Friday, October 22, 2010

Zombies and Christianity

I saw this on the High Calling and HAD to read it...yes...because of the title. No, I'm not a zombie-enthusiast.  It's a stretch, but it makes some good points and asks these questions that I wanted to try to answer...

1.    What do you think zombies represent?
2.    When do you most feel like you're turning into a zombie?
3.    Where do the zombies congregate in your life?
4.    How can God and your community protect you?

1. Zombies represent any area of my life where I'm moving without purpose and true motivation. Any area where I'm following my base nature and nothing more.
2. Normally I'd say work, but I've been doing really well eating purposefully for the past...3 years or so. My job's been kind of stressful lately though, and while it's only one meal a day, lunch has just been out the window lately...all kinds of bready, saucy, fatty, sugary treats that serves as mid-day entertainment and distraction from stress. 
3. Career (it's easy to fall prey to what I "should" be doing at...whatever age) habits (generally within my budget, but do I really need another pair of shoes? Even REALLY cute ones?)
4. Fighting off "zombies" is all about staying conscious of what you're doing with your time and resources. I know it's pretty heavily debated, but tithing...especially when it's extended to areas beyond money (like time and relationships), is...I've the very least...a good reminder of how to proportion your life, and how much of a difference a small "investment" can make. It's also a good way to establish "inconveniencing" yourself...which is BIG for me in the area of time. If I'm selfish with anything, it's my time. I have a really twisted relationship with the clock (hate being late, love watches, hate being on a schedule, love making them) and it can be crazy difficult for me to make time for anything that's not part of my zombie habit....even rest. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Jerk Love

"My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. 2Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," 4have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

James 2: 1-4

We've been doing James in Bible study (I'm liking it!!). It's my favorite book...a heavy, sometimes painful book, but what can I say...I like straightforward:) There's a constant ebb and flow between the concrete and the abstract, which I believe is one of the core points of the book...and possibly even why James' statements seem to come out of nowhere in certain points. Well, tonight was chapter 2 and we were covering the concept of discrimination and prejudice. The book addresses it from a point of income, but as my pastor pointed out, it can be extrapolated into other areas...for me that was personality. He joked (I...think...) that I was given the gift of dealing with jerks. I really think they get discriminated against. I know I've always gravitated toward...edgier personalities...friends, relatives, hobbies, TV characters (which is why I think there was something deeper than humor behind what he said). It's something I understand. I have a personality that's quite a few degrees less than "warm and snuggly" and I know what it's like to be misunderstood on that level, so it's generally easy for me to look past some of the thorns and pricklies that people carry around with them.

I really have to say though...there are a LOT of "impoverished" personalities in my life right now. Maybe more than ever before and recently there's been even more of an up-tick. I also have to say that my reactions have not be the best. Jerks come in a pretty wide range of intensities. Some just have, let's say, "misguided" senses of humor. Other's are generally predatory on weaker personalities, and those are the ones that get to me. (Especially since in studying martial arts, I've put/found myself in a position of weakness.) But, as my aunt says "Hurt-people hurt people." I have to keep reminding myself of this. It is not my right to pass judgement on people's actions...even if they hurt me or others. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fear is a funny thing...

Well...kinda. Just got back from a great Bible study that hit home in one of those positive, painful-growth educing ways.

It made me realize a lot about my attitudes toward my work life. For the longest time, I've admired figures like Joseph and Moses who were brought through long periods of difficulty to excel in areas in which they weren't necessarily gifted. Well, it hit me that as much as I KNEW they went through difficulty to grow, and as much as I KNEW God brought them success without natural gifts, I had distanced that part from my life and focused only on the happy/successful ending. 

I've wondered for a while now, why, after much prayer and study and skill development, God had led me into a field that's deep with requirement of those things that, well, I'm not so good at. There's just...attention to detail and repetitious work EVERYWHERE in my industry. I've gotten better at both, but still not good at either. And that's where the fear comes in. This is a fear that's likely a burden to anyone that's "used to" being good at things. I've recently been given a more challenging assignment that requires more attention to detail and repetition...and as much as I protest that I don't want to give up quality of life or work-life balance or my sanity, my concern over taking the position is really based in fear that I won't be able to do it. It's a fear that despite all I CAN do, that this job is just too full of what I CAN'T for me to make it through. 

To steal a quote from Bible study via Billy Graham:
"Mountaintops are for views and inspiration, but fruit is grown in the valleys."

So yeah...I know this is where the growth happens. While I've learned to trust that God is growing me, and not punishing me or leaving me to crash and burn, it's another feat altogether to find peace in difficulty. BUT...and this is a big one. I've been blessed with some wonderful mountaintops in other areas of my life, which, for the first time, I can see quite clearly despite being in a temporary valley.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I'm not who I thought I was.

Great message at church this morning. It was one of those where a LOT of stuff jumped out at me and I had to frantically try to note it all down. What stood out to me most though, was the verse below.

John 1:42 (NIV)
And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas" (which, when translated, is Peter ).

Being a Christian that was raised in church is an interesting thing. You've heard the basics probably thousands of times, but as your life grows and changes, those basics take on new meanings and God reveals new insights. I heard this verse and immediately thought back to who I was 10 years ago. I was 20, in my junior year of college. I was in love with the image of the suit-wearing corporate life and had been for years. (I transitioned straight from lacy, pastel dresses covered in glitter and tulle to double breasted skirt suits. Power skirt suits.) I was dating a really sweet, artistic Christian guy and was looking forward to all the cute heels I was going to buy to match my suits.

Well, my first job in my field was with a very laid back company. Jeans every day. Suits only when going on site with clients. I thought that laid-back, jeans-and-tshirt corporate culture only applied to Silicon Valley companies like Apple and Google, but I was quite wrong. My first couple of business trips, it was fun to walk through the halls, towering in a dark suit, ankle length coat and leather gloves. My boss at the time told me repeatedly that I had the "look" and "walk" of a consultant. Well, it was fun...all of two times. The novelty wore off and suits just became uncomfortable. Business trips became burdensome (and I really haven't been on that many.) 

I prayed, for YEARS to be removed from this job. I didn't explicitly ask for a more corporate assignment, but deep down, that's what I wanted. I sit now, 10 years later, thankful that I never got sucked into the whirlpool of traditional corporate culture. I call it a whirlpool because it's not something you just step out of. It really is an uncompromising, all-consuming, distinct lifestyle. Your values change. Habits form. Which, incidentally, is what I think your 20s are about...establishing habits and standards of living. I'm thankful God has taught me to live a relatively minimalistic life. I never developed a taste for fancy cars (though I do have a natural taste for fancy food:), high end electronics or name brands. My life now is happily composed of weekend cooking projects, training Brazilian jiu jitsu, building an organization to connect China and the US my quiet job and the occasional international trip.

I don't want as much as I thought. Well...that's not true. My wants haven't changed much. It's more that they're quieter and I now know that the things I want don't make me feel half as good as I'd expected. At best, they give temporary comfort. At worst, they make me feel I've eaten too much. But I know...that even years ago, God knew where my true happiness was. He knows my real name. He knows what suits me as an individual, and I know that the last few years have been about "purging" so many outside standards that I'd managed to absorb over the years.