Monday, April 20, 2015

Common Ground

I am a griper and complainer. I’m sorry. I try hard not to be, but critical commentary seems to just leap off my tongue if I’m not careful. 

But there are a couple topics you will seldom hear me complain about in public. 

At the top of the list is my husband. And here’s why. Out of all the men in the world, I chose him. No one forced me to marry him. I did that all by my big-girl self.  

He’s not perfect, but he’s mine. So when an issue arises, my response matters. Very little is accomplished by verbally dogging him. It might make me feel better in that tiny warped moment, but it certainly doesn’t lead to a solution. 

I must embrace the idea that the solution to our problem likely involves me.
(I mean he totally needs to change his ways, but …)

Maybe I need to step it up. Maybe I need to be more patient. Maybe I need to encourage him. Maybe I need to chill out. Maybe I need to focus on being grateful for all that’s good while we find a way to work together.

When an issue arises, my response matters. 

I have a few trusted friends who know the not-so-cute realities of our marriage. But these sisters are in full support of our marriage and are characterized by offering fresh insight and balanced perspectives that lead to peace and growth. So if I need a venti-vent, I share coffee with one of those dear friends. Because after I’m free to be brutally honest, she will probably remind me of our great qualities, encourage me to do my part and to be patient. She won’t allow me to linger in the dissatisfaction. It does no good.

This system of discretion, hopefulness, and hard work is similar to my response to the currently proposed bond election. Living here is an adult decision. No one is forcing us to call this town our home. This is the community we’ve chosen. There are obvious opportunities for improvement. Heck, there are obvious fails of epic proportion. But for me to gripe and complain while refusing to be part of the solution is silly.
For me to gripe and complain while refusing to be part of the solution is silly.
Human connection is like a bank account. If you regularly withdraw and never contribute, you go broke. Investment is essential to success. 

In order to grow in a peaceful, happy relationship, I have to make certain sacrifices, but I will also reap the benefits. Likewise, communities thrive on mutual investment. In a perfect world, everyone gives a little so the group is greatly strengthened and the members are gratefully satisfied.
But even when times are tough, and labor is lop-sided, and attitudes are apathetic, we still have a choice to make.

Will we call it quits and give up? Will we stick around just to flap our negative jaws? Will we live here but reject the notion of community?

Or will we press in and be part of the solution? Will we commit to speak blessings in public while finding appropriate forums in which to express our concerns? Will we have courage and take committed, cheerful ownership?
Communities thrive on mutual investment.

We are community. Community matters. Yes matters.

I leave you with an excerpt from a persuasive essay my son wrote last year as part of a state-wide benchmark test in school. He will graduate before all the proposed construction would be complete. But his little brother will just be ready for kindergarten. The time is now.

Is it better to live in a big city or in a small town? The answer is obvious! It is better to live in a small town where you are a part of something, and feel free. 
When you live in a small town you are a part of something like a big family. When you are a doctor or an accountant in a small town, everyone needs you, and you need everybody. The kids that you play baseball and hunt with turn into your business partners and employers. It’s just a good feeling when you are needed and are a part of something. 
I have grown up in a small town and there is not anywhere else I would rather be. I love it here. Where our main attraction is the high school football game on Friday night. Where sweet tea is the house wine. And where your preacher was your little league coach. 
So come on if you’re tired of being swallowed up by the big city and be a part of a small town family. 
-Luke Johnson, MHS class of 2016

Landen (MHS '15) and Asa (MHS class of 2031)