Our Opinions Are Our Demise

Image result for yelling

A few months ago I had a conversation with my husband that’s really been a catalyst of change in me.  We were driving down the road discussing whatever recent disaster just happened in our country (it’s sad that there’s so much happening I can’t recall what event it was) and the conversation became pretty cerebral. It turned into talking about what solutions could work for what problems and kinda wringing our hands at the hopelessness of it all.  I asked my husband, “if you had a microphone in your face and had to give your reason for why things have become so broken what would you say?”.  He didn’t say anything for a minute or so and finally responded with “maybe we have placed too much value in having a right to an opinion”.

So my husband is brilliant and it would be so like him to respond like that.  If you have had the pleasure of meeting him your impression likely is that he is one of the quietest people you have ever met and you’re not wrong in thinking that.  He is often always the most quiet person in the room but it’s not because he’s disengaged.  When he does talk it’s rarely about himself or what he thinks but rather asking questions and listening to what you think.  I’m entirely the opposite; I love making people laugh, being the clown, sharing stories and discussing opinions about everything on this green earth that I’m sure it’s often viewed as being self absorbed.  So when he does decide to say something you can be guaranteed that it’s worth listening to because it’s usually lacking the white noise of someone who speaks all the time.  To sum him up he really does encompass the Godly trait of “being slow to speak and quick to listen”.

So back to that conversation we had that day.  I’ve thought about it a lot since then and I think my husband is on to something.  Now, I think it’s important to establish the difference between having a right to an opinion and being right in your opinion.  You can feel that you are 100% on the right side of history in your views and air them all the live long day on social media and it’s your constitutional right to do that.  But is it always right to express your opinion?  When you have expressed your opinion how often have you seen a fruitful conversation happen as a result of it?  When was the last time you stepped into a conversation with the intent of not just hammering out your view to heard but rather to learn about the opposing viewpoint?

It’s also worth considering how valuable your opinion is to you and if that value can carry out into the world around you.  Does your opinion make you literally go out and do something for whatever the issue is that you so readily talk about?  Has that last article you shared about how brokenhearted you are over the abortion law in New York resulted in you opening your home to adoption (seriously, on this note I will adopt your baby if you’re in this crisis)?  Did your protesting for climate change cause you to stop drinking from straws, carpool to work and commit to shorter showers?  If you’re outraged at the homeless crisis when was the last time you put your money where your outrage is?

I think that we’ve taken that saying of “Stand for something or fall for anything” to mean “have an opinion about everything and don’t do anything”.  We have such strong views about everything but due to having a lack of motivation, time and resources have turned to our social media platforms to yell about it all instead.  The value of doing has become so marginalized by our sense of “doing good” in the manner of just talking about it.  We feel that yelling about it is better than not talking at all but maybe we’re wrong in that.

What if we looked to Martin Luther King.  Would he have had the impact he had by sitting at home talking about the changes that needed to happen?  He walked in it with action and died for it.

Look at Jesus.  He didn’t just talk about a cross and actually carried one.

Mother Theresa.  She didn’t bitch about what little we do for the poor but lived with, loved and served them instead.

I’m so guilty of falling so short with all this is about and writing this post is just as much some processing for my own sake as that of sharing it with you.  The historical figures I’ve mentioned had to choose to live in it and to step beyond the comfort of just talking about it.

It’s time to stop sharing opinions without the intent of understanding all sides of issue it’s based on.  There needs to be an end to the epidemic of too many voices and not enough action.  If you can’t do what needs to be done then it might be time to sit back and listen until you are ready and able to do something about it.

We all need to remember that our opinions are worth absolutely nothing but that our actions are worth everything.

Humbly yours,

Sara

Daily Bread?

36064727_2217467281603341_1489331088718299136_nWe’ve all been in those moments of staring at the ceiling at night with a heightened heart rate wondering “what the hell is this all going to look like for me in six months?”.  If you’ve never had that moment I’ll purchase whatever snake oil you’re selling to make it so for myself.

