I HOPE your ice is slowly melting

I HOPE your dead place is coming alive like this dead and discouraged unemployment office in Madrid came alive when a small flash mob materialized.

I HOPE you know that just as everything can go horribly wrong in only five minutes, so in five minutes your face can be lifted up.

I HOPE you know that a tiny bit of joy you contribute can go deeper and farther than you’d ever imagine.

I HOPE you see that where and when you contribute your little piece of joy can magnify it and make it mean more.

I HOPE you realize that just as George Harrison never knew a little song he created while walking in a garden would surprisingly encourage unemployed Spaniards forty-three years later, so something you do today can live.

I HOPE you know you have the power to leave any situation better than you found it. How do I know you have that power? Because you are a human being created by God in his image and that’s what he does.

Maybe I appreciate this more because there was a season long ago when I spent a lot of time in an office like this with no one to sing to me.

Please sing.

(if you’re reading this in your email or reader and can’t see the video, please click over to the blog HERE to view it.)

You can throw a baseball through your neighbor’s window

(photo by BigMan50)

But you can’t make your neighbor like it.

In our news the last five days we’ve seen a war zone of stories about generals and their families, and about women hiding in homes from telephoto lenses. We don’t see the very human part of the conversations going on in those families and homes. But we can guess.

We can guess it’s not much fun right now. If only you could reverse time and go back to when things were normal! 

And with all the cameras, stories, and scoops on what really happened and why, there’s bound to be some really bad reporting mixed in there somewhere. And when you’re the subject of the bad reporting it just drives you mad.

Isn’t the truth bad enough? Who gave people the right to invent your motivations and dig up irrelevant stuff and get so much wrong and then act like vultures and broadcast it to the world? Who do those people think they are?

It’s too late for that.

It’s too late to complain or try to control.

You’re not going to get any sympathy.

You’re just making it worse.

The time to influence people’s reaction to you is when you make the decision or do the deed.

And even then you don’t have much control.

Back in the old days I could choose to drink, but I couldn’t choose my wife’s reaction. Lecturing her on her reaction would be idiotic, even if she got some details wrong.

You can choose to finally tell your boss off. You can choose to give your spouse the silent treatment and be convinced they deserve it. You can choose to belch loudly and repeatedly during your daughter’s wedding vows.

You can do all that. You’re free!

But you can’t choose the consequences, or control what people say or think about what you do.

Your Monday morning pep talk

When you get to the blank below, insert the place where you are investing yourself this week–work, family, school, marriage, relationship, whatever. Be specific. Make sure you personalize it.

‘I have chosen you.’

Keep that note of greatness in your creed.

It is not that you have got God but that He has got you.

Here, in this _____________, God is at work, bending, breaking, moulding, doing just as He chooses.

Why He is doing it, we do not know; He is doing it for one purpose only – that He may be able to say, This is My man, My woman.

We have to be in God’s hand so that He can plant men on the Rock as He has planted us.

- Oswald Chambers

Now go forth in confidence that God is using this week’s unpredictability and chaos to dent your world with grace.

Your world is a dot : Day 23 of 31

Your world is your home, family, neighborhood, work, church, and school.

It’s the stores where you shop, the government you pay taxes to, and your favorite websites and TV channels. It’s movies, songs, sports, and politics.

They all have their own reasons for doing what they do and being who they are.

And they don’t ask your permission.

They don’t invite you to all their meetings. Usually it was a long journey of hours and months and years for them to get to who they are and what they do.

You don’t ask their permission either.

And you don’t invite them to all your meetings. Yours was a long journey too.

You have opinions of those things in your world, and they have opinions of you. Often it’s not positive. Often it’s cliches and stereotypes. Sometimes it’s even aggressive and confrontational.

There’s a two word phrase for people who have strong opinions on things without having been part of the journey:

“Overnight expert.”

You use it for them when they don’t understand you, and they use it for you. And you both can be right.

This is the disconnected dot of your world.

Christians used to be a dot like that for me. I was an overnight expert on them. Then my wife became a Christian and I met some others. More and more they didn’t fit my stereotypes. More and more I wasn’t such an expert.

I used to have big opinions on the football strategy of my favorite teams. Then I met some people who really understood football. They had been to the meetings for years. My opinions aren’t nearly as strong now.

Ditto for politics, church, the place where you work, and The National Geographic Channel doing reality shows on drugs and cocaine smugglers. I thought NGC was about caring for the planet — what’s with that?

Your world is the place you look at and go, “Why do they do that? They don’t know what they’re doing.”

When your world connects with the world of others, and with people and God, your world changes.

Can you think of a time when a new perspective changed your world?

~~~~

Day 22 of 31 Days of Connecting the Dots: make more sense of your life, your world, your hopes and dreams.

What if they’re NOT Martians?

Say you’re attacked by Martians. They’re little green men, they’re acting aggressively, and there’s a large red “M” on the side of their spaceship.

It would be normal for you to defend yourself.

You’ve seen War of the Worlds. So you fight. And you lose. Or maybe you win and go “whew!”

Later, amidst the carnage of battle, you discover they aren’t Martians at all. They’re from the planet Maloomba.

And that aggressive behavior you observed was not aggressiveness — it’s normal conduct on their planet as they go about daily life. What looked like weapons are tools they use to survive and do their work. To them, you attacked first.

Oops

They aren’t for you, they aren’t against you. They’re just being who they are.

But you didn’t know any of that

Until now.

You only had your own limited judgment, perspective, and experience. And you put total confidence in it.

You’ll react differently the next time little green men in a spaceship with an “M” on the side appear. Your perspective has changed.

And in a lot of other ways you might decide to be a little more cautious about jumping to conclusions.

Perspective matters

Choose yours with patience and humility. Get all the help you can to make sure you know what you’re seeing.

Save your energy for the real battles. There will always be plenty.

Expect the basement

 

Sooner or later you always get to the basement, in every relationship, family, workplace, organization, neighborhood, church.

The basement is not where the bodies are. It’s not where the bad stuff is.

The basement is where you see the stuff you don’t like

It’s where the sausage is made. It’s the tangled underside of the quilt you love.

It’s the first argument where you realize that new special person doesn’t really play fair. And they think the same of you.

It’s underwear on the floor and the toilet seat up, but to them it’s you griping about normal stuff like underwear on the floor and toilet seats up. All multiplied times a thousand.

It’s HR polices, decisions that seem silly, lack of appreciation, misunderstandings, quirky bosses, and ‘personalities.’

It’s the pastor’s long stories, the style of music, the ministries they emphasize, the ministries they don’t emphasize, offenses all around, and ‘it shouldn’t be this way, this is church.’

The basement is different for everybody

The things you find in the basement are not the same things others find. Some see you in the basement. And you see them.

I think in any new thing, you can expect to see the basement within a year or two. Maybe three. The more involved you are, the sooner you find it. The longer you’re there, the more you see.

At first everything is wonderful. Upstairs is bright and welcoming. The lights are on, the floors are swept, the dishes clean. This doesn’t mean it’s phony or fake; it’s just the way it is.

When you see the basement at the beginning, you leave, right? It’s the reason you don’t marry that person or take that job or go to that church. The lights aren’t bright to you.

So what do you do when you finally find the basement later?

That, of course is up to you.

What is not up to you is whether or not the next person or place has a basement. They do, guaranteed.

Expect the basement

Expect that the nature of the basement is that you disagree with what’s there and don’t like it.

And expect the temptation to fool yourself that the next basement will for sure be better than this one.