The Sideshow


“Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts. Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip. Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions.”

There are few things worse than goodbye. In fact, half the time, I don’t understand how the two words can make one, cohesive word (good and bye, that is). They seem so distant… so unrelated in meaning and definition. And so inaccurate 90% of the time.

I think that a goodbye upsets me so much because it draws my attention to what has happened between the initial hello and the somewhat final goodbye of a relationship and friendship. It magnifies what has preceded it, and amplifies what hasn’t. It’s like a final grade in a class– it makes you combine everything accomplished and experienced into a collaborative thought, score, or analysis. And regardless of whether or not you like what you see, it is what it is. And the goodbye is the final etching in the stone.

Now, this is a bit dramatic, because in a lot of cases, goodbye is only temporary, a term used to invite a time of temporary separation between someone or something. But as this Spring semester comes to a close and I say goodbye to so many people that have influenced and built me into who I am, I can’t help but analyze the weight of the word. Through it, I think I’ve learned something about myself… It’s kind of frightening, kind of weird, and it doesn’t make sense (aka.. my life). The people that mean the most to me are the people who I neglect. Those that have invested in me and I in them, I slowly fade out of my life unconsciously, as if time has no limits or bounds tied to it. The main stages in my life are ignored for the sake of sideshow entertainment and focus. The petty things, the things that don’t hold weight in my life, somehow always replace the things/people that do. And there ya go. Alex Doleac 101. Attention Deficit Disorder of the heart.

If you haven’t read Proverbs 4, I’m going to need you to do 2 things for me: 1) Slap yourself 4 times for not reading it and 2) Read it. The last few lines are the most powerful to me, as I am urged to keep a vigilant watch over this heart of mine. Why? Because life comes from it… I struggle with this, mainly because it sounds like some cheesy cliche’ that comes from a really corny children’s book. But also because I’m not really sure what that means… and I think the reason I’m a bit clueless on this is because I don’t necessarily exercise it regularly. Keeping a vigil over my heart? I feel like I try to use my heart to vigilantly watch over other things, but who’s watching it? What happens when its eyes are diverted from the motion picture and centered on the previews? Dis. Trac. Tion. That’s what.

It’s not shocking that the way I live my life and treat people around me is very similar to the ways in which I treat the Lord of my Life– and I say that loosely. Most of the time, I don’t treat him as I call Him. Most of the time, I am too focused on everything else I’m doing to remember why I’m doing it in the first place, to remember where my identity rests, and to remember why the monotonous tasks of school hold meaning. I miss opportunities, completely misinterpret my own actions, and fall into a merry-go-round of routines, tasks, and to-do lists. I’ll be honest, watching the sideshow sucks. And yet, these eyes are continuously pulled in its direction.

The way we treat the One who made us is appalling. It’s selfish and disgusting. Because if we’re truly honest about ourselves, we treat God like a refresher. Like a lemonade stand in mid-July, like a cup of coffee after an all-nighter of studying, and like a sideshow to the main production of our lives. We get so distracted with the things of lesser meaning, that the little things become our motion picture and the big things… they are nothing more than a commercial. A pick-me-up from the mundane, a quick-fix. A sideshow.

For those of you like me, I’m freaking tired of saying words my life doesn’t defend. I’m exhausted from watching the sidelines and missing out on the big game at play. The truth of the matter is that God is WAY more fun to watch and learn from than any other thing this world’s got. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- This world is empty, pale, and poor, compared to knowing you, my Lord. And while that couldn’t be truer, how true do we really think it if our lives don’t show such focus?

I’m driving. I’m driving like a madman on drugs, swerving every direction the road will allow. No yellow line in the middle, no white lines on the sides. I’m just flooring it with all I got. But the time of distraction is over and done. Headlights are shining bright, steering wheel steady, and cruise control on. No more commercials, no more refreshments. The windshield is focused on center stage, and there’s no other production that compares.

I think it’s time to learn what commitment is. More than words, more than intention, and more than desire. It’s a life–a life of action, intentionality, and struggle. Being able to focus in on the main stage at all times, even when the sub-productions of life block your view. It’s time to commit this Airstream to a pathway of dedication and focus, a road of definition and guidance. So… Here it goes. Who’s with me?

Seein the white lines,

Alex

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