Sunday, October 26, 2008

Reaction (4 and 5 of 7)

I'm very reactive. 

I think, as people who follow Jesus, we're called to be proactive.  But I tend to be reactive.  It's kind of like Risk Management (the field I work in).  The whole point in Risk Management is not just to be reactive to Issues or Problems - things that are already happening, that you can't prevent and have to fix.  The whole point is to be proactive and figure out the Risk (a Problem that hasn't happened yet) and prevent it before it rears up it's ugly head and bites you in the...

Anyway, I'm reactive.  I spend a lot of time reacting to what other people say and do; reacting to my circumstances in the world, reacting to things that happen that are out of my control. Even in my spiritual walk - I wait until I see or hear something bad or wrong, then I jump on it.  Actually, that's why this blog is called Jim's Running Commentary.  Because I seem to have a commentary on everything, and just made it my outlet to complain or say "what the heck?" when I see something I think is off. Instead of "going about doing good", I just look for the bad and talk about how it needs to be fixed.  Two problems there. The first is just reacting to the bad (which I understand is part of what we need to be doing - look at how many times Jesus and Paul corrected something that was wrong), but you have to be doing good in parallel with fixing the bad.  And the second part of the problem is just talking about what needs to be fixed, and not actually doing anything.

But being reactive isn't just in my spiritual life.  I've talked about how I'm reactive in my health habits.  How I'm reactive in judging people.  How I'm reactive when something sets me off. Things just bug me. It's a deeply ingrained part of my personality.  I talked about this with Krista the other day, proud that it was this amazing new self-analysis that I did that made me realize something new about myself that wasn't obvious to me.  She was borderline shocked that this could be any kind of revelation to me.  She said I've been like that ever since we've met (17 years now!), wondering how often has it been that I don't give people a chance because I think they're obnoxious, or stuck up, don't like their attitude, or something else moronic.

It's almost like I look for the bad in everything and let that color my life. And it's such a part of me, I don't think I can switch it off.

Well, I can't by myself.  It's the kind of thing that takes a lot of prayer, a lot of love, a lot of soul searching, a lot of help.

You know, I've been doing some reading on the seven deadly sins.  And something I've found interesting was that Sloth was not just intended to be avoidance of work and effort or getting by with doing as little as possible or not living up to your potential.  Writings from St. Thomas Aquinas and Pope St. Gregory I (St. Thomas talks about it in his Summa Theologica, and references Gregory's writings) include sorrow and despair and not caring about things. It's kind of like depression - you start to wear this groove in your brain by finding the bad in everything, and it feeds on itself until you don't care for anything and you feel hopeless like there's nothing you can do; and there's nothing you want to do. I'm sure to do it justice, this needs to be a more in-depth discussion, but I just don't feel like it, now.

Ha! That's a joke, in case you didn't know.

Actually, this post would be way too long to go into it too deeply. But how often do we feed ourselves in this matter.  Don't get me wrong - I believe there's a point in depression where you just can't fix it yourself and need professional help - I know; I've been there. But there's something warm and cozy about that melancholy place that makes it hard to leave, sometimes, even when you can.

And it seems like Sloth is linked directly to Envy (well, St. Thomas links it to all the Deadly Sins).  When I'm finding the bad in everything, I can't even see the good in it when good things happen to other people.  Do you ever react like that? Asking, why do they get that?  Why do they deserve that?  Why can't I have that?  They already have more than me, and look, now they're getting more!  Of course, I forget to look around and see how blessed I am.  It's hypocritical, really.

Good grief - what's up with that?  I can't even celebrate when good things happen to good people.

I know it takes a lot of hard work to reverse deeply ingrained habits, but that's what I've got to work on doing.  It's easy to say, "that's just the way I am." But I have a feeling that particular attitude won't stand up before God.

I'm Old

Huh!  I've been at this a while and never been "tagged" before (thanks, Krista!). 

So...what was I doing...

20 Years Ago (October 1988)
Good grief, I'm old.  I was in my first semester of my senior year of high school. (That means next year is my 20-year-reunion. *sigh*)  Anyway, I was starting a decent Senior Year, after a rough Junior Year.  After receiving my first C's (plural) my Junior Year (that's not the only reason it was troubling - there was lots of crap going on), I came back my Senior Year, got all A's, was an Associate Editor of the school yearbook, and finally looked forward to college. I was a big, giant dork in high school (so not a lot has changed): in the National Honor Society, the Science Club, and was, of course, President of the Chess Club. I enjoyed my classes, but lunchtime was always my favorite, hanging out with best friends Steve Hatfield or Ron Johnson.

