Monday, January 26, 2009

What is Appropriate?

When I first went off to college, I started doing a "zine" as a means of keeping in touch with friends who were interspersed all over the country. It was called Millet Seed; the title was taken from an Annie Dillard poem about how to pray.

Well, recently I've been digging through some of my things trying to get organized for the upcoming [hopeful] move, and I found a small essay that I wrote for Millet Seed. It's kind of fun to read the thoughts of the person I was well over 10 years ago (God help me ...).

I remember writing this essay when somebody asked me the very broad question, "What is appropriate?" And without further ado, here is what I answered.

***

what is appropriate?

it is appropriate to smile at people when you walk by them in the hallway, and it is appropriate for them to smile back at you. especially if you are having a bad day. it shows that even though you may not care a lot, you care enough to move those muscles for that one extra person.

it is appropriate to be yourself.
putting up an act is not appropriate. it's not appropriate to try to have an image or to try to impress people to fit in. it's a silly waste of time.

it is appropriate to feel good about yourself. it is appropriate to look in the mirror and praise God that He made you who you are. that he has never made a mistake.

that He loves you beyond anything we can fathom.

it is appropriate to be thankful.

it is not appropriate to feel self-pity, but it is appropriate to feel lonely. it is appropriate to feel down. it is appropriate to have a bad day...as long as you realize that you can't take it out on other people.

it is appropriate to help others and not always want them to just help you. it is appropriate to give more than you receive, to love more than you are loved. to help more than you are helped. to praise more than you feel like praising.

it is appropriate to feel alone. did i say that already? i think that needs to be stressed. sometimes you will be in a place where nobody can fully understand you and where you can't fully understand them. it is appropriate to have a hard time some of the time. to have good days, to have bad days, to have really hard days.

it is appropriate to want more, to seek the truth. to believe in something better than false idols and temporary "joy."

it is appropriate to seek good friends. to not settle for people who don't think like you, who can't relate to you. it is appropriate to know that you have friends who are praying for you. who love you.

and it is appropriate to miss them when you can't be with them. it is not appropriate to let your world stop because you have stepped away from your comfort zone.

it is not appropriate to roll your eyes at somebody you can't agree with, or even to think they're stupid or weird. it is not appropriate to speak outwardly about things people love that you can't even like.

it is appropriate to sit quietly and try to shine with the love of God. it is appropriate to pray for them when you think they are doing something wrong. to tel them that you believe that God truly has a better plan for them.

it is not appropriate to use sarcasm, contempt, or bitterness as a way of making someone see the Truth.

it is appropriate to get rid of your bitterness. to talk about your worries, to work on making things better. it is appropriate to apologize before you go to sleep. to wake up praising God that today will be a better day.

it is appropriate to try to be a human being. not a monster. not a cute little stuffed animal. not a doormat. but a human being.

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