A Simple Moment — September 27, 2011

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Papers can lie on my desk for weeks, silently screaming for my attention, but never receive one moment’s notice from me unless there is some sort of threat or intimidation to grant them their due.  (Sometimes they even lay on my desk when they’re feeling properly English…)

I, like maybe some of you, have a long list of requirements, which I have even put into an order of importance, yet relegated to the realm of “never to be thought of again.”  I do insist that I am a highly motivated human being who is caring and wants to do excellent work.  Simultaneously, I am either lazy enough or frightened enough that I will avoid labor until it comes pounding on my front door. 

Last night I woke up in the middle of a great sleep feeling a little sick–and maybe with what I thought was some tightness in my chest.  Being a fifty-nine-year-old hypochondriacal, overweight male, I considered that perhaps this was the “big one”–a pending heart attack. I had no real reason to think in that direction and the minute I shifted around, sat up in bed and belched a couple of times, I realized that what I was feeling was just some late-night overuse of peanut butter and crackers.

But in that simple moment–when I was considering my own demise–all sorts of pledges, promises, dietary considerations and reforms came rushing to my brain–a prayer to God that He grant me one more chance to overcome my obesity before exploding my chest. Here’s the funny part: the minute I was free of the notion of my looming doom, I was also relieved of any sensation of repentance.

You see, we want to live a life of our own choice, where WE motivate the world around us to our betterment and to the betterment of itself.  We want to believe that if God would just give us excellent circumstances, we would produce phenomenal results.  But the truth of the matter is, very few of us will actually move to do much of anything until we are confronted by tribulation, trial, temptation, disaster, inconvenience, frustration, red tape or just general nit-picking, aggravating duty. Candidly, we probably won’t even clean the gutters on our houses unless a tree crashes in on our roofs.

Yes, our good work shows up when we are forced to pull out our better china and place our best recipe on the plate for consideration. Until then, we are people who promise instead of a people of promise.  You do recognize the difference, right?

So just think how tough it is to be God.  You love your children but You know they are innately lazy and unmotivated without some sort of rod accompanying the guiding staff.  You don’t want to be a grouch, but You also don’t want to leave them perplexed over their lack of progress, wondering why life has passed by so quickly. 

 The source of trials and tribulations is that someone else has failed to do his job, dropping the problem on your doorstep. God doesn’t tempt anyone, nor does He hassle us. The hassle that comes into my life is because somebody else somewhere along the line passed on the responsibility–and I ended up picking #1 in line at Baskin Robbins. Yes. Someone else’s duty has become my responsibility.

It’s what happened in our society with the financial crunch; it’s what has happened with the test scores in our schools. We let an opportunity pass that could have been handled in the moment and now it is still here, refusing to go away–except it’s uglier–because now it falls in our jurisdiction.

So is there an answer? Is there any way that we can simulate problems in our lives without coming across as pessimists and being rejected by others because we always bring up the negative possibilities? Probably not.  

But I would make one suggestion: limit your load to five. 

Don’t lie to yourself and insist that you are so proficient that you can multi-task and do many, many things during a day and accomplish them well. Those people don’t really exist, and if they did we would all basically hate them. Find out five things that need to be done on any given day,write them down, and check them off when they are completed. Don’t be tempted to replace them with things that appear to be more urgent. After all, urgent things have waited a while and can wait a while longer. The only way to live a good human life is to be focused on a few things at a time and perform them to the best of your daily ability.

You will, of course, miss some opportunities and some individuals will criticize you for not being “on point.”  But don’t try to do more than five things in a day. That gives you 35 tasks in a week and 150 in a month.  That should do it, don’t you think? So you can either try to do 373 things poorly, or admit that you’re human and must focus on a simple moment and attempt 150 with a bit more style and deliberation. It’s not a perfect system.  If it were, you and I would be ill-qualified for the position. It’s just our way of admitting that until the pile of debris in front of us gets large enough, we usually don’t grab a garbage bag.

A simple moment–when we realize that the problem has become a trial and the trial is threatening disaster and we step into it, reluctantly trying to fix it, while complaining about how we wish our lives were easier. 

If you really want to take authority over your journey, choose five “fussers” a day, take them out of the status of being “trials” and just make them desirable choices in achieving your daily bread.

Will it work? I’m sorry.  I wasn’t listening.  What did you ask? (I think you get my drift…)

Like everything else in the realm of human beings, distraction makes it a “sometimes affair.”

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