“If you need help, ask.” Whether at school, at home, or on the job, we’ve all been told this as some point. If we need help, assistance is just a request away. Yet why is it that we seem to wait so long for before we actually avail ourselves of the assistance others are willing to offer?
I get it, we like to be self-sufficient and figure things out for ourselves, or perhaps we don’t want to be a burden to others. I recognize myself in both of those statements. And while I agree that we need to make an effort at whatever we’re attempting, at some point we need to enlist the help of others to move forward. When we find ourselves spinning our wheels or overwhelmed, that’s a significant clue that we should be asking for help.
Keep the following thought in mind the next time you need to ask someone for help, especially if you feel like your asking is a bother to others. While you’ve undoubted have been told, “If you need help, ask”, have you ever told that to someone else? (I’ll bet you have!) And when you told them, did you mean it? (I’ll bet you did!) It therefore seems reasonable to believe that most people would be glad to help, if you simply asked.
On Thursday I had in interesting conversation with someone I know pretty well. As we were talking, they shared with me how they were struggling mentally during a stressful time in their life. I was grateful they felt comfortable enough to share their experience with me.
I’m always amazed how freely people share what’s going on in their lives when given a safe place to do so. My encounter on Thursday also reminded me how important it is to actually listen. We’ve all got so much going on that it can be easy to rush through our interactions without really listening to what others are telling us. While this may be true, it’s no excuse for half-hearted listening when people are opening up and sharing their story with us.
Let’s make an effort to increase the legitimacy of our listening in the conversations we have with people. Wouldn’t we appreciate it if others did the same for us?
My sister and I were texting earlier this week about the nice sunny weather we were having. I suggested we get together for a nice walk one of these upcoming sunny mornings. She agreed. Not only that, her following text showed me her level of commitment, “Let’s just pick a day, or it won’t happen!!”
I couldn’t have agreed more.
When there is something we want to do, the best way to ensure that it actually happens is to just pick a day and get it on the calendar. It’s not difficult. Once you decided you’re committed to making it happen, open up the calendar and select a date and time that works. It really is that simple. A specific date and time equals commitment. “Someday” does not.
I’m looking forward to our scheduled walk with my sister this Saturday morning! We just picked a day.
Last Sunday one of our friends from church passed away as a result of COVID and other underlying conditions. While it’s sad that she’s gone, everyone is grateful that she is now in heaven and is no longer suffering.
Her final weeks were spent in a hospital, with last week being in the ICU, where her condition began to slowly decline. Fortunately, she had completed an advanced directive long before she became so ill. This was a real blessing, because there was no guessing what she wanted to have done at the end of her life. She had taken the time to consider, and make, these choices well before they needed to be made, and thus not burdening someone else with such weighty decisions.
Everyone involved was grateful that she had made her wishes obvious. May we be as thoughtful to others, by making our final wishes obvious as well.
“The more you love in life, the more life has to offer.” ~ Lee (my bass instructor)
During a bass lesson this week with my instructor Lee, he mentioned how limiting your exposure to only one specific type of music holds you back from new perspectives and ideas that can be applied to your own music style. His example made a lot of sense. If I only listen to say, country music (which I happen to like) then I will only experience music through that lens. My playing will come to only sound like what I hear in country songs, and I won’t have the opportunity to learn and apply ideas from other music genres. Lee’s comment resonated with me, not only in the musical context, but in the larger context of a life well lived.
Imagine for a minute that the only food you absolutely loved was pizza. Now imagine that you ate pizza as often as you could because you loved it so much, but when you couldn’t have pizza, you were disappointed in the alternative. Yes, I know there are a lot of different varieties of pizza toppings to keep interesting for a long time, but how limiting to think that of all the food choices available to you, that you would be disappointed with anything that wasn’t the single food you loved.
I think we can also be narrow in our love for a number of things beyond food and music, such as
- Areas of interest
- Types of books
- Topics of conversation
- How we use our gifts and talents
- How we spend our time
- Seasons of the calendar
- Seasons of life
Consider your capacity to love broadly in the topics listed above or others you’re thinking of that weren’t on the list. The more that we love, be it people places or things, the more opportunities we have for our lives to intersect with those things we love. I for one, am eager to live a life full of intersections with the things I love.
The amount of information we’re confronted with every day is amazing. So many sources, figures, and organizations are vying to influence our thinking and shape our beliefs. Therefore, it is imperative, in the midst of all this information, that we continually scrutinize what we hear by asking ourselves, “Is this true?”.
Our brain is the greatest super computers ever designed, and each of us is blessed to be in possession of one, free and clear. With it, we can receive input, think critically about that input, and discern whether or not it’s true. With this brain we can question, investigate, explore, and again, discern truth. In my opinion, since we are in possession of such a remarkable and powerful tool as our brains, it is incumbent on us to use them.
