You Choose

The choice, as they say, is yours.

Today is gameday in South Carolina – SC is traveling to Clemson for the biggest rivalry in these parts. Families are torn today. Friends are on opposite sides of the divide. One side will be unhappy tonight – and, I hope, they’ll be mostly wearing orange. Some folks will be mad. Some will be mouthy, whiney, offended – and that’ll be on both sides, win/lose/draw.

It happens in politics (if you’re on Facebook, you know what it was like just a few short weeks ago, and still on some walls today). It happens in Christian circles, and I’m sure in other faith communities as well. It happens at work, at home, in the midst of family members, and in juts about anything we do together.

People disagree.

I don’t like conflict. Lots of people think I do. I’m the one who asks the “devil’s advocate” queries often, asking the counter-question in order to get to something other than the status quo. But that doesn’t mean I like to be at odds with the room.

It happens, though – and sometimes it makes folks angry that I don’t stay on the dotted line very well.

Or rather, they choose to be angry. Or if not actually mad, then to still treat me and my questions/statements as a hostile, as someone coming along with heresy and blasphemy at worst, with stupidity and childishness and in need of education at best.

Different ideas, different opinions, different expectations does not an enemy make.

But I choose to be offended. I choose to be angry. I choose to let someone else hold sway over how I feel about myself, about them, about life, the universe and everything.

But you choose to be offended. You choose to be angry. You choose to let someone else hold sway over how you feel about yourself, about them, about life, the universe and everything.

Or, I choose to not.

I choose today to not be angry, to not be offended, to not give someone else the keys to my emotional state.

We get to choose. Yes, it’s harder when the folks closest to you are the ones choosing to be offended, to be mad, to label you as the opposition. But it’s still your choice. It’s still my choice.

Upgrades, Story Timelines and Mondays

[Written Monday morning, posted Tuesday night. Apologies for any inconvenience – The Editors]

It’s an understatement to say that it was a long week and weekend that’s just past. And I admit that I was not my “normal” jovial pollyanna-ish self. But in every cloud there’s something fresh and new, and I found enough to not only make the weekend less of a burden, but to also propel me into the new week with something resembling positive inertia. So I’ve got that going for me.

I upgraded our main house laptop to Windows 8, and honestly it was one of the most delightful and easiest upgrades I’ve done. Everything I liked about the Windows phone is here in the UI – while I don’t have a touch screen to make it all that much more special, I love the new interface, the blocked apps, the style choices. I’m a fan and have enjoyed just tinkering and finding out what’s behind the curtains. Yes it’s a bit wonky in places – the Store and the Mail apps come to mind. But I like finding those things, too, and look forward to seeing updates come through with fixes and more features. All in all, it did this nerd’s heart good.

Sunday night, Trace and I went to see CLOUD ATLAS. Fabulous movie but not for everyone. I put it up there philosophically with THE MATRIX (also from the Wachowskis) and GLADIATOR. I didn’t have to work too hard mentally to NOT give in to reincarnation themes. Instead, I kept hearing Maximus’ battle cry – “What we do in life echoes through eternity” – as each story/timeline moved through to its end. Again, just what this geeky film nerd needed, a full deep film that challenged and inspired and is even now moving me into the week with something akin to new hope and new direction.

Like I said: I’ve got that going for me.

Living Up To My Own Standard

Daily Prompt for 10/24: What’s the one thing you hope other people never say about you?

Saw this in my email this morning and decided to jump in since blogging has, generally for me, taken a back seat over these past four or five months. I’ve been busy. I’ve had other things more pressing on my mind. I’ve been lazy. Take your pick. “Life trumps blogging”, and honestly, I’ve just been living life for the most part. But this question intrigued me – I hope there’s lots of good things folks DO say about me, but I’m not sure I’ve put as much into thinking about what I DON’T want them to be able to say.

The first word that popped into mind was UNPROFESSIONAL. I don’t ever want that to be a thought or a review of my work or of me in general. Ever. That means I’m on time, that I don’t forget appointments or action points, that I stay ahead of others folks who depend on me getting things done. And it means that when I don’t live up to it on my own part, that I bust it to make up for it, learn from the mistakes, and keep moving positively forward.

After that, I never want people to think I’m UNCARING. Sometimes I admit I really don’t care – but mostly, I feel like I do care about how something makes you feel, even if that thing itself holds nothing really compelling for me at the time. Did that make sense? Even when I don’t care, I do… yeah, that makes no sense at all.

