Reality Reflection: Proud to be Patient

The name of today’s game is patience.  Yes, it is almost a game when you’re being patient, or trying to be sometimes. It can be really challenging sometimes to be patient when all you want to do is just do it yourself or force them to understand, since clearly they’re not doing it right or getting what needs to be done.  And when it’s their turn to be patient with us, we tend to forget the difficulty we had being patient with them.

So what’s the lesson in patience?  The first lesson of patience is that it’s a universal thing, it’s not like saying I have a president and you have a king, or I like spicy food and you don’t, or I live in a house in a small city and you live in an apartment in a big city.  It’s not something you can really pick and choose.

The other lesson is in having a lack of patience.  Taking quick action is helpful sometimes, without the quick action of our emergency and rescue personnel there would be many more injuries and casualties than there are.  But most situations that we deal with on a regular basis aren’t life and death, they’re things that can be given two extra minutes to really communicate things and work through confusion before taking decisive action or saying something that could bite you later.

Love is being patient with ourselves and with others because we know the rewards that come with that little extra hug, that extra minute and that extra care.  Are you avoiding love and patience for a reason or have you experienced the benefits of them in your life?

Mixed Victories

This week I read the news that three aircraft missing for 76 years have been found by a nonprofit that does this kind of work. The 3 planes from WW2 were lost fighting in the western Pacific in February of 1944, and their families have been wondering ever since. It’s exciting news because another of the many mysteries in the world have been solved, and it’s a victory for the families to finally know where their loved ones have rested for many years. But as the article reminded, it’s such a bittersweet victory because yes something that has been missing has been found, but it’s the grave for these 7 crew members.

I’m a big Titanic fan (not the movie, the boat) and that’s one of the things that the people who found the Titanic have always talked about in the interviews they’ve done and is seen in the film from the day the found the ship: that parallel with the excitement of finding the boat that had been lost, is the fact that they just found the grave of more than 1,500 people. It’s a very sobering reality and difficult work to be in.

Sometimes this is the way victories are. It doesn’t make the achievement any less of a victory, and in some cases it becomes a more important victory because of the tragedy or sadness or struggle surrounding it and the peace and/or knowledge you’re able to share with someone. It’s not easy doing the work of investigating crimes, looking for lost and possibly deceased bodies, or searching for lost ships and planes, but all of those people play an important role in our world, one that shouldn’t be taken for granted or disregarded.

It doesn’t matter how long it takes, how many teams have to work on it, if there’s some pain involved, or the resource cost, some victories are just worth it. And when it comes to getting answers for those who don’t have them, those victories are worth working on a little harder and longer. As you consider your victories and the work you’re doing this week, I encourage you to think about the bigger picture and all the lives that you can positively impact through what you’re doing, and the contribution you can make to the world. It may not seem big like finding a lost ship or plane, but to someone it might be the world.

Representing Jesus

Over the past week my heart has been breaking all over again with regards to some of the people that we share this world with. We’ve learned in recent days of violent acts with no pursuit of justice, and tons of rude, inconsiderate and violent acts of people towards others with regard to social distancing, masks and plain and simple human courtesy and decency. We’ve seen many signs of people supporting each other in whatever ways they can right now, but there’s also been an embarrassing amount of lost human decency over the past few weeks. Almost as if the virus has had two different influences in the population: one good, one bad.

Colossians 3:17 says “And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”

There are lots of ways that we can live up to what this verse says, and Jesus certainly showed a whole variety of them. Sometimes we are a representative by doing or talking about spiritual things, but more often than not it isn’t specifically about or through a spiritual action or word. After all, faith is a very personal practice. Yes, God asks us to share about Him with the world, but there’s a lot more that goes on in any person’s life than what they share with the world, and God has a personal relationship with each of us.

But there are some words are used in the Bible and encouraged by Jesus that speak to the most basic ways to be a representative for Jesus: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5). You don’t have to have one specific faith practice to be able to do any of them, nor would it be assumed that you were of a faith practice by doing any of them.

