I hate working in the yard. I highly doubt I’m alone in this stance, but I’ve always found weeding tedious and ineffective. No matter how much work you do, it takes very little time for it all to be undone.
Yesterday I was tearing out the weeds in my front yard when Kelli came over. She pitched in to help a bit, but it was a question she asked that stuck with me. She wanted to know where the weeds come from, since we’re ripping out the roots and obviously don’t plant them.
It’s a good question. I’m sure garden experts would know the science behind weeds and why they exist, but it made me wonder. I don’t know why weeds return after we go to such great lengths to remove them; all I know is they do. We work so hard to make a beautiful garden, but without constant maintenance the weeds soon overwhelm and destroy.
Of course this shifted in my mind to thinking about other aspects of life where we see the same thing (apparently weeding is a very existential time for me). We’ve been going through some relationship curriculum along with another small group with friends, so naturally I started thinking about relationships. It’s amazing how much you can plant exclusively good things into a relationship and still find weeds sprouting up.
Alright, I’m about to drop some legit wisdom on y’all, and I’m guessing it’s something you’ve never heard or experienced before. I’m quite certain I’m the first to actually think about this.
Wedding planning is hard.
I know, right?! It takes a lot of time, thought (and money), and then something else comes up that you never even considered and now you have to deal with it. I’m kind of surprised no one has pointed this out before.
For serious, though, planning our upcoming wedding has been quite the experience for Kelli and me. I think my favorite part is when people ask how the plans are coming. It makes perfect sense – they know we’re planning our wedding and have an idea what all that entails so they’re simultaneously asking about how we’re doing and providing encouragement that we can make it.
But here’s the thing: I have absolutely no idea how the planning is coming. I think it’s going really well. But since this is the first wedding I’ve had to plan (well, kind of…), I don’t really have many points of comparison. And I’m sure despite all we’ve accomplished to this point and how good we feel about our progress, we’ll come up to the final two weeks and discover all of the things we hadn’t previously considered. That will be fun!
One of the biggest difficulties has been balancing traditional aspects of a wedding ceremony with our (okay, mostly my) desire to have the experience reflect who we are as a couple. I don’t want the stodgy, super-serious wedding because Kelli and I are only mostly stodgy and super-serious.
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about potential. I think some of that has to do with my current status of seeking employment and trying to discern which listings suggest the best fit and provide the best opportunity for both the company and me, but it goes far beyond that.
Last night I had a deep and lengthy conversation with one of my best friends. We talked about a lot of things, with one of those being the idea of potential. I’ve always bristled at the notion that anyone can be anything in our world. It’s kind of an over-the-top rosy worldview that has some value (it’s good to encourage kids growing up to dream big) while also creating the possibility for great struggle (feeling like nothing you do is good enough because it falls short of the lofty ideas you had when you were younger). While it’s absolutely important to push people to strive for improvement and to maximize their gifts, it only causes heartbreak if you convince someone they can (and should) be able to achieve something they simply cannot.
My go-to example is basketball. I’m 5-9 and unathletic; I never had a chance at an NBA career. Now someone could point out that there have been a select few who overcame similar height challenges to have successful professional careers, but they also had tremendous athleticism far beyond anything I could ever aspire to even with nonstop effort. It doesn’t hurt me at all to know this is not a possibility for my life. It’s actually quite helpful to realize when something is not an option because it allows me to narrow my focus on those that could be.
This is where the question of potential comes in. Every decision we make is a simultaneous choosing of one thing and dismissing of all others. Each step eliminates countless possibilities and sets us down a certain path that narrows itself naturally as we continue to put one foot in front of the other. Thankfully we have time and ability to choose several different paths to varying degrees, but each step in one direction is a step away from another.
My fiancé Kelli and I have a bit of a running joke based on some recent house cleaning experiences. As we’re preparing for our wedding and her moving in with me, we needed to go through a bunch of my old stuff and determine what is worth keeping and what should be tossed out or given away. Naturally many of these items were stored in old boxes, which I hadn’t touched in years.
She found fairly quickly that I was open to getting rid of a lot of things. Old school papers and awards were tossed in a recycle pile, although not before I had to show off my hefty pile of “Student of the Month” honors because I’m pretty much awesome and my nerdiness knows few bounds. But for many of the things I wanted to keep, she asked the same question: “What are we going to do with it? It’s just going to go back in a box in a closet, never to be seen again.”
Since then whenever we stumble across something we don’t know what to do with or where to put, the immediate joke is “this goes in the box!” As we’re planning things for the wedding and purchasing decorative items and such, this has come up countless times. My goal is to not spend too much money on things we can’t repurpose or won’t want to display after the ceremony, because otherwise we end up with boxes of things we feel we can’t get rid of but don’t know what to do with.
These “box” items are a challenge for all of us. We accumulate things throughout our lives that hold meaning but don’t necessarily warrant display. Or we want to hold onto the memory, but the piece offers little more than that. When we stumble across these items we’re forced to confront ourselves, our pasts and our memories and seemingly apply a value to whether or not the item is worth keeping.
Our world often gets caught up on the idea of qualifications. As I’m currently going through a job search, one of the most important pieces of any job post is the list of qualifications. Within a few bullet points, I can quickly discern whether or not I have the required experience and expertise. If not, it’s time to move on to a different job listing.
The reason behind this makes a lot of sense. I know when I hired students to work for me in my previous position, I wanted to know about their past experience with sports and writing. I wanted to see if they would be able to quickly pick up on the tasks I needed them to fulfill. And nobody should ever want to hire me with my communication degree to work as a surgeon.
But I find it fascinating to look at these qualifications lists and compare them to the early chapters of the book of Acts. To be honest, the first few chapters of Acts are some of my favorite in the Bible because they show just how quickly and powerfully the hope of Christ spreads when we get out of our own way and allow the message to do the work. On a side note, I encourage everyone to regularly review Acts 2:42-47 and 4:23-37 as a reminder of what we should be doing as the Church.
But back to the idea of qualifications. Here’s the thing: most of the apostles didn’t have any. Jesus plucked people from every walk of life – except the religious elite, the only ones who, by the world’s standard, would have been qualified – to be his closest followers and the people who would lead the first generation of the church after his death and resurrection. To fulfill Jesus’ plan, they didn’t have to have great speaking skills or great education or upbringing and experience. They only had to have an open heart.
As human beings, we’re often really bad at picking up signals. The stereotype is this is a guy thing, where men can’t recognize even the most obvious hints, but I think it goes beyond just men. We’re all pretty bad at taking the hint and following it.
History is full of examples supporting this, and even our daily lives reveal the issue. We see this particularly in regards to our current culture and the idea of rest. Our society so strongly promotes nonstop work and effort, a powerful drive to achieve something great to attain fame, fortune, success or whatever else it is you seek. Rest is for the lazy, the week, those lacking passion.
Often we don’t even think about it in such harsh terms. We don’t consciously look down on rest; we just don’t allow it for ourselves. Sometimes this is our own personal choice based on our drive. Other times it’s more of a passive choice that comes in a chosen profession that demands far more than a healthy amount of time and commitment. Either way, we push through because we have goals to achieve and we enjoy the chase. What we neglect to notice is the price we pay.
“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different…”
Whether or not you recognize these words, there’s a good chance you’ve seen them before. In fact, there’s a good chance you’ve seen them multiple times. This quote is all over the Internet and available to purchase on various items. The reference is always to C.S. Lewis and, sometimes more specifically, his book Prince Caspian.
Reading this quote recently brought two thoughts to my mind: 1. Those really are some meaningful words worth pondering and 2. I wonder if C.S. Lewis actually wrote them.