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Entries in power (2)



This morning is tough. I'm fighting a cold that's hung on for about three weeks now. I'm struggling against the lingering effects of Nyquil, which has me feeling a little doped up and out of it, even after seven hours of sleep. I'm facing down anxiety over the usual deadlines and demands of my day. It's a tough morning.

And then there's this blog. For the past month or so I've been able to just sit down, pray, and start writing with no trouble. I could usually tell when I was trying to write it "myself," rather than trusting God for what I needed to say. I'd struggle with it. The words wouldn't come easily, I'd have to drag them out, kicking and screaming. I was writing for myself, and not for the glory of God. Not the right idea for a blog I've dedicated to God's glory, first, and to helping others reach their intended life, second. This morning I had a bit of that before I could get started (you should see the stuff I deleted!).

These days aren't uncommon. I have them pretty often, actually. Maybe the blog comes easy for the day, but then I face the challenge of doing my work, and doing it well. Or I face the challenge of willpower and self control regarding food and exercise and attitude and finances. Or I face the challenge of butting heads with Kara over issues that shouldn't matter as much as they seem to in the moment. Or I face the challenge of facing down self doubts and anxiety and fear over things I can't control or can't know or can't predict. 

I'm challenged, every day, to live an intended life. 

You probably have that, too. Your job isn't what you want it to be, or your family life stinks, or your health is awful, or you just can't stop feeling anxious and scared and worried all the time. 

Usually we feel like this because we think we're being overwhelmed by the details of life. So many things to do! So much to pay attention to! SO. MANY. THINGS.

One at a time. That's the ticket. The magic cure. One task, job, or worry at a time. I have to remind myself, sometimes, that I have plenty of time to get to everything, if I just face one thing first, and then the next, and then the next. And if I don't have time to get to it all, I have to prioritize and do the important stuff first. And if it all seems important, I have to realize that I may fail, I may suffer a consequence, and the best I can do is minimize that consequence as much as possible. Or get some help.

When I was working in electronics I had to be mindful of loads. When working with electricity, a load is the amount of draw on power that a circuit creates. In general, the more parts there are to a circuit (the more the circuit can do) the more load it draws.

A single battery can run a lot of stuff for a while. But eventually, the load runs it down, and the battery has to be replaced or recharged. That means "time out" for whatever the circuit is doing. It means putting things on hold while the battery "rests." 

If you want more life for the circuit, to do more stuff and do it for longer periods of time, one way is to connect batteries in parallel. This means you use multiple batteries, wired to work together, to produce the same work force, but with increased longevity. Two batteries doing the work will last longer than one battery on its own.

That's why marriage is such a blessing. Two hearts and minds working toward one common goal? That should make it easy! Of course, this pre-supposes you actually are working toward the same goal. To do that, you actually have to have a goal.

In electronics, engineers create a circuit schematic so they can see all the operations of a circuit, to trace down trouble when it happens. The schematic for your marriage is a plan the two of you should sit down at least once per month and actually talk to each other. Write down the goals you both have, and what you can do to move toward them. When a problem comes up, refer to your goals and your plan and work together to get yourselves on track. Sound too simple? It's a lot of work, actually, which is the point. It's work, but it's work you do together, as a team, as a married couple.

Beyond marriage, there's the importance of having people who can work with you in your daily life, to help support you in making wise decisions, to help keep you on track for your personal and career goals. It's important to have a team that you can turn to for advice and for help and for strength.

I have a great group of friends, and I can turn to them for advice on a wide range of topics. I don't always turn to them the way I should, however, and that's typically when I start feeling overwhelmed.

It's important to realize, also, that the two batteries in our example above work together, as equals. One battery isn't dominant over the other. Both are on the same wiring. Both serve the same purpose. Both carry the same load. Both light up their world together, or one, on its own, will just wear out first and leave the other to wear out after a time, too. 

You have to approach friendships, business partnerships, marriage, and every relationship as a coming-together of equals with a common cause. Each of you should look to help carry the load of the other. Each should focus on doing whatever you can for the other. That's the key to success, in life and in business.

Putting several batteries in parallel gives you greater strength. Don't stop with just your spouse or your best friend or your business partner. Get more people involved! Connect with a like-minded couple, find a career mentor, bring in a third, startegic business partner. Bring many people together under the same goal, and help each other to master finances and health and children and vacations and work stress and gardening and whatever else is part of the circuit load of your life.

