Friday, December 6, 2013


1. an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment: Too much ambition caused him to be disliked by his colleagues.
2. the object, state, or result desired or sought after: The crown was his ambition.
3. desire for work or activity; energy: I awoke feeling tired and utterly lacking in ambition.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others- Philippians 2:4

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. James 4:1-2

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Matthew 23:12

I know I have an especially high dose of it- that drive, that hunger- for better or for worse I got a heavy dose of adrenaline coursing ambition. I work very hard to be successful, to dive into whatever I do; I am a passionista- 100 percent at 100 miles per hour for as long as I can sustain it.

Saying no to things is my Achilles heel. Being bored is my biggest fear. Holding still is not possible. John commented to me that if I lay down when we are hanging out I am usually asleep within 30 seconds because I have been running around all day without stopping. I tried to convince John I have been doing better, cramming less into my schedule, taking more time for taking care of myself. He tested me and asked- how many things do you have scheduled this weekend- only 5! He laughed at me.

John and I met with our pastor chad for our first premarital counseling meeting last night. Chad was coming up with examples of things he thought might divide us or cause us to struggle. His first example was how driven and ambitious I am compared to John’s cool and calm easy-going nature.

Ambition is celebrated in American culture. It is celebrated in both of my extended families. It is correlated with a strong work ethic, persistence and courage. I have a long family history of personal fulfillment through always being on the move and generating big ideas and results.

I am seeing however the pitfalls of my ambition. The restlessness and discontent it can generate, the separation it can generate between me and others if I hyper focus on myself, the potential it has to divide me with John or others I care about. My ambition seems like a large train barreling forward- lots of energy and unstoppable momentum- however it is key that the tracks are built on the right course, the train is barreling in the right direction.

Of course, if my ambition is pointed towards earnestly seeking God, or loving others, or virtuous contributions to those around me- than maybe it is not so misplaced. Maybe, like other talents and natural tendencies it is something that can be used for good or bad.

Lately though, I have been uneasy because I think I have been too hyper-focused on it, letting ambition for ambitions sake consume me, without tending to my humility and patience. I think an interruption, an intervention is needed, for I am restlessly unresolved.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Thank you At Another Level

Last Wednesday I was at work, finishing up some last minute things before leaving to join my family for a road trip down to Illinois. An unknown number was calling me on my cell and I picked up thinking it was a recent acquaintance of mine- A woman I had briefly met in Atlanta several weekends before. She called and was excited, short of breath asking if I could spare a minute, flustered that she had called during work hours.

 I asked her if she needed anything and she admitted she had called to just say thank you. She said- “I just want you to know that I believe you are very powerful and beautiful and are a leader that leads with genuine humility.” We had shared a large group interaction together, and she commended me for being great throughout that interaction, and making a difference for her and others we were interacting with. I was dumfounded- what a call, a surprise.

I stammered out a thank you and quickly told her that was so generous of her and that her call made my day. She never said- “I am thankful for you”, but in her appreciation and compliment the message more than came across. In fact, she didn’t need to say it. Thanksgiving is a national holiday, though its theme is so very spiritual in my eyes. Its about being in community with others- or communing. And it is about pausing to recognize all of the people and things you are blessed with around you. It is easy for each of us to go around and tell family members and friends we are thankful for them, or shoot across a “Happy Thanksgiving” text.
This Thanksgiving was especially delightful for me, spending time with the Brust family But that thank you that I received on Wednesday, that is the type of recognition that really makes a difference. It leaves you with more than just warm fuzzies- highlighted by the unexpectedness and surprise, I was left knowing myself as greater than I thought I was before the interaction. As we jump into the holiday season- I wonder on ways to make a similarly profound difference with others. Yes I picked out the perfect Christmas gift for my mom yesterday, and I want all of my family members to know in a fresh and alive way how much I love them.

But the exploration, the generosity of the season I think exists in the difference we can make with our loose ties. The people we don’t usually talk to, who would never expect us to reach out to them and tell them we love them. That is where the magic is. I challenge every person reading this to be uncannily generous with 3 people you usually wouldn’t this December. To make people around you bigger than they thought themselves to be, to make them burn a little brighter.

Today is the first real snow. I am typing this as I look out my window at the darkening sky and thick, dusty snow flecks. Impenetrable and enchanting snow- makes me think of magic, of purity, of pristine natural elegance.