Posts Tagged ‘flaw

12
Oct
20

Pointing It Out

Sometimes, I really appreciate it.

Like, for instance, when we are out dining with friends and Joan sees a big blob of spaghetti sauce on my chin and then signals me – using that secret sign language couples develop over time – to reach up and wipe it off. 

At other times… OK, I’ll own it; MOST other times… I am much less enthusiastic about having my flaws pointed out by someone else. 

I would much prefer to go through life clinging to the belief that I am possessed of an unerring ability to reflect and correct, all by myself. 

I mean, what the heck! I’m a WRITER, for crying out loud! I spend a lot of time trotting out a sentence, stepping back and eyeing it dispassionately, finding all of its flaws, errors in syntax, grammar, and construction, and then fixing it! 

Why shouldn’t I be perfectly capable of doing the same thing with all of the other parts of my life? I mean, why do I need Joan – or ANYONE, for that matter – to point my defects out to me? I’ll find them and fix them myself, thank you very much!

Wouldn’t we all prefer to believe that we have the same kind of internal GPS system our cell phones are equipped with? You know, the one that sees a traffic jam up ahead, plots a new course, and then calmly, confidently tells us, “Rerouting!”

Sadly, that is not the nature of the world we live in. All of us – even the super-attuned ones among us – need the loving correction of a pair of eyes that belong to someone else. 

Even when… maybe especially when… that correction stings a little. 

A wise Chinese philosopher once said, “Do not correct a fool or he will hate you. Correct a wise man and he will appreciate you.” 

Or, as our hero, Jesus the Christ, once famously said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:32, NRSV). 

Of course, our willingness to receive correction has a lot to do with the manner in which it is offered. Oddly enough, I did not immediately say, “Thank you!” to the guy who blew his horn at me and helpfully suggested I should, “LEARN HOW TO DRIVE, MORON!!”

But our response to correction probably has a lot more to do with our willingness to receive it. Do we fear correction? Do we see it as a condemnation or rejection? Or do we see it as a compassionate act, motivated by another person’s desire to guide us toward excellence?

I will be the first to admit that this is still very much a growing edge for me. Too often I receive correction today – at the age of 68 – not very much differently than I received it at the age of 8.

Fortunately, though, I regularly give Joan and others around me, plenty of opportunity to help me work on correcting this personal blind spot. And thankfully, they do.

So, I guess I will close by asking you this: What do you think? How did I do? What should I change or correct about this post?

Go ahead… I can take it.

Abundant blessings;

30
Apr
20

It Certainly is Puzzling

“… because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18, NRSV

During this time of pandemic, jigsaw puzzles have caught FIRE!

Not literally, of course. What I mean is, sales of jigsaw puzzles have absolutely skyrocketed in popularity as people search for healthy activities while socially isolated at home.

So Joan and I thought, “Why not?”

Granted, we have not really been big “puzzle people” in the past, but it seemed like a good, harmless, fun family bonding activity and a welcome respite from endlessly cleaning our counters.

Here is a picture of 10 days of our progress on a relatively simple 500-piece puzzle: Partial puzzle

I am proud to report that I am responsible for at least four of those blue edge pieces on the top and three or four of the yellow connections there in the middle while Joan has done the rest.

Sad, isn’t it?

I don’t know… I sit down there now and then with every intention of making some genuine progress. I squint and strain and test out one connection after another. Sometimes my efforts are rewarded with the satisfying “CLICK” of a fit, but most of the time it is just an exercise in futility.

And then I remember that the hedges really need to be trimmed and ZIP! I’m out of there!

I am sure glad that God doesn’t do the same with me.

Because even though I am the product of God’s supernaturally creative power, I’m sure I am a regular puzzle to him. If I listen really closely, I can hear God say things like, “Why did you do THAT, Russell?” or, “Come on, pal… you should be able to figure that out for yourself,” or, “DUDE! What do you need? A big flashing neon sign in the sky??”

And yet, unlike me with that jigsaw puzzle, God doesn’t throw up his hands in frustration saying, “What’s the use? This is just never going to come together.” Instead God hangs in there… patiently working with the material on hand… confident that there will ultimately be a connection.

The key – whether working with jigsaw puzzles or people – is faith.

And in case the meaning of that word “puzzles” you, check out this definition offered by the writer of the book of Hebrews, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1, NRSV).

FAITH is what keeps me searching through the pile of funny looking pieces to find just the ONE that fits next to this one.

Faith can see the unseen. It persists in spite of discouragement and frustration, knowing that everything we need is there somewhere, even if we can’t see it.

Don’t be fooled: faith is not a passive acceptance of the status quo. It is the invisible energy that fuels our ability to continue slogging through a difficult passage.

This time – the time of global pandemic when no one really has a good picture of the future and when everyone is frustrated with the lack of progress – is the kind of time that is TAILOR-MADE for faith…

… and jigsaw puzzles.

 

Abundant blessings!




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