Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Can You Spare a Reminder?

Two things to keep as the focus of this post. Atlanta and Arbys. I'll come back and make those relevant points no matter how far I stray.

This weekend I went to Atlanta to spend some time with my best friend, his wife and their baby. I also got to attend the last Braves game of the season. On the way back I was hit with several "reminders" and wanted to share. As with some of my previous posts, I am tying in Biblical references but I promise if you read through it, you will see both Biblical and secular application.

One of my goals before I turn 30 is to read the Bible the whole way through again. One of the places where many people trying to read through, including myself, get bogged down is in Leviticus. Leviticus is essentially divided into three sections. Ritual Law, Moral Law, and Social Law. In reading through we find some seemingly strange laws such as: Don't wear clothes made of more than one fabric, don't have a variety of crops on the same field, don't marry people from other nations, and certain animals should not be eaten.

After Jesus, many of these ritual laws were no longer expected to be followed to the letter and I will show an example. In Acts 10:9-19 Peter has a vision where he sees a blanket of animals such as pigs, that according to his Jewish culture were considered unclean. But God says, "do not call anything unclean that I have made clean."

So what is going on here and how does it relate to Atlanta and Arbys (besides both being unclean - zing!)?

The afore mentioned laws must have had some sort of purpose. I believe that many of these laws as well as some of the others were simply to demand obedience from God's people (the Hebrews). In doing so, he was reminding them they were separate from the other nations that were not under his laws and were not chosen. Separate livestock, separate fabrics, separate crops, do not marry them, do not eat what they eat, etc.

Are you seeing the theme? Sometimes we need reminders in our lives so that we do not stray from a goal or purpose. In later books of the Bible you see God's people do away with some of His practices and laws. They ate what they wanted, married who they wanted, etc. and eventually forgot that they were separated out and belonged to God. They stared making false idols and so God eventually has them, as a nation and people, rounded up and placed into captivity to remind them they are different from every one else. Reminders.

I think I only shared with my best friend that I had recently been strongly considering a move back to Atlanta. It had gotten to the point that I was actually looking for jobs and figuring out what parts of town I could live in. It would have been for no other reason than to shake things up a bit in my current life and return to a place of familiarity.

But while I was there I was reminded: I hated living in Atlanta. I did not like the smell, the dirty looking streets and buildings, the difficulty finding places since 71 roads have some variant of "Peachtree" in them. And the thing I hated the most was the traffic! I now remember my early years of driving watching no less than three accidents where a person in one lane put on their turn signal and the car in the next lane they would get in front of, sped up to cut off the two-car length gap and ended up running into the back of the next car! Drivers in Atlanta are maddeningly frustrating and inconsistent. And as I sat there, trying to get in and out of the city, I felt my blood pressure rise to levels it had not reached since I last lived in Atlanta.

That is not to say I did not enjoy Atlanta. I love my friends there, the history, the sports teams, the diversity, the international farmers market, the memories and many other things. But I needed to be reminded that Atlanta was my past and nothing, short of finding the perfect woman there, was going to bring me back.

On the way home I stopped for gas in South Carolina and, being one who enjoys efficiency, also grabbed dinner. The closest place on the exit was an Arbys. I had not been to an Arbys in about three years and even made mention of the fact to the cashier as I painfully scrutinized my dinner options. Settling on a Arbys Roast Beef and Cheese, I hopped in the car and continued my way back to Charlotte. As I opened my sandwich in the darkness of the car and took my first bite, I was instantly reminded of why I had chosen not to eat at Arbys in so long. What they call cheese sauce tasted more similar to bile and in the dark, I could not promise you I had been given roast beef instead of baloney.

Both my Atlanta and Arbys experience had served as reminders why I had previously left both out of my daily living. Unfortunately, I needed to suffer and re-experience both to ensure that I did not do that again. But it also got me thinking...

What areas in my life do I need to be reminded of? Either a reminder for a goal or task or a reminder to avoid something that, for example, could cause bowel shaking earthquakes of guilt and remorse (an appropriately non-contextual line borrowed from the band Cake).

What about you? Do you have reminders in your life? I know I have a few guys in my life for when I am heading towards a wrong line of thinking about my direction or self worth, can remind me of who I truly am and what I truly desire. I have guys that point me back to God for answers on life's tougher questions. I know other guys that wear a rubber band around their wrist to remind them to pick up their kid from day care or get to a home improvement project started. Obviously many use pop up calenders to remind them of important meetings, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. All serve as reminders.

But I believe we need reminders in our lives of who we are and what we want. Because we get pulled so many different ways: Our loved ones want us to change one way, advertisements tell us who we should become, jobs mold us into their structure. Eventually, we risk straying from our purpose or identity.

So find reminders for your life that tell you what to draw closer to and what to avoid because otherwise, after time without reminders, you will absolutely and regretfully, forget.