Category Archives: humanity vs. technology
I’m not trying to be snarky, I just know that the middle school and high school students I often work with speak only with their thumbs and I’m trying to sound like I totally, like, fit in and stuff.
Anyway, my friend Liz sent me an email a while back. And it was a great gift.
My friend’s email was chock full of words, as human communication often is. But it was the words my friend chose and the order they were arranged in that made all the difference. These were blessing words.
A blessing is an ancient tradition. Back in biblical times (when Moses rode around on dinosaurs), a blessing was how one person imparted certain things to another person. Things like:
- Hope for a better future.
- Authority to accomplish great things.
- A clearer sense of identity and mission.
In other words, a blessing communicated to a person, “This is who you are! This is what you are to be about!” Which is why blessings can be such gifts.
Because we all have the memory of a goldfish (which I’m told is about 30 seconds long, though I’d love to meet the poor researcher who had to spend their time discovering this), we easily forget who we are and the important work/play we need to be about. We forget that much of what fills our calendar and our closets and our refrigerator and our inboxes may have nothing to do with the unique person God made each of us to be. We forget that we are beloved, adopted, set apart. Blessings bring us back home to reality.
I’m grateful my friend Liz sent me my email blessing. It reminded me of truth in the very moment truth’s voice was the toughest to hear. And it made me think: who do I need to bless today? Who in my life needs reminding of how special and loved they are? What’s keeping me from just flat out telling them? What’s keeping you?
Email somebody a blessing today. Text it to them. Shock them by sending them a handwritten note. Or Holy One Direction, Batman, just speak it right to their face and follow it with a hug. You could totally, like, make their day and stuff.
(I referenced One Direction to show how youth-culture savvy I am. Whatev.)
Just when you’re about to reach for that 5th cookie, a carrot stick would appear in its place.
Just when you’re about to buy that thing you can’t really afford right now, $50 gets deposited into your savings account instead.
Just when you’re about to say “yes” to that person that’s asking too much of you (or the wrong thing of you), out pops “no, thank you” for an answer.
Just when you’re about to do that thing you wish, wish, wish you could stop doing, you magically choose the better thing with no effort at all.
I’ve met a number of people who, when pressed, reflect back on their life and expound profundities like, “If I had it to do all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.” The idea here is that each step led them to where they are now and I guess I agree with that part. But seriously? Wouldn’t change a thing? No regrets at all?
I’ll be honest – I don’t trust people who don’t at least have a few regrets. It tells me they haven’t taken a hard look at themselves in the mirror. I don’t mean we should bathe in the shame of what we’ve done wrong or wished we would have done differently. I just mean if you can’t look back on your life and be able to identify some choices that would have spared you and others some heartache, you haven’t fully “owned” your life.
And ownership – as I’m slowly, painfully, awkwardly learning – is what life’s all about.
- Owning the stuff I’m proud of and the stuff I hope to the Good Lord Jesus no one ever finds out about.
- Owning (and not downplaying) my gifts and talents while simultaneously owning up to the fact that there are certain things I just plain suck at (and not trying to pretend otherwise).
- Owning the fact that my choices really do have impact on others; locally and globally.
- Owning my desperate neediness for a savior, a redeemer, a forgiver, a lover-of-me-no-matter-what.
- Owning my “belovedness” (a frou-frou sounding word that one could spend a lifetime mulling over).
Auto-correct doesn’t exist for the choices we make. I wish it had when I was caught speeding last weekend while driving without a license (I had left my wallet at home). I wish I’d had it when I was making those thousand little choices to eat junk food instead of something healthy. I wish it existed when I was putting all that stuff I don’t care about anymore on my credit card. I wish it existed when I was a single guy trying on different dating relationships that were less than life-giving for myself or the other person.
But auto-correct doesn’t exist for our life choices. And we don’t need it. Ownership trumps auto-correct.
So be free. Be the beloved. Take ownership of your life. Take a good look at your story-so-far and say, “I sure screwed that part up” or “That’s something I did really well!” Then let the God who has a massive, mind-blowing crush on you breathe new life into what lies behind you so you can enjoy today to its fullest and dream with hopeful anticipation about all your tomorrows.
