Have you ever encountered someone and just had the overwhelming sense that they were going to have an impact on your life or that you were meant to know them? So much so that you went out of the way to introduce yourself and strike up a conversation.
Well that is exactly what I thought with my friend Rose. We met in a class a couple years ago, got together for coffee, and now she is one of those people I don’t want to imagine my life without. She is so dear to me and has taught me more than I can say. But let me just take a moment to brag on her for a bit. First, she’s an Australian—so already starting off good. Not only do I love listening to her talk but she brings new perspective to my life having been raised in another country and offering insight from an upbringing different than my own. Next, she just has an air about her that gets me motivated to tackle life—like a medley of energy and passion that exudes from her and rubs off on me more & more. We get together at least once a month and even just knowing that I’m going to see her invigorates me. Last, but certainly not least, she is a great conversationalist. We have some great “walk & talks” about life, faith, where she encourages and challenges the snot out of me in the very best of ways.
One of the things that always stood out upon first meeting Rose was when most people would ask, “How are you doing?” She asks, “How are you going?” This is obviously an Aussie expression for the very same question, but as only God knew, so necessary as I traveled in my journey in Masterpiece living.
Let’s take some moments for utter honesty. When we ask someone “how are you doing” the majority of the time we are just being polite, reciting mundane pleasantries. I know this because the majority of the times this question is posed it is when we are in motion, in route to the “important” things and not invested in the person we are rushing from. Again, guilty! So this question seems like such a throw away. The immediate response is of course, “fine” or “good,” because we oblige the civility to respond but to continue the honesty train, most of the time, particularly in difficult seasons, we don’t want to get into a conversation about what is actually going on in our lives.
Real life: If you really knew me and the circumstances of my life there would be no need to ask how I’m doing because you would already know the answer to the question and we wouldn’t have to play in the shallow area of the pool.
On the other hand, I’ve often told people I genuinely don’t know how to answer the question, “how are you doing,” because while my life throughout the week may have fluctuated, it is indeed settled at the time of our meeting. I can set the events of life aside to be present to others, so offering a “fine” response doesn’t seem like a lie, but it isn’t always necessarily the truth. As a helpful side note, maybe we can start being more inventive in our interactions and asking things such as, “tell me something that occupies your thoughts today,” or “what was one thing that brought you joy or sadness today,” or even busting out the good ‘ol Christian question, “what is something I can be praying about for you.”
Anywho, so my battle with “how things are doing” continues. However, when my dear friend asks me, “How are you going,” it somehow adjusts the conversation.
Her question somehow pushes me to analyze the movement of my life and the state in which I enter into that movement as opposed to just the mood at the present time or an overall summary of general state of my life. I mean, yes, I could respond with a “good” or a “fine” because essentially that is what she is asking. But from the moment that phrasing presented itself to me, it somehow forced me out of the gut responses to an answer that was completely different.
So, how am I going…am I going backwards?
It is easy to live in the past, where things seemed better in the “good ‘ol days,” or trying to get back to an old feeling thinking that will be what you need. Nostalgia can be a dangerous emotion. It tells us the past was better than what we currently have, which usually isn’t the case (if you want more info about that, check out the podcast link at the bottom). The other danger in going backwards, and maybe I’m just speaking for myself, is living out of who I was as opposed to who I am today. This could be out of the old ways I have seen in myself or others have seen in me. Almost as if I am living in my mistakes instead of learning from them—no bueno mis amigos!
Am I stuck in neutral?
There have been times, even this year, where I feel stuck in my present circumstances. Where I’m definitely not going backwards, but nothing seems to be progressing. Feeling stuck can be the worst because it means we are drained of hope and possibility or we’ve resigned ourselves to just what is. I know for myself this can leave me in the spot where I wrestle with complacency and being comfortable instead of pushing myself to pursue more of the Lord and what He has for me in this life.
So how am I really going?
What I always want to be answering Rose when she asks me how I am going is forward, always forward. Yes, it’s simple but really it stems from my wanting to adapt, change, and adjust to God’s Spirit working in me and with whatever circumstances life throws at me.
So how do we go forward, as I know there are going to be times where my life is stuck in neutral or I’m trying to kick it out of reverse? Honestly, this progression has only come when I take a step back. It’s being diligent to take one day at a time, learning from my mistakes and pushing on to the best of what this life can offer by changing our mindsets and putting those new thoughts into action.
My encouragement to myself and also to you is that we strive to always move forward. Forward into the messy, conflicted, nuanced, and beautiful life that the Lord has set before us. Forward into new thoughts and ideas about ourselves and how we see the world around us. Forward into fully living each day as who we are made to be with all our imperfections and idiosyncrasies. May you go forward well this week in grace and peace!
Until next time…Live as a Masterpiece!