The Secret to Happiness

Valentine’s Day seems like a good time to talk about relationships. And not just about the obvious stuff, like sending flowers, cooking gourmet, or stringing the perfect words together.

In 1938, the Grant Study, the longest study of human development, began following the lives of Harvard University men. In the 1970’s, it merged with a similar study that had begun in the 1940s but focused on less privileged young men from inner city Boston tenements.

Researchers periodically assessed the physical and emotional well-being of the study’s participants. This helped them determine the impact of social status and upbringing on personal happiness.

Robert Waldinger at TED

Robert Waldinger, a Harvard psychiatrist, took over the study in 2003 and shared his findings in a TED Talk he gave in 2015. So far, it’s gotten 13 million views.

Waldinger’s takeaway was clear: Those who maintain strong relationships, and not just romantic ones, are healthier and happier, regardless of their background or income. Relationships tend to buffer us from the “slings and arrows” of growing old.

On the other hand, brain function and overall health tends to deteriorate faster in those who isolate themselves, particularly by mid-life.

The results of the 75-year-old study indicate that a good life is more than wealth, fame, and career success. Turns out money really can’t buy happiness, though who among us wouldn’t like to try?

Waldinger’s findings include a caveat as well, one that speaks loudly to this generation. Casual relationships, such as those sustained only through social media, don’t provide the same outcome.

As I read Waldinger’s report, I realized that for some people, relationships are easier said than done. This is especially true for those who are relationally challenged, such as the extreme introvert or even the broken hearted whose pain prefers solitude.

Several years ago, I proved this theory when I found myself in the thick of depression. Reaching out to other people and fighting the complete preoccupation with self isn’t easy when you’re sad. But I knew I’d need to force myself to take the first step if I wanted to recover.

So, one day, I peeled myself off the couch and clicked onto our church website to see the list of service opportunities. Trust me, nothing sounded worse.

Still in my sweats, I remember the day I crept in the back door of the church and began stocking the shelves of the food pantry. It was easy. I didn’t have to think or speak to anyone.

Dry goods on the left. Perishables on the right.

As I drove home that day, I realized it wasn’t as bad as I had imagined. I could probably do it again next week. So I did. And little by little the tiny steps I took became a giant leap forward.

Without even trying, I had joined a group and made new friends. And the thing I learned about getting connected by volunteering or joining a club is that most people want to make a friend. I also learned that when it comes to relationships and our happiness, one step can change everything.

We weren’t meant to live alone, so get out there. Take that first step and get connected. According to the research, it’s worth the effort.

 

 

 

 

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A Political Weigh-In

As the political wrangling continues, it becomes more difficult to resist the urge to comment about online posts. Particularly posts from those whose dietary habits are extreme. Whether they gorge themselves on liberal propaganda or conservative, they regurgitate the same unpleasant aftertaste.

Most of us can see merit in both sides of any partisan argument and find it difficult to squeeze our size 10 sensibilities into size 2 ideologies. Not without political muffin-tops, anyway.

The divisions between the parties are mind-boggling. I’ll read posts and then check out the facts and think, “Wow, did they even listen to the interview they’re referencing?”

For years, I’ve heard conservative people criticize the media for being biased and liberal. Frankly, I’ve often found the arguments weak, but this election has been enlightening.

I’ve watched World News Tonight on ABC for years. Both Diane Sawyer and David Muir have had me reaching for a hanky with their Person of the Week. But as the presidential campaign began to heat up, I found it fascinating to watch the highly-evolved, open-minded Muir try to stay neutral. It wasn’t easy, even for this seasoned journalist.

No one would argue Trump has been clumsy and even caustic in his delivery. He’s avoided political correctness to a fault. But anyone paying attention would realize this is exactly what got him elected.

I forced myself to sit through Trump’s inaugural address. When he finished, FOX News pointed out his desire to “unite our country and create solutions” to problems we all see. MSNBC pointed out how “divisive and negative” Trump sounded.

Did they hear the same speech?

Unfortunately, this kind of polarized rhetoric is routine. Obama wanted to reform healthcare, so he was accused of being against the middle class. Trump doesn’t feel people who oppose abortion should have to pay for it, so he is accused of being against women and their reproductive health.

Really?

And it’s not just the media. Some of our political leaders need to be called out for stirring up even more trouble and division than there already is.

There were plenty of people unhappy when President Obama was elected. Disappointment happens every four years. But I didn’t see any of them staying home from school because the election results gave them a tummy ache.

I had hoped the election of our first African American president would lead to more racial harmony, which is not to say that uniting the country to one party is doable or desirable. As I’ve said before, the sound of two parties disagreeing should be music to our ears. It’s the wheels of democracy in motion.

But how can we walk the fine line between democracy and discrimination?

Should the owner of a restaurant be forced to make it a smoke-free zone when cigar chewers are the clientele he’s looking to attract? Should a conservative owner of a bakery be forced to make a gay couple’s wedding cake?

Why is this so difficult? Couldn’t non-smokers dine somewhere else? Couldn’t the gay couple find another bakery?

Time will tell, as it always does, whether or not this new administration can succeed. But in the meantime, what I really think we need is the ability to listen more and speak less, as the New Testament points out, at least until all the facts are in. We could use a healthy dose of grace to respect each other’s differences too, whether they’re PC or not.

And let’s face it, we’d all benefit from an intense weight-loss program. Something designed to help squeeze our full-figured opinions into an attractive one-size-fits-all label called, American.

 

 

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A Crisis of Faith

Kate Bowler-My new BFF

I have a brand new BFF. And though we’ve never met, I can tell you the moment our hands clasped.

Kate Bowler, a 35-year old wife, mother, and professor at Duke Divinity School, was diagnosed with critical cancer. Her article “Death, the Prosperity Gospel, and Me” first appeared in the New York Times last year, and after reading it I knew we were kindred spirits.

Ironically, she’d just completed a book entitled Blessed where she examines the connection between suffering and faith. As an author who has written about the topic of doubt myself, I’ve done my share of homework in this area as well.

I grew up in an evangelical home where love reigned supreme and where all my needs were met. I’ve never been abused, discriminated against, or lived as a refugee.

My parents were never fans of the prosperity doctrine or any other “Holy Ghost” movement. But as a student of history, I’ve seen how over the last 100 years this “health and wealth” doctrine has seeped into mainstream thinking, both secular and religious.

There is a huge disconnect between the God of the Bible and a culture that has shanghaied the message of Christ. We’re no longer made in the image of God. We’ve made God into our image. He is there to meet our every need, and we decide what those needs look like.

Bowler says, “The prosperity gospel popularized a Christian explanation for why some people make it and some do not. They revolutionized prayer as an instrument for getting God always to say “yes.” Follow these rules, and God will reward you, heal you, restore you.”

And the illusion of control is held onto until the very end, Bowler explains. “If a believer gets sick and dies, shame compounds the grief. Those who are loved and lost are just that — those who have lost the test of faith.”

This is the recipe for disillusionment.

People need a framework or a language they can use to make sense of suffering. Even before Kate Bowler was given her devastating diagnosis, as a Biblical scholar, she knew we’re never promised perfection this side of eternity. And while walking with God offers a kind of healing nothing can match, these frail frames are hardly God’s complete plan.

The Apostle Paul said it this way. “Though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:13).

I can’t “defend” God for His actions, but more to the point, He’s never asked me to. Nor has He explained why bad things happen to good people and why we’re able to mess things up the way we do. But He has shown me what grace looks like time and time again. He has offered a framework this skeptic could never conjure up on her own.

When asked how her prayer life has changed in the last months, Kate Bowler said, “Prayer has become radical dependence on the assumption that God will be there no matter what. It’s just been a radical revelation of His presence.”

