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7.06.2013

Dwight and I

I think I'm the next Dwight Howard. And although our basketball skills are fairly even these days, surprisingly, I'm actually comparing myself to Dwight in a non-athletic way. 

I can't make a decision. 

And I feel bad for us, sometimes. We're as indecisive as can be, Dwight and I. It drives my friends nuts who want to hang out with me, if they're lucky enough to be the ones I decided to hang out with.
What do you want to do? 
I don't know. 
Want to grab food? 
Sure. 
Where? 
I don't care. 
Well what time? 
Whenever. 
What team are you going to sign your next max contract with? 
 ... 

There's this part of me that feels flexible and easy going; whenever, wherever, whatever, I'm down. I'm easy. But most of the time, it's because I can't make a decision. 

It's evident in my sermons. I can't decide what direction to go, so I end up going several different directions in the same sermon. I can't figure out what classes to take, so I sign up for more than I planned so I can drop the one I like the least. When I'm shopping, I like so many different options that I sometimes turn into a temporary Calvinist--I decide that if Gap has it in my size, then I'll get it. If not, then it wasn't meant to be. And let's not even get into dating, careers, houses, cars, cell phones, computers, vacations, cities to live in, teams to sign with...

We have so much to figure out. To decide. To choose from. Dwight and I. It's no wonder we're always looking for something better. 

Because there probably is. 

And there probably always will be. 

And it seems so obvious to those of us not named Dwight Howard that if he'd just pick a team and sign a contract, if he'd just plug in and make the most of where he is, he'd be on the road to happiness. It's a road far more rewarding than the road to the Finals. 

It's easy to mock Dwight Howard, isn't it? To criticize him for not making up his mind, or scandalously, changing it. Yet I'm just like him. We all are. It's the nature of a culture that has more options at its disposal than any other civilization that's ever existed. 

We can't decide on anything because we fear missing out on everything. Somehow we've managed to avoid or escape or belittle the present, beguiled by the illusions of More and Better. We feel as though we're settling for something good, when an elusive Great is still out there. 

So I wonder, then, how are we making our decisions? What is guiding us? What do we really want? 

Do we want more stuff because we actually need it or because we're burying pain? Do we need an expensive apartment in Uptown because it's the best fit or because we want to impress our new friends? 

What is guiding us and what should be guiding us are often different answers. Is it our quest for fame and fortune and the fountain of youth, or our endless pursuit of self-gratification? 

What if we were led by a desire to embrace the beauty that already exists in our lives? Instead of looking for shiny new toys, what if we discovered the luster of familiarity exclusively found in our current ones? Instead of craving another expensive addition, what if we saw the worth of simplicity and the value of the ordinary? 

Sometimes God speaks in loud pulpits and louder music. Sometimes God moves in hot flashes of fire and bolder walls of sea.  Often times though, God is present in the simple, ordinary moments of life. A smile from a stranger when we need it, encouragement from friends that spur us to new heights of achievement, a gentle breeze, a homeless woman asking for money, the annoying driver that stole our parking spot. 

A friend recently told me about her boyfriend's apartment search. He saw a place he liked and put down a deposit right then. It was such a foreign concept for someone who's driven to Dallas five times in the past month looking for the perfect place to live. We need to practice contentment. And for most of us, that means we need to find it first. To learn to identify that feeling of satiation. 

Because what if the Best or the More or the Great that we're searching for is never going to be found by constantly searching for it in new or other places? What if Best and More and Great exist in the same place or the same things or the same friends or the same career, only it's deeper? Instead of searching outward for other options, better options, shiny new options, what if those better experiences exist right where we are, deeper down? With more investment? With more presence? With more attention?

I fear that our culture has taught us to look beyond, to crave more in order to arrive at happiness and excitement, and in so doing, we don't find it. We're never satisfied. Because everything is surface level. What we really want, what we really need is not the excitement and flash of newer things, but the richness of depth and familiarity and ordinary and consistency and simplicity.

I wonder if that isn't why our church experiences are so unsatisfying. And our friendships. And our careers... Contentment means we aren't searching outward but further inward. And as we move deeper into the beauty of the ordinary, common, everyday moments of our every day, we'll find richer glimpses of the God who satisfies.  

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