Showing Up

“80% of success is just showing up.” -Woody Allen

So I was re-reading a popular narrative in the New Testament this morning from John 6 and it was the ‘Bread and Fish for All’ as The Message puts it.  Traditionally we understand this to be the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000.  There are a lot of faith-stretching learnings in this story.  It was like Jesus was click-baiting his disciples by making them go out and find some paltry replenishments so that they knew in the end, that what would be done would not have come from them and their accomplishments.  I could write a whole other book on the futility of self-sufficiency, I’ve lived that dead-end over and over.

8-9 One of the disciples—it was Andrew, brother to Simon Peter—said, “There’s a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But that’s a drop in the bucket for a crowd like this.”

Here is what struck me this morning; sure the 5 loaves and 2 fish were not nearly enough for 5,000 men (not including women and children), BUT it seems an OBSCENE amount of food for a small boy, no?  

Do we ever ask the question why the boy has SO much food just for himself?  I’m just speculating, but it occurred to me that maybe the boy just had some extra that morning, maybe sometimes he doesn’t, but that day, that week, that season his family had more than needed.  Maybe they made a habit of ‘showing up’ when they had extra with a heart to give and be generous in case the opportunity presents itself.  ‘Showing up’ is a decision of the heart and mind to carry out values and commitments whether anyone knows about it or not.  Most of ‘Showing up’ is done in anonymity, no spotlight, no miracle recorded, just you and your commitment to who you are and what you want to do in this world.

Everyone wants the miracle, everyone wants the ecstatic experience of the victory, everyone wants the big win, everyone wants the glory of the finish line, everyone wants the accolade of the award . . . but who wants to ‘show up’ when no one is watching?  Who wants to give away their extra today because it’s in their heart to do, not because it will be recorded in a Holy Scripture?

I’m in a place in life where I have a lot of great and valuable work, but very little income.  I know it is likely just a season, but I don’t know how long the season will last.  My mind wants to jump to the end, where Jesus multiplies the little and shows off in the kind of power he has.  But in taking the example of this young boy today, I recognize that the challenge is to ‘show up’ today in the value of the work before me without the need for physical reinforcement of income.   ‘Showing up’ comes from a deeper set of values, an imbedded set of deep commitments planted in you to fulfill your identity and calling in this world.  Collecting a paycheck is not a big enough idea, you were destined to count in ways you never imagined.  Today, it’s about ‘showing up’ in our work and letting value be its own reward.

Picking a Fight for 2017

We all end up dead, it’s just a matter of how and why.” -William Wallace, Braveheart

One of my favorite scenes out of Braveheart is what comes just after the legendary battlefield speech of William Wallace to his fellow Scotsmen at Sterling. The speech is over, the troops are fired up, now what?  The dialogue goes like this:

Stephen: Fine speech. Now what do we do?

William Wallace: Just be yourselves.

Hamish: Where are you going?

William Wallace: I’m going to pick a fight.

Hamish: Well, we didn’t get dressed up for nothing.

What do you want to pick a fight with in 2017?

Resolutions are for the comfortable, I’m interested in the kinds of decisions that lead to uncomfortable change.  Change, deep down, fire-breathed transformation.  Where is the fire in your belly?  What keeps you up at night?  What injustice can you not live with?  What habit is in the way of you absolutely slaying your job?  What negative mindset is robbing you of your creativity?  What slave master says it owns your freedom?  What is in the way of you living out a dream?

Everybody dreams, the difference is some people actually experience them.  The separation is usually a matter of discipline from the dream stage to the experience stage.  It’s largely an issue of will, discipline, effort, heart, stubbornness, resilience, resources and perseverance.  If you pick a fight, you are likely to get punched in the mouth, that’s a given.  The issue is when you hit the mat, do you resolve to get up?  Outlasting your opponent is where the marrow of the victory comes from, you bid your time, and when the opportunity presents itself, return your blow and land it on your enemy’s jaw.  It’s yours for the taking, opportunity knocks.

I’m entering 2017 not with a resolution, but with a primal scream to take another step of what I was put on this earth to do.  I am challenged, I am stretched, I am vulnerable . . . the bullies are on the battleground in front of me.  They hurl their insults, they predict my failure, they intimidate with accusations of lies.  They are the voices I oppose.  The primal scream is louder than those voices, it’s what I’m listening to.  I don’t want to take a step forward, I want to dismantle the entire system of resistance in front of me.  The life of the Creator lives in me, his breath breathes in me.  Therefore, I have no fear . . . none.  I’m here to pick a fight.

What are you picking a fight with in 2017?  How can I help you?