There’s still a lot of struggle to work through, a lot more patience that’s needed from all of us around the world, and a lot more teamwork than we’ve probably ever seen before. I can’t answer to the medical and scientific side of this virus, but I can definitely answer to the human side and where it has to go from here. If we aren’t willing to accept the value in the lives of the other humans around us, if we aren’t willing to be patient with each other, if we can’t learn to truly care for others even a fraction as much as we do ourselves, then we’ll never be able to even come close to realizing the dreams we have for our world, let alone be able to look back on this virus many years from now with any kind of positivity or pride.

Reality Reflection: Shock, Teamwork and Patience

2020 has been a crazy year so far, and we’re a long way from being done with this year or the virus that’s upset so many of our lives in the US and around the world. I won’t rehash what we’ve been saying for a month now, but the fact is that since this isn’t something most of us have ever experienced before, and we all felt some level of shock over the fast turn of events provided by this virus. They don’t talk about shock in the well-known 5 stages of grief, and yet as much as many of us have grieved over the changes that we’ve experienced, I think shock is the primary emotion that people have felt. Sure, there’s a lot of anger, sadness, confusion, frustration and some of us have found some joy as well, which means it’s been an emotional couple of months, and that’s likely to continue as long as this virus is part of our lives.

We’ve seen the mixed opinions from around the world as people want everyone to stay home longer or think no one should be home or wear masks, and it really doesn’t matter which side you’re on, because life does have to resume at some point, and most of us can’t wait forever (we’re not independently wealthy or resourced enough to). Knowing that life has to resume at some point in time, as much fun and as educational as this time has been, there are two things that are important to keep in the forefront of our lives as we move forward. First is that as you’ve probably heard said on the TV, we’re all in this together. If we’re really all in this together, that means that we should be working together with give and take and lots of communication to get through this. Second, is to be patient with each other.

Both of these are things that many of us have struggled with for years, and it turns out they’re things that we should think of for more than just this virus, too. As much as I would like to return to my life as quickly as possible now that the shock has largely worn off, the reality is that it’s more important than ever to think about others and to be patient with each other as we deal with the myriad of challenges that the virus has created and will continue to create. Hopefully we’ll find that what we’ve learned through this virus about working together and being patient will be lasting lessons.

Succeeding When Stalled or Stuck

Have you ever felt stalled? I know much of our world seems to be stuck in place right now, hopefully slowly getting back to moving again, but this virus has done what hasn’t happened before, and that’s halt us all in our tracks. On top of feeling stuck in our personal and work lives right now, I feel like the world may have paused as well. Spring seemed like it was getting ready to go and I thought we’d be in full bloom by Easter and leaves on trees by May, but May is a few days away and I don’t feel like we’re where we should be with mother nature. Of course, for those who have nice gardens to be out in right now, the slower approach of spring means that you could get everything cleaned up before all the greenery got in your way. But for the rest of us it’s a bit discouraging and all too similar to our lives.

Sometimes we get stalled out when we’re working on victories. I’ve worked from home for many years now and I’ve had to learn what some people are only learning now about how to work and be productive. When you get stalled there are a couple of things you can do. First, you can work on something else that has to get done. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a to-do list, so when you’re stuck getting your brain thinking about other things can be the tool that helps you have the breakthrough on what was stuck. You can also try eating something or preparing food for the next meal (cutting or pre-cooking), cleaning, or exercising. Even a walk around the block can be a great way to get your brain moving again. Of course you can also call a friend and ask them for ideas or just talk through the issue with them. Also, some people choose to work on the things that challenge them most when they first get going for the day, or when they know they’ll be most productive.

Of course, it all means that you have to know yourself and how you work and think. Sometimes I know I can push through on something I get stalled on and it will get done, even if it may take a little longer. But other times I know I’m too distracted or too focused on the time or completely off my game and it’s best to do something else for a time. I’ve shared in the past that I keep a piece of paper next to me at all times when I’m working because I can jot down things that come to mind that need my attention or I think of or I have a question about that’s not related to what I’m working on, and then I can get back to work without doing that thing or getting fully distracted (and I don’t get mad that I don’t remember it later).

The good news is that with every victory big and small that I’ve ever worked on and gotten stalled doing, I was able to complete or see a light at the end of a tunnel. Some victories take longer to achieve than others and sometimes the stall takes much longer to work through than you want it to, but with patience and effort, you can work through it. What are your tips for creating victories when you get stalled?