BTW, the cop let me off with a warning. I decided to learn from my mistake (and the ridiculous grace I was shown) and now keep my wallet secured to my pants with a long silver chain. I make sure the chain hangs out so people know how gangsta I am.
I often complain about life’s little distractions; things like Facebook and a too-long to-do list and too many people to keep up with on more than a cursory level. But here’s the problem with that: almost all of my distractions are my fault.
In almost every case, I have a choice as to what I give my attention to. So if I’m distracted, then I’m to blame for not taking full responsibility for my life and choosing wisely, actively, consistently, where my attention goes rather than letting it drift passively from one shiny, noisy thing to the next. This reality could be represented this way:
Distraction = Not taking responsibility for my attention.
Conversely, I could say:
Focus = Taking full responsibility for my attention.
Of course there are those of us genuinely plagued by things like Attention Deficit Disorder. We may need extra help, manufactured or otherwise, to give us the chemical or emotional stability needed to choose wisely. Nothing wrong with that.
But if we qualify as a self-aware person, then we have to admit our attention is our responsibility. (If meds are needed to help us with that, then we still must choose whether or not to use them).
What tasks, people, objects, or feelings will you give your attention to today? Are each of those tasks, people, objects, or feelings really worthy of your attention? It might be helpful to make a list of the stuff that fills up your mind and take a good look at what’s actually there.
We’ve all got a finite amount of time, energy, and resources. I want to use mine to attend to things that matter most.
I love it when technology (YouTube) comments on technology (iPhone app). Here’s Pomplamoose, one of my favorite YouTube sensations (and some fantastic musicians and just to toot my own horn I use to sing with Nataly when she was part of the college ministry I worked with and just to let you know how dense I am I had no idea she was doing the highly-successful Pomplamoose thing until about a year ago. Also, they have graduated from YouTube sensations to full on touring. See their schedule HERE.)
With humor, flair, serious creativity, and truly excellent musicianship, Pomplamoose shows us how to tame those Angry Birds.
To keep things fresh this Christmas and to try prevent soul-suckage from gift shopping, I’m trying to see the Christmas story through a variety of lenses. So I spent some time this weekend thinking about the upside down elements of the Christmas story we remember every year. Here are some observations along those lines.
First, the most obvious: The long-expected Messiah who was going to topple the secular government and save his people shows up as a baby.
You can almost hear history building in excitement as the Messiah’s genealogy unfolds over time. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David. Everything crescendos, the anticipation builds until no one can stand it any longer, and then…a little diaper-soiling baby is born.
That’s the climax of history? A little baby? Totally unexpected.
Second, who gets the first news that this baby Messiah had arrived? Who do God’s own angels announce this to? Is it the esteemed religious leaders or the political power structures in the Jewish or Roman worlds? Nope. It’s the shepherds.
Shepherds got the news first. Shepherd were the guys who were so scruffy and disreputable, all they could do was herd animals on the outside of town. And they find out about Messiah coming before any of the religious types, before any of the rich and powerful types. Totally unexpected.
And finally, who are the first to worship this little baby Messiah? The gospel writer, Matthew, indicates it was the Magi, the ones we call “the three wise men.” But who were the Magi? The Magi were not Jews, they were foreigners. They were outsiders. They were also astrologers. The source of the wisdom they claimed had to do with their expertise in understanding the alignment of orbiting balls of dirt. Are you getting this? The first people to worship Jesus were pagan astrologers!
What is going on here? This is not how the Messiah is supposed to show up. This is not how God is supposed to work.
Everything about Jesus birth, his life, his death, and his resurrection are unexpected. It’s as if his life was testifying, “You think you know the heart of God, but you have no idea. Open your eyes wider. Open your hearts wider! Salvation is here and it’s right in front of you!
So lay down your tightly-held ideas of how you think God should work, and receive from Him a better way: the way of healing, the way of reconciliation and restoration, the way of meaning and purpose, the way of of hope and belonging – the way of Jesus.”
I want to open my eyes wide this Christmas season for more signs of God’s unexpected love. I want to see beyond the tradition I’m used to and discover both new and ancient ways that God’s heart is being revealed. Who knows? I might find them in my next door neighbor or on Facebook or at the mall or even – no, it’s possible! – at church.
What other upside down elements do you see in the Christmas story?