Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Taking A Stand: Building Character

I sometimes watch parts of my life, like a movie in my mind. Now, with this admittedly narcissistic perspective, I want my movie to be a good one, full of pathos, action and of course - I just come out looking really good. (Admit it, you've thought like this, but have enough sense not to make it official).

At church, we had just wrapped up a cool mini revival. Like a pep-talk, or rah-rah session for the religious. I realized I wanted to add to my Christian commitments. I wanted to make sure I attended scheduled meetings reliably. Not just when there wasn't something more interesting to attend. I fear making commitments. If you voice them, people have the outrageous idea that you are serious and then, when you don't follow through, ask nagging questions of "why?". Oooh, I hate it when that happens.

I am too much like the Apostle Peter. Shoot my mouth off first and worry about the consequences later. I checked myself. I was serious about this new-found desire to consistently attend meetings. In my mind I was the struggling hero scrambling up that hill of commitment to plant the flag. I'm sweating and panting BUT determined. Music, up, as I gallantly plant that flag of victory! I made a commitment! Fade to black.

Unfortunately, I also don't plan ahead for the challenges, or conflicts in life. Not a week later a friend calls me up for a lunch date. I stumble into a problem by asking her when she wants me to meet her. Now, it is Friday morning, Prayer is at noon... She specifies 11:30 AM. What do I do? Yeah, agree to it and ditch prayer! Oh, oops, I ponder if a hamburger might have some spiritual importance. No, God didn't go for that one either.

I have to make a plan to avoid this problem. After some serious thought, I realize I can stake out meeting times and schedule around them. I will keep control of my schedule. Once again, I climb that hill, victory is mine!

Sure enough, the next social invitation rolled around on a day of a prayer meeting. This time I was ready. I carefully explained I was busy from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM. My friend elected to meet me after prayer. Yes! This works. Confident I'd never let myself down, ever again, I turned my attention to other matters.

I had gotten an invite to co-host a pod cast because of one of my email rant-o-thons. I carefully prepared notes and other information the host would need and began to play the ever popular: "When can we schedule this?" game. The first week I was about as easy to track down as a Mexican Jumping Bean. Week two, I was around, but on this particular Wednesday night, I had a prayer meeting in 45 minutes.

My friend was totally busy and I figured it was time to disconnect my headphones, put my music on the external speakers and prep for church. My friend is in business for himself. When he finds some time to do something, he wants you NOW! This man did not get where he is by being indecisive. Any of you abuse refugees have trouble with assertive people? My newly created spine was about to be reduced back to a pile of quivering jell-o.

"Hey - poke - tap - are you there?" came a string of one-line instant messages. He wanted me to switch to Skype, so we could work together over the phone to record his show. I get totally freaked out when I have more then one thing to do at a time. I've learned to try and disguise my internal sense of panic. After some fiddling around, I finally got the headphones and mike set up. Now, I had less then thirty minutes before prayer. No problem. I'll just use that fact to move our session...

"This is the only time I'll have available for this for the next three weeks." Note, he's just stating his fact. Did I heroically forsake the fame and fortune of pod casting for God, like the hero in Chariots of Fire? (He gave up an Olympic competition, in order to go to church). Oh heck NO! I folded like a house of cards! You know the old people-pleasing: "Well, since you put it that way, I'll ditch prayer".

As soon as I typed that response, I felt a curious sense of internal discomfort. Oh nuts, I've violated a REAL personal value. Oh well, too late now. "God, I'm gonna put you on hold, until I finish this pod cast and then we can work it out. CyberGal Out". Hmmm, I must be getting healthier, this doesn't feel good and I definitely won't do it again...

Damn, maybe I really am building character, wow!.

My friend was being challenged by several unexplained technical problems making it impossible to do a quality recording for his program. At this point I started to pray that God would help him solve the difficulty. It didn't resolve, and I had the crazy notion that I'd better finish getting dressed, in case I could still, actually make it to church! I ached to pray that the problems WOULDN'T get fixed, but I stopped myself. But as the minutes ticked by and my friend was still having problems I rejoiced when he threw in the towel with: "Go, on to church, this computer is having a problem."

Inside I cheered. I'd already explained to my ride that I may not be able to come. Now, when she called to let me know she was downstairs, I like Cinderella waltzed triumphantly, into my carriage and off to church!

Prayer had the largest attendance I'd ever seen over my year at this church. A lady got saved and a wonderful time was had by all. My friend, being the class act he is, rejoiced with me. So, "...when the moon is in the second house, and Jupiter Aligns with Mars..." We'll both be available, at the same hour to record his pod cast.

I hope the next time I'm confronted with an objection to my planned prayer commitment, that I'll stick to my guns and not do a fabulous imitation of a waffle!

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