Friday, June 19, 2009

A Toast to the Mutants at Table Nine.

My daughter and I had a long talk yesterday about not fitting into the popular crowd. It appears that although time passes, music changes, and clothing styles wane; the ever constant first class "popular" table endures the test of time within the school lunch room. The conversation reminded me of my high school lunchroom buddies. This post is dedicated to them, and to all others who at one time or another are excluded either by choice or by force from the popular lunchroom table.

Adam Sandler starred in a movie called The Wedding Singer in 1998. It is one of my favorite guilty pleasures as I usually laugh hysterically through the entirety of this theatrical masterpiece. One of my favorite scenes includes Robbie (Sandler) referencing the 'mutants at table nine'. At first, the said 'mutants' appear offended by the remark. Seconds later they all nod accepting their role as 'mutant'. At first glance, this group at table nine appear ostracized. What I have decided about the 'mutants' at table nine is whether they found each other haphazardly by literally running into each other in the hall, or they were forced into the 'mutant' group by sheer neglect from everyone else; mutants stick together. It's a wonder I can come to that conclusion from such a small reference in a ridiculous movie, isn't it? Here might be the reason why...

I am a mutant from table nine. I also had the best friends in high school imaginable. None of us were exorbitantly wealthy, as far as I know. None of us were really jocks, although some may have dreamt of being such, and none of us were cheer-leading, jazz team bouncing, short skirt wearing blonds. The majority of my friends I met in band or choir or drama, which unfortunately and typically is mutant central. Here is a run down of some my friends as I remember them...

Adam, my giant friend, who towered over the rest of us like Goliath.
Teeny tiny blond, Kara was a minister's kid, like myself.
Jeremy was in love music, but even more in love with Samantha.
Samantha (aka Sam) played flute along side me in band.
Stephanie was our resident beauty queen.
Nathan, my over-opinionated friend, kept me grounded in my spiritual roots.
Tyler,the aloof piano player, who didn't always sit with us or did he?
Sarah left us all in the dust when it came to brains.
Another Jeremy, another musician, who could croon like the best of the rat pack.
Brenna was loyal, kind, a deep thinker, and listener.
James was friend to all and respected by all. He was/is authentic.

A younger group came into play that included Brianna, my constant and true best friend. Still others like John...another good listener. Jennifer, my competitor in band, yet still friend.

These are the ones who stand out the most in my memory. There are more that I haven't mentioned, but have not forgotten.

We were not the popular table. Maybe we were the mutants in someones eyes, but to us... we were friends. We had fun. We laughed together, shared life together, and set goals together. We didn't get into hoards of trouble. We worked hard on grades, music, and life. We were not invited to some of the cool parties. We had our own. The best part is, today we are not ashamed of our past. We may be embarrassed a little over prom dates, poor hair choices or minor adolescent indiscretions, but all in all we lived well. If I had to repeat high school there would be things I would change, but mostly I would stay the same with the same friends at the same table. Only I would spend more time with the people there.

Sadly, the popular table exists for adults at work and even sometimes at church. Mutants roam through the streets finding one another to lean on. Most of us don't really care to belong to segregated clicks within the popular crowd. We try to be nice to everyone though, and we never regret our lunch friends. We know that exterior judgments mean nothing. Attaining wealth and admiration from the masses means nothing. Making friends of people who only like you for where you can get them is pointless. We would rather make friends who love us for who we are regardless of our flaws, and we have. We also know that heartbreak and sickness are not prejudice, but effect cheerleaders, jocks, music nerds, and computer geeks alike.

In the end, I want my daughter to know that looking into the popular crowd may seem intriguing, but the people who are genuine, honest, talented, giving, loyal, spiritual, and life-changing might just be sharing your french fries right beside you. Don't take those people for granted, and don't be ashamed of being a mutant at table nine.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Battle of Wills and Won’ts- based on actual events

In class last week we had an assignment to write a simple script, mostly for fun I think. The script had to include several examples of defensive communication behaviors. Unfortunately, my first thoughts went to my own household. I thought I'd share this and see if it sounds anything like your houses?

Battle of Wills and Won’ts- based on actual events


Lily – A seven year old independent opinionated little girl who is ready to move out of the house into her own apartment. Her parents feel she is fully capable of this move.

Elijah – A laid back sensitive four year old who simply wants someone to love him.

Micah – A precocious and obstinate two year old much like his sister, Lily.

Scene begins with Lily coming home from school finding her room not in the perfect condition she left it in. Instead there are two books out of place on the floor beside her neatly organized bookshelf. She hears noises coming from her closet.

