Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hello 2011. What's New? Part 3

Click to see Part 1 or Part 2.

If there is one word that people, in my small circle of influence, could use to describe me, I think it would be passionate.  I am deeply, vocally and transparently passionate.  I like to do stuff.  Ι am always doing something. I am a runner. I am a creator. I am an inventor.  I  really like to be doing something.  When I am not doing something, I get antsy and irritable.  Like any extrovert, my energy tank gets filled when I am working with people, engaging in a task or project (particularly if it's inventive, new, or edgy), and like any good ENFP (Myers Briggs label) once the task or project is born and functioning, I get bored.

So what does "PJ time" have to do with the resuscitation of my soul? After a very intense semester of seminary, along with a bevy of other familial and personal obligations, I found myself completely exhausted, and I completely disengaged.

I don't know about you, but I have to be intentional about finding balance, even after several good years of counseling for my own issues and dysfunctions (yes, we all have them to some degree).  Either I am too engaged in a project, or not enough.  Where is the balance? Is it necessary to spend five hours in the GNT, when I know I have another project that needs my attention more? What am I trying to prove to myself, or whoever else might be watching? Bottom line: I like to win. I like the spotlight. I am competitive. I like acclaim. I want to be the best. Now, in the context of American culture today, these characteristics may be considered good.  Someone might be overheard, saying, "Wow, she's got confidence! She's assured of herself! She's gonna make it!" After all, the world out there is sometimes eat or be eaten, right? But I am called to another standard--God's standard of living.  And my ego has no place in that framework.  The gospel is the anti-thesis to human conceptualizations of ego, power and wisdom. The gospel says the last will be first, and the first last.  The gospel tells the story of twelve disciples who really wanted Jesus to be someone He was not, simply because of their ego issues. Read about it in the Gospel of Mark. Jesus was always trying to teach them the way of Discipleship through His actions. 

So, over the holiday break, I practically lived in my PJ's.  Our kids did too.  It was truly wonderful.  What PJ time did for my soul was to remind me about the point of living.  And it has nothing to do with what I do or what people expect me to be, rather my life should be centered upon who I am in Christ.  I had a wise friend remind me of Acts 17:28: "for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His children.'"  I am God's kid, and He desires me to look to Him for everything.  For approval. For affirmation. For discipline. For wisdom. For help.  Anything in the human experience! I have the bad habit of trying to do these things for myself, and when I do, it isn't long before I royally mess everything up. Trust me--don't try it. It ends bad, every time.

You would think that I would remember these things, but then again the Israelites were constantly building themselves piles of rocks in order to remember things--like the crossing of the Red Sea! You think that was a significant experience for them!? Yet they still had to build a pile of rocks.  We humans are forgetful, ego-maniacs.  Yet, we are each made in the image of God.  And He genuinely cares and loves us--even when we're forgetful and ego-maniacs. And it is in Him that I find my identity; not in the grades I get, or the papers I write, or the projects I participate in.  All of these are good things, but apart from God, they are nothing.

It's important to find time to disengage from the world, just for a little while. I know some people who choose to disengage from email, cell phones or Facebook, just for a little while. Jesus would disengage from the task at hand to go and be with his Father, just for a little while.  Why?  Just like an extrovert needs people to get their tank filled up; humans need to be in the presence of God to be filled with Him.  For it is "in him that we live and breathe".