Mitchell Richards [Words]

Month: February, 2012

Let Love Go

I’m beginning to believe that life isn’t about the accumulation of memories and experiences. I’m learning that is so much more about sharing the things you love. The American dream is all about acquisition and storage, but the dream of the Gospel is more about the sharing of the things that bind us together.

I played soccer growing up, a lot of soccer. My brother played soccer, my nieces both play soccer. It’s something that is completely normal to me, and I love the game of soccer very much. Last year around this time I decided to coach little kids in soccer and it couldn’t be more fun.

I’ve realized in the year that I’ve been a coach that life isn’t about holding the things you love close to you, but extending them out for others to love as well. One of the boys on my team, who has been with the team for his third season now, told me on his very first practice that he was deciding between playing soccer and football. I told him that those were both fun sports and that he could do either one, but in my mind I was telling myself that I have to make soccer so much fun for this kid that football isn’t even an option. Towards the end of our season last fall, the same boy told me he wanted to be a professional soccer player when he grows up. Mission accomplished.

In the instance of this kid and me, soccer is the thing that I could not keep to myself, I had to give it away in order for someone else to share it with me, but it could be anything you love.

Are the things we truly love able to be given out? Or are they forced into our homes and lives by default? Here’s what I mean…what do you love? What in your life do you spend the most time thinking of? Dreaming of? Is it your car? Your money? Your stuff?

It hit me the other day that I get to wear soccer cleats 4-5 days out of every week between practicing with the kids and playing with my friends. Soccer has become a passion in my life now more than ever. And instead of just sitting at home and kicking my own ball around, I get the opportunity to share that gift and passion with 15 kids, spread out between two teams that I coach, and about 10 friends that I get to play with.

So again, what is it that you love? What gift do you have that you are possibly robbing your community from? Are you an artist? A singer? A fashion designer? Are you keeping your craft to yourself, or are you giving it away as someone probably once gave it to you?

What’s that cliché? That in order to truly love something you have to let it go?

Let it go.

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Stupid Grace For Chris Brown, Cheap Grace For Me.

I actually watched the Grammy Awards the other night. If I have to be honest as to why, I remember seeing a thing on Twitter about signing a petition to get the Muppets to perform during the Academy Awards, for which they are nominated in a category. Since I have no idea what the difference is between the Academy Awards and the Grammys, I watched the entire Grammys expecting a segment where the Muppets were nominated for an award (and probably winning the award) and was hopeful that they allowed them to perform. I was disappointed on all accounts, and it wasn’t until later that I realized that the Muppets are nominated for an Academy Award, not a Grammy.

Like I said though, I watched the whole terrible thing. I really don’t get into celebrities, pop music, or dumb performances at all. Maybe I’m too old or something, but I can’t name one Lady Gaga song, have no idea who that guy dressed as Mickey Mouse DJing was, and I could really care less about awards shows.

But someone came on screen a few times that really, I don’t know, set me off. As much as you try to stay away from pop culture, it has a way of lurking into your life. I saw Chris Brown perform/lip sync, and it just rubbed me the wrong way. Then, later in the program, he performed again and it sort of set me off on a rampage that has actually got me to this point here.

If you don’t know, Chris Brown is an entertainer who beat up his celebrity girlfriend, Rihanna, a couple years back. I mean, he beat her pretty bad; I’ve seen a couple pictures that I will not link to. Watching him on the Grammys really irritated me, and apparently a few others on social media sites, because I couldn’t shake the images of what he did from him as a person or entertainer.

He was dancing around of stage and I couldn’t help but wonder what gave him the confidence AS A MAN to be doing that, how could he beat up a woman then still be dancing? I got the feeling that he felt that he was invincible to the world around him.

I sent out a few tweets in a negative tense towards Chris Brown (and the lack of Muppets) and it just kept eating at me. The next day, I woke up and still had this anger towards the situation. Then I got put in my place…

God forgave him.

And that is really stupid if you ask me.

But it is still true.

God forgave him.

And I can be stewing and storming around angry at the Grammys for letting him perform twice, and I get be upset at him for dancing around and not singing, but I have to realize that his sins have settled right next to mine at the bottom of the ocean.

And again, that is really stupid because I’ve never punched a woman, but that’s not to say I’ve never done anything that doesn’t need grace that I don’t deserve either.

