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As someone new to the whole world of blogging I am constantly striving to become a better blogger/writer (I am not sure that the two are actually one and the same, but I am going to pair them up anyway!). One of the things I have done to improve my skills is to read through the posts I have already written. I like to look back, removed from the euphoria that comes with new creative output, and see what worked and what didn’t. In doing this I noticed some things that I liked, and some things I will strive to change. I also noticed a trend. It seems like a lot of my posts give off the impression of a guy who has it all together. Someone who has, or at the very least thinks he has, all the answers. So I wanted to write something very different from that in today’s blog.
Before I go too far, I want to say for the record that I am blessed beyond anything I have ever, or could ever earn. I have a beautiful,loving wife, two healthy kids who are full of life, a job that supports us, and family and friends who stand by us. That doesn’t mean my life is perfect. Perfection, for any of us walking this big blue marble, is unattainable. That doesn’t mean that we don’t get caught up in the pursuit of it. Like some Quixotic quest, we attempt to slay a foe that does not exist. I, for one, struggle with this concept mightily. As a creative person, I am compelled to write, to paint, to draw, to make music, and to sing. There is a side of me, though, that can only see the flaws in the results of these compulsions. In turn I struggle with my confidence. Am I creating something that matters, or am I just going through some self-satisfying routine? Am I as good as the person next to me?
I also have to admit to being very weak willed at times. I have a soft spot for sweets. I have less of a soft spot for exercise. As a result I have rather large soft spot in my middle! I have at times succeeded in shedding those pounds, sadly I am currently back on the wrong side of the scale. Another thing, I have a tendency to take the easy road to avoid conflict as well. I hate it with a passion, and it has landed me in more trouble than it has ever led me to avoid. There’s more. I have a hard time being patient and compassionate with the people I love the most. I can be the epitome of virtuous patience for a complete stranger, but I find it hard to extend that same patience to my children or my wife. Why is it I can afford this to someone who I may never cross paths with again, but for the people I live my life alongside, whom I love deeply, I find it so hard to give? I am a deeply flawed individual, no doubt.
So, what am I saying? Woe is me? Why can’t my life be better? How do I fix myself? Not at all. More than anything I just want to be real about my life, and share some of my struggles. I don’t ever want to give the impression that I am something I am not. I AM flawed. I AM conflicted. I commit when I know I can’t follow through. I sin. I hurt people I love. I mess up constantly. If ever I give the impression that I think otherwise about myself, well that is just another example of my mistakes.
I also know that this is the same story we are all living. None of us are perfect. The world would like to tell us otherwise. They also, coincidentally (wink, wink) have a product that can help us achieve that. Perfection is an unrealistic expectation. We all know this deep down, but it somehow doesn’t stop us from trying. I think that is ok. Striving to be a better person is never a bad thing. I just hope that we can all learn, myself included, that falling short of that impossible goal is not only OK, it is the ONLY outcome possible. The thing that helps me reconcile this is my faith. I believe in a God that knows my imperfection and grants me forgiveness for when I fall short. I follow a Savior who has already paid for my mistakes. Knowing that my maker made me perfectly imperfect, that my flaws and struggles serve a purpose, well that certainly changes the perspective for me. I don’t always keep sight of that, but then again, maybe even that flaw serves it’s purpose too.
There are 24 hours in day. 60 minutes in each hour and 60 seconds in each minute. How many things do we experience in that time that we would simply pass off as the mundane. We get up and get a drink, we flip channels on the TV, we give a cursory greeting to someone entering a room. Each of these things are probably forgotten almost a quickly as the moment passes. What is remarkable about any of these actions? The funny thing is, there may be something there unseen at the time. That doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
As an example, a friend of mine went out 3 years ago to check his mail.
Yup, powerful stuff here, huh? Well, little did he know when he went to sift through bills and circulars for the latest sale at the grocery store that he was about to stumble on to something that would change everything. Amongst those other things was a flyer announcing, in a town with what must have literally a hundred churches, one more was getting ready to open it’s doors. This little piece of mail probably cost less than a dollar to print and mail out. It was one of many printed exactly like it. The majority of which, I can only imagine, ended up in a trash bin or used to scrawl notes on by a kitchen phone. To the mail carrier who dropped this little piece of card-stock off, this was one of, no doubt, thousands of pieces of mail that would pass through his or her hands this day. A day that was probably of little note, in a week that was most likely unremarkable. Just another moment passing as quickly as it came. If you could ask that mail carrier today, would he or she remember this event? Unlikely, to say the least.
That said, that event impacted my friend’s life in an enormous way. It brought a man who had drifted from his faith back on course. It led to friendships that he cherishes deeply. The pastor of this church would (a short 3 year later) preside over his wedding, to a wonderful women he may never have met if it weren’t for that return to his faith. While that is great reason to triumph, the story doesn’t end there.
That church would come to lean on my friend greatly. He runs the sound most Sundays. He keeps our individual ministries, the “dream teams”, running. He has also begun leading us on some Sundays, allowing our pastor a chance to recharge his batteries. I know for me, he has an uncanny knack to speak the right words to me at the time I need to hear them the most. He is a man I consider a spiritual mentor. He has definitely touched the lives of our small Church. Still yet, the impact of that little flyer doesn’t end there. His contributions have allowed our Church to dig a capped well in a third world nation An act that allows a village to have a source of clean water, freeing children of a chore that prevented them from participating in school. This church sent a couple to Kenya, to help a woman who runs an orphanage that is home to over a hundred young souls. Without his sweat on Sunday morning to haul in speakers and set up the sound system, would we even have a community capable of banding together and making this happen? The act of opening the mail that day three years ago still reverberates today, and it is ringing across the entire globe.
One moment can make a difference. One routine event can change a world. One person, broken and flawed like the rest of us, can bring impact the lives of SOOOOOO many.
Thanks, Joel for checking the mail.
I like to think that some of the people who are reading this blog are folks who know me personally. Of those that do, some may have just recently met me. Some may have known me my entire life. For others, maybe we are reconnecting after some time apart. Those of you in that last group probably aren’t sure what to make of this blog. This certainly doesn’t sound like the guy you knew back then.
Who was I? In some ways I bore great resemblance to who I am now. Music was a huge passion for me. I was every bit as quick with a joke (and no they haven’t gotten any better). I battle a lot of the same self doubt and insecurities, though I’d like to think I put up a better fight now. I still have the same flowing locks as back then. Ok, not so much on that last one.
Beyond those things, and a few others, I am very different. For one, I never saw myself as parent material, but I am now a “Daddy” to two kids that fill my heart to overflowing. My playlist is more likely to sweep into a piano, than charge into overdriven guitars. And yes there is less (way less) hair up there!
What I hope, though, you will have noticed is a change in my heart. That the young man who was so sure of his own views is now more open to the ideas of others. That the angry boy has found a way to forgive and let slide. That the guy who wandered aimlessly has a heart lead by faith.
I hope who I am now is someone who makes people feel loved and important. I pray the new me is forgiving and slow to anger. More than all, I hope who I am tomorrow is even better than who I am today.