Not That Bright

“When I get to heaven I’m going to shut my brain off and just be super SLOW!”

These words were uttered outside of a local store to my wife following a conversation with a worker who was not paying attention.

“Actually, you were quite patient… like for you:)” she said.

My parents expected a lot from my brother and I. Far more pressure was applied to us than is common now, but with a firm foundation of unconditional love. Make no mistake about it though, my dad did not suffer fools gladly.

“THINK SON! THINK!”

Mistakes in the home were often laughed off and social image meant very little to them, but the good Lord help you if you were careless and made the same mistake again!  It was a great way to grow up and I’m extremely grateful.

I overheard my mother describing me to someone when we were in Sicily in my early twenties, which is just the sort of thing that would amuse me and it went something like this “One time I asked him to come over to answer a question and he did. His power of focus is considerable and I had all of his attention. The problem is I hadn’t really thought through my question and it took too long to describe. He wasn’t thrilled:)”

Now I love my mom and she loves me and we know each other really well. She didn’t mean it as a slight and I didn’t take it like one, she was right anyways.

I move from hyper focused to extremely distractible, but in my moments of focus most people find it a little difficult to keep up and I find I have to slow down and order my thought process properly to help. It’s been hard work to learn good communication, but worth it.

I walked into the store before staff meeting to get something done quickly (everything must be done quickly) and there was an older gentleman ahead of me who had nothing but time to kill with chit chat. He was having a grand ol time with the teller and I did what I rarely do and just relaxed and imagined a day where I could spend the whole day in one store and not buy anything.

…but I was also a bit restless when I stepped up to the plate. I very carefully and slowly explained what I needed done in the order it needed to happen, then the person behind the counter very slowly asked me all the same questions I’d already answered but this time out of order and much slower. I blinked slowly.

The price came in higher than the same person had quoted when I had pre researched my needs with the same information a month earlier because she apparently hadn’t been paying attention then either.

One of my first bosses in the trades had taught me well when he found a mistake because of an assumption I’d make incorrectly. He walked over to a wall and wrote the word ASSUME on it. “Don’t ASSUME anything Corey. It makes an ___ (donkey) out of U and ME.” ASS U ME. I’m a pastor and not allowed to swear now so it’s a bit difficult to pass the lesson on without sinning? Whatever. I’m passing it on because it’s true.

I can tell when someone assumes they know where I’m going WHILE I’M TRYING TO TELL THEM WHERE I’M GOING and stops listening, it makes me crazy.

My parents taught me to listen. A lost art now. They insisted on it every conversation we had. Listen/ Respond. Listen/ Respond. You’re not more important than the other person. Listen/ Respond. Every single time.

Don’t assume you know where I’m going. Nobody is that smart or needs to be that important. Heck, I don’t even know where I’m going, how could you?

I drive up to the coffee window. “What can I get for you today?” “I’d like a grande blonde flat white please”. If there is a long pause and any words other than “A grande blonde flat white?” in any other order, I know the other person made a secret deal to start paying attention the second time around. Because that’s awesome.

Focus people, focus! Don’t make a maniac out of me!

We are in a series at Venue called I’m Nice which is all about a Canadian problem called passive aggressiveness. It’s like the disease we all suffer with but no one can see the symptoms because, well, we ALL HAVE IT.

I did what I normally do and ran it out a couple of months ago to the core team expecting to have some interesting conversations in the following days. When I say “interesting” I really mean infuriating and predictable, but interesting because the light finally came on for some that has been on for everyone living with them the last decade or so, they just weren’tlistening.

“Pastor Corey! I might be a Passive Aggressive!” – this said quite proudly as if they’re the first to discover this. It would be like Columbus “discovering America” right around the time they reached Denver.

Yeah. Everybody know you in ‘Merica Chris. Everybody know.

So the preamble to this series has consisted of me blinking slowly and patiently trying to unwind the most unlistening type of person that exists, the Passive Aggressive.

When we secretly think we’re smarter than everybody and don’t have to do things other mortals do like Listen and Tell the Truth and Respond Respectfully, a sort of blindness comes over our eyes turning a clever person into the perfect idiot, the drooling court jester who thinks they’re royalty because royalty puts up with them.

The way I figure it is that God should probably reward me with a heavenly respite where I get to be the dullard and not pay attention to anything and just eat chips.

But God has an annoying way of saying things like “Corey! Pay attention!” While I’m day dreaming about what He owes me…

Right. EVERYBODY might also include me…

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