How many times — how many people — have we done this to? This demonizing of humanity and placing of our perception before the reality of other peoples existence? We know it’s not right, because it’s not fair and we intrinsically know that all people should be treated exactly the same, but we keep doing it. There are obviously a million ways in which we get this whole human interaction thing messed up, because we’re prejudiced toward people in a million various ways based on our realities. I can’t say that they’re all rooted in the same reasons, but I’d like to examine how maybe they’re all correlated, and specifically how those “important” people may be the most prevalent example of it.
So, obviously I’m not a productivity guru. I mean, who really is? But I’ve found some kind of a system that works for me (most of the time), and I figured I’d share that with you today. Maybe you’ve got some really ambitious goal that you’ve been waning to accomplish for years. Or perhaps (more realistically), there’s a new year’s resolution that you started out strong with but have now been slacking in. No need to feel bad about it — at least you started. But, part of seeing real success happen is the ability to course-correct when necessary. So, let’s talk about how we can set big goals and actually achieve them.
I’m now twenty-two… so it’s finally my turn to sing that one Taylor Swift song — that’s what really matters, right? So, I’ve always thought this sort of thing was pretty cheesy… but I’ve also always wanted to do one of my own. So, without further ado, here are twenty-two things that I’ve learned in my twenty-two years of life.
I’d be shocked if you’ve never said that same phrase. But perhaps it wasn’t in a relationship — maybe it was a sudden moment of crisis, a surprise confession of love from a friend, a car that wouldn’t start, an alarm that you slept straight through, an unforeseen honest conversation with a coworker, even panicking that just maybe you forgot to lock the door to the public bathroom you're in.
It seems to me, that there are almost always two contrasting extremes that represent the two ends of a spectrum. And in order to best comprehend the middle ground, one must first understand and in some regards, practice the two extremes. It’s not difficult to identify a few of those spectrum bookends in this culture… Republican / Democrat, Introvert / Extrovert, Love / Hate, Coffee drinkers / Everyone else (Just kidding)… y’get the idea, and can probably think of way more than I can right now.
Think about it… there’s really no other point in a year when you and every other person you know has a mindset of positive change, organization of goals, and actual motion toward some of the things that you wanna see happen in your life. Humanity is primed for change, the “fresh start” mindset is celebrated far and wide, and even culture organizes itself to see positive change in the world become a reality. Qualms and difficulties and failures are put back into perspective, and the past three hundred and sixty-five days are nearly forgotten in lieu of this fresh, exciting vision for the future.
Have you ever said the phrase, “Man, I hate stupid people…”? Perhaps those weren’t the exact words that you chose, but more than likely, you’ve had a similar thought pass into your brain. Whether it was because of being cut off in traffic, taking too long at the cash register, getting a totally messed up order at a restaurant, or really just seeing anyone do anything dumb in public… you’ve probably thought at least something mildly horrible about another human being at some point in time.
If I truly believe that I can do ANYTHING that I set my mind to, then the reason for doing it has got to be monumental. I’ve found that even in something like creating… The very thing that I feel most alive while doing… Sometimes, if the reason why I’m making something isn’t substantial enough, then it almost feels pointless. WHAT?! If that’s the case with something that I so deeply enjoy, then how much more true is that about the things that I don’t enjoy doing? And even more importantly… how do we find that why and constantly point our actions back to it?
It’s not like my reality becomes corrupt when I overthink. My heart is still beating, the day still ticks away, and life continues to bustle on, regardless of my quandary. Life is still so rich because of the salvation that Christ has provided, and everything around me is still saturated with His glory. Except, that we become focused on the wrong thing. A myriad of blessings could be swirling around us, but we find a way to be intoxicated by that one remaining little speck of lack. That speck might look differently for each person — problems are never equal. But the response has to always be the same: Choose to focus on the simple gospel.
The term “hipster” was one that plagued me for the majority of my adolescent life. To some, it would be worn as some kind of badge of accomplishment… but to me, it was a distasteful, shallow term. I hated the fact that by liking something, I was somehow lumped into this category, just because I liked it. I didn’t (and still don’t) care so much about trends, because I know that they come and go quicker than life itself. But y’wanna know something funny? Grandpas really never go out of style.
To a Type-A person, it's fairly easy to push oneself to the limit. It feels most exhilarating and fulfilling to face a challenge head on, and devote oneself fully to the endeavor of seeing it accomplished. However, here's a true challenge for this kind of person... the next time you're presented with some kind of opportunity, no matter how unique or fantastic, decline it and take a nap instead.
