Do you suffer from this problem too? Would you consider this a character issue… a”flaw”? Have you found ways to compensate? I am feeling more than a little bit frustrated because here I am…almost 45 and I am just now recognizing a BIG problem with myself. Sure, there are lots of other things about me that are way less than perfect… maybe we can talk about those another day. But this particular problem is an ego-buster…because it is so fundamental to who I really am vs. who I always thought I was.
You see, I have always fancied myself a fast learner. I have been able to see; understand; sift out the important; glean; comprehend. You know? Not get bogged down in the minutia. Any one who knows me well would say that I am ridiculously unobservant. You know the type…I am the person who puts on my day clothes and then two seconds later has no idea what I have on…or how my hair is “styled” or if I even brushed it…or what shoes I am wearing.
I drive on the same streets, by the same houses and businesses every day, but I couldn’t tell you what any of them look like. I would even be hard pressed to draw an accurate picture of my own house. “Does it have shutters?” “What color are they?” “What kind of bushes do I have in the yard…do I have bushes in the yard?”
By now you are thinking I am pretty pathetic. I used to think that I was pathetic when it came to details too. But that is inaccurate. I am very observant about things that matter to me. I know where all important documents are kept. I know my kid’s birthdays and I can picture each one of their sweet faces and smiles with perfect clarity in my mind.
And stuff? There is a place for everything…and I try desperately to keep things in their proper place. Caring about stuff’s “proper place” is an extreme habit/ a divergence from my true nature… adapted to survive in this world.
You see, if I could live the way that I wanted to live instead of the way that my people wanted to live I would have almost nothing. No clutter. No trinkets. No extra anything. Envision Appalachian Hiker…back pack..focused…happy…
If I could dump 95% of what has accumulated in my life into a dumpster, regardless of it’s monetary value, I would. Personally, all I need is: my people and my pets (they could come with me of course!)…and pictures and a few mementos of my children’s babyhood and development. A couple of pairs of comfortable clothes. A sturdy pair of shoes. A warm blanket (that can double as a coat if needed). A pillow. Toothpaste. Deodorant. A bar of sensitive skin soap. Lotion. Lip stick. A little food. Water. Maybe a Dr. Pepper in case I get a headache. Pet food for my dog (my cats can eat critters).
Understand that I live in a house with a lot of other people and they all like lots and lots of stuff. So I clean it and sort it and put their stuff away. Needless to say someone usually goes and undoes my “proper placements”. There should be pencils in that drawer. Extra toothbrushes are under my sink. Your shoes have been put in your room…with your shoes. Duh! Good grief.
I think that my people would tell you that if they say, “Mom/ Honey/ do you know where the ______ is?” I know. Even if it has been moved I usually know. Spider Man has “Spidey-senses”…I have “Mommy Senses.”
Because it matters to me…or it matters to someone that I care about… I know.
I can’t tell you what I ate for breakfast. It doesn’t matter. I can’t tell you where I got my couch. It doesn’t matter. I can tell you where my son’s guitar picks are…or my daughter’s chrome book charger…because it matters to them.
That is how I thought my whole life “worked”. I have been under the impression that all of the important things in my life are stored in my internal filing cabinet and all I need to do to access whatever I need is to reach in and retrieve it.
My unobservant nature made excuses… “things that slip away from you, my dear, were not important any way. No worries.” But who wrote that life-changing book? What is the name of that song that’s words could change the world? Who sent me that blog post that was SO unbelievably perfect? How did my husband show me to do SEO so that my blog posts could be found more easily?
I don’t remember. It isn’t that I don’t care either. I thought that I would remember…but then something came along and wiped the memory completely away.
I AM smart and clever and a “fast learner!” Right?
No. Not true. That is simply not true.
Yes, I am able to cram for a test like no body’s business. I can retain information that I know I will be tested on or that someone else expects for me to know . It is natural for me to walk into a situation and my information gathering radar will go up. “Yes. No. Right. Wrong. Good. Bad. Truth. Lie.” Sometimes I can be wrong . Sometimes I have judged inaccurately because I have happened upon an anomaly…the exception instead of the rule. I have even been wrong about the character and intentions of a person…for good and for bad. I have jumped to conclusions about people without knowing the back story…and I have against common sense, made excuses for people because I knew their back story.
People sometimes tell me that while I am NOT observant of details, I am discerning.
The word “discernment” has two meanings:
the ability to judge well.
(in Christian contexts) perception in the absence of judgment with a view to obtaining spiritual direction and understanding.
I hope that I am discerning… not in the “judgmental” way… but in the perceiving way … to learn…and to understand.
But I am not a “fast learner”.
I am a fast “grasp-er”.
This is the sad part…the REALLY sad part…the part about myself that I am just discovering and I am not happy about…at all. The problem. The character issue. The flaw.
I am a “grasp-er”. I grab a hold of it! I get it!
…and as quickly as I grasp hold of something and say “YES!” “This is AMAZING!” “THIS will be stored in my internal filing cabinet for always and forever because it is that TRUE…it is THAT IMPORTANT!” “I simply CAN NOT and WILL NOT EVER forget this!”
I forget it.
As quickly as I grasped it…I lose my grasp.
Yes. I cursed. It makes me curse. It makes me feel cursed.
Oh wait, I am. I am cursed…
No. That is not accurate. I was cursed. That is the actual problem with all of us. We all were cursed because of Adam and Eve and their bad choice…but we are all redeemed because of Jesus. I KNOW this to be true…I KNOW Jesus personally and I KNOW what he has done for me and what he continues to do for me still. So why do I behave like I am still cursed? Why do I not always have that peace that passes all understanding Joy Joy Joy Joy down in my heart all day every day?
Because I don’t live in a bubble. Because I am still affected by the things that go on around me.
So what do I do? What can I really do about it?
I read and I pray and I listen and I learn… for a little while.
I get to a place where I feel like everything has changed and I will never be the same again.
And then I realize that nothing has changed and I feel the same again.
Why can I not grab hold of it and keep it in my hand. Why is it like sand? I have it…I have it…I hold it…I know it is there…then I start feeling desperate…is it still there…I do still have it…don’t I?
I need to see it…I open my hand and a little bit was there! Until I opened my hand because of fear. Until I stopped trusting. Then that last little bit was gone too. And I say “____.” (another curse!)
And I feel like I am starting all over… again.
And I am painfully aware that I am on a crazy ride. I am on a ride… like a roller coaster that keeps taking me up and down and over and around and upside down… and doesn’t stop. I am ALWAYS on it.
Sometimes it is a rush…exhilarating! Sometimes it is scary. Sometimes it makes me sick.
…and even though I have been on this crazy ride for almost 45 years…until right now I have not been paying attention to what comes next. I have just been riding.
But there is a next. what comes next should be expected if I would only be more observant of the signs that come before. It is the same ride after all that we have been on…forever.
The way the houses in my neighborhood look…What I am wearing. I don’t know…but I feel like all it will take to “learn” and retain …is to pay attention.
I could drive back by slowly and see the houses again.
I could look down and see my sweater and jeans and boots.
But as soon as my eyes are away I always forget. It wouldn’t really even matter if I took a picture because I probably wouldn’t look at it again. Even though I knew it was important to remember.
It seems to be beyond my ability.
Can I change that?
I go up… I plateau….I go down….I get shaken and rattled…I go upside down and around and around…and slow down….and go back up…and plateau.
What if I could stay at the top? What if I could exit onto the solid and still emergency platform and forego falling back down and getting shaken and rattled and feeling completely out of control?
That is my spiritual life.
And it is upsetting to me. How can I live on a Spiritual “High” feeling connected and growing and like everything is AMAZING and WONDERFUL and NEVER BEEN BETTER? How can I stay in a place where I can see with a birds eye view and be aware of everything.
The “everything” that is Life…messy, sometimes unpleasant…sometimes terribly painful…
…But not get carried off on the crazy ride again? …not get taken back into it…back through it? Not get bogged down in or distracted by or driven in the same crazy circles day after day?
That is where I am.
I can see that I am on a crazy roller coaster Life ride.
I have not been observant because I have been at its whim! And it is often going fast and is out of control so that I cannot stay focused. Everything is a blur and I am dizzy. Who is driving this thing anyway? It reminds me of a recurrent “nightmare”that I used to have where I was riding in the backseat of a van or a large moving vehicle only to realize that no one was in the front seat. No one was driving.
What if now that I know what is going on…and because I don’t like it at all…what if I get off? What if I pay attention and recognize that there will be a two second pause…an opportunity at the top of the incline to step onto the emergency platform at the top?
Yes. That sounds like my plan. But how can I maneuver out of this lap bar and this shoulder harness? I am a bit trapped at the moment.
But where there is a will there is a way.
I don’t have to know the “how”…I just have to believe that the opportunity will arise and I will know.
