Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Because People are People

     There are certain things that make me think about the children I met in Honduras even more than I usually would, and Christmas is one of them. As much as I love this season, it is very hard for me to know that children across the world, like the ones I met in Honduras, won't get to experience the kind of Christmas that I have been fortunate to have experienced for my whole life. I don't mean to be a Scrooge, but I am old enough to know that if parents or other caring adults aren't around, Santa is not going to show up and produce a perfect Christmas. That's just how it is, and it makes me sad.
      Thinking about this reminded me of a topic I already covered a while ago, but I want to revisit it now because I think I have a better answer. As a person who has been on a mission trip outside of this country, I know that many people are aware of the fact that there are people who need help right here in the United States, and wonder why some people like me choose to go outside of the country for a mission trip. I think I am ready to answer that question again, hopefully more clearly this time.
    People are people. Americans and Hondurans and all other nationalities are people, and I believe that God wants us to help people. We as humans like to put ourselves into all kinds of groups, diving ourselves up by nationality, age, and many other things, but I don't think God does that. He simply wants us to help each other, and we shouldn't put limitations on that. Yes, I went and tried to help children in Honduras for ten days, but that doesn't mean I'm done. I am trying to make it a habit to help the people around me in my everyday life, and I am eagerly awaiting the chance to go on another mission trip, no matter what country it ends up being in.
     In two days, I will experience another Christmas like I have every year of my life. I will open many gifts, and probably have moments where I focus on those gifts a little too much. But in the back of my mind I will keep the children who don't get to have a Christmas like mine, and remember how they taught me why it is so important to help whenever you can, no matter where you are or who you may encounter.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Attention Seeker

I guess it's no secret at this point that much of what I write about is centered around what I believe. I wish I could say that I planned it that way, but it really is just something that happened when I started to write about what was on my mind. However it may have started, I have tried to continue writing about what I think and feel about whatever is going on in my life in a way that relates to what I believe. In keeping with this strategy, I was unsure about how to begin writing about something that has been on my mind lately, and needed some inspiration to get me started. So when I began planning how to write this post by half seriously Googling the question "Is it okay for Christians to want attention?" I admit that I felt pretty guilty when the top search results included an article called "Seek Impact, Not Attention" and a reference to 1 Corinthians 10:24 "No one should seek his own good, but the good of others" Definitely not the validation I was secretly hoping for. But along with the guilt came a feeling of frustration. You see, lately I have at times felt a little selfish. I feel like I work hard to be a good friend to others, and I try to always be there when people need me. Unfortunately I have had to begin learning that you cannot buy the attention of others by giving them  your attention. No matter how good of a listener you are, and how many times you go out of your way to be supportive, you cannot guarantee that people will return the favor. Sometimes, instead of feeling the satisfaction of friendships that have an equal give and take, you might find yourself burnt out from to much giving and not enough taking.  So what can be done when this happens? Must we seek only the good of others at all times, even if it is damaging to our own well being?
     I had a surprising moment of clarity recently when I was talking to a two year old and realized it was the best conversation I had experienced in a while. Sure, we were talking about trains and favorite colors and other arbitrary things, but the content of the conversation isn't what made it a good one. You see, no matter how trivial it was, he was fully focused on our conversation. I think children that young are fun to talk to because they still know how to be in the moment. They don't promise to "talk to you soon" in some fictional time when they will no longer be busy. They're not thinking about someone else they'd rather be talking to, or plans they have later. They're not checking their phones or looking at the clock. They're focused on the
conversation they're having in the present, and I think there's something significant about that. I realized that a conversation like that, where the other person was fully focused and interactive, was just what I needed.
     After doing a lot of thinking, I have decided to try to let go of my guilt about needing attention. I can't exactly find any biblical backup for this decision, but I still feel at peace about it. I know that I should work for the good of others, and I believe that I do. But I also know that even Jesus had a group of 12 disciples  who were also his friends, and I don't think that's entirely coincidence. I think maybe that in the midst of all of the good He was doing, the fact that he was on earth as a human meant that he needed people to support him, and to be his friends so that he didn't become exhausted from all of that giving he was doing. So I guess it's okay to expect your friends to take on the listening and supporting role sometimes, so that you can be refreshed and better prepared to be supportive the next time someone needs you to be.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Nothing Extraordinary

     This is my 100th post on this blog. I thought I would come up with something profound and memorable to acknowledge this personal milestone, but the truth is, my brain is not functioning at it's full potential. Finals were rough this semester, three in one day followed by the longest one the next day. Anyway, pity party aside, I'm just not full of writing inspiration at the moment due to my brain feeling overworked, and I'm having trouble thinking of anything extraordinary to say.
     I know that I'm proud that I've been able to think of 100 things to write about, and what I'm most proud of is that people seem to be reading because they actually want too, not just to be polite. When people tell me that they can relate to something I have written, I realize why I love to write.
      In the time it's taken me to write these 100 posts, I have not become a famous, well known writer. My posts have not gone viral and ended up all over the internet, and as far as I know no one is calling me America's new favorite blogger. From that perspective, there's nothing extraordinary about this blog. It's just an amateur endeavor, more practice than anything. But beyond that, it has enabled me to really connect with people, and it has made me grow confident in my own abilities, and that is significant to me.
     No, I really don't have any extraordinary wisdom to impart to commemorate this milestone. But as I think about my favorite books (I know this isn't a book but hear me out), it occurs to me that most of the best things I have read are the best because they inspire me and make me think, not because they are elaborate and complex. All I know is that although there may be no tangible evidence that this blog fits the definition of extraordinary, it has helped me realize my own potential, and I believe it has meant something to those who have read it, and it seems to me that perhaps those are the greatest goals any writer can hope to achieve.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What Could Go Wrong?

    I don't usually go back and read posts I wrote in the past, because it just makes me realize how I could have written things better and then I just end up wanting to go back and rewrite everything, which would almost defeat the purpose of having a blog. When I did dare to go back and look at some things I wrote this summer, I was slightly embarrassed at my relentless whining and lack of emotional filter. I didn't realize at the time that me losing a job after a whopping 4 days, and then not getting to do what I wanted to and have surgery instead, were not necessarily things that people would want to spend time reading about. But this is a learning experience, and now I know what not to do in the future. That being said, there is one reason I'm glad I decided to write about all of those struggles.
     When the worst case scenario actually happens and you survive, you learn something about yourself. You start to let go of the fear of things going wrong, simply because you don't need it once they do. There's something empowering about realizing just how much you can handle. Sitting in the doctor's office being told that traveling is basically out of the question even though this trip is something you've been anticipating for months is not fun. Being told that you are going to have a section of your growing out hair shaved and your
head cut open is not fun. Being told not to come back to your new job anymore because the boss suddenly questions your physical capabilities, and having to walk out in front of your co-workers and customers is not fun. None of it was fun, but you know what? It's all in the past now and I'm here in the present still living life. I didn't like it, but I survived it.
     Maybe, like me, you often find yourself worrying about what could go wrong, or what actually is going wrong. But whatever you are going through, whether it's a big problem or just a bunch of small problems happening simultaneously, as they often do, I believe that even if everything does go wrong, there's still hope. After all, once you've hit rock bottom, there's nowhere to go but up.