Monday, July 22, 2013

Free will, choosing and sneezing

Blog. Right. Um, well…


So, I have a few spare moments while Atticus (oldest son) is playing with a new friend and Archer (youngest son) is “napping” or, rather whining in his bed...

At any rate, I thought I’d take this opportunity to vomit some of the philosophical nuggets that have been churning my stomach lately (you’re welcome for that picture). So, here goes:

Let’s start here à I feel like it is a plague in our generation to look back on the limitations of our childhood or the hardships that we’ve seen and simply be content to be in the place we are in life because of those events, circumstances, situations, etc.  I use the word “plague” because, like a plague, this sort of thinking seems to eat away at the fruit of people’s abilities and gifts (to develop the analogy a bit).

The fundamental issue with this line of thinking is that, while some of the consequences of said events (or whatever) may still be in effect, there are always opportunities for new circumstances. In fact, I’m a believer (as of now) in the idea that, to a large extent, we create our realities. We do this by way of our free will and choices. For example, I choose my friends, my job, my career, where I spend my time, where I spend my money and what I do in those places, with those people. If I choose or have chosen people who cause my life to be less than what I want out of life, then it is only my own choices that have brought those people to influence me. If I want to change it, I do. Now, in reality, this isn’t as easy as it sounds (feelings get hurt…or whatever :P), but the truth is that I hold the power to decide who influences me.

So, while I don’t choose how those people act, I choose who to be around.

This same principle holds true for other places in my life:

 If I constantly don’t have money because I go out a lot, I must stop going out. It may not be as fun, but it changes the reality that I am short on cash.

If I don’t like the job I have for whatever reason, I quit. It may be a struggle to find other work and there may be other struggles that go along with this, but it changes the reality that I don’t like my job.

There are seemingly endless examples of how the power of choice can shape your reality, but my point is not that we can choose, but that we must.

To simply offer up our past as an excuse to our present is essentially quitting on being the creator-of-your-reality that you were meant to be. I believe that God gives us genuine free will and I believe that he does so because, as creatures made in the image of the Creator, he wants us to create. Now, you may not feel creative, but odds are it’s because you haven’t flexed your creative muscles for some time and like physical muscles, if you don’t use them, they are weak. I’m not saying go paint a picture, I’m saying look around you and change what you don’t like about your life.

*** I feel the need to disclaimer here: if you love every aspect of your life, this blog post is obviously not for you J but you can share it with someone who needs to hear this if you want. ***

Now, this is not easy, so I don’t want you to read this and say “hey, he said it was cake!”

It is simple, not easy. The simple part is “1. Identify what you don’t like, 2. Find the first step to change it, 3. Take that step, 4. Repeat 2-3 until 1 is no longer true”. The hard part is that steps 2 & 3 may come at a cost. It is that cost that must be counted, weighed and decided upon.

For some, the cost may be friends. For others, it may be the respect of someone whose opinion you value (whether you should or shouldn’t). Whatever the cost, it’s not mature or relevant to blame your discontent with life on a reality that was or is when there are ways you can change it.

In short, if you don’t like something about your reality, then change it.

This is a good (not really) segue to my next topic: waiting.

I’m there. Right now. And it sucks.

Sometimes waiting for the next opportunity can be agonizingly slow. I think, for me, it’s because I am a “do-er”; I like the doing part. I like seeing a vision of a project or job completed and I want to do it and see it actualized. However, this is not always how things go down.

If you’ve kept up with my blog (I don’t know why you would have, but whatever), you know that I’ve been looking for a full time music ministry position of some type. This is my passion: music and ministry. So it seems logical that those two things are the two things I should be doing with my life, gifts, time, etc.

But! That means waiting for me right now.

I recently talked about this with a close friend of mine and (by way of incident) we came up with the great picture of how I feel AND how much of main line Christianity has portrayed the Christian life.

“It’s like waiting for a sneeze. It burns and is uncomfortable; sometimes you can’t talk or think or do much of anything until that sneeze comes.”

For me, some days I feel like this. Like there is a never ending list of things to do and I can’t do any of it because I’m “pre-sneeze”. Unfortunately, sometimes the church encourages this kind of thing; that is, the idea that “you just need to wait until God plops his plan in your lap in a nicely catalogued, 3-ring binder with color coated tabs and a table of contents so you can find where you are in his plan at your convenience”. …ok, that was kind of cheeky. I’ve never actually heard anyone say to do this, but that is the feeling that I get sometimes when people try and encourage me (pessimist much? I think so). Sometimes it just feels better to hear people identify with me; not try and convince me that the “pre-sneeze” is where I need to live.

Instead, I think it is important to realize that, when you’re “pre-sneeze”, you just have to keep doing what you can where you are. For me, that looks like serving faithfully at the awesome church that I find myself at and it looks like being Christ to those around me by way of service, love and encouraging. It’s not always comfortable, but it’s a lot better than JUST waiting for the sneeze. By doing this, I sneeze. (That came out funny) What I mean is, that by staying active, I make things happen. I stay active in the things that I feel called to do, I am much more fulfilled than just waiting around for the next step to happen. Make life happen by doing.

While I think I could probably prattle on and on, I think I’ll spare you since you graced me to read this far.

Take away points:

1.      Create your reality. Choose to.

2.      Sneeze while you’re waiting. Choose to.

I guess that’s it. Thanks for reading, sharing, “liking”, etc. If you have a minute, pray for me J



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