Monday, April 7, 2014

"It's complicated!"

Several years ago, Cathy’s sister Dironda asked, “Why haven’t you talked to me about doing your taxes?” Dironda and Ray live in another state and I hadn’t even considered her, though she has long had a bookkeeping business. I figured that, though she would have no problem with our Federal returns, it would be an extra hassle for her to submit our State taxes, since most of her work is in her own state. “Not so,” she assured me. “Everything is on computer now and it is no problem for me to get what I need from Arizona through the internet.” Soooo, Dironda does our taxes. In fact she now does the taxes for others from our church staff, but that’s another story.

Even with Dironda doing the work of keeping up with the tax laws and asking us the right questions, preparing our tax information for her is near the bottom of my list of favorite things to do. In fact, it ranks near the top of my list of unfavorite things to do, right under unclogging toilets and sinks. Part of the problem is that we live and work in a place that is sort of the snowbird capital of the universe and our pace never slows down in the winter months. That means we must schedule out some of our precious little time off to work on taxes. Yuck!

After many years of combing through our records each year to organize and report our income and expenses, Cathy and I have it down to sort of a science. I say “sort of” because, if death and taxes are the two guarantees in this life, tax complexity must rank right behind them. No matter how many years we have done taxes, it seems that every new year brings some new wrinkle we haven’t considered before. Those wrinkles often take more time and effort than the regular sorting and always leave us with the thought, “It’s complicated.”

When it comes to taxes, “complicated” is an apt description that surprises no one. But, what about other areas of life? I’ve heard, “It’s complicated” used by a parent, when telling the kids why he or she is leaving their marriage. Similarly, that phrase is used to tell the boss why someone is leaving their dream job to become part of a risky venture. Or when a family decides to walk away from the church where they have worshiped God for many years.

Let’s admit it: “It’s complicated” has become the de facto answer when we really don’t want to explain (or admit) the real reason for a painful decision. Unfortunately, “It’s complicated” can also be the buffer to keep us from facing up to a bad decision. What we can really mean is, “I’m doing it because I want to; don’t try to change my mind!”

If Pontius Pilate had spoken English, he would have looked at his wife at dinner on the day of Christ’s crucifixion and said, “It’s complicated.” His wife had a dream and told him, “Don’t have anything to do with this innocent man!” He ignored her, gave in to the religious leaders and the crowd and had Jesus hung on a cross. Pilate’s choice to execute someone he described three times as innocent was the height of expedience; we must take a painful look at him and his decision this weekend at Stone Ridge Church. It’s the conclusion of our “Shattered” series, as we prepare our hearts for Holy Week. Don’t claim, “It’s complicated!” and miss it!

Can’t be there? Catch the podcast.


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