Posted tagged ‘uncomfortable’

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!

We Don’t Know!

December 30, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                    December 30, 2014

                                                     

        Nothing quite causes unrest and frustration more than three words: We don’t know!

People who are looking for the answer or final solution find it hard to truly hear those words. You can blame it on the times we live in…and the devices of our time.

For example, I can look at a device wrapped around my wrist and instantly discover how many calories I’ve burned off during my workout.

I can look at the side of a box to find out how many grams of sugar are in the bowl of cereal I’m munching on.

I can go to the Channel Guide on my TV to find out what is playing at 9:00 tonight on the Sci Fi Channel.

I can go on-line to see the balance in my checking account.

But there are some things in life that have a grayness to them, that aren’t instant answers. Those three words…”We don’t know!”, cause eyebrows to be raised and fears to be heightened. They are three words that have become like a foreign language to our culture.

“We must know! We have to know!”

I recently was sitting with a family in a hospital waiting room waiting to hear from the surgeon about the difficult procedure the loved one had undergone. As we waited the text messages kept bombarding family members.

       “How did it go?”

       “Is he in recovery?”

       “What did they find out?”

       “How long will he be there?”

The spouse patiently responded to each one “We don’t know!” The waiting for word and the pressure from those who weren’t there to know was raising her own level of concern. Patience quite often takes a detour around hospital waiting rooms.

Last week my wife and I were inquiring about the purchase of a hot new product that we were looking to buy. The store was out of them. I found myself getting a little agitated when the salesperson’s respond to when they would get some more in was “We don’t know! Maybe next week…maybe a couple of weeks!”

The answer wasn’t immediate…and so I was up against a brick wall. The bricks did not feel good against my desire to move forward.

I often get spiritual questions that I can’t answer. The questioner looks at my response of “I don’t know!” and is taken back. I’m a pastor. I’m suppose to know.

But I have no idea how God created angels, or what kind of fish it was that swallowed Jonah? Why do good things happen to bad people…and bad things happen to good people? Why does one person get cured of cancer, and another die a slow painful death?

Life is filled with questions that I am clueless about answering.

Most of my day is spent in “the immediate.” That is, I can immediately know without wondering. It’s the moments of wondering that are uncomfortable, and yet they are also the moments that are usually tinted with the presence of God.

 

Bringing The Cross Back Inside

April 10, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                              April 10, 2014

 

                                 

 

Our church has a great sense of humor…usually! Actually, most churches have a great sense of humor…you just may have to dig a little deeper to find it!

Years ago we had a couple of people from our congregation construct a wooden cross and a stand that it could be propped up in. It was heavy…and, forgive the term, a bit on the ugly side. Of course, it is difficult to make a cross look good, I don;t care how many Easter lilies you place around it!

The wood of this cross was rough and rigid. It was the kind of wood that takes the pounding of nails easily without stumbling. In the past few years we’ve moved it up the aisle and back to the rear of the sanctuary. Back and forth it has gone like a person without a home.

At Christmas it has crouched in the back corner so that the attention can be more focused on the fifteen foot Christmas tree in the front and a homemade livestock stall with a rustic wooden crib in the midst of it.

At Thanksgiving it disappears to make room for turkeys and canned goods.

But on Good Friday it trudges back to the front in order to have a dark piece of fabric draped over it and a handful of nails driven deep into its strength. Its meaning and significance has never waned, and yet we’ve never felt totally comfortable with its look of abandonment and sorrow either.

This past September we moved it outside. It has stood behind a fenced area behind out sanctuary, kind of like an oversized first-grader hovering over his classmates in the school picture. It’s been standing there through storms and excessive windblown snow.

Come Saturday, however, it is being moved back inside. We jest about it with statements like “It’s time to bring the cross back in” and “I think the cross has been grounded long enough. Let’s unground it!”

We say it with the lean towards humor, but, on the other hand, the cross makes us antsy and uncertain. Give us a manger scene with a dressed-up plastic baby doll laying in it and we’re fine, but a cross of wood is a remembrance for us of all the bad things God endured because of his love for us. It’s a reminder of our tendency to be wayward people of faith who sometimes are brought back to the reality of our fallible decisions.

