Monthly Archives: February 2013

Is it is or is it aint?

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I would be really annoyed if someone started an organization, called it group of Tulani and called themselves Tulanians and then said that they believed in what I believed in but supported things that were completely opposed to my character, started programs that I would not have and made up quotes that sounded nothing like what I would say and kept slapping my name on the end of it.

I love the visual arts, particularly painting and dance. I like movies and Broadway shows. I like to travel and meet new people. I am not very patient nor tolerant when being restrained to see or hear something that I am not interested in. I really enjoy shopping- for just about anything except anything technical and I even like shopping for others. I like decorating and science, but like to learn science on my own terms and I like to read occasionally, but only highly specific topics of interest that are non-fiction. (Feel free to reply with your bio too:-)

So imagine that the Tulaniains were a group of technical folks who enjoyed building robots; who did not believe that art should be a part of everyone’s life and did not believe in supporting programs that allowed for creative artistic expression. Imagine that they did not believe that traveling was interesting, wrote quotes and books about such beliefs and then said that they represented me.

You get my point.

It seems that many organizations these days have forgotten the character of the primary person they represent. One in particular is the church and its modern representation of the character of Christ. Since this blog is about love… and the truth, the fact is that discussing the issue of church and love is inevitable since Christ’s character is what defines love and the church is his body.

Love is a process that we all are discovering together. There is likely not a person alive (besides one who openly believes in hate as the way to live) who would say that love is not the highest of human virtues worthy of attaining. However, love can be defined as many things and can be classified into many types. But generally, I am talking about the love that is shown and not felt as an emotion, the love that is when someone sacrifices their own needs, wants and desires for the better of another; The love that desires for others what we desire for ourselves. Love that is tolerant because we know that we are not without fault and love that does not judge because we know that it hurts when others judge us and that there is always someone more disciplined or righteous who could point at us.  Love that generously cares for others no matter who they are, without a selfish motive;                  Love that does not choose one over the other for any reason. Love that doesn’t require hierarchies or high position.  Love that doesn’t need recognition nor accolades to continue.  Love that gets knocked down and gets back up again to love.

Now, am I pointing the finger at the unloving? I hope not. I want to acknowledge where we should be in our hearts as those who choose to love and agree as a community of folks who believe in love how we should treat one another and others.

My hope is that the body of Christ who we know as the church should have the ideal of his character as the desire for their character as well, but I fear that many would disagree that the church has done a good job through history in representing who Christ actually is. His story has been taught. The rituals and rich text has been taught and hearing that alone I believe can be life changing, however, there should be a face that is seen in the forefront of every church and that is the face of Christ- the face of love. If that forefront face does not look like his, than maybe some organizations may need to consider a name change.

There are many historical, geological and secret societies, but if there is to be a group that calls itself the church, then love should be evident to those around it.

People aren’t buying it anymore. Either it is or it aint, and if it aint, it isn’t too late to figure it out and change.

 

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Jesus Love You, But-

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Jesus Love You, But-

I copied this hilarious phrase plate from a friend’s page. The funny thing is that when you read it, your first thought is of a picture of someone in your mind that that would apply to, and then your second thought is of a huge mirror slowly rising from your computer screen like reverse movie credits and stopping directly in front of your own face- and- YIKES! – Does that apply to me???- Uh oh- am I one?” And slight panic or laughter ensues.

In my case laughter and confession that I know that at times that phrase has totally applied to me. Funny now, but I laugh regretfully at myself. What stuck out to me about this phrase were two things: True- Jesus does love that person and all of us no matter what and secondly what characterizes an “asshole.” As I thought of this I began to create a definition.
Asshole: used in describing someone’s serial mal treatment of others; and that perception of mal treatment varies based on one’s own standards of how he/she thinks people should be treated, or how one would have treated someone in a given situation. Basically someone “mean.”

We have all met someone who we thought was mean- the lady serving fried chicken after church, the person behind the customer service desk, the friend that sees you crying hears your story and tells you to “Get over it!”- That last one was me years ago. I can understand how I would have been given that title when I was extraordinarily insensitive to others feelings, harsh, or what some have described as “brutally honest.” And in the same span of time using that now outdated phrase “They just need Jesus!” How could I have been regularly insensitive, bold and harsh and mention Jesus in the next breath? I believe that I just did not realize that I was a jerk at times. It was usually unintentional and came from my own deeply rooted issues and ignorance. I began to see myself for who I really was, I grew and matured over time and then one morning, I woke up and saw the real Face of Jesus as Love.

Is there ever a reason to speak harshly to someone out of callous non-concern- no? Is there ever a reason to tell a hurtful truth without the honest intention of helping someone heal?- I don’t think so. Wouldn’t the world be a better place for everyone if all of the “assholes” learned what love looks like and decided to live based on the standard of loving others? Picture someone who you would say is a sweet, wonderful, kind and compassionate person. Got that picture in your mind? Well someone at some point in time has probably thought they were an asshole. My point is that the vast majority of us have good and bad personality traits and that we are working out our personality quirks and issues with time and maturity.

