There are two characteristics that I really admire in people. Firstly, some people just have this amazing capacity to endure in tough circumstances. They can be taken anywhere or put through anything and they don’t crack. They take it in their stride, get on with life and make it happen. I really admire this kind of never-say-die perseverance through stress and suffering. I call it ‘having a low floor’ in their capacity. Things can get really low, and yet they can still handle it and maintain a good attitude. Secondly, you get people who have what I call ‘a high ceiling’. These are the people with a flair for life. They are dissatisfied with living on the level of day-to-day survival – they want to prosper. These people bring excess and creativity into a situation, always striving for the best possible experience – to master the art of living well. If you think about it, which one is more like you?
Often a weakness or blind spot comes with these strengths. Those who suffer well also tend to suffer needlessly, or they have no desire to put effort into ‘unnecessary extras’. To them, life should be lived humbly – those practicing the ‘art of living’ are met with the suspicion of superficiality or arrogance. These low-floor people also have a low ceiling – a war-time mentality. Conversely, the high floor in many high-ceiling types would render them quite useless in a war. Their happiness and functioning are often very fragile, being based on external things. To them, life must be lived for the pleasure of it – and those who do not seek this passionately are met with the suspicion of cultural bankruptcy. Interestingly, I have met many people with either a low floor or a high ceiling, but not too many with both. Christians, too, seem to relate more to either the high ceilings of Abraham and Solomon or the low floors of Job and John the Baptist! My conviction, however, is that God aims to stretch our personal capacity in both directions. In Jesus, the King and the Suffering Servant, our inheritance is both a high ceiling and a low floor. We can live out both His glory and his humility.
Have you ever walked past a bakery with an empty stomach and yet been forced, after taking in all the treats with your eyes and your nose, to walk on by? The initial sense of wonder quickly deteriorates into unfulfilled longing. It’s like a parable of life – eating is almost always better than window-shopping hungrily at the bakery. I experience the same thing while staring out into a beautiful landscape, listening to an inspiring piece of music or watching a small child exploring the world. Somehow just observing something wonderful doesn’t satisfy our hunger for joy – it’s only in the expression of that wonder that we can taste it. It is as if praise is not just joy coming out. It is joy happening, joy that is incomplete without communicating it to someone else. We seem to be wired this way. Perhaps that is why God encourages us to be thankful, to sing, to shout and give praise when we consider Him – and to participate in it together… because if we only stare on through the window silently, it may be wonderful but we’ll still walk away hungry.
My head is covered in a garden of unruly curls. Sometimes they fall in ringlets around my face and sometimes they turn into a cloud of frizz which gives me a natural halo – haha. Due to the unpredictability of the portable garden on top of my head, I recently found myself prowling the children’s aisle in a local shop looking for some aids to tame it. As I stood in front of an array of pink clips, butterfly Alice-bands and leopard-print scrunchies, I spied my heart’s desire sitting quite out of view on the lowest shelf – small, clear crocodile clips that would train my curls to form flowing tresses through rain or shine. I was excited! And yet, these discrete “gardeners” got my thinking… thinking about dominion, man’s dominion, and whether it would be right to say that I was exercising dominion over my hair.