This year, however, a number of people in our congregation are asking for the cross. It’s been the forgotten symbol long enough. On Palm Sunday it will be back at the front of the sanctuary. To temper the celebration of the palms it will silently stand at a distance in the foreground…alone…bare…reminding!

I think it will be a good thing to have it there without fabric or flowers to partially cover its frame. I hope we can even keep it inside for a while.

Painting Fingernails

March 1, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                        March 1, 2013

There are sometimes things that a person does just because! Like taking your daughter to a Justin Bieber concert and realizing that the average age of the 20,000 attenders…not including yourself…is 13…rounded off to the nearest year! Why would a parent do such a thing? The answer: Just because!

Last week my girls’ basketball team had a team dinner. Great food, great time together…and then the fingernail polish came out! The twelve girls were painting their fingernails five different colors in preparation for the last game of the season the next day. (When my son’s soccer team was preparing for the state play-offs each of the players dyed their hair blonde!).

You may have already figured out what comes next in the story.

Coach, it’s your turn!”

What?”

It’s time to get your fingernails painted!”

I wouldn’t call it peer pressure that have me cave in. It was more like allowing them to paint my nails…just because! My wife had her cell phone out taking pictures like it was a Cover Girl photo op!

Blue…red…silver…orange…and black…on each hand! I left the team dinner decorated! The next day I spent a good deal of the time with my hands in my pockets or with gloves on. I discovered where the nail polish remover is located at Walgreen’s for use immediately after the game.

What I discovered is that painted fingernails is outside my comfort zone. I was completely aware of my counter-cultural masculine look anytime I was in public. Actually I was aware of it most of the rest of time as well, because my hands are usually palms down in front of me instead of palms up. When one of those nails on each hand is painted with a glittery silver it’s distracting.

Everyone of us has things that are outside our comfort zone. Sometimes we allow ourselves to enter the uncomfortableness “just because.” Sometimes we realize that what we are about is more important that our uneasiness.

I had the sense that everyone was looking at me in those few hours when I was  polished. It felt like I had just accidentally burped in the midst of a high-priced restaurant. The blush radiated!

What the experience also gain me was a sense of how someone new feels coming into a church situation. Like a 58 year old man with painted fingernails, there is an intimidation factor. It used to be that churches would recognize first-time visitors by having them stand or raising their hands to receive a special gift. Some would not agree with me on this one, but I think someone visiting a church for the first time feels uncomfortable enough as it is. “Churched people” may have lower anxiety levels, but unchurched people aren’t sure what they are getting themselves into in just being there at all. They may be there “just because.” Like a parent at a Justin Bieber concert, it may very well be a one-and-done experience. What would prompt an unchurched person to want to come back again? Probably about three things! One would be an encounter with the “mystery of the holy.” That they would experience something that they can’t quite describe, but know that something has been stirred within them.

Two would be that the person senses in some way that what happens in worship has relevance for life. It isn’t a “how to” seminar, but rather a look at life through a different lens or from a different perspective.

And three would be that the person would have a sense that the people of the faith gathering are fellow life journeyers, who haven’t arrived, but are still on the journey. The church would convey words like “help”, “compassion”, “inviting”, “grace”, “hope”, and “affirmation”, not “judgment”, “arrogance”, “apathy”, and “frosty.” The reason I was willing to have my fingernails glitter is that twelve other girls had already done it. Even though it was uncomfortable think how uncomfortable…and weird…it would have been if they would have done my nails, but not done their own. Sometimes the church has a critical eye about those who are uncomfortably seeking. In a culture where many people desire to stand out there is still an uncomfortableness about standing out in new situations.

I’ve used the nail polish remover, but the interesting thing is that there is still some residue…okay, maybe a better term is evidence…of the polish. One of my thumbnails that are painted orange looks like I had an orange slushie that leaked. But as I look at it, weird as it seems, I have good memories of that evening…just because.