Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Hardest Lesson in Life

Okay, I know that there are probably harder lessons than this. Or that there are lessons just as hard as this one. Living life is not for the faint of heart. But for the sake of a good title, just go with it, okay?

The hardest lesson in life is to accept that other people make choices that are different than yours. Most of the time those choices have nothing to do with you; they are simply the choices that the person wants to make, according to their preferences and ideas about how to best live their life. But it's really hard not to watch people you respect make a choice that is different than yours and then feel peace about the choices YOU have made.

I've spent too much of my life taking other people's choices personally. As if they made their choice because they looked at my life and thought "Ugh, Tori is an idiot. I'll show her by doing it this way." This feeling has been amplified and exacerbated by parenthood, as I watch people make different choices for their kids. I've spent hours wondering why that choice works for them, or why the choices I've made don't work for them.

And then every four years or two years or October/November (depending on your interest level) election season rolls around and you are once again faced with the very real fact that people you know make very different choices than you do. But how can they, you wonder. Isn't my choice the right choice?  Who is wrong, me or them?

Unfortunately for this Likes to Have Her Ducks in a Row Beaver the answer is both. Neither. Neither are right or wrong or better or worse. It's just a choice. Both have their pros and cons, their benefits and detriments. Much of life does not fall into Absolute Truth, so you just have to go with what you think is best and let go of the outcome. Choose to sit back and let it play out and determine to do your best with what happens. It's a hard lesson.

On a related note, I did want to just put out in the world that it really does matter how you talk about your choice. You could tout your choice as the Only. You could brag about the moral high ground you've taken with your choice. Or you can just make it and move on. Part of the reason that this election is so hard is because everyone is clamoring to be correct. They might try to sugar coat their words by using the disclaimer "You do what you feel is best BUT I'm doing this." There is always a but. And whether you want it to or not, people read into that "but" and hear "you've made the wrong choice." And most people can't handle being told they've made the wrong choice and fight back. So much fighting.

Go ahead. Make your choice. Remember that most people aren't thinking about YOU when they make their choice. And just like you want the grace to make the choice that works best for you, give others the grace to make the choice that works best for them. Variety is the spice of life, eh?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Why Donald Trump Will Be Elected President

The majority of America is shaking their heads. They are sick to their stomachs. They are watching a terrible car wreck happen before their eyes and they are powerless to stop it. I am, of course, referring to the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump.

The crazy thing is, he is currently winning. He is winning because a very small group of people have banded together to vote him through. The rational side of America is completely divided, so their votes are being spread out, when they could band together and put this horror show to an end. But you know why this won't happen and Trump will win? Because of pride.

Trump supporters are so filled with pride that they will never admit that actually having Donald Trump for a president is a bad idea. They've made it known that they like his refusal to bow to political correctness, and they can't go back on that now. Because that would require humility, the ability to admit that they were wrong. Never mind that having someone who funds his own campaign is actually NOT a good thing, since that means he literally does not have to care what the American people think once he's elected. He is not swayed by anyone, because he answers only to himself. I guess that's okay in the business world, but the President of the United States? The one person who stands up to the world on behalf of all American citizens? Not a good idea. But now plenty of people have written and posted about the foolishness of the Trump supporters, which is only making them hold tighter to their choice. Like a toddler who has been told not to touch something, they are compelled to do it because no one is the boss of them.

But it's not just them that are filled with pride. It's the rest of America too. The rest of us want to be liked so badly that for the past year or so we've proudly declared, "Ugh, I hate all these candidates, but if I have to choose, then I'll go with this guy." So we've undermined all the decent candidates with that one caveat. We want our peers to like us, so we talk about how much we don't really like the other guy in an effort to bond with them.

You know what, America? WE KNOW. We all can agree on how much we dislike politicians. The very ones that we vote into office to take care of our country. Now that we all know, can we stop talking about it? It doesn't have to be brought up ever again. This whole election cycle will be much more productive if we can just focus on the fact that a.) these people are HUMAN, just like you, and will make mistakes, and b.) none of them will save us and make our country a utopia. That's not really their job. And if we're expecting them to be amazing, perfect superheros, then yes, we're going to be disappointed. You badmouthing the very people who are the better choice is going to be the reason that Donald Trump will be inaugurated in less than a year.

In my dream world, the current candidates would also put aside their pride. I wish either Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio would drop out. Either one. If we could combine their support into one candidate, this Trump nightmare will be over. But I'm afraid we've already passed the point of no return on that one. Or we're very quickly approaching it.

