There’s A Story There

It’s easy to look at a situation and think we have all the facts necessary to make a snap judgement.  Whether it’s a homeless person on the street with a sign asking for money, or certain behavior or opinion we don’t agree with, it amazes me how quickly we can go from observation to judgement, without realizing that there’s a story there.

No matter who you’re looking at, there is a story behind the person that brought them to where they are at that moment.  This story could have been written over years or decades, or maybe even over a few minutes.  These stories can be tragic or triumphant.  They can be unbelievable or even quite ordinary.  Peoples’ stories are as unique and varied as the people they are about.

The thing to remember, especially when we start feeling judgmental, is that we usually don’t know the whole story that shape the people we see.  We think we do, but in reality, we are often just mentally filling in the blanks.  That said, it reminds me that perhaps in place of judgement toward others, we would do better to offer grace and remember that we likely don’t know the whole story.

Simply Reconnecting

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve had some really nice encounters with friends I haven’t seen in a few years.  It reminds me how quick time goes and how easy it is to lose touch with someone.  It also reminds me that it’s also easy to reconnect.

My friend Bob, that I used to work with several years ago, reached out via email earlier this week to see if my email address was still good and what I was up to.  Per Bob’s suggestion, we’ll be meeting up for lunch next week to reconnect and catch up.  I really admire Bob’s initiative to simply send an email suggest going to lunch.  I’m so grateful that he did, and I can’t wait to see him.

Bob’s initiative got me thinking who I should reach out to and reconnect.  Perhaps his initiative has you thinking about a friend you’ve lost touch with that you can reconnect with too.  I encourage you to do like Bob did and simply send an email or make a phone call and reconnect.

I’ll be following Bob’s lead and texting my friend Dave after I submit this post.  It will be good to reconnect with him too.      

Smile Because It Happened

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”  ~Dr. Seuss

I came across this quote last week and it’s such a great reminder about perspective and also about how to handle ending. Since endings are a part of every life, it feels that this quote from Dr. Seuss is applicable for all of us.

There are a number of things that come to an end:

  • A season of life
  • An event
  • A place we enjoy visiting
  • A business we enjoy frequenting
  • A friendship
  • A life

To be clear, some of the endings on this list are more impactful than others, and deserve tears as part of the healing process.  That said, I think that remembering the experience or the person lost with smile, and gratitude for the experience, helps us move forward in away that allows us to remain open to new people and experiences yet to come.  What a shame it would be to close ourselves off to trying new things or getting close to people because we are afraid of the tears that may come with loss.

Dr. Seuss’s quote also reminds me that I don’t have to wait until something is over to smile about it.  I can do so even while it’s happening.  😊

Saying Yes

As I was sitting down to write my weekly blog post, I got a text asking if I’d like to come over to someone’s house for dinner.  Initially, I thought about all the stuff that I wanted to get done that night, and that I should say, “No”. However, I then pondered just how important, really, were the things I’d be doing if I said, “No” to the invitation.  I replied to the text with, “I’ll be there!”

Sometimes when we get opportunities to do things, we think about reasons that would keep us from saying, “Yes”.  I’m going to challenge that line of thinking and start looking for reasons to accept.  This is just another reminder for me to be intentional with my choices versus defaulting to getting stuff done.

Sorry for the short post this week, but I’ve got a dinner engagement to get to!

You’ll Find It

Here’s a quick reminder that we tend to find more of what we’re looking for. 

If we feel like the world is going crazy, we’ll notice things that reinforce that thought.  If we think all <insert people group> are jerks, we’ll notice evidence that supports that too.  We’ll find all the negativity we want, when we have our radar up for it.

Likewise, we’ll also notice the good in the world when our radar is looking for it.  When we’re looking for acts of kindness, generosity, and inspiring human behavior, we’ll find it. 

So what are you looking for?   

Reintegrating Old Habits

There are 2 things I especially enjoy about the month of January.  I love the fact that January means that Spring is only a couple of months away!  January is also a great time to look back on your life and take stock of how you’ve been doing, and to also look ahead and make adjustments.  I love that process!  This year especially, because I’ve identified a few old habits that I’d like to make a more-regular part of my life in 2022 and in the years ahead.

First, I’d like to get back into the habit of consuming personal development material.  Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of books and listening to podcasts about biographies and historic events, which have been very interesting and enjoyable.  However, this month I started listening to personal development podcasts and reading books on the same topic.  I have been reminded what a boost this kind of content is to my attitude and outlook.  This is something I want more of.

I’ve also started exploring options for regional travel.  I live in the Pacific Northwest and there are all sorts of cool places to get out and see and explore.  A lot of our travel over the past few years (not counting COVID years) has been out of the region.  While we still want to do plenty of other travel, we’re also focusing on seeing what’s to us in the PNW.   I’m finding there’s plenty of adventure out there just waiting for us to discover it.

