31 January 2009

Lessons Sprung from Mundanities

"Speak but a whisper, I'll hear a sermon."- Copeland lyric

There were three small incidents today that taught me much about myself. I spend almost all my waking hours actively pursuing knowledge and insight, but God manages to speak louder in whispers than in the thunderclap of lectures, studying, or classrooms.

I. Expectations
In a normal joking conversation about the merits of teaching/learning languages in the early developmental stages of childhood, I mentioned amid the usual tongues that, "He's gonna learn how to speak Latin [or maybe Koine Greek like his old man]." Aside from it being an arguably dead language and the comment being solely motivated by this week's episode of Lost, I was struck by my presumption that my scholar-to-be would be a boy. I'm unsure whether that (Freudian?-) slip came from me forming "him" in my own image, so to speak, or whether something more sinister is brewing here. While it may be unreasonable in the first place to replace Baby Einstein with Baby Luther and Play-dough with Plato, my expectations of a manchild-from-my-loins presents an even more impossible obstacle for a possible She-Breslin to overcome. How do I combat this 50% failure rate that I am setting myself up for? I try to intentionally and purposely edit my writing these days to be gender inclusive and neutral if at all possible, but has my mind been transformed? Am I shaping idols and expectations unknowingly?

Father, crush my idols and shape my imagination. You are beyond my preconceptions and your plans are higher than man's.

II. Winning is Everything
A little kid and his dad came to the counter to order, the little guy wearing a YMCA basketball jersey and receiving an aparent post-game meal (what ever happened to Capri Suns and Star Crunches?). My first question was the standard, "Did you win?" Not, "How'd you do?" or "Did you have fun?" or "Did Tommy's momm bring the orange slices?" His response was classic: "What do you mean?" Then in a rush of embarrassment, I remembered the little known (and may I add, potentially Communist) policy of not keeping score in elementary and middle school athletics. I must repent for being someone who wavers on my moral ability to like soccer because of its potential for a draw. I need to relinquish my need to win, keep track, strive, and if need be, go to overtime or extra innings to settle this once and for all.

Lord, you don't keep record of our wrongs. You love unconditionally and Love is the fabric of your Being. Teach me to love this way: unresolved, trusting, and unaffected by outcome. Take away my need for control, my pride of victory, and my bitterness of loss.

III. From the Mouths of Babes
Lastly, there was a brief incident involving Girl Scout cookies and the troop's ability to set up shop in front of our coffee shop. To tell a long story shortly, I felt my leadership was question, my authority usurped, and my pride wounded. A barista of whom I am in charge questioned my judgment, and I wished violence on her (Not in a slap in the face kind of way. Rather in a "I could embarrass you in front of everybody, because I'm righter, older, smarter, and better than you" kind of way. You know the real root of violence. Afterward a Brownie (Scout) and her mom glumly came to the counter because they were in violation, not with the authorities, but with an older rival troop that apparently went through the correct channels to reserve the breezeway. Right before getting up to the counter the little girl (bummed as anyone who is forced to pack up shop and head over to K-Mart to set up again would be), found a five dollar bill on the ground. My first instinct in her shoes, would be either to pocket it or to help my cause and buy a couple sleeves of thin mints. Her's was instead, in an excited and purely self-motivated act, to plop a 5-spot into my tip jar. So let's sum this up: I get wronged (or at least perceive being wronged) and respond with restrained rage and inert violence. This little merit-badge clad girl gets booted off the older girl's turf and exiled to K-Mart and responds with generosity and selflessness.

Spirit, equip me for ministry, cloth me with gentleness, and make me a channel of Your peace.


No comments: