McDonald’s

3 Jul

Yes, I am opposed to almost everything related to McDonald’s. Being a vegitarian makes it easy to avoid. But last night Dawn had a work function after regular business hours and I had a craving for french fries. It was six and McDonald’s was packed; of course there was only one register open. Thankfully the fries were lovely. 

Each summer when school lets out I get the luxury of increasing the number of books I consume. This evening as I walked out to dinner I picked up a favorite, one that I’m sure I’ll both name and review here when I’m finished with it. It’s a biography written down by a good writer who has some experience in ministry. Tonight while eating I reached page four and set it down. I realized that the author is comfortable with who she is and quickly followed that with the thought that I am often not. 

I am an introvert and given to overly-regular introspection. I also often wonder what people I respect think of me. I have a deep desire within me to do the right thing, to be whoever I can be. As I put my book down and began wrestling with these thoughts, I noticed a woman helping one who appeared to be her elderly mother out of their van and into a wheelchair. I surprised myself by finishing my food faster than I would have in order to meet them at the door as I left so that I could hold the door for them. 

I like doing nice things for people. I don’t mind holding doors or letting people into traffic. My guess is that at the root it’s not that I’m this really nice guy, it’s simply that I have grown to enjoy helping people in small ways. That is probably part of the struggle with my summers; with the students gone, I do a little less helping while I do a little more reading. 

As I walked to my car I marveled at the simplicity of holding that door at McDonald’s. It was just so easy and so clearly a good choice. I think I wish all decisions were that easy. I realized while driving home that I could have gotten out of my seat, opened the door, and then sat back down to finish my meal in a more relaxed fashion. Part of me didn’t want to draw attention to myself. By holding the door on my way out, it seemed like less of a big deal to those watching. I wanted that, to slide under the radar. 

Which gets back to wondering often what others think of me. I think I’m still trying to measure myself in hopes that I’ll measure up to some standard. This is funny for me to say out loud because hardly a day goes by on campus when I don’t tell one of my students that God’s love for them is not affected by their actions. Too many conversations take place where I am trying to root out of them this deep-seated belief that God’s love for us is based on what we do or how we live. 

I’m not one who harps on how terrible people are. I just don’t get down with that language, this picture that is often painted of how people are just so wretched. In my experience with college students, we have to be very careful with what we say, not to placate them but to not push already depressed and self-conscience young people into thinking even less about themselves. Certainly there is a place for understand our brokenness and I do try to offer that to my students, I just think the language we choose is very important. 

But as I think on my own struggles of wanting people to think highly of me, I see that deep down I simply want to think highly of myself. I want to believe that I have it together. The strange piece, and probably a significant part of my struggle, is that our culture tells me that this is true. I am married to a woman who inspires me, I have a job which fills my days with purposeful work, I am generally rather healthy and in shape, we own a home and our finances are in a pretty good place. We even have this adorable little black cat that turns every piece of light-colored furniture we own his hue.  

I wish all that and much more made me the man I want to be. The truth of the matter is that most days I see more and more clearly how far I fall from the standard. Then there is the issue that I often feel like the standard myself which is even worse. Maybe it’s because I run in Christian circles and as a minister, it feels that way sometimes. Maybe it’s because the students look up to me. Maybe it’s because it would simply be easier if I were the standard. 

I’m not. The standard for which life will be measured is Christ. I believe that is true for everyone walking this earth and certainly he is the standard for me. It’s very hard to accept this sense of falling short. But as I think about it and write about it here my mind seems to be clearing some. I simply do not have to have it all together. I am free. I can be more patient with myself and more aware of my dependence on this true standard. As I stop trying to be someone I am not, I am drawn into contact with the one who was and is all that I dream of being. 

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2 Responses to “McDonald’s”

  1. OGR July 14, 2008 at 6:35 pm #

    Found this today, seemed to compliment some of what you said . . well, other than the beer part, but I got that covered for you.

    “One of the wonderful results of my consciousness of God’s staggering love for me as I am is a freedom not to be who I should be or who others want me to be. I can be who I really am.

    When I get honest, I admit I am is a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games. Aristotle said I am a rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer.

    It is the real me that God loves. I don’t have to be anyone else. For 20 years I tried to be brother Teresa. I tried to be Francis of Assisi. I had to be a carbon copy of a great saint rather than the original God intended me to be. My 70-year-old spiritual director, Larry Hine, gave me a word from the Lord that he heard once from a black, evangelical preacher in Georgia. “Be who you is, because if you ain’t who you is, you is who you ain’t.”
    Rest of the site is well worth visiting too.
    http://appalachiantreks.blogspot.com/

  2. Shane July 15, 2008 at 10:11 am #

    Great comment from our ghost OGR, my guess is that “O” stands for “old”…

    Funny how hard it is to grab ahold of this gift from God that allows us to freely be who we are.

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