Saturday, June 21, 2014

Tres Decades


In just over a month I'll hit 3 decades of life outside my mom's stomach. To commemorate, I'm generously and selflessly giving the world a "what I've learned" blog. No need to thank me. It's for the people.

So, what I've learned about life so far:

Time is the most important currency. (Chipotle a close second.)
I used to try and do everything. Now I'm using words like "prioritize" and "focus." I'm doing less, but spending more time trying to do the things I say "yes" to well. It's weird, but necessary since my aging body needs close to 12 hours of sleep a night.

When taking road trips, take time to visit the weird little stops along the way.
I mean, come one. You haven't lived until you've seen the barbed wire exhibit at the Window on the Plains museum in Dumas, Texas.

"No regrets" doesn't exist.
No matter what you choose, you will regret things. Making a choice means you're giving up an infinite number of other choices you could've made. We'll always know the hard things in the path we've chosen. We tend to regret the decisions we passed up based on the best case scenario had we gone down that path. Choose to see the fun, random, quirky things that are in the life you're living.

Your heart is going to break. Probably multiple times over your lifetime. Pray it heals in a way that is tender, not bitter.
The first time I experienced betrayal was at six when Timmy, my pet turtle, bit a piece of skin off my finger and ate it. And that was just the beginning. Your heart will break, sprain, get stubbed, and shatter at various points throughout your lifetime. As C.S. Lewis says, the only way to keep your heart intact is to avoid all attachment all together.

In those moments where you're lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, wondering if your heart will go on, (Celine reference absolutely intended) and fighting the urge pull a Howard Hughes and permanently hole yourself up in a room and grow out your fingernails, take a deep breath and pray. Pray that God heals your heart in a way that is tender and compassionate, not angry and bitter. It feels like a fight sometimes, but it's a battle worth fighting.

Stop worrying about what people are saying and thinking.
Seriously, quit it. They're not living your life. You are.

Also, if you find the "off" switch for worrying about the opinions of others, please let me know where it's located. I've yet to discover it, so it's mostly just frequetly asking God to help me focus on honoring and glorifying Him.

Listen more than you talk. 
One of the greatest acts of selflessness is surrendering what you want to say so others can say what's on their heart. People are fascinating. Give 'em a listen.

Be quick to apologize and make amends.
My initial reaction when confronted, corrected, or accused is defense--especially when a situation has been misread or misinterpreted. The truth will come out. Sometimes I've knowingly wronged others, sometimes I've unknowingly done it. Both require humility and repentance. It never stops being tough. And scene.

Eat healthy and take care of yourself, but don't obsess about it.
If I ate all organic food I'd spend the extra years of my life paying off the credit cards I used to buy my pesticide free food. Make healthy choices within your means. Take care of yourself, don't be lazy about your health, but don't obsess over every molecule you do or don't inhale.

Jesus really, truly, is enough.
At the end of my life God's not going to look at my resume, ask whether I "lived the dream," or gauge how fulfilled I felt on earth. He's going to see the blood of Jesus and say "well done, my good and faithful servant." What a relief.

Let's go, 30s. I'm ready for you.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Please join me in getting this phrase removed from the Christianese dictionary.

If you're in the church any length of time you'll begin picking up on a jargon known as "Christianese." We've all seen sketches and blogs addressing this linguistic phenomenon. (The best one I've seen is Shoot Christians Say by Tripp and Tyler.)

"Wrecked by grace," "wrestling with," "just trying to seek God's will," and "praying for open doors" are some of the phrases we repeat because we know most Christians will understand what we're saying. Clich├ęs are the fast food of words. We can quickly express what we're trying to express without putting in too much time or effort.

There's one phrase, however, that I think we need quit cold turkey. It is my personal opinion that the phrase "love on" must be permanently expunged from our Christianese phrase book. Every time I hear it I think to myself in an Inigo Montoya voice, "You keep using that phrase. I do not think it means what you think it means."

I know what we're trying to say. I know. But it's just a bizarre expression that sounds...not like we want it to sound. I received confirmation of this a couple weeks ago when the following conversation happened during a Bible study I have with 6th graders:

Me: "Let's stay focused. I have to leave on time today cause I'm watching my friend's daughter and need to make sure she got home from school okay and feed her dinner."

6th grade girl: "How old is she? Should you have left her by herself?"

Me: "She's okay alone for a little bit--she's in 7th grade."

6th grade girl pulls out her phone--which is discouraged during our meeting time. She notices me notice the phone. 

6th grade girl: "Sorry--I'm just texting to tell my dad to pick me up a little early cause you have to go home and love on a teenager."

Me: "Can you maybe reword that text?"

6th grade girl: "Why? That's what people say."

Other 6th grade girl: "'Love on' just sounds really...creepy."

I rest my case.

I don't want to leave anyone short an expression, so here are some suggested less creepy alternative phrases for "love on":
Care for
Help out
Show hospitality to
Exhibit brotherly kindness
Concern thyself with another's well being
Vigilantly include
Affectionately attend to the material needs of
Plant seeds of joy in their soul
Richly supply fellowship to
Tenderly cultivate into biblical community

Am I the only person who has a pet peeve with this phrase? What other suggestions do you have to replace it?