Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Restlessness

Dalton, my 12 year old came home from school Tuesday with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. When asked to answer my routine after school questions of "How was school?" and, "Did anything interesting happen?", he answered with an unusual bleakness. "School was boring. Nothing interesting happened. Nothing interesting ever happens. I wish there was something exciting that would happen."
It's January. He's twelve. The sameness of the cold and snow and rountine are beginning to wear on my youngest of men. I looked into his eyes and saw a deep and familiar need buried there. A need to feel, to be challenged, excited...alive.
I'm really not much diffrent than Dalton sometimes. Things settle into a routine and the fog of sameness rolls in around me and I feel trapped, unimportant, irrelevant. I become crabby, jaded and difficult to please. I don't know what I want or how I want it. I only know that I'm restless and need to move, to feel, to experience.
Right now, I want the snow to melt. I want the sun to shine bright and hot on the green fields that will sping up outside my windows. I want to take long walks down the dirt road on the kind of summer evening when the light, like a treasured friend, seems to linger just a little while longer than it was meant to. I want sunny days at the beach and dark nights around a campfire. What I desire is the carefree comradarie of summer.
I guess, like the seasons that pass outside my window, when I look at my life I want everyday to be like the best days, the easiest or the proudest or the most exciting. I suppose it doesn't surprise me that life isn't like that. I always knew that we weren't promised ease of living or endless happiness. And, when trouble rears it's head, I know God's presence and have been blessed to quickly sense His love and sheltering aid. Hard times don't surprise me much. What does take me by surprise though, is how difficult the "everyday and mundane" can be. Those are Oswald Chambers' descriptors, and I like them. Everyday...the monotony of work, laundry, meal prep, bed, wake up, do it again. The mundane, same customers, same groceries in the cart, same house, same responsibilities. Sameness can be excrutiating.
Thankfully I love some aspects of this everyday and mundane. I LOVE the basketball games. I LOVE the cozy movie nights that are easy to have with the kids. I love the beauty of the winter white landscape. It's just so easy to miss in the midst of all the sameness.
And then my thoughts turn to Haiti. To a people who would give anything for little bit of everyday. A moment of two of the old, familiar, mundane. And I think of friends who struggle with cancer or have children with demanding and difficult diagnosis'; who beg God for a little familiar sameness. Who wish they could go back and have a few more days of normal before their world was changed completely.
Perspective is everything they say. And I certainly think that applies here. I, like Dalton, need to shift my perspective.
In fact what could be more energizing than organizing some sort of drive to collect money for Haiti. And it might help ease the sameness of the day to stop in with coffee for a visit with a friend who's housebound with her disabled son. Now that I think of it, the possibilities are endless. It's really very exciting.
Hmmmm.... maybe that was the point of my being restless all along!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

No Conditions

"The word says God don't give us credit for lovin' the folks we want to love anyway. No, He gives us credit for lovin' the unlovable. The perfect love of God don't come with no conditions."
"the same kinda different as me"
Ron Hall and Denver Moore

I read these words this morning and something like conviction took place as they bounced around in my head and finally settled into my heart. I would like to think that I love unconditionally. I would like to think that when someone I love offends me or hurts my feelings or even takes an action that is outside the realm of what I typically deem "acceptable", I go on loving that person. I accept their shortcomings because I try, most of the time, to keep my own less than perfect moments ever before me. I consider that to be the stuff of unconditional love. The ability to love someone, even when they let you down.

Reading this book though, I realize that the kind of unconditional love Denver recieved is something entirely different. You see, it's easy to love someone enough to forebear their transgressions, to look over their failures, or to see past their shortcomings. You do that based on history. You love a person long enough and there's really not much they could do to destroy your connection with them. And I suppose, that is a sort of unconditional love. It's the way we love our families, our friends, espeically our children. But what about the people we don't have history with? How often do we love them unconditonally?

I don't know about you but I tend to size a person up upon meeting them. I label them. She's a nice dresser. He 's nice. She's friendly. I compile a subconscious list of things I observe as I spend time with a person and at some point, usually decide I might like to spend more time with them and eventually pursue a friendship on some level. Sometimes I'm not all that attracted to what I observe. He isn't very friendly. She seems snotty. He isn't very deep. These people I tend to pass over. I'm not usually rude to them, but I write them off rather quickly and don't pursue any further contact.

There was a time in my life when loving the unlovable came easy. I had less pressures. Less time contraints. Less distractions. These days it seems I'm always running somewhere, attending something, working on something. I rarely have time to meet new people, let alone puruse a relationship with someone who seems unlovable.

I may not often find myself in a soup kitchen or at a homeless shelter, but reading that quote from Denver this morning made me realize that not all of the unconditional loving in the world takes place in the missions, or shelters or kitchens. Alot of the unconditional loving that needs to be done can happen right where I already exsist. The bleachers, the work room, the car pools and the grocery lines; these are places filled with people who need to feel unconditional love. But as I choose who to sit by or stand by, or work by, I need to do that without any sort of sizing up taking place. Because the unconditional part doesn't happen after there's a shared history. The unconditional part happens at first glance. It's reaching out in love to someone I wouldn't "want to love anyway", and offering them my heart.

Someone loved Denver like that. They loved him at first sight even when what they saw seemed unlovable and for Denver it made all the difference in the world.

I want to love like that. I want to love uncondionally....the way I now understand it...the very way I have been loved. I want to love... like that.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

It matters to me

What matters?

I mean what… really… matters?

And what are the qualifications for giving something that distinction of, well, mattering? Standing the test of time? Do things that stand the test of time matter because they do? How about providing respite from the chaos and pressure of life? Does something that distracts or calms or comforts then, matter? Intangibility. Does it factor in to what matters or what doesn’t?

If we were in Haiti right now I suspect our definition of what matters would gain some serious perspective.

But, we’re not in Haiti right now.

Does that matter?

The basketball game last night mattered to me. I hated that about myself. I hated that it mattered. And it mattered a lot. For a moment. And then it didn’t. So the things that matter only momentarily… do they really matter at all?

I spent time today with a very close friend and it was wonderful. The connection mattered a lot to me. Tonight I’ll be with friends who share my heart and matter a great deal in my life. Do these things matter more because the relationships have an impact that lasts for a lifetime, or do they matter less because if there were an earthquake tomorrow I couldn’t take them with me to heaven. I couldn’t take anything with me to heaven.

Only Christ.

Only Christ matters. What does that mean?

What about the way the basketball game brought happiness to my heart? Was that me realizing one aspect of the chief end of man? “Enjoying God?” I was enjoying my kid on the court. How God made him. I was granted a reprieve for a few hours from the pressures and responsibilities of life and just able to enjoy the game. Does Christ care about basketball? Does He care about me enjoying it? Because that might make it matter.

The relationships with my family and friends. I see Christ in that. Does that mean they matter?

I love to decorate, my house, weddings, events…. Those things seem not to matter. But what if to me they do? How do I know that they matter to Him?

I don’t know.

The answer to what matters is an easy one and yet… clearly not.

I just don’t know.