Monthly Archives: March 2013

Father Forgive Them

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Have you ever been mistreated to the point that it felt like ridicule or even torture, like someone just went after you unrelentingly and viciously for seemingly no good reason?  Ever been accused of something you didn’t do or felt like you were the subject of a witch hunt?

Have those people who did that to you in mind? – Forgive and Love them anyway.  Sounds sucky and hard right?  But it is the right thing to do

I have found that most times people feel completely validated in their mistreatment of others.  Lots of things can help us rationalize mistreating someone. Past hurt feelings, offense; strong disagreement with someone’s personal choices or just personal pain and issues unrelated to the person.

I have done it.  I have treated poorly someone who offended me or who I felt like mistreated me.  I have also misdirected my ill feelings toward an innocent party because of  my own deeply rooted issues or biases;  And I believe that most of the time when someone is doing the mistreating, they have fully justified it somehow, just like I do, and they are unaware of what they are actually doing, until they are willing to see.

Of course there are the exceptions of purely evil motives that people are aware of with the sole desire to cause pain to someone else, but I do not believe that that is the usual situation.

The crucifixion story is where I see the ultimate perfect response to mistreatment.  Jesus was accused of falsely calling himself the son of God and was put to death by crucifixion.  Before he made it to the cross he was brutally beaten with a metal spiked whip and had a crown of thorns smashed onto his head and then he was hung by nails being driven through his hands and feet to a cross until he died.

While he was hanging on the cross, it is recorded that he said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  Now that sounds a bit like crazy- like crazy love.  That was his most amazing example of love and forgiveness before his time on earth ended.

You know what I likely would have done if I was being publicly killed for a crime?   I imagine that I might have been so angry that I would have started yelling and cursing at them.  I may have even tried to spit on the evil on-lookers jeering at me.  It would sound nice to say and I would like to believe that, I, in all situations would be loving and gracious, but if I use my past behavior as a reference point of when I was SERIOUSLY wronged- that is not the case…  But I am growing…

The power to ask that God forgive people who are hurting you can only come from one source-  God- that’s the spirit of Jesus that we all have access to if only we ask.

Jesus knew that even his murderers did not know exactly the weight of what they were doing.  He knew that they had to have been blinded in some way and just not even know the gravity of what they were doing.

What if those who persecute us just don’t know either?

Do we have the strength to love them anyway, to believe that they just aren’t even truly aware of what they are doing, and sincerely ask for God to forgive them?

I want to be even more transparent here:  As an adult I grappled with the idea of the crucifixion story.  I knew that it happened historically, but I often thought that there were a lot of great martyrs in history who allowed themselves to be tortured and killed for what they believed.  I thought, aside from all of the parts about Jesus being God and here to save the world- what made the act of him allowing himself to be killed so very great when others may have done it also if they believed that it would rescue in a way all of the people of the world?  I thought in a moment of extreme arrogance “I might even die if I knew it was to save the entire world especially my children.”

Then I had a quiet thought- that responded to this statement: “But would you allow your son, your only son, to be tortured and killed to save the people from the evil in the world?”

And THAT – is when I saw the glory in the crucifixion.  Not only did God, the creator of the universe turn a part of himself human to relate to us, to show us what love looks like, to give us a direct connection of communication to himself and access to his power and strength to love the way that he does, among other complicated things wrapped up in the story of human kind/ good and evil on earth, but he identified and related to that part of himself that would come to earth as human- as his “son”; and allowed his son to experience human pain and suffering so that we could all be called his sons if we obey him and believe in the power of his love.  The new human law is love.

And so, to go back to my story- my answer to whether I would have sacrificed my son is “H. E. double hockey sticks NO!”  Thank God that I wasn’t the one who had to make that sacrifice and that God is boss, because ya’ll folks would be goin’ straight to the devil before I let my sweet innocent son die for your mistakes.

Abraham was willing to obey God to the point of being willing to sacrifice his son and although he did not have to, God honored his willingness to obey to such a degree and  those who have the faith enough to obey God are also called sons of Abraham.  God commands us to love; first him and then others- and then it wraps back around to say that loving him is obeying him and that his command is that we love one another.

The sacrifice that I answer “yes” to, to the best of my ability is that to put my pride, selfishness and emotions aside and love my brothers, and I cannot love them if I cannot forgive them for wronging me; and my hope is that when I wrong others, they will say for me:

“Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

If you feel like you are being mistreated, there are many things that may need to happen, but one of them is forgiveness, not just because love is the way and the right thing to do for your brother, but because forgiveness also heals you.

And remember that most times, people really just do not know what they do-

Happy Easter!

Character is more than career

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So I just realized today that a part of my self-identity has been wrapped up in my career. I saw myself partly as what I did for a living.

I have recently been considering working in a career completely different than my field partly so that I can have a better schedule and be closer to my children during the day.

