Monday, February 22, 2010

People Matter

One of my young friends brought the movie "To Save a Life" to my attention.  A movie with limited showings (the closest theater to me is in Benton Harbor, Michigan), it begs the question- if high school students were as concerned about others as themselves, and were willing to reach out beyond their own circles, what kind of tragedies could be prevented?

In April of last year I posted the following blog.  I think the message bears repeating. 

At some point we’ve all objectified other people. We’ve made fun of someone with an odd appearance, or who walks a particular way. We’ve laughed at jokes based on stereotypes. We’ve dismissed someone as “one of those…” and assumed we knew his motives. We’ve made all kinds of remarks about the car in front of us or behind us, when we don’t think at all about the driver.

I’m reminded of a song that I cannot remember the artist, title, or exact lyrics. It talks about not knowing what the person beside us is going through. We may see a man on a bus with unruly kids and think he’s a terrible father, not knowing his wife is terminally ill in the hospital and he’s having a hard time dealing with it. We may yell at a man who’s driving ten miles under the speed limit on the highway, not realizing he’s a widower with no family nearby that is just trying to survive.

Let’s face it, we have to make quick judgments everyday in order to function. We have to decide who to mingle with in a professional situation. We have to decide if strangers in the nearby vicinity pose a threat. We have to decide whether to trust someone when we’re sharing our opinions or feelings.

Yet, we have to make a conscious effort to see people as individual people created by God. It’s when we drift from that notion that people become things, or even tools to use for our own benefit. Is it that far of a leap that someone would kill others, if they represent objects rather than living, breathing human beings with families, dreams, feelings, and life stories?

Jesus said that speaking in hatred to a close friend is equivalent to murder. It’s a destruction of the spirit rather than the body. We are called to value other people in the same way that God does. Maybe, if we treat each other with kindness, like those Liberty Mutual commercials, the world would be a better place. Maybe by adding a little love, we can counteract the hate and violence that seems to be rampant.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Get out of my way!

I am an impatient driver.  If I see a utility or garbage truck slowing traffic, I immediately start thinking of an alternative route to get to my destination.  It may be out of my way, but hopefully I will save time by not waiting in line to bypass the roadblock. 

There will always be obstacles to reaching your goals, and sometimes they will be unforeseen.  Sometimes you'll be able to plan an alternate path to get to where you are going.  Other times, you may have to be patient and wait it out.  Once in awhile, something major will come up, and you won't make it to where you were going.  You'll have to change your destination all together.

For example, I'm working toward writing full-time.  However, I can't quit my full-time day job to pursue writing, because I don't have a surplus of cash, and it's pretty important that my children get to eat.  Sometimes, I get really frustrated with work issues, and I dread going in.  I read a Bible verse today that's going to keep me going though:  "Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive" (Titus 2:9-10).

So, for right now, I have to wait it out, and keep my eyes open for an opportunity to take a different path.  What obstacles have to had to face when moving toward your goals?


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Say that again?

I am a good communicator.  I write well, speak somewhat articulately (if a little fast), and have a gift for teaching concepts at varying levels. 

However, neither my family or my coworkers would tell you they're completely satisfied with how much I communicate. 

I'm an introvert.  A lot more goes on in my head than ever proceeds out of my mouth.  I forget that no one can read minds and that my knowledge is virtually useless if I don't share it. 

For me, I have to overcommunicate.  At work, that might mean a word in person, an email, and a note.  It might mean talking to multiple people in the same department.  It might mean following up later to make sure what I said was understood and acted upon.

At home, as much as I wish everyone could read my minds, they can't.  My kids can't live up to my expectations if they don't know what they are.  My husband won't know how strongly I feel about something if I clam up when I'm upset. 

Sometimes I'm tired and I don't feel like all this communication stuff, but then things fall apart.  I get a dozen guests an hour in my office, asking me questions and interrupting my work.  My husband and I have the all-too-familiar, "I thought you said..." or "I thought you were..." conversations. 

In reality, the more I communicate, the smoother things go, because other people know where I'm coming from.  When is it hard for you to communicate? MMQZQMEWJQ8F

Sunday, February 7, 2010

What are you bad at?

My chips were disappearing rather quickly.

It was a Texas Hold 'Em lesson, designed to prepare me to be a "pit boss" at our service club's annual poker tournament. And I am a horrible poker player. It's not that I can't get a grasp of the game, but that I have no "poker face."

They even dubbed my reaction to a bad hand the "poker pout."  I am so used to wearing my heart on my sleeve, so to speak, that I found it very difficult to keep an emotionless expression, and be practiced with my actions as to betray nothing. 

I'm a decent actress; I could have done better.  I just don't like having to be so, to be so, blah.  Even for a game. Poker is probably not for me.  Not only do I have an expressive face, but my mind has difficulty with strategy based probability-type games (I don't do well with chess or Stratego either).  And that's okay.

I spent a good part of my life comparing myself to other people and wishing to be more accomplished.  I've learned that not only do I not have to be good at everything, I'm not expected to be, and life is a lot easier when I spend time doing things that I excel at and enjoy.  MMQZQMEWJQ8F     

What are you good at?  And what are you trying to do that isn't a good fit for you?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Letting loose to meet the challenge

Life requires fun.

This is coming from a person who has always taken her pursuits seriously. From studies, to athletics, to dating (I had a checklist), I made it a point to do everything within my power to succeed and excell.

When I'm in this mode, I easily put off those things which seem frivolous: playing games with my children, exercise, girls' night, mystery novels... and other things which aren't "productive" or helping me meet my goals.

As I've come to grudgingly accept, doing fun or leisure things is part of being a healthy, well-rounded person. Having something fun to look forward to lightens the load and helps me press forward. It's like shaking out an old rug, letting all the dirt and dust fly- allowing me to be refreshed for the next challenge ahead.

Go ahead. Schedule some fun into your day and your week, and don't feel guilty about it. It will make you a better person.