The words of my new friend make sense to me. Because not only can adversity be extremely clarifying, sometimes it’s impossible to see God clearly any other way.

 

Check our Kate Bowler’s article in the New York Times.

Look for Permission to Doubt. Published by Kregel.

 

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My Money Blog

I may just be the single most unqualified person to talk about money.

When I was first asked to expand my speaking to include more corporate events, I thought, “What do I know of 401k plans and stock options?” Isn’t that what the corporate world is all about?

I quickly realized it wasn’t finances they wanted me to talk about. Good thing. I was never particularly good with money, and not because I spend too much. I don’t crave purses with labels or fine jewelry. It’s just that I’ve been known to be careless and leave paychecks unsigned for weeks or misplace twenty dollar bills.

Once, on vacation, I mislaid a hundred dollar bill. My husband looked at me and asked, “Who does that?” I said, “The one who told you she shouldn’t carry cash.”

I found it a couple days later stuffed in my favorite copy of Seventeenth Summer. It was written in 1942 and is my summertime staple. I knew money wasn’t high on my priority list when I was almost as excited to have found my book.

This disinterest in money, though, is hardly a badge of honor. It’s not because I’m so “spiritually minded’ or above appreciating nice things. I think it’s because I’ve never gone hungry or scrambled to make a house payment. I’ve had the luxury of working in non-profit while my husband has been the breadwinner.

However, when the bubble burst in 2007, the value of money became more real to me. Adversity is a great teacher. I had pulled back on speaking in order to write, so there was no income coming in there. We had two kids in college, and my husband worked in the building industry. Let the fun begin!

We survived, but I began to see money and finances in a new light.

Interestingly, in the New Testament, Jesus talks about money more than heaven and hell combined. He warns about it controlling us and instructs us to invest it in the lives of others. He’s actually been labeled a socialist more than once, particularly in a culture where the term socialism has become convoluted. These days we tend to equate it to a social conscience rather than images of the Gulag and Stalin.

Helping others is good. Jesus was all about that. But even he knew someone has to earn enough money to help those who can’t help themselves.

My eyes may have glazed over during my college Econ classes, but I did learn this much. At its worst, capitalism abuses the poor. But at its best, it promotes the kind of competition that makes economies grow. It’s what sustains those altruistic values.

John Maxwell is the Big Kahuna of corporate speaking. He’s also a bit of a role model for me because while he never worked a day in the corporate world, he’s become one of the world’s top corporate speakers. He began his career as a pastor, a leader, and a teacher. Then, one day, recognizing the power of time-tested principles, he dropped the “chapter and verse” and successfully brought those same principles to the world of business.

In my own way, I’m following his lead. As a leader and teacher with years of experience, I also believe in the timeless values of integrity, passion, and hard work. The corporate world is about much more than money, as important as that is. It’s about what goes on in our lives outside of our 9 to 5. It’s about relationships, transition, and perspective. It’s about what we bring to the table each day as we strive for the almighty dollar.

Look at me getting all fiscal. I may just have something to say about money after all.

Look for Permission to Doubt. Published by Kregel.

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Those Crazy Resolutions

How are those New Year’s resolutions coming? I heard someone describe them as a “to-do list” for the first week of January.

It’s discouraging when we tell ourselves things are going to change and they don’t.

One solution, of course, is to stop telling ourselves things will change. But since nothing worthwhile gets done without setting the bar a little higher than that, maybe we should consider another approach.

Our search for contentment is universal. We’re wired to pursue things that will bring us pleasure, and one way or another, those needs will get met. What separates us from the animals, though, especially full-figured ones like my Bloodhound, is our ability to make the healthier choice.

Figuring out why we struggle with discontentment is important too. And it’s different for everyone, beginning with our genepool. Some of us are just born more content than others.

When my son was little, I’d stick him in a stroller, hand him a cracker, and we’d spend hours walking through the mall. He’d amuse himself happily with the mirror in the fitting room while I tried on a growing pile of sun dresses.

