Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Friends


I was watching a program about the things we should do to take care of our bodies. One of the suggestions was that we should go out with friends six times per month. It turns out that laughter is the best medicine. Of all the health ideas, this is my favourite.

It seems like this should be relatively easy. But how many people do it? In order to go out with friends or a friend six times per month you would need to go out with friends more than once a week in the average month. In the summer that isn’t very hard but I think that in the fall I would have to work at it.

In our busy lives have we lost perspective? It seems like we all spend so much time ‘doing’ stuff that we have lost the experience of just living together. Now we need to make appointments with each other. And we struggle to fit six play dates into a month. I mean think about it. Somebody had to put it in a book.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Content


I think that God has been teaching me about being content. For the last little while I have felt a somewhat stuck. I don’t know if you understand what I mean. It’s not like anything is wrong. Nothing is particularly right either. Not much is happening. My faith life isn’t moving forward. My fear is that unless things are moving forward I am moving back.

I met with a friend and we talked about this feeling. Maybe it is just okay to wait for God to lead me. I can work to make sure that I am open to God’s leading. Other than that perhaps it is okay to be in the same spot for a while if that happens to be where God wants me to be.

I prayed that evening and I believe that God told me that being content is not the same thing as being complacent. I got the sense that God was trying to teach me about being content. Perhaps I need to learn to wait for Him. I need to learn to be in the same spot for a while. Today I came across this verse:

Each time he said, “My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me. Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, NLT)

If Paul, the writer of Corinthians, can be content in the pain and suffering of his life than perhaps I can be comfortable with mine. I by no means can compare my life to that of Paul’s. However I can say that I do understand a little bit about pain. If Paul can be content in his weaknesses perhaps I can too. Maybe God is asking me to wait because I have a tendency to push forward without Him.

Monday, July 10, 2006

frogs


Do frogs really turn into princes? Yes, they do.

So now you are waiting for the anecdote where I met someone who was ugly on the outside but turned out to be beautiful on the inside. Or maybe you are waiting for the story about an annoying coworker that I learned to like when I found out the reason they were annoying was because they stayed up late every night taking care of the sick in hospital. Nope. I am going to tell you to look for your inner frog.

Inner frogs are the things you keep hidden from others. They are the parts of yourself that you don’t think are good enough for other people to see. You keep them hidden because someone taught you need to be perfect or at least fairly competent at something in order to attempt it. Or maybe you don’t want to look foolish.

I think writing is something that was an inner frog for me. One day someone asked me to write about one of my experiences. I did that and people kept asking me to write things for them. It took a long time for me to realize that I was actually pretty good at writing. I didn’t think I was that good because of the years of being in English class and seeing red ink.

Keeping special parts of ourselves hidden stifles us. We no longer live out our dreams. I know that I still have a lot of inner frogs. There are many things I was confident I could do as a child that I no longer do now. Grant you one of those things is doing cartwheels and that is probably not a good plan but I wonder how I began to think of myself as being so incapable.

When most people think of the story of the Princess and the Frog, they think of recognizing inner beauty in others. I am starting to wonder if that story is as much about the Prince as the Princess. Maybe that fable is really about the Frog remembering that he is a prince.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Expectations

I have been thinking about expectations lately. Many people don’t want anyone to tell us how to act. I am one of those people. I don’t want anyone to expect certain behaviour of me. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to be a good person. It just means that I want to decide.

Then I thought about it a little further. Think about the people you don’t have any expectation of. What are those people like? I know for me when I think of people I don’t have expectations of I think of… well… losers. Do I want to be the type of person no one expects anything of?

As uncomfortable as it is to put myself in a situation where people have permission to hold me accountable for my behaviour the alternative seems worse. I don’t want to live in bondage to other people’s expectations. I won’t let people hold me accountable for things they shouldn’t be. I also know that even when people have reasonable expectations of me I might not live up to them. But I want to be worthy of other people’s expectations.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Abundance

Every day I take the bus I past this house. The back yard is mostly vegetable garden. Predictably the garden gets cleaned up and the plants go and they start to grow in uniformed rows every spring. Once the plants are growing visibly, an older gentlemen seems to enjoy sitting there watching them grow.

Each afternoon when I go by the house after work I notice the man sitting on a lawn chair in the shade that his garage affords watching his garden grow. I am not the only one who thinks this. I have heard other people on the bus mention this phenomenon too. Part of me thinks this is sad. This poor older man has nothing to do but sit there. Another part of me romanticizes this notion. Perhaps he gets joy out of watching his garden grow.

I think that maybe there is something inherently cool about watching something you created mature and grow. I also think that taking the time to enjoy the process of seeing the fruits of your labour is awesome. I know he is probably watching us as much as we are watching him. What does he think about us while he is sitting there watching the daily commuters make their way home? I wonder if he thinks we are stuck in the daily grind. Is he grateful for the simplicity of his routine? I know that I look for him almost every day. I miss him in the winter. I lament when I see he has cleaned his garden out that I won’t see him until next year.

I am beginning to ponder if there are ways I can gain some of this simplicity without going to the extreme of quitting my job and becoming a vegetable gardener. I don’t think it pays well enough to pay the mortgage and I am not much of a gardener to begin with. However I do enjoy witnessing life. I like to notice stuff. I guess that is what makes me a writer.

Sometimes when we think about the abundant life God promises we think about the big stuff. Some people are looking for big flashy material things. I have to admit that I like my stuff as much as any one else. But stuff is not how I define abundance. I look for events. I look for the impact I am having. I look for the friends I have and the life we share together. I look for a life worth living.

I think those things are worthy of desire. Yet I wonder if I am missing out on the small stuff. I am beginning to think that abundance may partially be about watching my garden grow.