life in 3 dimensions

February 24, 2010

Quarrels among friends are rare.  There are the hiccups and the growing pains; but, the really deep cutting fall-outs are few and far between.  They happen though.

And they hurt.

I found myself catapulted into one this week.  The result of misgiving or just miscommunication, I’m not sure.  I’m honestly still not entirely sure where things went wrong, but I do know people matter.  And to me, they matter a lot so I don’t care so much if I am found totally innocent or absolutely at fault, it just matters how to pick up the pieces and go from here.

At lunch yesterday, with a friend who knows the situation well enough for me to divulge even the news that I’m at odds, I said nothing.  Over and over in my head kept playing the words of Proverbs 16:28:

…gossip separates close friends

Sometimes I think we assume gossip has to be false to be gossip.  But gossip, defined, is a report of intimate nature.  No qualifiers on the truth or falsity of the claim.  More so, the derivative of the word is godsibb…with sib being like “sibling” or “kinsman”.  It suggests, by nature someone close enough to be in the know.

We have two choices in sharing intimate information.  It can be shared with the person with whom you are intimate…or not.  So, while there is something to be said about the weight of this passage in a 10th grade girls’ locker room – I think what we read is something profoundly more human.

People engage in friendships with their whole selves.  Their history.  Insecurity.  Fear.  Frustration.  Joy.  Passion.  Quirks.

Those things are expressed, rightly, in relationship.  In touch, time, service, conversation, gifts, thoughts, jokes, tears…intimacy

how could we ever share about an event or argument with someone who hasn’t engaged all 3 dimensions of the other person?

We can’t.

So in gossiping we run the risk of inadvertently creating them as 2-dimensional characters.  We can make them flat.  We talk and talk and talk and in doing potentially boil them down to only an action or reaction – not a human.  And that’s a dangerous place to be.  It’s NOT to say that we can’t seek wise counsel – often, that’s really the best thing to do.  But I’ve noticed the best wise counsel usually avoids playing referee and instead draws back to the notion that the other person is just as complex and valuable.  Compassion is really easy to have for a 3-dimensional person; it almost doesn’t exist for those with only 2.  I think what scripture is saying is to tread lightly on gossip – not because it’s sin but because it could make another person seem inhuman 

and make us inhumane too



February 22, 2010

I love watching Bode Miller ski.  He’s great, of course…and arguably the media is hyping him to the 9s – but that’s not why.

He and I share a knee surgeon.  Which seems like kind of random reason to feel connected to someone, right?  Only if you haven’t had knee surgery.

We’re a brethren; and sharing a surgeon is like disciples who share a rabbi.  You get conditioned and shaped in a certain way.

So I watch, partly with an understanding of just how impossible what he is doing in post-op terms but also with a deeply seeded hope being watered.

Achievement is my drug of choice.  I never liked running as much as I liked the ability to defy what I thought was possible one step at a time.  I never needed the gold or the statue or the bank balance, per se, but I knew where my lines were and the ability to propel myself beyond them was pure satisfaction.

At least that is what I was thinking about yesterday, watching strangers and friends finish the National Marathon to End Breast Cancer.  I thought maybe I could be like Bode too – come back from staggering injury and embarrassing defeat to win proverbial gold.  Maybe I could, despite the insistence of the world’s best knee surgeon to the contrary, run a marathon one of these days.  I really miss those types of achievements; but, I have some other types to purse now as well.  Arguably, they are wider and higher.  Top 10 MBA program.  Recovering from the knee surgery that landed me on the sidelines. Traveling the world.  Becoming a person of integrity.  Financial freedom. There are a lot of moments, things, milestones – maybe not as definitive as a finish line, but I can’t deny they exist and I hit them.

But I’m still not happy.  Worse, each finish line is ever more unsatisfying.  Why?  I sat and considered that yesterday.

Isaiah 30:15, “…in repentance & rest is your salvation. in quietness & trust is your strength.”

oh.  that.

What do I think the thing is that will save me? Yeah, I say the right answer.  But I’m increasingly confronting the reality that this Puritian work ethic and American dream have somehow tainted my pursuit of happiness.  And don’t get me wrong, there’s a pretty strong likelihood that I’ll achieve the ultimate aims of American life –  beauty, power, and wealth.  And hard work is a very spiritual thing.  I just don’t want to mistake it all for life, for the path to happiness, or for the thing that saves me.

And I have.

The truth is that I like achievement as salvation because I can control it.  If I win or lose the gold, if I cross the finish line or stumble, it’s on me.  I’m responsible.  It’s a sick form of selfishness really. 

But when salvation enters an arena of grace, it becomes beyond my control and I start getting nervous.  I can’t control God.  Hell, I can’t even understand Him.  In repentance & rest is my salvation? Are You kidding?  NO!  Screw You God.  Tell me what I have to do. Tell me who I have to be to get what I want.

There are things I want…very deeply and I don’t have them…  And I don’t know how to get them.  And I’m learning I will only ever receive them.

That’s a hard place to be.

Receiving is not an achievement.  You can’t manipulate or woo or pester God into being gracious.  Some preacher will tell you that you can.  Many will tell you how there is a “worthy candidate for God to pour out His blessings” all while leaving out the fact that you may get spit on to heal your blindness.  [insert unenthusiastic ‘yay’ here].  I’m glad God is this way, as hard as it is.  I don’t want a figurehead; I need a Father.  I’m glad He knew that would be the case.

So repentance? Rest? God, I have no idea how to even do that.  I know how to strategize and work.  I know how to achieve, not receive.  God help me.

Acerbic thought, I know, but God is not in the Jesus business – at least I don’t think so.  Let me explain.

Our marketing professor went over sort of the basics of corporate vision & strategy the other day.  More importantly, he tied it to the products or services a company would sell.  Automobile companies for instance, are in the business of moving people safely and comfortably – but not necessarily the car business.  Cars are a way they do that, but to mistake the “game” for just cars is to lose a ton of market share.   Cosmetic companies, for instance, are not in the make-up business.  They are in the business of making women feel beautiful.

Maybe God gets this and we don’t.  God is in the life and freedom business.  Jesus said himself that he came so that we might have LIFE, and that he sets people free.  Sure, Jesus is the way God went about doing that – but there was a great end-game in mind.

The same way that kind of mental shift changes the way we do business, it also changes the story we tell about God.  Are we hocking Jesus? Shoving Him down people’s throats and walking away with a sale, forgetting God’s heart is for life, transformation and freedom.