Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Where did all the facial tissue go?

There is a Puffs kleenex box in my office that has been there since I started at First Baptist almost eight months ago. Most normal people would not give a kleenex box much thought but I have never been one to think myself normal. I don’t use kleenex because when I get a stuffy nose I just wipe it on my sleeve or if I don’t have a sleeve I wipe the snot on my hand and then wipe my hand on the inside of my pocket. It’s not that I don’t like kleenex or that I don’t value it as a better alternative than my sleeve or jean pocket. It’s just that I don’t ever remember that the box is there. When I was growing up we didn’t use kleenex. We used toilet paper because it was already over abundant in our house. I think that’s why I don’t remember that I have the box.

I only mention this because despite the fact that I don’t use it, the box of kleenex is half empty. This is why I gave the kleenex box a second thought (did you know that when you type the word kleenex Microsoft Word automatically capitalizes it? It is really annoying because I don’t want it capitalized because I am not promoting one type of facial tissue over another.) I started to think about where all the kleenex went and started to discover that I only used it when I had a spill in my office as if it were made for the same purpose as its brother the paper towel. One time I spilled an entire can of Mountain Dew on my desk because I was trying to reach a twenty dollar bill that someone had dropped behind my desk. My desk phone is still sticky from the incident. I think I use a third of the kleenex in that box to clean up that one spill.

When you teach a lot everything that happens in your life becomes an illustration for something else that happens in your life. This half empty kleenex box is a great illustration of my current life situation. I have been really tired lately. More so than usual. I get up every morning to lift weights at 6:00 am. And usually I get up with minimal effort but in the last week or so it has been like getting out of a tar pit wearing a weighted vest that is strapped to the bottom of the tar pit…meaning it has been really hard to get out of bed. I have been catching myself fall asleep in the middle of the afternoon like an old man waiting to die. My wife and I both value rest. We try to get close to 8 hours of sleep as often as possible. I get exercise. I eat three meals a day. So why am I so tired? I felt like I was running on half empty. It doesn’t make sense.

At least it didn’t make sense until I saw that half empty box of kleenex. I was being emptied by things that slip past my mind like they don’t even exist. I was tired because things you don’t normally think would make you tired were in fact making me tired. I using my resources to do normal everyday things just like a normal runny nose depletes the source of kleenex. But just like forgotten spills and grease stains from old pizza cut my supply of tissues in half so too did some invisible vacuum suck the energy out of me. When I gave that box of tissues a second thought I also gave my last couple of weeks a second thought. What was making me so tired?

I discovered four things were draining me. Three are real and one I made up. First I found that I was just going through the motions. I woke up, worked out, went to work, came home, ate dinner, watched TV, and went to bed. How boring is that? When your life is a chore, you can’t help but be tired. I wasn’t really living life. I just existed. I was working, but I wasn’t really fulfilling my purpose. My life had for a moment tuned into just a day filled with moments instead of a day filled with opportunities to enjoy what God has created.

Second, I was burdened by a weight that wasn’t just mine to bear. Well, actually several weights. I have been teaching a relationship series at church and some of the research was just wearing me out. The amount of kids in Middle School who are having sex, addicted to pornography, and considering taking their own life just makes me sick (and tired). I have also been talking with some students who are struggling with stealing, homosexuality and drugs. So while I thought I was resting my mind was actually going a million miles an hour. I was working like an ant trying to plug a giant hole in the Hoover dam with a grain of rice. I tried to conceive ways to solve all the problems of the world when I really should have just handed my heavy load of to God and let him carry it.

Third, I found out that my cats were sneaking into my room at night and sticking a straw between my third and fourth rib and literally draining my energy. Yes cats know how to use straws and yes your pocket of energy is located between your third and fourth rib.

Finally, I found that lack of community was draining me. I don’t know if you have ever noticed but when you are tired you tend to avoid people and keep to yourself. This actually makes you more tired. God created us to be social beings. When Adam was alone in the garden of Eden God created him a helper in Eve. God himself is a social being and lives in perfect community with himself. (Which I know sounds impossible but it’s a lot easier I think when you are three persons in one.) He created us so that we could also enjoy community with him and with others. I was tired because I was keeping to myself. I wasn’t sharing. Being selfish makes you really tired.
So what did I do? I filled that kleenex box back up. First, I started living instead of existing. I ask God to help me take advantage of every opportunity I was given. I went outside and ran just so I could enjoy the Sun. Second, I hit golf balls. Everyone needs to unwind sometimes. I think this is especially true in ministry. If you let your head get to full of the problems going on around your head will explode. Hitting golf balls is a really good way to empty your mind and relax because you get so frustrated with how bad you are at golf that you forget about the rest of the stuff you are dealing with. While I hit golf balls I sang old hymns and quoted scripture out loud to remind myself that God is my rest. God is my source and my strength. When I am tired and weak, he is strongest and most glorified.

Third, to take care of my lack of community I went to the local skate park and hung out with guys who wore jeans with a lot of holes in them and smelled like the only shower they had taken all week was in a cloud of weed smoke and a splash of whiskey. I like those guys because they are real. They don’t try to impress you with how righteous they act. I like to hang out at the skate park because I think if Jesus was born today instead of 2000 years ago he probably would have hung out with skateboarders who smelled like weed and their girlfriends instead of tax collectors and prostitutes because they really need Jesus. That’s just my opinion though.

Finally, I took all the straws in my house and destroyed them so my the devil cats can’t puncture my rib cage anymore. I was tired because I was taking myself too seriously and had lost focus of what life is all about. What is draining you? Sometimes it takes a half empty box of kleenex or a random blog about a half empty box of Kleenex to get us back on track. That’s my life illustration for today. Thanks for reading!

I Hate...

The other night I bought Cinnamon Rolls. I don’t know why I did this because I hate one part of making Cinnamon Rolls and that means I hate making them all together. But I sure do love to eat them. I like to open Cinnamon rolls because they make a popping noise that usually scares Jessica and I think makes her pee a little. I also like baking them because I really don’t have to do anything besides sit on the coach and watch basketball and wait for the timer to go off. But the part I really hate, the process that ruins Cinnamon rolls for me every time is the application of the frosting. Frosting a hot batch of Cinnamon might be the most frustrating thing I’ve done this week. I hate it. I can’t ever get frosting into all the little crevasses (hehe…crevasses is a really funny word). This is no new problem. I have hated frosting Cinnamon rolls since I can remember. This time was the worst though because the frosting was all hard and I felt like I was spreading a piece of steak on a roll. It just doesn’t work.

This whole process made think of all the things I hate and I came to the conclusion that the reason for hating these things was really quite ridiculous. So I decided to tell you about some of the things I hate. Some of them are meaningless and I should probably just forget about them but some of the others I will hate until I die. This isn’t meant to be a rant or anything like that. It is just weird to think of how we come to conclusions some times.

1. I hate frosting Cinnamon rolls. (already explained)
2. I hate tying my shoes because eventually they are going to come untied and I will just have to tie them again. So why not let them hang loose?
3. I hate making my bed because I am just going to get in it again in approximately 17 hours. Making it is just a waste of time.
4. I hate cleaning the toilet because every time I finish I immediately have to pee and I destroy my work.
5. I hate running because walking is just easier.
6. I hate walking because the birds get to fly.
7. I hate doing my hair because putting gel in it makes my hand feel like I grabbed onto a big dead slimy fish that smelled like chemicals.
8. I hate having long hair because then I have to do something with it and I already explained that I hate doing my hair and if I don’t do my hair it looks like a mommy bird and her baby birds live in a nest on top of my head.
9. I hate scooping liter boxes because it makes me want to barf every time and because no one has to scoop my liter and I think cats should be self cleaning.
10. I hate my pillow sometimes because it gets to lie in bed all day and I don’t.
11. I hate shaving because by the end of the day I feel my face and realize I didn’t really accomplish anything.
12. I hate broccoli salad because it is made up of three overwhelmingly repulsive things; broccoli, yellow raisins, and a dressing that smells and tastes like puke. (It also makes you puke)
13. I hate Chocolate milk because in grade school I once had a carton that was expired and tasted like band aids.
14. I hate sitting in a chair that isn’t facing the door because I am afraid someone will sneak up behind me a give me a John Wilkes Booth.
15. I hate sleeping furthest away from the door because I want to get in a fight sometimes and I don’t want my wife to get into a fight before I do. Oh yeah and I want to protect my wife from harm too.
16. I hate when worship leaders read the Book of Psalm and put special verbal emphasis on the word ‘Selah’ to make it sound more spiritual because ‘Selah’ is a musical term and isn’t meant to be said out loud. It’s like reading a hymnal and saying “treble cleft” every time you see one.
17. I hate cheese that isn’t melted because I used to eat craft singles as a snack and then I had a bad piece of cheese and it made me violently ill.
18. I hate most Christmas music because most Christmas music has nothing to do with what Christmas is all about.
19. I hate leftovers because when they sit in the fridge they get all solid and weird looking. They kind of look like the stuff that Orks emerge from in Lord of the Rings and who wants to eat that?
20. I hate Michigan U-turns because who wants to drive in the opposite direction of where they are going in order to get where they are going.
21. I hate fanny packs because the people who wear them rarely wear them on their fannys.
22. I hate roller-skating (not rollerblading) because it reminds me of when I used to like the song “Don’t go chasing Waterfalls” by TLC. I used to belt that song at the top of my lungs at roller-skating parties in fourth grade.
I hate day planners because they are a conspiracy by boring people to rid the world of spontaneity and fun.
24. I hate Microsoft Excel because it makes me feel like an idiot every time I use it.
25. I hate the Loop on the top of the back pleat on button-down shirts because no one knows what it is used for and nobody even knows what it’s actually called.
26. I hate that I hate so many dumb things for so many dumb reasons.

And the list goes on and on. It is weird how past experiences and presuppositions impact how we make decisions and how we feel. Since making this list I have been informed of an easier way to frost cinnamon rolls. You take the frosting and put it on the oven while the rolls are baking so that it isn’t hard anymore. Then you just take a spoon full, or a dollop if you will, and place one on each roll. Then the frosting flows down the roll like a river flowing down the side of a mountain filling in all the crevasses (hehe…still funny) and killing all the tiny mountain dwellers trying to find gold in a small stream. Don’t judge me because I was honest about the things that bother me. You all know you have your own little quirks. So what irks you? Thanks for reading!