I think we should stop lining up

I think we should stop lining up

I think we should stop lining up

Today is my fifty-fourth birthday and this is my wish for the world: no more lining up. Lining up is not working; it’s not even much of a gamble to try something new.

Let’s try a circle instead of a line; no one is ahead or behind in a circle – we all just belong.

This whole “line up” mentality has us terribly messed-up. Before we even go to pre-school, we want to be first. Why? Because we don’t want to be last. There’s no “last” in a circle.

I enjoy Donald Miller’s writing; Scary Close is a great read. So is Searching for God Knows What; this quote is from Searching. . .

“A child learns early there is a fashionable and an unfashionable in the world, an ugly and a pretty, a valued and an unvalued. Where this system comes from, God only knows, but it is rarely questioned, and though completely illogical and agreed upon by everyone as evil, it remains in play, commanding our emotions as a possession. (. . .)

Here’s how it feels: From the first day of school the conversation is the same as it would be if hundreds of students were told to stand in line ranging from best to worst, coolest to most uncool, each presenting their case for value,(. . .).

Great lengths will be taken to associate with those at the front of the line. (. . .) But the great crime, the great tragedy, is not in the attempts to associate but rather the efforts to dissociate. If a person feels his space in the hierarchy is threatened, that he might lose position, the vehemence he feels toward the lesser person is nearly malevolent” (pp. 96-97).

Donald Miller writes more in the book about this “invisible hierarchy” – this continual emotional “lining up.” I agree with him when he suggests it’s killing us.

So will you try “no more lining up” for fifty-four days – in honor of my fifty-fourth birthday? No more “first” or “last.” Can we please just see what happens if we stop counting and comparing? No more data in our relationships; no more earning and deserving and trying to keep things fair. Grace is never fair.

If you’re even a little intrigued by the idea, let’s get practical. We’re not wired to be able to “stop” certain behaviors; the brain doesn’t have a gear for “stop.” We have to replace one behavior with another. We have to decide to do something instead of the counting and keeping score.

My suggestion: “Love up” instead of “line up.” And don’t list the “loving” on your resume or your college application. Unplug the scoreboard; love doesn’t keep score.

Instead of keeping stats, love. If you don’t know what that means, start with “serve” or “protect”. Help someone. Sit beside them. Talk together; listen. Play with them – for fun. Don’t make them earn your love; don’t try to earn their love. You can’t fail in this experiment; if we’re not counting, we can’t keep a record of how many times you may get it wrong.

I got this idea from Doug – sort of –at least the part about not counting. Doug never counts. He doesn’t keep score about who makes more money or does more chores. He doesn’t count how many times I cook dinner – or how many times I don’t. I never feel behind in our relationship. Yeah, I know – grace really is amazing.

Instead of counting and keeping score, Doug serves. He helps me and protects me. He listens; he talksimage. The funny thing is, I don’t try to get away with doing less (or spending more) because I know he isn’t counting. His love helps me grow up.

I know this works in large crowds, too. I’ve recently been fascinated by the instructions of Jesus to the more than 5,000 when he needed to feed them. He didn’t tell them to line up, he just told them to “sit in the grass.” (Matthew 14:19) I think that was the closest thing to a circle they could do on the side of a mountain.

I’d love to know how you may choose to “love up” instead of “line up”. Please write a comment.

  • Doug

    Beautifully written!

  • Tami

    Loving up sounds like an inspiring challenge to me! Yea, lining up is exhausting. A bday blessing Janet for all…sounds like loving up:)

    • Janet

      Thank you- loving you Tami.

  • Glenn Webb

    Living Loved and Embraced by His Mercy and Grace. The only thing that satisfies love is to be loved in return. And love is a volitional act and “God is Love”