Blog Archives

What would Jesus Tweet?

“Your words were a blessing.”

It may have been the timing or the delivery or the situation, I don’t know. They were just words, my words, on a card or letter. Not flowery or lovely or well-heeled, but offered sincerely whenever I felt the nudge to write. After I had heard this blessing-thing from a few people, I began to wonder… If my words were received as a blessing, then God was in that. I owed it to God to become the best writer I could.

I signed up for one online course and then another, attended workshops and went to conferences, formed a writers group and began blogging. I had, for years, written regularly in my journals, but this new writing was different. It was public. Out there to be critiqued, challenged, berated and/or celebrated. No controlling what other people say once you punch that send button.

But sending out was exactly what I needed. Being at the mercy of public opinion, especially honest and trusted opinion, required me to risk. Risk spurred me to write well, or at least as well as I could, and then to receive what came back and give it its proper due.

Fit2Finish coverThis week, I held in my hands the very first copy of my very first book. Congratulations and well-wishes abound, celebrating my accomplishment. And it is. The work of a whole career and the lessons of a lifetime have shaped that book. It’s tempting to be proud. Proud of the work, proud of the success, proud of the adulation. Why not take a bow?

But from the pinnacle it is easy to lose one’s balance. Shouting from the mountaintops “I published a book!!!!” would echo from canyon to canyon. What a great symphony that would be! And that’s what the book-people tell you to do. Establish a platform and get it out on social media. Post it to Facebook; share it on Linked In; tweet it from the mountaintop!

But we’re not meant to build on the mountaintop. Peter got laughed off the Mount of Transfiguration for offering to build three tabernacles. How silly we are to think of making our permanent residence here.

Still, why didn’t Jesus make a bit more noise from the mountaintop? I mean, think about the distance those teachings would travel and the multitudes who would hear. What a splash He could have made on Twitter! But that wasn’t His way. When He was surrounded by many He shoved off in a boat to address the crowd. Why use a boat when you can walk on water?!! Because He didn’t want that kind of attention.

Recently, Cara, the young daughter of a dear friend convicted me in this. Cara is 5 years old, I think. Her mom was telling me how Cara had stopped the swimming instructor before her turn to swim from the wall because, first, she had to pray.

“He tells me to pray to him, so I do what he tells me,” Cara says, then repeats the swim lesson prayer for me: “Dear God, thank you for soccer camp and swim lessons. Amen.”

“What does God sound like?” I have to ask. I mean, how can I pass up an opportunity to question an eye witness?

She cocks her head and thinks for a minute, remembering. “He’s quiet, kind of whispering to me,” she says.

“Why do you think He’s so quiet?”

“If he was loud, everybody would look and shout and point…” she explains, matter-of-factly. An older child would have added, “duh,” but older children don’t seem to hear quite so clearly.

I was immediately dumb-struck. What this child was telling me made perfect sense. God speaks in whispers in order NOT to draw attention to Himself. Of course He does, because God is perfect in everything, including humility. Perfectly humble.

There is no pride there. No shouting from the mountaintop, even though His message is the most important of all time, essential for every single soul to hear. He leaves its expression to us to unfold in our lives and our conversations because that’s where it takes on new life.

Fit2Finish: Keeping Soccer Players in the Game is the title of my new book. I have tweeted and Face-booked and will invite my email contacts to opt in to the newsletter to find out more. That’s the way things get done on the mountaintop. But in the valley I expect the real message will get conveyed person to person in quiet whispers, friendly conversations, and a team talk or two.

Smile, it makes people wonder

The middle-aged, middle eastern woman was on the elliptical machine before I started circling the track. I noticed her and smiled a greeting. She smiled back and continued stepping. We have seen each other at the gym, perhaps been in some classes together, but I don’t remember ever being introduced. The gym is this way; every woman for herself. Come in, exercise, shower and depart. (Well, except for the aerobics and body sculpting class ladies who visit for hours in the locker room after class.)

So we  engage in our individual diligences, mine encircling hers. One time, as I approach her, her face is radiant. She is looking up from the machine screen but not at me. I just don’t normally have that effect on people. 🙂 Curious, as I pass her this time I glance back at the console in front of her, figuring she must be reading something that has tickled her funny bone. Nope. Nothing there.

I’m mystified. People don’t usually smile on the workout machines.

Later, I see this woman again in the locker room. She smiles and says hello. Acknowledges that we are some of the “old timers” – been coming here for quite some time. And so I ask, “Why were you smiling so?”

She was a bit startled. “Was I smiling?” Then out poured, “It feels so good. It really is the best medicine. Everything that is wrong vanishes, worries go away. I feel so light and healthy.” Then she added, “Why am I not more faithful?”

The woman was recounting a spiritual experience of a physical nature. What a good feeling it is to do what’s healthy and fulfilling and lifting. A peak experience that, all at once, seems to meet every need. When we come down from that mountaintop we look back up and wonder, that moment is there for the choosing. Why don’t I choose it more regularly?

“We’ve seen each other here before, haven’t we?” she said to me.

“Yes, we have,” I say. “I’m Wendy.”

“I’m Sheila.”

“Keep smiling when you exercise, Sheila. It makes people wonder.” This is advice I have given before and something I try to remember myself. So many of us adopt such grim, death-march expressions when we exercise, no one in their right mind would consider joining us. But smiling, that makes ’em wonder.

And I wonder why, when it feels so good to do what’s good for my body, I don’t remember that feeling and let it draw me back again to the place at the base of the mountain. I guess it’s the uphill climb that’s a bit daunting.

I’m brought back to level ground as I leave the gym. There sits a young man I had also seen in my travels around the track. He was “working” with a personal trainer. The trainer was providing mostly entertainment while this poorly fit, quite overweight young man struggled to execute a few push ups. If you could call them that. Butt in the air, elbows barely bending, as he descended a few inches. Probably all he could muster. He stood and hunched his shoulders, obviously unfamiliar with the feeling. The trainer gave up trying to motivate the kid to do them correctly, and they chatted about the Caps win last night.

But it’s a start, I remind myself, attempting to cast aside judgment. At least he’s here, attending to the issue.

Hard to resist.

Hard to resist.

Slinging gym bag and purse over one shoulder, I head out through the gym lobby. There’s the young man with the push up problem. He sits in one of the poppy-colored, overstuffed seats in the “waiting and cell phone” area with his Starbucks Venti Caramel Macchiato, thick as an ice cream sundae, double cupped so none of the whip would escape. He sips and sits and chats on his phone. Probably figures, ‘I deserve this, I just went for personal training.’ It will be no surprise when “all this effort” is for naught and he gives up the expensive attempt to fix the challenge he has. Maybe he’ll even add his voice to the millions who say “exercise alone” just didn’t solve my problem.

Nope. Exercise – alone – won’t do it. We need something more to compel us, something that draws us up and then makes us smile. We probably won’t even realize the radiance on our face, but others will see it and wonder. It’s compelling.

I skipped the Starbucks entirely.

%d bloggers like this: