Lingering Questions

I’m studying the art of telling a good story.  It’s helping me live with flair. 

Today, I read that every great novel needs mystery and conflict.  Otherwise, the reader won’t turn the page.   As readers, we love and expect a good mystery and a grand conflict.  We want each chapter–maybe even each page–to have a lingering question.

But what about in real life? 

I think that every great life needs mystery and conflict. There’s something beautiful and full of flair about the unresolved.  There’s joy in the lingering questions.  Is it possible that mystery and conflict are written into our own stories on purpose to drive us onward?  All morning, I think about what it means to trust the Author within the mystery and conflict (internal and external) of my own life’s journey.  Do these lingering life questions have a purpose? 

Mystery and conflict provide great motivation to continue on with hope and expectancy.  I’m actually thanking God for writing these elements into my own story.

Journal:  What are my great life mysteries?  What internal and external conflicts do I need to resolve in my story?


Throwing Boiling Water into the Air Gives Us an Ice and Snow Display

I’d seen those Youtube videos where folks in Alaska or Canada throw pots of boiling water into the air only to have the water freeze immediately and rain down a puff of snow and ice.

I figure (since it’s -8 degrees F), I would try it myself.

We boil water, pour it into cups, and stand on our back porch.  Ready?  We toss the boiling water into the air.  Instead of water, an amazing cloud of snow falls beautifully to the ground.  The children have no idea why this is happening, but it’s fantastic

Even when I explain the science, it doesn’t diminish the awe.

I learn that the boiling water is already so close to being steam that, when I toss it into the air, the water breaks into tiny droplets with large surface areas.  They lose heat so quickly, and the drops are so small, that they literally freeze before they hit the ground.

That conflict in the air astounds me.  Boiling water meets freezing air, and–voila!–the water transforms into a beautiful and completely unexpected state.  A state so fantastic we experience awe

I remember this today as I press on against my own internal and external conflicts.  What transforms in me when I release these struggles amounts to something beautiful and gloriously unexpected.

Journal:  Today, I experience a funny conflict:  Every other family member has a hot shower this morning, and when it’s my turn, I enter a freezing waterfall.  Talk about boiling rage meeting freezing!  I laugh about God’s sense of humor since I had just chosen the blog entry for today.  I learn that even my cold shower can transform something about my character.  Every conflict, disappointment, and struggle surely can.  How are my struggles transforming me today?


A Way to Stop Fighting

We woke up to screaming.  All week, we’ve been listening to our daughters work out their conflicts.  Lately, they’ve been fighting over everything:  Whose turn? Whose portion? Whose toy? 

In church this morning, I asked another mother how she handles sibling fighting.  Her answer surprised me.

She said to teach my children that they aren’t special.

Is this mother American?  Has she been in a coma?  Aren’t I supposed to be training my children to believe in their absolute specialness?  Aren’t I supposed to be telling my little girls how wonderful, how amazing, how special, special, special they are?  Of course they deserve that turn, that portion, that toy.  I’ve trained them to expect nothing less. 

I think I’ve been raising narcissists.  Something’s gotta change. 

That mom told me to ask one sister if her other sister were any less special than she. 

So I did.  Without that sense of “I’m uniquely special,” it was hard to justify who deserved that turn, that portion, that toy.

Who is more special?  Me or you?  

As I’m worshiping God in church this morning, I think about what causes so much distress in my own heart.  So many of my own internal and external conflicts arise out of a sense of entitlement.  I’m so special, God, so don’t I deserve this thing?  I’m so special, God, aren’t you going to do this wonderful thing in my life?  It’s my turn, God.  It’s time for my portion. 

The problem isn’t that I’m not special.  I am.   The problem is that you are too–just as much–and I don’t see it.  If I did, I wouldn’t fight for my personal story, my turn, my portion, and my toy.  I’d see you as equally deserving of every opportunity and every bit of joy.

It was a sobering thought for someone like me–a recovering narcissist of sorts.  I looked around the sanctuary at hundreds of folks on their own spiritual journey.  Might I give up my turn, my portion, and my toy for them?  Might I reengage with people, recognizing a profound sense of how special they are?

Selfishness might stem from an exaggerated sense of my own specialness.

Are others special enough (as special as I am?) that I might defer to them, sacrifice for them, and lose my place in line?  Living with flair means admitting (though it’s painful!) that I am not more special.  That’s one way I can love others better, even when they get the biggest portion and the best toy.