The Butterfly Effect on a whole new level

butterfly effect2Have you ever seen the movie “the butterfly effect”?  It’s a bit of a dumb question because I haven’t seen it… but I did see the ad!  that movie ad introduced me to the butterfly effect theory.  Basically, it says that one small thing results in something huge.  the reason it’s called the butterfly effect is because it was hypothesised that a hurricane can be traced back to a butterfly flapping its wings in a far off place several weeks before.  It’s  a pretty awesome theory if you think about it – I mean, just consider how many butterflies there are!  Maybe, if you step on one, it will throw off the whole world’s equilibrium!  maybe it’s just me… but I ain’t standin’ on no more butterflies!

Anyway, I was sitting in a conference recently and heard someone talking about butterflies.  And because my brain works in strange and mysterious ways, I started to think of the butterfly effect and how his story about butterflies affected my views on the butterfly effect.  And here is the awesome thing that I discovered: as cool and monumental as the butterfly effect is, the “Christian Butterfly Effect” is about a million times cooler!

If a butterfly could change weather and nature, could a Christian change society and culture?  After all, they are both guided by the same God…

Think about the impact that a single Christian could make on society if this is true!  A choice that I make today could alter the course of another person’s life, maybe multiple people’s lives.  Having written a church  history exam this morning, I have a fresh perspective of the impact of specific Christians.  Without Calvin, a lot of our reformation may never have happened.  Were it not for Elizabeth (bloody Mary’s heir) we may still be fighting it out between the Catholics and Protestants.

We all like to think we can make a difference.  We base life choices around making a difference – what am I good at? Where can I excel? Who should I work with? We look up to people like Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela and, dare I say it?  George Clooney. Why? Because all of them have been influential.  All of these people have changed lives.

butterfly effectBut the multiple people’s lives who were touched by Mother Theresa were still individuals.  Nelson Mandela saw people and not simply a country.  The great thing about Christianity is that it’s all about the people.  Love for one another.  A choice made today could impact the person next to you.  Tomorrow, that person could impact someone else.  And with each new act of deliberate godliness, the impulses will start to create ripples that cannot be stopped.

If we properly believe in God’s ability and strength, we should believe that the smallest of deeds done in faith could have momentous outcomes.  One life saved all, but your life could be the beam directing people to safety.

So I ask you, if you knew your life would make a difference through every small action, what would you change?  Could you keep living the way you’re living now, knowing that each step could be changing something?  If you truly believe you can make a difference and honestly want to make one, what does that mean for the life you have now – your actions, choices, and decisions?

Spend a day in that Butterfly’s shoes.  It may only live a day, but it could cause a hurricane.  What are you doing with your day?

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Dating my best friend

I watch way too many romantic comedies and read far too many cute romantic stories.  I accept it.  And as this girly-girl that I have become, I have cultivated ideas of a wonderful date

He comes to pick me up and then we sit in the car talking about everything, anything and nothing.  Conversation is easy between the two of us.  We both look dashing and turn heads when we arrive at our destination and enter the restaurant.  We get a table for two and sit down, barely noticing the waitron because we’re so intent on one another.  It takes ages to order because we’re too busy laughing and talking and having fun together. Fast forward and he gets the bill and drives me home and I wave as he drives away.

And this was all in the back of my mind a few days ago as I sat slurping on a milkshake while chatting to my best friend and watching as she wolfed down a burger.  And then it suddenly dawned on me: I was dating my best friend!best friend

DUM DUM DUM

Now the two of us have always joked about the extent of our friendship (we’re tight.  Freaky tight.), but when one realises one is literally going on dates, one must pause to reassess life… and wonder what one’s boyfriend might think of all this.

But as I sat and thought about it, I realised that I don’t care that I’m dating my best friend.  After all, shouldn’t it be like that?  Shouldn’t friendship be a bond just as important as any other and cultivated as carefully as possible?  I treasure this friendship beyond belief and if showing it means taking her to a restaurant and driving her around and giggling about stupid things together, then that’s ok by me.  I will date her everyday.

There’s something else that’s interesting about this whole “dating my best friend” concept.  I’ve always been told to marry my best friend (and by that, they didn’t mean the girl whom I’m friends with, they meant the person I married should be my friend first and foremost.  Just thought I’d clarify that one.).  If I’m supposed to marry my best friend, and I very happily go on dates with him, why not extend the same courtesy to my best friend who will be walking me down the aisle to hand me off to my husband-to-be (read other best friend).

The more I think about it, the more I like it.

Heck!  I think we should all be dating our friends!

PhotoBooth-78Friendship is something to be treasured.  Putting every effort into maintaining that friendship and giving it longevity should be a norm, not a question.  I hope I never forget the importance of the best friend in my life and if I ever stop dating them… well, maybe that shows that I don’t really deserve them.

(And in case she didn’t catch it, this one goes out to Claire Morrison)

When waiting is grating

Yeah, I know, it’s a cheesy title, but there it is anyway.

