I give up. Seriously.
I GIVE UP.
I’ve tried to do this for too long, and it’s just not working.
I can’t handle it.
The stress, the pressure, wondering if it’s enough, never being fully satisfied. I really can’t live this way.
It’s going to kill me. It’s going to destroy my family.
So I give up. I wasn’t meant to live this way.
I give up trying to live life at a pace that competes with the insanity of our world, so that I can impress people with my offhanded comments of my own busyness.
I give up trying to guard my own time as if my life revolves around my own wants.
I give up working hard to keep others at a distance so that they won’t see my faults and shortcomings.
I give up on the common mentality that as a leader, I’m not allowed to let others close to me, because somehow that would undermine my ability to speak into their lives with words of truth and love.
I give up on the American dream, as if having the perfect amount of stuff leads to any sense of deep and lasting satisfaction in life.
I give up the desire to accumulate things, the desire to be comfortable in a way that leads me towards isolation from others, and adds to the disparity between those who have, and those who have not.
As for those things I HAVE accumulated, I give up an ownership mentality, so that instead I can share whatever I have with other people who need it, whether it’s a mower, a car, or a helping hand.
I give up the desire to be impressive to people around me… which always requires me to keep them at a distance.
I give up the right to sit on my couch every evening and watch tv, when I could instead be out lending a hand, hosting a party, or offering a word of encouragement to a friend.
I give up the right to act like because I have young kids that wear me out, that my life is somehow more difficult than the next guy’s (or girl’s).
I give up going out for pizza with our family alone when we can invite friends to join us at the last minute.
I give up on the pressure and responsibility for my wife and I to raise our kids alone, instead of allowing others to be deeply involved in our life rhythms, giving our children more moms, dads, cousins, parents, aunts, and uncles.
There, I said it. I give up.
I don’t like giving up. In fact, I hardly ever give up. It’s not really a part of my nature…. I’ll go to great depths to avoid being called a “quitter” at anything.
But then there are those moments, you know? When all of a sudden you realize, “it’s not worth it.”
The moments that you realize that whatever it was that you’re giving up….. might not be all that much of a sacrifice after all.
Those moments are pretty incredible in life. Those are the times that we begin to see things clearly- that what we gain by giving up, may in fact be a much greater gift. Jesus talked about that kind of stuff a lot, actually.
And that’s where we’re at. We’re in the process of learning to live life as an extended family, with others in our faith community, and in our neighborhood. It’s not a “church” thing, it’s a life thing. It’s integrated. And it requires a giving up of old ways of approaching things, both personally and as a faith community. Big time. But the funny thing is, the more we give up, the more we are gaining. It might feeling like dying at first, but it starts to feel like new life pretty quickly after that. Jesus said that unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it’ll produce a lot of wheat. Dying to certain things allow life for even better things.
So, at first it feels tough to die to the little things that we do that keep us comfortable in isolation, and keep life revolving around us. But then we start to experience what life in community looks like- the fun times you have when there are others on the life journey with you, and the incredible support that comes from others who are willing to have your back when you need it. And the lifestyle that once required dying to yourself, now looks a whole lot like a new plant growing. Jesus was on to something.
Today is the first day of Lent, a 40 day season on the Christian calendar that leads up to Easter. Traditionally, Lent is a time of “fasting” from something… of giving something up (read: dying to something). Some people don’t eat meat, or give up coffee or alcohol, or stop watching tv, something like that. But if that’s all we do, just stop doing stuff, then we miss the point.
According to Jesus, death always produces life.
If our giving something up isn’t helping us experience new life in connection with God and other people, we’re not getting it. The goal is to remind ourselves that our needs are not paramount, that it doesn’t all revolve around us- that God is our source of life.
So instead of giving up tv or carbohydrates (Lent is a fabulous time to lose weight ;)), our LifePath community is going to give up something else: ourselves at the center of our universe. So we’re engaging in a 40 day journey of giving up for the purpose of giving out. Little things each day that we’ll be doing that remind us of a new way of life that leaves the old behind, and helps us focus on the incredible invitation to love God and love others with the one life that we’ve been given. Little things that will help us remember that life is much better when it’s done with other people- and that doing the whole suburban isolation thing kind of sucks. Little things that will remind us that when we have joy, energy, strength, skills, and resources… and others don’t… then we have a responsibility to share what we have with them.
To us, that seems like a fitting way to prepare to celebrate Easter, when Jesus actually did what he spoke of. A giving up of his life, for the purpose of gaining something even greater- the joy of inviting us into life with God forever. Real life. Full life.
Seeing that almost everything is better with others involved, I’d like you to give up too.
Want to join us on that journey? Click here to print out your calendar, and let us know the new life experiences that emerge because of it. (By the way… these are not mostly “religious things”… see for yourself.)
In addition to our Sunday evening dinner gatherings, we’re adding a one hour Sunday morning gathering during this season (10:30am-11:30am), to give a start to finish overview of the story of the scriptures, starting this Sunday (2/26). That will help the Sunday calendar readings make sense. Check our website if you want in.
Go ahead. Give up.