10 Years Ago (October 1998)
Krista and my paths met about 7 years ago, and we've been married a little over 5 years, now.  We're the best of friends (though have our rough times), and have lived in Florence for about a year now (after moving from Baltimore), being convinced by Jerry and Trina Ross that it's a great place to live, and really liking their church.  I've finally got a decent job, though one that's going to have me commuting to Huntsville every day (Krista was temping in Huntsville, so at least we could commute together). Good grief, what were we doing back then? I think we lived in Coffee Manor - those apartments over by what used to be Coffee High School. We were enjoying getting into Darby Drive Church of Christ events and spending time with new (and old) friends. Those were some lean times, especially before I started working in Huntsville, but they were good times. (At least gas was hovering just over $1 a gallon!)

5 Years Ago (October 2003)
Julianna's a year-and-a-half old.  And how she's talking! We're just loving spending time with her.  She's been the perfect baby.  The only thing we really complain about is how it took an hour of laying down with her to get her to sleep. We're thinking, one kid is good for now.

1 Year Ago (October 2007)
We've got Baby Max now (he's about 6 months) and are gearing up for the CrossPoint Harvest Festival. Julianna is going to be Tinkerbell, and Max is Peter Pan.  I guess his homemade costume makes everyone thinks he dressed as an elf (even with his hat with the feather in it, and the plastic knife in his belt).

Yesterday (October 25, 2008)
Yay!  It's Saturday!  Julianna played soccer in the morning, and we spent the afternoon at the Florence Renaissance Faire. Oh, and can't forget that we got a babysitter for Max, so we could take Julianna to High School Musical 3: Senior Year. (My, how things have changed since I was a high school senior!)

Today (October 26, 2008)
Church this morning, church tonight, and the requisite "chillin'" in between.  Finally took some time to write today.  My time and mind has been all chaotic lately and I haven't really had the time or inclination.

Tomorrow (October 27, 2008)
I always look forward to Mondays.


Saturday, October 25, 2008


(This is the halftime devotional I gave at the Upward soccer games this morning.)

I'd like to share a short story from the Bible in the book of Matthew.

Back in the boat, Jesus and the disciples recrossed the sea to Jesus' hometown. They were hardly out of the boat when some men carried a paraplegic on a stretcher and set him down in front of them. Jesus, impressed by their bold belief, said to the paraplegic, "Cheer up, son. I forgive your sins." Some religion scholars whispered, "Why, that's blasphemy!"

Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, "Why this gossipy whispering? Which do you think is simpler: to say, 'I forgive your sins,' or, 'Get up and walk'? Well, just so it's clear that I'm the Son of Man and authorized to do either, or both. . . ." At this he turned to the paraplegic and said, "Get up. Take your bed and go home." And the man did it. The crowd was awestruck, amazed and pleased that God had authorized Jesus to work among them this way.

Passing along, Jesus saw a man at his work collecting taxes. His name was Matthew. Jesus said, "Come along with me." Matthew stood up and followed him.

Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew's house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus' followers. "What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?"

(And here we get to the important part!)

Jesus, overhearing, shot back, "Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: 'I'm after mercy, not religion.' I'm here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders."

One of the things I love most about Jesus, and one of the things that got Him killed, was that he loved everybody. He showed that he didn’t come to save stuffy, self-righteous church people – the people that thought they didn’t need Him. He came for the people who needed him – those people that the stuffy, self-righteous church people didn’t want around. So remember this – whether you’re someone who has a practice of going to church every Sunday, or you’re someone who has never stepped foot in church building. None of us are perfect, and you don’t have to be to come inside. God’s family has always been full of people who make mistakes – sometimes horrible mistakes. That’s why Jesus died – to save all of us.

(Story taken from Mt 9, from The Message.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I just went over 500 miles on a single tank of gas in my Cavalier. Pretty good, considering I've got a 14-gallon tank. My fillup ended up being just over 13 gallons. That would actually give 39 mpg on this tank of gas. Can that be right? I haven't been using my air conditioner, but still. I'll have to check that again. Bonus: I paid $2.65 for gas so my total fillup dropped by about $10 to $35.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hitting a Patch of Fog

I can't really tell where I'm going. What an interesting coincidence.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thursday Morning Painted Sky


I guess I haven't had much to say lately. Or, rather, I've had lots going around in my head but haven't had the time to organize it into any kind of cohesive thought. 'Course I've been blogging for going on 4 years now and I've just been tagged for the very first time (by Krista). I guess that's as good a place to start as any.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Blimp over Mt. Carmel

What a weird sight - we're driving east on Highway 72 and just passed under the Goodyear Blimp. I hope the picture turns out...I took it with Krista's phone, sent it to mine, cropped it, then posted it here.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

This is my Friday...

Thank goodness for the loooooong weekend. The Zoe conference starts tomorrow.