Thursday, March 12, 2009

Glimmers

Sometimes I feel bad, because I feel like I should draw more deep, profound lessons from life situations on a daily basis. I am, after all, in a ministry position. Isn't that the foundation of a memorable sermon - a funny personal story with a sharp punch of a moral at the end? But I think that the combination of trying to fit everything into a strategy and almost always multi-tasking at high speeds keeps me from seeing - or at least appreciating - the profundity of life in the moment. That's one of the reasons I'm not sure I could be a serious or professional writer. I'm just not usually immediately inspired.

But yesterday, I had one of those rare, in-the-moment moments.

My puppy is very sweet, intelligent, loving, loyal, fun, quick-learning, and really stinkin' cute... as well as stubborn, dominant, pig-headed, ornery, attention deficit, hyper, ditzy, and extremely obnoxious... and I knew exactly what I was getting into when I got him. I grew up with the breed, and I love that even though he's little (about 20 pounds), he has a huge personality. I chose him purposefully and knowingly. He's really a good dog and can pick up new tricks very quickly, but he can also be very hard to train simply because he has his own ideas about what he should be doing with his time.

So therefore, I have spent most of the two years of his life fighting with, I mean, training him. Most days are a mix of good and frustrating with him. He's usually really good, but will get either bored or impatient with me and do something he's not supposed to. Some days he's just a total pain in the rear no matter what I try.

But yesterday he was wonderful. He listened all day, played nicely with me, sat sweetly with my small group girls, told me with plenty of warning when he needed to go out, and just generally acted the perfect companion dog that every pet parent dreams of. And I thought, "Wow. It's days like this that make me thankful for all the time I've spent trying to get him to behave. He's actually kind of growing up into a good, sweet dog."

It occurred to me that this epiphany of a relatively simplistic situation applies to lots of bigger issues in life. Benni has been a total butthead more often than not, and I don't by any means expect him to remain that perfect puppy I saw yesterday (in fact, he reverted quite easily to his normal, ornery ways again today). But I momentarily saw the fruits of my labor, and it felt really good.

I've found the same thing to be true in student ministry. I spend my whole life thinking of ways, planning ways, empowering other people to use ways, and implementing ways to guide students to grow in their faith and relationship with God. Most of the time, it's just daily work - it's something I do constantly because it's a part of normal routine. And because it's normal routine, I don't always think about the progress I'm making or even see the minute changes in the kids.

But then there are moments - a student makes a decision, prays a heart-felt prayer, ministers generously to another person, or leads someone to Christ for the first time - and it strikes me that this is a glimmer of the purpose for which I've been laboring long and hard. For a brief moment, it all makes sense.

Of course, I don't expect those glimmers to be permanent, unchanging habits right away - that's something that can only be acquired in pieces over a lifetime, and which most people never truly master. Students will gossip again tomorrow, or hang out with the wrong group of friends in a few years, but even during those times, I'll remember their baby steps and know that my attempts at the seemingly impossible are still worth it in the perspective of eternity.

So I hugged my puppy and said a quick, silent prayer of thanks for that moment of realization. I really do love my job... and my dog. :-)

2 comments:

HEy Kdbug! I got a LinkedIn because you invited me. Is this for 242? i invited Madison and Katie Wagner to join too. I had to lie about my age, and that i go to college! lol. :)

HEy Kdbug. Caroline again. Hey! I didn't know you had a bLogspot! I follow you, will u follow me? lol. I will miss ya ladies tomorrow night. I have been listening to music ideas for the dance. I'm workin on it! when will be talk about it? Next wednesday? i don't know if i will be at church because we are going to visit my grandpa. hopefully i will see y'all soon. Luv ya.

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