Business Matters

14093-a-beautiful-young-business-woman-thinking-pv “What other people think of you is none of your business!”

For years, I’ve heard this expression, and it has irritated me.  Not because I didn’t like the message – I really liked what I thought the person uttering this cliché was so cleverly trying to get across. It just seemed to be trying too hard.  And, if you really thought about the words, it didn’t make sense. Sure, you shouldn’t worry about what other people think of you. And yes, your worth isn’t determined by what anyone thinks of you. And okay, you really don’t even need to know what other people think of you… I guess it makes sense that it’s best to just think of it as “none of your business.”

Note that as I just wrote that, my head involuntarily started to circle and I may have muttered “two circles and a snap” under my breath. As embarrassing as this is to admit, it’s really only appropriate given that it was this same sassy, know-it-all version of me who used to then roll her eyes and think how stupid it was for anyone to say that an opinion of ME was none of MY business. I mean, Come on! By definition, it’s MY business. It’s an opinion about ME, right?

Wrong!

What I’ve realized lately is that what other people think of me really isn’t MY business.

What people think of me is actually THEIR business! It is really, truly, 100 percent ALL ABOUT THEM! In other words, other people’s opinions – of me and about everything – are really a reflection of their unique views of the world. Each person’s distinct perspective is largely shaped by her upbringing, her environment and her experiences. Someone with Anorexia, for example, who is starving herself and has a distorted body image, would look at a person with a healthy BMI and think of her as decidedly “fat.” Someone from West Africa, on the other hand, where it is viewed as beautiful to be full figured and where people purchase “appetite stimulants” instead of starving themselves, would see that same person as “skinny.” 

Similarly, if someone doesn’t “like” me, it’s not actually a reflection on me. It doesn’t mean I’m unlikeable. It could be I rub someone else the wrong way, because I’m exposing him to something he doesn’t want to face. Or perhaps we have similar weaknesses. Seeing someone else struggle with the same things you do can be exceedingly scary. Or maybe someone’s personality traits are just different from mine in such a way that we don’t gel, but she doesn’t realize this doesn’t mean one of us is bad. Maybe a person who doesn’t “like” me is further along in her spiritual journey, and her nurturing capacity is just saturated.  Even this type of rejection is not about me. We are all right where we are supposed to be. Every person is ahead of some people and behind others in her walk with God, and the people around us need to provide a balance for us to continue to grow.  

All that matters, all that’s true, all that’s MY business is what I think. What I think of myself, what I think of YOU, what I think of everything … it’s all MY business.

And now that I know how to mind my own business, I’d like to end this blog post by sharing what I think of a few things. Hopefully, you won’t take any of my opinions too personally. 

First, as for what I think of myself, lately, I’m not super thrilled with me. Sometime in mid-January, my will power just got up and left. I’m not sure if it’s going to come back soon, if it’s on an extended leave of absence, or if perhaps, it is never going to return, but it’s most definitely gone. All those ideas I had about what I was going to do better in 2015, which I conveniently refused to call resolutions, have fallen by the wayside. I’m slacking. Not exercising. Eating whatever I want. I sure am glad my only “real” New Year’s resolution was to cut myself some slack, because I am doing a GREAT job at keeping that one! 

Deep down though, I really do know that no matter what, I’m a beautiful, incredible, perfectly imperfect child of God. And even though my will power is missing in action and may never return, I actually like myself today.

As for what I think of you, I really think you should know that you are completely and totally missing the point of this post if you think I am going to tell you anything other than “none of your business.”  

And yes, I did just make more circles with my head. This time, though, instead of just muttering, I actually made the sign of a “Z” and then snapped. You’re welcome.

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The Ultimate Parenting Lesson

FebPost2As a new mother, when my child cried, I would first try to feed her to soothe her cries. If that didn’t work, I would check her diaper. If that wasn’t it, I would look for and try to relieve any pain she was in. I might give her a teething ring, or try to relieve gas pains.

Many new mothers think they are doing a bad job if they can’t discern their babies’ specific cries and identify their needs immediately. I never felt this way. I always somehow knew that it was natural and normal and right to try different things. That coming up with new plans and letting go of old ones was not a bad thing.  Of course, somewhere along the way, I forgot this basic truth and as my children have grown, there have been periods where I have questioned my every move as a mom.

As I journey through the Bible, I see that growing and changing and trying new things is not only a natural part of life, it is the very nature of God.

I am just over a month into reading the Bible, and my fellow journeywomen and I have two books under our belts!  Quite honestly, Genesis and Exodus contain some stories and details that I sort of wish they didn’t.  God gets mad. A lot.  And when He gets mad, He destroys things. And people. Then, there’s the whole animal sacrifice thing. I am not sure I will ever grasp why in the world God demands animal sacrifices to purify His creation. I really just don’t get this.

What I do get, however, is that when I look too closely at details like these, I lose my focus on the bigger picture. I’m sure details that seem inane and gruesome to me have significance, and I trust religious scholars who say it all makes sense when put in the proper context. But for now, for me, it is only in letting go of needing to understand every detail that I am able to grasp the big, bold, life-changing truths in the basic story.

The basic story tells me that from the very beginning, God was always making all things new. Just as a new parent responds to his or her child by trying different things, God deals with His creation by coming up with one new plan after another. God’s first new creation is Adam and Eve. He makes for them a perfect place to exist. There is only one rule, for them not to eat from the tree of good and evil, but they can’t keep this one, simple rule.

So God comes up with a new plan. Instead of living in a beautiful, abundant garden that has everything they need right at their fingertips, men and women will have to work and toil for all they get. Life will be harder, but they will still have all that they need. They know right from wrong, but as they multiply and fill the earth, they can’t all keep to doing what is right.

So God comes up with a new plan. He wipes everything and everyone out with a giant flood, leaving behind only Noah and his family to reproduce and fill the land once again. This time, God makes a covenant with Noah, reminding him of a few of the more important moral rules, like, you know, not murdering. As the years go by though, once again, depravity and evil cannot be kept at bay.

So God comes up with a new plan. He selects a chosen people, first by selecting one faithful man, Abraham. He tests Abraham’s obedience repeatedly, ensuring that He indeed has chosen a faithful and good man to be the father of His chosen people. He even insists that Abraham go through the ritual of circumcision as an adult to show his dedication to God. But even this faithful man and his descendants can’t keep to always doing right by God.

So God comes up with a new plan. Instead of working to abolish or control man’s errant choices, He works through them. When Joseph’s brothers sell Joseph to slave traders, God uses this appalling choice as a pivotal event in Joseph’s life, transforming it into a catalyst that leads Joseph to exactly where God wants him to be. Years later, Moses is unable keep to the most basic moral tenets God demands and kills another man in anger.

So God comes up with a new plan. God decides it’s time to “micro manage” His people, and He lays out, in painstaking precision, exactly what His people are to do. He explains, down to the dimensions, colors, and types of materials, what they are to build. He details how they are to prepare their food, how they are to sacrifice animals, down to what to do with each animal part. He lays out not just ten commandments but an entire volume of rules that would compete with the thickest civil law book taught at law schools today.

This is as far as we have gotten in our journey.  Leviticus is looking to be more detailed instructions and laws, like we read about in Exodus. But one thing I am sure of is that if I pay attention, I will realize that what I am reading is not just more of the same. That somehow, somewhere in the details, through the details, above the details, there will be newness.

For God always has been, currently is, and always will be making all things new.

‘Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”’

Revelations 21:5