Doing the Right Things for the Wrong Reasons…

Doing the Right Things for the Wrong Reasons…

I’ve been thinking a lot about motives lately – my motives, specifically.

Sometimes, I do things because I’m paid to do them.  It’s my job.

Sometimes, I do things because I have to – like paying taxes

Sometimes (too often), I do things out of selfish desires.

Sometimes, I act on impulse.

Sometimes, I do things to earn the approval of others – or to avoid their criticism or disapproval.  If I am going to be honest, I do this a lot.  A lot.

We all do, I suspect, to one degree or another.  We want people to like us.  We crave validation.  It doesn’t feel good to know someone is disappointed in you.

But, I fear, especially for pastors, this can be a slippery and dangerous slope.  It is for me.  Rather than doing what is right and good for the intrinsically right and good reasons, it is easy to slip into doing whatever it takes to make and keep people happy, and to avoid upsetting anyone.  As a pastor, it is easy to slip into being a people-pleaser.

It’s easy to do the right things for the wrong motives.  Not evil motives.  Just not the right motives.

I’ve told many prospective pastors that the hardest thing about ministry, for me, is always knowing that someone is unhappy with me.  That is just reality.  No matter how hard a pastor tries, someone will always feel let down.  Pastors are only human.  We can’t be in two places at once.  We can’t give everyone equal attention.  We can’t make everyone happy.  We aren’t omniscient.  We can’t fix everything.  We only have so much to give before running out of steam.  We make mistakes.  I make a lot of mistakes.

After all, many of us even struggle, from time to time, with feeling let down by God.   If God can’t escape our disappointment, how can any of us expect to be spared from it?

A counselor once told me, “Vance.  You have to confess and repent your idolatrous desire human approval.”  He was right.  I am painfully aware that too much of what I do is divided between earning human approval and avoiding their criticism.  I know that I have God’s love and approval, unconditionally.  But, that’s never enough.  Why, is this particular idol so hard to cast down?

So, let’s get back to motives.  I think Jesus would say that everything we do should be motivated by love.  He certainly didn’t make everyone happy.  He only seemed to care about his Father’s approval, who said, “This is my son, whom I love.”  But, he loved.  He loved God and he loved people.  He loved the broken, the outcast, the sick, the sinner, the demon-possessed, the confused, the doubtful, the rich and the poor.  His greatest act of love, of course, was the cross.

Here’s a fact – if I love you, I will gladly do anything I can for you.  If I don’t love you, I may still do it, but for entirely different motives.  I would much rather be motivated by love.

Love is the only motivation that matters.  Maybe someday my motives will be purer than they are today.

What motivates you?

Waiting for Signs of Growth

Waiting for Signs of Growth

I grow bonsai trees.

In South Florida, some kinds of trees grow year round.  Some never lose their leaves or foliage.  But, some, need an annual period of dormancy – typically, the winter (though, we don’t get much of a winter in South Florida!).

During the holidays, I visited a bonsai store in Orlando, where I have purchased a number of trees.  This time, there was a gorgeous, mature, specimen Bald Cypress bonsai.  It was already dormant, but had a beautiful, well defined shape.  I loved it.  I knew I couldn’t afford it, but I had to ask anyway.  I think the price was about $1000, which was about 4 times more than what I had guessed, and at least $950 more than I could afford.

Knowing I wasn’t going to spend $1000, the store owner (who is also a friend), pointed out a smaller Bald Cypress, in a plastic pot, that could be trained to become a bonsai – eventually – for a lot less money.  It, too, was already dormant – basically just a stick in a pot.  But, it had potential – sort of.  And, it was affordable.  And, I’m a compulsive bonsai-ist.  So, I bought it.

I brought it home, put it in a nice bonsai pot, wired the bare branches, and waited, and waited, and waited.  For four months I’ve waited for some sign of growth.  Honestly, I’ve wondered if I’d killed it.

Earlier this week, I saw the first sprouts of new, green growth.  There’s not much to see yet.  But, there’s enough to show me that the tree is alive and well, and that the potential I saw when I bought it might still become reality – eventually.  That potential will take many years, through many seasons of growth and dormancy.  It may never be as impressive as the $1000 tree – I can almost guarantee that.  I may even kill it, as I have too many other trees with “potential.”

But, for now, I see signs of growth.  Growth means life.  New growth means future possibility.

As a Christ-follower, I also believe we are called to continuously grow and develop.  There have been seasons in my life where growth has been obvious.  But, more often than not, I have trouble seeing it.  At least in my own eyes, I’m often like that dormant bonsai tree.

Several years ago, during Lent, I prayed for God to show me the areas of my life that still need growth, and to help me do it.  I felt a very strong impression that God was telling me to trust him with the growth, and that my job was just to stay close to him.  Like Paul said, “Only God makes things grow” (1 Corinthians 3:7).

Just like that dormant tree, I can’t force the growth.  My job is to water it (the tree – not me), fertilize it, keep it in the sunshine, and be patient.  Growth will come if the tree is properly cared for.  Similarly, my job – spiritually – is to keep pursuing my relationship with Jesus, my knowledge of his Word, and to keep weeding out the stuff that gets in the way.

Nevertheless, I watch and wait for signs of new growth to come in my life – for the potential that is yet to be developed.  I may only be a stick in a plastic pot, now – metaphorically speaking, of course – but someday I could be that $1000 specimen!

Seen any signs of growth in your life lately?

Halfway – Give or Take

Halfway – Give or Take

Today, more or less, is the mid-point of Lent.  Ash Wednesday was three weeks ago.  Three weeks from tomorrow is Maundy Thursday.  We’ve had three Sundays in Lent, so far, and, we have three more to go before Easter.

At the start of this Lenten Season, I made the following commitments…

  • I gave up watching television, as well as my Facebook and Twitter news feeds.
  • I gave up all desserts in all forms.
  • I planned to read several theological/spiritual books, as well daily Scripture Reading and journaling.
  • And,  I committed to blog every day.

So far…

  • I’ve stayed off Social Media and haven’t watched TV.  But, it’s been hard not to sneak-watch when I’ve been at restaurants with TVs.
  • I’ve avoided desserts – except for one meal at CiCi’s Pizza (where I should never eat, anyway!) where I stuffed my face with dessert pizza without even realizing what I was doing until it was too late.
  • So far, I have read…
    • The Very Good Gospel, by Lisa Sharon Harper
    • Refractions: A Journey of Faith, Art, and Culture, by Makoto Fujimura
    • Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk and True Flourishing, by Andy Crouch
    • I’m still working on The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call to Self-Discovery, by David Benner
    • Tomorrow, I will start, You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit, by James K. A. Smith
    • I’ve also been slowly working my way through 1 Samuel.
  • And, I’ve blogged something or other, everyday.  Blogging, especially, has given me an outlet to think, reflect, theologize, and be creative.  Thanks for reading!

Of course the point of any Lenten discipline is to allow God more space to work in your life and to develop a more Christ-like character.  I am pleased to say that I definitely feel like I have spent more and better time with the Lord, thinking about the Lord, and listening to the Lord.

Though I would love to have a cookie, or two (actually, today I caught myself daydreaming about a slice of key-lime pie, dipped in chocolate, that they make in Key West), and maybe watch an episode or two of American Pickers, those can wait.

So, 3 weeks +/- to go.  How is your Lent going?

Character

Character

I’ve been reading through the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel recently.  1 Samuel tells the story of the rise and fall of King Saul, and the rise of David to take his place.

By Chapter 24, it was obvious to King Saul that David was a threat to his reign, and he plotted of have David killed.

King Saul heard that David and his supporters were hiding in the desert of En Gedi.  King Saul led an army of thousands to find him and kill him.  By coincidence, Saul happened to enter a cave to “relieve himself,” where David was hiding with his men.  Unaware that he wasn’t alone, David snuck up on King Saul – while he was otherwise occupied – and cut off a corner of his robe, then quietly snuck away, doing King Saul no real harm.

David could have killed King Saul, while we was vulnerable and unaware.  His men thought he should.  It would almost seem that God had delivered King Saul right into David’s hands.

But, David didn’t see it that way.  While King Saul had clearly lost God’s favor, and David was clearly destined to take his place, David would not be the one to harm or kill the King.  In fact, David felt guilty for even cutting King Saul’s robe.  As long as King David held the throne, at least in David’s eyes, King Saul was still God’s anointed.

Chapter 24:8-13 says,

“My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground.  He said to Saul, “Why do you listen when men say, ‘David is bent on harming you’?  This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lay my hand on my lord, because he is the Lord’s anointed.’  See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. See that there is nothing in my hand to indicate that I am guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life.   May the Lord judge between you and me. And may the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you.   As the old saying goes, ‘From evildoers come evil deeds,’ so my hand will not touch you.

To David, harming – or even disrespecting – King Saul would be a violation of his conscience.  We call that character – doing the right thing, all the time, even when there is personal cost or risk.

You don’t have to be a Christ-follower to be a person of character.  There are certainly people of every religion – and none – who have admirable integrity and conduct.  But, to be a Christ follower demands that we strive to have the character of Jesus Christ.  Jesus said, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much” (Luke 16:10).

Isn’t that, at least in part, what Lent is all about?  Is our character consistently a reflection of Jesus Christ?  Or, have we compromised in the small things?

Certainly, killing King Saul would have been a big deal.  But, David regretted even cutting the king’s robe.  In David’s mind and heart, there was no justifying a compromised character, even when others might think him justified in doing something as small as cutting the kings robe, or even as extreme as killing.

Do I care about the small details in my character and conduct?  Do you?

Unconscious Implicit Bias

Unconscious Implicit Bias

To the best of my knowledge, my ancestry is predominantly British and Polish.  I’m sure a DNA a test might reveal more diversity than that.  But, I’m not aware of what that might be.

I’ve been tempted to take a DNA test to find out.  I’d love to discover that my ancestry includes some exotic cultural heritage!  I’d love to be able to mark something other than “white” when I am asked about my race.  Frankly, I’ve never felt like I have any defining ethnic heritage – beyond being moderately “southern” – and I’ve envied those who do.  There is something very appealing to me about wearing distinctively ethnic clothing, having distinctively ethnic traditions, and maintaining connections to family and friends in your country of origin.

I’m fascinated by other cultures…

  • My favorite musician is Bob Marley (Jamaican and Rastafarian)
  • I have a great love for Guatemalan and the Mayan culture. I’m still trying to learn to speak Spanish and a Mayan dialect called Kiche.  (Soy Guatemalteco!  Yo deseo…)
  • One of my hobbies is bonsai, which is primarily a Japanese art.  And, I love martial arts.
  • I love foods from everywhere – from Indian to Mexican, and loads in-between.
  • I’ve traveled around the world, and have been truly fascinated by the diversity of cultures I have experienced, and am now influenced by.

As of July, 2017, I’m the pastor of the most ethnically and culturally diverse church I’ve ever served!  And, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity.  I’m learning and growing.  And, I’m hopeful that we will become even more diverse in the years to come.

So, while I am well aware of my “whiteness,” I’ve honestly believed that I’m open and respectful to people of diverse backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities.

This morning I was reading a chapter called “Shalom and Race,” in the book,  The Very Good Gospel, by Lisa Sharon Harper.  She references a study, by Harvard University, that is called the Implicit Association Test, which was designed to indicate “racial” bias as either for “whiteness” or “blackness.”  Harper reports that 75% of the people who’ve taken the test – which includes a diversity of participants – tested positive for an implicit bias toward whiteness.

I had to take the test, of course, to prove that I do NOT have that bias.  I took the test as carefully as I could, as honestly as I could, as thoughtfully as I could.  Even as I was concluding the test, I was sure that it would indicate NO bias for “whiteness.”  My test result – “a strong bias for whiteness over blackness.”

I feel sick.

The test is designed to force you to quickly associate categories of goodness and badness with whiteness and blackness.  Your result is determined by how quickly you can make those associations.  Apparently, I moved faster when I was associating goodness with whiteness and badness with blackness, than when I did the opposite.

Harper describes this as “an unconscious implicit ethnic bias.”  Unconscious.  That means I can consciously, rationally know that there is no such thing as generalized “white goodness” and “black badness.”  But, my unconscious biases are a different story.

So, I obviously have work to do.  What I know and desire consciously, may be undermined by unconscious biases that I am blind to.  And, obviously I am not the only one.

