I don't exactly remember what grade it was, but I distinctly remember my first introduction to getting in line. We were told to be quiet and to follow each other, to be orderly and to stay directly behind the person in front of us. We were probably going to lunch or something, and I'm fairly certain that I would have wanted to be the line leader...because such was my personality in elementary school.
This was back in the day when children actually did what a teacher told them to do because to not do so was just not a risk that most of us wanted to take. We walked like "ladies and gentlemen" to and fro and were usually just glad to be going somewhere instead of learning something ridiculous like the metric system.
Oh, come on, you know that you secretly hoped the metric system wouldn't catch on over here outside of the whole liter thing with Coke. That seems to be the last remnant of that sad little period where our Weekly Readers told us was happening along with the totally-did-not-happen-upcoming Ice Age or the Attack of the Killer Bees. I mean, seriously, we should have totally been carted off by now. (Except about that bee thing...every so often news of the bees resurfaces as if they are coming our way to carry off goats or small children...so I never, ever feel completely safe...thanks, Weekly Reader!)
Weekly Reader did teach me about erosion and some other stuff that I'm sure has added greatly to my knowledge bank...but then again...I was also taught that there were nine planets...so...maybe not.
Where was I? Wandering off point, apparently.
I mean, I have stood in line, walked a line, dropped a line, and even towed the line...but I am fairly certain that I've never really known exactly where the "line" actually is. Am I alone in this?
Some people seem to be born with an innate sense of where boundaries are and they flounce around happily within the confines of decorum, taste and approval. They know exactly how far to push someone before they snap and also what the appropriate thing is to do in any given situation. They rest before they completely exhaust themselves, take care of things before there is an emergency, and know when to shut up.
I, of course, know none of this.
Any of it.
Where most people stop eating when they are full...I stop eating when something is gone. Where most people handle a delicate situation with tact...I handle it by either withdrawing and freaking people out or charging ahead like a bull in a china shop. I never know what to say at a hospital or funeral home...so I don't go. I'm afraid I'll say something boneheaded and send someone into therapy. Because I think that might have actually happened in real life.
To someone. Somewhere. Possibly.
Anyway, I'm starting to believe that the older I get, the worse this tendency is going to become. I'm starting to see it already. Like the fact that the line between "comfortable" and "tacky" is pretty much non-existent to me right now.
I realize that people should dress up for occasions that merit it, but let's be clear here...if it is hot outside, I'm going to look like a hot mess...so I may as well be as comfortable as I can be. I gave up heels years ago, and would give up all forms of clothing except for pajama pants and tee shirts from Walmart if I could get away with it. Even to church.
Lately I've realized that more and more people are drawing lines in the sand (which if you think about it sounds pretty stupid, but we all know what it means, right?) and daring other people to cross them. And people - being who they are - couldn't care less about our little lines. They have their own set of lines that their set of friends has to stay within or risk the friendship. Civility is pretty much shot...because what we care more about these days is sticking to our guns and standing our ground.
Of course "sticking to our guns" and "standing our ground" are fighting words these days with a lot of folks anti-gun and embroiled in the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman controversy. There really is very little that anyone can say anymore that isn't going to offend somebody.
Never mind that Ben and Jerry's has their own agenda and nobody has a problem with that. Most everyone understands that...and if you don't like their philosophy...then don't eat their extremely tasty but very expensive ice cream. That's pretty much the way I feel about Chick-fil-A...but that's not good enough for a certain segment of the population (and I'm not talking about the gay community...although they have their share of activists...but more of the folks who are on the bandwagon in the name of being supportive who are seriously just itching for a fight.)
Yes, Rahm Emmanuel...and the mayor of Boston...I'm talking to you. It's annoying.
And I've found that in spite of my inability to find the parameters that most people find easily...I do know when one of my lines has been crossed.
I have read a lot of good and not-so-good commentary about this whole Chick-fil-A one-man and one-woman marriage support that has fueled the boycott of Chick-fil-A and has brought a lot of fence sitting Christians who hate confrontation into the frey. Let me just say this...for now...we are free to support or not support any business that we want. And the people who own those businesses have those same freedoms. I don't want Truitt Cathy silenced any more than I want Ben and Jerry to be told that they can't donate their money to causes that they feel deserve it.
I'd say that we all have to back down from our positions, but after years of being expected to do just that...I'm fairly certain that a sleeping giant has been awakened. Maybe that will be what it takes to make some people understand that we all have to accept that this world isn't nirvana. It was never meant to be. And no set of rules or banning of this and that is going to make it so. People are going to choose to be athiests or agnostics and very little that we say will change that position. God can...and sometimes He pursues these people with a vengeance. Don't believe me? Read a little about C.S. Lewis.
I think that we've come to a time in our history where we are forced to take sides and to not continue to accept everything by trying to just get along. We are called to love...but we are also called to be seekers of the truth. We have a rulebook that we follow and a mission field out there that consists most often as those people in our address book or our Facebook friend list. We don't have to judge or try to change anybody's mind. We just have to be faithful to living our own position and be aware of how God wants to use us in the Master Plan.
Most of the time we want everybody to get in line with us and we dream that if this could occur...the world would be a much happier place. Possibly. But more likely, it would be just a wee bit boring. I find that some of the richest experiences that I have had have been in learning something new from somebody that may or may not share my beliefs, traditions, or background. There is something beautiful and of God in every person that we come in contact with.
Although, seriously, I've been trying to find that in Bill Mahar and have come up empty.
I hope that as we draw those invisible lines in the sand that we know when to lay down our demands and when to fight. When to be reasonable and when to live and let live. How to be true to ourselves and how to be loving to people who we are so lost to our way of thinking that it is absolutely inconceivable.
A friend has been posting things about kindness lately...and how he is striving to be more kind and less harsh. At least that is how I've taken the posts. I realize that in an election year and with the Liberals and Conservatives in different solar systems right now (or so it seems) and with so much craziness in the world...it is tempting to just try to box yourself in with some hard and fast lines (or perhaps some barbed wire). There are days when I'd like to just find an underground pod somewhere with some air conditioning and "Pride and Prejudice" on a loop just to stay clear of making someone mad.
But life is designed to live. And living is a messy business.
Go out there and be who you are and be as kind to others as you can. It doesn't mean that you have to sell yourself short or even that you have to sanction what they are doing or believing. Just try to look past the issues into the heart of the person. After all, over 2,000 years ago, a man walked the earth and did very remarkable things before the Very Remarkable Thing. He sought those who were lost and offered them hope, acceptance and no judgment...while also gently reminding them of what was right and true.
Take care, my friends, to watch those lines because they can be mighty tricky. On both sides.