Lately I’ve been thinking (again) about the rush that most of us live our lives being and doing. We’re so busy, trying to pack something into every second it seems. And in some ways I can understand because there’s a lot of life to be lived and lots of things to do and we’ll never be able to complete them all in our (short) life time. But I think that pressure and decision to say yes to so many things has had a negative impact on our relationships. I don’t think that we take the time often enough to really think about what we say or how we talk to people. Sometimes we’re so focused on being right or doing something our way that we’re not able to see the value in doing it another way, and we’re certainly not willing to admit that we don’t know everything.
I believe we can all learn something from everyone on the planet. Maybe it’s just one or two things, but those things can have great value. But when we go into a conversation or relationship with our minds already made up in how a conversation will go or how smart we are (and they’re not) or making a decision without really listening or getting all the facts, it’s not only hurtful to them, but can have a negative impact on us as well.
Just because someone is younger than you, is older than you, is from another country, went through a divorce, went through bankruptcy, doesn’t like pets, or likes your favorite sports team’s biggest rivals doesn’t mean that they can’t have good ideas, can’t teach you something and aren’t worth a few minutes of your time really listening to what they have to say. The same is true for advice, just because it’s free doesn’t mean it’s bad or because it costs a lot it’s good.
I don’t think it’s (just) about trying to pack every minute of every day full, it’s about making sure to use your time wisely and make the most of your life. Some of the best moments of your life will be with other people. Some of those great moments will only happen if you slow down and take the time to meet someone new, take the time to build up existing relationships or make amends in one that you’ve damaged. I encourage you to take time to slow down this weekend and really watch where you’re going, listen to the full explanation or conversation before making decisions, and suspend judgment a bit longer than you do normally. What will you experience with an open mind this weekend?
This week I was visiting the Facebook page of an author I enjoy and saw that their PR person (and friend) had posted an update sharing a little on the health issues the author has had, explaining some of the delays to books being published or written and had some choice words for the people who leave negative comments about how long it takes for books to get done or why the author hasn’t written books they’ve been promising for years.
I know it’s not easy to be disappointed and to wait for things that you’re looking forward to, but no one actually schedules into their life getting sick, divorces, job loss, flat tires or rebellious kids (or any of the other things that pop up into our lives). I also understand the interest in and need for schedules and deadlines, it’s an important way to make sure things in life (including work) keep moving forward. But when you’re more concerned by the work than your own health or the health of someone else, I get worried.
I personally love to read, and of course I’m a little sad when I hear that it’s going to be another 6 months or year until one of my favorite authors is coming out with a new book, not to mention how bad I feel for the author and all they’re going through. But one, I’d rather know the author will write again, than that they’re dead or done writing. Second, there are so many authors out there in every genre to read that to say you’ve only got one author you read and be completely dependent on them for books is pretty silly. Finally, if you’re so worked up over the fact that a fiction book isn’t being published or written yet that you have to leave nasty comments, I would have serious questions about your attitude towards life and about what goes on in your life.
But this is about more than just one author or one book, it’s about how we treat each other. What gives you the right to bash on someone else? It’s one thing to give feedback to someone or a company in a private manner, it’s another to tell the whole world how they’ve failed you and how pissed you are. There are a few situations when that’s appropriate, but that’s not the typical case. There’s also a difference between helping someone move on from a person or situation in their life and being rude and nasty about how stuck they’ve gotten and how stupid you think they’re being. I know it can be a difficult line to find and not cross, especially in this very public world that we live in, but my encouragement to you would be to take a step back before you offer criticism or say what you’re thinking before you think about it.
I encourage you to choose words that will help, encourage and support this week, and look to build up your relationships, not destroy them.
I was reading a very interesting article about how rivers can be a representation of our lives. The other option is to be a stagnant pool of water. I don’t know about you but I’d rather be a moving river than a mosquito home. Throughout the Bible the topic of rivers are returned to again and again, including a very painting-worthy passage in Ezekiel 47. Rivers were often used because the people knew them to be a source of life, and in using them as a teaching example the listeners could more easily understood the concept of the living word and life of God, especially before the birth and death of Jesus (although there are lots of examples in the New Testament, too).
Where are you at in your life right now? Are you in a stagnant place? Or are you being swept away by life? Or are you moving along with life, taking it as it comes? The funny thing about rivers is that they can do a real good job of hiding the truth. What can look like a peaceful spot can be deadly to dive into or a bottomless pit or have an incredible current that will sweep you under before you know what’s happening. People too can hide the truth, there are countless people all around the globe that are hiding their real feelings, hurts, frustrations, fears and maybe even their joys. They hide because they’re afraid that if people knew the real them, they would be judged. And the unfortunate thing is many would be judged, humiliated, laughed at or not taken seriously, that’s how too much of our world works.
As people of faith we’ve got a responsibility to step up and be better people. It’s unfortunate that we too have at times fallen into the judgment zone, trying to look all perfect to the world while struggling privately. No, we’re not supposed to live as sinfully as others in the world do, but Christian or not we’re still human and have our not so great moments. We have many of the same challenges to face as others do around the world, we just know that we can go into the rushing river with an excellent rescue team on hand for us (the people at our church or Bible Study or other faith-based group, not to mention God).
Is this your week to conquer the river in your life? I encourage you to be brave and say that enough is enough, and choose to move as your life (and God) directs.
This week I got the news that a family friend is getting very close to the end of his journey. He’s had medical problems for years and things have worsened and now he and his wife are working with hospice. The man has always had a great sense of humor, is good to his friends, loves his wife, and has really endured through serious medical issues in a positive way that you don’t often see. He’s not perfect, none of us are, and I’m sure that he’s had his moments of anger and frustration, as well as fear and sadness, especially at this point in time.
It’s not easy to know the end is very close, whether it’s your life or that of someone you know well, especially when they’re one of those ‘good people.’ No, it’s not good to wish anyone were dead or think it’s better to lose someone who has some not so great habits (everyone has a family and a mother), but when the world loses a bright soul it seems like it’s felt even more. What would you do if you knew that your end was near? I would hope that you would take advantage of every moment you have with those you love, and maybe even do a splurge or two that you’ve always wanted, like take a special trip with your partner or kids, maybe even take the opportunity to try and mend a few fences.
As I was reflecting on the impending loss of this friend it got me thinking about the other side of death and loss, the side of the living. We don’t go anywhere when someone we know or love dies, we’re still here. And often we end up at a funeral or life celebration talking about them with other friends and family. It’s not often that we’ve got the opportunity to let someone know what they meant to us and how thankful we are that they’ve been in our life before they pass. It adds something to the grieving process for both sides, to be able to share that with them and support and love them, and it can make their last days very meaningful and happy, instead of painful and sad.
Loss is never easy, especially when it’s someone we’ve known for a very long time, and known on a very personal level. But the way things work right now, everything comes to an end. So I do encourage you to take a little time to reflect on how you want your end to go and make sure that you’ve got things clearly written down, but more so I encourage you to make as many memories as you can, to love as big as you can and to enjoy as much of life as you can.
Today in some religious circles is the day known as Good Friday, the day that Jesus was crucified on the cross. It’s a difficult day for us to think about, and it was a difficult thing for the people Jesus lived with to witness, and even more difficult for Jesus who was human to experience. He felt what we would feel if we were crucified, He didn’t hide from the pain or use his powers as the Son of God to deflect or bypass it. From all the records we know it was a brutal experience, which was kind of the point. But Jesus knew what He was getting into going in because He’s Gods’ Son, and He also knew what was yet to come: the Resurrection and Easter Sunday.
We don’t always know what the end result will be in situations in our lives. Sometimes we hope that the end we want is what will happen, sometimes we just hope for some kind of good result, other times we’re resigned to what is most likely to come. There will always be a result, sometimes it will be what we want or hope for, other times it’s not. But what we have to do is what Jesus did for 3 days: wait.