Like in most areas of life, our pride and willingness to tear down other human beings is what is going to get us a flip-flopping, reality star as a president. Lord, have mercy on our nation.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Real Life Ecclesiastes

I've having a personal crisis of the Ecclesiastes variety for the past six months or so. You know, "Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is meaningless!" It's been brought on for a variety of reasons.

First, we've taken to watching Naked and Afraid on the Discovery channel. It's such a fascinating show. But the differences between the two people are always so perplexing. Both are very interested and knowledgeable about survival. But obviously the stress of the situation takes its toll. And what gets me the most is when they do their personal interviews, complaining about their partner and what they are or are not doing. One person will place a high value on searching out protein sources, and the other might value a well built shelter to protect them from the elements. But neither can understand why the other wants to spend all their time doing the thing they think is less important. When really, they're both right. They both compliment each other. But they don't know that.

And second, I have found myself living in an area where I am in the political minority. This is surprising to me, because clearly I never intended to. Honestly I can probably thank gerrymandering for that, but it's true. For almost the past decade, I've been on the losing side of almost every election. It totally sucks. I know those who scored their victory last night feel completely validated and I would have too, if the outcome had been the one I voted for. So am I blinded about how that opposing viewpoint can compliment my life? Can it compliment my life, or am I stuck just sucking it up at best, or hoping their decisions crash and burn at worst?

Even among believers there is so much disunity. Everyone feels their view point is right. The correct view point. The way God has asked us to live. And often they are able to justify their view or actions because they feel the Lord has told them to. I can't doubt or argue with what God has told them to do. But sometimes their actions hurt or disappoint others, so where does that leave the disappointed party? Were they not listening to God?

I admit that I'm a pretty black and white person. I have the hardest time understanding how one thing can be right for someone, but something else completely different is right for another person. It's a wonder we can all live together. Everyone is fighting for what they believe is right. And maybe we're all right about whatever it is we are burdened for. But then why all the fighting and pulling and urging to join our side?


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Girl Chaser

A garbage collector in a library with an envelope

Jared scratched his head and sighed. This was way beyond the call of duty. But the girl who lived in that house was cute, and he saw her drop that envelope as she was getting into her car. He finally spotted her at one of the computers. He quietly walked over to her.

"Um, Courtney?" he whispered. She whipped her head around.

"You, um, dropped this. I mean, I saw you drop it and I thought you might need it, so..." Jared fumbled with the envelope and then held it out.

"You saw me drop it?" she asked, clearly skeptical.

"Well, yeah. I was on my route and I was a few houses down and saw you get in your car and drop this, so I got it," he said.

"And then you followed me here?"

Jared felt his face turn bright red. "Gosh, yeah. I'm sorry. It was so stupid." He turned and hurried out of the library as fast as he could.

What was he thinking? Most girls did not want to talk to him much longer after they found out that he was a garbage collector. Courtney would be the same. Whatever. No matter what, it was right that he brought her the envelope. Even if it wasn't important, he had his integrity. He hurried to the garbage truck parked at the far end of the lot.

"Hey!!" someone shouted. He turned and saw Courtney running through the parking lot.

"What's your name?"

His heart lifted.

Monday, October 12, 2015

No Good Deed

She held the $100 bill firmly with both hands, but gently so she wouldn't wrinkle it. Her heart began to pound.

Courtney felt excited and sad all at once. She had never held this much money at once. And on the other hand, she wished she had stumbled upon it just a few minutes later. If she had taken her time putting on her coat she wouldn't have seen the elderly woman drop it, the very one getting into the backseat of a car just 20 feet away. But because she knew who dropped it, she knew what she had to do.

"Ma'am!" Courtney shouted, running to catch the door just before it closed.

"Oh my!" gasped the woman. "Me?"

"Yes, ma'am," Courtney replied. "I saw this fall out of your bag just a minute ago." She held out the precious bill.

"Goodness!" the woman exclaimed. "Well, that would have caused a wrinkle in my day!" Courtney smiled and took a step back.

"Thank you, sweetheart!" the woman called out as she closed her door. Courtney smiled again, waved as the car pulled away, then sighed. In the movies the woman would have been so grateful that she would have given Courtney the money. Or at least offered a reward or something. But real life didn't always work out like that.

Courtney turned and hurried up the street. A quick glance at her watch told her she was late. Again. Which probably meant that she would be fired. Her boss had told her she was out of chances, and ironically she had used the "helping an old lady" excuse two weeks ago when she had simply lost track of time reading a book. She felt her stomach clench as she wished she had kept that money. The lady wouldn't have noticed. No one would have noticed. And if she had enough money to pay someone to drive her around, then surely she would have recovered from that loss just fine.

Courtney shook her head. She used to think stuff like that all the time. But since her life-changing decision, she decided that the right thing to do was the right thing to do, no matter what it cost her. She just had to face the music, then figure out the next step from there.

She could do this.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Roadside Assistance

She giggled as she stared at her flat tire.  The mishaps of this day were becoming epic of comical proportions.  Should she try and change it herself or just start walking?

Taylor stretched her neck and took off her rings, carefully putting them into her pocket. The first time she had ever changed a tire, back in driver's ed, she had squished her rings out of shape trying to get the bolts off the tires. She could do this. It would make a great story, right?
She popped the trunk of her car and started digging around in the trunk, looking for what she needed. She found the spare tire under the upholstery and the tire iron, but she could not for the life of her find the jack.

"Yep! That's about right," Taylor muttered. She leaned further into the trunk.

"Need some help?" a voice said behind her. Taylor shrieked and bumped her head on the lid of the trunk.

"Ow!" she yelped.

"Oh, I'm sorry! I didn't mean to scare you!" Taylor whipped around to see a police officer standing near her.

"You didn't! Oh, um, I mean, that's okay," Taylor stammered. She became flustered as she realized how attractive he was.

"This is a busy road. Can I help?" the officer repeated. Taylor sighed.

"Yes, please. I can't find my car jack. I mean, I could do this myself if I had a jack. Do you have one I could borrow?" 

"Sure," said the officer. "And you can borrow my muscles too. I know how hard it is to get those bolts off those tires." The officer walked around to the trunk of his cruiser while Taylor tried to calm her racing heart. It's a good thing she was young. Being shocked by the pop of her tire and being scared out of her wits by a silent cop were enough to put her 26-year-old heart to the test.

"Here we go! Let me call this in and then we'll get to work," the officer said.

"Call it in?" Taylor asked. Her heart began to race again. Was it illegal to have a flat tire? She had never even gotten a speeding ticket!

"Just so they know where I am and what I'm doing," the officer said. Taylor felt foolish for her almost freak out. She should be freaked out that she was standing next to her car on the side of the busy highway, not freaked out that some nice cop was helping her.

"My name is Matthew Price, by the way," the officer said.

"Oh, right. I'm Taylor," Taylor replied.

"Okay Taylor. Get ready to time me. I'm a whiz at this," Officer Price said. Taylor laughed. She hoped it would take him a little longer than expected because she was beginning to enjoy herself.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Chicken Surprise

All the pieces were in place.  He knew she was embarrassed about what had happened, but he hoped this grand gesture would make it up to her.  Or at least make her laugh.  He watched her walk into the park.  He pulled on the chicken head and yelled, “NOW!”

The two guys casually sitting on the bench jumped up and started beat boxing. Three more guys popped out from behind the huge tree and began to sing Hard to Say I'm Sorry by Chicago. Rachel stopped short, clutching her purse to her chest, eyes wide, as the guys approached her. Seth waited for just the right moment.

"After all that we've been through..." Seth sang. People in the park began to stop and pull out their phones, capturing the spectacle. Seth could tell she was totally confused, so he took off the chicken head and dropped to his knees, singing the whole time. Rachel burst out laughing and Seth felt so relieved. They finished the song and everyone started clapping.

"Seth! You weirdo!" Rachel yelled. Seth grabbed her hand with both of his feathery covered chicken costumed hands.

"Rachel! I'm sorry I acted like such a goob the other night. Will you forgive me?" Seth asked. Rachel looked around at the crowd that had gathered and then back at Seth.

"Well, how can I not? Of course!" she said. The crowd cheered. Seth jumped up and lead her over to the bench.

"Seriously, Rachel. You just caught me off guard. I know that was really hard for you to say, and I'm so sorry I made you feel embarrassed," he said.  Rachel looked down at her hands.

"No, I'm sorry. I mean, I meant what I said, but I should have never sprung it on you like that," she replied.

"I hope you can see, by this stupid chicken costume, that I love you too," Seth said, bending his head so he could look into her eyes. He felt some dismay as he watched them fill with tears.

"You wouldn't lie to me, right? I mean, you wouldn't just say it because I said it first and that's what people have to say?" Rachel said softly.

"I would not lie to you about this," Seth said solemnly. "The truth is, I've never said it anyone. And I had to be sure. And I was sure the minute you drove away looking so sad. I hope I never make you that sad again."

Rachel bit her lip and grinned. Then she started laughing really hard.

"Where on earth did you find that chicken costume?" she gasped.