I think in stories now. I could blame Donald Miller for that but mostly I would just thank him. I would thank him because I’m living better stories now than I was four years ago. In some ways, I had no where to go but up. Four years ago I was thawing out from a long season of depression and burnout which had immobilized me in a lot of ways. The “Great Thaw of 2009” coincided with the release of Miller’s book “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years“. It just so happened that it was released the week of my annual Introvert Intermission, a week where I get away from everyone for a week of solitude and processing and where I avoid people and showers. Not that I showered with people before. Or after for that matter. I retreat to a place where the median age is 72. This is good for several reasons. By the time I get up, everyone is gone. I’m often the fastest one in the gym. I have very little physical competition at the pool. And by the time I get back from “town”, everyone is medicated and asleep.
It was by the pool where I read most of Miller’s book, soaking up the sun while raising eyebrows at the lack of skirt on my swimsuit. When I read about Miller’s journey to actually LIVE a great story rather than just THINK about living a great story, I knew he had nailed my issue. I think about a lot of great stories. It is easy for me to do because I live in my mind a lot of the time. I’m wired that way. If there were an Olympic event for day dreaming, I’d take gold and break records doing it. It would be a really difficult event to judge, I imagine. And probably incredibly boring. Like dressage (aka – horse dancing) and ribbon twirling gymnastics. But rarely did I make those dreams a reality. Mostly, I watched time go by and the dreams stay just that – dreams.
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If I needed motivation to quit some things, I found some today via a letter that my 7-year-old nephew wrote as part of a class assignment in first grade.
Dear ant moe
I miss you so much becuse you have been gon a lot
You’r been on misson trips and going to the zoo. I want you to stay and play with me and morgan outside!
and I want you to stay for aver and …. aver!
Ugghhh. Do you hear that sound? That is the sound of heartwrench, a distant cousin to heartburn but much more painful.
One of my primary roles in life is “Aunt Moe”. I need to make sure my actions back that up. It is one thing to say something is a primary role in your life; it is another thing entirely to live it out. I’ve not been very good about the living it out lately in regards to being an aunt. My work role dominates way too much of my life.
For the record, I only go to the zoo with my niece and nephew. So, I can only infer that by “going to the zoo” my nephew means “going to the office” which just proves once again how wise and perceptive he is.
What are your primary roles in life? Do your actions back that up? Any you’ve been neglecting that you need/want to work on? Leave a comment: here
On Sunday, I preached a sermon that I struggle to practice. Nothing new there. The gist was that you cannot help everyone so do for one what you wish you could do for everyone – something I’ve been challenged by for 9 months since hearing Andy Stanley say that to a bunch of us at the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta. Go deep with a handful of relationships and responsibilities so you can be engaged with those select people and situations in the way that truly creates an environment of discipleship and transformation – for both parties. Have faith that this process is a living process that multiplies itself by its sheer witness to others. You don’t have to help everyone. Let the witness that comes from loving people and doing things well fuel others to do for others. This was reinforced to me recently after attending the Storyline Conference in Nashville with Donald Miller. I have too many roles. We are designed, at our best, to handle three to five primary roles. The more roles we commit ourselves to the more we dilute our effectiveness in and our blessings from those roles.
One of the things that has to happen first for most of us is that we have to quit some things. Quit some relationships. Quit some responsibilities. This is the tough part for me. I think I’m learning to do better about saying no to new things. But how do you put the brakes on things already in motion? Especially relationships.
With project-oriented roles that I am quitting, I am setting up a time line of sorts. It goes against my work ethic to leave people high and dry if I’ve made a commitment to them but I’m also learning that if I don’t put a clear deadline for when my work is done than there is the risk of dragging things out. I’m not going to purposefully burden them with a mess I create from a hasty withdrawal. It also helps me see light at the end of the tunnel and gives the other party time to prepare for the change. If you need to quit some projects, try to make the transition as honorable and positive as possible. You may not be able to tie up every loose end but you can maybe prevent a tangled mess of knots from being your lasting memory with them.
With relationships that I am quitting, it isn’t quite as easy. Typing that even sounds horrible to me. However, I think the real quitting I have to do is putting an end to how much thought and emotion I give to others. If I look at it honestly, I don’t give a lot of physical time to others. I simply don’t have it to give and am now working on giving more to my primary roles. What I do expend a lot of time on is worrying about what others think, what their reaction will be, what their motives are, if I’ve hurt them by not being more available to them. Quitting relationships for me will be more in the vein of quitting trying to please others or to figure them out. Basically – I need to stay on my pillow. (You should really click the link and learn more about what I mean.) There will be some relationships I have to physically step out of – not get together as often, not respond to every call or email, etc. but mostly, I have some mental and emotional relationships that I must quit.
What are some primary roles that you want to devote yourself to more? What are other roles, responsibilities or relationships that you need to quit and how will you quit them? Leave your comment: here.