When I grow up

I’ve been thinking. I know … too much of that can hurt the brain. But this turning 50 has me rattled. All that dreaming about what I want to be, or be like, when I grow up … well, I’m up. I’m here. This is it.

For more than a decade now, I’ve had three words pasted above my computer screen: gentleness, generosity and contentment. As character traits I most value, they still resonate. Deeply. But I am realizing more and more that growing into these traits is not just some long-range journey for future perfection. To live gently, generously and contentedly is about what I chose today as much as what I hope for tomorrow.

At CSBC the past few weeks. we’ve been reading Colossians. It’s a relatively short letter in the New Testament attributed to the Apostle Paul. It’s a good read, inspiring in parts, perplexing in others. It’s highly political, written to encourage a small group of believers trying to follow the way of Jesus in the midst of an oppressive Empire–one that impacted every aspect of their lives.

In last week’s installment, after painting an extraordinary picture of the sort of community Jesus calls us to—one of radical equality and mutuality—Paul lists the character traits that most identify a life lived well: compassion, kindness, humility, gratitude, meekness, forgiveness, patience, love and peace. Now there’s a list!

In the 5pm service, Chris placed around the sanctuary a series of stations, each one with a red candle symbolizing these traits, and each accompanied by some questions for reflection. As I wandered from one to the other, I felt quite moved … and overwhelmed. Words like these are always more comfortable listed on a pretty, motivational poster—words of aspiration for tomorrow. But Chris’s questions brought each one home and into the present. For each one of these traits, like those pasted above my computer screen, is about the choices I make today in the most practical ways. It’s now.

3 Comments

  1. Above my computer I have these words from Annie Dillard: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” From my perspective you do, indeed, spend yours Simon in gentleness, generosity and I hope contentment.

    Reply

  2. Simon struggling with those words ‘gentleness, generosity and contentment’ with my current circumstance. I am now taking your wise lead and have written these 3 words inside my IPad cover as a daily reflective reminder of how I would like to be. Given that I will be fully ‘grown up’ in just over twelve months time I now realise I do not have much time left to work it all out!

    Reply

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