If the eternal Kingdom of God is truly a place for every tribe, tongue and nation; if Christ has really torn down the walls that divide us; if there really is no longer male or female, slave or free, Jew or Gentile; if we worship a Jewish savior; then we have some real work to do on overcoming our biases, this side of eternity.  I wonder if “putting on the mind of Christ” and “not being conformed to the patterns of this world, but transformed by the renewing of our thoughts” has anything to do with this?

If you want to find out about your “unconscious implicit racial biases,” check out the test at Implicit Association Test.  Choose the “take a test” tab, and choose the “Race IAT.”

 

 

Relationship Restoration (Part 3 of a sermon series called “Restoration” at First Church Coral Spring on March 19, 2017)

Relationship Restoration (Part 3 of a sermon series called “Restoration” at First Church Coral Spring on March 19, 2017)

Let me tell you about a relationship in my life that’s been broken for some time, but has recently been restored…

We had been very close – enjoying lots of time together, traveling together.  We’d had highs and lows before, but we’d always managed to fix them – or at least put a Band-Aid over the problem.  But, last November, our relationship just stalled out.  It wasn’t working.  It was going nowhere.  And, frankly, I just walked away.

In January, we decided to get help.  But after weeks and weeks without any progress, things had literally fallen to pieces. I’ll admit I was frustrated, and about ready to walk away – forever.  A friend encouraged me to try again, and recommended a different professional who was more qualified to help us.  So, we tried again.

I’m very happy to report that, after our long 4-month separation, and a lot of investment, a lot of patience, and some big changes, as of last Tuesday, we’re back together and back on the road!   We’ve been fully restored!  We’re so happy, we even took a selfie together!  (Imagine of a picture of me with my motorcycle, with the song “reunited” playing in the background – “reunited, and it feels so good…”)  Yes – I’m talking about my bike, which has been broken down since November.

As much as I love my bike, today I’m talking about something far more valuable.  Today, I’m talking about human relationships, and how to restore them when their broken.

One of my most treasured possessions is an old book I found at a used book store, called, Spiritual Friendship, by a 12th century monk name St. Aelred.  It doesn’t have great monetary value.  But, what makes it special to me is a note that’s written inside, from one nun to another, following the death of that nun’s best friend.  The nun who gave the book actually underlined the passages she thought would be meaningful to her friend, and she wrote, “I pray you will find healing in Aelred’s words.”  What a beautiful act of friendship – one friend praying for the restoration of another, during a time of loss and grief.

Aelred writes, “No medicine is more valuable, none more efficacious, none better suited to the cure of our temporal ills than a friend to whom we may turn for consolation in time of trouble, and with whom we may share happiness in time of joy.” 

 Made for Relationship

            The Bible says, over and over, that we’re made for relationship.  After God made Adam, he said, It is not good for the man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18).  God took a rib from Adam’s side and made Eve – someone for Adam to share his life with.

Though Jesus spent time with the multitudes, he had a smaller group of friends, including the 12 disciples.  He was particularly close to 3 of the 12 – Peter, James, and John – and maybe closest to John, who called himself the “One who Jesus loved.”  Jesus was also close to Mary Magdalene, and to the family of Lazarus, Mary and Martha.  As Jesus demonstrates, we were made for relationship.

For a moment – think about the most important relationships in your life, and the gift they are to you.

Now, think about the relationships that are broken, and need attention.

 Broken Relationships

Relationships get injured. Even the closest relationships get wounded.  Relationships can be damaged by neglect, abuse, or betrayal.  Sometimes, relationships can be broken beyond repair.  But, today I am talking primarily about relationships that get wounded and just need restoration.

If you spend enough time with anyone – no matter how much you love them – wounds happen.  Careless words, stepped-on-toes, selfishness, confidences betrayed, birthdays forgotten, immaturity, neglect, annoyances, impatience, competition, insecurity, envy, jealousy, insensitivity, etc., etc. all do damage to valued relationships.

 Loving God and Loving People:

            Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37-38).  That’s one command in two parts.

