Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Random Vacation Thoughts, and Specific Thoughts on Pride and Selfishness

Well, I'm on vacation from work for three weeks.  I have no detailed plans, other than not working. Alene can't get time off, since we are entering peak season for the moving industry.  She's going to be "busy as a one-legged man in a butt kicking contest", as my x-father-in-law used to say.  Long hours, lots of appointments, and piles of paperwork for her.

But not for me.  I do have a few things I want to get done, such as painting our living room and dining room, and perhaps putting up some shelves in the garage so we can begin organizing the chaos that lives there, but other than that...... I'm a blank slate.

Ellis Latrell seems to be doing well.  I was down to visit Emily and the baby last Friday, and aside from the normal mommy stress, she and dad and baby seem to be doing well.  

It's still somewhat surreal to think that we're grandparents, and my daughter is a mommy!

I think that's the weirdest thign of all.  My baby daughter, the child I've known from the very moment of her birth (ok, strike that - since about 20 minutes after her birth) and watched grow is now a mommy in her own right.  What an amazing, crazy, giddy thing that is to think about.  Add to that the anticipation of watching Ellis grow, and it becomes a strange thing indeed.

So, back to the vacation thing.  I've always known that "staycations" are never quite as uneventful or relaxing as one dreams about.  I wind up being busy doing a lot of the same things I'd do if I weren't on vacation, and so far, I have no reason to think this "staycation" will be any different. 

Sunday, the first day of my vacation, was a wonderful but oh-so busy day.  At church I volunteered a shift to help with the toddlers in the preschool.  This is not normally my bailiwick, but I can do most anything for 90 minutes or so.  For 90 minutes I mostly sat on the carpet with four little boys, all about two or three years old, and played.  I alternately read short books to them, let them climb on me, rolled trucks around with them or (and this turned out to be a favorite) took turns lifting them upside down, then gently pressed their tummies in rapid pulses so that when they said "aaahhhhhh" it came out "ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah", all to various squeals and laughter.  

That last one is a long-held favorite with kids in my family.  

Afterward, my Sunday School friends held the 1st Annual SlingBall Tournament.   

Being an elimination tournament, the final round wasn't played until almost 5:00pm, from what I understand, long after Alene and I needed to go home.  We had a great time of potluck lunch and fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Congratulations to Mark Sweeney for taking home the top honor, and a new SlingBall set.  

Monday, being Memorial Day, Alene and I slept in best we could.  I made a trip down to my parents house to help with a small chore mom needed done. Naturally I stopped and talked for a bit.  Alene and I spent the rest of the day watching movies at home. "Mark the calendar", Alene tells me.  It isn't often she is willing to just sit and rest.  

I marked the calendar. 

Tuesday I was back down at my parent's house.  Tuesday is the day I usually take my dad out for breakfast, and run whatever minor errands he might need done.  My brother Glenn was there, so he joined us for breakfast.  After, dad and I went to Walmart (the usual!), then Home Deport, where I needed to pick up a new sprinkler valve setup to replace their broken one.  

Me.  Sprinklers. Repair.  What are they thinking?  I'll be back on Thursday morning to finish up. 

I made a trip to the store to buy new pants, attended my "niece" Shawna's t-ball game, then stopped by Glenn's house to pick up a DVD of wedding photos he'd graciously put together for Alene and I.  The pics are just fantastic, and I'll post a few here soon. 
So this morning I sit at Starbucks, taking a breather (as a vacation should be, right?), and writing. It's actually trying to rain today, June 1st!

But, to the heart of this post, I need to make a stop at church later and apologize to a friend, something I've been wanting to do for a long time, but just haven't done.  

Its funny how we put things off because we think they will be difficult.  There's nothing difficult about an apology.  

You say "I'm sorry". The other person either accepts it or doesn't. You move on.   

I think the difficult part comes in realizing that I have something for which an apology is needed.  

Silly pride seems to get in the way of so many things.  The Bible warns about pride in so many different ways.  It even warns against taking in pride in being humble (which, if you think about it, is quite a prideful way to view one's self).  I think the main issue with pride is that it focuses on one's self.  

And that's what I have to apologize for.

As Alene and I have made our journey from dating, to living together, to being married and making a covenantal relationship with each other, there were certainly those who disagreed with the path we chose.  Most were kind and loving, and to each of you (if you are reading this, you know who you are), I thank you for the grace and love you extended, even as you may have counseled strongly against our path. You were faithful in love, and faithful in purpose, and for that, I love each of you. 

But there is at least one with whom I need to make amends.  My pride and my selfishness did get in the way of listening to sometimes wise counsel.   I do not disavow the choices I made, indeed I cannot, for they have brought me where I am and are intricately woven into what is, but I do acknowledge how my sin of pride and selfishness did effect how God needed to work to bring about a good work, and how my actions effected the heart of some who love me dearly.

I will say this, to any who may be wondering how their own choices might effect what God wants to do in their lives - never doubt the Lord or His purpose.  His ways are always true and right.  Never place your own understanding above that of the Lord and His decrees. He can do mighty things, and is well able to bring about good, often (in fact, a good reading of the Bible would lead me to say overwhelmingly often) using the poor choices of His fallen, broken creations to work His will and to show His glory in the end.  

But I'm convinced that is never God's first choice.  Obedience is always His first choice.  Let's be honest, anything else is placing trust in ourselves first. And therein lies my pride issue.   

The ends never do justify the means - God is just gracious to use us and forgive us when we pridefully think our means are better than His.   To that end, I thank God and give Him all the praise for what He's done in mine and Alene's life, and offer my humble apology for thinking I may have known God's will better than He did. 

I know Alene will agree with me, that we dedicate our lives to serving God with humility and joy because of the overwhelming grace shown to us by the Lord and my brothers and sisters in Christ.

To any who may be reading this and wondering exactly what I'm talking about here (since such a public forum is not the place for intimate details, but rather broad strokes, and I've purposely not drawn in detail) I will say this:

Marriage changes things, in a glorious, wonderful, joyous way.  "Commitment" takes on a new depth, a new vibrancy, and the strength of the bonds in the relationship grow exponentially.  God blesses in a whole new way that which He may have, in His wonderful grace, tolerated for a time, for the sake of what He knew could be and wanted to be, and that now, because of final obedience to Him, can be

So to God be the glory for the things He has done, and may I make amends for my pride and selfishness, so that God will be even more greatly glorified and praised, and that my life, and the life of my dear wife and our relationship, can be even more evidence of God's grace in the world.