Whether you turn to the right or to the left,

your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying,

“This is the way; walk in it.”

Isaiah 30:21

Regret #2 ...

Regret #2 from the book The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying is ...

I wish I hadn't worked so hard.

This can immediately make some of us feel guilty because we are working hard!

And there are certain seasons of life where this is unavoidable.

There is also nothing that implies this statement only applies to paid work.

There is nothing that implies that laziness is what will leave us with no regrets.

What I believe this statement does imply is that people - when they get to the end of their lives - regret:

 ... that they didn't create enough space to nurture important relationships

... that they focused too much on gathering more stuff, rather than more meaning

... that they didn't make time to read, rest, relax, recreate, refresh, renew

... that they spent too much energy and effort on self-improvement rather than self-acceptance

... that they worked too hard on home improvement rather than on travel, hospitality, and generosity

... that they allowed the Protestant work ethic to keep them on the treadmill of endless busyness

Again, this regret can be a great springboard for self-reflection:

Where and how am I working too hard? Too much?

Am I creating enough margin in my life for the things that really matter most to me?

Are my closest relationships thriving or withering?

Do I allow myself the freedom to cease work without guilt?

Is my life a balance of hard work and deep rest?

When is the last time I "wasted" a day doing something that refreshed my soul?

Maybe take a bit of time this weekend to ask yourself a few of these questions

... and be sure to do it with your feet up!

 

Regret #1 ...

I've experienced a couple of deaths lately and this has me thinking about life. Isn't it funny how that works?

By chance I picked up a book a few months ago that sat on the bottom of my pile until recently. It is called "The Top Five Regrets of the Dying" by Bronnie Ware. (And yes, her name is Bronnie, not Bonnie.)

Fascinating. Motivating. Thought-provoking.

What do you think Regret #1 is?

I will spare you the suspense ...

Regret #1 is: "I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me."

So, I've been asking myself every morning: Is this day - at least most of  it - the day I want to live? Or is it mostly the day others expect me to live?

Pretty great questions, aren't they?

If I notice too many activities that are not true to who I know myself to be I am going to start cutting those things out of my life, out of my days.

If I notice not enough space, time, or energy for the things in my life that feel truest to me, then I will  create more space, say no more often, remove obligatory tasks, cut out dumb time wasters.

I want to move more and more toward living every day in such a way that I don't experience Regret #1 when I face the end, whenever that may be.

Way too many of our younger years are often spent trying to gain the approval of others - our peers, our parents, our own inner critic.

As I move through these middle years, I happily find myself worrying less and less about what other folks think of me. I care more and more about what I think of myself.  I really only do a few things well. Thankfully, those same things bring me life and joy.

My current mantra is as simple as this:

Do the things that are the most you. Don't do the other things. The end.

God is doing a new thing ...

The people of God were in exile when the Old Testament prophet Isaiah wrote words of hope and conviction to them from the mouth of their God.

This morning I read: "Remember not the former things, nor consider things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?" (Isaiah 43:18-19)

I could not help but be reminded of the earthquake we are experiencing in the arena of women and men and sex and harassment and inappropriate behavior and flat-out rape.

For men it may seem as if allegations and accusations are appearing out of thin air. Memories that have been buried in women's minds, psyches and bodies are emerging on a daily basis.

Bill Cosy - BILL COSBY! - was sent to jail today for drugging and raping women. The ground shakes ...

And I get that there is fear.

Because the ground IS shifting. The old ways are gone; new things are happening.

Innocent men feel fear. But I believe that fear is unfounded. Less than 2-3% of these kinds of allegations are made up.

Less-than-innocent men also feel fear. I believe that fear IS founded. Perhaps the chickens really will come home to roost.

Women have always felt fear. Fear that we will be touched when we don't want to be. Fear that we will be harassed and no one will believe us. Fear that we will be taken advantage of at a party or if we have an extra glass of wine. Flat out fear that we will be raped if we jog, or walk, or stay home alone.

So, fear is now a common denominator.

And if fear is what is needed for some men to understand that inappropriate and unwanted behavior on their part may very well cause immediate and future damage to their lives and their careers, then fear may be just what we need until this ship gets righted.

Over two decades ago while attending a church different from the one at which I currently work, I, and several other women, reported a pastor who inappropriately touched us. We did this at great personal cost. We were all "crucified." The man is still a pastor. Thus, #WhyIDidntReport.

Currently, I face innaproppriate male behavior every month or so as I live out my calling to preach and teach. Never from my colleagues, however. If they saw some of these men do what they do, they would punch them.

All too often, I have been silent. I don't want to be rude. I am a pastor; I'm supposed to be nice! I don't want to make men feel bad. Maybe they don't understand that times have changed and it is no longer ok to either touch or comment on a woman's body. Sometimes, I am so shocked that I am rendered speechless.

No more.

It is past time for me to speak up.

For myself.

For the women who will come after me.

And for the men who do this stuff. For their sake, too.

The God who created us male and female desires that we treat each other with immense respect and fierce tenderness.

When we do this, men AND women, we will have absolutely nothing to fear. And everything to gain.

"Behold," God says, and continues to say, even in our day, "I am doing a new thing."