This may come as a big surprise to some but most of the people you meet do not know your story. Even the person you share most of your life with does not know your whole story. You may kiss them good-by each morning and welcome them home at the end of the day but that puts you roughly 8 hours out of touch. A lot can happen in those 8 hours.
Facebook and social media give us the illusion of connection. Photos of children and grandchildren, parties and special occasions, breakfast, lunch and dinner check-ins, and the handy reminder of everyone’s birthdays substitute for actual communication. Memes and widely circulated graphics post “safe” expressions of values or causes. Baby shower and bridal shower games reworked for quick social distribution take the place of time spent actually learning about each other.
I was rereading Mitch Albom’s book “Have A Little Faith” in which he gets to know a man who had a huge impact on his life when he asked Albom to do his eulogy. Albom knew about the man but only from a distant. Getting to know him up close and learn his story was a whole new level of knowing.
If you were to choose one person to know your story, the good and the bad, the highs and the depths, who would it be? How much do they already know? What have you held back?
If someone were to offer you their story, would you accept it? Would you have the time to receive the sacred gift being offered?
Is there anyone you trust with your story?
Would you tell me your story?
Over the past few months I have come to an understanding that I find ridiculous.
When I am asked how to do something my usual response is “That’s easy!” The thought behind my statement is that I can quickly handle that request or I can quickly teach the person how to do something or can explain it in just a few sentences or that the person asking will be able to master it in just a few minutes.
What I have come to understand is that it is often mistaken for “That’s so simple you should be able to do it without asking me” or “It may be too difficult for you to do but I can do it without any problems” or “Everyone knows how to do that already, why don’t you?”
Unfortunately, my use of “That’s easy!” has led to people deciding they would rather struggle with something instead of asking for help. They choose to make it harder when it could be easy.
I have also come to recognize that what’s easy for me may not really be easy for someone else. Each person has differing strengths and weaknesses. Each person has areas they can master and areas that they will never be able to grasp.
But the common hindrance seems to be pretty consistent. Pride.
“That’s easy!”, instead of being reassuring, pushes the pride defense button. The focus shifts from the original task or issue and becomes something deeper and personal. Instead of being open to learning and understanding, something raises up inside that brings the whole process to a grinding halt and often makes the whole situation worse instead of better. So what’s the solution?
That’s easy! Just stop saying “That’s easy!”
(Harder than it sounds.)
I have been looking for a women’s ministry group to join for the past couple of years. Mostly I go online, check out a church’s website and with a deep sigh leave the computer to rotate the laundry or let the dogs out.
This morning I cleared out a dozen or so emails, all from writers or programs or bloggers I have subscribed to at some point. Several of them were promotional in nature. A new webinar or an 8 week program to do whatever it is they are doing. One looked interesting but when I clicked on the link I couldn’t find pertinent information on how to sign up or when it starts. There was no on ramp. Time to let the dogs back in.
My frustration with both is very similar. There’s just no clearly marked on ramp. Women’s groups that have out of date or no calendar information, just an email address for a stranger, are not inviting. Programs that take the summer off or only offer book studies with clear start stop dates seldom match up to my moments of interest in participation. Online programs with no clear path to participation are not encouraging visitors to engage or sign up for the product no matter how timely the email marketing.
There is a reason they put big green signs on the side of the freeway letting drivers know how far to the next exit. There’s a reason they put signs indicating which on ramp to take if you want to go North or South or East or West. Just jumping on or off a ramp may not get you where you want to go. It may take you a long way the opposite direction.
Are you accessible? Are you flexible? Are you approachable? Are there clearly marked on ramps for someone interested in traveling with you for a while?
Few words stir the heart of a homemaker like the offer of a free housekeeper. Someone to do the heavy work of laundry or floors or the dreaded bathrooms.
We love our homes. We enjoy fixing them up to suit our style and personality. We might even break out a gallon of paint and change the colors every now and then. Rearranging the furniture is not out of the question.
But cleaning…. That’s something most people would love to hand off to someone else. It’s not creative. It’s not very rewarding. It’s considered a chore, a necessity but not fun.
As a writer I know it’s easier for me to focus when the laundry is done, the floors are clean and the house is presentable if someone should drop by for coffee.
Earlier this week I asked a group of bloggers if they used an editor for their posts or if they were going it alone. Every one who responded said they were on their own. They found the idea of an editor intrusive or restrictive or too academic. The idea of submitting it to someone before hitting the publish button didn’t sit very comfortably with any of them. I consider an editor like a housekeeper. If someone else can catch my typos, correct my syntax and undangle my participles I read like a better writer than I am.
Given the choice between a good housekeeper and a good editor I would take a good editor anyday.
Half of the college football teams who played today won.
And half lost.
But most college football players spent today wishing they were on the field instead of home watching on tv.
The chance to play comes to each of us every day.
Some days we will win.
Some days we will lose.
But everyday we have a chance to play.
Each and every one of those young athletes will tell you playing comes with hard work and dedication and, yes, some pain.
