Saturday, April 29, 2006

lessons from the AC man

I am waiting for the air conditioner man to show up but since it has been 50 minutes, I guess he forgot about me. I hate it when people forget about me. I had a plumber at the house on Wednesday taking a look at a job I needed done and 48 hours later, I still have no quote from him. I hate it when people say they will do something for you and then neglect to follow through on it. No doubt I will call all these guys next week and remind them that I am waiting for something from them and they might actually GET some of my hard-earned money if they only took the time to give me quotes and pay a visit and do a little bit of work. But these are only tradesmen and I am rather easy-going and willing to give them another chance but if they continue to be rather unreliable, I will just call someone else until I find a person who exhibits a bit more drive and dependability.

You can’t do the same with your friends. I could give you a big long lecture on how one must be true to their word, exhibit faithfulness in friendship, be reliable and consistently available for those you value, and be willing to invest in people even at the personal cost sometimes. And I have given these lectures a lot in my mind, in fact, I have a whole series of them and could go on a lecture tour if only any other small minds would be interested in hearing my rants about how people need to shape up and stop disappointing me. This past week I was disappointed by someone again. Sigh, it seems to happen over and over again. And I found myself reacting rather badly – I guess there is just so much one can take before you go into a defensive stance and start rejecting people before they have the chance to serve that distasteful dish to you first. This defensive judgemental attitude was not one I wanted to keep around for it was bound to get worse and repeat itself in an endless cycle turning into bitterness unless I changed my thinking, so I asked God for help and it came in the form of some advice from my husband.

1. Forgive. Forgive. Forgive. And then forgive again. Seventy times seven. Every time someone disappoints you, forgive them. Totally. Don’t make that little black mark beside their name that warns you, “better watch out, these people have hurt you before, they might do it again, so keep your guard up.” Blot every mark out, in fact, throw the book away and stop keeping track, because that’s the nature of the forgiveness you have received from Jesus. Forgiveness means you don’t close your heart to people.


2. The second piece of advice my husband gave me was to lay down all my expectations. Ugh, that hit me between the eyes. How could I do that? You have to be able to expect a certain amount of decency and responsibility from people, no? The world would be chaos without it. But God convicted me that my husband was right, I had no right to place my standards of behaviour on anyone else. These expectations were in fact burdens that I heaped on people, and when they dropped the proverbial ball, or did not shoulder the full load, I extracted a price from them: their approval rating went down in my book and I shunned them from some area of my life. How unmerciful of me, how utterly legalistic and self-righteous and arbitrary is this system I have devised for doling out my friendship.

I was listening to a teaching yesterday about the life of Abraham and his friendship with God. Now Abraham did a lot of things wrong – he had a habit of partially obeying God, of lying to protect himself, of being insecure and hesitant in his faith, of manipulating circumstances to try to get what he wanted. But one thing kept getting stronger and stronger – his friendship with God. He brought his complaints and his happinesses and his struggles and his silence to his best friend, the one who never started off the conversation by listing Abraham’s shortcomings, but instead, told him all the good things that he wanted to see happen in his life.

Friends forgive shortcomings. Friends do things for each other to help them get where they are supposed to go. Friends don’t walk away when the road gets bumpy. Friends don’t give you the silent treatment. Friends don’t expect you to do certain things for them, they just expect you to be there, to be yourself, and to extend the same invitation to them. Anything requiring more than that is no longer a friendship; it is a contract, a job, a service, a project. And I don’t like to be treated like a project, so I’ll have to work on not treating other people that way as well.

Friendship. Relationship. Communication. Love. Acceptance. Forgiveness. Mercy. Grace. Help me, God. I don’t have a big reservoir of these things in my life.

The air conditioner man did show up - 2 hours late - but he showed up. Unfortunately, I was not home because of an appointment, but he left a message for me to call him and I will. Everyone needs a second chance.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

beauty 101

In the past few months, I have thinking about value. Well, actually, it started out more in the realm of beauty and femininity. While I was in South Africa, I attended a women’s function and ended up being the worst-dressed female there. Egad, I had no idea that putting on my cleanest jeans and my t-shirt with the nicest logo and spraying on some smelly substance would not even come close to the power suit and cashmere sweater my host answered the door in. Oops! So it was not a total surprise when during the meeting some well-meaning lady began to pray for me that I would find my true beauty and not hate myself every time I looked in the mirror, feeling unworthy and un-beautiful. Okay. I didn’t really feel that way but was willing to take a look inside my heart and see what could be improved, so I asked God to teach me about beauty. And as I talked to some friends about it, yes, it did seem that I could improve in the area of enhancing my beauty and taking a little more care with my appearance. So we went shopping and tried on skirts and fitted pink tops (please, let me go back to the sports section!!!!), I visited a Mary Kay lady and had a make-up session and even bought mascara, and I took a close look at myself in the mirror and realized that no, I did not like everything I saw.

So I took a visit to the drugstore and bought some products guaranteed to make me look ten years younger after the first application - a miracle in a bottle! So the creams and lotions and scrubs stood watch on my dresser as I started a regiment of uncovering the new improved and much more beautiful and dare I say, scintillating me. One week later I was far from glowing – I was horrified. The closer I looked in the mirror, the worse my appearance seemed as some of the lotions caused my skin to react in a negative way. The salvation of my youth was fading quickly. That night I had a dream that the left side of my face started to slide downward and drooped onto on my neck. It was a nightmare. I woke up depressed and unbeautiful. After a few hours of moping around the house avoiding every mirror, I threw myself on the bed and asked God what was going on – I thought he wanted me to explore the uncovering of my beauty and making the most of what he gave me. Why was it backfiring?
And he told me one thing quite plainly. If I put my trust in anything else other than him, it will turn to death in front of my eyes. He is my beauty, my vitality, my youth, my maturity, my attractiveness, my biggest fan and my most jealous lover. Our society places a high value on outward beauty and youth, but both of these are quicksand in the desert of searching for lasting worth. Value is a gift - it is not something you work for or earn, it is given by the one who will pay the most for you and that one is God - he gave what was dearest to him in order to give us true life. God loves me. That gives me value. The more I keep my eyes on him the more I will begin to look like him and that will attract more people to me than perfect skin and teeth. And yes, there is a pink article of clothing in my closet now.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Best and Worst Inventions

Sometimes in the middle of my day, I will stop and look at what I am doing and see what wonderful gadgets and tools I have at my disposal. Then I take a moment to thank God for those innovative and creative minds that came up with these ideas. Here are a few of my best and worst (in my personal opinion of course). Feel free to add yours.

Best Inventions:
1. carbonated drinks
2. cameras
3. heating and air conditioning
4. recording devices
5. written words and books
6. pie
7. instant messaging
8. phones
9. hot air popcorn poppers
10. air travel
11. flushing toilets
12. windows
13. toothbrushes
14. paint and dyes and tints to colour everything
15. car mirrors
16. dishwashers and washers and dryers
17. antibiotics
18. contact lenses
19. fireworks
20. electricity

Worst Inventions:
1. high heels
2. flowery air fresheners
3. sushi (sorry all my sushi-loving friends)
4. lawn ornaments
5. pornography
6. facelifts
7. gossip
8. bureaucracy
9. snow cones
10. clothing that wrinkles
11. pantyhose
12. poutine
13. bullying
14. beauty pageants
15. smoking
16. neckties