Whatsa “Motto” with You?

Right after I graduated from college and moved into my very first apartment, my roommate and I were introduced to the DVDs of the first season of the J.J. Abrams hit television show Alias. Alias, if you’ve never seen it, follows the escapades of Agent Sydney Bristow. She was recruited in college by SD-6, what she thought was a secret black ops division of the government. But when she told her fiance about all her “CIA” ways, SD-6 had him killed and this set her on a path to become an agent for the CIA and work undercover at SD-6 to bring the bad people down.

Anyhoo, the first season of Alias had this annoying-ish habit of ending at the very most exciting moment the episode could POSSIBLY end at and that cliffhanger MADE you watch the next episode. And the next. And the next. Until it led to a bleary stumble to bed and scant hours of sleep before the next day began.

Did I mention that this was right after I graduated from college? As in, for the first time in my life I wasn’t living on a semester schedule, sucking down Mountain Dew (I didn’t like coffee) to stay up all night writing papers and whatnot, and having to abide by whatever my RA said. I was freeee. And therefore, each evening became a wide open time for…well, let’s just say it…fun! Sure, I had pay more bills than I ever had to in my life but the trade-off seemed pretty worth it to me.

As I said, my roommate and I got pretty addicted to Alias. I forget who instigated this, but we ended up coming up with a simple motto for keeping ourselves under control. It was “People first, Alias second.” It’s not a theology, I’ll admit. There are a lot of things that would come before a television show. It wasn’t perfect, but it helped us set our priorities.

So, if another roommate wanted to have friends over and take over the living room that housed our TV, we said “okay!”. If either of us had a church activity, that took precedence and the other couldn’t be mad for delaying the watching. Catching up with friends and investing in relationships? Always the right call.  Sounds simple, but there were a lot of times where we could have happily reversed the order. Trust me!

I’ve returned to that thought a lot over the years. And modified the statement based on whatever I was working on at the time. Such as:

1. What God thinks first, what people think second. My go-to mantra when I was trying to get over my people-pleasing issues.

2. Cleaning first, reading second. We’ve already established my love of reading over my need to clean…well, anything really. It’s so much more fun to dive into a good book than pull out the vacuum or sponge. But, that’s not really discipline, is it now?

3. Oil change first, cute seat covers second. When it comes to car care, I’d much rather deal in cosmetics than practicalities. And those seat covers were PINK! And SO CUTE! But being an adult comes with a price. And, apparently, a mechanic.

More recently it’s been People first, work project(s) second. After all, when I get stressed at work, the first thing that goes (for me) is social niceties. Symptoms of stress include: a crazed look in my eyes, rapid walking, lack of smiling, earphones as a permanent appendage, and enough papers on my desk to stun a shredder into silence. And since we’re headed into the holiday season, I’m preparing myself with this convicting and all-too-true quote from Crazy Love by Francis Chan:

“Stress says that the things we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, our lack of grace toward others, or our tight grip of control…Both worry and stress reek of arrogance.” (Pages 41-42)

Yikes-a-mola. I mean, it’s no secret that I’m prideful and arrogant, but viewing my responses in a stressful situation just makes that so apparent.  Plus, who am I kidding? My “control” over my life is a figment of my imagination. So, I’m going to do my best to remind myself of these words as I move into the hecticness of the next few weeks.

Wish me luck! And pray for me, if you think about it. 🙂


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