Lily- (yelling) Get out of my room right now!

Elijah- (comes in Lily’s room from the hallway) I am not in your room. Mom! Lily is yelling at me. (Leaves Lily’s room)

In a corner of Lily’s closet hides Micah coloring in Lily’s favorite Fairy book and laughing.

Lily- (Follows Elijah) I know you were in my room. It is a mess and I heard you in there. You are always in my room Elijah!

Elijah- Nuh uh!!! Did not!! (Looks back into Lily’s room and then quietly questions) Where’s da mess, Lil?

Lily- YOU know where the mess is. Now get in there and clean it right now or I’m getting mom and then you’ll get your game taken away.

- (looking in Lily’s room) Well, I didn’t do it. My room IS messy though. Wanna watch TV?

- Well, I don’t care what you do. If you are not going to clean up your mess then I won’t watch your shows with you.

Elijah- Lily! I did not make a mess in your room. I made a mess in MY room see!! (Pointing toward his room) Where’s Micah? Maybe he wants to watch shows.

- MOM! Elijah refuses to clean up his mess in my room. It is clearly his responsibility!

- MOM! It’s not my ‘sponsibity to clean Lil’s room! I’ll clean my room. That’s my ‘sponsibity!

Micah emerges from Lily’s room with Fairy book in hand. Lily sees Micah and yanks book from his hands.

Lily- MICAH!!!

- I told you Lil. He did it.

- MOM! Micah colored in MY book!

Elijah- Lil you owe me a ‘pology.

Lily- (Not looking him in the face) Yeah. Sorry. Ugh. Now I have to completely reorganize my shelf. (Walks away to her room and slams the door)

Elijah quietly turns on his favorite show and sits with Micah on the couch. Lights dim. Fade to black.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The death and poverty gospel.

Ever heard of health and wealth gospels? You know what I mean, the minister/ies that teach that if you love Jesus and have faith you will be healthy and rich-- blatantly disregarding the mountain of struggles that early Christians faced. Well, I'm hear to tout something new. I'd like to advertise the death and poverty gospel. Wanna join?

One of my favorite worship songs is You Never Let Go by Matt Redman. The song quotes mostly Psalms. It is beautiful. It reminds me that my faith or Christianity is not about my happiness, my health, or my wealth.

Christianity is so much deeper than our earthly comfort. I know plenty of parents that scoff at the concept of a happiness doctrine. You see, they have all kissed their babies goodbye. They are faithful under the most horrible of circumstances. They live out a faith-filled gospel everyday. They have faith in eternal reunion otherwise what is the point of going on?

The truth is Jesus did not promise us happiness. The truth is Jesus did not promise an easy road. Why should we have an easier road than our savior who walked before us? Do any of us deserve that? I don't.

When your world is rocked,
when your job is gone,
when you say goodbye to a precious one,
when you face disease,
when you are alone,
when you live in poverty,
when you are spiritually/emotionally/financially bankrupt,
when you look a gun in the face,
that is when you know what the death and poverty gospel is.

When you are clinging to Jesus and crawling through the worst storm of your life, he will provide. When you have lost everything you value, he is still there. He will not abandon you...ever.

Faith, true faith, is believing with all you have when you have nothing. Faith is what keeps the empty going. It is why parents who've tragically lost children can go on. It is why the lady in your congregation who has been in physical pain every day of her life keeps coming and keeps believing and keeps praying and keeps lifting her hands to praise. It is why the apostles kept sharing the gospel even when facing certain death. Faith that HE will bring us home is real faith.

If you keep waiting for life to get may be waiting a while. Trust in HIM and not in self. Live for Him. Believe He will provide, because He will. He always does. His provision in times of need brings a joy that earthly excitement can't match. So I say,

Bring on the pain.
Bring on the poverty.
Bring on death and disease.
Bring on famine.
Bring on the armies who seek to kill us.

We are on the right side. Praise God and sing His praises through it all! My friend Paul said, "To live is Christ, to die is gain." Move past the earthly temptation to earn more, acquire more, and please self more. He is why we are here. I feel that if you are living for yourself, you will be If you are living for HIM then life may hurt, but you will be rewarded...there. I don't think you can have both. I think you have to choose.

There will be an end to the struggles here. It will come swiftly although it seems slow now. He will be faithful to us, if we are faithful to Him. He will never let us go. He will be with you...always...through it all.

"I will fear no evil, for you are with me." Psalm 23:4

"If God be for us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:31

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear." 1 John 4:18