I was just thinking about going to lunch with my sweetie. We have been going out for Sunday lunch for so many years that it just feels like it would be sacreligeous to do otherwise. I was thinking of going to K&W cafeteria and imagining the crowd we would run into on a Sunday at lunchtime. I imagine a long line of folks “dressed for church” in their pretty dresses, maybe a hat or three, men in suits or at least ties. I confess that I generalize and prejudge these folks. I don’t want to, but I do. Who are they really? What have they given up in order to feel comfortable in their nice clothes? Do they still have dreams and passions, or have they given them up in order to just get along? I remember my grandparents telling my brother and me that God expects our best, so that’s why we dress up. I wonder… doesn’t he care more about our hearts than our clothes? Do we dress up to keep from upsetting Grandma? I am sure this says much more about me than it says about this crowd of people who I don’t even know… especially since I am imagining the whole thing.
Did you ever see the far side cartooon where the two ostriches are running along together. The one is looking at the other and thinking to itself, “Man I am sure glad I don’t look like that!” Of course what makes it so funny is that they are identical. I am the one ostrich looking at the other. I may not have a tie on, but I am no different.
I think what bothers me is that I see things about myself in them that scare me. How much have I given up my soul in order to conform to a way of life in order to get a form of community? I don’t dress up for church, but I “go” to church. Why? Am I looking for a place where I fit in? Am I going to “learn” more about God? Am I going to be part of the Body of Christ?
When I look at the dressed up folks in line, I answer the question for them (which is unfair, but easier than answering it for myself). I do want community. I want to be part of the Body of Christ. I want to continually discover and use my own unique spiritual gifts to minister to the body. That sounded more churchy than I meant it to. Here’s what I mean… I believe that God made me unique. He put a unique set of likes and dislikes in me. My values, my interests, my dreams, my fears, my passions are all rolled into me in a unique way. I don’t think that was an accident. It is who I am. The things that bother me, bother me because they bump against the things I value. Those are clues… everything is a clue to find out who I am… not some existential bellybutton contemplation kind of thing, but genuinely asking who I am and why I am here. I dont’ know if any theologians would agree with me, but I believe that these are all clues to the spiritual gifts in me that the Bible talks about.
Finding my gifts, my strengths, my talents, my passion is a process of elimination. For me it is not trying something and deciding I’m not good at that. For me, it is a process of learning what lights me up inside. What fires up my spirit? What makes my heart do a flip? What pulls me out of a depression? I think it is a lifetime journey… like a jigsaw puzzle… sometimes I sort through a pile of pieces that don’t seem to be connected, other times one piece after another just falls into place.
Friday mornings, I meet with a group of guys who I am on a journey with. When we meet, we “check in” with one another to see how we are doing, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I told them this past Friday that I was feeling depressed about my job. Without going into those details, I just don’t enjoy what I am doing at work right now. That afternoon, I met with my counsellor and told him about my checkin that morning, but then it occured to me that I wasn’t depressed anymore. After thinking about it, I realized that I had actually enjoyed my work that morning. I was working on understanding a technical problem and finding a solution to it. A puzzle piece snapped into place. Solving problems is something that I do well and something that lights me up.
Does this sound narcissistic? I know that the world does not revolve around me. I want to be an active part in making the world a better place. I believe that the best I can be is to be who I am. That sounds dumb, but life consists of a series of decisions… one after another. Some will be more effective than others. Some will just get me in trouble. I want to be more and more effective, but at the same time, I want to live on the edge experiencing life to the full.
Aye, fight and you may die, run, and you’ll live… at least for a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin’ to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take… OUR FREEDOM!
–William Wallace in Braveheart