So, why is it no one dances until somebody dances?  Just curious…has this question ever crossed your mind?  Well, over the last month I’ve had the opportunity to attend several weddings where the adult children of some long-standing friends have left behind “singleness” and entered into the ranks of the “newly married.”  At each event, the beauty of the bride and the readiness of the groom to lead this new union heralded a job well done by the parents.  A much anticipated part of the festivities was the traditional “first dance” which was followed closely by the “father/daughter dance.”  And shortly thereafter comes the clarion call for all to join in and “hit the dance floor.”  It at this very point that I’m once again confronted with this curious question, “Why is it no one dances until somebody dances?”  I’m sure you’ve witnessed this before.  Perhaps you’ve been one of those, like me, that even when the dance floor does begin to fill you find yourself still glued to your seat.  Well, this oft repeated observation has me wondering if there are some life applications to be gleaned from this phenomenon of the human condition.   

So, here are some questions that come to mind as I mull this over in search of the answer.  Let’s start with this one.  Wherein lies the hesitation to plant the flag of leadership?  Not to draw attention to oneself but to set the pace for those who might be unwilling or unable to muster up the courage to join in the dance of living life as it is intended to be lived.  Could it be that as courage begets courage, dancing will in turn beget dancing?  Or wherein lies the resistance to be less concerned about what others might think of the way you dance life’s dance?  After all, this seems to amount to what I like to call “face dancing.”  Why not exchange this resistance for the joy of letting go of these self-imposed constraints in such as way that we can then simply enjoy dancing to the music life has to offer us.  Why the hesitation to just be yourself and let other’s deal with the dancer you are?  Well, much like in the case of the new bride we too exhibit immense beauty to the “Groom of the wedding feast” when we let go.  This seems particularly true when we let go of the lies that bind us up and hinder our ability to dance in the freedom that is ours.  This dance, the “freedom dance” will no doubt be an expression of the best present we could long for; the loving hand of grace given to us by the ultimate Father.  Though there may be the same hesitation for many to get on the dance floor of life and dance this dance, we can be assured that others will want to join in.  Perhaps our role here is to be the ones beckoning the clarion call to the dance floor by inviting others in to our dance story.  By the way, this Father desires to lead in this dance as well.  You just need to follow His lead. Peace.

So, who is your Vegas?  If you’ve been paying attention to the ads on TV recently you’ve no doubt seen the commercials touting this slogan, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”  The inference embedded in this marketing catchphrase is that you can come to “Sin City” and no one will know what you did while you were there.  And if they were to know, they certainly wouldn’t tell anyone.  Curiously, the allure of what amounts to a “primal attraction” suggested by this notion of getting away with something plays right into one of man’s greatest fears…the fear of being found out?  The constant companion of this fear for so many is at the root, I believe, for why so many live such exhausting lives.  Just consider for a moment the unrelenting drain of energy that occurs just to keep up with what amounts to a lie with no finish line.  Ironically, freedom can only occur when we are “found out.”

So, the question is, “Who is your Vegas?”  Not to whom do you go to be unknown but to whom do you go to become fully known?  Not to hide from where you’ve been or what you’ve done but to have someone in your life that knows you in such an intimate way that you are now able to “become.”  To become the man or woman you were meant to be…free!  Do you have such a friend?  Cultivating such a confidant in your life might just give you what the words suggests, confidence.  The confidence to come out from behind the curtain and begin to experience life no longer a slave to being found out but now to able live as a captive who has been set free.  Perhaps our finding such a friend will come as we seek to be such a friend to others.

I have no doubt that within the circles we do life in there are many who are tired of running the race that has them on a relentless run to keep one step ahead of the truth.  Many of these are simply longing for someone to help them remove their mask of bondage.  Rather than “go to Vegas” to hide perhaps we need to focus our energy on “being Vegas” to our friends.  It might just be that in doing so we will be the ones to be set free.  Peace.  

So, what do you do for a living?  Picture yourself on a night out.  You’re at a party amongst some good friends.  Perhaps there are many there as well that you don’t know.  Now take a minute and consider how many times you’ve been asked (or have asked others) this question as a way to “break the ice” of conversation with another person.  “So, what do you do for a living?” Maybe for you this is one of the default “curiosity” questions in your repertoire that you routinely use to simply learn more about another person.  Let’s think on this some more.