Maybe it’s a human thing, maybe it’s a Jo’burg thing, maybe it’s just a me thing, but I hate waiting.  Every now and then I think I have a handle on patience…and then an annoying human being happens – taxi drivers in peak hour traffic, police road blocks on my way to college or work, people who cut into queues, or worse – people who walk slowly!  Notice the variety of annoying people wasting my time?  Notice the common denominator?  yeah, that’s right, it’s me…

The thing is, as I think about this and type it out I’m realising just how horribly impatient I am – and in a balanced way too.  I get impatient for good things – like getting out of traffic, or graduating – but I’m also impatient for bad things – starting tests, meetings where I know it’s not going to end well…  nothing ever seems to be fast enough for me.

So my question is: how did I get here?waiting

When did I become so irritated by waiting?  When did my pride and my ego grow so big that I stopped deeming the needs of others necessary?

Honestly, it’s scary.  To think that I’ve put myself so high on a pedestal that the world must revolve around me is a disturbing thought – to say the least!  And what’s worse is that until I started to seriously think about it, I was oblivious.  I thought myself blessed to be so intelligent, to have been given a job, to have a car, basically, to be me.  And then somewhere along the line I turned those blessings upside down and instead of them being arrows to the greatness of God, they became arrows pointing at pathetic, insignificant me.

All this from realising that I was sick of wasting time…

There is one last thing that must be considered though.  If I recognise that the signs point the wrong way, how do I turn them back?  Well, I could give you the glib answer and tell you to follow God.  But as true as that is, it’s not exactly practical.  After all, how is that done? Well, here’s my theory:  God made man, man fell, man got mad at God so he got mad at man, God sent his son to restore man to Him, man tries to live for Him, man forgets that man is His creation, man treats others like dirt, man loses track of God.

We (and when I say we, I mean I) need to stop and try to remember that:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Interesting that loving others is up there with loving God.  I think it’s about time that I start looking at people instead of myself and looking to their needs and time before I rush sanctimoniously past them.

I apologise for this somewhat self-indulgent post, but I think maybe it needed to be said.

But why?

One of the funniest things to watch is a curious child with a worn out teacher or babysitter.  Conversations usually go something like this:

“but why?”

“I don’t know.”

“But why?”

“I don’t know!”

“But why?”

“I don’t know!”

(Repeat et nauseam)

Honestly, sometimes I feel like that kid tugging on God’s hand and in a very childish, naive way begging “but why?”  The difference is that God’s answer is not “I don’t know”.  And what a relief that is!  Imagine the God of everything not knowing something!  …I guess He wouldn’t really be God then, huh?

I’m a control freak.  Self-proclaimed, self-diagnosed and self-sufficient control freak.  I don’t like not knowing what’s going on and I certainly don’t like my plans having to change.  Enter God.  My life plan wasn’t just put aside, it was spun around until it was dizzy, then released to stagger about the room before tripping on my goals and falling head first out of a ninety-floor building.  And it was hard!

So now I sit, with no idea where my future is headed and no idea why God redirected me…

But one thing I do know is God knows.  And it’s really annoying that He knows and I don’t, but it’s still comforting to know that there is an overseer for all that goes on.  And as I look back over the years, it’s remarkable how I start to see common threads that lead to where I am now.  It’s fascinating to see how God has directed me.

Granted, the last few years still look confusing, but looking at my whole life gives me a whole lot more hope.  when I tug on God’s hand and ask “but why?” He always has an answer and He always has an explanation.  Sometimes we just need to stop long enough to consider where God took us from and where He’s taking us to.

…and learn some patience.

The weirdest family ever

I remember when I was in grade three and there was a sitcom that all of us little nine-year-olds watched.  I cannot, for the life of me, remember what the sitcom was, but I remember coming to school one day and everyone was singing the same line: “we are family ’cause mom won’t let us watch tv!”  To this day, I am still oblivious to what the actual song is, but I will never forget that line and how we sang it over weird family2and over and over in the corridors.  We probably drove our teachers moggy, but we thought it was hysterical every time we did it.

But I always wondered how not watching tv could make someone family.  I mean, thousands of people – probably more – don’t have tvs, so would that mean they’re all related?  In a primary-schooler’s mind, those are some heavy questions to deal with!  What is family?  I thought it was just my mommy, my daddy, my brother, and me…  but after all these years, I think I finally figured out that one line from the sitcom.

I must add that I realise sitcoms shouldn’t really be analysed, but I have a warped mind that demands answers for everything.  So here I am dissecting a sitcom.  Just pretend I’m a character from one and it’ll be acceptable.

Anyway, my conclusion on that line is that family means commonality – none of them were allowed to watch tv.  Deep, right?  We recognise biological family as blood relations – sharing dna and genetics.  We watch movies and documentaries about gangs who call themselves family – they share backgrounds, lives, and activities.  There are families joined by nothing more than surname, and others joined simply by love.  I, for instance, have claimed a passel of younger girls as my little sisters.  I see us as family, but we’re really not related.

But there’s one family I belong to that’s just plain awesome!  Its common name is the Family of God, or the Church Family.  I prefer to refer to it as the weirdest family ever.

