I enjoy trying new stuff. New events or activities, bring ‘em on. Back when our single adult ministry went snow skiing every year, I was always up for going to a new ski area. Some people like being at the same place every year, and that approach does have its advantages—you get to know your way around the mountain and can find your favorite runs easily, but my thinking was let’s try a new place and have a new experience. When I found out one of our single adults was a triathlete, I was amazed, impressed, and jealous. At various points in my life I had been a runner and a cyclist, but I hadn’t done either of those disciplines in a long time. At the time I swam three days a week so I decided to take a shot at it, signed up for a local sprint triathlon, borrowed a bike, and began running in my basketball shoes. Several months later I finished my first triathlon and next I want to do a longer one. And I now have good running shoes, as well as a nice bike and those fancy cycling shoes that clip into the pedals.
There’s a lot to enjoy in riding and running, but it’s always a highlight to experience a new place. Putting the bike on a plane is not feasible, but being able to run wherever I travel is a huge plus. This year I ran at the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee, along a Mediterranean beach, and on the hilly streets of Jerusalem. I dodged traffic and pedestrians and vendors and trash and smog in Saigon, Vietnam. I ran in the quiet of Glorieta, New Mexico and up and down the pretty streets of my parents’ hometown in Missouri. In a few weeks I’ll get to run in Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Jamaica. A friend says the places you visit “become yours” when you run there, and I think what he means is runners experience the land in a way the typical tourist never will.
I’ve wanted to go on a multiple night backpacking trip for 25 years, and recently finally got to do one. It was incredibly hard and amazingly fun. I want to do it again…in a different place!
I love playing golf, and one of the big reasons is every course is different. Yes, you use the same swing, ball and equipment every time, but each shot is unique, even when you’ve played a course many times. The last three years my son Daniel and I have taken a “golf mancation.” We choose a destination, decide on several courses to play in the area, and off we go. We’ve played about a dozen nice courses on these trips and it’s been an absolute blast. I have a collection of golf balls in my office from the courses I’ve played and it’s fun to glance over there and remember the challenges of each 18. That’s something I just don’t understand about tennis players: every court is exactly the same. Where’s the fun in that?
One of the things I enjoyed about being an attorney was the variety—different types of cases, different attorneys to face off against, each judge had his or her own style, and it was nearly impossible to predict how witnesses and juries would respond.
However, my love for new experiences doesn’t extend to food. I’ll try something new in a new place, like falafel in Israel or pho in Vietnam, but at home I just order the same thing at the same restaurants. I have a facebook friend who posts her weekly menus, and she tries to prepare new dishes all the time—me, I’m happy with the same stuff over and over. I like what I like and that’s what I want. My beautiful bride Margaret tries to get me to branch out, but she doesn’t push real hard and it’s usually easy to beat back her attempts to get me to broaden my palate. Until that day in Santa Fe.
We were in Glorieta, New Mexico for a conference to learn more about leading small group Bible studies. After morning meetings, we took off and played a spectacular mountain golf course. It was a totally new experience and it was amazing. This course was like the ones you see on television, where the pros tee off on a tiny island of green, shoot over 150+ yards of desert, and hopefully land the ball on a long spit of green surrounded by brown. Between the fairway and the green there’s more desert, and the green itself is an island surrounded by scrubby brown stuff on which God never intended man to play golf. It was very hard and I actually had a decent score (for me). It was a great afternoon, and we decided to top it off with a nice meal in Santa Fe. We went to one of our favorite restaurants (see, no new food experiences) and I ordered what I always order. Unfortunately, it came with guacamole, but it was in one of those little corn tortilla ‘stars’ so I offered it to Margaret. That’s when it happened.
I don’t eat guacamole. It’s the wrong shade of green. It’s mushy. It usually has tomatoes in it and I don’t like tomatoes (but I can’t get enough hot sauce or red sauce, and ketchup is great—explain that one, Dave).
Margaret asked why I didn’t like guacamole. Not only did I not like guacamole but I didn’t like this conversation. We’d had it several times. I just don’t like it. Then the conversation took a terrible turn. Margaret asked the question I have always dreaded: “Have you ever even tried guacamole?”
Usually I don’t like to lie to my wife. Don’t ask me why I know that’s a bad idea. Just trust me, OK? So I had to answer: “No.”
Margaret is not an overly expressive person. She’s more on the quiet side. She’s a sweet and kind person, caring deeply for how others feel. In fact, I think she spends too much time thinking about how other people may react to whatever she’s doing or thinking. Unfortunately, she didn’t show that gentle side of her personality just then. “I can’t believe you! That’s ridiculous. You’re trying guacamole right now, mister.” She put some on a chip and handed it to me. What could I do? I was trapped. I knew I would want to spit it out but would be unable to do so since we are at a nice restaurant—so I decided I just had to endure it. Prepared for the worst, I put it in my mouth.
“So?” she asked. “What do you think?”
Again, I had to be honest. “That…doesn’t totally stink.” I tried more. “I think I like guacamole. Can I have mine back?” Only then, of course, did she realize her mistake. She’d always gotten double guacamole and those days were over. Since then, I’ve tried to make up for lost time and I’ve scarfed up all the guacamole I could find. Margaret has even discovered a great recipe and I love it when she makes it.
Who knew? It turns out I like guacamole after all.
Many times we are challenged to discover and use our spiritual gifts while emphasizing that the best way to discover those gifts is very simple: try stuff. Take a chance. Volunteer. Say yes. If it doesn’t work, try something else. Don’t say no just because it’s new.
|David and Margaret|
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