But when my daughter came along, she wouldn’t stay in the stroller if her life depended on it…which it usually did by the end of our outing. I never knew why, and I’m not sure she did either, but like all discontented people, she just wanted out. Anyplace seemed better than where she was.

We didn’t see the mall for two years.

When my niece was pregnant for the first time, she did everything by the book. She watched her diet, exercised, avoided chemicals and stress. Nevertheless, her beautiful newborn spent what felt like the entire first year of her life crying.

There were theories–an underdeveloped digestive system, sensitivity to hot and cold, a full moon. But no one ever really knew why.

Then, just as things quieted down, my niece announced she was pregnant again. We all held our breath. But this time she said she’d be doing things differently. She’d let her hair down a bit and enjoy a juicy cheeseburger, some peanut M&M’S, and maybe even a glass of wine when the doctor said it was safe.

And call it a coincidence, but when that little guy came out, he was smiling–confirming the old adage… “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”

The point is, we can’t choose the propensities we’re born with or even the environments we grow up in. It’s what we do with these things that matters.

Long before the term “holistic” was trending on-line, the Apostle Paul spoke about the mind, body, spirit connection. Who knew he was a trend-setter?

He recognized the crazy-busy manic nature of life, even back then. So, in order to elevate our thinking, he referred to our lives as “a spiritual act of worship.”

This sounds clever, but it’s hard to feel spiritual when we’re chasing kids, paying bills, and lowering our cholesterol. It’s hard to feel “elevated” when we’re scrubbing toilets or sitting in rush-hour traffic.

But Paul seems to indicate that if we make the effort to set aside a few moments to think beyond the immediate demands of life, things can change. We will be “transformed by the renewing of our minds,” as he puts it in Romans 12.

Tapping into a Power Source bigger than our own is actually how we take things to the next level. It’s how we begin to see real change in our lives. It’s how we make those crazy resolutions stick.

 

 

Look for Permission to Doubt. Published by Kregel.

 

 

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Happy New Year, Earthlings

As you toasted the New Year, was your champagne glass half full or half empty?

Mine was mostly full.

OK, so it had grape juice in it, but that’s because I never developed a taste for anything harder…though it’s hardly for lack of trying. My wine drinking friends have made sure I’ve sampled the best. It’s just that by now they’ve pretty much given up on me as my shallow palate can’t seem to get past the stuff in the box.

But I think a new year is worth toasting. I like the idea of a clean slate. A new beginning.

I’m excited about finishing up a new manuscript and expanding my speaking to include more corporate events. But I also realize that the topic of my first book will continue to follow me around because it really struck a chord with people struggling with doubt.

Writing Permission to Doubt forced me to question why I believe the things I do too, which I think can be a very healthy exercise. I found myself letting go of some things and holding more tightly to others.

I learned that people believe the things they do for lots of reasons. I also discovered I possess an enormous amount of empathy…almost to a fault.

I genuinely care about other people’s opinions and how they got there. But empathy can get exhausting. Closemindedness requires much less brain power.

I loved researching atheists for the book, such as scientists Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins. Dawkins accuses believers of believing things because they were brought up to believe them. And I can see his point.

(Of course I can.)

But growing up in a Christian home had the reverse effect on me when I started asking questions. It seemed extremely narrow minded to think I should “just happen” to be born into a home with an edge on the truth.

Then I heard John Lennox. The brilliant Oxford Professor of Mathematics said, “Not everyone is exposed to the same high quality math programs, but that doesn’t make the laws of calculus any less true.”

Lennox recently responded to something physicist and fellow Cambridge graduate Stephen Hawking said. Hawking stated that perhaps the universe came from nothing. He calls it “spontaneous creation” and says that because of the “law of gravity” the world can create itself.

Lennox pointed out the contradictory nature of this statement since laws typically require a lawgiver. But since the time of Aristotle, the universe was believed to have existed forever. Then, in the 1960’s, scientists proved that, indeed, the universe did have a beginning.

Lennox said the leading members of the British scientific community wanted to keep the new information under wraps…lest the religious community gain too much leverage and get all preachy.

I do appreciate different opinions, and it fascinates me how brilliant scientists can interpret evidence so differently. Dawkins doesn’t believe in God, yet he thinks it’s possible our universe could have originated from some early extraterrestrial civilization. Highly advanced technologically, maybe they planted seeds that became life as we know it.

Really?

If that’s possible, then what prompts such a passionate unbelief in God? Is it intellectual? Is it emotional? Is it spiritual?

Maybe we did evolve from some alien life form. I do bear a striking resemblance to ET when I wake up in the morning. But if that’s true, then why am I still waiting for some “connection” like the one I have with the One who spoke to the woman at the well?

Like so many of us, she was thirsty. She was beaten down by a lifetime of bad breaks and bad choices. Yet there were no words of condemnation from Jesus. Just the promise of a cup that can be made completely full.

“Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst again” (John 4:14).  

 

 

Look for Permission to Doubt. Published by Kregel.

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Millennials in the Workplace

In a recent interview about millennials in the workplace, leadership consultant Simon Sinek addressed common complaints made about the generation born after 1984.

“Apparently,” Sinek said, “they’re tough to manage, narcissistic, self-interested, unfocused, and lazy. And because they’re confounding leadership so much, leaders are constantly asking millennials, “What do you want?””

Their response is precious.

“We want to work in a place with purpose.” (That’s good.) “We want to make an impact.” (Whatever that means.) “And we want free food and beanbags.”

But Sinek points out that even when a place with said purpose, free food, and beanbags is provided, millennials are still unhappy. Something’s missing.

Experts in the field of research and demography point to at least two glaring factors. Parents and Technology.

I can’t actually remember the first time I heard the term self-esteem. But it was thrown around a lot in the 80’s when I was in college studying education and child psychology.

“Kids need to be praised,” we were told. And it made sense. Studies showed that kids with high self-esteem did better in school and were less likely to get in trouble.

The problem is, it worked too well.

Journalist Joel Stein

Narcissism has had a field day, as Joel Stein points out in his TIME article on millennials. “It turns out that self-esteem is great for getting a job or hooking up at a bar but not so great for keeping a job or a relationship.”

But it was an honest mistake, according to Roy Baumeister, a psychology professor at Florida State. “The early findings showed that, indeed, kids with high self-esteem did better in school and were less likely to be in various kinds of trouble. It’s just that we’ve learned later that self-esteem is a result, not a cause.”

We’re much better off telling our kids we love them, says Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State. “When they’re little it seems cute to tell them they’re special or a princess or a rock star or whatever their T-shirt says. When they’re 14 it’s no longer cute”

Coddling kids and sheltering them from failure leads to disappointment when the real world doesn’t recognize how fantastic they are. And that’s a problem. Especially in the marketplace.

And technology hasn’t helped.

An entire generation has grown up finding their validation in Facebook Likes. Instead of building genuine relationships and learning from the intimacy that grows out of simple conversation, they present their best selves online and find it difficult to deal with the discomforts of reality.

Simon Sinek

According to Sinek, this is where leaders need to step up their game.

In Start with Why and Leaders Eat Last, Sinek takes an optimistic approach to team-building. Developing an atmosphere of trust begins at the top with leaders who are willing to be trustworthy and honest with their feedback.  It’s the “why” factor that motivates. Not simply the how and what.

From where I stand, millennials aren’t much different from the rest of us. We all need strong leadership. As the Proverb says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (22:6).

We all need correction when we’re veering off course and encouragement when we’re doing things right. We need structure and freedom. And maybe a few beanbags too.

 

 

 

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Doubt, Faith, and Christmastime (encore)

I think my husband secretly dreams of becoming one of the Alaskan Bush People. He loves those mountain man shows, and I think he’d do quite well leaving the business-world behind and surviving off the land. He might even consider taking me if I too could learn how to skin a 10-pound trout on the kitchen floor and teach my kids to get excited about fish eggs. (That episode was awesome.)

This is the time of year we often hear more about another young man who left everything behind to live in the wilderness. He was educated, comfortable, and well connected. Yet he chose to put aside creature comforts and wore animal hides sewn together and ate locusts dipped in honey.

His name was John. He was extraordinarily passionate and deeply committed to truth. Unaffected by the culture that swirled around him, it’s obvious he had a higher calling placed on his life. And for thousands of years John has been held up as a symbol of strength and clarity of faith leaving his mark on both biblical and non-biblical history.

First century historian Flavius Josephus refers to him as “John, that was called the Baptist” not because he belonged to a particular denomination, but rather because he used baptism as a symbol of new life.

What attracts me most about John is the paradox of doubt and faith in his life. As a prophet called to communicate God’s truth, John spoke with conviction, most notably against King Herod’s adulterous relationship with his brother’s wife. King Herod was intrigued by John and liked listening to him, but rather than receiving the truth, Herod threw John into prison. (Matthew 14)

While in prison, fueled by exhaustion and disillusionment, John’s faith was tested and he too struggled with doubt. From his miserable cell, he sent his messengers to Jesus and asked, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matt. 11:3).

John had boldly proclaimed the coming of Christ just days earlier. Now in chains, he barely recognized Him. Pain will do that.

To John, Jesus sent his disciples to bring him a powerful word of assurance: “Jesus replied, ‘Go back and report to John what you hear and see” (Matthew 11). What they heard and saw was a promise fulfilled. Centuries earlier, the Prophet Isaiah proclaimed the coming of Christ by saying, “They will call his name Immanuel”–which means, God with us (Isaiah 7:14).

The good news of Christmas is that the One who put us here has chosen not to remain aloof and disconnected. Life is hard, whether we live in the city or out in the wilderness. Bad things happen that leave us discouraged and in bondage. But the words of Jesus are meant to encourage us the way they did John so many years ago.

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

 

 

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John Glenn and Other Heroes

I love reading the Sunday paper the old-fashioned way.

I know it’s old-school, but there’s something about getting ink on my fingers. It makes the stories feel closer. More immediate. More detailed.

Getting the news digitally, the way I do the rest of the week, is much more up-to-the-moment, I realize.

But the Sunday paper is for savoring with hot coffee and cinnamon rolls. It’s for getting real thorough too. One creased page at a time. I linger over all sorts of things I wouldn’t if I were on-line. Like the obituaries. I set special time aside for them.

John Glenn

Last Sunday I read about the passing of John Glenn whose name has become synonymous with all-American hero. A devoted family man. A World War II combat veteran. The first man to orbit the moon. The boy-next-door good looks.

Impressive, for sure.

But it was the picture of the man next to Glenn that really caught my attention.

Adolf Burger was born into a Jewish family in 1917 in present-day Slovakia. He became a typesetter at the age of 14 and was arrested in 1942 for creating fake baptism certificates for Jews to help them avoid Nazi death camps.

Adolf Burger

Eventually, he was deported along with his wife and shipped to Auschwitz.

Burger said that when his wife was killed he knew he had two choices. He could grab the 1000 voltage barbed wire and end his life, or he could live to tell what the Nazis had done.

Ultimately, Burger’s life was spared as his skills were deemed “indispensable” to the German economy. He was forced by the Nazis to participate in “Operation Bernhard” and produce fake British pounds in an attempt to destabilize Britain.

Burger was liberated by the U.S. Army in 1945 and lived to tell his story. In 2007, “The Counterfeiters” went on to win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

As I sipped my steaming coffee and studied the faces of the two men before me, both heroes in their own right, I couldn’t help but notice the contrasts between them.

