Sunday, January 28, 2007

Life’s a journey?

I’ve been on a theme about life for my last three posts so I thought I’d try for one more (at least).

If you have followed “Whitfield’s journey” for anytime at all, you may have learned a few things about my persistent struggle with “getting things done”. For example, see my post for July 12 about “Living by the Nike creed

I used to complain I had a “buffet table” approach to taking things on –my “ayes” (saying yes to new things) exceeded my “chewing ability” -- so I often end up long “to do” list that has things that keep getting pushed aside by other things. I used to be a fan of the saying “If it wasn’t for the last minute nothing would get done”. Also there was a real tendency to put more priority on things related to my job than on the projects Linda & I had agreed should be done around the house. I’d say I would do it soon but there were always other things keeping me from it.

This “buffet” approach to making promises was combined with another part of my personality that often got me into trouble. I love planning work. I love thinking about projects and how the problems might be solved -- but there are 3 things about projects I have trouble with—starting them, keeping them going once started and finishing them.

I’ve mentioned before my friend Terry Miller who I met as a consultant over 10 years ago. He taught me that as long as I looked at life as managing priorities on an impossibly long to do list, I would be frustrated, stressed and leave a bunch of clutter of unstarted or half done or poorly done work in my wake. -- – and he explained how to get out of that trap by managing commitments (learning to say make promises that you could keep by knowing what else you had on your plate and only taking on new things if there was ”room” to swallow” them.

He also reminded me that in managing and planning commitments there should only be (at most) 3 important things on your list at any time. You needed to start each day by making sure you knew what those things were for that day and then Do them (remember the Nike creed- just do it)

He taught me these things but it is hard to break a lifetime of bad habits and so making these changes in approach often became another “to do” on that impossibly long list. (although I did gradually move more and more into asking “Do I have the capacity to do this in the time it needs to be done without breaking a previous promise?”). Things would go smoother for a while – but like an addict I often fell off the wagon and ended back up in the same old mess – which would prompt a call to Terry to have him remind me once again that it was my choice to be that way and I could choose to change it.

I say all this to put the rest of this story into context.

About 5 years ago I finally got started on a project to put laminate flooring in our front hall and because it wasn’t that big a job and because once started it was pretty difficult to ignore and put it aside we worked like beavers for a several weekends and got it (almost) completed - remember what I said about “finishing”. The floor was completed but there is a ¼ round to put along the edges. I said “I have to get something else done so we’ll put that aside for a few weeks”. Well, weeks went into months and months into years and the ¼ round sat there up against the wall in the dining area. Every so often there would a gentle (or not so gentle) reminder that this still needed to be done and I’d say yes – as soon as I get time. In my defense, -- and although it may be indefensible -- I will say I did take on and complete a lot of other projects at home during that period despite the fact that this one just never seemed to make it to the top of the list.

Well as I mentioned at the beginning last July (2006) I spent some time really focusing on the “Just do it” approach and as 2007 started I promised myself that this job was going to get done and even though it took 2 weeks rather than one - I did it – I finished it Friday night and Saturday I finished it right by cleaning up and putting the tools away – one job done.

Hurrah!! – or at least that’s what you would think – but finishing means now I can start something else and that leads to thinking about the impossibly long list of things I might start on and the equally long list of things I said No to because I was doing this – and I started feeling depressed again.

This led me to thinking (maybe your don’t see the connection) but it led me to thinking about the saying that “life is a journey not a destination.”

There were 2 parts to this.

First – if life is a journey not a destination, why did it matter if I stuck to my guns and got this little job done rather than meandering off into whatever side road interested me. Second – if life was a journey not a destination then why did it matter which thing I picked to do next.

Yeah I know – kinda weird thinking but that’s where I was yesterday. Spinning my wheels at the side of the road because I couldn’t decide whether it mattered which way I turned the wheel when I got back on the road.

Well –for today I’ve concluded that as much as it is a catchy phrase and much as the underlying idea may be that we need to “stop and smell the roses” rather than speeding towards someplace we want to get to by our next birthday --- the reality is that “life is a journey not a destination” has many flaws as a philosophy of life.

If it’s the journey that counts (and therefore the destination doesn’t matter) what about this example?

If I turn left following the smooth road and beautiful scenery and end up out of gas in the middle of nowhere instead of turning right and enjoying a fine meal and comfortable bed -- I think the the destination matters even if the road to the right was rough and the scenery was ugly. More to the point – I believe our life’s journey needs to be shaped by our eternal destiny – and I believe that’s a destination that really counts.

So may I suggest “Life’s a journey with a destination” or “Life’s a journey to enjoy as long as it is a journey to the right destination” . Mark Seeler spoke in our assembly this morning. He talked about living the Christiana life in a way that leads to the hoped for destination. He talked about our attitude toward becoming more loving on that journey with a destination and suggested that a 3 step process could help us reach some “milestones” along the way. “Just do it”, start small (pick a one thing and make it a habit) and start with those closest to you.

And so I’m happy to report that I have made on small step in my journey that I think was in the right direction. I have another project for this week that I hope keeps the momentum going . If I can build success in “just doing it” when it comes to “fix-up, clean-up” projects – maybe, with God’s help, I can do more with changing those things that need to change to keep me heading along His road – and I can enjoy the scenery because life is a GOOD journey if we have our eyes on the right destination.

It was a full week. Linda is still suffering with her “dry socket” from having her tooth extracted and had to go in to have it “packed” every day for 3 days last week. It had been doing better until this morning – she came home from services with it aching again and had to take more painkiller.

I did take sometime yesterday to “surf the net” – I listened to sermons by Roger (click HERE) and John Dobbs (click HERE). John has been working on a project called “God Thirst” that kicks off this week. Check it out here GOD THIRST

I spent sometime on the Berean list (I’m up to January 21 so I’m gradually catching up after getting way behind over the Holidays). For the cat lovers among you, (and even if you don’t love cats it is still neat) someone on the Berean list pointed out this site called Cat Scriptures (Be sure you scroll to the bottom toget the story about why he started this – and to access the YouTube video)

I was “tagged” by Bobby Cohoon who was writing about the ice storm in Texas (Click HERE) and at the end he had this surprise .

Bobby wrote "Well, I have been tagged again. This time a little bit different: Here are the rules: Here is how it works: 1) Grab the book closest to you 2) Open to page 123, go down to the fourth sentence 3) Post the text of the following three sentences 4) Name the author and book title 5) Tag three people to do the same.
…I am going to tag:Charlie Whitfield what is the book up there in Canada?"

(Bobby –if you read this post I’ve fixed the spelling of my name – If you are going to tag me the least you could do is get my name right :) :) )

Normally I don’t respond to these things (or even when I think I will they end up as “buffet table” casualties. I don’t want to make a promise but I think I will be able to “JUST DO THIS” to-morrow or the next day.

If I do I will also respond to a long overdue tag by my friend Glenn -- By the wAY, he has started a blog of his own which you can check out at LIFE NOTES

God Bless


Tim Archer said...

I think life's a journey, but it turns out to be a pointless one without the right destination.

In other words... amen.

Grace and peace,

Candle (C & L) said...

Tim - Thanks for coming by -- and I agree it is the quality of the journey that counts but for me quality in the journey means choosing the WAY and having Jesus as my companion as I journey.


Neva said...

I like your post. In my opinion, the experiences along the way make the destination all the sweeter. (If you have never cried before, why would the promise of no tears in heaven be a good thing?) Just as trials make comfort sweeter. Life for a christian is all about the destination and trying to take as many with us as possible.
Peace and prayers,