Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Attitude is a Choice

I first heard that expression when I was working at a call centre in Halifax. If I could hazard a guess, I suspect all such workplaces use it. It's not that I don't believe the adage that attitude is indeed a choice, but I'd almost make an exception for the courageous souls who'd rather tackle irate service calls than take the simpler approach to life, i.e. doing anything else under the heavens.

On days like this, I'm reminded that no matter how much I might struggle with this assignment or that, I'm in a much better place than I was just a few short years ago. It's funny how quickly time passes, how minuscule and negligible our existence really is. And yet, as fast as my life might crumble into the precipice of changing seasons, it feels like an eon ago that I lived for myself. I've only been a practicing Christian for less than three months, and it feels like I took the decision to commit myself to God in a former, distant life. I'll never be perfect, but I do make a sincere effort to overcome my limitations and live out the revelations and epiphanies I've had over the recent weeks. It's just a little surreal to see how many pages my bookmark has traversed through my Bible and how much the experience of reading it has humbled me.

Last night I finished the book of Daniel, and I couldn't begin to describe the feelings that swept over me as I was reading it. Ditto Isaiah and Ezekiel. There's something about reading prophecies, knowing when they were written and just how accurate they were, that thrusts me into a state of humility and fear-- the good kind, not the imaginary fear that so vehemently tries to govern my life. I'm not going to post interpretations yet; these books demand extensive study. I remember one passage in Isaiah where I felt a strange urge to Google some information on Topheth, a valley south of Jerusalem where those who strayed from God offered human sacrifices to empty idols--their own children, no less--and after I read that it had a two-pronged effect on me: 1) it completely changed the way I understood that verse, which I might have otherwise glossed over; 2) it reinforced just how important it is to read beyond the text. But this is just how much I've changed. Where I used to want to impose my own meanings into things, where I once had to complicate life and try to extract purpose and depth from the simplest pleasures, I now believe that life is something to discover, not to mold.

This morning I had an interview in Meteghan at 9:00 AM. When I woke up, it kind of irked me that I had scheduled it so early. Although my job bestows me with very flexible hours, I had a bout of insomnia throughout last week. In spite of the fact that my body was warding off influenza and its residual effects, it was taking me anywhere from three to five hours to fall asleep-- this during a time when my body was utterly zapped. One night I went to bed at 10:30 and didn't fall asleep until 4:00 (ish). My mind was racing. It's as if I was contemplating in advance all the points God was going to hurl at me through Pastor Jim on Sunday morning. And let me tell you, with the utmost sincerity and humility, I got absolutely lambasted this past weekend. I know that none of the pastors write their sermons intent on addressing any one person, that they pray over these things and let God do the talking, but it felt as if I was placed into the stocks, wheeled onto the stage, and was getting my whole life drawn in chalk on a blackboard. It was as if God seized me by throat and spelled out exactly what I had to do to find everything I was searching for. As much as I might have wanted it to be an insurmountable challenge, a cosmic decathalon that would require months of prep work, it was the most elementary thing imaginable: 1) Stop convoluting life. 2) Stop thinking everything to death. 3) Live for the moment. 4) Forgive yourself.

This morning, as I trudged my feet to the car, sinuses acting up, realizing it wasn't quite as mild as I expected, I knew that God was with me, but I didn't understand just how much He cared about me knowing it. In spite of all the sleep I lost last week, which I'm slowly making up for, I was relatively on time for my earliest interview in a while. Given the distance, I'm excluding an 8:00 AM one that was practically in my backyard. I won't get into detail about the interview except to say that no matter how hard it is to walk into these things, 19 times out of 20 I end up leaving with a good impression. People here can be a little lackadaisical about how beneficial, scratch that, crucial it is to market their businesses, but once I sit down with them they most always impress me. We have good workers here who are generally inept at tooting their horns about it. That's where our magazine steps in. Anyway, as I walked out of that interview, I felt a calmness envelope me.

There I was, out of my cage, i.e. my office, standing in the sun on a mild January morning. The air was soothing, and there was a dewey glaze on the road. As I got into my car, I felt as if life was timeless, just as it is for God. I didn't want to take the highway home, I felt like meandering along the coast. I felt like taking the scenic drive home and intersecting all the rays that seep through the boughs to decorate the road like one of those heart monitor machines. In the end I chose not to, thinking that I could replicate the experience on the highway, and I did. I turned up the music, sipped away at a large double double, and just floated home as if the very moment was a charming drug. For whatever reason, I felt as if my current place in the universe, in spite of how it might look on paper, in spite of how others may look at me and say I haven't accomplished much (or have)-- I felt as if none of that mattered. God is with me, and God will guide me through every step and decision and hurdle that comes my way. I don't want to lose sight of this. I don't want to rush through any part of life. I don't want there to be a fast-forward button anymore.

For the longest time, I told myself that I would pay my dues young and reap rewards later. Now I believe that paying one's dues is a reward of itself. Life is a due. Anyone that doesn't bestow himself or herself with life is indebted to God for breathing existence into us. You know what? That is absolutely all that matters. So yeah, no scriptures to cite today. They're very important, but they'll never be a substitute for how you put them into practice. God willing, I'll soon have an opportunity to discover them with other like-minded folk. But that's for another moment. For now, I'm just going to soak in this little stint of warmth amidst the coldest months. I guess the LORD knew I had some traveling to do this morning and ordered up some unfrozen roads for my journey. When I look back on life, He blessed me through every minute of it. Through illness and health, through feast and famine. God hasn't withheld a thing from me. It's time I stop questioning why. Yes, I think I'm on the road to healing. I may not be indestructable, but God's plan for me is. But He can't enact it unless I let Him. Ladies and gentlemen, attitude is a choice. Be your own ally and life will act in kind. But if you're anything like me, that's probably way too simple for you to compute. I genuinely pray that God unravels it for you just as He's been doing for me. Ironically, for someone as immeasurably strong as God, for a righteous and holy being who can move the very mountains, I think it's the molehills that He most often has to explain to us. I can chuckle at it now. And if I can, anyone can.

2 Comments:

Blogger Slave Morality said...

I've got a new favorite "Notes in the Carpet" post.

8/1/08 16:45  
Blogger James said...

I guess you could say that I once was blind but now I listen. :)

8/1/08 22:39  

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