Sunday, December 04, 2005

Simple answers

My writers’ group is invaluable to me. They hold me accountable, give me feedback, and brainstorm ideas for new ways to market my work. More important, they’re dear friends who share the beauty and joy of their lives with me.

Last month, one of the girls commented on the first chapter of my book, “It seems like you’re giving simple answers.” Her point is that life is not always simple. True. And she’s right—I am giving a lot of simple answers. Sometimes the answers are simple; it’s the application that gets complicated.

I know what it takes to get the runner’s body I want (the one in the mirror, that is). The answers are simple. Run at least three times a week and substitute Special K for Krispy Kreme. Easy, right? But it’s turning cold outside. And dark. I bought a nifty little clip-on light to take care of the dark. And I bought long-sleeved t-shirts and gloves. I still need a little hat, though. If I go out running now, my ears will be cold; and ears are like feet—if they’re cold, the rest of you is cold. Plus it’s the Christmas season. The decorations are finally up, but I still need to make my Christmas cards, address and mail them; whip up a fabulous dessert for the office Christmas party; make the candy I send to relatives each year. So much to be done. Who has time to run? Especially in the cold and dark? Simple answers, difficult to apply.

My dad stopped speaking to me when I was 17. I’m not sure if it was a conscious decision or just gross oversight, but it lasted eight years. His silence made me sad and angry. I needed to forgive him. Simple enough. I stood in my mom’s kitchen one day and cried as I said, “God has forgiven me of everything I have ever done or will ever do, so to deny forgiveness to someone else for one measly thing would be like a slap in God’s face. I know I need to do it, but I just can’t do it yet.” I knew the answer, but I couldn’t apply it just then. That came in time, but it wasn’t easy.

I think sometimes we try to complicate things. If the answers are complicated, then our inability to apply them is not our fault. We’re off the hook. We can wallow in sin, self-pity, unforgiveness, selfishness, whatever. We’re like the Pharisee who heard Jesus say that if he loved God and loved his neighbor, he would be fulfilling all of the law and commandments—and then said, “Who is my neighbor?” He wanted to complicate things, make up a schematic for who qualified as a neighbor and who didn’t, who he was obligated to love and who he could pass by.

When the answers are simple, we’re stripped of our excuses. We’re accountable to apply the things we know. Love, forgive, hope, trust. These are simple answers, and I’m not going to complicate it.

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