Posted tagged ‘comfortable’

The Uncomfortableness of New Jeans

April 4, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W                                                          April 4, 2018

               

It happens, usually about twice a year! The back left pocket of my jeans blows a hole in it and I have to break down and buy a new pair. Some of my friends who look for those opportunities to razz me tell me that it’s all because of the massive amounts of cash that stretch my wallet so much that it creates too much pressure on the pocket for it to remain intact…kind of like a volcano blowing!

I disagree, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is that I have to go to Penney’s, Old Navy, Target, and wherever in search of a new pair. I do not get all giddy over trying on new clothes. My wife can attest to that. I just retired a t-shirt that I’ve had since 1991. When the back of it began to resemble Swiss cheese I finally let go. Grief counseling was almost required!

New jeans are a bit difficult for me to find because my length, or shortness, is now a 29. Old Navy doesn’t stock that length size. Penney’s was void also. I finally found a pair at Kohl’s for some reason.

They felt okay when I tried them on at the store, so I bought them. Last night I wore them for the first time as I ran a couple of errands. After a couple of hours I gave them a rest! My legs needed room to breathe.

New jeans are like teaching your teenager how to drive. You can only handle so much at a time to begin with. Gradually you’ll feel a bit more at ease…and then at about that time you’ll find out how much your auto insurance is going up because of Junior! Well…okay, I guess the car insurance thing doesn’t apply to the jeans.

Life is filled with the uncomfortableness of new experiences, whether it’s wearing jeans, a new pair of shoes, or meeting your girlfriend’s parents for the first time…awkward!

On Monday I started a new position as a track coach at the middle coach where I’ve been coaching football and basketball for years and years. Even though I had volunteered the last two years to help with track, this year is different. I’m getting paid! And with the pay comes new responsibilities, new things to learn, new expectations. When it’s 25 degrees outside I won’t have a choice about whether I’ll go to practice that day or not.

In mid-May I’ll be attending the Estes Park Christian Writer’s Conference. It’s the first time I’ve done something like that. I’ll have appointments with a few literary agents, attend different seminars, get some critiques, and try to find some interest in publishing the two novels I’ve written that one of my friends says is actually about a four book series. It will be like trying on my new jeans and feeling like I’m a human smothered burrito.

With new experiences there’s always the fear of doing something stupid. I have a similar fear right now with these new jeans. Even though it probably won’t happen (I hope!), I worry about bending over and ripping the seat out of them. The tight fit gives me that unfounded anxiety. At the writer’s conference I’ll deal with the fears of saying something stupid or using the English language in a way that would embarrass my ancestors.

With my new jeans there is still the whispers as I pull them on that question my purchase decision: “What were you thinking? You got the wrong size! You aren’t this small any more!” At the writer’s conference there will be the whispers: “What are you thinking? You aren’t a writer! You can barely construct a grammatically correct sentence!”

And then in the midst of the uncomfortableness there will suddenly be an encouraging comment, an affirmation of the content. It will be like wearing those new jeans and suddenly finding a certain sitting position where they feel comfortable.

Life is a series of worn out jeans that need to be replaced with the new. I’m sure that some of those who are reading this are now asking the question: What about the jeans that now purposely have holes in them, the ones that are made that way?

I have no answer for what I don’t understand, but I’m considering taking my old pair and strategically putting a few additional holes in them and selling them on eBay!

Getting Comfortable With Disappointment

April 4, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                      April 4, 2017

                                

Recently I interviewed for a head coaching position at a high school in our area. They were looking to hire someone for the Girl’s Varsity Basketball team. In talking to the athletic director of the school I’ve coached at for the past four years, three of which were as the Girl’s JV coach, he thought I was a perfect fit for the position. In fact, the school’s chief administrator had called him to talk about me.

The interview was okay, but it felt a bit impersonal, kind of like the two people interviewing me were just going through the process.  A week later I received an email thanking me for interviewing, but they were not moving me on in the process. I was disappointed, mainly because it DID look like a situation that I would have been a good fit for.

It was the fourth varsity coaching position I’ve interviewed for in the past few years, and I’m 0 for 4! One of the four I probably wasn’t ready for…and they are on their third coach since that took place four years ago, but the other three I thought I would have fit well into.