For me, these moments do occur about every six months or so often as a result of the seasonal work life that my spouse and I have.  We have lived in Yellowstone National Park for six months and then we have to reset what life looks like in the off season.  This summer is the third one for me where we have done this and I have yet to conquer the panic that comes with November as our seasons conclude.  I have the question reoccur which is along the lines of “what’s going to happen now?”.

Recently in my daily readings that consist of biblical text, C.S. Lewis and others I have been seeing the theme of what it looks like to keep your goals simply for what the day will bring.  The prayer on my heart lately has echoed one we’ve all heard one way or another which is “just give me today my daily bread”.

If you don’t pray that’s cool, don’t count yourself out of the conversation yet.  I attempt to avoid being esoteric with the content I dump out there for the world to read.

Anyways, back to bread.  I’m often overwhelmed by questions of if I’m where I’m called to be and if we’re doing the best we can with what we have.  If I had a crystal ball where I could see the next steps to take to have the lives we want I’d use the snot out of it but it’s not available on Amazon yet.  I want to know what exactly we need to do and I want it to be easy, convenient and without risk or question.   I want to have it be epic without the fear.

Keep dreaming right?DSC_3283

What I realize not by my own brilliance but rather with the help of filling my cup with reading, listening and being honest with my dear husband is that by wasting emotion on my conjectures of what six months down the road looks like is causing me to miss the value I can add to today.  If I’m not aware I can miss the chance to do something good with the moment I have and that the future despite our best efforts is but a roll of the dice sometimes.

Not to discredit planning, believe me I love to plan.  We have hopes and dreams for the family we’ll have and the home we’ll build together but I also know that if I’m not careful that all my joy can be cashed into things that could possibly not be what’s in store for us.  My joys can’t to stored just in the hopes of things that have yet to be.

Despite of where you land with prayer or whether or not you think there’s someone out there bigger than us I think we can all use what it means to say “just give me my daily bread” to remember that we can’t control what tomorrow looks like.  What we can control is our desire to grow in our discipline and our character to prepare us for what tomorrow is gonna dish onto our plates.  The fear for what whatever it is weighing upon you can maybe be outweighed by what you can do now with the tools you have to love your family well, to do your work well, and to be the friend you need to be.

I’m not a deeply intellectual person and will never assume to be but maybe the issue of what it means to be satisfied with what you can do with the present doesn’t need to be a deep discussion.  What if you can trust that if you do the best with what you need to do today that tomorrow will take care of itself by doing that all over again.  Keep having your dreams and hopes for the future but maybe what faith looks like in action to get there is to simply give what you can to the moment you’re in.

Thank you for reading this and I hope you can sleep good tonight knowing you did what you could today.

Sara

To Be What You Don’t Wanna Be

Within the last couple weeks we just went through the second season of the documentary called “Making a Murderer”.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the series here’s the brass tacks.

A man named Steven Avery is imprisoned for a heinous crime of viciously raping and murdering a young woman on his property.  The series is based upon the inconsistencies of the case built by the prosecution that pleads the question of if he actually did it.  In the second season of the documentary Avery acquires the aid of an attorney who delves deeper into the details of story weaved by the accusers.  She methodically picks apart each point of the case against him.  What is striking about the second season is how this attorney of Avery’s isn’t attempting to find the big piece of evidence that would miraculously exonerate him.  There isn’t a huge and undeniable truth to singlehandedly convince a judge but rather a series of small lies to pick apart and disprove.  It would be convenient to have that slam dunk piece of forensic evidence but it simply isn’t there.  Rather the accumulation of the little things are what unravels the web designed for his imprisonment.

This ramble isn’t just about Avery or whether or not he’s innocent.  What it’s about are those little details of our own lives to account for. Keep the Avery idea in mind for the sake of the analogy though.

I’m among the guiltiest of what I’m gonna jump into here.  Nope, I haven’t killed anyone and it’s not on the agenda so far.  Not literally I suppose.  Not yet; hopefully never.

What I’m talking about is the accumulation of the little things that eventually amount to the big picture of who we become.  I’m talking about the things that make us whisper to ourselves “it’s not that big of a deal”.  Mind you what I’ll get around to can’t be done while leaving grace for oneself behind.  Gotta give grace a seat on the bus here.

24172987_1966585653358173_4002689745672860150_o.jpg

I’m gonna use marriage as an example cause hey, it’s relevant to me.  If you aren’t married don’t count yourself out (you can use relationships of many types to apply with the following).  I think it’s easy to slide into the idea that you can keep getting away with the easy tendencies that don’t damn a marriage but are putting yourself first in small ways.  It’s easy to think t hat we’re good spouses because we’ve avoided the temptation of infidelity, pornography addiction, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, all sorts of abuse, etc (I myself tend to like to go for the ribs on my husband because he’s stupidly ticklish and totally will overreact in the most hilarious way so maybe I’m a tad abusive.  He thinks he’s abused but I tell him to hush). We’re all relatively aware of the big “no nos” of what we are to tolerate and  how to behave in relationship.  But what about the things like the passive aggressive remarks in front of your friends, the snide comments at home, withholding yourself intimately, silent treatments for whatever the hell they doesn’t know what’s going on (whether or not it should be obvious to him/her set aside). These “little things” aren’t huge transgressions to throw at your marriage and can even be humored as funny  and normal but when you’re consistently on the receiving end they become big.  The small ways we treat others matter and they matter a lot because they reflect the value we see in others.  We can get away with judging ourselves by our best intentions and assume everyone has our “good intention radar” on demand.  But ultimately the manner by which we treat those we love the most is the true reflection of how we feel about them.

What if the little things we let slide become the building blocks of who we become? When if what we say comprises who we love whether it’s through gossip, cowardice, and backing down? What if evil wins each time we belittle someone (enemies not excluded)?

What if we held ourselves to the standards that we have for this world?

37713507_2272515379431864_8366557251355279360_o.jpg

Finally maybe we will realize that what makes us who we’re called to be are not those “big” heroic moments but rather are the small choices we choose each day.

What then?

I don’t have advice for how to begin the work of becoming who you want to be; but I have a feeling it starts with the seemingly minuscule daily things.  I’m guessing who you wake up next to, who you work alongside, the ones you raise and the ones you love are where you can begin.  Don’t think that the road to who you become isn’t wrought with failure for I know mine is and yet I’m pressing on towards the goal.

What if the small intentional choices you make each day make the success of your relationship at the same level as the adulterating spouse, the insincere friend or the lying employee?  Maybe the quality of our relationships is as dependent on making the right choices with the small stuff as it is on the significant stuff. Perhaps the multitude of a million little things can maybe be piled to the same height of three big things in your life.  There are many relationships that end not because of abuse, infidelity or any of the big “hell nos” but by the steady letdown of many simple, small and solvable infractions.

Like the example of Steven Avery’s case; maybe the inconsistency of the condition of your life versus the desire if what you want to be isn’t a flashing neon sign of your character flaws but the subtle small things that find their home in the daily.  I can’t remember who said it but it goes along the lines that the road to hell is a gentle slope without signs posted of where you’re heading.

The bottom line is don’t settle for less.  There is a higher view of people you can choose to believe in and hope for. You were made to be someone of great character in all parts of your life and it’s worth striving to be that partner, coworker, supervisor, parent, student and so many other things you desire to emulate. The small parts of you make the grand composition of what makes you the only person for the job you are created to do.

I’m learning as I go.

Sara

Not Needed But Valued

man wearing white shirt holding out hand in front of woman in white lace top
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Last week I dabbled in the idea that we need to question ourselves on our motivations of being needed by others.  Do we do it to satisfy our own desires to look needed and fill voids within ourselves or do we do it to actually meet the needs of the world around us?  Before you read on please check out my previous blog post.

Today I want to think about the flip side of what is always needed by every person with a heart beat.

After my blog post from last week I felt like a followup was required.  When we let go of needing validation by feeling needed by others it comes hand in hand with realizing what the world otherwise needs from us constantly.  It’s not about making people feel good all the time or to only give what is needed only when help is asked of you.  It’s about relentlessly doing what you can to elevate the good.  I’m not among those with the greatest wisdom in literally all subjects touching this issue (I just talk a lot) but I do feel compelled to comprehend what it means to truly fulfill need in a manner of pure intent that authentically is well for the soul.

What if truly helping others without bias, favoritism and out of the sincerity to love starts with being intentional with seeing the value of people.  Can you make a career out of valuing people?  Not always but you can value people despite of the condition of your relationships, vocational satisfaction and all the other big ones that keep us blinking at the ceiling at night.  It goes along with that incredible statement to “Do good anyway”.

A fine example of someone who relentlessly seeks to see the value of people is my mother.  She owns a fine dining establishment with which there’s incredible success and yet the struggles that are inherent with owning a small business; and a predominant challenge is dealing with people.  I can easily look at her and make my judgments of how I “could do it better” or “solve that problem” but unlike my mother I’m the one who isn’t in the arena (please check out Theodore Roosevelt’s except titled “The Man in the Arena” to better understand that reference).  As a small business owner in the dining industry she sees staff depart unexpectedly and without notice despite of her effort to create an excellent work environment.  On the other hand most of her staff have a pitbull-like loyalty to her as a boss and declare they’ve never been treated with a higher caliber of respect comparing to hers.  I’ve often looked at her and observed what it is that makes her magnetic as an employer.  What I’ve realized that she is unrelenting with seeing the good in people and finding value despite of failings.  Though she might have a dishwasher unexpectedly not show up and she has to jump in to bridge the gap during the dinner rush she never stops in seeing good in people.  My knee jerk response would be say that there’s no good to be seen in that person anymore for screwing over the evening.  She chooses to “do good anyway” though she knows that again she will have to deal with the same struggles of people tomorrow.  She has a humility and recognition for why people walk broken and how their brokenness acts out.  Throughout her growing years she had to survive the broken road which raised her into loving people relentlessly.  She’s the energizer bunny in always finding the good and seeing the value.

There’s few people like my mother.  Few who maintain a high view of people and fill the need to recognize others value.  I think we all can easily value people who don’t hurt us and discard the ones who do.  We make little space for being needed by those we feel don’t deserve us (and you have to create boundaries for these kinds often).  What if we can’t give up on seeing value?  What if that’s how we always can fill one of the many needs of our broken world?  It starts with your spouse, children, workplace and community.  When we think about how we can’t stop seeing the good it’s an impossible mountain to climb but one we must if we’re to love people the way we’re called to love them.

This might all sound superfluous when you have real people who are difficult, uncooperative and aggravating to manage in life.  But it’s on you to not forget that they have a profound purpose by being alive and even if you can’t change the condition of their behavior/character you can choose to maintain your own by seeking the good within them.  To improve the condition of the world you must start how you inherently choose to perceive it.

Fill the need by speaking good into others.  Authentically find the unique way they’re called to fill the gap and find to opportunity to tell them of it.  People don’t respond to critical words a fraction as well as they do to being praised.  Give them something to aspire to by recognizing when they’re doing their best.  You don’t have to flatter but open your eyes to what they offer.  Try this in your relationships and see what happens.  Aspire to be someone who makes others well by seeing the light in them.

Thank you for reading the rambling,

Sara

Maybe You’re Not Needed?

dsc_4271

I just put down a book and ran to my keyboard to process a thought from the author that caused an explosion in my brain.  In it he begged the question of how we need to stop the pursuit of feeling needed.

As a person who I just now realize is needy about being needed this hit me like a baseball bat.  I just now recognize I often tend to chase after pursuits that makes me feel needed.  I don’t think I’m alone here and this temptation can be evident in our friendships, relationships, careers and can even plague our ability to be the kind of spouses we could be.  This need to be affirmed in my filling the need; that if I fill voids I don’t have to address voids in my heart, mind and soul.

