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Celebrating our human potential for transformation, for resurrection.

Laughter: Carbonated Grace

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Creativity, Talent, Perseverance: The Most Important of These is Perseverance

Creative people see the world differently than most people do. Finding at least a few like minded people to keep loneliness at bay helps motivate those that are extraverts.

Creativity is seeing new and better ways to accomplish a goal. Just doing something differently is not necessarily creative, though in our day many mistake difference for creativity. Creativity is the way some minds perceive new positive possibilities.

Creativity and any particular talent are not the same thing. Creativity is in a class by itself. You can be very talented in singing or painting or writing lucidly, but not be creative at all.

And even having both a creative mind and talent does not guarantee success, because the most important trait needed to succeed is perseverance. A not particularly creative person with a small talent, but strong natural ability to persevere, will out perform someone with creativity and greater talent, who is distracted easily or who gives up when they experience failure.

The good news is that once this truth is recognized, perseverance can be developed. It will come more easily in doing something you both value and enjoy. So, if you have several talents, but lack perseverance, choose the one you value most and focus your time, energy, and other resources on it.

Tricks like working at it for a reasonable time, then following that by a small reward, then continuing to stretch the work time before the reward, can keep you motivated. You can persevere in something by planning breaks, as long as the breaks are short. In fact, doing something rote or repetitive during a break, can often free new insights and energize you.

A mentor can be a big help for those who discourage easily. A little encouragement in the difficult times can get you through them.

The challenge is to decide what is your talent (however slight) that you value and enjoy most and what are the personal pitfalls that prevent you from steadily developing it. Then, figure out ways to minimize the fallout from those weak areas more and more.

Perseverance is the most important talent. Once you realize that, finding ways to develop perseverance needs to become your priority.

Zombies and Monsters and Black Holes, Oh My!

I’ve never been into the Goth thing, the zombie thing, or the demons thing, probably because I have enough trouble coping with my own inner demons and dark side. I don’t believe anyone has a black soul, but I heard a description once that made me think that I and others might have an inner “black hole” like the ones in space that suck the light out of their surroundings.
The description was: “A bottomless pit of needs and wants.”
I decided that for a considerable number of years that described me perfectly. And since being needy prevents us from being loving, it explained why I had trouble even loving myself, never-the-less others.
Discovering that God was alive and well and loving us all unconditionally, even us “bottomless pits of needs and wants,” helped free me to begin depending on God’s love (grace) instead of other people and circumstances. And that is what fuels the lifelong process of learning to love both ourselves and others unconditionally. Then we each can grow into the unique, imperfect, but more and more loving, person God created us to be.
I am definitely in God’s slow learner group and I may never become as loving as many other people do, but I trust God and the process enough to believe I will reach my personal potential, however limited that may be. And that is all I am called to do.

Reflections on Addiction, Divorce, and Homosexuality

Most of us agree that having an addiction is a bad thing.  An addiction is an idol, because it means something controls us. It becomes our God. The tricky part about addictions is that many are not only accepted, but even highly valued in our society. Addictions to work, to religion, to image, to power, to independence, and to self expression are just a few. It may take a lifetime for us to recognize or admit to some addictions, never-the-less get free of them. Spending time visiting at nursing homes has made me wonder if that particular stripping experience is the last part of the journey to freedom for some.  Perfectly good things, like self reliance, can become addictions. Those are actually the hardest to escape, because they are so difficult to recognize as addictions/idols.

Pretty much everyone admits that loving is a good thing, and many of us consider learning to truly love, as the most important thing in life. But truly loving is a bigger challenge than most of us want to admit. Personally, I consider the core challenge in life to be learning to love another specific human being, up close and personal, and on past the point when the scales fall from our eyes and we see that they are not the person we imagined them to be. Sadly this usually happens before we realize that we too are not who we imagined ourselves to be. We may bail out before that reality can level the playing field. Or we may stick it out for less than loving reasons without ever becoming self-aware and make someone else’s life a living hell.

Ideally, we would manage to make it all the way past delusion and self honesty in our first commitment relationship. In an imperfect world populated by imperfect people, that doesn’t always happen. Somewhere along the way, between the second or sixth or ? try, hopefully, we finally figure out that we are part of the problem and get around to asking God to show us how to change.

But if, as Christians, we interpret the bible strictly, literally, legalistically, we don’t get second chances on marriage. We either stick it out or live alone the rest of our life, because Jesus was pretty outspoken about divorce in a society where women were treated as a piece of property without rights or means to live independently. But in our times, I’m pretty sure sticking with an abuser or addict seldom teaches us about loving adult relationships, and quite likely neither will living alone all our life. I’m even more certain that only God knows enough to judge people, relationships, and how many chances any particular person needs to get it right.

One of the few sermons I remember from my teen years is one a priest gave pointing out that all sins can be forgiven, but not divorce if you remarry, because you are just keeping on sinning every day you are living with a second spouse. This was in the early nineteen-fifties in Texas, where any woman who shot her husband for abusing her or cheating on her usually got off scot free. So, in my mind, I heard the priest saying, “If you make a mistake and marry a son of a biscuit, just kill him. God will forgive murder.” Seemed logical to me, but not very spiritual.

In a Barbie and Ken world, we would all marry a person of the opposite gender and have two and one half children, who would give us an accelerated course in learning to love. In the real world some people cannot have children, and quite a few others definitely should not. Some people also don’t seem called to marriage, but often they are called to be there for people in need,  for elderly family members, or as caregivers to people with handicaps.  I really believe all of us are called to relationships or ministry that teaches us to love as Jesus loved us.

In the real world some people’s only chance of learning to love up close and personal and past the experience of disillusionment may be with someone of their own gender. Jesus didn’t say anything about this, though Paul did, but like with divorce, only God knows whom someone can love up close and personal and past the part of the scales falling from their eyes.  However many tries it takes us, whatever gender we marry, the purpose is to learn to love someone as Jesus loves you and that is a major struggle that involves a lifetime of failing, repentance, and new beginnings through the grace of God.

Sarah Young in her powerful little book, Jesus Calling, hears God saying: ” Each of My children is a unique blend of temperament, giftedness, and life experiences.  Something that is a baby step for you may be a giant step for another person, and vice versa.”

Humility is admitting we are simply not capable of knowing the will of God for someone else. Paul says “We see through the glass darkly.” It’s a full time job just trying to understand what God is teaching us through prayer, study, mistakes, repentance, forgiveness, and new beginnings. It takes an ever growing openness to grace to keep our relationship with God and those He gave us alive and growing.

Judging others is one of the ways we use to escape focusing on what God is trying to teach us in our own relationship with Him and with those He is using to teach us how to love. That’s why Jesus said so vehemently, “Cast the log out of your own eye first.”

At the age of seventy-six I’ve figured out that takes at least a lifetime.