Reality Reflections: Appreciating Responsibilities

This month we’ve talked some about the topic of responsibilities, and this past week I found myself in an ironic situation when I wished that I didn’t have the responsibility of doing the dishes when everyone else was watching TV or sleeping.  I don’t mind doing dishes, I even find it a bit soothing, but sometimes we can find ourselves wanting a break from even the responsibilities we’ve chosen as adults.  But knowing how little my partner enjoys doing them, it was either me or no one.

Of course it got me thinking about responsibilities, both those that are handed to us as well as those we choose, and about some of our other needs and desires like love, support and freedom.  It’s not always easy to be the adult, some days you want days off for headaches and illness or just to get a break from life.  Sometimes you can take those days, but other times you’ve got to step it up and push through because you’ve got responsibilities to yourself and others.  It’s not easy to choose to push through after a full day of pushing through.

The other ironic thing is that after I got over my annoyance and did the dishes I actually felt better because the kitchen was neater and who doesn’t like clean dishes, right?!  Sometimes I think we get caught in the responsibility aspect and forget why we do it or the benefits of doing it.  Yes, some responsibilities are a burden, but very few come without rewards.  It’s something that I’m going to work on remembering this week, and adjusting my attitude when necessary towards my responsibilities.

Free to be Honest and Open

Lately I’ve been captured by the TalkSpace commercial featuring Michael Phelps. For those who haven’t seen the commercial you can watch it here, and if you’re not familiar with TalkSpace it’s an online/phone therapy help line. Now that you’ve seen the commercial (spoiler alert) what has interested me with the commercial is how clear Phelps is with the fact that he’s struggled and that he wishes he had gotten help earlier.

I’m humbled by his willingness to speak about the issues he’s faced and may still be facing. Often we look at celebrities as people who must have their lives together, when in fact that’s not the case and their celebrity status is actually hiding serious struggles from the world, something we saw at the beginning of the summer with two celebrity suicides. It’s not easy to admit that you’re not as perfect as the world sees you or thinks you are.

But more people are speaking up about their challenges, weaknesses, failings and struggles. Why? Because we’re all human. While leaders do have a responsibility to be their best and set a good example, no one is perfect and most people have at least one ‘dark night of the soul’ in their lives. It’s not about flaunting failures or issues, but about speaking to other people with honesty and openness about your struggles so they can relate and hopefully feel comfortable getting help like you have.

Don’t let your weaknesses or challenges hold you back, choose to get the help you need so you can move on and live your life more fully. You’re not alone in the world with your issues and thanks to internet advances there are ways that you can get help without ever visiting an office or feeling forced to share parts of your life with the whole world.   Will you choose honesty today?

Prayer for Students

This month we’ve been talking a bit about the topic of responsibility, one of those responsibilities is to the younger generations, both on a spiritual level as well as a whole-life level. We have to give them the tools that we’ve got as well as do our best to prepare them for what is yet to come that we don’t know about yet; challenges and opportunities that have never been seen before.

This week on Wednesday students around the US will be gathering around the flagpoles at their schools to pray for each other as well as our nation. It’s a moment where they step up and take responsibility for themselves and their school mates, the future leaders of the world. This week the rest of the US has the opportunity to pray for students and the people they will become as well, and for those who teach them and guide them.

Each year the organization behind See You At The Pole selects a passage to focus that year’s prayers on, this year it’s Ephesians 3:14: “I fall on my knees before the Father.” I encourage you to check out what they’ve shared about the thought behind their choice of passage on their website. What stood out to me was that the verse really is a reminder to pray, to seriously dedicate yourself and time to praying for what’s going on in your life and the world around you and taking the time to develop a relationship with God. We don’t always dedicate the time and effort to prayer that we should, and this verse is a reminder to do exactly that.

I encourage you to devote some of your prayer time this week for students, both those who will pray around the pole on Wednesday and those who will not, that this year will be a positive one and full of opportunities that will help shape students into the men and women that they will become.

Reality Reflection: Enjoying Autumn

Tomorrow is officially the first day of autumn. As I was thinking about what to write today I reflected on some of the things that people think of when they think of autumn like all things pumpkin, colorful leaves, cute (and ugly) sweaters, warm beverages and upcoming holidays. I’m a huge fan of summer so often it’s tough for me to transition to autumn, but as I thought about what to write today I didn’t want to write about that sorrow or sadness, but instead wanted to focus on the excitement that comes along with this time of year and this season.

There’s plenty that you can talk about on a daily basis that’s challenging, hurting, difficult or frustrating. As much as change is challenging or hard, there’s almost always another side to it, a very positive and exciting side, which is what I’m choosing to look at as we make this transition.

