Is it Really Worth Getting Annoyed?

Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.  – Prov 12:16

Some days when I don’t know what to read, I go to the chapter in proverbs for the day of the month.  And today as with most days there is confirmed wisdom and subtle reminders of whom to live.  This one seemed to have a lightening bolt attached to it.  A jolting reminder with “Oh yeah!!!” qualities.  There was  a time not so long ago when I hear someone say, “People don’t MAKE you feel miserable, YOU make you feel miserable.” And with RADICAL fervent objection, I argued with myself and God about its truth.  Only to come to the all to startling realization… Yeah that’s true.

Why was I believing other people had the control or influence over me like that?  How was I allowing people to make me FEEL miserable?  And before I had even made it through the first day did I realize it began with the little annoyances.  I would start with the stupid drivers on the way to work, followed by the lazy people I worked with, interrupted by the selfish friends I had, and topped it off by the rude people I lived with.  (HORRIBLE overgeneralizations I agree as well, because life really isn’t that bad and people really aren’t that awful.)  But it was so easy to come to those beliefs just by a few actions that people said, did, expressed, or didn’t do in connection with my world that I would spiral down into a pit of anger and frustration without even blinking.

So what can I do? Surround myself with better people, change my outlook, move to another state to start fresh?  But what if I could CHOOSE to NOT let others frustrate me, not allow the things I don’t like bother me, or not feel people’s actions as an intentional affront to my goals. I didn’t think it was possible, I didn’t think it was changeable, I didn’t believe there was a way I could reprogram my mind and emotions… but I was wrong.

Upon reflection of my life I have noticed: I have changed a lot.  I have grown a lot.  I have overcome a lot.  And there was a huge credit to many people who coached me, taught me, mentored me… but what I have forgotten is that I let them in.  I let them change my way of thinking and operating.  I told myself I could do things differently, I could do things better, I could do things RIGHT.  So even though I may not have known HOW I did it… I did it all the same.

So this time I tried to change my mental thinking: whenever something would irritate me, I would talk myself out of being irritated.  Who knew words from the inside to the inside could be so powerful.  They could have such an effect.  That just telling myself this annoyance wasn’t really annoying me THAT bad, or that in the grand scheme of life what does it matter that I didn’t like how someone did that, or ever What does it matter to me that they are doing it WRONG?  Just to name a few of the mental challenges…

And amazingly enough it was fruitful.  I found my frustrations lessening, my annoyances reducing, and my stress level falling.  So this verse just reminded me that I can choose the way of the prudent and overlook insults.  I can choose the way of the wise and believe I can be changed from the inside out.  There is hope that growth still occurs, change is still possible… this dog can still learn a few tricks.

Advertisements

That wasn’t me… Or Was it?

I reconnected with a friend of mine over a year ago and while we were at coffee he was retelling a story from an afternoon conversation we had in my back yard oh so LONG ago.  He spoke of my incredible faith and the confidence in which I spoke it.  The conversation was about worry and the future and what to do about both.  He says my response stays with him still today, “If I lose my job, God will provide another.  If I can’t teach anymore, God will show me what is next.”  Simple, confident and full of zeal those words seemed to me. So contrary to where I was in my life at this time, I asked him if he was sure that was me?  I mean there were a lot of Christina’s in the group back then, “Are you sure that was me?” He was POSITIVE he promised, that it was me.  He even gave detailed account of where we were sitting and the sunshine day that it was. 

Even though I politely, accepted his recount of the events; I still drove away thinking, “That couldn’t have been me.  I am sure he must have been talking with that other Christina. That just doesn’t sound like me.  It doesn’t sound like words I would say.  It definitely could not have been how I was feeling, because I don’t ever remember feeling that certain about anything.” 

As I retold the story to a few of my friends who still knew me from back then, one dear friend reminded me, “Yes that sounds like you.  Yes that is something you would have said back then.  I remember how you talked to us about God and life and everything.  Yes that was something you would have said.”  So here I was in quite the quandary.  I believed I had a very good grasp on my memories of things: me, places, people, ideas, etc.  But now I was having to try to reconcile my memories with his AND her memories of me.  I would have NEVER dreamed my idea of the past would be so different from others. 

This started to remind me of how much my life had changed from those days.  How when I moved to Seattle my world fell apart: my “family” went away, I experienced the “crisis of faith”, my friends disappeared, the confidence I once oozed out of my pores had evaporated from my soul, and I couldn’t build new real friendships in this strange silly place.  Who would have thought a simple move 3 hours north of my whole WORLD, would have brought such chaos and disaster into my emotional, social, spiritual, and physical life.  But it did.  And the consequences are still ever-present in my life today. 

As I was leaving that meeting with my friend I took a quick inventory of my life: relationship with God, Faith, Church, and the like and it was immediately clear to me, “I am never going to get back there.”  Back to that place where I had that faith and confidence in God like I use to.  That my WHOLE spiritual life would never return to a simpler, safer, securer time as I had back then. 

