Posted in Christianity, Life, Thoughts

Slow Down

“I’ve got to go to work.”
“On no account. You need rest.”
“It’s the planning meeting, it’s important.”
“You’re important.”
– From the 
Doctor Who episode “The Lodger”

I do not like commercials for cold and flu medicine. They all seem to say basically the same thing: “Don’t let anything slow you down! Take this medicine so you can keep doing everything you always do even though you’re sick!”

First of all, I don’t care what they’re selling, when I’m sick, no medicine ever makes me feel as good as the commercials suggest. But even more than that, the “Don’t let anything slow you down!” message bothers me.

When you’re sick, your body is already working hard to fight off the germs. Which takes up energy you normally use for other things. So, you know, if you try to do all those other things, too… It doesn’t work out well.

I’m not sure what it is that makes humans want to go, go, go, even when their bodies want to rest, rest, rest. Maybe it’s a subconscious desire to believe that the world needs us. Maybe it’s fear of boredom. Maybe it’s a culture that equates value with productivity. Maybe some combination of lots of different factors, depending on the person.

But when you are sick, it really is okay to slow down. Not just okay; important. Resting when you genuinely need to is not laziness. The world will continue spinning if you call in sick to work, or if the laundry has to wait an extra day, or if you take a nap instead of reading. And it’s okay that the world continues spinning while you rest.

And I think that God sometimes uses illness to remind us to slow down. I’m certainly not going to tell someone with the flu, “Oh, God made you get sick so you would slow down.” I don’t have that kind of knowledge. Notice that my first statement didn’t even say, “I think sometimes God makes us get sick to remind us to slow down.” But it might be something to consider.

One of the best things that happened to me in college is that I had a cold during my first finals week. I had to just do some studying with the limited energy I had, show up for my tests and do what I could, and let that be enough. And lo and behold, things turned out fine. Which gave me proof that I did not have to stress about finals week to do well. It was great.

(You know, I think this blog post was much better constructed in my head. It seemed like it would flow so nicely, but it’s not working so well now that I’m trying to type it out. Oh, well. We’ll jump to the conclusion then.)

So. If you’re sick, slow down. Please. The planning meeting is important. But so are you.

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Posted in Christianity, Life, Thoughts

Generating Community

I follow a few pages on Facebook that post clean, funny pictures. I’d say my favorite is probably Debi Downer (and yes, the funny part applies despite the name).

Recently, the admin of the page posted this:

I did not see the picture in question. But all the comments on this post were along the lines of, “I appreciate your clean content!” “We all make mistakes; don’t worry about it.” “You’re the best!” And I have seen this sort of thing happen on this page before. Infrequently. But always handled with the same grace and tact. I scrolled away from this post appreciating this small, pleasant, safe corner of the internet and wanting to remain part of it.

I’ve also seen the same situation happen on another, similar page, which I don’t think I shall name because that doesn’t seem necessary. But that admin’s response was always something like, “Excuse me for accidentally posting something inappropriate! Haven’t you ever made a mistake? I’m busy and can’t catch everything. Go ahead and unfollow me if you want to. No skin off my nose!” This is not a direct quote. It’s been way too long to attempt to find one. But you get the gist. And I’m sure you can imagine that this did not produce the same sort of pleasant conversations.

I never actually unfollowed that page. But I did slowly stop interacting with it, and I don’t see much from it now. When I scroll past a picture that makes me laugh and I notice that it’s from that page, I go, “Eh, I don’t think I’ll hit the like button.” I don’t really want to be a part of that community.

It fascinates me how in the exact same situation, one person’s decision to be consistently humble and pleasant or consistently bitter and annoyed completely shapes the sort of community that develops around them. Because while individual people may be pleasant or bitter no matter what situation you put them in, as a group, people tend to follow the lead of the person who initiates the tone of the group’s emotions.

What sort of community would you rather encourage in your life?

Posted in Life, Thoughts

On Buying Clothes and Feeling Beautiful

I’m no fashion expert. But I’ve watched a lot of What Not to Wear and I’ve worn a lot of clothes, so there you have my qualifications.

I like shirts shaped like this. In theory. I pull them off the rack at the store and go, “Ooh, it’s pretty!” But I’ve stopped doing anything more with them because I know from experience that when I try them on and look in the dressing room mirror, the thought changes to, “Ugh, that looks AWFUL!” This shape and my shape just do not mix well.

