Simply Complicated

I’ve noticed that many times when we are in tough situations, we somehow expect things to be simple. Like if you are driving (or if you’re driving with me) and we get lost, the solution should be as simple as pulling out a map or GPS and plugging in the destination or looking at the different paths on a map to direct you to where you need to go. While it can seem simple, there are complications that arise. There might not be any signal for the GPS to connect to, so while trying to find a signal, you go further in the wrong direction. While looking on a GPS for directions should be easy, it can be complicated.

Have you seen the Exxon Mobil commercial…the one about boiling an egg. Here is a link if you haven’t seen it or want to refresh your memory.

http://www.ispot.tv/ad/7Ecg/exxon-mobil-enabling-everyday-progress-egg

The idea behind it is that something as simple as boiling an egg isn’t as simple as we think. I love this commercial because it makes a statement about an ideal that people don’t often think about. We think that things are simple when they are actually quite complicated. This commercial demonstrates how much time and effort people put into making things easier for others. We don’t take the time to appreciate all of the time and effort that was spent to make our lives simpler. It makes me wonder; how often are things easy for me and I don’t even realize it?

While complexity can be frowned upon at times, I think it can be a very good thing. Without complex things, we couldn’t paint a wall or enjoy the rushing waters of a creek. You paint a wall with paint and paint is made of complex colors combinations and chemicals. Then you need the brushes that are made of different materials. You couldn’t enjoy cool waters of a creek if there was no source of that water or no ecosystem to maintain the condition of the water. If complicated can be good, why do we freak out when life gets complicated? Don’t we know that good things come from complexity?

Sometimes we expect simple things to be simple, but when they turn out to be complicated, we get frustrated and question what we’re doing and if we’re doing it right. We have proof that good things can come from complexity, but for some reason, when we think of complexities, we get a headache.

Why is it that we expect our relationship with God to be simple, too? Our relationship with God sounds simple, but it is far beyond that. It takes time everyday spent talking to God, reading the book that was inspired by Him and written for us, meditating on what that book says, and genuinely worshipping God with the things you do and say to build the relationship with Him.

Why do we expect life to be simple if it wasn’t created by a simple God?

God isn’t a simple being. He is far too complex for anyone to understand. That’s alright, though, because we weren’t meant to understand even the beginning of who He is.

We expect hard situations in life to be simple. But God is a very complicated being. We could get into a whole theological discussion about the complexities of God, but we wont for the sake of time. My point still stands, though. God is very complex, so when we try to simplify the things the He intentionally made complex, we lose the opportunity to learn some valuable lessons about ourselves, the people and things around us, and God himself. Complex things such as relationships and our purpose in life are things that we want simple solutions for, but we can’t get them because they are not simple concepts.

Overall, I think that complexities are great. We end up learning a lot through hard times and through complex situations. If you think about it, when was the last time you learned more about life through an easy situation rather than a hard one? I can’t think of one in my life. Everything is complicated at some point and to some extent. We all go through hard times in life and are surprised when things get tough. We try to figure out how we got to that point and try to figure out what went wrong.

The truth is that we live in a broken world, so things that we don’t expect to happen are going to happen. Because of free will, we go through complicated situations that don’t have simple solutions. God didn’t promise us easy situations or an easy life, but He promised to never leave us. I think that both of those things are equally as important to remember in complicated situations.

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Capguns, Coffee Mugs, and Winding Roads

As I sit here by the fire with a Sioux City cream soda in my hand, I relish in the amazing blessings that I have in my life.

The crackling of the firewood that is being broken down by the heat of the fire reminds me that even the most ancient and seemingly old-fashioned things, such as a fire, can be such important things. In these days, people are always trying to come up with the next best thing that will help improve our lives. While it’s great to do those things, it’s important to remember where we started and where we came from. Fire is such a basic thing, yet it’s vital to our survival. Without it, civilization wouldn’t exist. Remembering that we were created to light up the lives of the people around us and help create atmospheres of warmth and joy is crucial for us in order to live a truly meaningful life.

