Monday, March 17, 2014

The List

I wish you could all know my friend, Liza. I have known her since she was a freshmen in high school, had the privilege of being her Young Life leader, and here we are, nearly a decade later, and she is one of the greatest treasures in my life.  Truly, Eric and I TREASURE her.  She is easy to love. Easy to be with. Easy to root for. She has been in my children's lives since they were born and cares for them so beautifully. And above and beyond all that she is our partner in the Gospel.  Liza led with us here in Surry County for a couple of years and, just recently, was affirmed to be a part of the Young Life staff here in our region (which spans from the mountains to the coast).  I feel a palpable sense of encouragement knowing that she is somewhere, not too far from here, pursuing Jesus and pursuing others.  We are indescribably proud of who you are, Liza.  And if that weren't enough, we share a deep and abiding love for....

all things entertainment!!

 Not the climax you were hoping for? Well, sorry people. It's true.  When it comes to TV, movies, Broadway, and music, we are a perfect match. Nothing like having someone else confirm that you have good taste, right? So for the past 9ish years we have been compiling a list.  A guest list, to a hypothetical dinner party that she and I are hosting.  The table seats 12, including us, which leaves 10 spots open.  Now the goal of this dinner party is not to change history or heal the world.  The goal is not even to share company with the people who have.  While I'm sure that would be a fascinating evening, discussing the invention of the printing press or how you just stumble upon pencillin, it's not what we're after.  No,no, our goal is much simpler and self-serving.  We want to have great conversation with funny people who are good at what they do (and yes, some of them are easy to look at, but I'm going to go ahead and peg those on Liza. I'm a married woman for goodness sake). Now you don't have to fit all of these critera to be invited.  But you need to meet one or two, and have potential for great chemistry with the other guests. And before I reveal this well-crafted guest list, please bear in mind that we are not saying that we agree with everything about these people in terms of their life choices and careers.  Relax. We just want them to come over for dinner. And so, in no particular order, our "Best Freakin' Dinner Party of All Time" guest list includes:

1. Jimmy Fallon
2. Meryl Streep
3. Tim Gunn
4. Adam Levine
5. Ellen Degeneres
6. Andy Cohen
7. The Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith)
8. Bob Costas
9. Bradley Cooper
10. Bear Grylls

And because we are thorough people, we have also considered who will prepare the meal (Top Chef executive judge, Tom Colicchio) and who will provide a little late evening entertainment (Mumford & Sons). Now, really, how fun does that sound?! Can't you just see it?! Maggie Smith flirting with Bradley Cooper while Bear teaches Meryl how to make a lean-to out of the centerpiece? Meanwhile, Adam Levine keeps turning his dinner chair every time Ellen says something funny, which is always, as Bob Costas and Tim Gunn admire each other's perfectly round specs. Ugh. It's so great. I would say you're all invited, but, well, you're not.  We have limited seating, even after we put both leaves in the table, but maybe you could come over for coffee and Mumford because I'm sure we'll head outside for that.

I'm curious, who would be on your list?  It's a telling question, no? Our list is a mixed bag of folks - some who've had long and impactful careers, others who have yet to prove their staying power.  And while each of them isn't necessarily doing something particularly impactful with their lives, what they are doing they do really well.  And I love bearing witness to that.  To watch someone do exactly what they were created to do.  It's what gives way to a level of magnetism that people have when they are filling their niche' so perfectly that nothing is lacking.  And I'm certainly not just talking about entertainers here. On the contrary. I'm talking about you and me.  I'm talking about guys like Ken.  The Arts Council in our town employs a man named Ken. I've seen Ken hard at work probably every week since we've lived here.  He changes the marquee sign outside of the local playhouse, making sure each letter is just so, and fills popcorn bags at the downtown cinema with careful precision.  But it's more than that.  He does these tasks with pride and with a level of kindness that leaves you a little softer, and less hurried than you were before you locked eyes with Ken.  Imagine a big 'X' marking the spot under Ken's feet as he goes about his day, signifying that he is standing right where he should in the world.  Ken, you see, is filling his niche'.

It's a very cool thing that God has created us this way - uniquely gifted and with a space to fill.  He didn't have to do it that way.  He could have executed His redemptive plan all on his own, with us just sort of standing around as stunned onlookers, wanting to take part but not knowing how.  He didn't need us at all to tell His story.  But, in his mercy, He chose to let us in.  He let's us participate.  He let's us partner with Him, come alongside Him, hear from Him, call Him friend. It really didn't have to be that way. And I wonder if it doesn't work best when we all just fill our God-given space.  Our spaces look similar in some ways as we are all called to know Him and to follow Him with everything we've got and to love others as the natural outpouring of this kind of KNOWING and FOLLOWING. This is what gives our space perameters, it's what gives it shape. It's what keeps us from bleeding into places we were never meant to go.  And in other ways our spaces will look quite different.  The point is that we fill them and fill them well - with grace, and humility and the all-important sense of humor.

So the next time you see someone doing exactly what they were made to do - whether they are singing in perfect pitch, offering sound advice to a hurting friend, or proudly taking tickets at a small town theater - be encouraged. Be encouraged that you, too, have a niche' to fill that is just yours and it IS sufficient.

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