Friday, August 31, 2012

We Love our Options - Discipleship 186

If there is one universal value that all of humankind seems to uphold (at least the segment that resides in North America) it would be options.

Let me explain what I mean. Agreed, there can be other factors at play in the evolution of life in general, but one of the primary motivations behind what we do and what we pursue in our culture seems to point to the desire of greater options. Think about this for a moment. Parents work hard to provide their children with experiences they never had (options). Immigrants embrace the reality of life in a new country hoping their children will have a better opportunity to succeed in life (options). Youth and young adults choose their scholastic environment based on what courses and extra curricular activities are offered (options). Building a new home or choosing a new community to live in is often influenced by what sort of amenities are associated with the community or the new home building project (options). Church goers shop around until they find a faith community that fulfills their desire to "be fed" (options)...maybe this one hits a little too close to home? How many side dish options does a person really need at a restaurant (options)?? Sports teams have even developed basic plays that contain options for the players to implement during the course of a game!

The evidence of these systemic behaviours points to a malformation of identity in all of humankind. We believe a lie that tells us life is about opportunities and options instead of values. And so we begin to value options ahead of the things that truly feed the soul.

We might wonder why marriages are failing at an exponentially increasing rate, youth and young adults seem reluctant to embrace responsibility as emerging adults, and the attitude of entitlement seems to have replaced the value of a great work ethic. The truth is that each of these three examples are the end-product results of an overarching value that screams to us that our options are more important than anything else on the planet. We are driven to pursue our options, and the wake of our pursuit has created some devastating consequences that just so happen to be continuously feeding into the malformation of human identity.

The challenge I find myself facing is how to move against the cultural forces that are demanding my attention, my submission and my obedience. While I do possess the desire to be noticed and connected to the rest of humankind, I feel a greater sense of responsibility and invitation into a different way of living life outside of the human initiated rhythm that seems more exhausting than life giving. Some people have chosen to pursue life "off of the grid" or in a more sheltered environment as a result of these emerging trends in our culture...but this is a choice I simply will not make. Living so close to the mountains has provided me with the opportunity to marvel as the resilience of nature. I've seen trees growing out of the sides of mountains. They are rooted in rocks and are thriving in this unconventional environment. I see things like this and cannot help but wonder if this isn't an invitation to thrive in the midst of chaos?

Sure our world might just be spinning out of control, but does that mean I have to spin with it? I'm learning how to embrace a different rhythm and pace in my own life by pursuing three things:

1. Balance - I must choose to intentionally limit my options. There are a million good things going on in the world, but I don't want to do good things...I want to be a part of something great. I'm not about to pursue greatness if I'm too busy doing good. Therefore, I must intentionally choose to limit the amount of good opportunities that I embrace so that I have the ability to recognize and commitment to pursuing the great things that come my way.

2. Generosity - You want to be radical? Start living generously. Choose to put the development of others ahead of yourself. You will find something interesting takes will actually learn, grow and develop at a more expedited pace than if you were focused solely on your own personal well-being. You'll also create more joy through serving others than serving yourself.

3. Authenticity - Surround yourself with real people who will not only challenge you, but will also encourage you to be who you were designed to be. Our time on this planet is finite. Why waste it chasing after so-called friends who only view you as a commodity or a means to a desired end?

We might love our options, but no one ever said we had to. Instead of valuing and consuming more, maybe we might actually find a little peace through embracing a different paradigm for our lives?

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A Little Something from Psalm 8

 Had a lot of fun with this one.