I have loved words my whole life, from stories told to me by family to writing my first poem in second grade. But having a way with words and saying all the right things at the right time means absolutely nothing without action.
I can say I am committed to my job, but unless I put the work in on the projects – those words are meaningless. (I am sooooo preaching to myself today as I prepare to trade this little iPhone screen for the big screen of my work computer).
I think James, the brother of Jesus, put it better than anyone when he wrote, “Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, ‘Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!’ and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?” – James 2:14-17 MSG
Kind words may encourage the hurting for a minute. But authentic action can change people forever – beginning with you.
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!
Routine… Character… Discipline… Those difficult and seemingly mundane things are the only things that can form a solid enough foundation for the most creative and exciting life you’re capable of. Neglecting a disciplined framework for your life because you’re a “#FreeSpirit” ironically limits how high that free spirit of yours can soar!
If you’re a fan of bubble baths like I am, you probably would never add fragrant oils or soap to still water. You either add it when the water is running or you fire up those jets on the whirlpool tub. Why? Because as fragrant and lovely as that oil or soap may be while sitting still, its full refreshing, relaxing, fragrant, and bubbly impact is not released until it is stirred.
It would be sad if I sat in my big old tub and added fragrant oils and soaps, but never fired up the whirlpool jets to spread their healing beauty throughout my bath. Well, how much sadder still if we never fully release the fragrant life-giving beauty our Maker so lovingly crafted into us because we avoid the very things (often in the form of painful or challenging decisions, situations, or relationships) that were designed to stir us up in order to release us into our full potential.
So I challenge you… I challenge me… not to be so busy about avoiding the pain of life’s stirring that we miss having our full and intended impact!
Think about that the next time you’re in a bubble bath. Or, think about it the next time life’s circumstances try to get you stirred up. The stirring that rocks our predictable “safe” little worlds sometimes may not be such a bad thing after all.
These tendencies cause us each to have different styles of doing everything: living, loving, habit formation, absolutely everything….
And if we haven’t taken the time to assess ourselves – we may just be attempting to apply someone else’s habit-system-solution which may actually be counter productive in a person with our particular design.
So as I’m reading this book in an attempt to finally conquer a life-long struggle with procrastination and become more productive, I am learning that I am a rebelwith just a touch of obliger.
And… I must confess. At first I thought this odd combination of tendencies was just a bit unfair. Perhaps God was expressing a warped sense of humor when He created me. I mean, how the heck am I supposed to get myself to do anything when my natural tendency is to resist outer expectations and inner expectations… mixed with a touch of people-pleasing tendencies!
Oh, and to top it all off – my professional background and passion for changing healthcare for the better tends to land me in positions that are typically filled by the 100% obliger type. (You know, the “You say jump – I’ll say how high” follow-every-rule type?). So… I work in the most highly regulated industry ever in roles that are supposed to enforce those regulations and create structured frameworks to bring about positive change. Yet I have the tendency to want to do the exact opposite of what I’m told. What’s up with that??
So….. This morning I was talking to Father about this. (The Maker-of-my-soul-Father – not my earthly father, Dad, a.k.a my most faithful blog reader who I’ll call later!). And, since Father’s ok with His kids being real with Him, I let Him know my frustrations in a “What were you thinking when you designed me like this?!?” kind of way. And He lovingly and graciously asked me, “You want to lead and make a difference for me, right?”. Yes, of course. Then He softly spoke this simply profound truth to my soul:
If you can lead yourself, you can lead anybody.
So, in other words, if I can convince this stubborn-rebellious-wild-child-wrapped-in-a-sweet-submissive-compliant-looking-shell to do what she’s supposed to, I can lead anyone??
EXACTLY. (If God texted, I am pretty certain it would always be in bold, italicized all-caps).
Huh. What about that. Maybe my Maker knows what He’s doing after all.
So let’s stop over-complicating things and just get to know and love Him, ourselves, and each other. Then we can simply live and love well as we walk out this crazy adventure called life!