Monthly Archives: October 2011

So much for “self help”

Have you walked through the “self help” section of Barnes & Noble lately?  The shelves are overflowing with books that promise to cure, fix, eliminate and teach you just about anything that will bring you happiness, wisdom, riches, power and anything else one could imagine.

So I was wondering…does “self help” really work?

I’ve read many of these books and still do.  Some are good but others only make me question and doubt myself even more.  I sometimes end up feeling worse off than I did before I picked up the book.

A couple of months ago, I was helping my Mom do some home maintenance.  She needed an overhead light installed above the sink in the kitchen.  The box the fixture came in promised an easy installation and that I had everything I needed to do the job.

So I climbed up on the sink and began the process of measuring, drilling, pulling wires and doing everything the directions required to insure a successful installation.

Then I realized the problem…

I soon got to a point in the installation when I was trying to hold the light fixture in the correct position so that it is aligned with the pre-drilled holes and at the same time hold the screw, reach for the screwdriver that was down at my feet and to keep the wires hidden within the light fixture… I quickly realized…I either needed more hands or more help.

I think “self help” is much like the box the light fixture came in.  It made the promise of an “easy” installation and “no tools were necessary”.  That may have been “possible” but it was certainly not to be easy.

What I really needed was some help.  Someone to hold the light while I drilled or placed the screws into the fixture that would provide the required support.   Having someone to help me would have made it a really easy installation.  It probably would have even been enjoyable!

I think life is like that.  I think we all need an extra pair of hands to assist us as we move through this life.  Sometimes holding things…sometimes holding us.

So much for “self help”.


I recently took my favorite wool navy blue suit out of the closet.  I was going to have it cleaned so I could wear it to a special function I have coming up in the next couple of weeks.  It had been hanging unused in my closet for the past two years.  It was my favorite YSL suit and I looked good in it!

As I was getting it ready to go to the dry cleaners, I noticed a small white spot on one of the shoulders.  Upon closer inspection, I noticed more and more white spots in various locations all over my prized suit.  It didn’t take me long to realize that my favorite suit had been eaten by moths!  Ruined, because I hadn’t worn it so long.  I was heartbroken.

Then I started thinking…

I wonder if God feels the same way with us?

God has gifted each of us in a unique and special way!   We each have talents that we love to do and we do them naturally and we do them well.  I’ll bet that each of us has a talent that other people have commented on in the past.  I’ll bet each of us has heard someone comment, “Wow, I love the way you….” and we usually dismiss the comment as ” they are just being nice” and we move on.    For a wide variety of reasons, we fail to spend the time to develop these gifts and we spend all our time chasing the dreams of others.

John Ortberg writes about how each of us approach the use or non-use of the gifts we receive in his book, Before you can walk on water, you need to get out of the boat.    He writes.

“Anytime a gift is given, the recipient must choose to respond in one of two ways.  The first way says, “This gift is so valuable it can’t be risked.”  They realize that when they bring their gift out of the box and into the open, things may not go well.  The gift may be poorly used.  Others may not always admire it the way we want.  It may even get broken.  Taking the gift out of the box is always a risk.

The second way says, “This gift is so valuable it must be risked.”  They understand that if the gift is not brought out of the box, it will never be used at all.  To leave the gift in the box is to thwart the desire of the giver.  There is no tragedy like the tragedy of the unopened gift.

Along with the gift you have been given a choice – whether or not you will open and use it or not.”

    So let me ask all of us…where are your gifts?

    Do you know what they are?

    Are you using them in every aspect of your life?

I believe that at the end of our life, we will come face to face with God.  At that meeting, he will ask us two questions.

One of those questions will be:   “What did you do with the gifts that I gave you?”

Think about that… I hope you don’t say…”the moths ate them.”


Did you know 40% of any book is “white space” or margin?

You might think what a waste of space!  But try reading a book without that white space, and you will begin to feel the heaviness of black ink as it creeps into your mind and begins to slow down your reading and comprehension.  Our lives are much the same way.

Our souls crave white space.  Downtime for our senses, just as the margin allows our eyes to rest on every page.

Our lives are filled with noise and clutter.  We tend to both create and wear the badges of honor that cause us to believe that “more is better”.  How much CAN I get done?  How long is my “to do list”.  Go, go, go, do, do, do.   How far will we push out the margins of our lives?  Until the words run off the page and the letters fall into oblivion?  Blackberries, emails, twitter, facebook, texting and the “old school” phone calls.  When is enough…enough?

  • When can I sit and be quiet?
  • When can I be alone with…myself?
  • What would I think about?  What would I DO?

If you can’t answer these questions.   Then these thoughts have been written for you.  I beg you to give yourself the “gift” of doing nothing.  Schedule it if you have to!  But find the time in your week to simply…do….nothing.

Go sit in a park.  Go to the woods.  Get outside so the breeze can touch you once again…and you actually take notice.  Listen to the sounds of the world.  Listen to the sounds of “your head”.  Allow them all to have a place.

Welcome back…to yourself…margin is a beautiful thing.