Monthly Archives: December 2012

Me and My Drums

Screen shot 2012-12-25 at 6.21.12 PMThis Christmas season there has been a song that has stood out to me and it’s the song, “Little Drummer Boy.” Not a normal top five on the Christmas rotation songs, I realize, but then again, maybe that’s another reason why I love it so much.

In the song, this little boy has the opportunity to perform for baby Jesus. Can you imagine? The pressure! The anxiety of wanting it to be perfect! I remember as a kid having to perform at my annual piano recital. Year after year I would have the same terrifying fear of messing up, forgetting the piece and making an embarrassment of myself in front of my family and the other American strangers sitting in the audience. Reality would sink in all too quickly as I would fumble through my piece, sometimes not even finishing the entire song before I sheepishly walked off the stage to face my disappointed parents.

So, if you can gather from my traumatizing piano story, if given the chance to use my talents to entertain baby Jesus, it’s pretty likely that I would choke under pressure or just pass on the opportunity all together in an effort to avoid any chance of disappointing him. Why? Because truth is, I don’t feel like I’m good at anything. I can’t play piano. I can’t sing. And as my failed audition video proves, I can’t play drums.

I bet that’s exactly the sort of thoughts that would have gone through this little boy’s head in this hypothetical story. All the other shepherd kids probably had the most beautiful voices and were harmonizing along to the chorus of angels that had just visited them. But not the little drummer boy. No. He couldn’t sing and he sulked on the side wishing he could give something, anything of meaning to this precious King.

I think this is a common lie that gets whispered to us: You aren’t good enough. You can’t do anything right. You’re not as good as everyone else. We’re told that to be something great we have to do great things like everyone else. But if you think about it, if we’re all great at the same things then it’s not that great after all.

Seems like the little drummer boy understood that although his gift may be a little different, even unconventional, from the rest of his peers, it was a talent to be proud of. I think that’s why we’re called to simply come as we are. We don’t need fancy words or high achievements, we don’t need a Heisman trophy or even a successful job. All He asks is that we bring our best and the best thing we have to offer is ourselves. What’s the God-given talent you possess? Are you a good cook? Do you make people laugh? Are you a good listener? It may not be the traditional gift you hoped for, but whatever it is that you bring, it is enough.

I used to wish that I had a better singing voice; even something remotely audible and pleasing to the ear would have been nice. I also wished I was smarter in school,  that I was more athletic and that I had more success and accomplishments in my twenties. But those things wouldn’t have made me more or less of who I am. They are merely add-ons to the perfectly made person I was created to be.

Think back to this hypothetical story of this little boy. His mother probably dressed him up in his finest outfit (I’d like to think he wore a cute little bow tie). He watched as the people with riches brought in shiny gifts, rare and magnificent pieces from a far off land. He watched as his brother played the violin perfectly while his sister sang ever-so beautifully. Now, it was his turn. People were confused, some even scoffed, Drums? Who is this hooligan who wants to cause a ruckus in front of royalty? This is just noise! There’s nothing beautiful about drums!

The little boy sighed. All eyes were on him. His tiny hands started to make a beat. He knew he didn’t have much. No gold. No frankincense. No voice of an angel. But you can bet he was going to play the heck out of these drums!

We can spend our whole lives trying to claim the spotlight and we will be fools trying to do so. I hope this Christmas you realize your worth and all the things you’re so talented at. Ask yourself – what would you bring to your King? If our lives are the stable, our opportunity to give our best performance for baby Jesus, are we doing it, are we giving our best?

If you’re not there yet, don’t worry I haven’t been confident in following my talents either. But that’s the wonderful thing about Jesus – we can start right now, to come as we are, grab our drumsticks and start living the way we were meant to live. This Christmas, ask yourself this: if given the chance to make Jesus – our Emmanuel, Wonderful Counselor, the Prince of Peace – smile would you do so with all you’ve got?

So, what’s stopping you? Play on.

Merry Christmas to you all.

Advertisements

Love is a Verb

I’ve been irritated lately which is not a common emotion for me, so the fact that I’m irritated has caused me to be even more irritated. In short, I don’t want to be around anyone and I especially don’t want to be around myself. Excited about this fun, uplifting post? Just kidding!

But in all seriousness, have you ever felt like that? Where every noise, every sentence, every. little. thing. just seems to get under your skin? Every question is stupid. Heck, every person is stupid. And before your realize it, you find yourself turning green and destroying everything and everyone in your way.

During one of my recent monster moments of stomping around, my friend sent me a message and asked one simple question – “Do you feel like your friends aren’t good enough friends to you as you are to them?” It caught me in my tracks. I was literally picking up a building and getting ready to chuck it across town. But her sentence got me thinking. Is the root to our emotions often times tied up in the idea that we don’t feel known and loved by the people close to us?

I started to backtrack. Thinking of the times that I asked for help or favors or company and felt ignored. I thought about the grudges I held from those “I need a friend right now” messages I sent out that were answered with Bueller-esque silence. The more I thought about it and let it simmer, the more I felt justified in my anger. Because when you think like the Hulk, everyone sucks.

Then, I caught myself. When was the last time I was there for people? Being there and showing up for my friends isn’t a “one-time-fits-all” sort of thing, but yet we often see it that way. I’ll go out of my way to help a friend and in my selfish little head it will “count” as me being there for him/her for the rest of their lives. But showing up for your friends isn’t just a one time only or several times only kind of love. Really being there and being a good friend is showing up consistently – Every. Single. Time.

I started trying to shape up. I decided to be a better friend myself rather than focusing on feeling surrounded by the C-Team. So I began showing up whenever I’m needed (or not needed) without any expectations of anything in return. When my co-worker was in the hospital, I showed up. When my friend was recovering from surgery and wanted to watch the Alabama game (who is my least favorite team ever), I showed up. When my friend was going through an emotional breakdown and said she wanted to be left alone, I showed up. And I started seeing a change in me; that the more I showed up, the less I cared whether or not other people were doing the same for me.

Screen shot 2012-12-05 at 11.06.27 AMWe spend so much time telling people in our lives that we love them. But if we really examine the heaviness and emotion of love, we’d see that it isn’t just a word we use. No. Love is a verb. It has hands and feet, it moves people, it encourages, it brings goodness and hope and is something to share not to hide. Love, as we see portrayed many times in movies and fairy tales, is more powerful than any irritable Hulk that forms within us. We can waste our moments feeling sorry for ourselves or we can make a choice to do our part in stepping up, showing up and actually living out love as a verb. What we’ll discover is that when we focus our lives on showing love instead of hoarding it, we end up with more love than we started with.

We can learn a lot from the examples that have been set before us. The most impactful people in this world haven’t been the ones plastered on newsstands or standing on soap boxes, but they are the ones that showed up consistently and genuinely with their love. They didn’t just speak of love, but they showed it – sometimes even as simply as being present and making themselves available to the people around them. Take for example, a baby boy in a manger who answered the pleas of a suffering world. You see, our King didn’t send a fruit basket. He didn’t send his angels to do the work for him. He didn’t write a text message or post a “meaningful” note on our Facebook walls a couple weeks later. He made himself present.  And not in the form of the angry Hulk, but through the endless hope and relentless joy of a baby boy. Our King came. He showed up.

Now, it’s our turn to do the same.