That’s not a problem in and of itself. But, “That looks awful,” easily translates to, “I look awful,”  and that thought repeated over and over consistently becomes the belief, “I am inherently awful-looking.” And that’s just depressing; no one wants to live like that.

So I could buy the shirt I think is pretty in theory and go around feeling frumpy and thinking I’m the problem. Or I could put it back on the rack, move on, and maybe find something like…

… this.

This is a shirt I actually own, and it’s one of my two current favorites. When I’m wearing it and catch a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror at work, I almost always go, “Hey, I look GOOD!” and it makes me smile and brightens the day a bit.

What changed? Not my shape. Not attempts to tell myself something I don’t really believe. Just my choice of shirt. That’s all.

Clothes that look beautiful on other people or on the rack might look genuinely awful on you. That’s not a problem, it’s just a fact. It only becomes a problem when you sigh and resign yourself to wearing them anyway because you think they should look beautiful.

Stop. Put it back. Find something else. There’s another shirt out there that will be better. And maybe you can’t see this for yourself, maybe you need to do some research or recruit a friend who can tell you, “Yes, this is good, see how this one shows that you have a waist instead of making it look like you’re wearing a tent, and this color complements your skin tone.” But there are options that can make you think, “I look good!”

And guess what? “I look good,” repeated over and over consistently, can at least encourage the belief, “I am inherently good-looking.” And that’s a much happier way to live.

Posted in Life, Thoughts

Donna

I have started rewatching some Doctor Who episodes I like. Last night I watched one with Donna, one of my favorite characters.

It was her first episode. She’s about to get married, and the would-be groom turns out to be a jerk and a traitor, though poor Donna genuinely loved him.

At one point, the man says this about her: “I was stuck with a woman who thinks the height of excitement is a new flavor Pringle. Oh, I had to sit there and listen to all that yap yap yap. Oh, Brad and Angelina. Is Posh pregnant? X Factor, Atkins Diet, Feng Shui, split ends, text me, text me, text me. The never ending fountain of fat, stupid trivia. I deserve a medal. ”

The way he says it makes the comment especially unkind, but it’s probably fairly accurate. Donna is the sort of person who, if we knew her in real life, most people would find obnoxious, shallow, and boring. She’s loud. She’s brash. She’s oblivious. She doesn’t have any obvious impressive talents.

And this show takes her and gradually shows how much depth even a person like that has. Her loyalty and bravery and ability to stand up to people who need someone to tell them to stop and how much she can care about someone and how interesting she is.

I love that.

Posted in Christianity, Thoughts

Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me,” etc., seems to be a well-known Bible passage. It’s a comforting sort of one.

It falls at the beginning of a chapter. While having the Bible divided into chapters and verses is quite useful for finding things in such a huge book, I think this particular chapter break is unfortunate. Let me just get rid of it:

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times. Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”
– John 13:36-14:4

It’s so much better when you know that it immediately follows Jesus telling Peter that Peter would deny him. “You’re going to do this terrible thing… But don’t let that stop you, because in the long run, things can still be good. I’ve got this.”

Ignore that chapter break.

Posted in Life, Thoughts, Writings

Inspiration

Don’t loaf and invite inspiration; light out after it with a club, and if you don’t get it you will nonetheless get something that looks remarkably like it. – Jack London

Or, a more modern phrasing that floats around: You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.

I have been writing this blog for six years now. Every week, aside from a few when I was at church camp with no internet. So that’s more than 300 posts.

Honestly, it’s kind of hard to believe.

When I started the blog, I knew that if I didn’t have a schedule, it would fizzle out. But having a reasonable goal I had to meet made keeping it up attainable. But having to write every week has given me a lot of practice going after inspiration with a club. The weeks I don’t have a plan for my post probably outnumber the weeks I do. Somehow my friends still put up with me saying, “But I don’t have anything to write.”

Something always gets written. Always. And sometimes it’s really lame, but sometimes it’s all right, or maybe even good. And those good ones wouldn’t exist if all I did was wait for inspiration.

If you hadn’t guessed, this post has been brought to you by an, “I have nothing to write about, time to grab the club,” week.