As I submitted my resume for the position I read my resume and felt sadness. I felt like I was giving up a part of who I was or at least dreamed I was (because I have not actually worked in a long time). It was like I was handing over a piece of my identity and then I realized that a large part of who I saw myself as was wrapped up in my career. Some of my self-worth was tied to what I did (or trained to do) for a living.

I realized how easy it is to have a deeply rooted pride in my career and to prioritize taking care of that over all else to keep that value system in tact so that my ego and sense of value in that area stays in its elevated place. Who am I if I am not that any longer?

I realized that I must have judged myself (and likely others) for a long time now based on education and career. How superficial! How unfair! How blind to see a person for their external value and not their internal character.

So then I had to begin to evaluate who I actually am. I thought of other things: an artist, a mom, a wife and I realized that my value should also not be wrapped up in any of these things as well, as important as my role in them is to me, I could not identify myself based on these things, they too are outward things.

So then what makes me who I am? Well I suppose that would be my character and my character is how I determine how I behave in those roles- as a mother, a wife, a person in a career- no matter what career it is. I am the content of my character- nothing more, nothing less; my kindness or unkindness; my integrity or lack of it; my love or hate toward others. Those are the things that I am.

I would say a Christian is also a part of my identity, but I believe that I have in the past gotten wrapped up in that identity as well and ignored the character, which IS the identity. So then in that I also would say that I am a follower of “the way” of the way of love, of the way of God, of the way of Christ. Whatever “title” that gives is unimportant to me now.

I think that it is common for people- for adults to identify themselves and others based on superficial outward things. I believe that it is especially hard depending on what country you live in and what part of that country and community you live in.

So I am now embarking on another journey as I walk along the one of loving others. That one is to love myself for who I truly am inside and nothing outside. I have grappled with the idea of loving one’s self as the first step to loving others because loving yourself first sounds counter to true love as we are to deny ourselves first for others- which is true love.

I guess now I see loving yourself as accepting yourself. But I am still figuring out who I am under all of the superficial layers of identity. When pride is peeled away and my true self is revealed- do I love her? Sometimes- Mostly- Do I need to love her before I can truly love others? Do I need to accept myself for who I am before I can accept others for who they are? I don’t know? I think maybe so. Maybe there are many phases of them both. Maybe they both are a process?

If that is the case, then as I learn to separate my superficial identity from my true character, I can more easily do the same in dealing with others and I can learn to see people for who they are inside and not who they are or portray outside.

Martin Luther King said that we should not judge people by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. We all pretty much know that to be true. I would add on that neither should we judge by their work hat, or coat or shoes or any outward appearance or superficial thing- and would extend that to say that even judging based on outward character is sticky because we don’t know what’s in a man’s heart.

For now I am working on removing my lenses that previously saw outward stuff first and am attempting to see people for their character and to treat them kindly no matter what their true character reveals. Not an easy task, but a necessary one.

You are not your career, nor any of the hats that you wear and neither am I.  We are our character.  Let’s love each other.  On your mark.  Get set.  Go!

 

Lion hearted bear hug

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Don’t- push- me- ’cause- I’m- close- to- the- edge.

I’m- tryin’- not- to- loose- my- head.

It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from going under.

Grandmaster Flash

 

Ever have one of those days where you feel like if someone, anyone, an unsuspecting stranger or anyone, says just one unkind thing to you, you are going to just blow your top? Well I am having one of those days today.

No major crisis, just unresolved life complications without a foreseeable answer; and in a mode of a frustration fog/ down right stank mood. No ones fault, just one of those days.

On these days for me, just a little extra human kindness is nice. Praying and meditating often help, sometimes the feeling of trust and comfort are supernatural and beyond physical explanation, but it doesn’t always work that way for me, and when it doesn’t, I could just use a hug. Maybe even a hug from a stranger???

I know- I know. In this flu infectious, cootie, crust and germ ridden world we live in, who would really want that? And what are the odds of that happening? Slim, but it would be nice.

I by nature am not extra affectionate and I can be a bit of a germaphobe at times, but as I age and my opinions change, I realize that a hug and kiss on the cheek are worth the miniscule risk of contamination and are far outweighed by the benefit of human to human contact and expression of care.

I recently went to a new doctor and before I left the office, he hugged me. WIERD! I thought. But it was also oddly nice too. He wasn’t being fresh; he didn’t reach around and goose me. He just hugged me to say goodbye. I watched to see if he hugged his next few patients also, men, women, the elderly and children- and he did. He hugged us all. He didn’t discriminate between who was sick and who wasn’t; who was black or white, male or female, gay or straight.

How unique! How wonderful. How considerate. How kind.

Today is one of those days when I could use an extra hug. What if those around me could use one as well sometimes? What if someone walking beside me in a store is going through something tragic? What if my hug could save their life, or even just their day?

In the jungle and forest of everyday life, maybe someone with a lamb and lions heart should start giving out free bear hugs.

Maybe it’s me? Maybe if I give a hug, I will get the one that I needed in return and inadvertently help myself as well?

Be brave- Be kind-  Give someone who looks like they need one, a hug one day.