Waiting with Jesus

In the past few weeks something has been changing in my partner’s life (and my life), something that I’ve been hoping would happen for a few years now. It’s a good thing and I’m on some pins and needles waiting to see if it’s really going to stick around or if I’m going to have to be a little more patient for a little longer. The funny thing is I wasn’t really aware that I was waiting for it, until things began to change a few weeks back. It got me thinking about Jesus this week and how challenging this week must have been for Him after the big celebration of Palm Sunday.

Palm Sunday is in some ways like a big countdown, the beginning of the end for Jesus: the road to the cross and the grave and the resurrection. Since He knew from the very beginning that He would be born on Earth to save us (and agreed to come for exactly that purpose), and He was fully divine while here on Earth, He knew this would be coming at some point in time, and now that we’ve reached and passed Palm Sunday, the wait is almost over.

But how challenging was this week for Jesus, waiting for Thursday and then Friday to arrive, and knowing the challenges that those days would hold? There’s nothing like it that we can really relate to, because as much as we might understand the anticipation of waiting for Christmas or our birthdays or the tooth fairy or the Easter bunny, there’s not a huge challenge to face before we get there. Jesus had to wait through the week knowing that coming up would be the toughest days of His time on Earth, and also tough for those who loved Him. He couldn’t rush through the week or His life to get through Good Friday to get to Easter, He had to live it one day at a time.

In this virus situation that we’re facing as a world we’re all waiting too. We may be hopeful for an Easter Miracle, but whether that shows up or not, we’re all hoping that we can return to some semblance of normal before too long. But unlike Jesus, we don’t know how it will all end or exactly what we’ll face to get to that point. In some ways I think that if Jesus waited some 30 years to get through this week, the rest of us can get through these few weeks and months of the virus. But on the other hand I think it was easier for Jesus because He knew exactly what was ahead of Him and exactly what would be required of Him, and exactly what victory would be achieved on the other end, He just had to wait for it all to happen.

Whatever you’re waiting for today, know that Jesus can identify with what you’re facing. He will wait with you and encourage you each step of the way if you let Him. Jesus had to go through what He did this week very much alone, but we don’t have to, and for that I’m very thankful.

Lessons in Waiting

Today I want to pose a question to you: What are you waiting for?

I read this question the other day and it got me thinking about how life works and waiting. Sometimes you feel like life is stuck or you’re not sure what step to take next, and if you look behind that feeling of frustration you’ll probably find something that you’re waiting for. Maybe it’s something magical or spiritual that you’re waiting for, or maybe it’s simply a helping hand from a friendly stranger, or maybe it’s an age you are waiting to reach, or a deadline you set for yourself. Whatever it is, sometimes the biggest key to breaking through the frustration is realizing that you were waiting for something in the first place, because once you know you’re waiting, you’re able to get out there and work towards that goal or release that thing you’re waiting for.

There’s nothing wrong with waiting for things in life, I know it seems like society has tried to teach us otherwise, but waiting is a normal and healthy part of life. It teaches us that some things are worth waiting for (like Christmas each year), or that sometimes we have to earn things, or that sometimes when we wait we realize or find out that what we were wanting isn’t good or right for us. Waiting also gives us time to build relationships and put effort into things, rather than just having things handed to us and losing the substance that instantaneous often doesn’t create.

Waiting sometimes also gives us the opportunity to be brave and strike out on our own or take action to make things happen that wouldn’t get done or wouldn’t get done in a particular way if it was just handed to us. That time of waiting can help develop skills and confidence and expose us to things that we would miss out on otherwise, things that are crucial to our success or growth in the future.

So what are you waiting for today? Is it something you should take action on rather than waiting any longer? Is it something you should stop waiting for and move on to something else? Or is it teaching you patience and encouraging you to slow down in life? What are you waiting for?

Reality Reflection: Weather or not

One of the things that the internet and speed at which information spreads has allowed is a more global discussion on weather. No, I’m not going in the direction of melting icebergs today, I’m talking about the hurricane that’s currently somewhere off of Florida. I tend to be more of someone who looks outside the window and guesses what the weather will be like that day, with of course a nod to what the calendar says and the season we’re in, typically looking in on the predicted weather once a week or so, unless there’s something specific going on that will be affected by the weather.

