Monday, August 22, 2011

Fanning the Fire

How does one maintain the fire one gets from something you learn or desire to do?  Like when you start a new exercise plan or a healthy eating kick… how do you maintain the fire to keep going after a few weeks?  Or after feeling the sting of my impatience with my kids; the guilt I feel and the hurt on their faces… how do I maintain the daily patience and grace necessary to parent my children as they deserve to be parented? 

What makes some people who receive devastating medical news completely change their lifestyle?  And, why do some who receive the same type of news, do nothing to change their circumstances?  Why after losing someone they love, do some really see what life is all about and live a life according but others do not. 

I think it is human to slip back into old habits and old ways of reacting to things.  I think it is easier to do that than the hard work of changing who you are, not matter how much you desire to be or do something different.  It is a valid reason – we ARE afterall, human.  But what is it exactly beyond that allows some to make lasting changes and others can not?  Fear… laziness… lack of belief… poor self image… a strong faith… perseverance or lack there of… or maybe accountability? 

I have many wonderful plans.  I research, gain support (in my head or with others depending upon the plan), implement and even execute the plan.  However, what I lack is follow through on many of those plans.  I have had moments of follow through in my life… like sticking to my guns when I was a teenager despite much disappointment from my Dad when I did not want to continue with sailing lessons…   Like losing 40 pounds about 5 years ago… like reading the bible last year. 

A friend of mine mentioned how she has started using a journal in church to make notes on the sermon.  She got this idea after reading the book Radical.  I have not read the book… yet.  But from our conversation she was talking about being a student; writing things down to remember and do something with that information – study, research more, think about - instead of just hearing and forgetting as the busyness of life gets in the way.  I may not have remembered our conversation correctly, but hey, that is what I took away from it which has lead me to ponder things leading to this post. 

I like the idea of being a student.  I think I am good at that part, the studying and research part, the observation part.  What I need to become is a fire builder, someone who does something with their knowledge.  I went to college because it was always expected, that is just what you did.  I went through the motions and graduated as expected.  What I did not do in college is absorb. I did not gain a fire to do something with my knowledge.  The funny thing about fire is that no matter how good a fire you build, not matter how much research you do on the best position of your logs to get air flow, no matter much it rages fast and hot in the beginning… if you do nothing to it, it will eventually burn out.  The fire builder has to fan the flames, keep feeding it – do something to keep the heat and intensity.   

That feeding, that fanning is what sets people apart.  It is what moves some people to action for the long term burn, not just the hot fast action in the beginning of an idea or plan.  That feeding is what is moving my friend to journal our sermons.  It is that feeding that allowed me to lose weight without grumbling years ago.  God has given me a brain to use, desires and a heart to do certain things.  But ultimately it comes down to doing the work, taking action on my plans, knowledge and desires.   It comes down to the having the faith that I can continue the hard work over the long haul.  The most rewarding of things come from the hard work, not the planning.  So I will build and I will feed my fire.   

Faith can move mountains, but don’t be surprised if God hands you a shovel. 
Author unknown.  

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