Sunday, January 03, 2010
Some Assembly Required
This is Mr. Weber's first address to the students for the 2010 year.
What is the worst three word phrase you might read while opening Christmas presents?
"Some Assembly Required".
If you're like me, you never want to see those words on a present someone has given you. It's not just that I don't like to fix things (I don't). It's because inevitably, the instructions on how to do the assembling are very poorly written and hard to follow. At some point, and my kids will attest to this, I will crumple up the instructions in frustration, look at the picture on the box and try to do it myself. I remember putting a wood swing set together for Aaron and Daniel when they were very young: It took me all day. True to form, about half way through, I chunked the directions and finished the project using what I thought was "common sense". When I got to the final step, which was simply to stand the swing set right side up and hang the swings from the top beam, I realized that the holes on the beam for hanging the swing were upside down, pointing straight up in the air, which meant I had to disassemble most of what I had done and start over. Aghh!
I've learned, through trial and error (and error!), no matter how cryptic the directions, it's better to try and follow them. In the end, we'll build a better swing set and be happier with the final product. We may get frustrated along the way, it may seem easier and tempting to take short-cuts, but we'll likely have to redo things over and over unless we're following the manufacturer's instructions.
In many ways, our lives are like presents--some assembly is required. One of the great gifts that God gives us is that he doesn't create us as finished products. He allows us to assemble ourselves over the course of our lives: to become the person he's destined for us to be. But like me putting together a swingset, we often try to take short-cuts to get there, not reading the manual, skipping steps, not abiding by the manufacturers' instructions. And the result is we often make ourselves miserable, either creating ourselves to be much less than the finished product God had designed us to be, or by redoing over and over the steps necessary to get there.
God shows us how to live. He gives us Scripture, he gives us the teachings of the Church, and he gives us consciences that tell us right from wrong. These are the "manufacturer's instructions". They are sometimes difficult to understand and perhaps more difficult to live by, but if we commit ourselves to following them, we are happier with the results.
New years are traditionally times when we look at our lives and commit ourselves to doing one thing that will make us better--the so-called "New Year's Resolution". Fitness clubs swell in new memberships in January as people commit themselves to lose some weight, prompted no doubt by the guilt they feel with all the food they've eaten since Thanksgiving. Since none of us are perfect, there are areas in all of our lives where we've gone off script from the manufacturer's instructions, keeping us from being the kind of people God wants us to be. I encourage you not to let this year pass by like all the rest, but commit yourself to just one thing that you know will make you a better person: Perhaps it's to study more, be a better friend, be a better son or daughter or older sister or brother, read more, take your Christian service more seriously, whatever is the right thing for you.
I'd like to make a new Year's resolution for JPII as well, and ask that you join me in this. We're sloppy. Those of you who came in on Saturday just before break will attest to how much garbage and litter was in our parking lot. It's also too often in our hallways, in the cafeteria and around our grounds. I'd like us all to pledge to be better stewards of this place--that we'll care more about how we leave it for others. I pledge that as I walk the hallways and see litter, I'll pick it up and throw it away, and I ask all of you to do the same. I am so proud of this school, of you students, of you teachers. I don't want anyone getting the wrong impression of us. Please join me in doing a better job keeping this place looking sharp.
Happy New Year!