Things Unnoticed

“Your car is done, dude.”

Those were the words I heard from the Mechanic on the other end of the phone call.  He wasn’t calling to tell me my car was ready to be picked up, either.  I was going to be on a Mission Trip with Elevate for a week, so I figured I’d drop my car off and let the mechanics work on whatever was urgent.

Well, what I didn’t know was that my car had SO MANY issues that it was going to be the smarter move to not put any more money into fixing it, and begin looking for a newer car.

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It didn’t take too long to find one.  I might have been extra-motivated to replace my car when the Mechanics used phrases like “punctured tire” and “stranded on the side of the road.”  We had our sights on a vehicle we liked, the price was about what we intended to spend, so we went for it.

The car I was replacing was a 2006 Saturn Vue.  The car my wife and I bought was a 2016 Ford Fusion (Sorry Dad, aka the 30 year GM Employee).

One of the first things I noticed was how smooth and quiet the ride was.  Truly.  It was incredible to me.  Now, this post is not intended to be a review of the Fusion.  What I kept thinking was, “I never really knew my old car was so loud!”

Meagan, my wife, had often told me that my car was not as awesome as I made it out to seem.  She would often point out all the flaws and tell me all the things she didn’t like about it.  I would always take my cars side…ya know, stand up for the poor thing…SOMEONE had to like it, and it might as well be the owner!

What I see now is that I would often gloss over all the faults because it was all I had, and it had been “all I had” for over 11 years.  I got used to the noisy cabin.  I was accustomed to the ripped-up seats.  I chuckled when it would make various noises while going down the road.  Eventually all of those things became background noise that went unnoticed.

As I was riding in the newer car, I couldn’t help but think of the parallels to how we live our Christian life.

The ripped-up seats and noisy cabins of our lives could be a number of things – certain sins that we’ve accepted for so long that they just fade into the background of our lives, unnoticed.

Daily walking with Jesus means daily doing the work of noticing the things that aren’t aligned with Him, and seeking to correct them.  Maybe it’s an attitude, or maybe an action.

That’s why I’m such a fan of the journaling practice I blogged about a few months back.  Taking inventory of my life on a regular basis means I’m more likely to notice that which would normally go unnoticed.

I’m not batting 1000% on this, and I’m sure I have plenty of unnoticed areas that need attention.  But I will say that creating “noticing habits” – like journaling – has helped me move forward in some areas.

For me, it’s not a matter of IF I have things in my life that go unnoticed, it’s a matter of doing the work to find those out.  I’d guess it’s the same with you.  Here’s to doing the hard work of noticing (and then doing something about it).

The Self-Audit: Five Key Areas

In a lot of circles, the word “audit” brings up a lot of stress and anxiety.  In all of the churches I’ve worked for, the Accounting Department willfully hired an outside organization to audit all of their financials.  Just because you invite an audit doesn’t mean there’s less stress.  The same is true for self-auditing.

Self-Auditing is the process of looking inward and checking-in on the key areas of our lives.

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Even though it’s a self-audit, it can still be filled with anxiety.  When we examine the inner areas of our lives with the purpose of pruning & correcting, there’s always a chance we won’t like what we find.  However, the alternative of leaving areas unchecked is scary and potentially destructive.

A few years ago a good friend of mine brought a journaling tool to me that has helped me.  It wasn’t original to him, but it had been helping him process the most important areas in his life.

The tool isn’t rocket science, but it’s something I’ve used for a few years now, and every time I process through it, I arrive on the other side grateful for the clarity, direction and peace it brings.  Here’s the journaling tool:

The Five F’s.

  • Faith
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Finances
  • Field (Vocation)

The goal is to spend a certain amount of minutes thinking through every aspect of that category.  How is my faith doing? What am I holding onto that God has asked me to surrender?  How are my friendships doing? Is there anything I can do to help grow them?  And so on.

Self-Auditing requires us to be curious.

Curiosity is important.  When we approach the key areas of our lives with curiosity, God seems to show up in that space and show us what needs attention.  Curiosity, however, is not everything.  What we do next is crucial – we must take action on the things we’ve learned from the audit.

Did the audit reveal that your family is taking the hit for your greater investment at work?  Did you find an area of your life that’s not fully surrendered to God?  Were you convicted about how you handle your finances?

Taking action is the one step that makes the self-auditing process productive.  Without doing something, all we’re doing is filling up journal pages.

I usually do this exercise once a quarter.  It’s proven to keep me grounded in reality as I seek to live a full and abundant life in all five key areas of my life.

What about you?  What process do you use to self-audit?  How has it helped you?