Friday, March 27, 2009

You're the key...

Given that Becky has 168 blog posts compared to my 25, I'm going to try to catch up.

I heard this phrase the other day, probably from Glenn Beck, and it got me thinking.  He was talking about how you (the people of America) are the key to turning our country around.  You're the engine that drives our economy.  Part of me doesn't see how this could be true after politicians do whatever they want regardless of what I tell them.  Maybe it's because I live in a Democratic county and I don't understand a lot of Democratic ideals and policies.  Trust me, I want to.  I just haven't been able to grasp it yet.  I beg someone to explain these to me.  But then there's another part of me that doesn't see how this couldn't be true.  We elect the government, we tell them what we think and if they don't listen, they don't get re-elected.  And beyond that, how many campaigns do people get excited about only to go back to "their" life after it's over?  And what changes with the government?  Oh it's hopeless... please don't tell my President I said that.  That change is hopeless.  I digress...

This phrase struck a chord in me.  Back at Purdue at my church (Elston Heights), they used to have a youth minister there that I really didn't know very well.  I would see him around everywhere, like helping people move or playing basketball or whatever... and would talk to him on occasion but not really about deep stuff.  Then all of a sudden, my senior year rolls around and I start seriously thinking about what I should do after school.  I could either go into ministry, which I would find fulfilling, or I could go into corporate world and try ministry there.  The challenge seemed endless in the corporate world, so I ended up choosing ExxonMobil.  But there was about a month where this choice really wasn't clear to me.  So one Sunday this guy decides to leave the church and move on to bigger and better things.  I go up to him at the end of the service (kind of like an invitation time) to tell him good luck, and he grabs me in a hug and tells me in my ear, "You're the key Chris, you're the key to this place."  Elston was at the brink of growing (which it eventually has, it's doubled since I graduated).  But at the time I felt a lot of pressure to stay and "do ministry" at Elston because people depended on me and I would've been good at it.  I went back to my chair while the service wrapped up, and sat there staring at the ground with tears streaming down my face.  Not a sob cry, just a silent cry.

Megan asked what was going on so I told her what he had said.  Later on that day she was pretty upset by it because it seemed like the only way you could do ministry is if you went into a church position or some type of full time vocational ministry.  Her and I always agreed that corporate ministry would be far more of a challenge and would probably grow us more as Christians.  Listen, I'm not talking down to working in a church.  My wife does it.  Lord knows I would much rather do it from a comfort factor, but he's wired me in a way that has to keep pushing towards what He's called me to live out.   So after a lot of debate and a lot of counsel from people I trusted at school, I decided to go with ExxonMobil and hope that I wasn't the only key that could unlock the barriers that kept Elston from growing.  Well the Lord provided another key... not a person, but Himself.  At the end of the day, I couldn't believe that I was bigger than God.  He created me... once I thought those 3 words, my decision was made.

So the question is, are you really the key to anything?  Or are we asking the wrong question?  How would you live your life any differently if you knew that someone else's life depended on you?  If your smile to them during the day made their day better, would you smile when you saw them?  If you working later one night allowed your boss to spend a stress free dinner with his/her family, would you work later?  Tonight while reading my old yearbook, I read a lot of things that said, "Seeing you made my day... I admire you... I look up to you... thanks for caring about me."  The funny part to me was it was a shock to read those things 7 years ago for the first time.  It still is a shock.  I think to myself, "What did I do?  I was just being myself".  I didn't have to try to care about what was going on in your life, I actually did.  It's helped the way God has wired me because I don't have to write down conversation starters for when Becky walks in the door.  I don't have to painfully think of questions to ask her.  I genuinely want to know, and usually want to know more than what she tells me the first time around.  I want details.  I don't know why I care so much, but it's not something I try to get better at.  I just accept how I am and honestly look at Jesus' character when I read the gospels in the morning (most mornings).  I read it and say, "I want to be that.  Lord, you live inside me so make me a reflection of that characteristic in you."

