Finding the Open Trunk


You may be surprised to hear that I don’t rescue babies every day.  It was just the one time at the zoo. My wife and I were on our way in from the parking lot when I spotted a lady tapping on her car window.  She was talking to someone inside and looked desperate, so I stopped to help.

It turns out she was a babysitter.  And where was the baby?  Sitting in her carseat inside the locked car with the engine running.  Munching on Cheerios.

I’m guessing later in the morning the babysitter was planning on giving the kid some lead paint and letting her run with scissors.  Throw in some candy from strangers and she would have a lock on the “Worst Babysitter of All Time” award.  Not exactly Mary Poppins.

But at least she had a plan.  She was trying to get the kid to unlock the door.  “Come on honey,” she said.  “You can do it.  Just pull it up.”  Unfortunately the baby couldn’t have been more than 16 months old and, even though she wasn’t strapped in her carseat, she didn’t look like she had a lot of experience with manual locks.

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Imaginary Friends

Folded Unicorn

When you’re a kid, having an imaginary friend is a sign of playfulness and creativity. When you’re an adult, it’s a sign of other things.  In my experience, adults with imaginary friends are either a) raving lunatics, b) writers, or c) avoiding conflict.

The first two speak for themselves.  If you spend a lot of time talking to purple unicorns and Napolean Bonaparte, it might be time for some counseling.  If you can turn them into a best seller, however, it might be time to get an agent.

Let’s move on to the last option, imaginary friends as a sign of conflict avoidance.  Technically these people aren’t imaginary.  They’re real flesh and blood human beings, but the conversation you’re having with them is totally in your head.

Has someone ever pushed your buttons and, later, when they’re not around, you start daydreaming about your next conversation with them?  Or maybe you need to ask someone a big favor, confess something or confront someone and you rehearse it in your mind over and over again.

Sometimes these fictitious conversations are awesome.  You say all the right things, and they respond in all the right ways.  You’re brilliant.  They’re speechless.  You come out as the hero, and the other person bends to your will and does everything you want them to do.

If you’re anything like me, however, these imaginary conversations usually go south. Typically my worst-case scenario brain goes to the most catastrophic outcome that could possibly happen. When I run the conversation in my head, the person ends up telling me no, yelling at me or hating me for life.

Whatever extreme you land on, the problem with these imaginary pow-wows is that they paint an unrealistic picture and keep you from having the conversation you desperately need to have.  The other person becomes a character in the movie in your head instead of a living, breathing person who you actually need to relate to.

When I find myself having one of these conversations with someone who isn’t actually there, that tells me there’s a problem.  It means I’m worked up.  I’m anxious.  I’m dreading having the talk in real life.

At that point I know it’s time to have two talks, the first with God, and the second with the person I’d rather avoid.  The God conversation takes the edge off the situation.  I pray that God will help me see it like He does and better understand the other person’s point-of-view.   I ask for Him to give me the right words and the courage to speak them and that He would lead both of us to whatever outcome He desires.

At that point I’m in a much better place to just sit down and have a sane and healthy conversation about whatever is on my mind.   Imaginary friends are great for kids, but when it comes to the grown up world, it’s best to talk to real people.  Unless, of course, you have a book in you.   That’s a totally different story.


Image: ‘Folded Unicorn‘

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Chasing Feathers


My daughters have one big ballet recital every spring, and all the weeks of practice come down to the Saturday morning before the big show.  Dress rehearsal is the last chance to get it right.  It requires focus, determination and discipline.

It’s a long morning.  They work hard.   They wait.  They work hard some more and do their very best to hit every step with perfection.

Unless, of course, they see a feather.

My four-year-old and her preschool friends played puffins in this particular ballet.  In case you haven’t seen one lately, puffins are those cute little birds that look like penguins.  That means their costumes were laced with feathers, lots and lots of feathers.  At the end of their dance, the girls did a final twirl and froze in position.

Except for Kate.

Somehow in that last move, a single feather broke free from a tutu and launched itself into the air.  Right next to her.  The second she saw the random feather drifting above her head, she broke from the pack and went for it.

This ballet stuff was great and all, but she had more important work to do – chasing feathers.   Everyone else remained frozen, but Kate could care less.  She was mesmerized by that feather that floated just out of her reach.  As far as she was concerned the theater might as well have been empty.

While she may have missed the chance to work out her ballet steps, she seized the opportunity to live in the moment.  There’s magic in moments like those, and we rush past far too many of them.

In the grown-up world, many days feel like dress rehearsal for a performance that never comes.  We work hard at our jobs, scurry to keep up with our kids and scramble to stay in rhythm with the hectic dance of responsibilities that come with being an adult.   We try to get every step right.  Then tomorrow we wake up and do it all over again.

I don’t know about you, but I’m sure I miss a lot of feathers.  Every day God gives me cool moments, holy moments, to enjoy and I run right past them.  Whether it’s playing with my kids or drinking in a sunset, laughing with a friend or taking a walk in the rain, these are the moments that are packed with wonder.  But I blow them off because I’m busy.

Maybe that’s why Psalm 23 talks about God making us lie down in green pastures, because if He doesn’t make us, we’d rarely do it on our own.

The Bible says that the God who loves you made this day.  Today.  Each and and every day.  It’s a gift.  Sure, there’s lots of great things to accomplish.  Yes, we all have responsibilities.  But what if the greatest accomplishment was going after the feathers?  What if our biggest responsibility was seeking God in the distractions and living with the freedom of a four-year-old?

So keep your eyes peeled today for the simple detours God may send your way.  Chase a few feathers.  When the dance is over, you’ll be glad you did.


Image: ‘Feather on the water‘

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