Tag Archives: relaxing

Why Are You Worried?

“Sorrow looks back, Worry looks around, Faith looks up” 
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

People are killed every day.

I have this thought before I’m even awake. A dream, again, inescapable. Unavoidable. I get up and get ready, trying to stop thinking about the reality, not feel it crowding in as I look at my teeth and brush them in the mirror.

The deepest injustice is suffered by hundreds of thousands every day. Death. I drive my oldest daughter to school and have this thought again as the news from Gaza makes it to me. I can’t hear this word without thinking of death. Bleeding wounds seeping through bandages. Protestors have been shot over in the middle east. I think of the high-schoolers protesting guns and hope I’m doing right to not mention the political issues to my daughters just yet.

Is privilege just the ability to ignore what you please?

Yet sanity and self-preservation demand ignoring it. Our hearts and our minds weren’t meant to hold the world’s pain. Jesus walked Gaza but had no cell phone or social media bringing wave after wave of desperate injustice. Inescapable. Unavoidable.

I remember the woman who handled the emailed prayer requests at a big ministry. She was a saint, a prayer warrior. She killed herself and the ministry held a quiet service and sent condolences to her family. And a new employee took her place.

I think of the thousands of people who filter content for social media networks, the reports of their inescapable torment, their nearly inescapable mental health issues. Is this where we’re all headed eventually?

Another hot day and I’m thinking of polar ice caps. A celebratory dinner and I’m considering carcinogenic toxins. Maybe I read too many headlines.

“Do not fear. Do not fret. Trust me.”

HOW? How am I supposed to do that when I’m bombarded even before I can get to work on a Monday? It’s effort just to press on and not feel guilty for working to keep the horror at bay, at least to a dull roar until lunch when I’ll check my phone and respond to emails. And there’s plenty more to deal with–local community, family, neighbors, projects and writers, and personal struggles to choose appropriate responses and time on.

No one could possibly manage it all. And this danged-if-you-do, danged-if-you-don’t situation is unmanageable. Infuriating.

“Count your blessings.”

Despite the dreams and the no-air-conditioning-in-record-heat situation, I did sleep. There’s more light in these longer days and the beauty of spring has sprung. The house and our health aren’t perfect, but they’re amazingly good despite the advancing years thanks to regular upkeep and maintenance. And we enjoyed our moms and celebrated together on Sunday, and the girls are happy and enjoying their lives and music and reading.

Real life is happening and time is short and we’re no better off than when we know both those things. Remember the moment you felt Charlotte’s delight at beating you at the card game? You wanted to remember it forever? 

Yeah. Life is happening and death is part of it. And here were are to enjoy it and make the most of each moment before it’s gone and slipped into another one and another, until there are no more.

That’s every day and everyone and your awareness of it is contagious. Don’t be afraid. Don’t fret. Trust me. 

Can it be this simple? Can I write and do my editing work knowing this is what you’ve called me to until you bring other specific calls? Keep me praying, keep me seeing it all, in the midst of the passing moments. Stay with me and show me how it all is leading me to trust and connect however I can. With words or without. With getting involved or simply praying.

I know the only thing that’s truly up to me is the trusting. Thank you for the continual reminders. Keep me searching for them.

And keep me sharing them and connecting others to see you in their myriad reminders too.

“I trust in you, Lord…. My times are in your hands.” – Psalm 31:14,15

Write on, my friend. There’s always a higher purpose,

M

Remaining Pure of Heart

“Clothe yourself with Christ.”
– Romans 13:14
You already know the world is full of enticements to pull you away from your higher purpose.
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Haha! My phone just buzzed with another message…

Simple things. Complicated things. External and internal things. Relational, familial, emotional, psychological, physical, spiritual. Positional, theological, philosophical, existential, practical, organizational, tactical, political… The realms of knowledge and experience you must learn to navigate are vast–and you’ll have to ignore them all at times.
If you want to remain attuned to what’s truly important, focus and discipline are crucial. You know by now–it’s your work as a writer of the ideas your Inspirer has entrusted you to steward.
And you might think that discipline is exactly what you need. Just to get fully inspired to take the weighty privilege seriously. And then hold onto that at all costs.
But this word-work isn’t all work. It’s also a lighthearted tromp through imaginary meadows made specifically for your great enjoyment. And to grab hold of the seriousness without including the joy would be like knowing the depth of your depravity without the freedom of grace.
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You need both.

Lately, I’ve realized how easily I can forget this.
I’m serious by nature, but like many people I was also trained to be this way. As a kid, I was taught to do everything right, please, and right away, without complaint. So I learned to keep my attitudes, and my free-play, locked inside.
Brene Brown says you can’t selectively numb. I guess you also can’t select what you hold in.
The great news is, I’ve learned, and so have my parents, that kids are God’s gift to help us take ourselves and our important work less seriously. I thank him every single day that we get to learn this lesson together. And had we not struggled to learn it we wouldn’t value it now like we do. Without the tickle fights and the trick-or-treating and our constant new adventures, I’d be a boring old man at 41.
Frivolity isn’t just about having fun, you know. It’s in letting go that we remember the purity of being children of One High Parent.
Today it was basketball. Charlotte wanted to practice for her upcoming first season in Upward. I’d post pictures, but I was having too much fun.
Charlotte made exactly 42 baskets. And at number 36, Ellie reminded us of another favorite frivolous pastime, quoting lines from favorite movies:
I even made a few shots. And all of this on a perfect fall Sunday afternoon (with All Saints Day and the gift of the Reformation fresh in my mind) I was remind that even when I’m an old codger and I’ve written a whole mess of books, I’ll still have to practice doing at least one frivolous thing every day.
The light-hearted know something the wisest men have forgotten.
Hopefully, some grandkids will be around to remind me. I think I’d better start getting ready now…
Recently we went to my nephew’s marching band competition. That was some serious fun. And when Ellie wore her costume (Dark Link from Legend of Zelda) to her youth orchestra practice on Saturday, I was such a proud dad.
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Remember–discipline without frivolity is deadly. Discipline alone would convince you only of your deficiencies, your faults.
It’s only in releasing control that your heart becomes light. When you have fun, you inspire happiness. You release the people around you to enjoy.
Sure, discipline is necessary. And there’s nothing more important than persistence in the creative arts. But you also need a light heart to remember that your deficiencies don’t matter one ignorant lick next to the sufficiency of the One who chose you before the beginning of time.
Purity of heart is to will one thing, Kierkegaard said. Will yourself to have some healthy fun and you’ll remain pure in heart. I promise.
I know you don’t think it can be that easy. But who said letting go to have good, clean fun was easy?
It takes practice. So get started.
Your faults are covered, my friend. Every mistake. Every wrong move.
Let them all go.
And go have some fun.
For the higher purpose,
Mick