Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Category: way too deep for a saturday morning

Why I Quit Math

When my oldest was born, we had a brief (largely unnecessary, IMHO) stay at the NICU. When he was cleared of his most pressing concern, it took us a while to get out of the hospital. The nurses and doctors were measuring every diaper and what filled it. They were weighing him hourly (he was born a healthy weight). While the nurses could tell me that he wasn’t hungry because he was content, sleeping, not fussing, the protocol said to measure, measure, measure. I left convinced that the hospital community would measure anything that could be attached to a number.

I’m not saying all metrics are a bad thing – far from it. My friend E has convinced me that there is a level of accountability available through our number games that must exist for the well-being of all people. But take a quick look at our society and you see us math-ing all the time. Calories burned & consumed. Test scores. Profit margin. Miles logged.

Not long ago a professional athlete posted his disdain for participation trophies. While I also think paying for little trinkets of shiny plastic is a tad silly (another post, another time), his comments revealed the ethos of our culture: We’re addicted to outcomes. We need to know how we measure up. Where do we fall in the bell curve? If I’m not Top Dog, how close am I and did enough people  fall below me that I’m still in the upper tier?

If you’re running a business or a professional sports team, this is perhaps a helpful inquiry. But do you know where it doesn’t compute?

Worthiness.

Let me be clear my friends: in all my study, all my understanding of Scripture, all my time pondering the ways of God, it has never once come up that God takes all of humankind, lines them up according to salary, athletic prowess, months they successfully breastfed, BMI, or GPA. And if He did decide to rank us according to an asinine category, he certainly wouldn’t take only the top third with him to the pearly gates.

God doesn’t parcel out his love to the top performers. He does not hold a draft and there are no tryouts. If you want in, you’re in. If you want a fun little weekend project, read the gospels (or pick your favorite) and start counting the number of times the failures, the not-enoughs make it into Jesus’ roster. This isn’t just Good News that your imperfections don’t count against you – it’s Good News that you can stop comparing your best efforts to everyone else’s.

You don’t have to watch what everyone else is doing to know you’re worthy of love.

If you’d like another fun little reading project, start digging into the New Testament and make tally marks when you come across phrases like “what matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.” (Ephesians 5:6, MSG) or “Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” (I John 4:16).

So just stop. Stop adding. Stop averaging. If you want to become better at something because it makes your life better, than by all means – do it. Live life fully and stop half-assing what is important to you. The girl that keeps a Life Plan with 100 Year Goals will tell you there’s nothing wrong from wanting to extract every opportunity from this one blessed lifetime. But don’t use your improvement metrics as an argument to why you are loved, by others or by God. God doesn’t do a lot of math.

True love is attached to who you are, not what you’ve achieved. If you try to put love on a curve, remember that no one aced the test and we’re all getting a little boost in our performance. You cannot line up love from greatest to smallest, but if you try, remember that God is always partial to the least and last.

So may you stop adding and averaging your accomplishments as a means to feel worthy. May you sink your efforts and energies into loving and living well.

“Since this is the kind of life we have chose, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.”

-Galatians 6:25-26

*This post was strongly influenced by Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly and the chapter on Scarcity. Read it.

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the chicken or the egg

or it’s equivalent theological question: free will vs. God’s predestination.

I have had similar conversations revolving about this topic a few times in the past couple weeks, which is curious because i feel like i rarely have opportunities to have these conversations anymore. but good ol’ patty b. started kindling a thought when we were talking about God and babies (2 of our current favorite topics at the moment). when you deal with topics like, people who don’t get to have the babies they wanted, or, people who get to have babies they didn’t want, God is certainly to show up in conversation, usually as the veiled bad guy (for the one who didn’t get what they want) in the phrase, “well, God knows what he’s doing…” now really. who’s going to argue with THAT statement? of course God knows what He’s doing! but i’m not sure it’s the appropriate response for the given situation.

so we were verbally processing through such statements and were talking about how when it comes to reproduction in general, somehow the auto-predestination switch gets turned on in people’s thought patterns. Patty’s a bright girl. She said, “you know, i really do think there are some free will options in the matter. there are ways for people to avoid getting pregnant.”
mind you, this is all background material for my general thought.

that’s when i told her of my opinion of the predestination vs. free will argument.

i am dramatically opposed to predestination, not because i believe it’s theologically incorrect, but because i’ve seen people live out such beliefs sooooo badly. if you’re going to comment about the sovereignty of God or some other great insight as to why we must believe that God predestines us, then please refrain (i’d like you to argue me on my other points, please). You’re probably right. I’ll just agree with you. bring out the “for those whom God predestined, he also called…” scripture.

the reason i come to butt heads with the predestination believers is not because of thought but because of practice. i have seen before that many a good meaning christian make decisions based on “God’s will” that really had nothing to do with God, but more of the good christian’s attempt to remove any responsibility from him or her because of the decision. God ordaining something, God making something happen is the mother of all trump cards. Call it the Right Bower (is that how bower is spelled in euchure?). no one wants to argue with what God wants, so a person really only needs to “feel peace” about a decision to decide that it’s what God had planned all the time and thus the right decisions and thus, if things go wrong/badly, it’s because God ordained that, too.

with this thought pattern, a person will never make bad decisions, they’ll just have to live through whatever God decides to insert into their lives.

now, i’m all for a God that just tosses things into our lives. He’s done it to me. it’s crazy. i believe God does things that are inexplicable. i believe he brings us blessings and he takes us down roads that are a little bumpy. because all these things are included in this journey of life. and i really believe that you should seek God’s wisdom when making decisions. you should feel a peace about decisions you make (not lack of fear, but peace). but we have to play the cards that are dealt to us. God does the dealing, that’s for sure. but i just can’t get there that he also plays the hand for us (can you tell that i should be at the lake? all these card playing analogies…).

so i’d like to be convinced. i’d like to see someone live this beautiful balance of keeping in step with God’s will and direction while realizing that as God’s child i have to learn to make decisions based upon the model set before me. but there may be times that matt, mark, luke or john didn’t record exactly what my example did, so i need make the best decision I can and trust that God is going to help me with whatever this decision brings into my life. he won’t “give me what i deserve” because of it, but maybe there’s some reaping and sowing involved.

so that’s my thought. it was broached again last night by lively conversation, which is why it’s still on the brain this early AM.

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