Tag Archives: doing God’s will

Lessons I learned from the circus

My education and upbringing really emphasized having a game plan and goals in life. Leadership was presented as being strategic, setting goals, and working your plan. I thought that being a leader would mean having success. What I apparently didn’t spend enough time thinking about was what type of success would really fulfill me as a person. I honestly never took the time to think deeply about “success,” what it was, what it means, or why I should care. Here I was pursuing it, yet not really even sure what I was pursuing.

I share all of this to say that I am experiencing what my wise friend calls “hang time” right now.  I went to him for spiritual guidance and he always has just the right example to help me visualize what my real problem is. He talked about the circus, which at first, I must admit, bemused me. I thought to myself, “The circus? Really? What does the circus have to do with this serious issue I am having in my life?” But he explained with patience and kindness: “When the trapeze artist swings from one swing to another, there is a point in time when he has to let go of the first swing, hang in the air, then catch the second swing. He has to trust and have faith that he will be able to grab that second swing.”

Sometimes in life, we are in that moment where we have let go of one thing and are waiting for God to show us what’s next. We have to “suspend” between two things. This feels so unnatural, especially for someone like me who has been groomed to have goals and plans and strategy. It feels like letting go of the steering wheel while driving 100 miles per hour. It feels dangerous! Now, I have long ago worked through my view of success which is probably quite different from a worldly view of it. Money, power, status, and position no longer matter to me. These are passing things that definitely do not bring me fulfillment. I am trying to follow God’s strategic plan which has a much longer vision for me, as in eternal! However, in these moments of “hang time” when I am waiting for the next prompting of the Holy Spirit, it feels like a wasteland and seems to last for eternity, even if it is only a blip on the timeline of my eternal soul.

Are you a human being or a human doing?

I’ve been getting a lot of calls lately from close friends, family members and even acquaintances that have an overwhelming need to vent. These calls or conversations last at least an hour or two. If I had to group these conversations into a category, I would name them “mid-life discontent” or something of that nature. I have listened to both men and women who range in age from late 30s to early 50s.

I am a pretty good listener. I really try to understand their perspective. I also try to imagine the other person’s perspective, too. Often times, after listening for a long, long time, what I suggest is not what they want to hear. Why? Because usually it is true and it is hard to do. Believe me, I know this to be true because I have good friends who will listen to me and suggest the wise course, which I sometimes do not want to take!

I called these conversations “mid-life discontent” because my callers are usually not happy about a situation in their lives. Sometimes, it is a result of their choices. Other times, it is a result of their spouse’s choices. Often times, it is because they chose to act before seeking wise counsel or discerning God’s will. In our hurry-up-and-go world full of messages of instant gratification, slowing down and listening and pondering the right choice is not even considered. It seems that we have taken in the lie that we should always be “doing” something versus “being” someone.

I work really hard to be a human “being”. I try not to rush ahead to solve a problem or to accomplish my own game plan before listening and discerning. Sometimes, I am accused of being “lazy” or not being open to a change. That is not so! If only the accusers understood how much self-control it takes for me to slow down, listen and wait!!! It is not in my nature to do these things. It has taken considerable prayer and change for me to get to this point. I like to “do” just as much as anyone, but I have learned the hard way that “being” is much better than “doing.” So, even when I am being confronted for my lack of “doing”, I fall back on prayer and listen to God’s will. It has served me much, much better than my old human “doing”…Now, if I could just get more people to try it!

 

A two-year-old lost in the woods

I have a bad habit of filling my day way too full. My view of time is totally unrealistic. A task that takes an hour, I seem to think takes about 15 minutes. I tell you this as a background for my next story.

I had exactly 1 hour. It was to be both my lunch break and my chosen time to mow the lawn. At this stage, we didn’t own a riding lawn mower, but thankfully we had a self-propelled push mower. (In college, I actually used a hand mower with no engine at all, the real oldie kind.) The only problem was that it was very hard for this delicate gal to start our mower. I don’t exactly have great arm strength!

So, I gobbled down a quick sandwich and headed to the yard. It took me at least 10 minutes to get the mower started and I was already sweaty. Our yard loomed quite large at that moment. I started mowing in rows, back and forth, back and forth, praying as I went, “Please God, let me get this finished. You know that it is supposed to rain this afternoon. I promised to have this done. I have a meeting that I have to be ready for and I really just need this all to work.”

I have no idea how long my prayer went when I heard a sound from the woods behind me. It was a lady’s voice calling, “Jeffrey, Jeeeffff-reeeey, where are you?” I see her coming out of our woods. She looks like a regular Mom, so I am not too afraid, but I immediately start praying, “Dear God, please don’t make me stop and help her. I mean, how I am going to get this mowing done? I don’t know if I will ever get this silly old mower started again. I really don’t have time for this.”

But as I say those words, I realize how futile it is to ignore God. I turn off the mower and ask her if I can help her. She tells me that her friend’s two-year-old son has wandered off from a playdate down the block. There were a group of moms and toddlers meeting for fun, and Jeffrey managed to take advantage of this and go on an adventure. Her face screams the panic that she feels.

I tell her I will help. I immediately say, “Did you check the cars?” I don’t know why I say this, but I do. She says, “Yes, we did and didn’t find him.” I ask, “Did you look under furniture?” She gives me a bewildered look. I explain, “Sometimes, my toddlers liked to find a small space and curl up and fall asleep. Those places were not always easy to find or were not places I would have thought they would see as comfortable.” She tells me she is going to head back to the playdate house, which she points to as she leaves. I start calling all my neighbors who are home during the day and get them looking with me. I see two police cars arriving on the scene. Oh boy, this is not looking good.

I head towards the house where the toddler had been playing. I start looking at our neighborhood from the eyes of a toddler. Yes, definitely headed this way because of the cool play set in that backyard. No, didn’t venture there, too deep of a gully. Maybe headed up this way. I feel like Sherlock Holmes, but look like a sweaty, grass-covered mess. Just as I am seeing all the acres and acres of common ground woods that would be a lost child’s nightmare, I notice a grandfatherly-type neighbor walking from behind his house holding the hand of a two-year-old. “Jeffrey, ” I think to myself. Just then, I hear his Mom, “Oh Jeffrey, dear boy!” as she comes running up the hill from the direction of the house where they had been playing. Tears fill my eyes as I watch this reunion.

Later, I heard the rest of the story. Jeffrey apparently had been going in and out of the house along with all the other kids. However, when the kids ran inside to get lemonade, he took off in the other direction, unbeknownst to the adults. He found his way into the garage of the neighbor three doors up the hill. That neighbor, who was in his early 70s, had come home for lunch with his wife. Imagine his surprise when he got into his car to go back to work, and found a little two-year-old boy in the back seat! (Remember when I said, “Did you check in the cars?!”) I happened upon the scene as the elderly neighbor was walking down his driveway to find Jeffrey’s Mom.

Little Jeffrey was returned safe and sound! And yes, I was able to finish my lawn. I called and had to cancel my meeting. The rain held off just long enough for me to finish, thank God!