            There’s a direct and corresponding relationship between how we love God and how we love people.  In fact, they are directly interrelated.  As we love God, we will love people.  As we love people, we are closer to loving God.  Conversely, when we feel distant, bitter and resentful toward God or people, we are more than likely to feel the same about the other.

One of the most important ways for us to grow spiritually is in relationship.  In fact, one of the ways we become most godly, potentially, is in the ways we relate to each other – growing in love, kindness, and grace.

I would even say that you will only become as close to God as you are to some other person.  I would also say it is very difficult to be close to God when any of your human relationships are broken.  The two are interrelated.  In some mysterious way, the deep love and intimacy I have with my wife, my children, and my close friends makes me closer to God – and vice-a-versa.  As long as I allow anger, bitterness, resentment or forgiveness to exist in my heart, toward people I am called to love, I will be handicapped in my pursuit of God.

 Relationship Repair

            For Lent, we are talking about how God can take what is damaged, broken, worn out, and trashed, and restore the broken parts into something new and beautiful.  So, let’s talk about how, with God’s help, broken relationships can be restored.  Of all of the messages in this series, I think this one might be the most applicable.

To repair, rebuild, and maintain healthy relationships, there are three things that we must learn how to do.  Let me warn you – they are simple, but they are NOT easy.

 Say you’re sorry

First – we learned by Kindergarten to say we’re sorry.  When you do something wrong, admit it.  Don’t defend it.  Don’t rationalize.  Don’t make excuses.  Own your mistakes.  Acknowledge that you did something wrong.  Feel the sorrow for the pain you’ve caused.  And, say that you are sorry.

Jesus said, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”  (Matthew 5:23-24)

Isn’t that interesting?!?  Before God wants our offering, he wants us to be reconciled in our human relationships.  And, Jesus puts the burden on us.  If someone has something against you, YOU take the initiative to apologize and try to make it right.

Frederick Buechner writes, “To accept forgiveness means to admit that you’ve done something unspeakable that needs to be forgiven, and thus both parties must swallow the same thing: their pride.” 

“Unspeakable” sounds a bit extreme.  But, in most relationship conflicts, both parties have something to apologize for.  As a Christian, for the sake of the relationship, we are called to take the first step toward making things right, by making the first apology.  That means setting aside our pride, admitting we were wrong – even if the other person was too – and saying, “I’m sorry,” even if the other person hasn’t or won’t.   And, of course, saying “I’m sorry” implies “I will try to do better from now on.”

 Let it go

The second thing that we have to do to repair a broken relationship is to learn how to “let it go.”  In other words, we have to let go of the annoyance, the anger, the resentment, the grudges, the hurt feelings, and the desire to get even, etc.

Jesus said, “I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment” (Matthew 5:22.)  The Apostle Paul wrote, “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:26-27).

            Letting go is learning how to forgive.

The Apostle Peter once asked Jesus, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”  (Matthew 18:21).  Jesus said, “seventy-seven times!”  Seventy-seven times!  Let that sink in!

Frederick Buechner writes, To forgive somebody is to say… “You have done something unspeakable, and by all rights I should call it quits between us… However, although I make no guarantees that I will be able to forget what you’ve done, and though we may both carry the scars for life, I refuse to let it stand between us. I still want you for my friend.” 

Forgiveness is NOT saying that the wound doesn’t matter – like we are letting the wounder off the hook.  Forgiveness is NOT saying that what was done didn’t matter.  Forgiveness IS the decision to let it go, and not allow it to damage the relationship further.  And, it is a decision – not a feeling.  It is a choice – to let it go, seventy-seven times, or more, if we have to – to act into forgiveness, whether we feel it yet or not.

And, forgiveness not only heals the person forgiven and the relationship. Forgiveness also heals the forgiver.  Carrying around anger, hurt, and bitterness in our hearts is toxic for us.  We hold a grudge, thinking we are punishing the person who hurt us.  But, in truth, the un-forgiveness in our hearts is harming us. Unforgiveness is like intentionally keeping the wound open, and reliving the injury over and over.   Anne Lamott says that un-forgiveness is like, drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.”

Love Anyway

Finally, love anyway.  When Jesus died on the cross, weighed down by human sin, he still loved us.  We call that kind of love agape.  Agape is a Greek word that means a love that is not based on any kind of personal gain.  Agape is entirely based on self-giving, and even self-sacrificing – like Jesus did on the cross.  It’s unconditional.

When you get hurt – love anyway.  When you feel betrayed – love anyway.  When you feel let down – love anyway.  When you don’t feel loved in return – love anyway.  And, when you feel annoyed, selfish, resentful, petty, vengeful, prideful, etc. – especially then! – love anyway!

As it says in 1 Corinthians 13, love – the kind of love that Jesus demonstrates – “keeps no record of wrongs” and always, “perseveres.”

I don’t want to mislead you.  While I am sure these three things – saying you’re sorry, forgiveness, and loving unconditionally – are absolutely essential in restoring a relationship, I’m not saying it’s easy.   It requires an amazing amount of courage, humility, and love.  And, I’m not saying that if you do these three things, you can automatically fix any relationship.  Unfortunately, some relationships are too broken to be fixed and some people are too broken to have a healthy relationship with.

But, regardless of the result, it’s the right thing to do.  It’s the Jesus thing to do.  Value people.  Seek relationships.  Protect your relationships.  But, when your relationships get wounded – and they will – do all you can to heal them!

           

Learning to Listen…

Learning to Listen…

My Harley  Davidson (2000 FLHRC) came with an electronic fuel injection system, that has always caused me problems.  At least annually, the fuel injectors have gotten out-a-whack (that’s a technical term), requiring weeks in the repair shop.  Every time, the mechanics have explained that there were problems with the EFI used on the 2000 FLHRCs, and that the best they could do was tweak (another technical term) the fuel injectors, until they got back out-a-whack again the following year.

Well, that has been a constant source of frustration and irritation, and loss of motorcycling enjoyment.  Finally, after a frustrating few months of not riding, I found a local mechanic who told me that the problem wasn’t fixable.  Instead, I would need to have the electronic fuel injection system removed, and replaced with a traditional, old-fashioned, carburetor and air filter (I got the big sweet-looking Stage 2 Arlen Ness “Big Sucker” air filter!).  That sounds simple enough, right?  Wrong.  It only required a dozen or more new parts, trashing a pile of old ones, and an expert mechanic who knew what he was doing.

I have to admit, the bike runs great now.

So, if you aren’t mechanical, or a bike rider, and I haven’t lost you yet, the nice thing about electronic fuel injectors is that the bike starts right up when it’s cold and as the bike warms up the fuel injectors automatically reduce your idle speed (the number of rotations your motor makes per minute) to just high enough so that your bike doesn’t stall/quit while it idles at a traffic light (like a car).  But, with a traditional carburetor, you control the amount of gas needed to start the engine and keep it going.  There’s a risk of giving the bike too much gas, and flooding the engine (I did this about a million times when I was first learning to ride a motorcycle).  And, as the bike warms up, you have to know how to reduce your idle speed, using a twisty-doohickey (yes, another technical term) on the right side of the motor.  Once the bike is hot, the idle speed should be around 1000 rpms (revolutions per minute).

Have I lost you yet?  There really is a point to this…

The only way you can know that your bike is idling at 1000 rpms is if you have a tachometer, which my bike does not have.  You typically don’t need one.  So, the only way to adjust your idle speed, without a tachometer, is to listen.  Yes, listen.  You have to know your bike well enough to be able to hear what speed sounds right for your bike.  For a Harley, it should sound like someone  is slowly saying potatoe-potatoe-potatoe-potatoe-potatoe. You’ll hear it the next time you are idling next to a Harley in traffic.

The point – if I haven’t lost you – is listening.  You have to pay attention.  You have to be sensitive to the nuances.  You have to know what you are listening for.

With my old electronic fuel injectors, when they functioned, I could just start the bike and go.  Now, riding requires something more from me.

Maybe that’s a good thing.

I think life is like that.  It’s easy to coast through life on auto-pilot, only half-paying attention, mostly oblivious to what’s really going on.  But, maybe that makes us lazy.  Maybe it is good to have to pay attention to the details.  Maybe it is good to be more tuned it.  Maybe it is good to be more engaged.

I wonder how often we do that with relationship and conversations.  I wonder.

So, bye-bye electronic fuel injectors; hello to more engaged riding and listening.