Then I signed up for CAMP – Royal Family Kids Camp – Tualatin.  The details and background on this are soon to come, but fast forwarding to a week after camp and I am talking with a friend on the phone.  And it happens, right there as natural as it was 15 years ago.  The statement of faith… “If that happens then God will just have to take care of the details.” And in a moment I was transported back in time to a place I had lost.  And through the shame, guilt, sadness, hurt, and despair, I had returned back to a confident place of faith that I thought was gone FOREVER.  And in that moment I realized that comment that was said so long ago… was me.  And now in this next step and in this next moments, it IS ME.

The New Way

Maybe it isn’t that I want to do things the wrong way, in complete rebellion of everything that has come before.  Maybe it is just a desire and want to find some thing new. 

I have been in my job for 8 years, so you can say that I have been here for a smidge of time.  When I arrived there were no printed training materials: training guides, quick reference guides, checklists, practice pages, or activities to assist with the technical software training my team does.  And even more surprisingly, no one was interested in creating them or even using them.  I can’t help but have flashbacks to the book “Telling Ain’t Training” in some of my initial debates and “discussions” I had with my co-workers.  So in my region I started to develop ALL of these things to be used in my new hire training.  It was based on a small sampling of training industry norms, but the rest was developed out of practice.  Watching a learner move through the process and seeing the things that hung them up, as well as the unforseen side effects of using some customers vs others; not to mention finding those PERFECT situations to demonstration real world situations. 

So fast forward 4 years and most of that trial and error is finished, and I am fairly proud of my materials that I have created and implemented.  No one else wants to use it, but I feel confident in its succesful application in my region.  I have had many of the immeasurable responses from my managers, employees, and support staff; so YES it worked.  But now I’m bored.  I find myself dreading the hiring of a new person in my region, because I have perfected this process so much it is the same thing EVERY TIME!!! I tell the same jokes, refer to the same stories, anticipate participants reactions (even when I cannot see them because we are training online), and have them experience the same learning patterns of the users.  But like I said, I am bored.  So I could rewrite them, or use different stories, new customers, but that’s a lot of work… why mess with perfection, RIGHT? 

Yet this reminds me of those itches I use to get when I would walk in my bedroom as a youth.  I was unsettled, discontented, restless with this unresolved angst I just couldn’t explain.  I didn’t have an option to change rooms, but I COULD rearrange my room, a little.  SO that is what I did: posters on the ceiling, shelves in a different corner, desk on a different wall, you name it I rearranged it.  This carried on into early adulthood in college, my first apartment, and beyond. And as soon as the EXHAUSTIVE rework was DONE, FINALLY… I would be at peace. At least for the next 6 months or so.  *wink, wink*

Many times the designs were not made according to the most efficient use of space, or the best way to keep things clean.  It was simply a matter of KNOWING it was different, new, unfamiliar.  It brought about a sense of accomplishment and pride for having an idea and bringing it to life.  And at times it resulted in me staring at something crooked for MONTHS asking myself WHY OH WHY did I put that there? 

So maybe that is how I see life.  I see the pathways that people have travelled before and I value and appreciate the effort and the experience they had in figuring it out.  But I want the thrill and excitement of blazing my own trail, of finding my own method, or discovering the do’s and don’ts along the path.  Is it because I like doing things wrong, or is it just because I like to experience something new?  Either way I am beginning to take comfort in the fact that just because I have a different way of doing something doesn’t mean its wrong, it just means its the way I wanted to go to get there.

Hope – Its not just Fluffy

The beginning of the bolder being moved into change in my life started with FPU – Financial Peace University.  Something about the way Dave Ramsey – say things – Straight, Direct, No Excuse, Funny, with No Apology.  It got me moving.  I am on a plan, I am paying things off and making slow progress, but its is progress.  I only have 3 more years on my debt.  10 year on the student loan.  BUT I am on the road.  This started Spring 2008. 

Then I started on Medifast: Food plan that has gotten me to lose 85lbs so far (July 2010) so far.  But the biggest effect it has had is my perspective on food and the constant emotional struggle and fight I have with myself about control.  It really REALLY comes down to this one area I don’t want to surrender.  I am fighting with myself everyday these days.  But I started to start over every day.  I know this is the right plan and it is working out the character of my real life, who I really want to be.  This started July 2009. 

Even in my season of getting mad and fighting through the feelings of despair and hopelessness, I did not realize how the hope of success carried me.  It wasn’t just a delicate doily in my pocket that I waved in the air.  It was this Marble Pillar I grabbed hold of with all my might and pushed and pulled and wrapped my arms around because I knew what I knew what I knew that this was the future.  This WILL be my success, my HOPE that i would make those daily choices to allow me to keep hold of this victory became the sword that I wielded against every little thought that would attempt to pull me away from my goal.