John Glenn was born into a comfortable Presbyterian family established by a father who owned a plumbing business. His early exposure to science led him to study engineering which nurtured an interest in aviation he was encouraged to explore.

Adolf Burger was born into a Jewish family in a predominantly German village during World War I. His dad died when he was four-years-old, and by the age of fourteen, as anti-Jewish laws began to take shape, Burger went to work as an apprentice with a local printer.

The contrasts between the two men were striking, and I wondered. What makes a person press on rather than give up when the cards seem so stacked against them?

And what about those cards? Do we deal our own hand or are they dealt for us?

Randy Pausch

I suspect it’s a little of both, as Randy Pausch pointed out in The Last Lecture. “We can’t change the cards we’re dealt, just how we play the game.”

Sometimes life feels so painfully unfair, it’s easy to turn away from God. Other times our pain becomes the cornerstone to unbelief itself. We see the mess all around us and struggle to reconcile a “good and powerful” God.

But what inspires me most are the people who reject choices one and two and opt for door number three. They don’t let God off the hook, so to speak, by embracing atheism or nurturing anger. Instead, they look Him straight in the eye and pursue purpose to their pain and solutions they’d never have pursued if life had remained easy.

That’s my story, I thought to myself as I folded the paper and realized I’d have to hurry if I wanted to make it to church. But in some ways it felt as if I’d already been.

The Sunday paper had caused me to stand at the altar and ask the tough questions once again. And in that quiet moment, with peaceful Christmas music coming from my Bose, the answers had come…once again.

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3).

 

 

 

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Teamwork!

Few things in life are more painful to me than running on a treadmill.boring-treadmill

It’s not the running itself, mind you. I’ve been an outdoor runner for a long time. It’s the tortuous boredom of the treadmill that does me in, even with an iPod in one hand and a channel changer in the other.

Nothing short of golf-sized hail can confine me to the task.

On one such day, several years ago, I was searching for diversion and landed on CNN where Prince Charles was preparing to deliver a speech. As he sauntered onto the stage and took the microphone, I doubted he’d provide the adrenaline rush I needed .

But just as I was about to change the channel, a young man flailing a handgun leapt onto the stage and headed toward him. He was immediately tackled by the secret service who’d been standing guard, and the entire episode was over in less than thirty seconds.

The media, however, continued to buzz.

One cameraman in particular caught my attention as the drama unfolded. cameramenI noticed that in his pursuit of the perfect shot he was backing up, too focused to check where he was stepping. He seemed unaware of the fact that he was inching ever closer to the edge of the stage.

I stopped my running for a second and waited to see the poor guy take the plunge.

Just then, as he was about to reach the point of no return, another man who was also wired up in headgear came up from behind him and placed his hands on the filming man’s waist. He gently guided him to safer footing, which allowed the cameraman to keep filming without looking away for even a second. He never missed a shot.

Impressive! Talk about your teamwork. It was poetry in motion.

Seriously, those two guys had no idea what was going to happen at work that morning when they grabbed their coffee and headed out the door. Yet, because of their commitment, the two functioned as one and successfully accomplished their common goal.

Imagine what people could accomplish if they’d work together like this in relationships, business, and politics. teamworkIf they’d commit to being each other’s eyes, hands, and feet for the good of the other.

Listening to the candidates go after each other throughout this campaign left us all feeling they had nothing in common. Not a shared goal between them.

But for those who actually waded through the mud, they saw something else. They saw Americans concerned about America and issues that concern us all. Healthcare, homeland security, the economy.

It was the solutions they couldn’t agree on. But I wonder what would happen if they’d take their cues from the two journalists from the treadmill.

If each of us would grab our cup of coffee in the morning and head out the door fully committed to working as a team, there’d be no end to our success. As Ecclesiastes puts it, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.”

It’s definitely worth a try. I’ll take mine black.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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