There are times where boundaries of acceptance for certain behaviors have to be put up, but more often than not, what someone could have done and can do for me when I behave that way is to love me anyway. It is the only way to help a person change if change is necessary. Treating them kindly anyway and leading by example in their very lives with them. I do believe there is a time and place to confront certain behaviors, and to surely separate yourself from ongoing abuse, but more often than not ongoing jerk-like behaviors will only be extinguished if there is someone who knows how to be continually kind in the face of adversity.

Thank you to those who stuck it out and still do with me.

If Jesus loves you, but everyone else thinks you’re an asshole (and people will tell you- you just have to start believing them) then just hold on to the fact that Jesus loves and accepts you for who you are today. Know that there are some characteristics with sharp edges that need to be honestly self-assessed and not denied and buffed out over time, but-

Jesus loves you, and so do I.

(please pardon my french in this post to all who may have been offended)

Taking off my white glove and raising my white flag

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I am competitive. I do not like to compete, but when I do, I really do. The part I do not like about competing is that it makes me want my opponent (whoever it may be) to loose so that I can win. It makes me feel like I want to be better than my opponent and that always has put me at odds with what I knew in my heart I was supposed to be feeling toward another human. But the part I like about competing is wining! It affirms me. Fills some sort of sense of accomplishment and fuels my pride, which feels good for a nanosecond until I remember that someone else lost.

I know that there is a place for team sports and competition, but what about in everyday life? It seems that the entire American life is a big competition of success. No one ever really says it, but you know that feeling when you give someone the once over, when you ask what they do for a living or where they live. Or maybe you are not interested in that particular information, but want to know who they are and what they have in other areas.

In school we are taught to get the highest grades and compete with our classmates, on the job we compete for the higher position. We compete for parking spaces and a space in line at the market; us mothers sometimes even silently compare our children to other peoples. How do I know? Because not only have I done all of the above at some point, but I have felt it being done to me as well. And I hate it.

I hate that people who are my friends, good friends- that we all have been born and bred to compare our lives and stuff and that we have to make a conscious effort not to. I hate that the person with the bigger house or better car is sometimes the envy of the neighborhood, even when that somebody was me. I hate that when I had a son first and then a daughter that that was called a “rich man’s family” with such American pride. I thought- What about all the families with 1, 4 or no children- were they not rich too? Why is that image of a smiling rich man with a handsome son wearing a bow tie and cute little girl with a ribbon and wife standing with a plastered smile, head slightly tilted toward hubby the ideal? And who decided that’s what is ideal?

I have always wanted to just get away from all of that, to spray paint all of the white picket fences bright orange and escape from all of the competition and falseness and just love others and be loved.

But why has that been such a struggle here? Because competition, whether we acknowledge our secret observations and comparisons or not are not a characteristic of love. We cannot compete with someone constantly in our heart and truly love them at the same time. I do believe that people who love one another can compete superficially and put it aside, but I also know that competition breeds jealousy no matter how “healthy” the competition seems.

Can we really do our best, try our hardest, hope to win and wish the exact same thing for the other person? I want you to win, but I’d rather me win. If you really want that person to win then you would step aside and let them. And so in lies the delusion of “healthy” competition.

Who doesn’t feel a sense of pride when their child wins something? And who doesn’t feel a mild sad compassion when their child loses? But for what? Why do we need to win or lose?

I am not putting forth the idea that all competition should be eliminated in society, but I am challenging myself to take myself out of the race in my heart. To do my best to contribute because I care about people and the outcome of my work that will affect people, but I am taking myself out of the rat race. Why is American career and life even described as a rat race? And why do we all know that term?

What are we doing it all for? Our families. Our children. What children want most is time with us and I am talking to myself here. They don’t care about our education or career. What they want to know is that we were there for them, consistently. That they themselves were put before our pursuits to provide for them.

We do need to work, go to school and learn, but with what purpose in mind? For my family in the past the purpose has been to compete in the job market and ultimately buy the house that we want. To be able to go on vacation. To have enough spending money and to buy our children some of the things that they want. And to give to others as well. But at what cost do we work this hard in career? Maybe someone needs my time and kindness more than my money.

When I moved to Costa Rica I understood something. That the focus was family and people first and that work was secondary- and that that was the better way to live. I learned that the perception of career there was not a lack of work ethic, rather a wonderfully balanced one where it does not rule the lives of the people nor dictate their outlook on survival.

I have met many of the hardest working people I have ever seen in Costa Rica, and there I have also met the kindest people that I have ever seen because the vast majority of energy expenditure is not on career nor striving for success, but rather enjoying the simplicity of life while also having a career. Pura Vida- the most popular Costa Rican phrase means Pure Life.

I don’t believe that there is anything wrong with having nor liking nice things or working hard to have them, but in the pursuit of some of those things are we losing a part of our soul? What are we sacrificing to have them? I would say as a whole in America, we are sacrificing our children. Time with them.