God changes us one tiny decision at a time.
It reminds me of the quote by Og Mandino “Henceforth, I will consider each day’s effort as but one blow of my blade against a mighty oak. The first blow may cause not a tremor in the wood, nor the second, nor the third. Each blow, of itself, may be trifling, and seem of no consequence. Yet from
childish swipes the oak will eventually tumble. So it will be with my efforts of today. I will be liken to the rain drop which washes away the mountain; the ant who devours a tiger; the star which brightens the earth; the slave who builds a pyramid. I will build my castle one brick at a time for I know that small attempts, repeated, will complete any undertaking. ”
Pastor Scott Hawkins asked this past Sunday morning in his sermon asked,”How many times did Moses walk by burning bushes before he noticed God was there?”
How many “mundane” things happen in our daily lives that we don’t even notice God is using to “chip away” at who we are today…to make us different. He will transform us little bit by little bit. God is in “mundane” moments. God is at mundane moments. How many rocks did Little David the Shepherd Boy throw as he was out in the pasture tending sheep. It was probably pretty boring out there by himself all day…”let me entertain myself… I think I will gather rocks and throw them at targets with my sling… And here are lions and bears threatening my sheep… but I have good aim with my sling shot because I have practiced. A lot. …So I am not afraid to protect my sheep from these beasts! Oh, King Saul…you say you need someone to fight Goliath? No problem! God is with me…but it isn’t an accident that I am ready. I have been preparing for this day in all kinds of mundane ways.”
I am ready! I have been preparing for this moment my whole life.
One smooth stone at a time.
I want to be able to say that if I face a Goliath.
…Seemingly nothing moments added to other moments of tiny and forgettable successes or challenges…
We are preparing. God is preparing us. He may use a thousand or a million little moments to prepare our character. God is preparing MY character and your character in tiny things every single day.
Think about it like this. We can accept that we are a rough and unfinished work. But the Master Artist wants to chip away at us until we are a masterpiece.
Do you think that there is a masterpiece in you?
It is hard for me to believe that there is one in me. But then I remember that God is already there.
And God is not working in the usual way. We very likely won’t see that there has been much change at all until it is close to finished. He works from the inside out. My exterior me may get old and wrinkled and nowhere near what man would say is a beautiful piece of artistry.
But I believe God will make me beautiful. He has the ability. Everything He needs is there and always has been…I just have to be willing to let Him do whatever He will without being afraid.
I am on the crazy ride…even as God is doing His Good work in me, I am still part of the crazy all around.
This much I know…to remove myself from the crazy will require a daily battle. Everyday when I wake up and my mind becomes aware and my feet touch the floor I will already be on the crazy ride again…unless I choose to refuse.
And the “man” in charge will be persistent…threatening…cajoling…conniving…whatever it takes. “He” likes me on the ride because once on it is hard to get off again. Kind of like “the Hotel California”…
But my prayer today and I hope that I will remember tomorrow and the next day and the next day…is that every single morning first thing I will hear, “ You, dear child, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4
I am stronger. God in me makes me stronger than anything in the world. I can say “No!” to crazy with authority. Nobody and nothing can make me do anything against God’s Will for me if I say, “No.”
Hear the words of the Prophet Isaiah: (41)
1“Be silent before me, you islands!
Let the nations renew their strength!
Let them come forward and speak;
let us meet together at the place of judgment.
4 Who has done this and carried it through,
calling forth the generations from the beginning?
I, the Lord—with the first of them
and with the last—I am he.”
9 I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you.I said,
‘You are my servant’;
I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
11 “All who rage against you
will surely be ashamed and disgraced;
those who oppose you
will be as nothing and perish.
12 Though you search for your enemies,
you will not find them.
Those who wage war against you
will be as nothing at all.
13 For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.”
And consider the words of Paul to the Philippians: (3)
18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body”
I believe this. He is transforming us even now. Little bit by little bit. You are reading this blog…so you are looking for answers too. He brought you here, even now to let you know that He is at work inside of you. Preparing your character. Preparing you for the days that He will use you for great things…to use you for His own purposes…to be blessed and to be a blessing. To be saved…and to save. We are called to finish his work. Get ready. Be ready.
I will leave you with more words of Paul:
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’
“Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.”
Be ready. You are here at this time for a purpose. You matter. It matters. God wants to use you. Let Him. That is how we get off of the Crazy ride…we find our purpose. And it is to serve Him…To let Him use us to help others get off of the Crazy too.
Peace be with you.