Help Yourself

Shopping on Amazon is almost too easy. In a few clicks you can find whatever book, movie, tech product, or toy you want. You’ll find recommendations and different price levels. Take the app to any retail store and you can scan items to see their immediate price on the website.

One of my favorite features is reading customer reviews.  Now, not all are honest. Sellers will pay people for reviews.  Even with this understanding, you’ll often find some interesting observations and consistencies.

Today I was reading a review of Pastor Steven Furtick’s book, (Un)Qualified. The guy wrote that the book was merely a combination of Furtick’s podcasts and reformatted stories from his prior publications.

His final line was this, “Do Christians really need another self-help book anyway?”

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Today was Opening Day for Carter’s baseball team.  I stood with the kids talking to another coach.  He is also the field commissioner for the league and spends a ton of time keeping them in shape.

As we watched, kids and parents crossed around us, all sinking deep into the dirt infield, now mud, created from a wet Saturday. He looked at me and said, “I wish I could say something.  I’m going to have to fix all this.”

Do we need another self-help book?

It depends on how you see your faith. At this point in life, I’m a work in progress.  Our family is a work in progress and I know Val and I have a ton of growing to do as a couple and parents. Personally, I find value in the work of speakers and writers holding up the mirror to life, telling me how to avoid sinking into the mud and how to climb my way out.

There is still a mystery of faith.

There are still many why’s waiting for answers.

There are still days I wake up wondering how much longer until the tide turns and the trajectory of life shifts.

So I guess maybe some people who follow Jesus feel they don’t need any more self-help books. Their lives are fine and they are secure. Someday I’ll join that club, even if it is day I do it in heaven.

Until then, let the work commence.  Tomorrow is a fresh start for different and better things.

~Matt

Unsteady

Today was one of those days.

If I had a dollar for every blog starting with the same concept written today, I could stop working and fill more digital writing with similar material.

We put through almost 240 patients at work, an endless sea of faces with a selection of ailments. It was a shift where you just stop thinking at a certain point and start laughing.  I heard every possible complaint at least six times, driving home and looking in the mirror wondering how I survived.

This compounds into a general unease I’ve felt recently. The cards haven’t fallen our way. We seem to stop taking up space and start getting ignored.

As a writer, this feeling is usually my internal radar saying it is time for a new book to read or write. The muse gets frustrated and bounces around inside until he finds what he wants.

For others, it can be much worse.

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There’s an entire industry devoted to self-help and direction. Writers and speakers cash in on our need for someone to tell us what to do. You can’t throw a stone on Facebook without seeing a sponsored add about leaving your job to do what you love by working five hours a week and starting your own business.

The bottom line falls on what you believe.  How do you see life when things get hard?  When those days pile up to months and years. When the kids don’t get easier, the bank account doesn’t grow and the people you need don’t answer their emails.

It is not all rainbows, even for those of us who try to follow Jesus.

We pray and we memorize our verses. We know our promises and “stand on them” even without grasping the meaning of the phrase.

I’d love some solidarity at the moment, some solid ground and a clearly visible foundation. Until then, the fight continues.

We live, even unsteady, and do it again tomorrow.

~Matt