Please for my #submission at (if you like it) http://myfaithradio.com/?p=84638 – 3rd Annual Faith Radio Writer’s Contest
Please for my #submission at (if you like it) http://myfaithradio.com/?p=84638 – 3rd Annual Faith Radio Writer’s Contest
Have you noticed that life is quite different from soap operas? Yet in some ways similar? Life is much less predictable. The premise of soap operas is that something will go wrong with every relationship, person, and circumstance. Happiness is built up only to be eroded by plot twists. Life can kind of be like that, but we are also more capable of learning from our life journeys.
The soap opera viewer becomes attached to characters who reach the ultimate in happiness, only to be dropped into a chasm of disappointment. Happy, content characters make the viewer feel like something is missing in life. Tragic, devastated characters make the viewer feel happy to be in real life. Soap operas are up and down. Happy scenes are filmed to provide flashbacks during trials and tribulations.
Life is also full of ups and downs. However, we seem surprised by things we don’t expect. We assume that life is fair and that we’ll always be happy. When that doesn’t happen, we are let down. Disappointment is a familiar, warm blanket of self-pity you can wrap yourself in while pouting on the couch. Burrowed into cushions and pillows kind of pouting. Ice cream out of the carton pouting. Unable to take another bite because of the sobs and tears disappointment. We fail to see that the downs allow us to grow, lessons allow us to learn, and growth allows us to put things in a better perspective.
A door left ajar on a soap opera means that someone will overhear or walk in on something that nobody wants to be known. Merely by seeing “a door ajar”, the viewer can watch the scene knowing someone is right outside that door. Life provides open doors and closed doors. We need to carefully consider the implications of any door we approach. We don’t have the viewer’s advantage of knowing when we should act or speak differently. We sometimes need reminders that God is omnipresent and sees all we do, think, and feel.
Soap opera music is predictive. It tells you, in case you couldn’t figure it out, whether the scene is happy, amorous, or tragic. When the tune changes, you know the mood will too. Life doesn’t provide a sound track. We have to find within ourselves the desire to continue despite adversity. We must reach inside ourselves and out to others at times for joy. We each make a choice to be happy or sad at times. Other times we need to accept what we feel as legitimate and process the truth.
Soap opera stories cycle with each character through similar plots and circumstances. If you watch one long enough, you will most likely find the characters in hot water just like they were five years ago. Relationships start, end, and reignite. Life takes us in cycles. We think soap operas are silly with their repetitive story lines, but we sometimes fail to see cycles in our own lives that should be broken or behaviors that we need to change. We fail to see how our attitude affect us rather than those who possibly don’t even know we’re holding a grudge.
Soap operas have a sometimes ridiculous ability to rewrite history. Characters can change from one actor to another overnight without explanation. You are supposed to not notice that the tall guy is now short; or the blonde is now a brunette. Children grow at an amazing rate. People die and come back a few years later – always with an explanation of how they didn’t really die when the world thought they did.
Life does not allow us to rewrite history. We have one life to live, seeing life’s possibilities or shortfalls. We have one body that may bring joys or trials. We need to cherish relationships and people in our lives. God is the one consistent writer in our lives, knowing that we will get through each step. He has seen the cycles of humanity. He understands them. Through grace, He still loves us and provides a guiding light through our lives. Through grace, He feels our pains and joys. Unlike characters written in a script, He has created us as real, unique, and promising people who live all the days of our lives.
The well-worn boot had settled into an artistic display with layers of cobwebs connecting it to a nearby picture and walls. How long had it been on the shelf of the Genoa Bar, Nevada’s oldest thirst station, established in 1853? Cobwebs stretched from the boot to a poster dated 1964. Really? It had to only have been “growing” for fifty-one years of the drinking station’s one hundred sixty two year history!
A brown broken bottle sat beside it, grey with years of undisturbed dust coating it. How long had this little display been uninterrupted? With customers in and out of the business for year after year, with the tables and bar regularly wiped clean. The cobwebs been left to grow and build upon each other. How had it been viewed but never disturbed? When someone set that boot on the shelf did they know that it would sit undisturbed for over fifty years?
Who had worn that boot? Who worked hard to purchase what were perhaps their only new shoes in life? Boots that spent hours in the dust and heat of the nearby ranches? Where was its mate? What boots had followed for that cowboy; and were they as comfortable? How had that one lone boot ended up as part of a display in a western bar? And one that wasn’t a traditional cowboy boot?
How often do we leave parts of our lives, hearts, and relationships on the shelf for years without attention? How often do we become separated by those who seemed to be the other shoe? How many people have had to learn to live with one boot – symbolically in life? How many lives have been re-purposed from a hard working ranch boot to a display in a bar? That seems to be a pretty dramatic re-purpose, in my opinion.
Like that old, frozen-in-time boot, how many parts of life do we leave on the shelf for later? How often do we postpone change; avoid things that need attention; procrastinate reading a book – but instead choose to spend our time on meaningless activities? (TV or Candy Crush)
How often do we leave our relationship with God on the shelf? How often do we say, “Someday I will get around to spending more time with God and more time in His word? But tonight I’m too tired and I’ll be too rushed in the morning.”
