May 26, 2014

The Colorful Life

Remember the old black and white TVs? (Yes, I’m dating myself that I actually remember them.)

My mom recounts getting her first TV when she was 5.  Watching Howdy Dooty.  It was novel technology.  People were amazed. 

Then one day, along came a color TV.  And the difference was vast.  Now some people then, or even now, might prefer the vintage look of black and white, but for the most part, people prefer color. 

Now imagine having had a black and white TV, then a color one, then going back to a black and white.  You KNOW what you’re missing. 

I think a lot of things are that way in life.  You can’t “unsee” or “unknow” something.  And when you go backwards, what used to fit now feels tight or restrictive or somewhat missing and empty. 

For example, I had a job I loved.  I did it for 20 years and loved it for the first 18.  Then I started to grow in areas and the old job felt a bit tight and restrictive compared to what I’d started to see and experience.  Like the very last class I taught was about learning to be more assertive and not passive or aggressive.  Valuable business and life skills for sure.  But during the class on a break, I got a phone call from a lady whose child was very ill and in ICU.  She wanted some advice on how to make the best of the situation.  And what to watch for with vascular access.  Then I went back to teaching the class and it was … painful.  The old didn’t fit any more.  So eventually I had to move on. 

Last week, I went back to teach a similar type of subject and I just couldn’t get motivated to prepare or present it.  I was able to pull it off, but my heart was just not in it. 

Or maybe it’s in areas of spiritual revelation.  Or deeper relationship with God.  Receiving a healing or word of knowledge.  Tasting grace. 

Maybe it’s in being single and being concerned about being married.  But once you’re there, you can’t see yourself as single again. A part of you has grown.  Same with becoming a parent and with each subsequent child that follows.  You stretched.  You grew.  You’ve become more.  Your life will never be the same again. 

Maybe it’s going to an orphanage seeing the kids in their situations.  You might have heard about the plight of the orphan, but now you’ve SEEN it and you will never be able to unsee it.  You’re forever changed by the experience. 

It applies to almost every area of life.  Once we’ve seen and tasted and heard and experienced, we can no longer continue living like we haven’t.  It’s trying to put new wine in old wineskins.  It just doesn’t work. 

Life is set up to be a constant set of these experiences.  Adapting.  Changing.  Becoming more.  When we don’t develop like this, we shrivel and die. 

I personally think a lot of addictions are based on NOT wanting to see or taste or experience.  The feelings are overwhelming with the new changes and possible pain so some choose not to see or feel. 

Because that’s real too.  Pain.  Pain of rejection or not being good at the new. Being out of our comfort zone is scary and we want to retreat quickly to the familiar where we know what we’re doing and how to do it.  If we stay put, however, life passes us by.  And at the end of our lives, playing it safe will yield much regret. 

At this time of year, it makes me think about my friends who are watching their children graduate from high school or college.  Bittersweet feelings.  They have poured into their children’s lives for decades and now the child is doing exactly what they were raised to do.  Both parent and child have to experience the growing pains.  And as much as both might fantasize about life like it used to be, they both know that old life doesn’t fit any more.  So while they want it for comfort, they really know they don’t want the life of yesterday. 

This concept has been mulling over in my heart and spirit for a few days now.  Trying to figure out how to live in today … daily.  How to teach my children to be a new person, renewed daily.  Every day a chance to hunker down and be comfortable or to grow and learn and see and experience. 

Maybe it’s another way of saying “Faith”.  The definition is … the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  Just like the path we haven’t been on … where will it take us today?

People often say, “God, guide my steps” … from the couch!  How is He to guide your steps when you aren’t stepping?  (The book of Psalms is full of words about feet and steps.  Do a Bible Study on that sometime, it’s fascinating.)  That’s like saying, “I want my life to change and I want adventure/happiness but I don’t actually want to DO anything.” 

So what about you?  Are you growing?  Is your “yesterday” life too small for the “you” of today?  If not, it might be a sign that you’ve become complacent and too comfortable.  Try something new.  Explore.  See.  Experience.  Grow.   

And if you do, you’ll find yourself in places you never dreamed.  Living the life you always knew you could. 

Yes, there’s pain along this journey I suggest.  But it’s worth it.  Oh, the colorful life is so worth it. 

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