Though I think many of us are keenly interested in what others do for a living it seems that we would be well served to invoke a commonly used strategy of legal redirection and call into question the question.  Consider with me for a moment the potential game-changing implications of removing just one word from the question, the word “a.”  Now let’s restate the question.  “So, what do you do for living?”  Can you just imagine how the thread of conversation might change if we were to share with each other what brings us life rather than just simply perpetuating our “identity crisis” as we lead with a narrative of how we make money?  Wouldn’t a resulting benefit be that we would begin to share more of “who” we are with each other which might in turn serve to stimulate greater degrees of authentic conversation?  Might a simple restatement of the question point us more towards our “being” rather than our “doing?” Or could this be one of the ways that we can move from being so task-oriented to becoming more others-oriented?  Perhaps the question would help us become “known well” by others so that we can more quickly arrive at the place where we are simply free to be ourselves.  In the end, it just seems living life holds so much more potential reward than just making a living.  Peace.    

So, what if your life was a means to a beginning?  No doubt we’re all too familiar with the refrain, “ a means to an end.” This idiom of life typically signals that we are willing to or we are already doing something we are really not that interested in because we know it will help us achieve something else.  I don’t know how it is with you but when I have found myself uttering these words over the years they seem to have been more closely aligned with other terms like “a necessary evil” or  “the end justifies the means.”  Seemingly, in almost every case the emphasis is on adjusting my thinking such that I can rationalize or justify my way towards finishing something I would simply rather not be doing.  Perhaps you’ve even heard someone resigned to this “end game” position as they describe their own journey of life? 

All of this has had me wondering what changes would occur in the way we approached life if we were to ask ourselves the question, “What if our lives were a means to a beginning?”  In the end (no pun intended) isn’t this the right question to be asking?  For instance, rather than see ourselves repeating the negative patterns of former generations we were to see ourselves as first generation cycle breakers intent on changing the game for the generations that follow after us.  The journey of life seen in this light would certainly herald a new starting point, a new beginning flush with endless possibilities.  No longer would we be tempted to adopt a posture of simply sojourning our way on life’s journey living a somewhat disinterested and distant connection to the “what could be” of life.  No longer would we view life through the lens of finality choosing perhaps to see life more along the lines of being invited in to the continuum of eternity.  Why even the motivation for our investing might change as shift from thinking in dollars terms of “having enough” as we begin to invest in relational terms of “giving enough.”  No doubt we all want to finish well.  Could it be though that to finish well we have to remind ourselves of where it all started?  Wasn’t it, “In the beginning?”  Peace.  

So, is it time to take down the invisible fence surrounding your life?  Millions of dollars are spent by pet owners each year installing invisible fences designed to contain their animals within the confines of their yards.  These animals, which are typically dogs, wear a shock-type collar that gives them a good zap if they attempt to encroach beyond the boundaries of the “invisible fence.”  Over time the dogs become conditioned to the reality that if they go too far outside of their “new normal” they will pay the price.  All of this has me thinking that this might be one of those times when the idiom, “gone to the dogs” might point us not to something characterized by a downward trend but rather, if we learn from the parallels, might just direct us to pursue the upside of what life could be.  Let’s take a few moments and consider some of the parallels here.

The driving force behind those millions of dollars being spent is one thing…containment. How is it with us?  Just consider, for instance, the millions of dollars that are expended each year to perpetuate the false fronts of our lives. This thought reminds me of a friend named Pat who says, “People spend money they don’t have to buy things they don’t need to impress people who don’t care.”  Wow, this statement certainly points to containment!  It surely doesn’t suggest freedom.  In the end aren’t false fronts really synonymous with invisible fences?  Now, let’s consider for a minute the way we are “conditioned” over time to not get too far outside our “boundaries of predictability.” After all, isn’t the purpose of the “zaps” of life to constrain us in such a way that even the sheer anticipation of going beyond our boundaries causes us to retreat? Well, perhaps this is a time when we should consider the implication of a role reversal; a time when man should become a dog’s best friend. 