I don’t want anyone to think I’m a TERRIBLE LISTENER. That’s huge for me, actually listening and letting other parties know that I’m paying attention. I get so distracted, and it’s only recently that I’ve learned enough about myself to put away my iPhone, to turn down the TV, to look at the person talking so I can be totally engaged and actively listening for what’s being said, what’s being conveyed. I never want anyone to feel I’m not giving my utmost attention in this area.

I’m sure there’s more – but really, if I hang on to those three and live them out positively so the negative doesn’t have a chance to come out, then I think I’ve done something good. And maybe I can blog again, you know, sooner rather than later…

The Voices In Your Head

I think back over my own processes and wonder why I made certain choices. Or I watch others and wonder why in the world they chose certain paths.

We have those moments of inspired clarity when we see who we are and want to be, and the life we desire to live. And then real life starts happening again! What if those visions you see about yourself and your life in those flashes of lucidity were your real life?

via Jim Palmer » Blog Archive » That conversation in your head is stealing your life..

Read the whole article. I especially like Jim’s take on “because you’re human” feelings, which should have an amount of negativity from the human experience; contrasting those with “life-sabotaging” feelings, where the negativity goes so far off course as to really look inhumanly off-kilter. We all make decisions based on the baggage we bring to the table: mistakes, successes, experiences good and bad. And sometimes we let some of those things throw us over the cliff of reality with nary a whimper… Jim goes on to write:

How do you change this? You have to transform that conversation in your head about yourself, others, life, and God.

Are you changing the conversation today? Are you asking better questions, seeking better answers, living out better actions today?

Good News Ain’t Easy

“The good news is better than that.” – Love Wins – Rob Bell, p. 181

There’s something about that thought that stuck out enough to me to mark it down as a draft, a potential post, on this blog. Nine months later, and maybe I’ve found the right timing, the right opportunity to bring something to bear. Because I think we get so much wrong, that when we eventually think we might have it right – well, we might still be completely wrong.

Good news is better than that.

When your life is a metaphorically constant banging of your head against the wall, simply stopping the rapid back and forth motion against the hard hurtful object is enough to bring peace. But it’s not real peace as much as it’s the stoppage of pain. Real peace takes work. Real peace is valuable and lasts longer, runs deeper. Real peace is communal and relational. Real peace is different than just stopping the banging.

What’s easy seems to be the right way. Having things work out the way we expected can be misconstrued as the right way. Small blessings can be blown out of proportion. Listening to the folks giving us kudos but not paying as much attention to the people with dissenting views can give us a false positive on what’s the right way. And whether this is playing out in a positive or a negative bent, this is not a good thing.

Back to the statement above, that “the good news is better than that” – how many times have we settled in on “the good news” and closed ourselves off from what, in fact, might be better? I think: too often; too readily; too dogmatically. We might be doing good things, but we’re closing ourselves off from better choices. Or worse, we’re self-destructive and there’s no way on earth for us to see what’s going on because there’s no way on earth we would pay attention outside our circle of enabling friends…

So after beating around the bush, let me be as blunt and still as vague as I can be: The good news is better than that. But, you won’t open your eyes to what that good news might really be. In the process of making choices, in thinking things are getting better, you are setting yourself up to fail – and this time, it is hurting those you love the most. With that in mind, your stance on “doing the right thing” is shattered on the hearts of people who hold you most dear. They will forgive – but you will not know how much because you’ve closed that door, because you’ve turned that corner. If this were really good news, your actions and choices would be better than that. But it’s not, and they’re not, and well, I’m pissed.

And God is given either the credit or the blame. In reality, you’re not listening to Him enough to do either. And the good news is still way better than that.

Life as a Stick Shift…

It feels like I’m constantly needing to shift into the I-don’t-give-a-damn gear! I’m finding that living my life often involves risking the approval and acceptance of others, choosing a path that challenges “the way it’s supposed to be,” or just facing the plain and simple fear of screwing up. Oh, how I wish I could do life without dealing with any of that! It would be great if I could live life AND everyone be happy with me, live life AND fall into line, live life AND be guaranteed that everything I fear could happen won’t happen. Sign me up!

But it doesn’t seem to be that way. My life is like driving a stick in Chicago bumper-to-bumper traffic. You can’t just coast along; there’s a lot of shifting going on.

via Jim Palmer » Blog Archive » The I-Don’t-Give-A-Damn-Gear.