Finally, I’ve started journaling again.  This is one habit that I’ve had a hard time sticking to long term.  I seem to have seasons where I’m journaling more, but I’d really like to make this a regular daily habit.  The reason is because I’m just better personally when I’m journaling regularly.  My thinking feels clearer, I feel more observant and engaged in life, and I like the ability to go review what I’ve read in years past.  It chronicles my own personal growth journey.

What habits to you have (or have had) that you’d like to make a more regular part of your life?  Give it some thought, and when you come up with something, put systems in place to ensure the behavior does, indeed, become a habit.  Your future self is rooting for you!       

I’m Glad I Noticed

I’ve been playing the electric bass guitar on the worship team at my church for about 3 years.  One of the many things I enjoy about being on the worship team is the view I get from being on stage.  It’s fun to look out and see the people in the audience and even the others on stage.  And sometimes, I’m fortunate to see things other people don’t.

For example, last week during the service, we had a young family come up and read some Scripture as part of the fourth Sunday of Advent.  The family consisted of mom, dad, and two young boys, who had to be about 4 and 7.  They stood in front of me and to the right, not more than about 10 feet away.

Mom and dad each read a section of scripture before handing the microphone to the 7-year-old, who began reading his lines in a nervous young voice.  As I was watching from behind, I noticed the dad place his hand on his oldest son’s shoulder in a gesture of support.  As the boy began to read, the dad moved his hand and began gently scratching the boys back, to provide comfort and reassure him that he was doing just fine.  It was a beautiful picture of a father being present.  I’m grateful that I had a front row seat to this event… and I’m glad I noticed.

From an elderly husband holding a door open for his wife, to a reassuring touch to a child from a loving parent, to a heart-felt slap on the back from a good friend, these types of touching scenes are happening all around us, and they often go unnoticed. 

I encourage you to keep your eyes open for these occurrences around you.  Not only will it make you feel good, but may it also encourage us to go and do likewise to those we care about. 

I’ve Got Time For That

Have you ever received a call from someone who is feeling down or overwhelmed, who just needs someone to talk to?  I got a call like that earlier this week while I was at work, and I had a choice to make.  Do I hurry to get them off the phone quickly because I’m busy and have a lot of stuff to get done, or do I carve out some time and listen to them?  I chose the latter.   

Before you think, “Good job!  You made the right choice!”, I must confess.  My initial thought was that I need to get off the phone.  It wasn’t until I started to hear how they were feeling about what they were experiencing, that I felt prompted not to ditch the call, but to actively listen to them.  (I think the Holy Spirit is good at prompting me like that.  I’m trying to get better at actually listening to Him.)     

We’ve all been there.  Sometimes we just want to be heard, to be acknowledged, or to have someone tell us, “Yeah, that sucks!”  or offer us a bit of encouragement.  What a blessing to think that we could provide that to someone else when they need it.

That’s something I’ve got time for.    

I’ll Do It Later…Whenever That Is

I have a lot of positive intentions pop into my head throughout the day.  One that I often get is that I should send a hand-written card to someone I happen to be thinking of.  (In the middle of all the technology around us, I still like sending hand-written cards.  Who’d have thought that going “old school” would make you stand out in the Internet age!)  My problem is that I often tell myself I’ll do that later.  All too often, however, “later” never comes.

This week I had the same thought pop into my head regrading someone I though could use an encouraging note.  Only this time, instead of saying I’ll do it later, I took a different approach.

I went to the closet and got out a card and envelop and put it on my desk where I work every day.  Then, I determined that I would get the card written during lunch and placed in the mail that same day.  And you know what?   IT WORKED!  I got the card written and sent!  Who’d have thought!

Sometimes our biggest barrier to following through on our intentions, is that we lack a plan, no matter how simple, to make it happen.  For me, the simple act of getting the card out and naming a time to write in it was all I needed to ensure I followed through on my intention.

The next time your mind offers up a good intention that will bless someone else, don’t just assume you’ll do it later.  Put together a quick, simple plan that will ensure you turn that intention into completed action.

The person you’re blessing will be grateful you had a plan.

Different Backgrounds Different Outlook

Here’s something we all know, but that I often forget… we don’t all have the same background and experiences shaping how we view ourselves and the world.

I can too easily assume that others have similar backgrounds and experiences as me.  That assumption is an easy connection to another equally false assumption; that what I would do or how I would think in a situation is how others should think.  That’s simply not true. 

Our experiences and backgrounds shape how we interpret what we see in the world, so it’s obvious that those with differing experiences would see things different that I would, and vice versa.

I like to frequently remind myself about this so that I don’t look up one day and realize that I’ve turned into a cranky old man, simply because I assume that the problem with everyone is that they don’t see the world the same way I do.