Friday, July 30, 2010

Walking with Friends

Tonight, I had the honor of attending a benefit for a family who attends our church. The father is in the drama ministry with me, and his teenage son was recently diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. In addition, I had the even greater honors of getting to perform in a scene and seeing the performances of two scenes I wrote. I got to listen to some amazing singers and musicians. There was even some Mellencamp (because, you know, no one in Indiana can go ten minutes without a Mellencamp song). My husband and I both had a good time tonight, and I got to spend some time with great friends, as well.

What was truly amazing was knowing that the 200+ people who attended (and there were more who bought tickets in support, even though they couldn't attend) were there to stand by their friends. I've been going to this church for almost five years now, and I haven't really been close to a situation like this before. But to see the outpouring of love (and money!) for a family who needs some financial (and spiritual!) blessings right now is amazing. It was such a wonderful example of what caring people can do when they work together.

I know you are all wonderful, caring people. All three of you who read this blog. Not to use Christianese on you here, but what are you doing to bless someone's life? Heck, what am I doing to bless someone's life? Sure, I showed up to perform at the benefit tonight, but I really enjoy performing. It was just as much a treat for me as for anyone watching (probably more so). What can we do on a daily basis to ensure our friends know that we care about them? Do you have any friends who are in need? Can you take them a meal or send them an anonymous grocery gift card? Or even do some things that are free: babysitting, visiting, sending an encouraging e-mail?

Take time to pray about who needs your help and what you can do. The answer might surprise you!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Why I Enjoy Pretend Stress

I enjoy playing The Sims 3. Sure, lots of people like computer games, so my liking The Sims isn't a big deal. I play it in the afternoons while my son naps, or sometimes in the evenings if I can sneak away.

I always make a Sim of myself and my husband. I make (or buy) a house that looks like ours (though usually a little bigger and always better decorated). I'm a journalist, he's a musician, and we have a family. It's all just like real life!

Except for the stress.

You see, every emotion a Sim is feeling—happiness, anger, loneliness, etc.—is shown via "moodlets." I know all the time exactly what my Sim is thinking and feeling, and there are a variety of things I can do to change those feelings. It's my job, as the omniscient being to these little computer people, to "fix" any bad feelings the Sims might have and to promote good, happy feelings.

Here's the thing: I have a family in real life. I have a baby who toddles around and gets into trouble and needs to be fed and changed. I have a husband who wants to talk to me and spend time with me. I have chores to do and responsibilities to take care of.

Why on earth do I want to play a game where all that is not only required of me, I am scored on it?

Part of it is the whole "perfect world" thing. I can make myself look prettier and thinner as a Sim. I can change my hair and my clothes without spending a dime. I know exactly how to fix whatever ails me. I have cheats that fill my bank account repeatedly. Heck, that feature alone makes my game play so much easier. My babysitter is always available. I get Lifetime Reward points for things like reading or cooking, and then I can spend them on things like always being interesting in conversation or getting to take longer vacations. Part of me wishes life was more like The Sims.

On the other hand, there are things that make the game challenging. If you don't raise your kids well, they can develop terrible traits that will affect them in later life. There are burglars and repo men (which you can't get rid of once they've shown up) and all sorts of tasks to complete in order to move up in your career. It's actually kind of stressful to make sure you get everything done and raise your family before you age too far.

Unfortunately, life is like The Sims in many of these respects.

Life goes by quickly. We have a lot of things to do. Sometimes it's stressful. While we don't have a little panel to tell us what's wrong and a set system of how to fix these things, we have to get by somehow. 

That's where our Omniscient Being comes in.

He keeps a close eye on us, despite all he has to mind. He doesn't magically fix things for us or fill our bank accounts to overflowing, but he does respond to our needs. He rewards us for the things we do well and gently reminds us to try harder on the things we don't. He can give us peace, joy, and comfort, the best "fixes" for our negative experiences. Sometimes we have to go through things we would prefer to skip, but he's there on the other side of those events, waiting for us and helping us get back on track. He's really, really good at all of it, too. 

So all of this is going on in real life. A life that's pretty good, by all accounts. Remind me why I play The Sims again?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Define "Lazy"

To be lazy is to be selfish. Harsh truth, isn't it? Especially for me, who is so lazy that it has to be my blog title. I'm lazy when it comes to lots of things: housework, planning, sundry other tasks that I allow to fall between the cracks of my life.

Sure, I'll have the occasional productive day. Like yesterday. Yesterday, I finished a newsletter I was designing, created this blog, made my first blog post, and figured out how to use Twitter (though I'm still somewhat illtwitterate). Some of this I did while catching up on my favorite shows on Hulu, so I still managed to be lazy in between—and even during—most of my productivity.

But, as this blog woefully admits, I am lazy in my faith. That doesn't mean I don't have faith. On the contrary, only someone with a great deal of faith could do so little to build on it. I'm not short on faith. I'm short on relationship. The whole of Christianity is based on having a relationship with God.

Now, for the record, I'm terrible about keeping up relationships with humans, too. If you are not in my direct line of sight on a regular basis, odds are I'll completely forget to keep in touch with you. I apologize wholeheartedly if you've managed to keep track of me (which shouldn't be hard, considering I've had the same e-mail address since 1999) and I've somehow lost track of you. It's not intentional. I'm a very "out of sight, out of mind" kind of person. It's honest forgetfulness, not a slight against you.

That being said, God is not altogether out of my line of sight, despite being kind of invisible in nature. He's clearly worked in my life for the duration of the experience, and I am reminded of him every day, all day, by everything around me. I'm ridiculously rich in love and hope and family and friends. How could I not see God in my life every day?

So it's not seeing God that's the trouble. It's knowing God. To know God requires me having to do stuff, and, well, being the lazy sort, I often don't like to do stuff. I have to pray, I have to journal, I have to read the Bible, I have to not do crummy things, and if I do crummy things, I have to (wo)man up and apologize for them. And, worst of all, I have to have accountability for all this stuff. Ugh. So I have to have someone on this planet know all the stuff I stink at so they can say, "Hey, you're stinky at that. Fix it!" Except it has to be said nicer because of, you know, Christian-ness.

Boo.

One of my favorite things to tell my husband is, "I just want to do what I want to do!" The World According to Rachel: 24/7/365. Unfortunately, that doesn't really work for, oh, everyone else on the planet. Or for God. It really needs to be The World According to God: 24/7/365. If it was, things would just turn out better, I know it. That's the way it's meant to work. If I would just let go of all the meaningless things I think are important to me and hold on to the one thing that really is important, how could life not improve?

Again, it comes back to doing stuff. Putting aside the stuff I want to do and picking up the stuff I need to do. I can't be the only person who has a tough time with this. Please tell me you're as imperfect as I am.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Have I Lost the Will to Blog?

Quite a jaunty title for my first blog post, don't you think?

It's been several years since I last blogged. Sounds like an AA confession, but I really used to blog. Cynical, college-style blogging in (often) daily posts with moderately interesting things to say. It was called "What Modesty Forbids," based on a quote by—Liberace, I think? I never was able to find that quote again. My favorite feature was called, "A Short Play by Rachel," which involved—you guessed it—short plays required by some weird incident in my life.

And then life changed.

I got married. I moved a state over. All things you'd think a person would blog about. The weird thing was, I felt like a different person. The persona (if you could call it that, since it was nothing like an alter-ego) under which I blogged didn't seem like me anymore. The people who had once read it weren't really in my life anymore. I archived my posts and shut down my blog in 2005.

It'll probably be five years this fall since I last wrote a blog entry. Five years of changing and learning and growing. I'm a mom now, which is totally weird. When I first started blogging, it was mostly about hearing the sound of my own voice, more or less. My voice is the same now, but different at the same time. I'm sure someone can relate to that—being the same person you've always been but, somehow, wholly and completely different. Life is strange that way.

So here I am, blogging away. The reason? Well, mostly I want to become a published author. Authors have to have "platforms" on which to sell their books. Essentially, I need an audience. You, now, are my audience. Welcome!

With this passion has come a desire to write more frequently. To be creative for the sake of reminding myself that I'm a creative person. To push myself to see life through the lens I once used, a lens that revealed my quirky nature in a unique way that encouraged me to relate to the world differently.

That sounds kinda weird and pretentious, doesn't it? Let's go back to the part about being creative and then say that I used to lead a funny life that people liked to read about.

Is life still funny? It has to be. I'm still me, in all my weirdness, despite being a wife and a mom now.

That's the other thing. I don't really want this blog to be about being a wife and a mom, although I'm sure that'll come up occasionally. I want this blog to be about being Rachel and what that means these days. I really want to figure that out.

I suppose you also noticed that the blog title is The Lazy Christian. It's got to be about that, too. The one thing that's come to define my life more than anything else is my faith (despite it's being buried in the umpteenth paragraph of this post and despite the title indicating my oft-professed laziness regarding said faith). I'm a churchy gal. I spent lots of time at church. Every time I leave the house, my son asks my husband, "Mama, church? Mama, church?" The answer is, with few exceptions, "Yes, Mama's at church."

But why? What does that say about me? Who am I now in this gung-ho Jesusy world of mine? How is my faith being poured out through my words and actions? What am I doing with the gifts and talents God's given me?

Well, I've got that last one answered. Writing a readerless blog. Faaaaaaantastic.

This is all part of who I am now. The post-blogging, re-blogging Rachel-in-the-Works is a new me to understand and deal with. So how do I figure her out and deal with her?

Hopefully that process doesn't include more thoughtful, downer blog entries. I didn't intend for this be so heavy! It was supposed to be akin to Entertainment Weekly and it's become The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Yikes.

So, while I'm figuring out how to be a blogger again, I look forward to interacting and becoming part of the—hmm—blogosphere? Is that still a thing? I actually don't remember hearing that word until I'd already stopped blogging. Am I part of that thing where something is cool and then it's uncool and then it's cool again? Perhaps the cool part was that middle section when I wasn't actually blogging. Anyway, I look forward to reentering the blogforce and becoming one that's somewhat interesting to read.

Present post excluded.