For me, if I knew it would make someone's day if I smiled at them I honestly wouldn't do it.  It's extreme I know and it could be heartless, but I have such a negative reaction to fake.  I don't want to come anywhere near it.  I would rather have the character to work late not knowing what my working late is doing for my boss.  I would rather do what's right, because it's right, until it feels right (thanks Mom for DRILLING that into our heads).  I would rather smile because of something I'm experiencing or because of a memory, not because I need to be happy in that moment.  There are times in life to fake it, but very few.  Becky and I challenge each other to not make excuses even for those few times where it would make sense.  It's my prayer that you would do the same.

You are the key to something... just don't get jaded into thinking you control what lock in life you're meant to open.

How are you? Stay tuned...

Whenever Becky leaves town, something weird happens to me.  For one, I lose all ability to make myself a decent meal.  I literally forget that I need to eat and end up eating cookies at 9 o'clock because I'm really hungry.  Second, I get REALLY introspective.  This house is so quiet.  I'm not a talker when Becky's around, so you can imagine what I'm like when I'm by myself.  It's downright boring.  But in the midst of all that, some pretty cool things happen when my brain starts thinking for the sole purpose of thinking.  It hardly ever happens.

Tonight I pulled out an old high school yearbook and started reading what people wrote.  I didn't look at any of the pages (sorry yearbook team, but even 7 years (what in the world, it's been 7 years!) after high school I still don't care who's going to be most successful).  All I wanted to read was what people wrote.  And really I only wanted to read what people wrote that I still "know".  There's people in high school you would say hi to if you saw them, but very few that you could talk to for more than 5 minutes without wondering when the awkwardness would go away.  Thankfully, I have a handful of friends that I still keep in touch with on a very loose timeline.  I get upset with myself every time I think about it because I haven't kept in touch like I thought I would.  But with these friends, I can call them anytime and we can pick up like no time has passed.  Same with college friends.  It feels nice to be loved and to love.

Recently I heard from a whole lot of you through facebook.  Monday was my birthday (25) and out of the woodwork you all came to wish me happy birthday.  It was a fun surprise seeing my email fill up throughout the day!  But I hated the few times someone got a hold of me through text message or by phone and asked "how are you, it's been SO long since we've talked!"  It's near impossible for me to make small talk.  It's also impossible for me to not say something that I'm thinking (just ask Becky... I don't really have a filter.  She tells me all the time, "Some things are supposed to stay INSIDE your head... but I love that you're so open.")  When someone asks me that question, I want to immediately schedule a two hour session so we can really catch up.  Even though I don't talk to you on a daily basis, or even a regular basis, I still really want to know what's going on in your life and I really want to tell you what's going on in my life.  The good parts come out first, then around 20 minutes or so we get into the first pieces of the real story of what's going on in your life... then if you can stick it out for about 50 minutes, then filters are usually gone on both sides and you can have a real conversation.  It's getting people to stick with me for 50 minutes (and for me to have that much free time to run my mouth on the phone) that's the hard part.

So here's what I'm going to do... On this blog, I'm going to write a 5 part blog series titled "How are you?"  I'm going to update my readers (I think I'll start calling you my fans, that sounds more fun) on how I'm really doing.  I'll do my best to filter things but still be completely honest.  And yes, Becky will more than likely proof read before I post.  But there's things about our marriage that I just truly find fascinating that I want to let all of you in on.  And there's things that the Lord is teaching me that I wasn't ever trying to learn.  There's a lot of things that I'm (and Becky) are sacrificing in our lives right now.  Balancing work with life is a reality.  Talking to GOOD friends somehow takes planning now.  And traveling to go on vacations isn't an option unless someone else wants to pay for it.  If you really want to know what's going on in my life, then you have two options.  1) Call me and ask the question.  I'll know what you mean.  If you don't have my number, leave a comment and I'll email it to you.  Sorry, I've grown a lot, but I'm still paranoid putting my phone number on a blog.  2) Read the posts.

I'm making no promises on a timeline.  By now I'm sure there aren't a lot of readers.  No problem.  I had a lot of pride to deal with when it came to writing.  I don't know if I'll ever trust myself again to write with absolutely pure motives, but I'm not going to be paralyzed by that fear.  I used to write to impress, now I just want to write.  If I notice the performer coming out in me, then I just shut it down and really look to the Lord to do a work in me before I'll attempt it again.  So be patient... or don't :)