Eyelids Propped Open

It’s that time of the year again.  The cast of “The Drowsy Chaperone” performed this morning for a large group of middle schoolers.  That means no rehearsal tonight.  Trust me, that isn’t a bad thing.  One last “dress rehearsal with an audience” during the day instead of running late into the night right before we open?!  Kind of brilliant for resting some worn out performers.

I’m tired.  I mean, “I-can-barely-keep-my-eyes-open-and-I’m-not-sure-how-I’m-still-holding-my-head-up” tired.  This night owl may find herself in bed surprisingly early tonight.

But, as I say every time a show gets to this point, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.  And by “it” I mean . . .

. . . getting to work with some of “my kids” again.

. . . pushing myself to conquer those difficult musical passages.

. . . hearing the positive comments from the audience members about how well the actors did.

. . . hearing the same jokes and laughing just as hard as I did the first time.

. . . that moment near the end when an amazing young actor brings tears to my eyes.

. . . the hugs, the smiles, the words of encouragement from both cast and audience.

. . . the knowledge that even if this particular show is done a thousand more times in a thousand different places, it will never be exactly THIS show with THIS pit.

Yes, this crazy theater life wears me out.  Yes, I would have more free time in my evenings if I stopped doing shows.  But I wouldn’t be nearly as content as I am right in this moment.

Tough Choices

It’s in our human nature to want to hit back.  When we are wrongly attacked, when people accuse us of things we haven’t done, when others judge our actions without even bothering to understand our motives . . . it’s our gut instinct to put on the gloves and get ready to go a few rounds!  And then there is the whole issue of mothers and their children!

As wonderful as vengeance might feel, it’s not what the Jesus-follower is called to do.  I know, I know.  It would feel so good to lash out at that person who is causing so much frustration.  But the scripture is pretty clear –

Romans 12:18 (NIV)

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Or maybe this will register with you better:

Romans 12:18 (MSG)

Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone.  If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody.

Hoo boy.  Nothing unclear in those statements!  I am the only person whose behavior and attitude I can control so I need to focus on living peaceably.  Does that mean I deny that the actions of others have hurt/caused frustration/made life difficult?!  Nope.  It just means that you acknowledge all of that stuff is true and choose to live peaceably anyway.  An older generation would have put it this way – “Kill ’em with kindness.”

I’m not called to set myself up to be misused by others.  I’m simply called to control my actions to the point that all I can be “accused” of is trying to maintain peace.  It isn’t easy.  Without divulging details best kept private, I’m walking through a situation like this right now.  I have in my possession some emails that would change the information and impression that others have been given.  But it would also mean exposing someone else as a liar and a manipulator.  Since I was the direct recipient of the lies and manipulation, I’m not yet fully convinced that I need to share the information I have.  Don’t get me wrong – I have rearranged some things in my life so that I am no longer “in the line of fire.”  And I will continue to do what I can to repair and rebuild the relationships that this other person damaged with their words.  But I will not retaliate.  It’s hard at times.  Especially when the hurt wells up again and I just want to get a tiny bit of revenge.

There is no out clause in that verse.  There is no “live at peace with everyone unless they (fill in the blank).”  No escape clause or loophole – “live at peace with EVERYONE.”  It’s not easy.  But whatever needs to be revealed will be in good time. Romans  12:19-20 goes on to say –

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.  On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

God may decide that “payback” is necessary.  But that’s his decision to make and carry out. Our job is to be peaceable with everyone.  Never easy, but always the right thing to do!

No Quick Fix

My girls were big Glee fans when the show first came out.  To be brutally honest, the interest of at least a couple of them waned somewhere around the second season.  Regardless of their feelings regarding the show, they were stunned to see that one of the show’s stars, Cory Monteith, had been found dead in a Vancouver, Canada, hotel room.  No cause of death is yet known but so many people I know are speculating based on the fact that the 31 year old had struggled for years with substance abuse.

This is only the latest story of a “star” taken too soon – Mindy McCready, Heath Ledger, and Amy Winehouse just to name a few.

Much of my life exists in the world of the Performing Arts.  Many of the people I encounter are young people – middle school through college age – and a common sentiment that I hear from them is a desire to be somewhere other than where they are.  They believe – very sincerely, I might add – that a change in location will solve all of their woes.

I lived in a large metropolitan area and the young people wanted to live someplace even bigger.  I lived near a city of 100,000 and heard numerous statements regarding wanting to “get out”.  A village of 650, a town of 25,000 . . . it doesn’t matter the size, they all have one thing in common – there are young people living there who believe that the only thing in the way of their everlasting happiness is what recovering addicts refer to as a “geographical cure”.

But there is a sad fact they forget – when that young person relocates, they take themselves there.  All of them.  Their hangups, trust issues, painful past, lack of confidence, bitterness, anger, fear . . . it all goes with you!

We all have baggage.  Every last one of us that is still living.  A change in location WILL NOT cure our issues.  The junk that weighs us down in our current location will travel with us to the new place unless we deal with it!

Prov. 14: 30 – A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.

Learning to be at peace – with yourself, with your past, with your fears, with your failures, with all of it – will allow you to find happiness anywhere regardless of the size of the location.  Wanting something more/different/better/larger/smaller -whatever! – will simply make you miserable.

The various new media formats are full of stories about celebrities in trouble with the law, battling substance abuse issues, dying from overdose, taking their own lives, failed celebrity marriages and more.  Financial success is obviously not the answer.  Finding a way for your heart to be at peace just might be what you need.