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Dating made easy. That’s what the sign said and offered a web address.

Man and Woman Sitting Together in Front of Table

It has been a long time since I was single and dating. And I am certainly no expert on the subject (Just ask my wife). However, I do not remember it being “easy” and I imagine that it has become more complicated and nuanced since then.

Midsection of Couple Holding Hands at Beach Against Sky

One online dating service recognizes that “you’re more substance than just a selfie” and it promises “to make meaningful connections with real people.” Another boasts that it has facilitated “more dates, more relationships, & more marriages than any other dating or personals site.” I have no first-hand experience with an online dating site so I do not argue with their claims and they may provide a much needed service. But I cannot believe that they can make dating easy.

Photo of Robert J Maurer

In a recent Psychology Today article Dr. Robert J. Maurer does not suggest that dating can be made easy but he says it can be made simple. He says he has found that there is “only one essential predictor of future relationship health. (And) It is not the criteria people usually look for: shared interests, the same religion, similar incomes.” No, he suggests that you ask one “cliché question:” So, how come someone as wonderful as you is still single?”

The idea, according to Dr. Maurer, is “your date will hopefully hear this question as a compliment” but you can learn a lot about them from their answer.

used car signs

Dating is not the only complicated life experience to which we often seek short cuts and easy answers. Take shopping for instance. You are in the market for an automobile and there are so many choices. Body style, color, optional equipment, gasoline engine or hybrid or electric- and a multitude of other things about which you have to decide. Wouldn’t it be easy if the auto makers offered only one make and model, one color, and no optional equipment?

menu as inspiration. See the grid

When you eat out do you have difficulty with the menu? So many choices. Wouldn’t dining out be easy if there was only one entre on the menu? No daily specials. No choice of how you want your steak or burger prepared.

Entertainment would be easy if there was only one theater in town playing only one movie. One home town sport/team to cheer. One television channel to watch.

movie theater, Canada

Life in general can be very complicated. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everything was clearly right or wrong. No alternatives. Every decision had only one option. There were no forks in the road.

Obviously easy is not always better. While it might not matter what car we drive or how we entertain ourselves, there are choices that really make a difference.

I wish life could be more manageable- and it can be but there is no silver bullet or magical answer. I believe there are some absolutes in life. Everything is not up for grabs. On the other hand many, maybe most of the vital choices, are not always clear.

stock photo of choice - Taking decisions for the future man standing with three direction arrow choices - JPG

So how do we make good choices in the things that really matter? I believe that we are not alone in our efforts to choose and live wisely. God is with us to guide and guard us in life. “Anyone who needs wisdom should ask God. Wisdom will certainly be given to those who ask.” (James 1:5, Common English Bible). When we are not sure, “God will show how to distinguish right from wrong, how to find the right decision every time.” (Proverbs 2:9, Living Bible)

Life cannot be made easy but if we “trust God from the bottom of our heart (and) don’t try to figure out everything on our own” life can be better. If we “listen for God’s voice in everything we do, everywhere we go- God will keep us on (the right) track.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Jamie Jenkins

I grew up on the Gulf Coast in Mobile, Alabama. Except for five years in New York, I have lived my life in the Deep South. I have always enjoyed sports and in my environment that meant baseball, football, basketball, and tennis. Because of the temperate climate in the region ice hockey has not been high on my lists of competitive sports.

Atlanta Flames 1972-73 hockey logo

I saw my first live hockey game in the early 1970s at the Omni in Atlanta. The Atlanta Flames were a professional team of the National Hockey League (NHL) from 1972-1980. The team struggled to establish a fan base and were finally sold and relocated to Alberta, Canada.

NEW OLD STOCK CCM ATLANTA THRASHERS HOCKEY JERSEY JR L / XL NHL LICENSED

The Atlanta area’s growth and the migration of many people from the northern states led to a second NHL franchise being located in the city in 1997. The Thrashers played their home games in Phillips Arena, which had replaced the Omni as a downtown sports venue. I attended one of the team’s games before they met a similar fate as the Flames. They were and moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada in 2011.

Eight years before the Thrashers moved out of town a minor league hockey team relocated to the Atlanta area.  The franchise originated as the Mobile Mysticks but were rebranded as the Gladiators and moved to their new home in suburban Gwinnett County. In 2015, the Gladiators became the affiliate of the Boston BruinS, an NHL Team since 1924.

My two sons, my grandson, and I recently attended a couple of the Gladiators games at the Infinite Energy Arena. We knew none of the players on the Gladiators or their opponent the Florida Everblades. Prior to this, collectively the four of us had attended only a handful of games. It was a first-time experience for my grandson.

Gladiators Hockey Game Dec 2018

None of us had any real attachment to the team or much knowledge about the rules or how the game is played. Nevertheless we joined in cheering our hometown team. When something good happened for the Gladiators we shouted and applauded. When the referee called a penalty against “our” team, we booed. When the same call was made against the other team, we shouted our approval.

Hockey fans at stadium : Stock Photo

I have reflected on the experience of those two hockey games over the past few weeks. I have thought about the way we claimed the home team and was pleased when things didn’t go well for their opponents. We could have just enjoyed the game. The skating ability of the players. The speed of the game. The energy of the teams and the fans. We had no connection to the home team except that they were the Atlanta Gladiators. They represented us and the match was between “us” and “them.”

I wonder how many times the scenario of the hockey game is repeated in other facets of my life. How often do I see things as competition between “Us” and “Them?” Do I view the attitudes and actions of myself and others like me as “right and good” and those of others as “harmful and wrong.”

In examining my behavior at the hockey game I realized how easy it is to “see the splinter that’s in my brother’s or sister’s eye, but don’t notice the log in my own eye.” How easy it is to say to another person,” Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when there’s a log in my own eye.”

God, help me to guard against the “US vs. Them” mindset. Help me to see others as my brothers and sisters, creatures of equality and deserving of honor and dignity.

Jamie Jenkins

In my travels many places fail to live up to their publicity. They look and sound good on their website or in their brochure but don’t measure up when you see them in person. One place that lives up to your expectations is the Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon 1

I have just returned from my second visit to this massive National Park in Arizona.  The last time I was there was almost 25 years ago. The only way I know how to describe the views from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is WOW! And that does not begin to describe the awesome beauty of this 277 mile gorge rising above the Colorado River. The colors, shapes, and textures of the rock formations are overwhelming.

Unless you fly into the very small Grand Canyon Airport, it is a long drive to get anywhere. We used Flagstaff as our base for seeing many of the sites of the area. The ninety minute, 80 mile drive up Highway 89  and 64 from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon was less than spectacular. However, the first view of the canyon from the tower at the East Entrance made the drive worthwhile.

IMG_3076

We had to go through a lot of nothing to get to the breathtaking beauty. I think much of life is like that. Every experience cannot be exceptional. Every moment cannot be exhilarating. There is a real value to the drudgery of the routine and ordinary.

I am a fan of college and professional sports. The beauty of a well executed double play in baseball of a behind-the-back-without-looking pass in basketball is beautiful to see. They are the results of many hours of hard work and practice. Pushing through the drills and sticking to the routines of physical conditioning. Athletes have to go through a lot of nothing to get to the beauty of performance.

double play

The same thing is true for most, if not all of life. The principle of no pain, no gain has applications in just about every aspect of living.

I remember when my son resisted doing the “busy work” assignments in 3rd grade. I told him then what I am sure he has now learned. There is a “lot of nothing” required to achieve any worthwhile result.

It has been said that the devil is in the details. While that may be true, the details may not be exciting but good and enjoyable results occur because of them. Planning a trip, a surprise birthday party, or some job related event is often boring and exhausting. And they are never noticed… until they are not done.

Jamie Jenkins