It’s not easy to wait, especially when we’re anticipating good things like Easter baskets or Christmas morning. It’s also hard to wait when we know we’re faced with a not so good ending like the death of a loved one from a disease or the loss of our job when a company takes ours the one we work for. In our fast paced world we like when things move at the speed of the internet or a fast food restaurant. One of the reasons we wait is because while we could have a result quicker, sometimes to get to the best result it takes more time. We’ve managed to do a lot to make things work better and happen faster in the world with all of our innovations, but two of the things we haven’t affected yet is the ability to affect the days and the time. We’re still bound by the rules of the universe when it comes to them.
But there’s no rule that says you have to be miserable while you wait or not work towards good outcomes even if the only likely result that can occur is not a happy one. But we can make all the moments up to and following that event good ones. I think one of the things that helped Jesus through His suffering was knowing what was on the other side of it. We may not know what’s on the other side of our pains and life challenges, but we can certainly have the attitude that whatever it is, we’ll be able to work through it with God’s help and the help of the people in our lives.
This month one of the topics we’re talking about is love. It’s a big topic and one that impacts all of us on a regular basis. Today I want to talk about one aspect of love that’s always controversial, the topic of happiness. Some people see love as the answer to their everlasting happiness, and that’s not surprising given the number of happy endings and happily ever afters we’re seeing on TV and movies or reading about. And love can play a role in happiness, some of the happiest people I know have love in their lives. But there are also people who expect love to bring them that happiness or create happiness in their life and don’t experience it. In some cases love did exist and then life happened and the love changed or died. That happens, but it’s not the full answer to the love/happiness debate.
Let’s start with the good side of love and happiness: it works. People who have love in their life, whether the love of a pet, a family member, a significant other or a career that they love and truly fulfills them are often happier than those who don’t. Those bonds of love can be part of the reason that they’re happy and give them the courage and strength to work through challenges that happen as a natural part of life, meaning they’re unhappy less often than other people. Of course the reverse can be true as well: those who are happy tend to have more love in their life. It’s not really easy to love a grump, but it is easier to love those who have a good attitude towards life.
That’s not to say that love or happiness means you’ll never have problems or that life will be perfect. That’s not true for anyone, not even the happiest or most in-love person. Everyone has bad days. Those who depend on the love of another for their happiness are taking a big risk and putting a lot of responsibility where it doesn’t really belong. It’s no one’s job but yours to ensure your happiness, health or satisfaction with life. If you’re not in a situation that makes you happy and you’ve really given it a full effort to make it work you should leave. I’m not encouraging that you chase every rainbow or every bit of greener grass, but if you’re not in a good situation and you can’t make it better and the other people in the situation won’t help you make it better, then be encouraged that there are many other opportunities and people out there. You may find that you have to kiss a few frogs first as the saying goes though.
We’ll be talking on the Life and Business blog tomorrow more about the relationship between love, happiness and relationships, but for today I want to finish here with a bit of encouragement. Love can be messy, as can life. But I believe there is hope and happiness to be found in each and every day if we’re open to it and willing to work for it.
We’re almost at the end of the month now, this month has had lots of ups and downs including the official end of winter and start of spring. One of the reasons I like spring is because it is all about new beginnings. This month one of the things we’ve talked about is commitment. I know that sometimes, even if you’re committed to something it’s necessary to recommit yourself to it. Sometimes we recommit because we’ve not been the most committed, but other times we recommit to reinforce and restate our commitment, but not because of failure or mistake.
Recommitting to something or someone isn’t a bad thing, it means you’ve recognized how important that thing or person is in your life and you want to make that clear to yourself or others. Recommitting yourself can give that motivation, that fresh breath of air, that burst of energy you’d been missing. It can also be the chance you’ve been needing to ask for the help or make the changes you’ve been struggling with or contemplating or even avoiding.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having or choosing to recommit. The issue comes when the recommitting isn’t taken to heart, if you don’t follow through on the reasons and purpose behind the recommitting. There’s no point to recommitting if you’re not going to do what it will take to make it work or keep working. So before we end this month I encourage you to make a firm decision about your future. What does it hold? Are you committed to seeing through the path your on or is it time to make a new commitment?