The day after the Grammys, I got stuck thinking about how no one deserves grace, yet we all get it and we all take advantage of it. Chris Brown still gets to dance despite his transgressions. I will one day get to dance in spite of my past and my sins, and that is a beautiful thought.

I do not deserve the grace that God offers, but I accept it. Not only do I accept it, I abuse it. I take something that deserves to be sacred and special and make it cheap. Dietrich Bonhoeffer says, “Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our church. We are fighting today for costly grace.”

In his book The Cost of Discipleship he continues, “Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘Ye were bought at a price’, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”

I hope that I can find grace and not come by it cheaply, but accept the cost that is required for it. Grace is free to all, but grace is not free.

No longer can we take advantage of the death of Jesus for ourselves. That is cheap grace. That is stupid grace.

The Walls of the Tomb or Jesus Never Stops

When Mary and her gang went to go see Jesus’ body in the tomb, after Jesus had been crucified, they didn’t find anything. Jesus was gone.

This moment in history marks one of the first in a long list of occurrences where Jesus wasn’t where he was supposed to be. Jesus wasn’t where we thought he was going to be. Jesus was gone. He was supposed to be in one place, and it was a sure thing because he was dead, yet he wasn’t there.

And if Mary’s moment doesn’t sum up our entire Christian lives, I don’t know what does. I’m not even talking about the resurrection here either; I’m talking about the confusion and panic that must have raced through ol’ mother Mary’s mind.

What happens to us spiritually when Jesus isn’t where we left him? What happens when we are so positive that he is locked up in the grave only to discover the stone has been rolled away by a dead guy?

This idea moves parallel with our own stories because the life and times of Jesus never end; Jesus never stops. If life were a journey with Christ, we think he takes the water breaks with us, but instead he is out wandering in the woods probably saying something really confusing like, “I’m the only water you’ll ever need” to no one in particular. So when we get up from our break, those little breaks where things are good and we don’t need Jesus, he isn’t there anymore. It’s not that Jesus has left us either, but rather that we have failed to keep up with him. Jesus never stops.

Even in death, Jesus never stops. In new life, Jesus never stops.

Jesus is full of it because we go through our whole lives expecting him to “show up” or to be somewhere, but we often find that he’s already been there, already wanted to do his work only to find no one was behind him. His group of followers was taking a break and waiting for Sunday to come so they can start the show, but Jesus kept on moving.

And this all sucks for us, because it’s not really a chasing after Jesus as much as it’s a reluctant wander. Where is he going now? Why don’t we just stay on this path? Why must we go into the woods? Why can we not stick to a specific nap regiment?

It is these questions that lull us into the comatose we are in right now; these questions sink us into our comfort levels while Jesus continues to move forward. These questions are the walls of the grave we are building around our own Savior, the walls of his tomb. They are the mortar that holds together [our beliefs] on what [we think] Jesus says, when he gets to be around, and where he gets to be. So we build up this grave for him, and we wait knowing the whole time that’s where he is. Only a few days later, someone checks that grave and he isn’t there, thus continuing the confusion and panic that Mary had all those years ago.

Sit-Down Comedy: Urinals and Yeast Infections

I went to the mall a few weeks ago and when I went to the bathroom they had these urinals with “water-free technology.” Basically, you just pee into the urinal and you don’t have to flush because there is no water to flush. The pee just goes down the drain. Little does this urinal company know that I invented this technology years ago when I started peeing in the sink.

The other day I was almost t-boned when a car decorated in about 15 NASCAR stickers turned left while he was at a red light. You’d think a NASCAR fan could handle a left turn since that’s all they watch during a race.

I saw a woman with white pants that were so tight I could see the dimples on the cellulite of her butt. It looked like a giant golf ball. Somehow I knew Tiger Woods would approve.

I waited for my ex-girlfriend in the lobby of a tanning salon one time. It was torture. It smelled like what I imagine sweaty female beach volleyball players smell like. Okay…it was kind of awesome.

I remember whenever everyone thought that the awkward kid from the Wonder Years turned into Marilyn Manson. This is false because the awkward kid from the Wonder Years is actually Lady Gaga.

A couple years ago, the NBA put out a series of commercials themed around the slogan “Where amazing happens.” The WNBA also came out with a similar slogan that didn’t catch on quite as much, “Where periods, not quarters, happens.”

I worked for over a year at a bakery and didn’t get a single yeast infection. Your move ladies.