For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power and love. 2 Timothy 1:7
It’s the news that changes your life for ever. It either illuminates your faith or nullifies it – it strengthens your friendships or dissolves them – defines your character or distorts it. Nothing is the same–the familiar is no where to be found and “normal” no longer exists.
While awaiting a liver biopsy, my friend and I sat in the waiting room- she explaining the steps that brought them to this point and me understanding the familiar journey all too well. Holding back tears–I listened. The results came at the end of the week–stage four liver cancer.
People call times like these “defining moments” and for some, this is the case. It is also the commencement of questioning. Why? Why is this happening to me, my kids, my family? Why is God allowing this to happen? Why, after all we’ve been through…? Why….? It is the natural human response.
I personally believe that the “whys” matter little. If, by some inexplicable means, we were able to know the reason, would it matter? Would we then be able to say, “Sure God, now I get it. That makes perfect sense to me, no problem.”? – of course not! No answer would be sufficient.
The obstacle lies when “why” living begins to bog us down, when we allow the “whys” of life to stifle our ability to live fully in the here and now. Dwelling in the “why” causes us to drown in our circumstances, leaving us depleted of energy and faith.
To transcend living in the “why” is a choice, albeit a difficult one–a choice to put faith above doubt, hope above despair, and gratitude above pity. Perhaps it is even an opportunity to see God through the pain, to know God more fully – to experience His grace and love even when we can’t comprehend the “whys”.
“Time has no meaning in itself unless we choose to give it significance” -Leo Buscaglia-
I have survived almost two weeks without Facebook. I haven’t checked my status, your status, your photos, my news feed–you get the idea. Guess what I have found? TIME! Yes, I have an unexpected amount of extra time on my hands. I do miss “socially networking” with friends and family, but the residual blessings have been worth it.
When I exited Facebook I did so with wordage similar to “now you will have to contact me in the old-fashioned way: phone me, email me or text me”. Who would think “texting” is old-fashioned (chuckle)? I had no idea that so many would take me up on my request. I have had more folks call to “check-in”, email to share a story or simply connect, of all things, in person. I have thoroughly enjoyed it.
Part of the decision I made when giving up Facebook was the promise that with the time I normally spent “networking”, I would use more constructively – writing, praying, reflecting etc… I had no understanding of what this change would entail or look like in reality.
On my first day without Facebook, I walked into the house, plopped my book bag on the kitchen counter and thought to myself, “Now, what are you going to do?” Seems that I normally spend a good deal of my initial “down time” after work networking on Facebook. Only a moment passed before a friend came to mind – one who lives far from me, but who is going through an amazingly trying time. I sat down to write her a note. I can’t remember the last time I wrote a handwritten letter to someone. A few days later, a friend called with grave health news. She needed someone to just listen and asked if she could stop by. I not only had the time to spend with her, I had the energy and focus to lend an ear. Just yesterday, another friend called to say, “I miss you on Facebook (I had to smile) and want you to know about this great decision I am making for my life (extra big smile), so I decided to call.”
I wonder if I would I have made these same decisions even without the Facebook “fast”? I would like to think so, but I am not sure if that is the case. This act of self-denial has not only provided the time to contemplate, it has caused me to become more intentional in the use of my time. My aspiration is to live more in the present, to find a way to reach beyond the “noise” of life, and to learn to tame the “hurry”.
I just finished a book by Ann Voskamp entitled One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. The entire book was a blessing, but her words particularly resonate when she articulates the frenzied life we sometimes live.
Hurry always empties the soul….I speak it to God; I don’t really want more time; I just want enough time. Time to breathe deep and time to see real and time to laugh long, time to give You glory and rest deep and sing joy and just enough time in a day not to feel hounded, pressed, driven or wild to get it done– yesterday.”
This is where I often reside–robbed of my joy and strength because my life is too hurried. I understand that Facebook is not the reason I feel drained of time, it is simply one of the many diversions which exhausts my energy each day. Only by reducing the life “noise” am I able to hear, enjoy and experience the now. I am learning to live fully in these moments of life when God is ever near–these moments that allow me to slow down the pace, get my breath and live fully with thanksgiving (eucharisteo).
As a disclaimer: My blog is set to automatically post to Facebook (even though I am not on it right now)–ironic isn’t it? So if you wish to make a comment on this post that you would like for ME to see–then you will have to view it from my blog and comment there.
How many of these 100 books have you read? Copy and paste the list on your blog, highlight the books you have read and then post a link here to your blog.
I am not sure what criteria was used to compile this list, but it seems fairly complete (with the exception of The Five People You Meet in Heaven and Bridget Jones Diary) The BBC says the average person has only read 6 books on the list. Looks like I better get reading…
1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen 2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien 3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte 4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling 5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee 6 The Bible 7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte 8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell 9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman 10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens 11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott 12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy 13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller 14 Complete Works of Shakespeare – read some, but not others… 15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier 16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien 17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk 18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger 19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger 20 Middlemarch – George Eliot 21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell 22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald 23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens 24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy 25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams 26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh 27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky 28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck 29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll 30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame 31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy 32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens 33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis 34 Emma – Jane Austen 35 Persuasion – Jane Austen 36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe 37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini 38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres 39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden 40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne 41 Animal Farm – George Orwell 42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown 43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez 44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving 45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins 46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery 47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy. 48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood 49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding 50 Atonement – Ian McEwan 51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel 52 Dune – Frank Herbert 53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons 54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen 55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth. 56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon 57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens 58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley 59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon 60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez 61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck 62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov 63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt 64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold 65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas 66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac 67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy 68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding 69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie 70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville 71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens 72 Dracula – Bram Stoker 73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett 74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson – No but I just finished his new book AT HOME and loved it. 75 Ulysses – James Joyce 76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath 77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome 78 Germinal – Emile Zola 79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray 80 Possession – AS Byatt. 81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens 82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell 83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker 84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro 85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert 86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry 87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White 88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom 89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton 91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad 92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery 93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks 94 Watership Down – Richard Adams 95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole 96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute 97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas 98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare 99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl 100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo