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Letting Go

Almost a Large Straight

I can’t roll a large straight.

My wife and I enjoy playing the dice game Yahtzee. One of the objects of the game is to roll a 1,2,3,4,5 or 2,3,4,5,6 on five dice.

I just can’t seem to do it.

Sometimes I’ll get very close, rolling 4 of the 5 needed numbers on my first roll. Even with two extra dice throws available, I still can’t come up with the needed numbers. All of the statistical probability in the world doesn’t help me.

My wife, on the other hand, rolls more large straights than she needs. Right off the bat, first roll, all 5 numbers just exactly as needed.

The large straights go to her naturally, and no amount of will power or chance can seem to help me.

So how do I respond? I can bang my fist in frustration and decry the injustice of the universe.

Or, “I can roll with it.” I can accept that the large straight isn’t likely to happen, and turn my attention, energies, and dice rolls toward other goals. I can let go, and enjoy the freedom to invest elsewhere.

Sure, sometimes a large straight comes up for me, and every once in a while I try to test the odds once again. But to fixate on the improbable outcome, to become frustrated or disenchanted, just isn’t going to help.

Besides, if I let go of getting the Large Straight, that just frees up one more turn to go for the real prize: Yahtzee!

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2012 in Life

 

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Grab a Hold

I just wrote this in my personal journal. This is unedited.

I’ve written before that I struggle with feeling and exuding passion.

I just had this picture of a driving force such that every spare moment is coveted in order to make a particular investment.

Perhaps it’s a romantic relationship, with every available minute spent together, or at least on the phone. Perhaps it’s 15 minutes, enough time to grab a camera and snap a few photos. Perhaps it’s time enough to scrawl a few more lines, or to read a few more pages of the current chapter.

I often find myself with moments available, sometimes large chunks of time, such as evenings, when I don’t feel a need to just zone because my day hasn’t been overly demanding or stressful. So I have time and energy available; capacity, but no passion.

And so, I wonder what I should do. Occasionally, I do watch a TV show or movie. Often I read, because that seems like a wise thing to do–but even there I struggle because I retain so little of what I consume.

There are some people, many perhaps, driven by a desire, an urgency, a passion, such that they don’t have a minute to spare. I’m not looking for a frenetic life, but a full one, a life with sufficient direction and motivation to place a premium on time and energy, to have an ever-ready answer to the question of “what should I do with my time?” It gets tedious (and wasteful) to have to ask that question nearly every day and then to spend time and energy searching for the answer.

All this, despite the fact that I am a person of faith, that life has a purpose, that God has work for me to do (enough work?). There are things I hope to accomplish in life, and occasionally I take some incremental steps in those directions, but I sadden myself with how much more progress could have been made already if I would grab a hold of the moments, rather than just thinking about them.

I don’t want to turn into a workaholic (is that the danger I’m keeping myself far away from?) and I am intentional about being faithful to my job, but yet there is so much more opportunity. Ironically, I often find myself discontent with whatever I’m doing at the moment, and yet when free to move on to the next thing, I often am not even sure what that next thing is, or should be. So I wash dishes. Or check email. Or write journal or blog entries exploring the same issues in life once again.

What am I holding myself back from? Is it fear of failure? I don’t think so. Perhaps it’s just fear of passion itself, getting so swept up into something that it becomes a central facet of life. While that could turn out badly (obsession, idolatry), if it were the right central focus of life it seems like it would be incredibly empowering to embrace it and follow hard after it. A goal. A mission. A quest.

But first I need a compelling dream, a vision so powerful that it can derail me from current pursuits (books I’m already reading, plans, schedules) and command my energy and attention. There again: is it the fear of loss of control, giving myself over to a pathway which will evoke–and also enflame–passions, pursuits which may dominate who I am, my time, my resources, my abilities, my choices?

It hardly seems safe.

It isn’t.

But it could be good.

 

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2012 in Life

 

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Pursue or Sit Still?

What does it mean to pursue God?

I mean, He’s everywhere, right? So, I shouldn’t have to run very far in order to find Him.

We Americans like to know what we’re supposed to do, we want to “go get ’em” and achieve results.

Somehow, I don’t know that it quite looks like that when it comes to God.

Sure, we can exert some energy, there are some things we can do. There’s activities at church to participate in, programs to enable us to serve in the community, we can lay out a plan to read the Bible; we can even attend conferences and retreats, Sunday school classes, and the like. There’s plenty of things we can do. Is that what we mean when we say “pursue God”?

Many people think of deepening our faith, having a clear understanding of reality and our place in it. We can learn and experience what it means to be forgiven, hopeful, loving.

Is that what we mean?

Sometimes, I think that a lot of things can just end up being distractions. We like clear goals, we like things to aim at, and all of these items give us a sense of something to achieve.

But what if one of the main aspects of pursuing God is just being still, living a life of simplicity so that we are available to respond to Him? Maybe it’s not so much about pursuit as it is about following. Pursuit sounds like a chasing after, like we’re trying to catch Him, like He’s outrunning us and we need to act quickly and exert ourselves to the max in order to apprehend Him.

But following is different. Following doesn’t have this same sense of trying to catch up. Instead, with following, there’s a notion that someone is leading, carving out a path for us, and we just need to do our part to walk that path. If someone is leading us, we respond when they give instructions and direction. There may be times of exertion and also times of relaxation.

Of course, in order to be good followers, we need to pay attention: we need to see where the Leader is going. We need to listen to what He says. We need to be available to respond, to be ready when it’s time to move, time to work.

Did you know that pigeons can’t see very well when they’re moving? They do that head-bobbing thing in order to maintain their vision while they’re walking.

When we get caught up in the idea of pursuit, I think we also can lose track of our vision. We can become fixated upon doing things, so much so that we begin to ignore the Leader, and we forget that we are followers. Our own pursuits take up all our time and energy, so that we’re no longer available to respond when the Leader calls, and we’ve got too much momentum in our own direction to make an adjustment when the Leader moves.

I think we should indeed invest in our faith and spiritual growth. But sometimes, the wisest investment isn’t to pursue with all our might, but rather instead to just sit tight–with our eyes fixated on the Leader, our vision clear, and our whole being ready to respond.

 

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2012 in Life, Theology

 

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