I read, therefore I quote:
“Vision gives significance to the otherwise meaningless details of our lives . . . It’s the difference between filling bags with dirt and building a dike in order to save a town. There’s nothing glamorous or fulfilling about filling bags with dirt. But saving a city is another thing altogether. Building a dike gives meaning to the chore of filling bags with dirt. And so it is with vision . . .
Too many times the routines of life begin to feel like shoveling dirt. But take those same routines, those same responsibilities, and view them through the lens of vision and everything looks different . . .
This is why I can sit in the bleachers for four hours at track meet to watch my son run a total of less than TWO MINUTES. This is why I let my daughter listen to her Mulan Jr. rehearsal CD for HOURS in the car. And in the family room. And in the bathroom. For 15 weeks. It’s why I don’t get angry about the fact that my husband’s work schedule often puts me in “single parent” mode. This is why I’m pausing the drafting of this post to go to lunch with my daughter at school right now.
. . . two days later.
I do these things because I see a bigger picture. I want my children to know, really KNOW that I’m their advocate. I’m home base. I’m the safe house. I’m to be trusted. Depended on. NO. MATTER. WHAT.
And I’ll tell you something. I don’t do it because I’m all that. I do it because I’m damaged. And I’m freakishly, relentlessly determined to BREAK the cycle. Come hell or high water, four hour track meets or obsessive rehearsing, broken glasses, gouges in the wood floor, dishes piled in the sink, 23 rolling water bottles in the floor of my van – MY children will not be damaged in the same way I was. (of course, they will be damaged in other ways – their therapist will tell them how later).
So yes. I relentlessly strive to choose on purpose because I’ve seen what “going with the flow” looks like. Significantly less than optimal. (ya know I edited THAT)
My son may not sit next to me at the track meet, but I’m confident – he’s glad I’m there. He ASKED me to be there. My TEENAGER asked me to be there. I see this as an honor, not four hours in captivity. I know that my daughter takes me and my rides to and from her rehearsals for granted. Now. But she’s nine. And when SHE has a child and drives them around, spending hours in the car everyday, my hope and prayer is that she remembers that I did that for her – and I didn’t complain about it. For years. Because I want her to know and extend grace without letting someone know how put out she was to do it. As we say around here, “It ain’t grace when you give it that way.”
So, yes. When I decide to do something, I give it my best effort. Because I see more than the tasks. I see the REASON behind the tasks. I have lots of hidden agendas and I take advantage of opportunities to teach by example. And by example, that includes asking for forgiveness when I lose my patience with my husband or one of my kids or speak harshly and hurt their feelings. It includes making things right when I do things wrong. And believe me, there’s plenty of “making things right” on my To Do List. Caring for my family is job one. Each one of them is a gift from God and I’m determined – and I mean DETERMINED – to be a good steward of His gifts. I’ve had a close up look at “reactive” parenting and my personal, long term struggle with the negative consequences has been life changing and tenaciously motivating. I’ve seen good enough. And it ain’t.
I chose to be intentional. Consistently intentional. Because I’ve known for a very long time that I was being prepared for a “good work.” And I know, from someplace deep and buried inside me, that if I allow myself to be used by God to do so, I can partner with Him to equip my children and husband for His good work too.
More from Andy Stanley:
“Specifically, vision weaves four things into the fabric of our daily experience:
1. Passion. A clear, focused vision actually allows us to experience ahead of time the emotions associated with our anticipated future. These emotions serve to reinforce our commitment to the vision. Even the most lifeless, meaningless task or routine can begin to “feel” good when it is attached to a vision . . . The emotions associated with being there [are] enough to motivate you through the drudgery of getting there. (emphasis added)
2. Motivation . . . Saving a town is enough to keep you working through the night. But just filling bags of dirt for the sake of bag-filling will leave you looking at your watch.
3. Direction. Maybe the most practical advantage of vision is it sets a direction for our lives. It serves as a road map . . . simplifies decision making . . . vision will prioritize your values. A clear vision has the power to bring what’s more important to the surface of your schedule and lifestyle. A clear vision makes it easy to weed our of your life those things that stand in the way of achieving what matters most . . . Once you have clarified your vision or visions, many decisions are already made. Without vision, good things will hinder you from achieving the best things. (emphasis added)
4. Purpose. A vision makes you an important link between current reality and the future. That dynamic gives your life purpose. And purpose carries with it the momentum to move you through the barriers that would otherwise slow you down and trip you up.
. . . you have probably heard or read this type of stuff before. Self-help books are full of this kind of hype . . . But here is where we part ways with the secular motivational gurus of our culture . . . as Christians, we do not have a right to take our talents, abilities, experiences, opportunities and education and run off in any direction we please . . .
Accumulating money or stuff is a vision of sorts. But it is the kind of vision that leaves men and women wondering. Wondering if there was more. Wondering what they could have done – should have done – with their brief stay on this little ball of dirt.”
“. . . therefore I quote” Thursday: If you have a quote to share from something you’ve read recently, feel free to comment and/or include a link to your own “quote” post.
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