So I’ll ask you reader; do you live to be needed?  I know that as someone who isn’t a parent that I might be asking a huge question that I can’t comprehend the depth of as someone who is/has raised their child.  So that aside let’s chit chat.

What if constantly making ourselves needed is selfish and damages our hearts? Maybe it’s not about being valuable to others but is a matter of entitlement?  Is it toxic to our relationships if being needed affirms in our minds the value other people see in us?  Does it unjustly impose an unspoken requirement of others to constantly see how good we are?   In myself I can recognize my toxic neediness of being needed in how I only desire to do good things if I get the affirmation that I am doing it right.  It kinda stings to be honest about this, I truly do feel that I  can altruistically enjoy being helpful but I know that if I don’t check myself my soul could become unwell by being needed out of ambition to fill the void.

Do you feel unloved when your friends forget your birthday?  You get jealous of other peoples closeness to one another?  You’re never appreciated?  You resent loneliness? Are you often thinking of how unfair everything is?  Your kids didn’t come over again this weekend when you wanted them to so bad?  Maybe you’re in a place when you can begin to recognize how you can’t force your value on others and it’s time to stop being entitled to them needing you.

All of this ramble doesn’t mean checkout from what life calls you to take on everyday (or to take crap from people who diminish your value)  but maybe to do it in such a way that you are simply adding value as good as you can. Always do good!  Always love loving others!  Always be motivated!  Could you adjust your end goal for doing the right thing to not just be someone you would admire but rather to simply serve somebody else?   If we all stopped needing affirmation to decide to be good what would goodness look like in this world? Do what you need to do not because it makes you greater in the world but because it’s what our humanity cries out for us to accomplish.  You can do what’s needed without another soul seeing it be done.

When you’re doing a dang good job at being a spouse, parent, friend or employer you can stop needing to be patted on the back for it.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to not need affirmation as much as you do for your self esteem?  What if you can see that you’re killing it at work not because your boss said so but because you know you went above and beyond on the job?  What if you know that you’re a good parent when your toddler is throwing a demon fit not because they adore you always but because you’re keeping that screaming creature freaking alive when it would roll out into traffic?  What if you’re being a good spouse not because they tell you everyday but you know that when they needed you that you were there to love them despite of all that went wrong?

Maybe I’m the only sitting on this bus of an epiphany and it all really is stinking simple!  This need to be needed being said (or typed) aloud is hard to admit about myself.  My hope is to encourage whoever needs to see within themselves the misaligned condition of their heart for why they do good and to consider steps toward being free of that nagging neediness to be needed.

Maybe you’re not needed and that’s alright.

Be well my friends,

Sara

That Authentic Joy

I started this blog with the intent of keeping the sole purpose of its contents to be parallels of my daily life and how it relates to fly fishing. The evolution of this project started with a honeymoon season of writing at least a blog post a week, taking a year off, losing my writing muscle and now trying to get back into the gym of a keyboard. My writing has also gone astray from that original intent and that’s alright. The four years since I’ve started fly fishing I got married, moved 4 times, started new jobs each time and have become much of what I am and am not proud of. The ebb and flow of life as a wife, a late twenties something, and a career drifter has revealed so much of who I am and where I see value in life. These years have changed my life more than the rest combined.

Tonight I’m thinking about revisiting the parallel of my life and my journey with fly fishing. I hope it finds cohesiveness somewhere in the words. I don’t really have a plan yet for this one.

When I wake up and know that I’m gonna go fishing that day I still get that feeling I got on Christmas morning when I was a little girl. Today could be the day that something amazing happens. Fly fishing just has that part of my heart that gets filled only when I feel that tension on the end of the line when a fish is running.

No matter when I feel my inadequacies as a woman with my flawed figure, the fear of failure with a job, the conviction of when I handled that argument wrong with my spouse; it all gets put into the proper perspective when I find myself in the water. Fly fishing is the one of the rare things that doesn’t take into account the score card I keep in my head of how I don’t measure up. My point in sharing all of this is that in these four years where I’ve done many things right and a lot wrong that each time I find myself walking toward a river bank with my fly rod it’s always been right. That Christmas morning feeling isn’t because of anything tangible I’m going to get but rather how my soul is going to feel when a day of fishing is done.

I guess in revisiting this it makes me realize that we can’t lose sight of the ways our souls become restored by immersing ourselves into something. Maybe for you it’s on a dirt bike, with a brush and easel, holding a guitar in your hands or having wine while enjoying a sincere conversation. Each of us has a part of our hearts that doesn’t need a person or an object but rather the unique way you can find yourself immersed in something that gives you authentic joy.

There’s not much a bell ringer for this post except the simple encouragement that if you’re feeling downtrodden by the weight that life has placed on you lately to remember what it is that gives you that authentic joy. Go for a run, enjoy a lazy morning with your spouse, dust the cobwebs off that favorite book or maybe also grab your fly rod and get out now that the sun is shining.

With lots of love,

Sara

Next Time You Want to Post That. . .

man-person-hands-coffee.jpg

Raise your hand if you have seen an opinion shared in your news-feed in the last two hours.

All the hands raise.

How many of you had your lives changed by seeing that opinion?

No hands raise.

What makes you think your opinion is truly going to change the world from your social media platform?

This is when we all start yelling about social injustice, bigotry and how 50% of the country is alright with seeing children get slaughtered in schools.  It’s when you say that by taking away guns from good people that bad people will still have the guns and that will do nothing but leave good folks with no means for self defense.  Or it’s when you say that you’re the person aiming the barrel of a gun at a child for not wanting to revisit the 2nd amendment. It’s where we get passionate in fighting with strangers from behind our screens and get consumed with the fragile notion that somehow we’re truly making a difference with opinions.  It’s when we think the president can actually see how much we support or hate him by the unproductive argument we’re having with this acquaintance or stranger.

It’s when we demonize people that we don’t even know.  This argument is where you forget that the person on the other side of the screen is likely a person who has the same humanity, desire for happiness, children they adore and a hope for peace as you do.

I know that there isn’t a single good person out there (yes, we obviously got a few bad ones) who’s heart doesn’t bleed for the innocence murdered in the recent days within our country.  There isn’t a single parent who thinks “my opinion matters more than my baby’s life”.  Yet, we see anyone on the other side of our perspective as the evil doer incarnate because of who they voted or didn’t vote for.  We see the opposing arguer as a person who wants this evil to happen because they don’t see the sames means to a reckoning the way we do.  We see ourselves as perfect.

What if we paused for a second.  Before we think we are accomplishing justice by doing all we can to make another feel small that possibly we remember that there is a face to that opinion; maybe a face we wouldn’t say such visceral and demeaning words to if we were sitting across a table from them.

What if we remember that the world truly doesn’t care about what you think, especially on social media where you’re among the fray.  The fray of fear, anger and opinion.  Your voice doesn’t change anyone’s hearts when the intent is to prove them wrong.  It just doesn’t.  When can you recall a time when your heart was changed by someone saying “You’re wrong! You’re wrong! You’re wrong!”?

Let’s not be deceived that your opinion has power.  What does have power is remembering that you don’t control others.  You don’t influence them from this side of the screen.  You have the power to understand them and to grow in your perspective.  If that power isn’t good enough do something about it.  Run for legislature.  Visit with your politicians (because standing on a sidewalk with a sign is about as effective as posting from your page).  Pause before running your mouth at your opponent and ask questions instead.  Raise your kids within your beliefs and be blessed by their life.  If you’re afraid of this world stop reading this and Google ways to be empowered above that fear.  Stop wasting your value on spouting your truly worthless opinion.

I will end with the irony that this is my opinion on worthless opinions.  Remember where real value and power exists.  It exists within your interactions with others you share your days with.  It exists within your character and how you value people.  In your soul there’s actions steps to making a difference and it stops with just scrolling for a fight.  It ends when you discontinue to weaponize your words.

Please pause next time and remember that your opinion is just that.  Your small opinion.

With lots of love,

Sara