Are You Dreading a Divine Scolding?

The Hasidim have a tale about a rabbi named Meir
who used to worry that God would reproach him
in his final days and say, “Meir! Why did you not
become Meir?”  

~ Poet David Kirby, “Mr. Dithers Explains It All”

The problem I have – and this is part of leading a “workaround” life – is that I am painfully aware I did not become who I thought I would become.  I mean, seriously, this did not work out the way I envisioned it would, on SO many levels.

I’m pretty sure if I had another chance, I would skip over the pesky derailments and embarrassing failures.  I would try harder to orchestrate things so that my life was more honorable and certainly more significant – in my mind, I would be a “better” person, if I could do it all over.

Does that mean I have not “become Diane” and that I should expect a divine reproach someday?

I was talking to my brother the other day about how as parents we try so hard to protect our children, to keep them from making the same mistakes we made.  We want to spare them the pain and embarrassment we suffered, the setbacks and failures we brought on ourselves.  And if we’re honest, there’s a part of us that wants to correct our own screw-ups through our kids which is of course, impossible.  Maybe it’s a kind of redemption that we are trying to engineer for ourselves: a do-over through our children.

Wow, that is so NOT Biblical, but it is pretty common.  That hovering and overprotecting is where we get the term “helicopter parents”.

I think that desire to protect our sons and daughters comes from a good place, a tender heart-shaped place.  But my brother, wise sage that he is, reminded me that kids have to make their own mistakes and learn from them like we did so they can become who they are supposed to be.  He pointed out the application in my own life, how if I had done things differently, I wouldn’t be who I am now.  And then he observed that my life has turned out pretty well and I’m in a good place, so it’s not all bad.  (Thanks, bro.)

Yes, there are many things I would change if I could, but news flash:  It’s not going to happen.  This is my workaround life and it’s not perfect but, really, is anyone’s?

So about that divine reproach: I don’t think God is going to scold me for not becoming Diane.  I think perhaps He will reveal to me the many ways He creatively redeemed all those blunders and made me exactly who He knew I would become all along.

And I think He’s going to tell me again how wildly He loves me, just the way I am.

Are you living a workaround life?  Is there a part of you that has ever wondered whether God is going to berate you someday for not “turning out” better?  For not using your one and only life a little more wisely?  Your thoughts and comments are invited ~  

Smudge the Dog Weighs in on: FOCUS

If Smudge could talk, she would tell you there is nothing in the world right now except that tennis ball and the very real possibility that someone might kick it or throw it.  You could dump an ice chest full of Gatorade on her head like they do to the winning coaches at the end of a championship football game, and she would shake it off and be right back on her target.

She is never going to stop being focused; that’s just part of being a Jack Russell.

When I was first starting out in my career, someone called me “intense” and I heard it as a criticism.  It sounded like an annoying personal trait, like I had taken focused too far.   For years, I tried really, really hard to be laid back.

Wow, I’m just not.

I value clarity and I admit to being a bit of a perfectionist.  I like to be absolutely sure about things if at all possible.  I hate having to go back and correct mistakes and clean up messes when – if I had just been paying closer attention in the first place – I’d be moving forward, not backtracking because of a major derailment.  And I can be very hard on myself, can you tell?

Smudge?  Not so much.

She never worries about screwing up.  She never worries, period.  She is focused with anticipation, not fear.  She is expecting a good time, something positive.   She wants to play and let me tell you, she’s hard to ignore.

Ah, and if you engage with her, Smudge will be all in, chasing and retrieving that ball till it’s slimy and disgusting.  She’s really good at it, too, even at 15½ .  (If I had ever learned to throw a Frisbee, maybe I could have trained her to be truly competitive as a Frisbee dog.)

The game is over when she finally collapses in exhaustion, which doesn’t take nearly as long as it used to.  But here’s the thing – she never even pretends to be laid back; she simply throws her whole quivering self into whatever she’s doing.

That’s just who she is.

I can’t change my basic nature any more than Smudge can stop being a Jack Russell, but I can learn to pay attention to what is motivating my intensity (there, I said it) and if it’s negative, I can make a conscious effort to let it go.  Yes, I can relax.

“Relax” is a command Smudge has yet to learn.

What motivates you to focus?

Rats with Good PR

Trespasser in my yard this morning

Sometimes you can get away with being destructive and annoying, as long as you’re cute, have a fluffy tail . . . and good PR.  Squirrels are like that.  They are members of the rodent family, but they are from the better-looking side.

We tend to treat everyone – including wild animals – differently when they’re adorable.  

We see squirrels in our yards and trees, in our parks, on running paths, near our picnic tables, and we don’t freak out.  We’re amused by their lightning-fast antics.  Some people even toss them a scrap of food and encourage them to come closer.

It’s true that given a chance, they’ll raid your bird feeder and dig holes in places you wish they wouldn’t.  They sometimes get in your attic and have families up there, which is generally frowned upon.

But they’re frisky and furtive and they mainly keep their distance.  When they do come close, we’re not particularly threatened (unless your mother has warned you that “wild animals that act docile are probably rabid!”)

But put a rat the same size in the same locations and we’d be screaming our lungs out (and I, for one, would be googling the nearest exterminator).  We wouldn’t be encouraging them with food or thinking they’re precious.

It’s all in the packaging.

People can be like that.  They can look good on the outside and behave according to others’ expectations.  They can be industrious and well-behaved, even entertaining.  But maybe they’re not really like that on the inside.

Maybe we’re all rats; some of us just have better PR.

What do you think?