I have always been a sucker for appeals to my desire to be great.
I love it when my friends or family tell me that someday I could get my big break and write a best seller, become a top blogger, or command huge speaking fees.
I love it because I have never given up that childhood dream of being a star.
Apparently, I’m not alone because there are industries making millions on dreamers like me. Consider the number of books, seminars, agents, and services that cater to people who believe that they can make it big as writers, singers, actors, models, athletes, or entrepeneurs.
Lately as I’ve pondered my future as a writer and speaker (and even as a tennis player), I’ve had to admit, “I will never be great.”
Acknowledging that fact seems like a sad admission (even though it’s long overdue), but it’s actually given me much joy. Why?
The people that I consider to be the greatest of all have suffered the most.
I’m currently reading Evidence Not Seen: A Woman’s Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II By Darlene Deibler Rose. As I read these compelling words and think about writing an equally compelling book, I know I don’t want to. I’m not even halfway through the book, and this saintly woman has had everything taken from her, including her husband. I don’t desire the suffering required to be that great.
I’m reminded of a mother who wanted to be great vicariously–by having her sons reign with the Lord:
“What is it you want?” he asked.
She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”
“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” (Matthew 20:21-22)
When I have sought to be great, I didn’t know what I was asking either.
I didn’t know I was asking to sacrifice time with my family, sleep, leisure time, relaxed time with friends, my privacy, freedom from many temptations, and most certainly my humility. Like this misguided mother, I have misunderstood the cost of greatness and despite having it right in front of me, I have asked for something more.
Our small group at church is doing this Bible study: H2O: A Journey of Faith (DVD Curriculum). I can’t recommend it enough. The pastor was sharing the truth that no matter how much more of something we think we want, we can be sure that it won’t be enough. The pursuit of greatness is, as Solomon tells us in Scripture, a meaningless existence. The truth of that finally sunk in. I’m sure you’re wondering what took so long!
At last I’m done with the “success” blogs, books, and webinars and I am no longer seeking to be great.
Don’t look for me at Wimbledon, on Technorati’s top blogs, or on the New York Times Best Sellers List. Instead, look for me on the tennis court with the kids, here on this obscure blog where I get to pour out my heart each week, and at the feet of Jesus.
At His feet, I will be praying that He will be great in your life and mine.
How about you? Do you still dream of being great? How would you feel if you gave up that dream?
For years, every time I went to the dentist, the hygienist would be on my case about not flossing. I honestly don’t understand why I was once a flossing failure, but I do know why I’m now a flossing fanatic. I changed my habits using a simple approach that can work for you, too, whether your new habit is flossing or something even more important.
No Oprah Moments Required
I didn’t have an emotional breakthrough with flossing by recounting a horrible incident in the dental chair when I was a child. I do like talking about the time the dentist hit a nerve while giving me an injection (it was AWFUL!), however talking it out didn’t get me to floss. Oprah is a case study in the lack of relationship between understanding a bad habit and ending it. So are our pets. You can train your dog to stay off the couch without having him recline on one for psychoanalysis, thankfully. You can develop a healthy habit (or change an unhealthy one) without understanding the roots of your behavior.
Quit Looking for Motivation
I didn’t start flossing because my dentist put the fear of gingivitis in me. I do recall being motivated to floss at one time because I hoped for the approval of my hygienist. When she didn’t praise me for my months of flossing and instead criticized my technique, I quit flossing for years. I don’t know why I started again. Maybe I had something stuck in my teeth? The point is, to change many habits, you don’t need a big reason to do so.
Just Do It. A Lot.
For some reason, I flossed several days in a row. Then I thought about not flossing because I didn’t feel like it. Flossing isn’t fun and I do it at the end of a long day when I’m fatigued. But I flossed anyway. I have no idea why. Then I got serious about the potential of not flossing. While I thought about skipping, I would reach for the floss. By the time I had determined I could skip it “just this once,” I was already done. I was on automatic pilot. I’ve been flossing every night for years now and I can’t NOT do it. Reason or no, motivation or no, just do what you know you should do, day after day.
If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it. Genesis 4:7
Rinse & Repeat.