Its so rare to see radically different people hanging out together these days.  People don’t like people who are different.  To quote a very pertinent line from Disney’s Pocahontas, “They’re different from us, which means they can’t be trusted, now we sound the drums of war…”  That line really sums up people today.  But I’ve found a place where difference is pretty much what makes us such an awesome family.  I mean, I rock up at church and there are old people and young people and pretty people and …well… less pretty people… There are athletes, and academics, and artists.  There are teachers, and scholars, and beach-bums.  Black, White, Indian…  We’re there! And it’s great because although we’re so different, we, like any other family, have at least one commonality.  Except our commonality is way cooler than any other and is a tie that can never break.  Our commonality is Christ!

weird familyToday I ate a meal with an older man with a heart for preaching, a young Korean girl who wanted to study something nuts that I can’t remember the name of because it was far too academic, a crazy and very loud man with too much time for Twitter, and a woman who lectures an ancient language.  And there were others.  Let’s just say we were a motley crew…  And after spending time with them, I went to meet a  group of teenage girls… Each and every one of those people I can consider family – not because mom won’t let us watch tv, but because all of us are watching God.  All of us have the same focus.

We are a weird family, but I feel so incredibly blessed to be part of it.  Everyone in this family is welcome.  Everyone in this family is needed and loved and accepted.  I just wish more people would see the awesomeness of this family and choose to join it…

You mean you actually WANT to read the Bible?

I’m going to level with you here: at some point in the past two months my Bible reading went down the toilet.  I don’t know why, but I just stopped.  It may have been brought on by my “business” or perhaps I just forgot how important it was, but the point is that I let it slip.

Anyway, today I decided that enough was enough!  I had the day off from college because of study leave and I decided to get back into my Bible reading.  I jumped in at Romans – don’t ask me why!  Ordinarily I would have started with something a little more visuBible readingally stimulating – something like Revelation or Daniel – but I started in Romans.

Having started a study in Romans before, I decided to pick up where I left off.  It took me about five verses to be both convicted and inspired.  And then I just sat there thinking “What just happened?!”  So I looked down at my Bible and reread the section I’d read.  It was still as powerful.  I could’ve stopped there.  I could have moved on to other activities.  After all, I had read my Bible, I had been convicted, I had prayed through it… but something stopped me.  I couldn’t leave.  I wanted to read the Bible!

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that Bible-reading is taxing.  For some reason, as soon as I have that book in my hands, I want to sleep!  I can wade through theological books from the 1800s and read the entirety of Gone with the Wind without thinking twice, yet when I try read the Bible, PEW – it’s lights-out.  So imagine my surprise when I realised that I really genuinely and truly wanted to keep reading.

So I did – I kept on reading.  And I soaked it in like a sponge.  I forgot how vital it was!   And as I read, I had something of an epiphany about another matter in my life.

Let me give you a little back-story first… This year I created resolutions (sometime in the middle of the year, ’cause I’m just a rebel like that) and I decided that things were going to change.  Just the normal: losing weight, getting fit, starting a blog… And all was fine and dandy until about a month ago.  That was when it all fell to pieces and I couldn’t figure out why.

But I think I figured it out today!  See, all resolutions require self-discipline, aka, self-control.  Just a little something listed in the fruit of the Spirit.  Funny thing about the Fruit of the Spirit – when you stop listening to the Spirit, stop using your Sword of the Spirit, you can’t really expect to be displaying the fruit of the Spirit.  Could it be that my lack of perseverance had something to do with the fact that I stopped reading my Bible?  My answer: YES!  A great, big, fat, resounding YES!Bible reading2

And all of a sudden, I want to read my Bible again.  And I happen to think that is seriously cool.

 

Let it rain

Today i woke up to the gentle patter of rain and a sweet, fresh breeze that floated through my window.  The skies were grey and comforting and everything shone with freshly fallen sparkles of heaven.  At least that’s what my mind saw.  It’s weird how we all see things so differently.  Today was my kind of day – a misty rain that seemed to envelop my whole world and whisper soothing poetry as it fell.  Others saw an oppressive cloud with a dreary deluge to deliver us into depression…

But apart from the comfort I find in the rhythm and gentleness of rain, there’s something much bigger that has always amazed me.  Maybe I’m being ridiculous, but I believe that God gives me rain.  i understand the way water cycles work and seasons and vegetation and all that, and I know the world does not revolve around me!  But the awesome thing is that every time I feel like I’m about to give up or I’m just having a horrid day, it rains.  Well, one time it was snow, but usually it’s rain.

It’s such a tangible reminder of how much God cares.  And maybe I’m mistaken.  Maybe my theology in believing this is so totally out that when someone reads this they’ll send for some kind of intervention!  But I will continue to believe that God sees me, he sees what I need and he knows that when the world seems too much,  the rain reminds me to look to Him.

Rain is my way of knowing the love of God.  Rain, in my eyes, is one representation of his beauty.  I see God in the rain.  I just worry that I miss Him when it’s not raining… I worry that sometimes we miss Him altogether…