HAPPY NEW YEAR Gentlemen!!
I trust 2017 is starting off well for you guys. It's always a busy time for most of us because we're recovering from the Christmas season. Then, we ring in a new year, having to learn the new habit of writing the correct date on our checks. For many it's a time to get into a new groove, change some habits, form new ones, consider a different financial plan, or stick closer to the one we planned last year.
For some of us 2016 was a difficult year. There was sadness and loss...a job, a loved one, a friendship, or a pet (hey, I'm anticipating the day when good ole' Jack dies I will for sure be a hot mess). Everyone of us can think back this past year and recall moments of conflict whether with our spouse, child, friend, neighbor, or co-worker. Some of these conflicts left some deep wounds. The emotional scars can stick with us for a long time. But time carries on...as the saying goes. And it's true, time continues regardless of what circumstances occur in our life.
I recently read the New York Times bestseller A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. It's the story of, well, a man called Ove--a curmudgeon of sorts. A cranky old man who lives life by rules and principles. He sees life in black and white. And so should everyone else according to him. If not, then you're the one with the problem. Ove had always been that way but his grumpiness became worse in the years following his wife's death. Ove reaches a point where he rationalizes that life is not worth living without his beloved wife. So, his planned suicide seems in order...until he encounters a young couple that moves into the neighborhood. Eventually, unlikely friendships are formed and unplanned incidents begin to expose a deeper person behind the staunch principles, strict routines, and formidable disgruntledness of this old man. The story has many lessons to consider...the most important being how delicate and precious life can be, especially with those who are closest to us.
I highly recommend the book (it's in the MAN-datory Education section this month). It was a timely book for me as 2016 came to a close and a new year was born, not that I planned it that way but it happened. It really caused me to reconsider the reality of "time".
Time is one of those elements that define our existence. It is so obvious we don't usually make pointed conversation about it because...well, it just is. But think about how fragile time can be. It is quite innocuous. It's no respecter of persons. It cannot be controlled, manipulated, or reversed.
But time is constantly speaking to us, though, giving warning to how we spend it, use it, give it.
Here's a selected reading from A Man Called Ove that I found thought provoking. "But we are always optimists when it come to time; we think there will be time to do things with other people. And time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like 'if'. Death is a strange thing. People live their whole lives as if it does not exist, and yet it's often one of the great motivations for living...For the greatest fear of death is always that it will pass us by. And leave us there alone."
As I read this I found myself reflecting on my expectations for this coming year. Rather than getting caught up in the cliche' of "goals" and "resolutions" I want to consider more closely the "why" as opposed to the "what." In other words, instead of asking, "what am I going to do this year?", maybe I first ask, "why should I do this?" Or "why is this important?"
All this is within the context of time. Do I spend my time as an investment into the things that matter? How often do I squander opportunities to engage my wife, my boys, or others? What are some ways I am giving space for God to move in my life as oppose to me distracting myself with things that are shallow, nominal, or empty?
What about you? In what ways would you reevaluate the precious gift of time? What thoughts or aspirations are you considering for 2017? Are you making lists, setting goals, mapping out plans?
Maybe all the "doing" and "accomplishing" should not be your primary focus. Maybe there's a deeper calling. Maybe it's "being"...the often overlooked art of developing those areas of our life that might not seem obvious, important, or immediately noticeable. It's usually these areas of our life that are the hardest to deal with and are most often difficult to gauge. But I dare say, these are the areas that God most desires to hone and form into us. It's actually the areas of life that we don't get to take credit and say, "hey, look what I did"
Don't misunderstand me, goals are great. Deciding to eat better, be more disciplined with your finances, or have a consistent date night with your spouse are, without argument, great things. My challenge is whether they should be our primary focus.
Often times the things we set out to achieve on our own become the most frustrating things in our life because the success or failure of those things are what we think define us.
So, as we begin the journey of 2017 I pray it will be a year of blessing but also a year of challenge for you. I pray God does "...immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us..." I pray you become more attune to God's still small voice that quietly calls you to dependence on Him.
I look forward to hearing the stories of God's movement in your life.
Please, Please, Please...do share what God does. I would love to hear and be encouraged. If you permit me to do so, I would love to pass along what you share to our MANTIME community.
GODSPEED to You this year!!
Keeping Manliness In The Nest
Hudson Durable Goods Heavy Duty Canvas Work Apron - This is an awesome work apron for the shop, garage, or grilling.
Carhartt Quilted Lined Bib Overalls - I've had mine for years and they are by far the warmest thing I wear when working outside in the winter. To complete the package, grab the jacket as well. Totally work every dime.
MAN-datory Education This month's links to enjoyable, valuable, and considerable reads.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Good Clean Fun: Misadventures in Sawdust at Offerman Woodshop by Nick Offerman