Sometimes, that can be somewhat of a precarious truth, that the Lord’s ways are not our own. Because we all know those people… who started out to be a doctor, and right before they were about to attain their massively lofty goal, they drop out of school to be a youth pastor, cause that’s what they felt like the Lord told them to do. And not to belittle that sort of thing, cause that’s truly amazing — I envy your faith and your obedience if your story is anything like that. But when it comes to choosing a major, carer, industry, passion, or location to live, that’s not very comforting. Like, if there’s such a huge possibility that the Lord’s gonna change your heart from what you think is the right thing, then how the heck do we go about things with any confidence at all?!
I’ve found that when a person focuses on the things that they’re genuinely thankful for, it’s actually quite hard to remember what angers, frustrates, or even depresses them. Even with the seemingly crushing responsibility of electing a president, when a person chooses to think about what they’ve already been blessed with, there’s no room for hostility, worry, or stress. It doesn’t happen on accident, just as with most things in life… so even when it’s your natural reaction, or even your right to be angry, it’s always your choice in how you think about it.
You’ve probably heard that verse in Romans before, “Do not conform to the ways of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” That first part sounds real nice and dandy, doesn’t it. “Stick it to the man (the world), and be different! Do what’s right! Don’t party, don’t sleep around, and get good grades!” Nailed it. But that second part? *Patrick Star voice* “Yeah, well, it just means to think good thoughts and stuff…” But really though, what does that mean and why does it matter?
We’d like to think of eternity as something that happens after we die. But here’s the lovely thing about eternity… it’s always been and it always will be. That’s why its the realm in which our almighty God works, because His grandness cannot be contented by our notions of understanding and belief. If God were truly only as big as we believed Him to be, what power would He actually have? Not very much. So, let’s hop on a little logic train here. If we know that God has always been, currently is, and always will be… and we believe that He’s currently still very much at work in our existence, right now… and eternity is the currency that God works in…
Some of you nay-sayers are gonna think I’m just giving excuses to make myself feel better. And you might be right, to some extent, but… it’s the facts, folks. And by facts, I mean that it’s probably true. And by that, I mean that I’ve probably witnessed a miracle in my life by the amount of work that I’ve been able to do in the few hours before an assignment is due, and somehow get away with the 100%. Nonetheless… there’s something to be said about not always being so stuck in the rules and being okay with flaws.
It all sort of feels like a sick game, or a kind of elaborate scheme for some maniacal plot to throw America into disarray. I mean, I guess that’s just politics… but like, has it ever been this bad, really? Politics in particular have become such a messy thing, and if we’re being honest, we’re all just a little bit scared of the whole thing. It’s bigger than we can really fathom, it’s more complicated than we think, and it’s influence is deeper than we care to admit. But at the end of the day, does it really matter? Here’s the idea that I’d like you to consider...
Y’know that person in your life who’s just the nicest person ever? Like, even if their dog just died and their car exploded and they just got a horrible haircut… they’d still invite you over for lunch, take care of you, be incessantly kind, and compliment the mess outta you? If you don’t know the kind of person, you either need to find one of them or become them, cause they’re simply amazing people to know. But, the point is, their life reeks of kindness. When you think of that person, whether they’re in the room or not, you know that they “smell” like kindness. When you go out into the world and smell someone with that similar “smell” of kindness, it makes you think of that person who originally “wore it.”
Your discipline of reading and bettering yourself personally isn’t necessarily the most important part of being a professional athlete. Or just how practicing guitar every day isn’t priority in the career of an accountant. Or how learning algebra isn't important in really anything at all in this life (can I get an amen?). There’s an endless list of things that seem to contradict in terms of importance that I’ll leave you to determine. But we’re complex creatures… we’re interested in and passionate about so many things, things that require being made priority to succeed in. How are we meant to go about this?
There’s nothing we long for more than to backpack through Europe, or go surfing in Costa Rica, or go on a safari in Africa, or drive fast cars in Dubai… but really, what’s the difference? We’ve got plenty of AMAZING things in the States that people all over the world covet, yet we’re so focused on being complacent or complaining. We just wanna get away from our normality to experience something amazing that will perhaps invigorate our spirit of adventure and vigor for life. But if there are so many people around the world that wanna be right where we are, having the lifestyle that we think is “mundane”, where’s the disconnect here?