I am not suggesting anyone change anything besides their way of thinking about things. There is nothing wrong with riches, wealth and possessions. But are we acquiring these things at the expense of human relationships? Are we competing so much with our neighbor that it hinders our wishing the very best for them? Is our competitive American nature blocking our love of our brother and dare I say our own families and God?

I am taking off my white glove and raising my white flag. I surrender-

To LOVE.

Who died and gave you power?- to Love

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So all of this talk about love I decided to make certain that every reader knows the source of this info that I have on Love. It’s God himself. My relationship with him, getting to know him and believing what he tells me. Every one of us can communicate with God. Every human can hear God. Not all acknowledge it as him, but I believe that he speaks to us all in different ways.

God teaches us what is right and wrong. And so the best way I would say to get to understand love and how to live it is by getting to know God. Nothing deep, just introduce yourself to him and ask him to introduce himself to you and he will- he’s out there listening.

My other source is the Holy Scriptures. Every story in scripture, better known as the bible helps to explain who God is in the lives of humanity from the beginning of creation. It is up to us to piece the stories together and communicate with him regarding how they apply to us personally in this day and age. There are people, and pastors who can help in this process. Choose them carefully.

The greatest example of love found in Holy Scripture and in history, is when God turned himself into a human to relate to human kind and to show us the better way to live. The man that God turned himself into was named Jesus and he lived and taught human kind how to live. The core of his message was how to treat others. the core of his message was love, and learning love by following his example, by getting to know Gods example.

All of my writings are cute, but that’s all they would be if they did not bear the truth about love, if they did not have the character of Christ written in them. I do not have to say Jesus throughout this blog because Jesus is love and his character should be evident in what I say- or it is not true love.

This Valentine Day, as we celebrate love. We celebrate the life of the man who sacrificed his life to show us the ultimate way to love. He had perfection in heaven and came down here to be the walking Words of God to man about how to live.

So who died and gave you power? -to love. Jesus did.

Today I honor his example and his life of love.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

Give

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I just spoke to a friend who has an outstanding bill. As I thought about her non-emergent bill that is weighing on her a bit I thought, if I had the money, I would pay it for her, and then I thought- What if I got a $2000 check in the mail, would I give it to her? Hmmm… I really could use that check myself and when I said “if I had the money” I really meant “If I had the money in excess of my own current pressing bills.”

But that’s not the attitude of love. I am to sacrifice my needs to share with my sister to lighten her burdens. Now my sister who I refer to lives on the other side of the country from me. So what? I could mail her the check if I had it. 

If I get a $2000 check in the mail, what would I normally do with it? Normally I would save some, spend some on leisure and pay some bills. I wouldn’t usually try to figure out who may need the money, especially if I could use it myself.

Normally if I did that, in the back of my mind I would think- $2000 is awful generous, she may give it back to me somehow one day- but if that is my thought, then that too is the wrong attitude. I am to share generously and freely with others as a need arises.

Why is this basic thing so foreign to me?  Maybe because I hold the $ bill in such high esteem?  Because the thought of giving away a large sum of money that I could use myself sounds foolish? In actuality it is the foolishness of love that cannot be explained in natural human terms. It is counterintuitive to my natural decisions to give away what I feel I need to survive.

So why would I not freely give it to her? Maybe because I don’t trust God enough?   I do not trust the creator of all to give me what I need if I give my next lump sum of money to someone else.  It’s fear. But that is not what I should fear. Rather I should fear selfish desires and vanity. I should trust, rest in the fact that when I earnestly love others, I am fulfilling my greatest responsibility as a human.   Honoring God is what I would say is my highest responsibility, but he tells me that if I love him, I will do this one thing- love others, or my allegiance to him is a lie.

If someone needs $20 from me on the spot and I have it in my pocket, my normal response is to consider if they really need it, then lend it with the intent to get it back. I even had a hard time not typing if someone needs to “borrow” $20 because the idea of just giving it is foreign.

I need to be a better free giver. Kind words are free and I do not struggle with that as much, most days, and I would consider myself a fairly generous person, but fairly generous is not good enough.

I rarely make New Year’s resolutions, but what I am going to work on this year is giving and not lending.

That’s another way I can do better at loving others.

 

 

Love is Priceless and Free

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Today almost everything is sold to us. Natural resources like water, soil, and even air have all been ascribed a value and can be bought and sold. Women can be bought and in some places sadly so can children.

We buy time, pay for leisure, pay for “time shares” and pay for admission into some parks and beaches.

Fortunately you do not need money to receive and give the most important value possible- Love.

We need it more than anything else and it is the most satisfying thing to give. I really like (can say loosely love) gifts, diamonds, clothes and flowers are nice and I enjoy them, but not more than being showered with love.

My children’s wet kisses and tight hugs. My husband’s tender words, kind gesture and gentle touch. A friends phone call, a strangers hand shake. A friendly wave , a mothers shoulder, a fathers encouragement. An invite to dinner. An honest opinion and open communication. A patient wait for me when I take too long. Forgiveness when I make a mistake. Acceptance on an insecure day.

Priceless!

And free-

Happy Valentine’s Day