Monday, June 28, 2010

I hate being wrong...

I recently read a quote from Maya Angelou. It reads:

"I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he or she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights."

As I read this quote, I thought that it makes a lot of sense. You can easily learn a lot about a person when they're thrown into a situation they don't particularly like. I thought about my own life; how I act when I'm in a stressful situation or an uncomfortable moment. I thought to myself, I really hope that I stay true to who I really am and don't let it get the best of me. I thought a lot about what that looks like when it comes to really knowing someone. Siblings know how this works. People may say, "you two get along so well!" but you both know that things are not always smooth sailing. I thought about relationships and how people can look at a couple and think that they have it down so well, but if only they knew the struggles and hardships.

These thoughts soon passed as my mind wandered its way to other things.

Flash-forward to today.

I was driving my hour commute to work. I'm in a unique situation this summer. I am interning one hour from home, but I am lucky enough to have some friends who are willing to put me up a few nights a week for free this summer in exchange for some cleaning. So, I typically drive over Sunday nights or Monday mornings and stay through Thursday before I head back home.

That information aside, back to the story. I am about 30 minutes into my drive to work. Traffic has been minimal at best, I've got some good tunes playing, and I'm on schedule to arrive (according to my GPS) 4 minutes before 9:00 AM. Right on time. At about this time I realize that I've made a pretty substantial mistake. I'd packed all my toiletries in my toiletry bag, but...

I left it in the bathroom.

I don't have my glasses. My retainer. I don't have my contact solution or case. I don't have a tooth brush. I don't have tooth paste.

It's far too late to turn around now. So... I do the logical thing, I get mad. I get upset at myself for forgetting the last thing I packed. I get frustrated with my inability to remember anything important. This leads to me becoming agitated with the (minimal) traffic. This leads to me being annoyed that my MP3 player battery has now died. This leads to me wondering: "Why did I wait till this morning to pack everything and drive over?" This leads me to.... see where this is going?

I'm glad nobody was in the car with me, but at the same time, I wish someone would have been. Maya would have learned a lot about me today had she been riding shotgun. The frustration culminated with me letting out a big sigh and saying: "Today is just going to be GREAT." God took that opportunity to hit me with a sucker-punch of love. "You're right, Isaac, it's going to be great. It's another day I created. In fact, it's more than great, it's going to be the best. I created it for you. And you know what, I created you too."

Gasping for spiritual air after having the wind knocked right out of me, I opened my eyes to the situation I was in. My mind had taken the one-way train to "Bad-Day-ville". I was set on making this the worst day ever and anything that could help me get there was more than welcome. Thanks be to God that he switched the tracks and got me on the right track.

I don't know if today was a great day in my eyes. I don't think it was the "best" by my standards, but, mine don't really matter too much. As the old hymn goes:

This is the day that the Lord has made,
We will rejoice and be glad in it!
This is the day, This is the day,
That the Lord has made.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

This life's not about me...

I'm not sure where this feeling came from. I'm not sure when it started. I think part of it came from the book I'm reading (Jesus For President) and part of it came from watching the World Cup. I've recently became conscious of this desire to know people. I want to experience cultures that aren't exactly American. I want to experience what people's lives are like under the surface of "Hello, how are you?".

I walked into an Exxon to buy a drink for the road after filling up with gas (reluctantly) and the guy behind the counter commented on my Brazil soccer jersey I was wearing.
He said something like, "Are you from Brazil?"
I laughed and said, "No, I'm just a fan of their soccer team."
"Oh no no," he replied, "I am from Argentina, I do not like Brazil." He smiled and laughed as we began to talk about the happenings in the World Cup that day.

I instantly wanted to just sit down and talk with this guy about his life. How he came to be in America if he was from Argentina. I don't know where this urge has come from, but I like it.

I don't know if I'm ready to up and fly to another country tomorrow. I don't think that's what I'm being called to do. I think what is happening is that I'm slowly becoming aware of people around me and less aware of myself. I'm not saying it's bad to be self-aware. Obviously, I want to be aware of who I am, what I'm doing, whether or not what I'm doing is hurting someone or bothering someone, but what I mean is that I'm becoming less concerned with me and more concerned with others.

This is something I've been learning a lot about lately. I am by no means saying I have it down yet... I definitely don't. I hope I keep getting better. I think the only way to get better is to quiet the voice inside that is so concerned with me and to listen more to the voices of people around. Not to brush off a "Hello, how are you?" but to engage and really ask the question and really hear the answer.

As I paid for my drink and pack of gum, we talked a little more about the upcoming games and who we thought was going to win. We both agreed we'd love to see an Argentina vs. Brazil final. I took my receipt and bid him a good night. I really hope he has a good night.

Friday, June 18, 2010

First of many I hope...

Well it seems like more and more people I know are blogging now-a-days. I think that's great. I love being able to delve into the minds of people around me, particularly those I don't see as often as I might like.

I used to post on here pretty regularly, but got away from that sometime during my Freshman year at JMU. Being a senior now, I think I'm going to get back into this. I want this to be a place where I can sort of "talk aloud" about the things I'm struggling with or thinking about. I'll probably write about experiences, conversations, music, books, anything really...

I guess to kick things off, I'm reading a book called Jesus For President by Shane Claiborne. It's a sort of collection of ideas that this guy Shane and his friend Chris Haw had about the interactions between politics and Christianity. Being one who has become so disillusioned with politics over the past few years, I was sort of reluctant to start reading it fearing it would be an analysis of the influence of Christianity in politics and how we need more solid, well-versed Christian leaders.

As I began reading this book though, I quickly found that my loosely-grounded assumptions were quite wrong. Shane and Chris delved into the language that Jesus used during his time of teaching. He exposed (to me at least) the heavy political language that Christ used and the purpose he had behind this language. All the words used to describe Christ--King of Kings, Lord, Messiah, Son of God, King of the Jews--were LOADED with political meaning and usually reserved for the heads of state at the time. As Christ began referring to himself as these names and people around him did too, it put a lot of pressure on the people in power and really bothered them.

Not only this, but Claiborne and Haw have spent a good deal of time discussing the Christian's role in politics. He's brought up some really good points that I've been wrestling with. For example, many people believe (and I once did) that America was MY country. That I was a CITIZEN of this nation. My views about that are quickly changing... It says in Philippians 3:20 that "Our citizenship is in heaven" and the question he brings up is: how can we be citizens of two places?

I'm still wrapping my head around all this and I highly suggest you read the book and don't listen to my poor explanations of things, but it seems to me he's suggesting that Christianity has no role in politics. They are two, separate, and VERY different things. "So the last will be first, and the first last" (Matthew 20:16). Explain to me how rising to the top of the political food chain puts you "last" in this case? That's what I'm struggling with. I am loving this book.

If you want a happy-go-lucky read, don't read this book. If you want to be challenged, stretched, probably irked a little bit too, read this book. I can't guarantee you will like it. I can't guarantee that you will agree with everything (or anything) that Shane and Chris write about, but I can guarantee you will re-assess your beliefs about the world and you will see things a little bit differently.