Why would we allow someone else to spoon feed us their own thoughts and ideas without engaging our brains in some critical thinking to determine whether or not what they’re saying is actually true? Why should we be so quick to disengage our own super computer brains in favor allowing someone else to “program”, if not poison them, with untruths? To me, that seems not only irresponsible, but potentially dangerous. Taken to it’s extreme, as we’ve seen in the US this week, it can even be criminal.
Let’s make sure that we’re taking full advantage of the brains we’ve been blessed with. Let’s use them to wisely discern the information we’re bombarded with, to ensure that our actions and beliefs are indeed based on truth.
I’ve been teaching an adult Sunday school class at our church for about 12 years. Actually, I’m more of a discussion facilitator than an actual teacher or instructor. I prefer this role as facilitator, because I’ve noticed that the best learning in class occurs when the participants share their knowledge and we seek answers and explore the Bible together. As a facilitator, I simply bring interesting information about the topic we’re studying and encourage others to ask question and share any insight they might have.
If I approach a Sunday school class as the teacher, it feels like I need to have all the answers and have a lesson plan figured out that details everything we’ll discuss during the class. I don’t like that approach because it doesn’t leave room for questions an exploration. If I’m seen as the teacher, the class feels more like a lecture, where I’m imparting knowledge to the rest of the class while they sit quietly and listen. This approach would be boring to me! While I’ve got some knowledge on the topic, I also have lots of questions that I’d like to ask. If I’m the teacher, there’s a lid on the class that only goes as far as my knowledge and understanding.
I much prefer to leverage the collective intelligence of the class. The people who attend regularly spend time in the Bible, so they are very familiar with it. They’re also eager to learn more, which causes them to read it with the purpose of gaining a greater understanding of what it says.
Having a forum where we can learn together, ask questions and share our knowledge has sparked numerous conversations (as well as opportunities to learn) that would not have occurred if I were the teacher, simply giving a one-way lecture. Our class works much better when we all have the opportunity to share the role as teacher.
I think it’s exciting to approach life as a facilitator as well. It’s fun to encourage others to share what they know about a topic and to hear, and learn from, experiences they’ve have had. Most people are willing to share what they know; they often just need someone to invite them to do so.
With COIVD-related restrictions and choices an omnipresent reality of the 2020 holiday season, it’s easy to become frustrated by how abnormal everything is this year. While it’s true that things look different this year, I want to encourage you that this is not how Christmas, or any other holiday, will look forever more. Remember that this current state is indeed temporary. Before we know it, we will be celebrating holidays with family and friends again.
My pastor signs all his emails with a phrase that I think is especially fitting for this year, “Believing the best is yet to come”. I think that true. We only have to be willing to cast our gaze beyond what’s happening today.
I like Thanksgiving. It’s a fun time of year, the sights and smells of the holiday are great, plus it’s a fun time to get together with people we’re thankful for. This year’s holidays will likely be very different than holidays past for many people.
While that may be frustrating, I think it’s important not to spend too much time lamenting what we don’t have this year, but rather focus on what we still do have. In addition, it would help us to begin to eager look ahead to the holidays yet to come that won’t be impacted by a global pandemic.
Those days are coming. We just need to look past today to see them.
“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” Warren Buffett
Habits are fascinating, because despite the fact that they are small, they can be extremely powerful. Their power comes from the compounding effect they have when done over long periods of time.
Some habits taken conscious effort to do, like deciding to get up every morning and go to the gym. Yet other habits are so easy to fall into, that they almost become an automatic part of our daily life. Things like drinking several sodas or going out for fast food on a daily basis. (There are a zillion others, but those are the first 2 that came to mind.) These habits are rewarding in the moment, and thus easy to form. And while an occasional soda or trip to McDonald’s isn’t terrible, the impact of these habits done continuously over years, if not decades, can have severe negative consequences.
For this reason, I think it’s important to regularly determine whether we’ve developed any habits that have the potential to plant land mines for our future selves. We should ask ourselves:
- Are the habits we’re engaged in healthy or destructive?
- Are they leading to a good outcome or a potentially dangerous one?
- Are there habits we should stop doing?
- Are there habits we need to cultivate?
We all want good outcomes in our lives, but as we know, they don’t just happen. They require action from us, as well as reflection, to determine if our habits will take us where we want to go.
With 2021 approaching, now would be a good time to take an inventory of the habits we’ve acquired. It might be time to say, “Good-bye” to some potentially destructive ones we’ve been heretofore traveling with. It may also be time to say, “Hello” to some new productive habits and invite them to join us on our journey forward.