More than Fuffy

NEW DAY
NEW BEHAVIOR
NEW RESOLVE
NEW DEDICATION!!!!!!!!!!

This is just as important this year as last year.  It means JUST as much to me this year as last year.  It took me almost 2 years to get the Dave Ramsey stuff on track… WHY would the food struggle be any easier. 
 
Behavior change affect the attitude change. The same goes for motivation and achievement. It seems if we are just motivated we will achieve our goals. However, it is just the opposite…motivation comes from achievement. The more you achieve the more you will be motivated.

To me that is such the complete opposite of everything I remember hearing.  I remember voices saying just be disciplined, make the sacrifice, be uncomfortable, make the choice.  And as much as I am realizing there is definitely a place for each of those thoughts and attitudes.  I can definitely agree with a standing ovation in the cheering section, that when I achieve something, no matter how small how insignificant to the rest of the world; I AM MOTIVATED!!!!

I still do battle with the worthlessness, I still hear the voices of self-doubt and I still rebel against what is good for me.  But when I see the achievements, when I feel the improvement, when I KNOW what I know WHAT I KNOW that I have accomplished, achieved, even MASTERED something in ANY way.  My motivation is stronger.  My drive has returned.  My Hope is Brilliant and Glowing. 

It’s no wonder that I have 5 different songs on my iPod at the moment ALL by different artists with the theme of: It’s a brand new day, New Day, New perspective, New pathway, New Challenge to inspire my psyche as I spend more hours than I care to count in my car. 🙂

Change – Is it for Everyone?

Somewhere in the Christian walk I find myself getting exhausted, overwhelmed, under pressure, and seemingly stranded in quick sand.  With each new day and each new lesson, I find myself thinking GREAT!!! Just one more thing wrong with me.  Just one more thing I have to fix.  Just one more way in which I suck.  Now it isn’t nearly THAT bad, but some days it sure does feel that way. 

I want to be a good person.  I want to do what the Bible says.  I want to follow God’s leading.  But some days it just feels like when I hear teachings and sermons and read the bible all I end up doing is tossing one more ball in the air to juggle.  And I don’t know if you know this… but I am not a juggler.  My friend Brent in college was a great juggler and I would always watch in awe as he could juggle just about anything and would try on a regular basis.  But the first couple times I would try and throw those couple of easy (designed for juggling) balls in the air they would almost drop instantly, once I added that 3rd ball. 

Now in life, I have been known for having 6 IM (instant messages) running at the one time.  I have been a director for a musical holiday production, for those of you who don’t know: dress rehearsals are a GIANT juggling act, between final run through, sound tech cues, lighting steps, costuming decisions, final character corrections, and scenery improvements – yeah that’s just the BIG STUFF.  I can watch tv, make dinner, bake brownies, have a conversation with a roommate, and check my emails all at the same time.  Just last night I was sitting at the dining room table with a 1/2 dozen people and while I was telling one gal right next to me a story; I interjected a comment or correcting statement into the other conversation the other 5 people were having (for some reason they thought that was impressive).  So for me, multi-tasking or coordinating multiple things all at the same time is just the WAY I do life. 

So when I think about all these things in my emotional life or spiritual life that need changing or improving all I can think of: I can’t do ONE MORE THING!!! I’m already doing _____ and ____ and ____ and ____ there isn’t anymore room or energy for just one more (now I could copy and paste those blanks for at least 4 more times).  So I believe that improving and changing is a definite part of life, a necessary part of our growth and improvement as Christians; but I can get overwhelmed to the point that I just say NEVER MIND… and toss the whole thing in the trash.  Then the next morning I take it out dust it off and start working on it again. 

But I was thinking the other day that a friend of mine really hasn’t changed AT ALL  in the last 15 years (ok maybe 20), but we are friends and I like him as a pal.  I know he has unhealth and dysfunction in how he deals with certain areas of life and some relationships in his life.  Yet I don’t challenge him to change.  I don’t ask those deep and probing questions into his personal life that would nudge him to change.  I don’t even think I have brought up to him those things I think he is bad at.  So why is that? 

There are sooooo many other people in my life that I am in a constant tug of war with about what they need to change and what they need to improve.  But with him I do not feel the same compulsion or nudge.  Why is that? 

His dysfunction doesn’t affect me directly and I have not be a direct witness to the harm his behavior causes.  So is that the reason I have not confronted him about it?  Is that why I excuse it and seem to ignore it? While others in my life at church act in unhealthy destructive behaviors, I can’t help but comment.  I see them so stuck in their own ways it drives me CRAZY that they don’t see the error of their ways and CHANGE!!! I am pushed to challenge them to change.  So why the double standard?  Why am I so passionate about growth and change for some bur not for ALL?

Why can some people continue in their unhealth, dysfunction, and selfishness, but we love and accept them ANYWAY: while OTHERS if  we do not see change or progress we become dissatisfied, distant, and even disgusted with their behaviors, personhood, and character?