How often do we live in our own boot without recognizing that God is in a perfectly matched boot right at our side?
On the other hand, how often do we leave things on the shelf to accumulate dust and cobwebs when they are past their useful life? What is a useful life? When should we let go of things in our lives that we continue to cling to?
The dusty boot on the shelf gave me quite a few things to think about. . . how about you? It raised more questions than it provided answers. I’ll keep pondering.
The compass dates back to the 14th century. It’s an instrument that has marks for each direction – North, South, East, and West. The needle always points north allowing the person holding the compass to assist in gauging their direction. The term “moral compass” is also used to represent guidance through life. The concept of a compass is that of grounding, of right and wrong.
Well, ironically – or maybe not – I got a compass token this summer that I lost twice. Seriously. Only due to serendipitous circumstances was it brought back to me both times.
I didn’t lose any other tokens. Only the compass. I felt a bit sick and very disappointed. You know, the feeling in the pit of your stomach that something is gone and there is nothing you can do about it? Sometimes life brings huge losses to us much bigger than a lost charm. We can only accept and adapt to life in a new light.
I acquired the compass on the same day that I found Gina’s hummingbird. It caught my eye in the display case and I kept returning to it. It wasn’t right as Gina’s token, but for me it seemed right. I’ve been on a wild ride in life, and have been challenged at times to know which way is north. I loved the little detail of the charm that marked not just the four directions, but fractions indicating that there is variation between the lines.
First I put it on my necklace. I liked it, but it just didn’t fit. So I removed it, and attached it to my bracelet with the hummingbird. Perseverance in the hummingbird was a good match for feeling grounded and knowing where my life was leading me.
I went on vacation with some friends and wore my bracelet. I really liked it and would finger the tokens when idle. One day, after getting off a tour bus, my friend asked me where my compass was – as she held it up. She happened to catch it when it fell from my bracelet in the isle of the bus. Oh my, sigh of relief. We laughed though and I tucked it away safely until I could get it fixed.
Quickly I found a jeweler and had it reattached. I breathed a sigh of relief and went on with my day. When at dinner, it was gone again! This time was very disappointing because we had been wandering around before dinner. However, sometimes life gives us not only a second chance but also a third. Finding something that we thought was lost gives us a lift in our heart, and a sigh of relief that our mistake had been forgiven.
So, we traced our path prior to dinner. I’m quite sure I was providing entertainment to friends who would never trust me with a kitten after that. Climbing a set of stairs, I found the little silver, stretched open ring on the floor. Nearby was a bench that I had been sitting on earlier. I actually walked up to a nice elderly couple sitting on it and asked, maybe it sounded like a demand, that they get up and let me look in case it had fallen while sitting. Bewildered, they slowly rose.
In the meantime, one of my friends found it sitting on a little shelf by the bench. Someone had found it and set it aside in case I returned. How kind was that person who I will never know that had cared. How kind are many people in life who we never get a chance to thank – other than by being kind ourselves to the next person.
I once again tucked my compass into my purse in a safe spot. I couldn’t believe it. Twice lost and twice found. However, when I finally had it securely (I hope) attached permanently to the bracelet, I realized how appropriate the experience had been.
God has given me multiple second chances despite mistakes, circumstance, and fate. He is my compass in life and is always there even if I wander off for a while.
As with my other tokens, a little card was included in my purchase that explained that each direction on the compass has meaning. What the card didn’t state is there are many little variations in direction that can take us southwest, or northeast. A compass provides precise measurement while our lives provide many variations. Second chances and unique directions are what make us each special.
I will continue to share the tokens that I treasure in the order acquired. Prior to the imperfect pearl came two others. The first was a Mayan token from Mexico that I had no idea would become the first of a collection. I love to have reminders of my travels but never want to find room in my luggage. I’ve found that gathering little tokens provides a reminder requiring little space.
A few years ago, I went on vacation with a longtime friend. We had held each other up through some tough, emotional times. We had a lot of fun shopping, traveling, and even had dogs that were best friends. Life was always an adventure filled with laughter and camaraderie.
This particular trip took us to Mexico. One day, we visited some ancient Mayan ruins where we climbed partway up a very steep and tall set of steps. Giving up about halfway, we sat and looked out over the jungle that had overgrown remnants of a civilization. We wandered through pockets of the ancient civilization, spread through an overgrown jungle, following paths carved out for tourists.
Upon returning to our hotel, a small silver coin with Mayan symbols caught my eye in the window of the gift shop. I bought the token and have since worn it on a chain around my neck. It reminds me of the preciousness of life and how time moves on, leaving whole civilizations behind. It emphasizes that nothing here on earth is forever. It also reminds me of the strength and fragility of friendship as I recall laughing throughout the trip with my friend. A friend who, like past civilizations, has moved on in life. There are times, when we lose touch with friends, not deliberately or through conflict, but because of life changes.
In contrast, the small, round, Mayan token reminds me of constancy when I think of how God has been there for all civilizations. God’s view is better than ours, and he’s seen everything. He sees where my life will lead and will be there with me. God is constancy even as life is not.