The smooth, tasty cream soda that sits in the 12oz glass bottle that I hold in my hand is something that I have learned to cherish. Since I was young, I have always loved the rare treat of enjoying a Sioux City Cream Soda. Sitting here with the bottle in-hand reminds me that things are only things, but it’s the memories and feelings associated with those things are what make them special. If we cherish the little things, life becomes more enjoyable. I remember the very first sip of this particular cream soda that I tasted. It was instant enjoyment. Because I’m only priveliged with the opportunity to drink it when we visit our family cabin in the mountains, I don’t drink it often. When I am able to enjoy it, however, it is enjoyed with my family. It is a tradition that, while seemingly insignificant or silly, holds a special place in my heart. This is not because of the contents of the bottle, but because of the people that I share the soda with. It’s not about the liquid in a cool, glass bottle, but it’s about the people that surround me in my life that mean the most.

Over the past 5 days, I’ve spent almost every waking minute with 5 of my best friends. We road tripped to Tennessee to surprise my sister, Sarah, with a trip to Nashville for her 16th birthday. We stayed at one of the coolest hotels. Six of us packed into a room that was only meant for four and loved every minute of it. From the somewhat creepy crack in between the bathroom door and the wall, to the crazy sparks that we were able to create with our freshly washed pjs and fuzzy fleece blankets, to flipping from one bed to the other, hoping to jump higher than the previous person; we grabbed ahold of every moment and held on as long as possible. As we walked as innocent tourist down the streets of downtown Nashville, we observed the wild nightlife that longed to entrap us in its enticing scene. As we shivered and walked down the sidewalk, we gazed through the windows of the bars and open stores. We were amazed by the place we were in. The lights were glowing, the skyline was enchanting, and the air was crisp and cold. We had been planning this trip for months and the moment we planned for was finally upon us. As we walked around people waiting in long lines waiting to enter the “coolest” bar, we headed towards an unknown destination. We were unsure of where we were headed, but we knew that as long as we were together, we could walk for miles and not care because we were with each other. We finally reached our destination; a sliders place that wasn’t extremely busy or even closed. We searched high and low for a good place to eat and, alas, we finally found one. Sitting at that table with my friends, watching football, and trying to keep our minds off of our impending hunger, I realized something. In spite of what we have done in the past or where we’re headed, all that mattered was the present. I was there with 5 of my best friends. We were on an adventure and nothing was going to get in our way. As long as we were with each other, it didn’t matter what we did.

Sometimes the greatest moments in life aren’t about what you’re doing, but whom you’re with.

Our journey, then, lead to a trip the next morning to downtown Franklin to browse the charming little toy stores and the not-so-entertaining clothing stores. While we were thinking of the different stores we walked around, our minds weren’t always focused on the things on the shelves that were screaming to get our attention. We were focused on embracing and capturing the moments we were so blessed to spend together. Because while buying cool capguns and coffee mugs put smiles on our faces, what put smiles in our hearts was the people that we were with. Our adventures didn’t stop there. We arrived at my family’s cabin in the North Georgia Mountains and the next day our adventure continued. We danced around on train tracks and took goofy pictures on the steps of city hall. We walked to waterfalls, stood in the middle of an almost dried up river, and sank in the mud of the outskirts of a shrinking lake that was deep enough to jump from cliffs just the summer before.

As we licked ice cream on the back porch of Pappy’s Trading Post, while watching the rain fall into the river in front of us, we imagined what it would be like if we were in the 1950s. What will people think of us and our customs and traditions in 2045? What will they think of us? I hope that they will think of our generation as one who knew how to embrace the journey. I hope that they will embrace the moments in the adventures that they will experience.

I hope that they will cherish the people that surround them because without special people in your life, life can be mellow, shallow, and feel as though it has no significance.

If we embrace the people that surround us in this never-ending journey that we call life, our lives will reflect the grace of God and the abundance of His love.

Remembering that God has blessed us with these people for a particular reason, whether it is for a short season or lasts a lifetime, reminds us that life isn’t about the things we own or how many people that know our name, but how we use the things we own to help others and how to love the people that may or may not know our names.