Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Dream Freezer

I really enjoy cooking. This might be a little known fact about me, but I really do enjoy whipping up a delicious meal in the kitchen. I'm pretty good at it too, but I am biased as I usually cook food that I really enjoy. This leaves pretty slim odds for me not liking whatever is for dinner, because I know exactly how I like things to be cooked...

I also like to experiment with foods and making things that I have not had the chance to cook before, so about 9 months ago, I decided I wanted to roast a chicken. "How hard could it be?" I thought. Answer, actually not too difficult. So one night when we had a friend of my wife's staying with for a couple of days, I decided to give it a go. 

Not to come across as arrogant, but I had made a very delicious chicken. If my memory suites me, (which this might just be how I want to remember things) the three of us ate the entire chicken and when all was said and done, we were left with only a chicken carcass sitting on the cutting board. 

Now if you have spent some quality time with me, you will know that I am a dreamer. So when I saw that chicken carcass sitting on the cutting board, I really only had one thought... I was going to make chicken stock...from scratch.

Did I have any idea how to do this? No, but that did not matter to me because I had a perfectly good chicken carcass sitting on my cutting board and a head full of dreams. It was perfect. On the other hand I did just eat a lot of chicken, or maybe I was just "chickening out," (ha!), but I decided that this dream of mine wouldn't explode if I deferred it a bit. So I took that chicken carcass, shoved it into a storage container, and put it in the back of the freezer.

Last night, while Heather was out having hot chocolate with her mentor, I made a run to Costco to pick up some of the essentials you need for life.

You know what I'm talking about:
  • Toilet Paper
  • Paper Towels
  • Trash Bags
  • Fruit Snacks
  • Lasagna 
  • Pot Stickers
  • 8 Pounds of Popcorn
This was my actual list, and as you can see, I only got the things that were really, really essential.

When I got home, I went about putting things away and found a home for everything, but our freezer was a bit full so I decided to reorganize things a bit. Much to my chagrin, there in the back of the freezer was the chicken carcass that I had stuck there 9 months earlier.

Yes, I had kept a frozen chicken carcass in the back of our freezer for 9 months.

Now, I had seen this particular container many times since then, and would usually think to myself, "I wonder what is in there..." But this time, it hit me. 

There is a dead animal in there. 

In that container, there is a dead animal that I had put there to eventually be made into a delicious soup. A dead animal that was now so freezer burned, it was barely recognizable, and made me feel more and more disgusted the more I thought about it.

The time had come. It had to go. That 9 month old chicken carcass made its way all the way from our freezer, into our trashcan, and out to the dumpster behind our apartment, never to be seen again.

Most dreams need to be pursued, but some of them, especially the really bad ones, need to be extracted from the far reaches of your freezer and taken out with the trash.

And lets be real, if your dream is to make chicken stock from a chicken carcass, you need to get a better dream. 

If you can defer your dream for 9 whole months and not give two thoughts to it, you probably need to get a better dream.

God did not create us to be people who float through our lives, never looking to either side. God created us to see the turmoil the world has found itself in and do our part to restore it to the way that it was originally intended to be. 

I don't want to dream of making chicken stock anymore. I would rather dream of impacting the lives of the people around my through my writing. I want to dream of passing on the things that I have learned to future generations. I want to have dreams that are looking to the betterment of the world around me, and not just the betterment of the food inside me.

I want to have dreams that are worth pursuing now even if that means slow progress toward them over a long period of time. I want to have dreams that are worth not shoving in a freezer for 9 months, but if for some reason they have to be, I hope that they will have been strong enough and noble enough to not be repulsive when they come back out on the other side. 

What do you want to dream about?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Courage and Cowardice

We live in a world filled with fear. Fear is all around us.

Courage is what exists in us when we embrace our fears. Sometimes this means that we embrace them and just sit with them for a while, doing our best to understand them. Other times it means embracing them while moving forward in spite of them. Fear is not a bad thing, rather it is necessary because where there is no fear, there is no courage. I am not afraid of breakfast cereal, so for me to wake up in the morning and pour myself a bowl of Cheerio's is not a courageous act. It is, rather, painfully normal. Adversely, I am quite afraid of heights. I hate them, so for me, a quiet, docile person who loves to have my feet on the ground and away from high ledges, to go skydiving for example would take an incredible amount of courage. In fact, it takes an incredible amount of courage to even sit with the idea that I am afraid of heights, and then more still to walk toward the landing at the top of the stairs that overlooks the living room. For an adrenaline junkie, walking toward this ledge takes no courage at all, for them it would be like me eating Cheerio's, not an act of courage, but an act of painful normalcy. 

Cowardice on the other hand should not be defined as giving into fear, as much culture would have us believe, but rather cowardice is rejecting the idea that we are afraid and labeling the things that we are afraid of as bad, wrong, or evil. It is taking an active stance, that something we don't understand should not be tolerated. Cowardice takes fear and turns it into prejudice. If I were to take my fear of heights and then decide that anyone who goes skydiving, or cliff jumping, or walks toward the edge of the landing is foolish for doing so, then I have let my fear turn into prejudice and act the part of the coward. If I look at another person and decide that they are worth less than I am because I don't understand what it is like to be in their shoes, I act the part of the coward. 

Cowardice often masquerades as courage, but in reality it is nothing but a cheap facsimile. Yet this is just where our culture often lands. When we don't understand something, instead of embracing the fear of the unknown, we label it as bad, wrong, and evil. We cowardly choose to build walls around us that we believe will keep us safe from everything outside,  but in reality, only separate from one another and from ourselves. Most often this manifests through the means of things like religious legalism, political absolutism, and racism. 

Here we begin to neglect the grays areas of life, let alone the reds, oranges, greens, blues and purples. We do our best to build a monochromatic worldview and to get everyone around us to subscribe to the same shade that we have chosen to color with. 

We call this "safe." 

Yet, it is in this place where we have truly let cowardice define our lives, and thus where we are really most vulnerable for when we reject our fear and the things that we are afraid of, our cowardice leaves us isolated and alone.

Like the people in Plato's cave, we are spiteful, hateful even toward those that tell us that the world outside of our walls is actually filled with beautiful light and color (or colour maybe). We choose then to fight tooth and nail to stay within the confines of the prisons we have built for ourselves rather than explore the beauty of the real world around us because we have built this false notion of safety.

Yet God did not mold us to live in the obscurity of darkness, but rather to venture out and experience the fullness of his marvelous light. This means choosing courage over cowardice. This means facing the things that are painful and difficult in our lives. This means occasionally risking comfort and perceived (but potentially false) safety, in order to experience the beauty and the wholeness that God truly desires for us.