So my focus this season will be on enjoying it. On finding things to appreciate each and every day that are seasonal. To wake up and not dread the cold, dark mornings that seem to last longer and stronger, but celebrate finding another tree that’s revealing a new colorful coat, or watching the animals bury their nuts and seeds for winter use, or watching one store after another start to decorate in ways that they only really do these last 3 months of the year. I choose to enjoy this new season of our lives. Will you enjoy it with me?

Going with Gratitude

Tomorrow, September 21, is World Gratitude Day. In the US and some other countries we have a Thanksgiving Day, which people of all backgrounds can celebrate because it’s a day that’s focused on the country’s history (and not any specific religious or cultural group), and started originally as a day to come together and celebrate being alive and a year of good crops. World Gratitude Day is a lot like that, but on a much bigger scale, because it’s world wide and anyone and everyone can take time to be thankful.

As I was reflecting on gratitude and being thankful today, the thing that came up again and again was the importance of our words. We can do so much damage with our words, including when we don’t say anything. In the news each day are examples of people not using their words wisely, or having used them thoughtlessly and violence has resulted. You could also talk to many people about their careers and they would tell you that words of thanks and gratitude are few and far between. What has happened in the world that we’ve stopped telling people how thankful we are for them?

I think part of the reason we’re not as vocally thankful is because of all the automation. When the food just shows up in the grocery store we don’t think about the thousands of people who were involved in getting it to your hands and into your cart. When we pick up our takeout order or get our order delivered we don’t see all the people who cooked it or were involved in all the things that happened before you ordered it. Because of the almost effortless way we can order online and have things show up at our doors, we can forget that there’s someone, an actual person, on the other end of the website.

So my challenge to you this World Gratitude Day would be that you would step up and tell people ‘thank you;’ that you would let them know you appreciate what they do and how hard they work. And even if you can’t tell someone that you appreciate their part in the process, you can still take a minute to think about how many people were involved in making your day a little better, and send out a ‘thank you’ to the universe for all of them and all they do.

Faith for the Ages

This month we celebrate(d) days that speak to a whole variety of people. We had the holidays of Labor Day on the 3rd and Grandparents’ Day on the 9th, and coming up on the 26th is See You At The Pole Day, which is a day that students gather around the flagpole at their school and pray. One of the most awesome things about faith and spirituality is that it’s something for everyone. It’s not something that only young people are interested in or only senior citizens, or only people from one country or only people of one language, it’s something that can speak to anyone at any time throughout their lives.

The Bible begins with chosen groups of people, from Noah’s family to Abraham’s family to Joseph’s family to David’s family, all part of a chosen group of people: the Israelites, as those who are “God’s people”. Then in the New Testament things get turned on their heads and we’ve suddenly got Jesus dying for everyone’s sins, and then Peter dreams of a sheet of animals in Acts 10 which blows the field open more specifically and clearly saying that anyone and everyone is able to access Eternal Life through Jesus.

All of this says there’s never a wrong time to start to get to know God or to rebuild your relationship with Him. There’s nothing going on in your life that God hasn’t been through with someone else before. There’s nothing you can tell Him that will surprise Him. You can share the Good News with anyone whenever God gives you an opportunity. You can have your new day whenever you need it. Grandparents can sit and read Bible stories with grandchildren.  Partners can read together.  Parents and children can read together.  Anyone can join a Bible study and develop their faith and their faith community.  What have you learned and how has your faith journey changed as you’ve grown?

Reality Reflection: Baseball’s Long Season

Lately I’ve been thinking about the sport of baseball, especially since my partner watches a lot of it and we’re getting close to winding down another season. Each year teams play over 160 games, which is the most of any sport. While it may not be as physical as football or soccer, 160+ games are still a lot of games to play.

By the time you get to the end of the season it’s always interesting to see who is ahead in the number of games and who is still or now playing well. Some teams begin well and end well (but can’t win anything in between), some consistently do decently enough throughout the whole season to be in contention for post season, some don’t play well all season long, and some just play so well that there’s never a question during any part of the season that they’re going to be at the top of the ranks.

The long season is one reason why a team can get a second wind, even if it won’t totally fix a team’s (poor) season. That second wind is incredibly frustrating for fans because they want to see their team play that well all season long, and wonder why they can’t. It also causes me to think about the seasons of our lives and how sometimes we really need a little more time for things to develop, and that short and quick aren’t always the answer.

I think the secret to success during long journeys like this is to be able to get focused and stay focused for a sufficient period of time each day, to have a team that can support you and you can support them, to not have to or plan to rely on luck all the time, and to not just focus on the big win but work more on the smaller stepping stone victories that will lead to that bigger victory.