I learned so many things when I moved to Florida. First of all, it IS kind of weird. Have you ever noticed that 99.99% of the weird and bizarre news stories take place in Florida? I think there have been actual studies done. So, yes, I fit right in, thank you. Also, it is paradise. For me. Maybe your paradise is the mountaintop in Colorado or the desert in Arizona. Aren’t you glad God made us so different? Cause it would be really hard to fit us all in here at the beach.
I don’t know if you have ever moved from one kind of place to another kind of place, but if you have you have probably experienced culture shock. Our family totally did. In so many ways. We learned all kinds of things the first bit of time here. We learned the language of surfers: things are sooooooo goooooood. We learned to surf. Okay, okay. The rest of my family learned to surf. But I learned to paddle really, really well. I tell people that I paddle and they say, “Oh, you mean paddleboard!” No. No, I do not. I paddle. I can paddle my surfboard out, I can paddle my surfboard in. Don’t judge me.
I like to think I brought a little bit of culture here as well. If you are from any part of the south you know what Rotel is. NO ONE HERE KNEW WHAT ROTEL WAS. I’m sorry I had to shout that at you, but it is so shocking that I needed you to feel the full emotion of it. Everyone who came to my house—and there were lots of folks since we were starting an actual church in our house—came hoping for “that dip”. People—it is just a block of Velveeta and two cans of Rotel tomatoes. No secret sauce here. Did they believe that? No. They thought I must mix in some Tennessee magic to make it addictive. I tried to tell them it was just that good old pasteurized cheese that kept them coming back for more. To this day, 10 years later, people come over and ask if I will make that “cowboy dip”. Just stop and think about that, please.
So, Florida, you are welcome. How you existed on this planet without Rotel is beyond me, but I’m glad to be using my gifts.
I learned so much more from my new culture, of course. Deeper things like just because it's sunny and 80 doesn’t mean life is grand. Just because you have a great tan and a bikini and a convertible doesn’t mean you are happy. Conversely, I have learned that sometimes beautiful days are just a God-invitation to go to the beach and enjoy His world. And life doesn’t always have to be so serious all the time.
It is my deep hope that I have taught some things as well. That my Savior Jesus is so awesome and you shouldn’t believe everything you hear about Him—you can know Him for your very own self in the Bible. That there is a Love that is truly unconditional and perfect and it is for you.
What a great exchange of ideas we can have if we are open to it.
A friend told me the other day about a couple of friends of hers whose business and personal relationship broke up because of the election. Man. That is just too bad. And sad. Too sad. I’m sure there were different opinions, I’m sure they were both passionate about their opinions, I’m sure they felt they just couldn’t go on with the relationship due to such stark differences. I don’t know them, but I feel this had to be the case since they were closing such a meaningful chapter in their lives because of disagreement.
I don’t know that I have ever met anyone I completely agree with. I have been married for nearly 22 years, and Jason and I most certainly do not agree on everything. My daughter is my best friend and she and I openly disagree on many issues. My son is the most fun and funniest person I know, yet he and I have very different views on several things. And these are the people I am closest to!! I am so thankful we don’t let these things define our relationship. I’m so grateful we talk, we listen, and sometimes we just leave it at that. Life doesn’t become consumed by proving we are right and they are wrong.
I’ve learned a lot from my family. They will tell you they have learned a lot from me. And here we go, walking through life, far from perfect, far from identical, just learning and going and growing.
I hope you take time to learn from someone today. Many times, time isn’t exactly what it takes, it takes a lowering of the pride guard. I hope you lower the pride guard enough to learn today. I hope you listen. The Bible speaks to this in James 1:19: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” Goodness. If we would all follow just that one maybe our world could change for the better.
I hope you exchange some goodness today. And if someone gives you nastiness instead, that’s okay. Let them keep your goodness anyway.