I can look at that recent disappointment and pout like a two year old, or go into a personal cocoon for a while…or I can get comfortable with it!

I remember when I was pastoring in Michigan, and pastoring at a church that was wonderful to my family and me, that a search committee showed up in church one Sunday. About a month later Carol and I went and met with the committee in the suburban Detroit community they were located. The interview went well, and one of the committee members even said, probably to the horror of the chairperson, “Why do we even have to interview the other person? This is our guy right here!” We left there thinking that we’d be relocating in a couple of months…and then a couple of weeks later we got the call that they had chosen the other candidate. Once again we were disappointed, but I chose to look at the upside…that we were still a part of a great church family where I ended up pastoring for 15 years.

Disappointment is a part of the life journey for each one of us, but sometimes disappointment clouds over the blessings of where we are in the present. In terms of my coaching I’m still blessed to coach three different middle school teams- one football and two basketball. One of those school basketball teams I’ve now coached for 16 years!

Disappointment can hit us like a prom date rejection, or we can look around at where our path may be redirected. Perhaps our wants are not what God needs! I can look at my latest coaching position rejection and believe that they made a mistake, but I’ve been able to release it and move on. And sometimes…sometimes…the flaws of the position aren’t able to be seen by our starry eyes until we get a distance away from it. That happened in regards to the Michigan church. Some things happened in the next few years in that congregation that were unsettling. In fact, I felt kind of sorry for the person they DID call to come there and be their pastor.

What trumpets in my soul is the fact that I follow a God who desires to bless my life, not shower me with hailstorms of disappointment. My ways are not his ways, and, like an open bag of Hershey’s chocolate bars, my wants are not what he knows I need!

The Church’s Go To

March 8, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                         March 8, 2017

                                     

In sports there is a saying that rings true. If a team needs a basket, a first down, or a final out they have a “go to” player or play that they are confident will give them the needed result. It is not a coincidence that the Cavaliers get the ball to LeBron James in crunch time, and that the Golden State Warriors get the ball to Kevin Durant…er, Steph Curry…er, Klay Thompson. Okay, okay! The Warriors are not a good example for me to use!

Back to the point I was trying to make!

Churches have a “go to” also. Once in a while it’s a person, but usually it’s the bottom line of their congregational culture. Whereas with professional sports teams the “go to player” is a positive most of the time, in churches the “go to” is more often than not a negative.

Churches, in general, resist change. At best change is tolerated as long as it doesn’t threaten what people are comfortable with. When changes threaten the congregational culture there is almost certainly going to be a shaking that happens. Picture a tree in autumn. If a strong wind happens most of the leaves on the tree get blown or shaken off. What remains, however, is the tree trunk and branches. A church’s “go to” is the tree trunk. New ideas and thoughts might be present, but a wind of unrest will scatter them, leaving the church’s trunk in place.

Spiritually sounding churches will say that their “trunk” is Jesus, but reality says something else. Sometimes the “go to” is whatever the power family in the church says is going to happen. Pastors may come and go, but the power family dictates what will be and what will not be.

Sometimes the “go to” is more aligned with Old Testament judgment rather than New Testament grace. Church discipline becomes punitive and harsh rather than restorative and healing.

Church budgets are often indicators of what a congregation’s “go to” is. For instance, how much of the budget is focused on building maintenance and property compared to missions and community outreach? Going back to the power family, what do they support? Is their influence apparent in the breakdown of the budget?

The Cavaliers go to LeBron because they want to win. Churches yield to their “to go” because they fear losing. Losing, however, is defined as a family getting upset and leaving over a change they don’t care for; or it is defined as the loss of the church’s comfort zone; or “too many new leaves on an old tree!”

What is your church’s “go to?” How does it tend to react to problems and/or changes? More often than not, going to LeBron produces a victory. For churches, the tendency is to yield to the “go to” because they can’t afford to lose!

Puttering Along With The Sheep

January 8, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                      January 8, 2013

One of the stories in the Bible that stands out as an incredible moment of connection between the Holy and a person is the Exodus 3 account of Moses encountering a burning bush. It is the distinctive call of God to the person he has prepared to lead his people.

But it took a bush to catch on fire for Moses to notice! It’s a bush that has an angel in it (Exodus 3:2)! Moses comes over to look for the bush isn’t burning up. He knows from his knowledge of nature that when a bush catches on fire it is quickly toasted!

It took a bush!

You see, Moses seems to have become content with the direction of his life. Growing up in Pharaoh’s palace was a distant memory. It’s as if he has lived two lives- one before he was s shepherd, and now the current one. He seems content to just putter along with the sheep. I can see him sitting on a hillside looking at the herd that belonged to his father-in-law (another Jethro! Go figure!), with a strand of straw sticking out of his mouth like Jethro from the old TV series called “The Beverly Hillbillies.”

The sheep needed some new grazing ground, so Moses puttered along with them to the next field over.

If God hadn’t lit that bush on fire Moses would have been a “career putterer.”

Zipporah: Moses, dear! What did you do today?

Moses: Well, let’s see, I puttered along behind the ewes over to the north 40; and then this afternoon I puttered back here with them.

Zipporah: That’s the same thing you did yesterday.

Moses: That’s the same thing I do everyday, dear!

 

For some of us God has to light a match to get us going. Some of us have to see something that doesn’t initially make any sense for God to get our attention. For others it is a journey that has us constantly in a state of spiritual discovery and awareness.

But let’s be honest! Many of us putter through life like a spiritual zombie putting one foot in front of the other and not having a clue as to what it happening.

“Puttering” is easier than pursuing!

I once heard that every episode of The Beverly Hillbillies was based on mis-communication or a lack of communication. Seems like walking in spiritual putter has the same plot.

The Loss of Tradition…Cat, That Is!

November 28, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                 November 28, 2012

 

We lost our cat on Sunday night, but lest you think this is going to be one of those articles that get all weepy, it’s not! Perhaps it is a bit therapeutic for me to write it, but it is also about some things I’ve been pondering.

Permit me a moment to recap. Carol and I came home Sunday afternoon only to be greeted by a cat in obvious pain. A trip to the emergency veterinarian clinic revealed it wasn’t a good situation, and the vet advised us to put Princess Malibu- Boo for short- to sleep.

Don’t be too amused by her name. She follows in a long line of head-shaking names that our daughters have christened our cats with, including “Tickles”, “Prince Charming Kisses”, “Duke”, and “Katie Katie Cocoa Puffs.” Some of our cats have had more names than I have.

On Monday I found myself looking for Boo around the house. Passing by the front door my habit returned of looking out the window of the door to see if she was waiting on the front step to get back in the house. Opening the door into the garage later that day I instinctively looked at the hood of my car to see if she was laying on it. (I seldom get bird droppings, but paw prints are like a hood design for me.) As I sat in my home study I looked at the ledge by the window where she quite often laid when the sun was shining through.

I realized that I had not only lost a cat, but also some of my daily traditions. I no longer have my hide-and-seek playmate for the evening. I can’t convince Carol to fill that role. If I went out to out hot tub for an evening soak the tradition has been that Boo would sit on top of the tub cover and peer into the night.

A part of my life was lost on Sunday, because things I’ve always done for the past eight years suddenly were finished.

I thought about that in regards to the church. Not cats dying, mind you, but rather traditions being lost.

There are many traditions that should never be lost, but there are a lot of traditions that just become lost. It is neither a good thing nor a bad, it just is. Like a cat that is not destined to live forever, but rather one day to just no longer be.

That is a hard thing for people of the church to hear. We make sacred cows out of a lot of baloney. We look for a world that is filled with things that suit us, while prickly points are vacuumed away.

I remember the first time Carol and I put up a Christmas tree, and she decorated it all wrong, because I was raised to think that there was only one way to decorate a Christmas tree…and she was brought up in a family that had found a different way. My tradition died, but in its place was born a new tradition that has suited our family of five well. Letting go of my understanding, however, was hard!

All of us have our areas of inflexibility. All congregations battle a desire for attracting new people with an addiction to keeping things the way we like it.

Will we ever get another cat? I don’t know. I’m still looking for the one we just lost.