shit happens, a.ka. managing expectations + positioning

2015 is finally here, and people often see the last page flip of a slow 365 churn as a new starting point, a moment to redefine, improve, or reorient yourself.  There may exist a statistically significant difference in who you were at the beginning of 2014, and who you became by the end of 2014.  Or there might not have been a change at all.  Most of us can look back at 2014 and say “Holy crap, I didn’t see THAT coming.”  2014 was a year full of surprises, of heartache, of new beginnings, of chaos, of redemption.

So please, don’t go around touting the hope that this year is going to look any different than 2014.  You’re going to get some surprises.  You’re going to get heartache.  You’re going to have new beginnings.  You’re going to have a whole lot of chaos.  And you’re also going to find redemption in places you’d least expect.  That’s life.  Manage your expectations.

I’ll tell ya one thing.  You can’t always shape your external circumstances and you may not always have dominion over your internal ones, either.  In any given day in any given month in a given year, bad shit just happens to you.  And sometimes, really good shit happens to you.  I’m learning to manage my expectations for 2015 well: shit will happen to me.

In Matthew 7, Jesus tells a neat story about a wisdom and folly:

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

The decision then, as Jesus puts it, falls into our lap.  Are we going to build the house on the rock or on the sand?  But there’s a question behind this question:  Do you see that no one else – no one – is responsible for your internal life than you? You can’t always control your circumstances.  In fact, you won’t most of the time.  Because shit happens.  But you can always, always, control the way you respond.  I’ve learned to stop casting, distributing, and assigning blame to others for whatever happens.  I’m more concerned with how my soul reacts and chooses to move forward.  This capacity to respond is based on how intimately connected we are to the personhood (character, values, beliefs) of Jesus.  That’s positioning.  Positioning is where we situate ourselves in relation to Jesus.

Sometimes, in order to see Jesus clearly, we have to move at the same speed He’s moving at.  If you want to visibly make out the face of someone in a car driving next to you on the freeway, you have to go at the same speed they’re going.

You know, this year feels like batshit crazy for me.  I’m graduating from my MBA program in June.  I’m working full-time at a lending startup.  I’m opening up a non-profit coffeehouse in the heart of City Heights.  I just moved to City Heights.  I’m in an interracial dating relationship, and I love her to death.  More than fried chicken.  I’m in over my head.  I don’t know what I’m doing most of the time.  People think I’m a lot more qualified than I am.  I have a high-risk personality profile, which means I”m prone to fail most of the time given the ventures I throw myself into.

But it’s all about positioning.  The rain’s going to come.  The streams are going to rise, the wind’s going to blow, but I’m placing all my bets on the person of Jesus.

Diversity is not a strategy.

Erwin McManus, pastor of Mosaic LA, a multi-ethnic community of faith, recalled an instance in which a church consulted him for advice. This church consisted of white Christians who wanted to know: “How can we make our church more diverse?”

I love Erwin’s response:

“How many friends do you have that are people of color? Would you let your daughter marry someone of a different race? No? Well, look. At Mosaic, being diverse is not a strategy. It is our heart.

Reminds me of how real change occurs in the context of relationship, not because we simply opt in for political correctness.


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