Monthly Archives: June 2015

Ohana Means Family: Finding Hope

Our kids can be fickle with favorite movies. They will go through fads. So if we were to get going on favorite movies we’d have to talk about that moment, re-watch value, and then longevity at the top. I have four kids. Which means I cannot scientifically figure out that movie because I am way too tired. But near the top, if not there, would be Lilo and Stitch. You maybe didn’t see that coming. It’s probably not in most families top 5 (top 25?). Our kids always enjoy it and our eldest (the only boy) considers it his all time favorite and the sisters do take a lead from him. But… he isn’t alone. I can’t help but get sucked in at the end. The movie ends so well.

If you don’t know it, I will summarize really quickly. An ugly wild alien that was genetically created as a weapon of destruction escapes capture to land in Hawaii where he is adopted by a young girl as a “dog, I think.” (I know you want to go rent it RIGHT NOW!) 🙂

Meanwhile aliens are trying to take him back into captivity while she is in danger of being taken into government custody by a social worker because her older sister is trying to raise her after their parents died. Her sister can’t get, and hold, a job (many thanks to the misfit tag along younger sister and her destructive “dog”) and the two sisters can’t get along because they make better sisters than parent-child. But one refrain keeps being brought up, “Ohana means family. And family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.”

Lilo, the young girl, reminds her sister of this saying of their father. And then toward the end when all seems lost and Stitch is about to be hauled away he asks, strangely politely (having learned a lot through the journey), “Can I say goodbye?”

When his captor asks who these people are his answer is: “This is my family. I found it all on my own. It’s little, and broken, but still good. Yes still good.”

Those words always hit me deep down. Little, broken… and good. What a beautiful sentiment. This is how I understand family too. This is what community is in the deepest most fundament sense. Not that we are triumphant, perfect, or unbeatable. That we are good. That we are real, in our brokenness. And that no matter what is lost… it is not forgotten, or left behind.

Whenever the tragic happens in our communities, or adversity strikes my family… or just – you know – crap happens. I do not draw to strength and imperviousness. And I am not forlorn and despairing. I draw back to what is good. The people who remind me that I am not alone. The crazy zany too loud kids. The women’s bible study who let’s me sit in. A morning and afternoon walk with a co-worker so we stay healthy… when I remember to do it (and he never faults me when I don’t). My wife. Always her. Parents that taught me Ohana, without that particular word for it.

We are little.
We are broken.
And yes. It is good.

The Blessings of Being Average

I recently met a pastor who was so good at being a pastor that every conversation just left me gawking.  He out-Pauls Paul when it comes to the whole “imitate me while I imitate Christ thing.”  He was so relational AND strategic.  He was completely authentic and grounded and relevant… he was all the buzzwords of what you want to be.   I mean… Jesus is jealous of this person’s ministry.

At such times I find myself judging myself, why even bother?  I’m just not that good and never will be.  Have you ever felt that way?  I can’t believe I’m the only one. Comparing ourselves is common practice.  Whether its how fast you could run the mile or how many A’s you got on your report card – we can have a tendency toward constant assessment of how good we think we are based on how good everyone is around us.

I got this text from my wife earlier today: “I’m a great parent, they (our kids) are having fruity pebbles for lunch.”

We judge ourselves all the time.  ALL. THE. TIME.

Most of my life I have had the strong sense of being average to slightly above average at everything, well… except for the things I’m really bad at! 😉  (On a semi-related note: don’t ever ask me for directions.)  I’ve had those moments when I wished I could be really good at something… because average seems boring.  Then I remember a conversation with my younger sister.  She had been with my kids and said to me, “Your kids are just so normal.”  Now that may sound weird.  But my sister and her children all struggle with genetic disease that makes some ordinary activities hard work, and some… impossible.  When she called my kids normal (you can substitute average in there) it was a high compliment.  She was a human development major in college with an early childhood specialty and she was just remarking that they were doing everything they should be doing, when they should be doing it.  They weren’t struggling at the basics.  They were just so dang blasted normal.  🙂

Sometimes… boring is a blessing.

So as I was eating lunch today I had a conversation about average again.  And I got struck by an epiphany: average is exceptional.  It is really an exceptional thing to be average.  Here is why.  No-one is really average.  I mean statistically. An average is a somewhat arbitrary marker lying in the middle of a bounded set.  If I take 1, 3, 6, and 10 the average of those numbers is 5.  So the average is 5… but none of the numbers are 5.  None of those individual numbers managed to be average.  In fact if we want to push the point we could say: 1, 2, 8, and 9.  The average is 5 but the number 5 would be completely unique to that data set and without peer.  By being average it would be the most unique number in the room.

Average isn’t normal.  Normal isn’t normal.  It just is.. what it is.  And if you ever managed to be the most average person in the world… that would be pretty incredible – EXCEPTIONAL even.

So what is this point of all this?

Maybe I don’t have one.  🙂

Maybe its that we should all leave off comparing ourselves.  How good a parent we are, how good a student we are, how good a pastor we are, how good…

Maybe its that we ought to take a deep breath and give ourselves a little grace.  I am the only me in the world.  You are the only you in the world.  And if I were to try to be you?  It just wouldn’t go very well.

Maybe the point is that the world is challenging enough without making it harder on ourselves as we try to live up to some arbitrary standard… or force someone else to adopt our standards.

Maybe the point is: that God never said “blessed are those who are the best at what they do.”

Maybe its all of the above.  Go have an average day – and thank God to be so blessed.”