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Monday, March 9, 2015


Man, I had another one of those weeks.  They seem to be coming fast and furious recently, so I am doing my best to keep the hatches battened down.  This was a week of disappointed expectations, unclear redirection and general confusion.  Mostly, it was a week of “bad news”.  Nothing catastrophic mind you, but bad enough to throw a monkey wrench into pretty much every plan I thought I had going. 

I’m a planner, you see.  Growing up, my Dad was really into these Myers-Briggs personality tests that break down our operational motivations into 4 categories:  introvert or extrovert, thinker or feeler, intuitive or sensor and judger or perceiver.  It’s this last category that has caused no small amount of strife for me, because I am a judger who grew up in a houseful of perceivers. 

Judgers prefer life to be more structured and decided; perceivers are more flexible and adaptable.  I know this makes me sound like a stick-in-the-mud but believe me, you WANT a judger on your team when it comes to things like hotel reservations, financial planning and basically all things that require organization.  However, the down side is, when all of my careful planning goes down the tubes, I may start drooling and banging my head against a wall.

I would describe this week as having reached a crossroads where all directions look suspect.  Clowns to the left of me; jokers to the right, as it were.  Naturally this makes the little Filofax (HA! Remember those?) in my brain go absolutely bonkers; or as the more modern day GPS would put it, “recalculating” on an endless loop.  And believe me, the voice in my head saying “recalculating” over and over again sounds just as pissy as that British broad on the GPS. 

So I was driving by a church that had one of those signs out front—I am a big fan of the church sign as a rule—and this one said, “The good news is the bad news is wrong”. That is the Lord working in a NOT so mysterious way; the sign was in front of a church after all and I am sure I am not the only person driving by who needed to hear that. 

But it made me think of our obsession with labeling things as “good” or “bad”.  From behaviors to foods to movies to appearance, we have made some universal decisions as a species about what is “good” and “bad”, but then as individuals we have our whole world broken down this way as well.  Which leads me to the “good” part of my “bad” week.
In the midst of my bad-news-bears-blues, my son, who is currently obsessed with looking at maps, asked me what Vatican City is.  This began a discussion of Christianity and how the beliefs of some churches don’t necessarily mesh with our own.  I explained to him that some branches of the Christian church are more committed to the idea that there are rules we all have to follow to in order to please God; for example, how some churches teach that if you are homosexual, you get on God’s bad side. 

My kid’s response to this was, “That’s impossible.  God doesn’t have a bad side.” 

Whew.  Out-of-the-mouths-of-babes, and he is absolutely correct.  It is impossible to get on God’s bad side because God doesn’t have one. 

So why do we?  I’m not saying there is no use in discernment; on the contrary, discernment is not only helpful, it’s fun!  There is hilarity to be had in agreeing that some things are “bad” (like the way bowling alleys and roller skating rinks smell) and some things are “good” (like pizza and sunsets) and the wonderful truth that my #onetruelove Stephen King expressed in his masterwork CUJO:  “There is no bad time for good news.”

But why do we feel the need to decide whether our news (or luck) is good or bad so quickly?  There is a fable about a farmer whose horse runs away, but when the neighbors sympathize about his bad luck he says, “Who knows if it is good luck or bad luck?”  The horse comes back with several wild horses and the neighbors marvel at his good luck, but he has the same response.  Then his son breaks a leg taming the wild horses and again he replies “Bad luck?  Or good luck?” Finally the army shows up to take his son to war, but he is spared because he is temporarily lame. 

I have no idea what is going to happen in the big picture as a result of my “bad” news, but I do know that we don’t have the expression “It’s a blessing in disguise” for no reason.  Some of my biggest disappointments have turned out to be some of my most fortunate redirections, and some of my most exciting triumphs have turned out to be not much more than smoke and mirrors.  Good news, bad news, I don’t know. 

But often enough we discover, when we are able to let go of our plan and see what develops, that the good news is the bad news was wrong after all.

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