The Hosie kitty was zoom zoom zooming up and down the hallway yesterday. Don’t get in her way, she’s on a mission! Shortly thereafter Zach went flying/stumbling down the hallway in hot pursuit. Zach is another one of our kitties. He’s big and clumsy and he is constantly knocking things over. Zach and Hosie are both socially inept due to their past and watching them try to play with each other is partly comical and partly sad. They both are interested but their efforts don’t mesh. They may or may not get it worked out but they’re trying. That straight line down the hallway is the proving grounds where the zoom kitties burn off energy. If there is an obstacle in their way they have to slow down and go around. The dogs are now too old for that activity but they used to do their fair share. The Budster runs playfully outside from time to time. Mumford doesn’t run but she keeps moving (between naps). The Duchess plods along but that’s understandable.
The kitties inside and the Budster outside are the line. Mumford is in circle mode. She goes around and sometimes around again. The Duchess, due to her age-related inability to participate is the dot. A dot is a period at the end of a sentence.
When it comes to our careers, we enter the workforce in a straight line. As we gain momentum and the attention of our keepers our careers take off and our income increases. When are faced with obstacles we learn to move around them but eventually we settle in to a holding pattern, the circle. We go around and around without making any headway. Ultimately, we come to the dot. That is the period at the end of our career. It’s over. It’s time for a career change or if we are old enough, we retire.
It’s the same way with friendships. For a season we are in the line phase with friends coming and going. It’s like they form a line and when one leaves another steps in. None of them seem to stay long. They leave for a variety of reasons and life goes on. We are left with a circle of faithful friends but even that changes over time and we eventually become a dot. We are alone.
Life itself follows the line, circle, dot process. We come out of the gate running for all we are worth. We zoom through childhood and in the early stages of adulthood we meet with one obstacle after another and we find ourselves going in circles. We can’t go back but we don’t get ahead either. We are stuck in the routine. Some call it a rut. We eventually face the dot, the period, the end of our story. We may face different dots throughout our life. Significant life changes, career moves, hobbies die off and fads pass away. Dot. That particular part of our life is over. The ultimate dot is death and we will all face it.
When faced with a dot, we might decide to go through a lifestyle change with a new career, new friends. Some move across the country and “start over” but people rarely start over. Rather, they try to relive what has already been lived and that never works. No matter how many times you read the same sentence you eventually come to the same dot.
They say that most men eventually go through a mid-life crisis. They try to recapture the glory of the line but they are prisoners of the circle waiting for the dot and nothing they do can change that. In bitter resignation, they sell their muscle car or motorcycle and build a garage where they settle in to tinker. Women do the same thing but no one talks about that.
Ministries are the same. They follow the line, the circle and the dot. The young preacher zooms straight ahead, gathers his flock and builds a church. Obstacles and life itself forces him (or her) into the circle which may go on for years and then comes the dot. The timeline seems to be compressed in the ministry. It all happens so fast and it’s over before you know it. You don’t see many old preachers these days, do you? See?
In every phase from the line to the circle and the dot, we are learning, or we should be. We jokingly wonder what life would be like if we could go from the circle back to the line. If we only knew then what we know now, boy wouldn’t things be different? We can’t. That’s not how it works and once we reach the dot, there are no do-overs, no second chances.
I have been raced down the line, settled into the circle and faced the dot. I have faced more than one dot. I’ve had to reinvent myself and take off in a different direction more than once and every path is the same line, circle and dot. I’m facing a dot right now and contemplating what I will do about it. I might tell you about it eventually but now is not the time.
This line circle dot thing is by design.
10 I have observed the burden that God has given to people to keep them occupied.
11 God has made everything fit beautifully in its appropriate time,
but he has also placed ignorance in the human heart so that people cannot discover what God has ordained, from the beginning to the end of their lives. Enjoy Life in the Present
12 I have concluded that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to enjoy themselves as long as they live,
13 and also that everyone should eat and drink, and find enjoyment in all his toil, for these things are a gift from God.
You may be racing down the line, settled into your circle or maybe you are staring at the dot. Know that everyone has been where you are and also know that “God has made everything fit beautifully in its appropriate time.” So “Enjoy Life in the Present” and “find enjoyment in all of your toil, for these things are a gift from God.”
Where are you today? Line, circle or dot?