Friday, November 17, 2006

A Time to Change

I woke up November 1st, the day after my 32cond birthday and prayed this prayer:

"Lord, I dedicate this year to you. I dedicate this year to bearing fruit with the gifts and talents you have given to me."

It wasn't one of those New Year resolution statements. The prayer burned inside of me like a warm meal. I was energized. I got up from the bed and felt free.

I spend so much time doing things that are creative but never get finished or shared with others. This blog has been good for me in that way. I am not claiming to be some tremendous writer but I do recognize it as a talent. I hope you can recognize your talents as well. To not recognize something that you have that brings joy to others as a gift is false humility. I am not talking about boasting here, there is always someone better. Good Lord. I am talking about delighting in a gift or a talent. It took me years to learn how to say "thank you" to a compliment and not constantly feel like I needed to beat myself down in order to "feel" humble. There are two words that go hand in hand. Humble, and Thankful. You need both or you are neither.

So this year I want desperately to be the best steward of any talent that God has given me and have something to show for it at the end of the day. Because over the past 5 years I have started some 5 films and have not finished but one of them. I have half-finished: pictures, poems, songs, quartets, short stories, a novel, plays, musicals, operas and piano pieces. I don't even eat the last bite of my food. Ever. Even if I am stinking hungry. I just can't do it. I have finished some things but each finished product seemed like an insurmountable obstacle. My wife has been the greatest contributor to me finishing anything whatsoever.

So this year will be different and because the Lord has put this fire under me, it has already been different.

If you don't see me for a bit around the blogosphere, it is because I am trying to be productive and finish something.

Mainly, my degree.

I recognized that there is nothing better than to be glad and to do well during life.
For every man, moreover, to eat and drink and enjoy the fruit of all his labor is a gift of God.
I recognized that whatever God does will endure forever; there is no adding to it, or taking from it. Thus has God done that he may be revered.
And I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to rejoice in his work; for this is his lot. Who will let him see what is to come after him?

Like this great book says, "There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens." I feel like this is a time for me to build. Please pray that I can walk humbly, always seeking Him first above all things and remember that when I delight in Him, He will give me the desires of my heart.


Lindsey said...

Great post Seth! I have been having this same conversation with one of my friends. I never feel worthy of a compliment I am given. I always change the compliment away from my singing, and say, "I had so much fun." I have no idea how to except someone's praise for my performance. I am always looking at all the "bad" things that came out of my mouth. Why should I feel unworthy or ashamed of a praise for my gift from God and my hard work? I am always thanking God for the gift, but I embarassed to thank someone who was touch by it and wants me to know. What is that? I mean this isn't like when someone says I like your dress and I say, "This old thing." I really struggle with feeling good enough. I always focus on how can it be better instead of enjoying what was good now!
Also, I think finishing something is difficult b/c then we have to admit with think it is ready and "done." When something is done, it usually means there is nothing left to be changed or fixed. Is that so wrong? I don't think so, but again, I usually say, "I had so much fun."

Seth Ward said...

Oh man can I relate to that Lindsey!

Accepting someones encouragement and thanks is a gift from that person to you. It is different than the kind of "thanks" that one gives when they really mean "glad you could notice, how lucky you are to recognize my greatness" I have seen both. It is really a matter of the heart. It feels so much better to say an honest "thank you" to a pat on the back or to a compliment. It takes alot more humility to say thank you then it does to continue on about how crappy this or that was. God wants us to delight in him and the gifts that He has given us. They were His to give and ours to enjoy and use. When we use them to our best we Glorify Him. Thats why I like that phrase "My Uttmost for His Highest" Pretty awesome huh?

It is a different philosophy than this false humility crap that we have been taught. So much more free.

Stephen said...

And then, Seth, we have people at the other end of the spectrum like Kanye West.

Seth Ward said...

Oh sure Stephen. I hope I am not coming across that way... (you may be just making an observation rather than an arguement)That is the type of praise that is recieved in arroagance the "glad you could notice, how lucky you are to recognize my genius" way that I mentioned to Lindsey.

Rather than: "I am so glad that it meant something to you. It is one of the reasons I do what I do. I am thankful to God that I can bring beauty and Joy to others through my talents. What a huge privelage and gift of Grace." That kind of thank you has humility and a honesty to it.

It is about recieving encouragement as God Himself encouraging you through the person thanking you.

Just like any real or good thing, a balance is needed, that is why I end it all with seeking God first and His righteousness.

It is also funny that people who can take a compliment can also take constructive critism as well. It is usually the people whe are always darting their eyes diverting the encouragement, that can't take a helpful comment.

I think as protestants we have been brought up to believe that passion is synonymous with sin. Lust, desire, blah blah. There is good passion. Passion for live, living, people, your family, your kids, your talents and gifts. Especially a passion for God. These can be the counduits through which the Joy of the Lord can flow mightily.

As for Kanye, I think when you start thinking and speaking about yourself in the third person all the time you might reconsider a pride overhaul.

Vanity is always right around the corner for us all.

Anonymous said...

Dammit, Seth. I was having a great little pity party and being horribly lazy. Now I'm all inspired and ready to work and use the talents God gave me and such... sheesh. Thanks a lot, jerk.

Lindsey said...

I have to say I disagree with the thought that people who can't take a compliment also can't be given constructive criticism. In fact, I think it is opposite. People who think they are the end all be all usually can't take the criticism. I know for myself, all I expect is criticism. It is one of the reasons I am not good at taking a compliment. I know something can always be better. I have been told so many constructive (and not so constructive) criticisms that compliments are like a foreign language and I only know one phrase to answer back with. Kind of like "Come ti chiama?" "Mi chiamo, Lindsey."
I think people like Kanye only expect praise and ignore the suggested ways to improve themselves. When you are constantley praised, why should you think there is room for improvement?
I am not saying what I feel is better. There has got to be a happy medium of believing in and improving oneself.
Well, let me also clarify something. It depends on who is giving the constructive criticism. I really have to respect and trust the person's opinion before I decide to change my technique over it. Ya, know?!

P.S. I asked my husband and my singer friend Rachel feel the same.

Anonymous said...

I had a big long response to this and then my new blogger setting made it disappear.
So, I will just say, you are on the right track about finishing things. This has been hard for you because you are multi-talented and it is probably hard for you to decide which road to go down at one time. Too many possibilities. But keep leaving food on your plate. This is a good thing.

Seth Ward said...

Lindsey, sorry that came off wrong. When I said "take a compliment" I meant take a compliment well. The person that takes the compliment as "yeah, I am all that" is the one who has the hard taking the criticism. I think it is the one who recieves the enouragement as a gift with humility and a sense of thankfulness that can also recieve the constructive criticism with less risk of ego-fracture.

I guess it gets tricky with some of this but yeah, it does matter who it is coming from and in what manner it is given. No one wants to hear negative criticism right off the bat unless that is the expected reaction like in a master class or lesson but even then it always feels better if they start with the positive.

Seth Ward said...

Lexie, Dangit! I hate it when that happens. That happened to April once when she was breaking off an engagement OVER EMAIL. She wrote the first one all sappy and tender and when she had to write the second one it was the cliff-notes version.

Needless to say it wasn't recieved well.

Seth Ward said...


You better get to work my brilliant buddy. How is that book coming??? huh? HUH?

Chaotic Hammer said...

I relate to your thoughts so much, Seth, it's not even funny.

I'm going through a definite season of change myself, I certainly need to finish a whole lot of things I've started, and start things I've been putting off.

Things are definitely getting pretty stirred up in this here heart o'mine. (Hmmm. Did that sound like lyrics from a country song or something? Weird.)