This post is a “re-run” from a blog I wrote in September. But as I still struggle with #PerfectionParalysis (waiting until the “perfect” time or environment to take next steps of progress toward #purpose), it bears repeating! Will you join me in stepping into 2019 seeking #progress rather than #perfection?
So, I’m in some training for work today, @emoryhealthcare’s #QualityAcademy. These words were said during a discussion on selecting which type of graph to use when presenting data. But I think there are some pretty good applications for life in general. For me anyway, the desire for perfection – left unchecked – can stop practical forward motion and leave me feeling pretty useless!
Let me begin with a disclaimer: I am not a “Porch Pirate” nor do I in any way endorse snatching packages from anyone’s front door stop (or any other illegal activity, for that matter!).
But the rampant acts of porch piracy occurring as so many of us skip the holiday crowds at the mall for the convenience of online shopping has me thinking….
Those porch pirates don’t know what they have until they take the time to open the package.
Since I order absolutely everything on line, if a pirate dared pillage my porch, she might open the package to discover anything from cat litter to a plumbing tool to de-clog the bathtub drain, to the awesome Surface Pro computer I ordered a couple months ago to use for my writing and graphics.
But what would happen if my fictional pirate stole all 3 of those packages from my porch. Let’s say she opens the cat litter (poor resale value and she’s a dog person), and the drain snake, and decides it’s not even worth her time to open the third package so she tosses it in the trash.
Little does Ms. Pirate know that she just tossed an expensive piece of electronics aside because she assumed from her past negative experiences with the other packages that it wouldn’t be worth her time to open the box.
Now, we may not be porch pirates (I hope not, anyway). But I’m afraid we still have the tendency to leave so many treasures undiscovered.
Unlike my “porch pirate” illustration, the real treasures are not in packages of factory-made trinkets swiped from a randomly selected doorstep and not even intended for the one who opens it. (Deep down I think we all know that all these things we work so hard for are not treasures at all – though modern culture and advertising tries very hard to make us think so). But the treasures we so often let walk by us undiscovered are people…. so many very amazing people we encounter day to day.
We don’t invest the energy to look beyond the weary smiles, the hi-how-are-you-I’m-fine’s to explore all the amazingness our Maker has put in the story behind the eyes of each person we pass by.
Many of us on most days walk right by our opportunities to connect with incredible people and their amazing life-stories that our Maker intentionally placed in our path to encourage or teach us.
Instead, we typically move by others quickly missing these many opportunities to connect with our Maker’s fingerprints all over the story of their lives. Perhaps we don’t even see them. Our gaze may be fixed to our phones as we busily “pseudo-connect” with others in our make-believe social media world. Or, we may be working hard to get the-stuff that will someday be dust instead of connecting with people who bear the eternal mark of our Maker on their very souls.
A recent example of a treasure once ignored but now appreciated is a woman I often see walking near my workplace at lunch time. She first captured my attention because she walks like she means it! The main evidence of this is the fact that “typical” women’s uncomfortable, high heeled, pointy-toed work shoes (by the way…. if God meant for our toes to point and our feet to be at our uncomfortable angle – He would have made our feet like that) have been replaced with serious athletic shoes. Also, her walking pace is probably double the speed of my typical running pace. And, she’s typically very-focused – “in her own space” as she walks with earbuds firmly in place. And, she is doing this every single day! (This is probably what had me most impressed since sustaining a disciplined and consistent healthy lifestyle is one of my main – although sometimes illusive – goals in life).
So, I felt Maker prompting me to connect with this lady. I didn’t for days. My excuses were like, “She’s listening to something on those earbuds – I don’t want to disturb her”. The real reason is that I probably didn’t want to interrupt my own lunchtime pursuit of junk food and junk posts on social media (insert eye-roll here) so I don’t have to actually connect with people and face my own insecurities and fears of possible rejection. But I finally gave in to that ever-persistent “still small voice” and was I ever in for a treat!
On the day that I broke both of our strides of our normal lunchtime routines to make eye contact with her and say hello – she wasn’t perturbed with the intrusion at all. Instead she paused her gait, removed her earbuds, and smiled a most fabulous smile at me. I shared with her that I am trying to develop a healthy life-style and get moving more and that seeing her being so consistent with her walking everyday inspires me. She beamed. And then, the treasure of her story was opened to me. She shared that she had at one point weighed close to 600 pounds (and I would guess she is at least a good 400 pounds less than that now). Her persistent and consistent walking was part of what literally saved her life. Now when we pass, I try not to break her awesome stride, but our eyes meet and we smile and greet. Daily I remember and am inspired by her incredible story that I would have completely missed if I had not taken that moment to connect.
I have a feeling we wouldn’t have to binge watch Netflix so much if we took a little more time to enter into the amazing stories behind each other’s eyes.
I challenge you and I challenge me to take the time to connect with the people God places in our path today. Taking even a few minutes to connect with that cashier, that person on the walking trail, the man behind the counter at the DMV (I mean – you waited an hour or more to see him – you might as well chat with him a bit) – might unwrap the very story you need to fuel your own journey today.
Calling that friend from church who has missed more than a month of Sundays, or taking the time to chat with your dog-walking neighbor, or calling (not texting) that family member who you’ve not spoken with a while will not only bless them, but you’ll probably unwrap a story in them that is just what your own soul needs, too!
We are designed to connect, so please don’t move through life so quickly that you miss the beauty of another human’s story. I promise you, a real life encounter with someone living and sharing their story is way better than anything we might watch on one of our many glowing screens.
If you’ve been a part of the church/Christian Faith world for more than a minute in your life, you’ve probably heard these words:
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28 NKJV
I’m pretty sure I memorized these words fairly early in my Sunday School career. I mean, if there was a sticker or piece of candy in it for me, I was all about parroting the words back to my teacher.
But I don’t think the little Sunday School version of me had a clue what those words really meant. I’m not entirely sure the grown up version of Tracy gets it either. But I’m beginning to.
You see, when those God-breathed words made their way out through the Apostle Paul’s pen, all meant All. Absolutely no exceptions.
And all these centuries later, all still means all. No exceptions.
But I’ve made exceptions. I totally get God using the pretty , shiny, and happy things of life for my good and His glory. I even get Him using some of the darker sides of life – as long as I did nothing to cause them and they don’t last too long.
But what about the long dark pathways of my own choosing?
All means all.
What about the things that will never ever make sense to me this side of Heaven.
All means all.
What about the things that seem so dark and evil it seems absolutely impossible that good for anybody at any time could ever come out of it.
All means all.
Why is it so important that we begin to grasp this?
It frees us from being bound by the lie that our sins and bad decisions exempt us from God’s Good in our lives.
All means all.
It frees us from the false belief that we are little mini-gods who shoulder the responsibility of acting right, believing right, being right in order to experience God’s goodness in our lives.
So, if your heart is weary and disillusioned believing that somehow the actions of others, a “bad hand” dealt by life, or even your ugliest of sins and poorest of decisions can somehow stop the flow of God’s good in your life – you can be lifted by the fact that