Fixed or growth mindset?
The outdoors is a peaceful place –
and where I feel close to my Dad.
I enjoy the air, smell and views –
with both a light and heavy heart.
Four years ago this Christmas was a first Bible study with my father. We discussed Ecclesiastes, a book concerned with the purpose and value of human life. While admitting the existence of a divine plan, it considers such a plan to be hidden from man, who seeks happiness without ever finding it. Life, then, is an enigma beyond human ability to solve.
“He has made everything appropriate to its time, and has put the timeless into their hearts, without men’s ever discovering, from beginning to end, the work which God has done. I recognized that there’s nothing better than to be glad and do well during life. For every man, moreover, to eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of all his labor is a gift of God. I recognized that whatever God does will endure forever; there is no adding to it, or taking from it. Thus has God done that he may be revered. What now is has already been; what is to be, already is; and God restores what would otherwise be displaced.”
Revisiting this text, just after my father’s passing, does make me reflect on the purpose and value of human life. This divine plan is, in fact, beyond my human ability to solve. What now is, has already been.
My heart is timeless. From beginning to end. My father was a gift from God.
We fit together
Not in the puzzle way
More like nooks and crannies
Nothing tops us.
My life changed after using the last Q-tip Monday night. Sincerely. I planned to pick up a new box on Tuesday once I finished at the library. The pharmacy was right next door but I managed to forget. On Wednesday, I didn’t think about the Q-tips until I climbed out of the shower that night. Frustrated I muttered, “Oh God! …Let me remember cotton swabs next time I’m out?!” I put on my pajamas and wrote ‘Qtips’ on our refrigerator shopping list.
Thursday was my birthday, so my focus was certainly not on Q-tips or any other kind of cotton swab. I readied for work, caught the train to Boston and bought munchkins for our office. Nobody knew it was my birthday and the morning went by slowly. At noon, I decided to stretch my legs, get some fresh air and take a walk.
The tourists were on the Freedom Trail and the office workers were sitting down to cafe lunches or walking back to buildings with their to-go sacks. I walked with a fast stride, smelled the aromas and listened to the sounds of the city. I watched all the people but saw the homeless. How hard is it for them to watch the feeding frenzy?
The rest of the story that follows is not an event I would typically discuss; moments that happen in my Christian life are between myself and God. However, I feel obligated to spread these special words because I think God works in mysterious and beautiful ways.
I passed many storefronts at a quick pace.
Until I didn’t.
My stride slowed and uncontrollably stopped. I was suddenly standing in front of a very crippled man in his wheelchair. The sensation didn’t scare me and I was not afraid to be with this helpless person. I wanted to assist but didn’t know how. I do know not to give money in the streets. There is a shrine, a soup kitchen and a shelter nearby.
I found myself saying words i hadn’t even formed in my mind yet:
“What can I help you with today?”, as I bent over his chair.
His response was slow, labored and garbled. I didn’t understand anything that he was straining so hard to express.
My soul bled for him as I looked to his hands for some aided expression.
They were twisted and fist-like with long, dirty nails.
They grabbed my heart.
“I am sorry, tell me again.”, now I had to know.
He tried once more, working hard to form lips and sound.
I turned my ear toward him and thought I heard words.
Trying to match a food with what I thought I heard, I questioned, “Chips?! You want potato chips?” I turned back to face him, hoping to see acknowledgement in his eyes.
They were covered with black sunglasses; it was a beautiful sunny day.
Don’t let me give up, I thought. This is my fellow human being. He turned his head, left and right and then directly at me.
A definite but pleading “No.” registered in his mouth and my ears.
I had his lunch request all wrong, didn’t know what else to do, and then, at that very defeated moment, I heard his continued mumble as clear as a foggy day.
He spoke more slowly. “No, Q-tips.” and low but distinct, “I need Q-tips.”
I froze. In elation. For so many reasons.
“Of course. You know what?”, I was so happy and continued, “I need Q-tips too. I’ll buy some for both of us.”
It was as easy as the nearby CVS and the cosmetics aisle. I was overjoyed that I’d waited to understand. Coming together may have been God’s plan all along? My spiritual life changed because remembering new Q-tips helped me not to hear, but to see, in a whole new way.
Happy Birthday to me.
The truth will set you free.
Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for human anger does not work the righteousness that God desires.
Learn backwards and move forward.
Breathe and start again.
Thank you to Colleen for the Tuesday challenge.