I’ve used this method to change a number of habits. I lock my car with the remote each time to keep from locking my keys in the car. What was once a regular problem hasn’t happened in many years. I also run my dishwasher each night. I can be dead tired, but like it or not, there I am loading, adding soap, and pushing buttons. I am currently using the same method to develop a regular blogging habit. So far, so good!
What habits have you changed with this method or what habits would you like to try it with?
I’m a psychologist, and as such, I try to present myself as being mentally healthy. That facade will be put to rest today.
There are only two things that make me anxious and I experienced them both together as I traveled home from a speech tournament with my oldest son yesterday.
The first thing that gets my OCD juices flowing is public restrooms. I really, really hate using them. It isn’t so much that I am afraid that I will pick up germs from someone as it is that I’m grossed out thinking about who has been in there before me and what they’ve been doing. I am not going to try to justify my abnormality. I tell you this only to explain the events of the day.
As I boarded the plane, I was feeling the call of nature mildly. I have an exceptionally big and strong bladder from years of avoiding using public restrooms. I figured I could certainly make it until the plane landed, at which point I would be forced to use a public restroom at the next airport. Later is always better when you’re anxious.
I smartly refused all beverages on the plane, but it was too late for my bladder because I had had a coffee drink before boarding. I debated with myself for a good hour about whether or not I could survive more than a three-hour flight without using the restroom. The stakes were high. Literally. While I have a distate for public restrooms, I have an all-out aversion for airline bathrooms. I believe in all my 43 years, I have used one once. The experience imprinted upon me the necessity of avoiding a repeat performance.
Anyone who shares my disgust for public toilets does not need me to explain why I was flipping out at the prospect of having to use the bathroom on the plane. But for the rest of you, I will give details.
- Men are using the same restroom
- It’s the size of a casket
- The flush is a massive suction effect that threatens to take you with it
- Poor ventilation
- Impossible to hover
- No bathroom attendant keeping things neat
The other horrors I got to experience firsthand. As I saw over an hour left in the flight, I knew that the misery of holding it had surpassed the misery of the airplane toilet experience. I got up and started making my way to the back. Right then the man sitting behind me decided he would go too. Wonderful. He was in front of me. Standing up made me realize that I really, really had to go.
The toilets were both occupied. For. a. long. time. The only thing that made it better was that the man who was going to use the toilet before me looked just as uptight as I felt. Finally one opened up and he entered. Meanwhile, a sizable line formed behind me. Another bladder age passed and I was finally able to get in there. That’s when my second source of anxiety kicked in: turbulence.
I hate turbulence. It brings to mind all those horrifying airplane crashes I’ve experienced with Tom Hanks, the cast of Lost, and others. The worst turbulence I had experienced personally was a dramatic loss of altitude after flying out of Philadelphia immediately post-9/11. People were screaming. My anxiety level was a 12 on a 1-10 scale.
In that frame of mind, I locked the door and felt like I was in an outhouse connected to the back of a speed boat. The ride was so bumpy that I was doing well to stand up at all. There wasn’t any way I could even get my pants down. It wasn’t long, however, before I realized that I better get busy or the anxiety would finish the job for me, toilet or no.
I’ve already mentioned that you can’t hover in an airplane restroom. I was hopeful that I could at least put toilet paper on the seat. As I tried in vain to get the paper to stick, my third fear kicked in. I wondered what on earth the poor full-bladdered souls in line were thinking of me. As the plane continued to bounce through the air, I realized that any germs I would get on my hiney couldn’t kill me because the plane crash would get me first. I sat down, did my business, cleaned up, and made my way back to my seat, physically and emotionally relieved.
I was actually kind of proud of myself for overcoming my fear. (Pathetic, I know, as I was forced into it). The turbulence calmed down and in no time at all, we prepared to land. That’s when the pilot came on the intercom and announced that there was “weather” at the airport and that we would be in a holding pattern.
Fear number four kicked in: tornadoes. Our airport was recently damaged in a tornado. I wondered how terrifying it must have been for the passengers who were on planes as those storms went through. I reassured myself that we were safe and sound in a holding pattern. Until the turbulence kicked in again.
I called to mind all my psychology tricks to get me through the next 30 minutes of turbulence and announcements that we still couldn’t land because of “weather.” I wondered if this was akin to calling cancer a “health matter.” I praised God from A to Z, imagined myself back home and hugging my kids, took deep breaths, relaxed my tense muscles, and reassured myself that crashing wouldn’t be painful. Hopefully. All of these things really did help and we were finally able to land without incident.
I headed to the restroom once in the terminal, delighted to see that they had automatic plastic covers on the toilets. I sat down gleefully and relieved myself. After I stood up, I read the instructions for the plastic covers indicating how to get a new clean cover–instructions that I hadn’t used. Oh well.
I praise God that He got me home safely to my beloved family last night, dirty hiney and all.
Can you relate to any of my fears? If so, do you have any tips for dealing with them?
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I have discovered something I didn’t think was possible–a kid activity I enjoy even less than painting. With six kids and three hooks vying for the opportunity of embedding themselves into human flesh, I am losing it. Now my husband is letting the six year old work on a hook. Lovely. We only caught one fish and believe it or not, I caught it. Lol
I am sure I am just way too anxious. However, I am not too anxious to fish again any time soon. What kind of kid activities send your anxiety soaring?
— Post From My iPhone
I was awakened by a phone call a couple weeks ago asking my husband if I’d used my credit card to buy a $500 watch to be shipped to California. My husband replied that I was sleeping, so probably not. I then had to allow my credit card company to shut down my account. We only carry two major credit cards so I was down to one.
That afternoon I had to put a big educational purchase on a credit card that I don’t use that often. To give them the number, I pulled my wallet out of my purse. It was a busy day because I needed to buy LOTS of groceries to get ready for the boys’ annual family birthday party. So I had my cart piled high and was checking out when I discovered that I had no wallet in my purse. I sheepishly asked if I could run home and get my wallet and come back. (Honestly, I wasn’t that sheepish. I’ve done this so many times, I’ve gotten pretty jaded).
I was delighted to discover that my checkout lane was wide open when I returned with my wallet so I popped in and slid my card through the handy dandy reader only to have it be declined. Then I tried it again with the same result. I was freaking out at this point that the crook who had my first card also had my second. I looked up my account on my phone and could see that all was well. I went over to customer service and had them verify that the problem wasn’t multiple charges of the same amount (as they showed up on my account). I could hear my groceries melting while they discussed this. After verifying that I hadn’t been charged, they rang me up for the groceries for one penny less and I got the lovely DECLINED message again. The only thing worse than seeing the word DECLINED on the card reader is seeing the look at the cashier’s face when she sees it, too.
I called the credit card company from the store and got the automated message telling me to verify my charges. I did that. Then I tried getting cash from the ATM machine. Many times. No go. So I called the company back to hear that they had unusually high call volume. I told the customer service people at the store that I was going home to get my checkbook. They said, “Uh-huh.”
I finally spoke to a human being while I was in the car driving home who assured me that I could pay for my groceries with the card. I said, “I’m sure I could, but I honestly couldn’t bear the humiliation of it not working AGAIN. So I’ll write a check.” When I got home, my 8yo wanted to know why I kept coming home with no groceries. I took him along with me, only because I thought he made me look more respectable.
When I arrived at the store, my groceries were in the cooler which was a good thing, only I had to wait for someone to retrieve them. Why, you ask, didn’t I just blow it off? Well, because I’d spent an hour shopping for those groceries and I was having a party the next day. It was then or never. So I wrote my check and handed them my driver’s license since I knew they’d want it bagged my groceries, and went home.
My husband said, “What took you so long?”
This post was inspired by my friend Gregg’s post and my friend, Barbie’s, nagging and many thanks to Lisa Newton for her photo.
Wednesday was certainly a day to give glory to our Wonderful Counselor. Here's what was wonderful about my Wednesday:
Time to discuss the things of God with my wonderful husband
Time with friends at P.E.
Time at the park with a dear friend to talk about our faith
Getting my hair cut and time to encourage my hairdresser who will have surgery for cancer on Tuesday. Add her supernatural peace to your prayers, please!
Got dinner made and everyone fed before 6.
A time to talk about God's incredible creation during my son's confirmation class. I am so thankful that my child and I know the truth and I pray that others will, too.
Listening to our audio book together as a family.
Ending the day reading my book on prayer. I have offered my body to Christ as a living sacrifice. I am so relieved to know that I don't have to worry about my body anymore because it belongs to God.