Last Saturday there were 5 things on the calendar as options of things to do [and those were only the things I had been invited to]. I don't say that to make it sound like I am an incredible social butterfly [although it was really nice to feel included in so much]. Instead, it points to the fact that there always seems to be a million, or at least 5, things we can be doing at any moment. For some of us, we might love the buffet of events that present themselves every weekend, but for me, this often leads two places in my life...
- Choice paralysis - There is just too much too do, so I won't do anything. Making a decision, particularly when there are 4 other votes to consider in my family, can feel like a battle that sometimes I don't feel like entering into.
- Perpetual dissatisfaction - Because I have all these choices, and if I do end up making one, I have to say no to a dozen other options. What this can do is leave me constantly wondering if the other choice would have been better or what another author calls, "The Greener Grass Conspiracy"
The common problem with both of these tendencies is that I am reducing choices to what I want most; the center of decision-making is me. I make my schedule about my bucket list. To address this over the last few years, what my family has tried to do, is re-orient these choices and options that present themselves every weekend around two questions...
- Is this option going to help me build relationships? - God has placed me in and amidst specific people, on a specific block, at a specific workplace, at a specific school. The problem is that I'm often so scattered and have my attention divided among so many options, that it is difficult to develop relational roots with the people directly around me.
- Is this option providing me an opportunity to serve and bless others? - If I'm not careful, I will just plan my free time around doing things that I want and in so doing lose sight of the beautiful opportunities to be a blessing to my block or to those in need. We want to stop, slow down and see the places and the opportunities we can move into helping make our city a better place.
This isn't to say that every weekend and every spare moment needs to be filled with options that address these two qualifiers, but it is helping us to see a bigger picture in our choices than just what we want. Escaping our neighborhood or our city to be together as a family is a fine, beautiful and sometimes necessary option, but we are learn to ask these questions to help re-orient our family around what God is doing right around us.
Learning to slow down and not feel like the need to be in and at everything, has helped us see our neighborhood as home and a place to invest in, to participate at and belong to. The temptation to be somewhere else, doing something more important or more exciting subsides as we learn to see the beauty and blessings going on right around us.
Alan Briggs is inviting us in this chapter to see the risk of wings and the temptation to constantly want to be somewhere else and instead learn to see and participate in the beauty of what's going on right under our nose.
- What changes do you need to make to shift from paying spiritual rent to the community towards the investment mentality of paying a spiritual mortgage?
- In which areas of your life does your posture towards non-believers need to change to become more incarnational? [getting to know, listening to, being with]