Last week was decidedly not a routine one. And I am one of those who loves a good solid routine. So comforting, the familiar ebb and flow of daily tasks done with a sense of peaceful appreciation.
A long-time friend of mine once said to me, "Marsha, you and I have lived enough trauma / drama to last us both a lifetime."
She spoke the truth, despite the fact that at the time we were both still in our late thirties. It had been a tough decade for us both. She had become a premature widow, I had sustained multiple losses; and we were both more than a little road-weary.
To her observation I responded, "So true. I am ready for about five straight years of monotony." We both laughed, but it was rueful laughter.
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I now think we must first travel a little further along what is called the "time / life continuum" before we realize that nearly everyone has a good deal of trauma / drama to deal with. Some encounter it sooner than others; but it always seems to show up eventually.
This week I attended the memorial service for a former colleague of mine. It was not just called a "celebration of life" - it actually was one. Another friend said to me as we exited the church where it was held, "Now I feel like I have been to church!" And she said it with a genuine grin.
The woman whose home-going we celebrated had left her loved ones much too soon; but oh, what a legacy of love, laughter and inspiration she had left with them. Her life and influence was variously described as "transparent, honest, occasionally stern, always straightforward, laughter-filled" etc. There were eulogies from at least three different generations, and all seemed equally glad to have known her.
Clearly her life had been one that attracted others to her.
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Sunday I was sitting in a pew singing a hymn with which I was unfamiliar. It was not my home church, and thus I was paying close attention to the order of the service, the songs being sung, and to the homily as it was delivered. All were uplifting. But one song in particular struck a chord with me.
It was called "The Summons" and the lyrics included the question, "Does my life attract or scare?"
As some modern preachers might say, "Now we need to unpack this." Indeed. There is so much potential baggage, misunderstanding, and self-recrimination in that question that we could easily become discouraged with our efforts to be a positive example to anyone at all.
That is just when we need to remind ourselves that Christ's example is the only perfect one. And Jesus did both. His life attracted the multitudes in some cases - but it also scared the bewillikers (that's a technical theological term) out of many of his listeners.
We can, after all, be attracting people for the wrong reasons; just as we can scare people for the right reasons. What?
Here is what I am getting at: if we attract others to our life because we are closely following Christ's example, that is wonderful. If we are attracting people to us simply because we are clever, or manipulative, that is not good.
If we scare others because we are rigid, self-righteous, know-it-alls, well, common sense tells us we will quickly have very few people in our lives. But if we scare someone off now and then because they are uncomfortable with our efforts to follow Christ as closely as we can - perhaps that is a case of "no good deed goes unpunished."
In such an event I suspect God may be pleased with us. So I ask myself today, does my life attract or scare? Hopefully both, for the right reasons, at the right times, and in the right ways.
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How about you? Are you attracting people to your example or scaring them away? Perhaps a little of both? No one said life was simple, or if they did - they clearly didn't know what they were talking about. Just saying ...
Looking forward to a routine week. Until next time, Marsha