So I set my goal, and I was really good about rowing...for at least a month. But then a funny thing happened. It started to get hard. There were other things. Music Mission happened, and I can't row while I'm on tour, right? And then VBS, when I technically could have rowed, but... And then vacation. I don't have an erg at the beach (interesting that I couldn't row when I spent far more time in or near the water that week).
Taken individually, it's not all that hard to make up for missing a week. Pull a few double workouts and you're covered. But when a week turns into a month or two months, it starts to get daunting. A double or two becomes a month or two of doubles (60 minutes a day). Every day you miss makes it that much more difficult to get back to it. You almost don't even want to look at the rower anymore because you feel bad for not keeping up with your goal.
I enjoy making goals. It's dreaming about what's possible--looking at everything doable and picking the things you want to accomplish. I even like making plans for how to make it happen (mostly because I'm a dork). Everyone loves crossing the finish line. But what about all that stuff in the middle? What about all that time between when you make your plans and when you succeed?
It's super lame and not very sexy [full disclosure: this phrase stolen from a meeting of the StoryKeepers committee at church]. Movie makers know just how horrible it is, because they always fast forward through it by creating a montage. You know what I'm talking about: the protagonist sets a goal, and the story says she will achieve that goal (winning the race, acing the test, goofing off at work, etc). The director knows that achieving the goal would require a whole lot of sustained effort that will be boring to watch, so she sticks a bunch of shots of the protagonist doing the work across some cheesy workout music--essentially saying, "A whole lot of time passes while this person is doing this a whole lot." And then the challenge is met.
See, the director knows that we would never believe a story where someone said, "I want to do this" and then was immediately able to do it (except for the Matrix of course). That rings false. We know there is work involved, and we have to see it. Don't believe me?
[Editor's note: I really wanted to put the "Gangsta Scene" from Office Space on here, but it's not suitable for this publication. So I've left it off. Feel free to email me if you'd like me to send you a link.]
It's like when I was in my first play in kindergarten, and another student (I believe it was Carson Hampton) walked by holding up a sign that said, "Time passes." In other words, "You get the idea...there was a lot of work here, and it took a long time, but we're not going to show you all of that because it would make the movie, well, super lame and not very sexy."
Since I usually think in movie scenes and quotes, it won't surprise you to learn that I frequently wish I could just montage parts of my life. Like working on the house. We just got it to a reasonably good (if far from finished) place: more than two years after we moved in. That would take a minute and thirty seconds in a movie! The cheesy 80's synth would start cranking. You'd see me with a hammer and safety glasses working on the gutters or something. Lisa, wearing overalls and a bandanna, would brush the piece of hair that has a little paint on it out of her face. [Editor's note: I have never in my life seen Lisa dressed that way, and I laughed out loud when I wrote that.] About half way through, for comic relief, you'd see me drop a bucket of paint on the floor, look at Lisa, and smile wryly. She'd hit me with a paintbrush and knock me off the ladder. Bam...90 seconds later we'd step back, admire our work, and call it a day.
But life doesn't work that way. Ever. There is no shortcut. The world meets nobody half way.
The only way to achieve what we set out to achieve is to live the struggles. Because the truth is that the struggles is what does the work of achieving the goals we set. We can say that we want to be Christian, but it is only in acting out of love that we will actually be Christian.
That's true personally, and it's also true of the church. We can say that we want to be a church that does this or that. We can say we want to be known as a church that does this or that. But we will never be unless we are willing to step up and be the church. Day by day. Hour by hour. It's super lame. It's not very sexy. It feels like we're not doing much of anything. But in time we will come to understand that it was those days and hours that made us. In retrospect, and only in retrospect, will we look back and see the ways that God was at work in our midst the whole time.