Tough mornings will always come. They're a part of the gig. You know, "being human." It's there, every day, for you to face. But God has provided you with a means for dealing with the load in your life. God is the power that flows through your circuit. He's your current and voltage. He's your "working force." And he likes to work with batteries in parallel.

The Bible lays out the circuit for inviting God's motive power into your life.

20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Matthew 18:20

Two or three (or more), working with God as their voltage and current. That's a circuit that can do anything.

Rough day? Hard start? Lingering cold? No rest over the weekend? Heavy workload ahead?

Pray with someone. Ask for strength to face the day. Start every day like that and see how much more you can accomplish. Gather all the batteries you can find, connect yourselves in parallel, ask God to power you, and you can light up the world. 




Fingernails are dirt magnets.

It doesn't seem to matter how often I clean them or trim them, minutes later I could do it all over again. I keep diggin' the dirt out, and it keeps fillin' back up. That mental image? That's yours for free ... I'm not even going to charge you for that.

So the way analogies work, this is the point where I compare cleaning your fingernails to your daily life, your efforts to improve yourself, your relationships, etc. You ready for that? I know you are! Because you are a person who admires honesty, character, and the earnest pursuit of change for the better. I've always liked that about you.

It's true. Just like our fingernails, our lives are constantly in jeopardy of filling back up with the junk and garbage and dirt we just spent a large amount of time and resources removing. We struggle for months to quit smoking, and on one stressful day we pick up a pack and start again. We stick to our diet for weeks before that plate of cupcakes appears and we find ourselves covered in icing. We commit to spending an hour every day doing a Bible study, praying and meditating on God's Word, but THIS morning there's a lot of chatter on Facebook or "I'm THIS close to finishing this book!" and we set aside the thing that we know, deep down, will benefit us more, help us grow into the better person we mean to be.

We're all a bunch of failures.

Hey, it's a harsh truth, but it's still a truth. We, in and of ourselves, are powerless to resist the things that bring us down. We need to rely on something bigger than ourselves to give us strength. Community leaders may lean on the spirit of the community. Political leaders may rely on the unity of their staff. Alcoholics Anonymous refers to it as "a higher power." Christians turn to God.

I almost typed "it doesn't matter what you choose," but I don't believe that's true. I believe that the ultimate strength comes from God. But I do recognize that there are other sources of strength. They may not be unlimited sources of power, and eventually they (like your willpower) will run up short. But they're a bigger reserve of strength and power than relying on yourself. They're necessary. They're VITAL.

We who want to better ourselves, we spend a lot of time digging the dirt out of our fingernails. We have tools and tricks that keep us as perfectly manicured as we can manage. We're always on the hunt for new ways to improve what we're doing. And that? That's all good. That's perfect, actually. Exactly as it should be.

But don't forget the more important resource: Look for the power that is greater than yourself. I recommend God, because I've always been a "go straight for the top" kinda guy. But whatever source you choose, whatever works best for you at this moment in time, just make sure it has as much respect for you as you have for it.

It does you no good to rely on your community if your community doesn't know who you are.

You can't rely on your political staff if they all have separate, personal, self-directed agendas, working at cross purposes to each other and to you.

You can't rely on your co-workers or your teammates for strength if they all think of you as being a self-centered problem, always talking about and thinking about your own issues and never being a part of the group.

We humans don't have enough personal strength or willpower to hold out for long. We need refuge from storms, and beds to rest our weary heads. Look for those in your life. Nurture them. Rely on them, more than on yourself, and you'll always have more strength than you can use.

And one last thing, because I truly think this is the most important strength you can access ... regardless of your beliefs or your past experiences or the opinions of your friends and family, this Wordslinger highly recommends turning yourself over to God. Surrendering to Christ, accepting His strength, that's the surest way to become unbeatable, indestructible, undeniably strong.

If that makes sense to you, but you don't know how to do it, or you could use a little guidance, you can contact me and I'll help. We'll talk, and I'll tell you all I know about it. And maybe you can share some things with me that will teach me a thing or to as well! We'll be a strength for each other in pursuing the greatest success of all time. I could definitely use a strength like that. How about you?