Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Pickle Jar

"So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it." Colossians 3:12-13 (The Message)

I don't know about you but picking out my clothes for the next day has always been a source of contention for me. First of all, I'm not your average girl; therefore, I don't have a ton of clothes. Pickin's are slim so I don't have much with which to work. At my old job, it was "business casual", which essentially meant dress pants and a nice top. Ugh! Secondly, that's my least favorite category to wear so I was never a happy camper. I remember one week I went on "strike" and wore the same thing to work every single day: khakis and a polo. I'm not sure anyone noticed and if they did, nothing was said.

In contrast, my not-so-new-job (where I've been for nearly a year), there is no dress code! Zero. Zilch. Nada. Imagine that! I literally can wear whatever I want; except maybe a bathing suit, but that's just not practical. I'm a million times more productive when comfortable rather than dealing with something fussy. The thing is, even given complete freedom, I still find myself standing in my closest, starring at my clothes, hoping something new will show up in my wardrobe. Surely the Lucy from Narnia brought something back from me while I was sleeping, but so such luck

Regardless of what I physically wear, I still have to "gird my loins"; prepare for the day ahead mentally and spiritually. Mentally usually takes care of itself by getting a good night's rest, drinking caffeine and eating something for breakfast. Oh yeah, and music. I must have rockin' music in the morning. But, I have to be honest, I don't do a very good job getting myself ready spiritually. Oh sure, I talk to Jesus all throughout the day here and there, but I don't pray over my day like I should.

My priorities are all out of wack. My Pastor gave the best example to illustrate this point and I hope I can recreate the scenario. Imagine an empty pickle jar. The goal is to fit everything in: rocks, pebbles, sand and water. First, start with the rocks (about 1"-2" in diameter); it appears already full but see what happens next! Second, the pebbles fill in the holes where the rocks left. Third, the sand fills up every nook and cranny, but there's still room for more. Finally, the water is mostly soaked up by the sand. In fact, more water fills the jar than you thought possible. Now, as you look at this imaginary jar filled with all these 'ingredients', let's translate that to a tangible real-world application and associate each 'ingredient' with something as well:

Water = God.
Sand = Family
Pebbles = Work
Rocks = Media (Facebook, TV, Movies, Video Games, etc.)

Given our first scenario, Media (Rocks) are taking up a huge part of our lives. I know this is true in my life. Once I'm finally home from work or working out at the Y, all I want to do is sit down and veg for a bit. Turn on a movie or watch TV, while often simultaneously playing on the computer (Facebook, emails, etc.) The next thing I know, it's bedtime and I haven't accomplished anything meaningful.

Sand (Family) is a big part of my life already, but how much of the time spent with them in quality time? Are we talking about life? Are we investing in an other's lives? I went to lunch with my Dad last week and learned things I never knew about my Dad! What else don't I know?? One of my favorite things to do with my family is play games, but we usually only do that at the beach. Is one week really enough to last the whole year?

Pebbles (Work) has honestly never been an issue for me. When I walk out of the door, I leave everything there, then pick it back up again when I come back. I have to compartmentalize or I might go insane. With my current job, I do have a lot more responsibility so I do tend to think about it a bit more than I should, but not obsessively or anything.

Water (God) can be the most difficult for me. I know people think I'm this great Christian and a prayer warrior, but honestly I don't deserve the credit you're giving me. Yes, I spend time with Him, but not like I should. I don't hunger for His Word like I should. I don't even read the Word necessarily. My best time spent with Him is when I'm writing and listening to music in the car. That's when I hear Him the most.

But anyway, back to my analogy. OK, mentally dump out all the ingredients again, except, maybe pour the water out first or you're going to make a mental mess! What would happen if you reversed the order? Would everything still fit in the pickle jar? Let's give it a try!

Use the same amount of water (God), but pour all of it in first. How about that, it's already 3/4 full! Add the sand (Family) next and watch what happens. The water (God) allows the sand (Family) to be quite solid with not much room for anything else, but let's add the Pebbles (Work) to the mix anyway. Look, they sink a little bit into the water (God) and sand (Family) mixture, but mostly sit on the surface. Lastly, see how many rocks (Media) you're able to fit in now; not too many huh? In fact, if you try to cram them in, the water (God) and sand (Family) spills over the edge. Surely you see where I'm going with this by now?

The benefits of having and keeping priorities in check can make all the difference in your life. If things seem out of wack, maybe it's because they are. You're like a washing machine, stuffed with too many clothes. You're off balance and not centered in Him. I know this to be true in my own life. Sure, things look OK on the surface, but there's still that discontentment I referred to yesterday. Perhaps it's just God's way of saying, "Hey goofus, why don't you spend some quality time with me and then see how you feel!" Unfortunately I sometimes need a konk on the head with a 2x4' to put things into perspective. Or perhaps a silly, yet memorable analogy of a pickle jar. I bet you'll never look at pickles the same way again; I know I won't.

Happy trails, friends.

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