But like many other people I do check out the huge storms that develop, even if they’re not going to land anywhere near me. There’s something fascinating about a storm that big. Yes, it’s scary and terrible in terms of destruction, and you never want lives to be lost as a result of the storms, but there’s so much power that we don’t see in our lives on a regular basis that it’s really hard to ignore the news and not look into the progress and watch the videos and live streams and see the before and after pictures.

But even with all of our technology we’re still on the side of “it might not happen like that” when it comes to weather. This upcoming hurricane is a great example as it was predicted to hit Florida all along, but right now it looks like it’s going to travel up right off the coast and hit higher up in the US. Just last winter we were predicted to get maybe a few flurries and that storm ended up being one of the biggest of the season, causing tons of traffic accidents and issues. Sometimes they’ll predict rain and you won’t get any. The examples go on. I am OK when it’s not as serious as they’re predicting, but it’s frustrating when it’s way worse than what they predicted.

In some ways it’s good to have something so unpredictable with our very controlled lives. It’s also a good reminder that we certainly don’t know everything yet and really don’t have all that much control over our lives. It’s also a good reminder that we’re still so very dependent on and affected by mother nature and that she’s very independent of us and it’s wise of us to give her the respect she deserves. Sometimes the best thing we can do with our lives is to be patient, take it slow and be prepared.

30 Days of Thanksgiving: God is gracious

I’m amazed that God still calls us His children, even after all the ways that we screw things up or don’t follow through in the right ways. It’s an honor and privilege to be called His children, one I think we forget about from time to time because we don’t have a relationship with God exactly like we do with most of the important people in our lives. Most of them we see on a regular basis or talk to on the phone or over Skype or something similar where we see them. Even long distance relationships aren’t the same as the relationship we have with God.

But God never forgets us, He continues to be giving towards us and one of the most important things is that He gracious and forgiving of us. God doesn’t want us to sin but knows that’s part of our human experience that we’re (hopefully) working on getting better at. It can’t be easy for God to forgive us as often as He does for some of us, but it has to be rewarding when He sees we’ve learned our lesson and don’t repeat the same mistake again.

While we shouldn’t enjoy trying God’s patience, and it’s humbling to realize exactly how patient He is with us, God’s patience is something I’m very thankful for. It’s a good lesson for us to learn, that if He can be that patient with us, surely we can be a little more patient with and forgiving towards the people we interact with on a daily basis.

If you’ve been trying of God’s patience lately I encourage you to find the motivation in you this holiday season to really step up and work on yourself.  Holidays are a time for celebration, and there’s no better reason to celebrate than personal growth and a closer and healthier relationship with God.

Reminders from God

Sometimes we get so caught up in life that we forget to stop and take a moment, or we’re so focused on one direction that we can’t see the way God is trying to lead us.  Let’s take a look at some of the reminders in the Bible:

There’s a lot we can’t see, and a lot to hope for:
“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.”  Hebrews 11:1

Use your words wisely:
“A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.”  Proverbs 15:1

Live with joy:
“I will be filled with joy because of you.  I will sing praises to your name, O Most High.”  Psalm 9:2

If God can forgive and be merciful, can’t we?:
“But you are a God of forgiveness, gracious and merciful, slow to become angry, and rich in unfailing love.”  Nehemiah 9:7b

God saves us, leads us and teaches us:
“Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.”  Psalm 25:5

God is generous, gracious, and loving:
“Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus.”  1 Timothy 1:14

We belong to God, and are to worship Him:
“For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship…”  Acts 27:23 ESV

Choose patience:
“Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride.”  Ecclesiastes 7:8

Don’t give up:
“I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”  Philippians 3:14

Each of our days include thousands of interactions, experiences and relationships, each with the potential to teach us something, help us heal in some way, make us a better person, put us in a position to help someone else, or reveal another aspect of who God is to us and who we are to Him.  It’s up to us to be open to where life takes us and where God sends us, and to pay attention to what’s going on around us.  What has God shared with you recently?