The Secret of the Soak

Growing up there were times in our family when we didn’t have an automatic dishwasher.
I know, you’re probably thinking “What did people do without a dishwasher?!” I remember thinking the same thing. 

Before “the dishwasher” was a magic door that you put dirty dishes into and they came out clean, “the dishwasher” referred to a person, and that person was often me. My brother and I would be on a rotation for dish duty, one would wash and the other would dry. We each had our own system for cleaning up. I think my system was silverware first, cups second, plates third, pots and pans last. There was a method to my madness, and I think it helps me with things I do today.

I wanted to get the silverware done first because it would be the greatest number of items. Once these were done, the cups would sit nicely in a row next to them, then the plates etc. But the pots and pans were where the real genius was.

Attacking the pots and pans first would have meant a lot of fighting with the sticky/greasy/stuck stuff. It involved lots of scraping, scrubbing, scratching and most importantly, effort! If I wanted to save myself from extra effort, I’d do those last. Doing them at the end gave them time to soak in the water and soap, making them very easy to clean.

I think sometimes life can be a little like cleaning the dishes. But no matter how much mess is around us, what’s true of dishes is true of messes everywhere: you just have to clean it! But it’s also true that we can save ourselves some work by “letting it soak,” giving ourselves the permission to make a decision when the time is right.

We live in a very impatient world, and waiting is increasingly difficult for many of us. But waiting isn’t always the enemy. In fact, it’s often our greatest ally.


I Am Not The Exception

There has been a recent campaign of Christian athletes, musicians and public figures promoting the phrase “I Am Second.” You may have seen the bracelets that some people wear with the motto on it, and it serves as a good reminder to put Christ first in our lives no matter what happens, even in times of great success.

If that’s unfamiliar to you, you will certainly remember professional cyclist Lance Armstrong’s campaign to “Livestrong” and the accompanying yellow bracelets that were for some stretch quite “in” in the fashion world. Personally, I’ve never worn either bracelet, but if I were to wear one it would have to be one that I createdmyself and the motto would be “I’m not the exception.”

You see, I have a disease. My disease could be called “exceptionitis,” or perhaps “restriction immunity syndrome,” and it is a very deadly condition. Allow me to explain.

I tend to think of myself as being in a different category than the rest of the world around me, and it often fuels my actions and attitudes in a negative way. For example, “they” should never look at their phone while driving because clearly “they” are not good enough to drive successfully while preoccupied by other things. I, on the other hand, am an excellent driver and am up to the challenge. “They” may be susceptible to certain pitfalls of temptation or stupidity, but not me. I’m a different type of person. I am the exception. Or so I think.

There is another much older word that can be used to describe my condition of “exceptionitis:” Pride. Yes, that’s it, right up there with the other six deadly sins. Pride looks at self and says “Hey man, you’ve got this! You don’t need help, you’ve got it all figured out. Not like all those people out there, they’re idiots!” If I’m not careful, I start to believe that the rules don’t apply to me, and that gets me in lots of trouble. I mean, LOTS of trouble.

So the reason I need a bracelet (any bracelet companies out there feel free to contact me!) is because I so often need to remind myself of the truth that I am not the exception. In fact, realizing that I am my biggest problem may be the best thing in the world for me to do. It is neither my circumstances nor the people around me who are to blame for my unhappiness. If I want to know the source of my problem, the only place I need to look is in a mirror.

I’ll take it a step further. I not only need to remind myself that I’m not the exception to the rule, I need to know that I am probably the reason the rule exists in the first place. My pastor Kevin Myers says that “we are all one step away from stupid, and stupid hurts.” This is the essence of humility, that I don’t think of myself more highly than I ought to think. It keeps my head on straight, my guard up, and my feet going in the right direction.

So how about you? Do you suffer from “exceptionitis”? Think about it. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

Lifting Weights and Writing Songs

Have you ever missed a workout? Or two? Or two years worth of workouts?
I think we have all been there, when routines fall off the band wagon and simply get left behind. The interesting thing about dropping your exercise routine is that your energy level goes down and your stress level goes up, both of which impede your desire to get up and go the the gym.

It’s the same with creative expression, things like writing songs, poems, journaling, or really anything that is just good for the soul. We have a tendency to forget (or just disbelieve) the benefit of the activities that prove to be oxygen to our very heart and soul.

It’s been a while since I wrote a blog, and if you couldn’t tell from the introduction, I guess I simply dropped off the bandwagon and kept on moving. Well, I’d like to get back on, regardless of whether it’s fast or slow and sure. I think the most important thing about falling off the bandwagon is simply getting back on, even for the hundredth time.

So while I write this for my own benefit, maybe you need to be reminded today to stop the busyness of your life and do that thing that brings you joy. Don’t write it off, don’t assume it won’t be helpful, just do it. Stop and think, go for a walk, pick up the book again, write something. You may be surprised at how much good it actually does for you. Success is defined not by never failing, but by what you do when you fail. “If at first you don’t succeed…”