Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fortuitous Delight

I wasn’t quite sure what it meant when it first popped into my head while visiting wonderful friends over this past weekend, but it sounded good. It sounded good like a delicious freshly baked cookie straight out of the oven. It sounded soothing like the memory of Grandma’s peach cobbler. It felt like a lovely Fall evening with friends or just someone I’m grateful to spend time with. It reminded me of the enjoyment of receiving real mail and recognizing the handwritten return address and who it was from. 

As a Christian, I believe my entire life is written and He’s in the driver seat. Yet, as a human who lives in this very everydayness-of-life kind of existence, I can’t help but feel that it is by some lucky chance that I’m where I am when I am there, and with the people I’m with, when I’m with them. It’s fate, it’s providential, it’s serendipitous, and it’s completely awesome. 

Some relationships and friendships begin out of the simplicity of making an acquaintance. It’s easier to maintain a connection because you go to the same school, have the same interests, or work in the same office. These are not fortuitous friendships, in my opinion. They’re circumstantial, and while not any more or less important or meaningful they’re just not the same.

In a conversation with my father recently, I noted the call of my heart to love certain people with wild abandon comes not from making acquaintances. That call comes out of the chaos of crisis, and the unexpected and unplanned arrival of a friendship, or a connection, that otherwise possibly would never exist. 

In elementary school some attention in grammar was put on the phrase If this, then that.  The causal relationship between one occurrence and another applies here. 

“If [blank] hadn’t happened, then this - whatever is happening right now - wouldn’t be happening.” That’s essentially what I’m getting at. 
“If I hadn’t taken this job, then I wouldn’t have ever met these people.” 
“If I stayed focused on one goal, then these others wouldn’t have become important and I would not have noticed any of these other opportunities.” 

These friendships and connections are fortuitous. They are occurring by happy chance.

If the friendship is fortuitous, then I delight in it!

There’s something about the word “delight” that brings delight to the word. To me, it sounds like what a sunflower in a field of nothing might look like. It looks like the sun rising after a very dark night. It feels like the warm embrace of loving arms in the middle of the day for no reason. It sounds like infectious laughter and the recognition of joy. 

A friend of mine, who I would not have been friends with if a crises hadn’t occurred, recently told me during a conversation that we would never experience that moment again. 

He was right, and I truly delighted in it. 

God wants us to go above and beyond what is required of us in our jobs, in our relationships, in our friendships, and in the everydayness of our lives. I looked at my dear friend from across the room, and I sent glory above for the gut instinct I had years ago to go above the call of my heart. If I hadn’t, then we wouldn’t have been sitting in that room having that conversation.

So, while the moment may be over, it is with fortuitous delight it ever occurred at all. 

Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)
A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.

Psalm 37:4 (NIV)
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

1 Peter 5:10 (NIV)
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, 
after you have suffered a little while, 
will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Following the Call of My Heart

When was the last time you did or said something, gave to someone, offered something, prayed or hoped for someone without expecting anything in return? 

Gut-flinching nagging

It’s like a low-grade fever. It is a dull headache that seems to not go away. It’s the annoying feeling that you might be getting a sore throat, but it never fully develops so you don’t actually know.

That’s how I describe the nagging feeling that something isn’t right. 

Did I leave the curling iron on?

Did my rent check get mailed?

Do I have enough money in the bank?

Does [insert name here] know I love them today?

I know the difference when the nagging feeling comes out of selfishness. 

That kind of nagging is much more of a resounding thunder clap that I’d prefer to duck to avoid. I want to avoid it because my guilt is driving my decisions and my choices. 

Is it really humanly possible to give of ourselves without occasionally feeling taken advantage of? 

If it’s not, then why do we feel guilty when we suddenly wonder why that person we’ve given to hasn’t responded, reciprocated, or even acknowledged the heart we put into the matter? 

As a Christian, our God is one who gave His only son so that we could have eternal life. He knows all about us! He knows every sin we’ve ever committed and each one we have yet to make, He knows our griefs, our joys, and our hopes - however lopsided they might be. He knows all these things and He keeps giving and He loves us anyway. 

Do, Say, Give, Offer and Pray anyway. 

I believe and practice the following:

I will give with wild abandon and follow the call of my heart to go above and beyond for some, offer what I can to others, pray for even more, and have hope for all. 

I will do all these things knowing full well that by just being human, I will catch myself at least once, or maybe twice, wondering if it had any impact. Yet, while I wonder, I will also know with all my heart there is an impact and there will always be one until the day I don’t believe there is anymore. I pray that never happens. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Trust, and Embrace the Change

I recently embarked on a journey to find out what makes a successful and lasting marriage. These days, a long-lasting marriage seems to be stuck on the generation of our grandparents, and if we are lucky, our parents. 

I’ve been to weddings before. I’ve supported friends as they walked down the aisle, and I’ve even found myself as a sounding board for those in the midst of trials. 

Yet, I’ve never walked down the aisle, I’ve never even been engaged, and walking down the aisle seems to be the easy part!  

So, recently, while praying for dear friends who were approaching (and are now celebrating) their first wedding anniversary, I decided to seek expert advice. 

I asked friends, colleagues, former colleagues, and my own parents for their wisdom. There are two common themes in all they had to say:

Trust, and embrace the change. 

It seems simple enough, but the statement alone is the work we so often hear about. 

That change? That’s anything! It can be buying a new home, having a child, losing a parent, or creating new friendships and finding different interests and changing jobs. It could even be a change in their sense of humor. 

As I pour over all the words of lived wisdom, I recognize something else: This is life. It’s lived, not planned; it’s ignited into action, not prepared for; it’s celebrated, but not even expected. It is the ebbs and flows of life. 

It, the formidable and the great joys, just happens, and as my Dad says, you have to be on the ready.

Trust the experience, and trust the one you’re with, trust the change, and embrace it all because it, whatever it is, is happening even when you don’t think it is. 

And you know what, I think this advice works for any relationship, not just a marriage. 

The marriage, though, comes with a greater covenant and even better ways to make up.  

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Our Mouths Were Filled With Laughter

Have you ever laughed so hard that your cheeks felt like they might fall off, and you nearly lost your voice because the laughs were deep and with extended bellows?

“You need not take everything so seriously,” I still recall a childhood babysitter saying to me 22 years ago.

Then, tonight, during a moment of fun fellowship with some people from Church, I absolutely didn’t take it seriously!

We laughed, and we laughed about a huge misunderstanding! 

If you’ve seen what the iPhone can do with autocorrect, imagine that, but in a Group Text situation! 

I made a reference to something from the movie “Anchorman” that only one other person in the Group Text conversation understood.

Everyone else didn’t. Tonight, that conversation was read aloud, and hearing it for the first time was pure joy. The best part was that after the line I texted from “Anchorman,” someone texted back, “Amen.” We didn’t catch the hilarity of the moment until we heard it aloud!

Instead of being uncomfortable, we all shared in the joy of the laughter, and not one was offended. Then, we laughed some more. 

Ecclesiastes 3:4 (NIV)
A time to weep and a time to laugh,
A time to mourn and a time to dance

Psalm 126:2 (NIV)
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
‘The Lord has done great things for them.’