Sunday, May 25, 2014

Nothing

Hahaha! So here's how I'm going to start this one... Time to rewind a bit. Okay a lot!


Let's return to those school years. Those elementary school days, or better yet the middle school or junior high ones. Either way I guess this photo is a little too old for my illustration... we were still so young and sweet back then. But wait, weren't we always like that? Haha! Kidding. I was no angel. 
At any rate, elementary school was the only time that we took the bus to school, and that's only if we made it to our stop on time. I remember my mom chasing our bus down to drop us off at the next stop. Sometimes it wasn't the next stop. I think by the end she knew our bus route better than some of the drivers. Sometimes I wonder why she didn't just drive us to school. It was probably the same or less mileage. 
By the time middle school came around she was doing just that. Our bus days were over. She really was (and is!) the best mom. And when school was over she was usually there to pick us up. A little late, but I don't think she ever forgot us... I think... 
Our car conversation on the way home was pretty standard and usually was repeated around the dinner table when my dad got home from work. Let's see if it sounds familiar to you as well...
Mom: So. How was your day today honey?
Me: Fine.
Mom: Oh. Well, what did you do today?
Me: Nothing.
Mom: I'm sure you didn't do "nothing." You were there all day. What did you learn in your classes?
Me: (pause) Nothing.
Sound familiar? My poor mother. I really do feel for her and all parents who try so desperately to engage in their kids' lives through good conversations. They volley over so many questions and probes to get the dialogue started, but all they get back are one word dead ends. And the one word of choice?
Nothing. 

Well I'm sure I'll have to revisit this again when my husband Ryan and I have kids of our own. Hopefully, my stealthy question-asking skills can bypass the dead end response. But this post isn't an examination of parenting skills... I kind of wish it were.

Nope.

Lately I feel like I've been having that same dialogue with myself.
I'll get home at night after a long day of work and I'll take an inventory of the day. Sure I might do a lot of things, but what have I really accomplished? What impact did I have on the people around me? What words did I speak? What attitude did I exude? Was it loving, kind, compassionate, joyful and selfless? Did it bubble over with smiles, bright eyes and blessings, or were my eyes critical, brow furrowed and words full of grumbling, irritation and cynicism? My stomach churns as I acknowledge the truth: that I see the latter far more than the former.
And the truth is that the latter isn't just "nothing," as my car-ride dialogue would suggest. It's actually quite worse than that. This disgusting negative outlook and attitude has a putrid, poisoning affect, on myself, on my poor husband who receives the tail end of it when I come home, and on those around me at my workplace. I've done nothing. Nothing good. But with this attitude that sometimes seems to spread like an air-born illness, I have sown seeds that breed bitterness, resentment, self-pity, anger and, well, death.
This is not who I am.

I will say it again because it's worth saying.

This is not who I am.

Maybe that doesn't make sense because clearly this appears to the behavior I exhibit. But I know myself. I know deep down that this is not who I was created to be. And I know that I've been rescued and redeemed from a life that's enslaved to such blight. He has lifted the veil and enabled me to see and experience His goodness, love and light. And I am made new in Him. But the choice is mine... whether I want to live in that newness, trust in His goodness, walk and speak with joy that comes from a grateful heart humbled by His love or live in darkness with the furrowed brow of bitterness and the heavy coat of resentment and self-pity that make it hard to see, walk, breathe, even live.

No. Summer's coming! I don't want that heavy coat. I'm done with it.
I made the choice to be done with it a long time ago... way back in those elementary school days. But I'm reminded that it's a choice I have to make every day. To choose joy. To choose gratitude. To choose love. To choose to trust. To choose to live.
And I want to live this life well.
I want to be able to look back at my week, my day and see that I haven't done "nothing." I don't even want to settle for something. I want to feel like I've been a blessing to others and not a curse. I want to spread a smile. I want to walk through the door at night and tell my husband with bright eyes that I've had a great day. I want to live in the freedom and newness that I've been given and I want to offer it to others. And above all I want to honor, serve and love the One who offered me this most precious gift. I want to know that I have done the work He has set out for me, and that I've done it well through His power at work in me.

That's the key. I need Him to do this. I can't will myself to have a sunny outlook especially when I live in Seattle. Haha... bad joke. But seriously, I'm not that strong. I need to get back in the habit of asking Him every morning to lift my eyes above my circumstances and keep them fixed on Him.

So that's my Sunday morning confession and my new resolution.
To live this life well. To choose joy. To choose laughter and smiles. Even on the hard days. And to ask for His help, strength and power to do that.
I don't want to leave a legacy of "nothing."
I want to leave the lasting legacy of Christ.

1 comment:

Bradley Stoll said...

Really good read. I can't tell you how much this post of yours speaks to me and the way I want to live my life too.
Thanks you for leaving these lasting words for us all to see and to return to when we need to be reminded.