What is the first thing we might do if we saw ourselves in this light?  Though some may argue that we would construct boundaries so as to contain ourselves so we wouldn’t get hurt don’t you think that our highest and best use would be to “unleash” others as well as ourselves?  Take a moment and just consider the unbridled excitement that a dog exhibits when their about to be unleashed?  That’s picture alone should point us to a new way of living.  How is it with you?  Have you fenced your life in by things that you can’t even see?  Would your friend’s say that you are helping unleash them beyond the boundaries they have imposed on themselves?  Perhaps a good contrast to consider is one of “attainment vs. containment.”  Maybe the first place to start is to make the “invisible visible” in the lives of others.  Come to think of it, isn’t it the first step to living like a captive who has been set free? Peace.         

So, given the choice would you rather be the stapler or the staple remover?  Ok, I know this sounds a bit off the wall but let’s take a closer look. On one hand we have the stapler; a prevalent instrument of found on almost every desk in America, if not the world.  The stapler, a device used to bind things together.  Now, let’s consider the staple remover.  Though an instrument not so universally prevalent it does at least enjoy a presence beside many copiers across the globe.  The staple remover, a device used to unbind the things that have been bound together by the staple.  Not that one would have to choose one over the other but an interesting dilemma nonetheless.   Given a choice would we rather be one who causes others to be bound together, perhaps even bound up or would we rather be a person whose purpose is to unbind others from the things that might have once bound them up.

While I certainly enjoy connecting people together, in particular in community I don’t like it when I find myself being the cause of someone being “bound up” by my tendency to have unspoken expectations or perhaps even a critical spirit borne out of my “recovering perfectionist” tendencies.  It’s true.  On one hand to be the stapler is good (i.e. connecting people), on the other really not so good at all.  But how is it to be the staple remover?  At every turn it seems a preferred role to be a person that unbinds others from what once held them captive so as to unleash them towards becoming more of who they’ve been designed to be.  Even as I’m writing this it comes to my mind that one is more about capture and the other is about the release.  Given the choice wouldn’t we rather spend our life’s energy on helping others experience the freedom from release?  For instance, wouldn’t we rather be used as an agent of healing as opposed to an agent of captivity?  As mentioned, to be used to bind others together is good, such as a three-stranded cord of relationship.  But in the end don’t the untold possibilities of a people unleashed get you pumped up?  Oh well, no right or wrong answer here it seems.  It’s just something to think on.  Come to think of it none of this would even been something to consider without the staple itself.  So it begs the question, “What are the staples in your life?” Peace.

So, have you ever seen a total eclipse of the sun?  They certainly dont come around very often so it’s more than likely if you have its a distant memory.  But if youve been fortunate enough to have ever witnessed one of these you no doubt know that the total eclipse occurs when the disk of the Sun is fully obscured by the Moon.  Having only seen one of these in my lifetime I remember the awesomeness of seeing what seemed literally unfathomable to my finite mind at the time. A time during the middle of the day when there was almost total darkness. Today Id like for us to talk about something else that doesnt come around very often.  In fact, from my way of thinking it only comes around once in a lifetime. Something Im calling the relational eclipse. As I even consider this notion it seems no less far-reaching and elusive than that of a total solar eclipse.  In the end, however, I would submit it is one of the keys to the journey of life.  In fact, it is a life-long pursuit. 

So what do I mean by a “relational eclipse?”  As you know, we’ve talked in the past about how much of our life tends to get compartmentalized into disparate and somewhat unrelated parts.  Just keeping up with the activities, much less the relationships contained within each compartment is beyond exhausting most of the time. To mitigate this and to redeem some of life’s energy we’ve considered in past posts the regenerative aspects of living a more intentionally integrated life.  In other words living with an intentional design such that the circles that we do life in (family, work, friends, community endeavors, etc.) begin to become more interrelated as the lines that formerly separated them begin to touch and some measure of crossover integration occurs.  As I’ve thought more about this of late I’ve seen this step as the precursor step that ultimately points us towards our end objective, the relational eclipse.  That point that represents the culminating apex of lifes journey when the compartments of life obscure and meld into one circle of life.  The very point at which, for instance, the relationships that have woven the tapestry of our life come together such that they appear as one.  This is indeed a life-long pursuit and one that we seemingly arrive at only when we reach the ultimate finish line. The really cool reality of such a relational pursuit such as this is, unlike a total solar eclipse, there will be no obscuring of the Son. Truth is the Son might just be the first person you see. Peace.

