I've put part 1 in the hope that I'll write a second part later - we'll see.
I've been thinking about Personal Computer Operating Systems recently - yeah kinda geeky I know. My current home computer runs Windows Vista, a system that many people have issues with, but I haven't had any problems so far. I've never even seen the 'blue screen of death' yet, but like all operating systems it does have its occasional quirks.
I'm not a computer person, I've never really tried to alter the operating system in anyway. I know people do it, and I know whenever Microsoft puts out a new version of windows people do upgrade, I've just never been one of those people. I know that my computer is not it's 'Operating System', but I wouldn't know how to work right inside. The operating system is all I know.
I think that's true for most of us as people too. We all have operating systems, or frameworks of behavior. Most of the time we are fairly oblivious to them so long as they are running smoothly. It's when something happens that draws attention to it that we take notice.
Culture Shock is one such tool for seeing inside yourself. Suddenly your way of thinking and being in the world is no longer 'the norm'.
Grief is another tool. Emotions run riot, methods of containment no longer work and you begin to get a bigger picture that who you are isn't all there is.
Changing our internal operating system is a lot harder than just putting in new disks and typing in a very long key and then watching the bars inch their way across the screen. Like my reluctance to change the operating system on my computer in case something goes wrong many of us are reluctant to change internally. And that would be o.k. but there is one problem.
I think all of our operating systems have bugs and flaws.
Paul talks about this in Romans 7 - I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
I am unable to change my own operating system. I cannot 'lift myself up by my own bootstraps'. No matter how hard I pull on them I cannot leave the ground.
So what does help?
The Sunday school answer is 'God', but, like Algebra, if I cannot connect the answer to the question and show the logical steps, then the answer is not helpful. Knowing the answer is not enough. I may know the start and end places for a journey, but without knowing the route and the direction that knowledge cannot help me.
I do know a few things that help me see where my program is running incorrectly however.
1) Other people - again that seems simplistic, but how many of us really have close friends who will lovingly call us on our ways of behavior and thought processes?
2) Regular Maintenance, taking time to 'defrag and debug' - computers need to do this occasionally, how much more do I? Life gets hectic, parts of me get spread all over the place. I don't like to admit it, but I need regular time to re-collect myself. My 'spirit' needs time to catch up with my life. Meditation, Reflection, Stillness are all tools that allow myself to do that.
3) Checking the warning signs - my computer will warn me when it might have come infected. My car will warn me when the tire pressure might be low or the oil need changing. My body will warn me too, if I let it. 'Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired' are all warnings for me, signs that I'm not respecting myself and am in danger of crashing. Whenever I have 'surges' of emotions, I need to stop and see what is behind them - the problem is, when the surge comes it almost causes a system shut down, I don't want to look at what's behind it, I have enough trouble containing it.
One other thing I have learned is that I can get way too attached to my Operating System, bugs and all. God may be trying to 'reprogram' me, but I resist because it's not what I'm used too, it feels 'wrong'. God may want to 'upgrade me from XP to Vista', or even shock horror switch me over to Mac, but I resist.
Just simply typing this, giving voice to my inside reflections is good for me, it's another way I re-collect myself. I think that's one of the reasons I blog. I used to Journal, but I knew that it didn't really matter if what I wrote was coherent because I was the only person who ever read it. Blogging requires me to be coherent on the off chance that someone might actually read all of this...
...so if you've made it to here, thank you...
...knowing you're out there helps me.