Step Up!

I must apologize to the girl I was rude to yesterday, it happened when I was getting a smoothie. I knew exactly what I wanted when I walked in to the store, and saw there was a girl just standing in the middle of me and the register.

“Are you in line?,” I asked.

No sooner had those words come out, did I think that she must have thought I was the devil. She nearly jumped ten feet in the air. Then, slowly like a sloth, she turned her head towards me and said a mixture of words that I could not understand. I furrowed my brow in confusion.

“Ummm, so you are getting something?”

She nodded insecurely.

“Sweet,” I replied with a half-smile and awkward laugh.

So, why are you not moving forward closer to the register, and replacing this awkward gap, one that causes me to ask you this question that obviously made you uncomfortable in the first place. Gah! Now I’ve practically made a run-on sentence in my mind! Trent, seriously, where is this ‘tude coming from?

I pretended to check my phone like twenty times as Awkward Angela and I waited for the only worker to get our orders, and finish the four he had. At last he got our orders and what did sweet Angela do? Stop in the middle of the room . . . again. I started to walk over towards the pick up area, but there was some sort of invisible barrier that prevented me from passing Angela. You know, the etiquette barrier. So, I awkwardly joined her in the middle of the room yet again, about ten feet from the pick-up register.

Two other guys had entered the store, and as we all waited for our smoothies, these two guys joined us in the middle of the room.

Mind the gap Angela! Mind the gap!

No sooner had those words crossed my mind, then she walked up to the register. I made sure the distance between her and I was not the awkward 10 feet, but the safe 4 feet. Any closer and it would be an invasion of privacy. Any further away, and it would be an inconvenience and awkward embarrassment to us all. I looked behind and noticed the two other guys behind us were unquestionably the awkward 10 feet.

Get Me Outta Here!

Why am I being so hard on Sweet Angie? Because, she is so much more of a person than the way she was acting in there. She seemed so insecure and socially inept. I honestly was frustrated because I saw much of myself in her when I was that age. Too scared to step out and step up. Too scared to speak to people because I was afraid of not embarrassing myself, but being a hinderance to the person I spoke to. I hated calling people and especially any type of sales call.

I don’t want Angela to be insecure, yet I don’t want her to be too cocky. I want her to be confident, caring and light up the room with her presence. I wish this for her because I wish I had been that myself at her age. Not a people pleaser, but an affirmer and confidant in a world that is always about self-comfort and not stepping into anyone’s box.

Did I say anything else to her? No. Did I do anything to lighten the situation? No. It was more of a reminder of myself, my heart, where I had came from and where I am heading. I am here for all the Awakward Angelas and Trents. I am here to bring them hope and confidence.

The smoothie was great!

Your Life Doesn’t Have to Amount to Anything

Today as I was driving home I thought about life. I mean, who doesn’t think about life, right? But I thought about finding meaning in life and how we find meaning in our jobs. Some people look to stardom as the meaning for life (see a post I did a few days ago on the Bieber family). Some people give up everything and serve overseas. Some people join the military and serve the country for the rest of their lives. Some people are perfectly content with working their entire lives in a cubicle. But there is an urge in our generation and maybe even the one before us, that we deserve more out of our life. I am not quite sure this is true.

Brother Lawrence, a French monk, wrote a book called, The Practice of the Presence of God. In this short book, he tells of how he lived for the glory of God. You may be thinking that it is easy to live for the glory of God as a monk, right? Brother Lawrence spent most of his life cooking in the kitchen. He never got out, he never joined a small group or went to a Billy Graham Crusade or Passion Conference. He simply found God in cooking and cleaning. He never actually talked to many people, he just kept to himself. Behind-the-scenes. Serving. No recognition.

Like much of today’s young generation, you may be screaming, “my life is supposed to count,” or “I’ve got to go all out for Jesus!” The thing is, we are not here for us. We are not here to make our name famous. We are not the beginning and end. We are simply a piece of the puzzle. As hard as it may seem, God may call us to simply cook and clean our entire lives. We’ve got to discover this. We’ve got to be okay with this. We’ve got to let go and give in.

How can I best serve God with what I am doing? How can I enjoy it in a work environment that I totally hate? Brother Lawrence has the mindset that we ought to have. He meditated day and night. He constantly talked to God. Did he necessarily isolate himself? I don’t believe so. I believe that if he had the chance he would love and share the gospel without thinking. He simply held no weight on earthly desires and wants. He placed it all in things eternal.

