actually what someone like me needed...and he didn't even know me yet. We met a while back as he joined our advisory team, as he was trying to figure out what to do with himself now that he was transitioning out of the military. We became friends quickly. One day, a conversation alot like the one I started with happened. Somewhere in there, I think both of us actually gave up on the facade that we were fine. Right then and there, we were both met with empathy and compassion, understanding and challenge. We found that, and still do, in our friendship. Now, as he treks off on the final half of his Appalachian Trail hike, he continues to press forward. Using his truth, using his story, using his vulnerability. And, like all of us, the truth of his story is still being written. So let me ask you...Where are you? Someone needs someone like you. Someone like you needs someone. As the Lorax so profoundly stated...“UNLESS SOMEONE LIKE YOU CARES A WHOLE AWFUL LOT, NOTHING IS GOING TO GET BETTER. IT’S NOT." What if getting better begins with a simple "How are you?" that is followed by a simple "I'm not okay" It doesn't take much effort...just some genuine care and a little time, and a choice to believe that still small voice that whispers truth in your ear... This is how we silence the lies that scream so loudly. This is how we give truth a voice. What if it takes someone like you? What if...

Read Any Good Billboards Lately?

June 11, 2021 • Brianna Cooley

Have you ever stopped and read your to go cup at a fast food restaurant? I’ve missed fast food this year and the closest place to my house is a chicken chain with really awesome ice. I know ice is a crazy reason to go to a restaurant, but… its really awesome ice. I was eating my chicken a few months ago and saw a fun quote on my Zaxby’s cup,   “Half full? Or half empty?... problem solved! Just refill” I didn’t really think anything of it until I saw a cool billboard this weekend. Our town in peppered with positive billboards and one really struck me,  “Cultivate Optimism” I always thought the answer to the question, Half Full or Half Empty? was half full… optimism! I’m a positive person. The answer is supposed to be half full. Right?!? But what if the cup is half empty? Does it really matter?  I have recently been reminded of the quote on my cup. When you begin to think of you glass as half empty, just refill your glass!  So, next time you feel a little empty, cultivate a little optimism....within your community, within yourself. Showing kindness cultivates optimism. By sharing kindness with others, you are helping to fill someone’s glass. The best part is by filling others up, we ultimately refill our own glass as well. Now, a little homework assignment:  + Eat chicken. + Read cups. + Pay attention to cool billboard. + Spread kindness and cultivate optimism.

The Price of Love

March 25, 2021

Chances are, you've been on the receiving end of that phone call that forever changes your life. You hang up the phone and you're left reeling. At times, the news is a complete shock. Other times, due to illness or some other reason, you may have began preparing yourself for this day. Either way, the news of the loss you now are dealing with has just thrown you on the struggle bus. For some, that loss was made known by a phone call. For others, that loss was realized in the midst of the emergency room. Some are standing beside their best friend when he or she is taken. And some are holding their spouse as they realize the dreams they had for their unborn child are quickly fading. Whatever the catalyst that threw you on the bus, fact is, you're now stuck in this almost hopeless cycle of pain, tears, anger, hopelessness, guilt, and everything else. And no, this grief is not only triggered by death. Grief is a natural response to any kind of loss, be in the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, the sudden shocking loss of a relationship, and anything in between and beyond that seemingly robs you of what you truly and purely love. > Someone once said, "Grief never ends, but it changes. It is a passage, not a place to stay. It is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith; it is the price of love." When we get punched in the gut with grief, the immediate response is to try to run away from it. Why? Well, honestly, I'm not sure there is ANY emotional or physical pain that hurts worse. We run away by trying to numb it, working ourselves into exhaustion, surrounding ourselves with distractions, etc. I don't have magical words that will ease the pain or speed up the process, but what I do want to offer is a little bit of perspective. The last six words of the above quote..."it is the price of love." That hits deep. No matter who you are, do you know what the person or thing we grieve has in common across the board? LOVE. We love our parents. We love our best friend whom we lost. We love that unborn child. We love that relationship. We love that career that was cut short due to injury. We love whatever it is we grieve. They say that love hurts, and I believe that hurt is manifested through grief. Now, how does this help? Truth is, right now, in the midst of pain, it may not. What is needed when we find ourselves sitting in this seat on the bus is a willingness to own the fact that this hurts, badly. When we own it though, we must own the reason behind the pain, and that is because we LOVE! And, truth is, we still have love to give. Dreams, hopes, plans for tomorrow...all of that stuff that we were robbed of is a product of the pure LOVE we share with others. Because I am secure in the fact that I shared a love with one of my best friends who died of cancer at age 21, I can begin to healthily allow grief to do it's job, and that is lead to healing. The love we share as brothers, even if it was prematurely severed by his death, made me STRONGER when he was alive, and guess what, in his death, it made me even stronger. His voice still echoes in my heart and mind, over ten years later, pushing me further. Do I miss him? Absolutely. Will I ever stop? I sure hope not. Does it hurt? Yep. But...the grief I feel surrounding Nathan George has somehow, in it's weird way, allowed me to understand even more the meaning of love. That love gives me faith, makes me stronger, and moves me deeper into who I am and was created to be. And Nate passing away of cancer actually somehow, again, in it's weird way, helped prepare me for miscarriages and the loss of my parents, just to name a few. So, if you're on the bus, sit there, in the quiet, in the questions, and FEEL IT. Feel the pain. Cry. Get pissed if you have to. Give yourself permission to feel. Then, remind yourself that the reason you hurt is simply because you love (Notice I didn't say "loved," cause love never ends). And the love we have for each other...that pure love...that's a good thing. So yes, I hurt, but I hurt because I've got more love to give to who I lost...so why not, as healing happens, start giving that love to others who need it. Maybe, just maybe, that is how we honor the love we have for those we've lost too soon. -Trey