Friday, April 27, 2012

Right Advice at the Right Time

It's funny how advice seems to contradict itself.

"Just be yourself! If they can't handle you, they're not your real friends and you deserve better."

"Sometimes you have to make sacrifices for the sake of friendship and change for the better."

Hoooo boy.

Don't get me wrong, I am all for people being themselves. At the same time, I also am for self-improvement and for people to be considerate and not complete douche bags. Sometimes you just gotta sit someone down and change them. And yet you shouldn't change people. Letting them be who they are is real acceptance! We all want people to accept us for who we are, so be a great friend and accept others!


Obviously the real answer is kinda in-between. If someone is down and out and needs a buddy, cheer them up and accept them for who they are. If someone is being a pretentious jerk, you politely pull them aside and take them down a notch. It all comes down to context.

Here is another classic example. "Give to the poor" and "Help the poor help themselves." Obviously you should help those less fortunate than yourself. I hope we can agree on that. But you don't want to just solve all their problems or else they could become dependent. So, where do you draw the line? Unfortunately, we are really, really good at simplified epitaphs (and arguing about them, see politics) and really crummy at figuring out the in-between point. At what point do you stop simply giving stuff away and start weening them towards self-sufficiency?

At what point do you stop just receiving and start giving to a community?

When do you draw the line between bending backwards to make amends and putting your foot down?

How do you discern the inflection between taking an active role in pouring out resources to making sure you take care of yourself?

What are the signs that you should keep off the knee versus power through and strengthen it?

No idea. I guess that's just something you learn and apply case-by-case.

The world isn't black-and-white, it's full of color.

PS: From my new favorite blog:
A lot of the time people think I’m saying you should be yourself, and that’s not exactly what I’m trying to express.  The idea that you should be yourself gives off this whole negative thought process endowed by laziness and staying in one place, not pursuing something more.  That’s not what I believe.  I believe in growth.  Growth is beautiful.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Awesomeness of Community

I wrote a post on Wednesday and scheduled it up to be posted today. It was quite depressing (but hopefully insightful), and maybe I'll post it some other time.

On Thursday I went to work and wasn't feeling all that great. A little give-and-take of the goods and the bads, but still feeling down.

That evening instead of the usual Fusion group at church, there were two events. One at the church at 6pm and another fairly far away at 7pm. For perspective, normally the trip to church takes around 30 minutes. To get to the other event would take around 45 minutes. That's a lot of driving for some ancillary event that I wasn't really crazy interested in.

During the day I was busy and felt tired and thought to myself, "maybe I should just skip it all today, go home, eat some dinner, and waste time online or something. Things aren't going great, and do I really want to spend all that time driving out to an event and then driving back and all that gas money and blah blah blah."

But, at the end of the day, I thought to myself: why not. Would sure beat moping by myself at home playing silly games.

So I got out of work around 6pm. Too late to make the first event. Besides, that required signing up online and I hadn't gotten around to that. So I got in my car and started out to Rocklin. As I've previously mentioned, I often do some of my weirdest introspective thinking while driving or biking. So I struggled with some things and plotted out some other things and analyzed whether it was all my fault. Got in, parked, found the building, and got a seat.

For context, the event was Francis Chan giving a light talk with a Q&A. For those who know nothing about him (like I did prior to this event), he's a fairly dynamic speaker in Christian groups. He's written a few very successful books. He's pastoring a church in San Francisco specifically targeting training and raising up disciples who, if necessary, could stand on their own and learn from the Bible independently. He has quite the backstory and is very insightful on a variety of topics. Several times he would talk about going back and reading through the Bible to check and try to figure out if he had made a mistake in interpretation when presented with new arguments.

Overall, it was good. There were a lot of very challenging points. He shared some very interesting stories and said some very smart things. And while it was very good and helped reset me a bit, that's not the point of this post.

All this setup is to talk about the others who showed up. The banter before and after. Having people around that were willing to share their thoughts, talk about their lives, and were interested in your life and well-being. Even though some of them I had only met a few times, and one I met the first time that night, in the span of a few minutes we were open and willing to share.

And that really healed me.

To know that there were people that didn't keep me around for my abilities. Seeing in action people that cared about each other and who cared about you. Not just a few smiles and handshakes and saying "how are you?" without really caring. Honestly talking about what they thought, some of their personal struggles. Asking about what was going on and bantering about locale eateries. But it wasn't surface sharing of information. It wasn't "look what I know." It was in the context of people caring about each other, and caring about me.

And that's incredible.

If you are not part of a community that does this yet, you really, really need to find one. It has pulled me out of so many funks. I more often than not leave with a little extra spring in my step and a happier outlook on life. It enables me to try again after the fifteenth failure.

That's not to say it doesn't fail sometimes. There have been days I went, looking for a little taste of community, and only got friendly smiles. There have been moments when I felt myself or those around me only showboating trying to get in their thoughts so that others would think better of them. Trying to be an amazing community all the time takes effort! From all the members involved! But at its core if you care about others and they care about you it can flow naturally.

So, I heartily recommend plugging into and contributing to a community. Not a social group. Not a forum. Not a group of people who share an interest. A community that lives and breathes and builds each other up and pours out their life into each other. Because it's amazing.

Friday, April 6, 2012