Now, if you are like me, this is hard to chew. I am surrounded by my MacBook, iPad, Kindle Fire and smart phone. I am not the prime example on what I just wrote. But what I believe God is trying to tell me is that I need to not “shoot for the stars” or “seek fame.” I need to seek Him. I need to seek giving him glory in my everyday, mundane activities (job, exercise, commute, ect). If life truly flows from God, then every breath I give should be spent praising him.

Invest In Me

My generation does not have it easy. We have grown up in a troublesome world with 9/11 and a shaky economy. My friends are overqualified for their jobs, and many are seeking masters degrees. They hope by the time they are done earning their degree, a door will be open for them to walk through.

We are avoiding what we believe are jobs that underestimate us and mock our intellectual capabilities. We come home to solace from our music, movies and games. They provide us a world where our deepest desires and potential can be realized.

We are stuck between two actions: to wait or to act. We are unsure what to do because we have been taught till now that opportunities fall in our lap and that we just need to do what we always do, and be who we are.

We are starting to question what our teachers told us through all the years. Are the older generations genuinely looking our for our best interests or are they more concerned for themselves? Maybe sort of a fight or flight, or a “you are going to be great someday” remark. They always seem to try to back up their assertion with a “love you” tagged to the end. As older generations are living longer, they have learned to mask the fear of losing their own identity and purpose with the sense of caring for our generation.

My generation is ready for action, but we are told “no” and “not yet.” If not now, when? Each of us are bursting with a desire to live, dream, inspire, and create. What will we have to inspire the generation coming after us is we have not yet paved a way for them? How sad it will be if our generation begins laying a foundation for generations to come and it is too late?

I think there is a growing tension to make sure this does not happen. We are becoming antsy, joining movements, giving more, fighting more and speaking out more. We need people in our generation and the generations that came before us to become activators. We need permission. We need investors.

What Sunsets Were Made For

My generation is not one for stopping, in fact, the word “stop” is probably the most vulgar one out there, next to the “f” word, “failure.” These days, we have to tell our iPads and seasonal coffees to dream for us. We are too busy being connected to the world. As I type this, I am sitting on a porch miles from home overlooking hills, valleys, and mountains of trees with one of the most spectacular sunsets I have ever seen. Why, at the age of 24 has it take this long to have found such a scene that would make Nathaniel Hawkeye of Last of the Mohicans jealous?

Today was the fall day anyone could dream of. My family escaped to Blue Ridge, a quaint town in northern Georgia. Here, there are shops, cafes, and restaurants galore and Starbucks, while it does have a presence, it is respectfully hidden in an Ingles grocery store. This town is made for those who move to a slower pace, one that begs people to make memories. It offers enough comfort for Generation Z and the time of the life for the Baby Boomers and Generation Y.

Getaways are not always easy these days. Families are busy with mom, dad or the step-parents constantly vying for your attention or dragging you off with them somewhere you’d rather not be. And when they do have the time to pay for a family retreat, however you might define family, it is a cookie-cutter vacation. An all inclusive trip to the “happiest place on earth” or the modern lodge in the mountains.

I am blessed to have the family I have. We realize that we are of a rare breed. While we are not perfect and let our needs and wants sometimes hurt each other, we bask in the good moments. The sunsets of the past few nights have been one of those moments. My mother, one night, snugged up in her jacket pokes her head out and whispered, “I agree, I don’t ever want to leave.” Our family needed this. Too much has gotten in the way of our hearts, we are like a gutter, once or twice a year we need to be cleaned. This is our purification.

God gets the backburner a lot these days, but, with these sunsets, he has triumphantly made us recognize his presence. These are the weekends spent apologizing to him for your selfishness and the next second standing in awe at what he has created. The temperature is perfect. The leaves subtly blow in the wind, creating a melody that only those who have “escaped from the every day” can hear. Bats zig-zag in the night and the crickets begin their melodic finale as the winter draws near. Scents of wood-buring fires and dreams of cider and hot chocolate engage the senses. If you have ever felt this, you will know that you have finally been set free.

Life is for these weekends. It is for the disconnect and reconnection. It is for the small things. It is for examining your heart and moving on. I am grateful for the escapes and such a loving family that loves me. I don’t ever want to forget the sunsets, because God made them for me.