So, just how efficient are you?  In a world dominated by performance, profitability, perfection, etc. this question is often the benchmark measurement to determine how well we’re doing.  The truth is it’s more often than not the unspoken benchmark for how well we’re thought of, certainly within the workplace.  It seems there are efficiency quotas and metrics for just about every aspect of life these days.  It’s no wonder so many people struggle with feeling like their just not “good enough.”  So, is there any place where we can escape the constant drone of being compared to a benchmark of performance?  Well, just last week I heard someone say, “There’s no place for efficiency in relationships.” Ah, relationships…the place where efficiency takes a break!

So here again we find ourselves with a new dimension to the beauty of being in relationship one to another.  Though some may argue that “comparison” is one of the most common characteristics of community, it is certainly not the way it is intended to be.  Our relationships should be one of the places where we should feel free to be ourselves.  A place where we can be delightfully inefficient without concern for how we will “stack up” against the median average or the top percentile of others.  How is it with you? Are you willing to allow yourself to “just be” in relationship?  Are you willing to afford others the same accord?  I wonder if in the willingness we might just find out we, along with our friends are good enough. At the end of the day, the only metric needed is the simple realization of our immeasurable worth one to another.  As inefficient (and counterintuitive) as that may seem I’m certain we all could find great delight in that.  Peace.         

So, have you ever been to Moe’s?  If you have you’ve certainly heard the welcoming refrain, “Welcome to Moe’s” coming from the folks working behind the burrito line.  But now that I’ve got your taste buds captivated I’d like to draw some life parallels with a “Mohs of a different kind. “ This Mohs has been defined as, “A precise surgical technique for removing several varying types of skin cancers.” During Mohs surgery, the surgeon uses microscopic surgical techniques to progressively remove layers of skin one layer at a time until only cancer-free tissue remains and the “margins” are deemed to be free of cancer.  Come to think of it, this method mimics to some degree the same circular technique that is used in mining operations to strip soil one layer at a time of valuable minerals.  By this point though I’m sure you’re thinking, “What on earth does this have to do with living life?”

Well, doesn’t it seem that as we walk along the journey of life to becoming more of the person we’ve been designed to be, we experience a cutting or stripping away of the things that once constrained us.  It’s as if to become something we have to lose something.  In this case we cut away the baggage of our past or seek to shed the layers of the veil that hides who we really are.  Much like exposure to the sun can cause us to develop skin cancers that need to be painstakingly removed one layer at a time, exposure to doing life can cause us to take hold of baggage that needs to be tactically and at times forcefully removed from our makeup.  Ultimately we seek to live a life characterized by new “margins” such as newfound freedom or a newly discovered comfort in being who we are meant to be. 

Come to think of it in order to become more comfortable in our own skin we need more exposure not less.  In this case however, we need to take off the sunscreen that perpetuates the mask and get more fully exposed to the Son.  Peace.

So, have you discovered the desires of your heart?   So often in life we’re confronted with and perhaps even confounded at times as to how we discover the deeper recesses of ourselves.  In particular, if you’re like me, you often times find yourself trying to get at that “magma” awareness that gets at the core of your existence and the core of what it is that fuels your longings in life.  Questions arise like, “What is it that truly sets my heart into motion towards my deepest desires?”  Or, “Why is it so difficult to translate what I know in my head to be true into an expression of love, a love that comes from my heart?” What is that key that unlocks the entry way to discovering my heart desires? 

Well for starters, when I think about my heart’s desires I see them somewhat synonymous with my passions.  What are the passions that lie within the far reaches of my heart?  Am I even a person that has passions or has what one author calls “the cages of life” so doused my flame for living that I no longer emote much desire for anything? Am I simply on a passionless pursuit of living?  These are just some of the many good questions we could reflect on as we press on to navigate our way on the journey.  Today though I’d like for us to consider one of the key questions that might help us arrive at the station of our heart’s desire.  That is, “In what or in whom do you find your delight?”  Where is it, what is it or who is it that brings you great delight?  It seems not only has this word “delight” lost it’s way from our vocabulary these days it has become almost non-existent as a desired descriptor of one’s character. Could it be that in the constant crush from the demands of life we have lost our way on the road to delight?  So, to get at our heart it seems we need some new passions, something or someone in whom we can find much delight.  One such passion promises that if we delight ourselves in Him he will give us the desires of our heart.  So once again we find ourselves standing at the entryway being invited in to an adventure of our heart, an eternal adventure.  Go ahead, step in and find your heart’s desire.  You’ll be forever delighted you did.  Peace.         

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