But they have the heart for the game and they would rather lose on the field than watch from the sidelines any day.
Do you have the heart?
Are you ready to do the hard work?
Are you dedicated?
Are you ready to take the field, win or lose, and play your best?
Last week I signed up for a 365 Day business development course. I’m on Day 5. I must admit I didn’t do Day 3 on Day 3 but did catch up on Day 3 and Day 4 last night. Which brings me to Day 5.
Today’s assignment is to make $1 doing something I care about. There are so many things I care about but thinking of them in terms of product or services changes the way I think about them.
So here’s my homework.
Send me the top 3 goals you have for 2014 and I will send you a list of 10 questions per goal to help you define and achieve those goals.
To order your 30 Questions for 2014 send just $5 per set of 3 goals to my paypal. Include your 3 goals in the notes to vendor box on Paypal and your questions will soon be on their way in time for you to answer by New Year’s Eve.
Tonight we will be listening to big band music at a casino. Not how I was brought up to spend the Sunday before Christmas but somehow this year it makes me feel closer to the original Christmas than I have in a long time.
You see I was invited. Not in the old fashioned invitation in the mail way but in the way that is most often used today, an event invite on Facebook.
Someone I know personally and have worked with over the past year plays with a great band. They have been booked to play the main room at San Jose’s casino tonight from 6pm-8pm.
The thing that makes me feel more like the first Christmas is just how far removed this is from all the trappings of the holiday I have grown up with and leaned on to remind me of the meaning of the season.
Over the same year or so I have worked with dozens of people who through scattered comments about their schedules or their experience have made it clear they are deeply connected with a church. But over that same year, not one invitation to come to their church. Not even at Christmas.
So tonight I’m going where I’ve been invited. I’m going where I was asked to come and experience what’s being offered.
The Messiah was long anticipated by some. Just a myth to others and most of the world He came to had no expectations at all. But even from the very beginning He didn’t demand or command welcome. He went where He was invited, where there was room, where only those in the know would find Him.
For the next year, for the next month, for the next week how different would your life be if you only went where you were invited?
How different would your next week be if you invited others to join you on your journey?
I called her because I had a strong memory of homemade divinity fudge from the years we would spend Christmas with her as a child. Not every year but every couple of years I would pull out an old cook book or download a recipe and try my hand at making my own batch of divinity. Never with any measure of success.
A few years ago I called her up and after spending 10 minutes explaining and convincing her who I am I told her I was calling to find out the secret of her divinity.
Her response was “You never did have any patience!” and then she hung up on me.
I still do not know the recipe or the technique my grandmother used to make those little puffs of white sugar that reminded me of her. She died without ever telling me.
So when someone says “you can’t take it with you” they are wrong. Too many things are lost because we don’t take the time to teach them to the next generation or tell the stories until the audience can recite them word for word. The photos we know so well but don’t label become meaningless and fade if the names and place and story aren’t passed on.
If it matters, make sure you don’t take it with you. Make sure you leave a part of yourself with someone who will miss you.
Last night I found out a dear friend had sent me a Christmas present. It arrived on Wednesday but I had added the delivery box to my little stack of Christmas gifts to wrap that I had ordered for others. A message sent me searching for it and then the craziness began.
There were three perfectly wrapped little boxes with a ribbon and a note on each. As I read the notes I knew immediately where they were from and the messages penetrated my heart. So often God uses my friends to speak His words. This was one of those times.
The quotes are from the book/movie The Help. In that story the maid who also serves the family as a nanny is teaching a very young child that even if her circumstances don’t reflect it she is smart and kind and important. Through the movie it becomes evident that these are not just words but deep life lessons this woman of color has learned the hard way. But it’s not until the end of the movie, when she has written a best selling book, loved with a sacrificial love, and changed the world around her that you see she finally accepts these truths as truth for her, too.
These words “spoken” into my life and heart had a power I cannot explain. It doesn’t matter that they have been filtered through so many voices or that they were so familiar to me I knew the reference without Googling. I’m not even sure how intentional they were selected. But the impact goes deep. It goes to my very core.
My first reaction was to identify with the tired woman who spent her life taking care of others only to find her true calling and expression of her gifts when she out grew the position she thought would be her whole life. But the words were spoken by her to a child who did not understand the decisions of the adults she depended on. It was the child in me that received the words, too.
Unpacking the messages in these three statements is something I will have to sit with a while and take in gradually. They truly are gifts to my heart.
Now I just want to open the boxes.
Got your attention? Good.
I challenge you to get out your bathroom scales.
Put it in the middle of your living room.
Put a cardboard box on it.
Now fill the box with stuff you don’t need anymore.
How much does it weigh?
Now put a large garbage bag on the scale.
Dump in all of the junk that no one wants.
How much does it weigh?
Not up to 100 lbs yet?
One box and one bag at a time.
Now take those boxes to Goodwill and take the garbage bags to the curb.
You can loose 100 lbs in 24 hours.
Go on. You know you want to.