Monday, October 17, 2011

Travel Light

It's a borrowed thought, but I found it tremendously encouraging and wanted to share...

A young lady confidently paced around a room while leading and explaining stress management to an audience.  She carried a raised glass of water, and everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question: "Half empty or half full?" 

"How heavy is this glass of water?", she inquired with a smile. Her audience was perplexed.  Answers were called out from around the room and ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance. In each case it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."

"That's the way it is with stress," she continued.  "If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on.

As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden – holding stress longer and better each time. So, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don't carry them through the evening and into the night. Pick them up tomorrow.

Whatever burdens you're carrying now, let them down for a moment. Relax, pick them up later after you've rested."

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. ~ Psalm 68:19

Thursday, October 6, 2011


We've all seen them.  Status updates that make you go, "huh?"  These open-to-interpretation posts have even warrented an entry into the urban dictionary:

Vaguebook (noun): An intentionally vague or one-worded status update, alluding to something else. This could be an inside joke, or anything meant for only a few people. More simply, it could be a plea for someone to comment.

Examples: Mark "is wondering if it is all worth it," Tom "decides to let go," Leila “should have not done it, now feels really guilty," Amy "loves it when a plan comes together."

Whether the intent is playful or protective, the end result is the same:  the reader baited into commenting, while knowing full well they're firmly on the outside looking in. 
I wonder if church-speak comes across that way to people.  If the specialized words we use just leave listeners going "Huh?"  "What does that even mean?"  or "I must have missed something."  It reminds me of that moment in A Bug's Life when Princess Dot gives Flick a pebble.  It's a highly personal moment, but the circus bugs just dismiss it thinking "It must be an ant thing."
And like the majority of Facebook readers, I think people are more likely to be annoyed than to get engaged.  If it's a private thing and you don't want to share, then don't put it out there for your web of friends to see.  And if you do want your joy doubled or your burden halved...give your friends enough information for a proper response!  But leaving folks in that awkward space of knowing but not knowing is just...well...awkward. 
Peter encouraged the early church to be prepared to give the reason for the hope that you have. (1 Peter 3:15).  My hope shouldn't be vague.  Neither should my source of help when I'm struggling. 
I realized that I've been sharing my faith this way.  Somewhere along the line, my Christ-centric language has morphed into something vaguer.  It struck me that I have been choosing my words in a way that could be interpreted through many spiritual lenses, justifying the practice by saying that I don't want listeners to have a hostile reaction to the J-word or that I want to start my conversation in neutral ground in hopes of embarking on a grander dialogue.  And maybe it's not wrong per se, and maybe it doesn't leave people annoyed the way that vaguebooking might, but it does seem to dilute what God is doing in my life (whether encouraging or convicting).

Dr. Seuss would have something to say to that:  "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
So I'm making a conscious effort to give honor where honor is due.  To be transparent with just exactly where my hope comes from.  I don't want to leave anyone on the outside looking in.  I want them to rejoice with me, to see where I'm growing, and to discover for themselves what a difference Jesus can make.