Friday, August 22, 2008

My Love

When I was a little girl I dreamt of movie screen kisses and lyrical words spoken by a charming prince. I came to realize later on that kissing frogs does not turn them into princes, and charms are only blinding spells.

I’ve come to realize that the most beautiful moments are the ones that exist in the most honest of circumstances. Reality contains a beauty that a movie screen or fairy tale story could never possess.

The man I’ve found is better than any charming prince and the story we share is more beautiful than a fairy tale. The love I have makes movie romances look completely undesirable. The depth of what we share is more magnificent than anything I could have ever imagined as a little girl, and more satisfying than what I’d settled for in between.

He is my best friend. He is my closest companion. He is my love.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Carrying Burdens

What happens when we actually take on the burdens of others? When we place ourselves in their shoes long enough to feel the deepness of their pain and weep over it? When we lose sleep over someone elses problems? Sometimes you cannot just be a listening ear or a shoulder for their tears because if you really let what you are "listening to" sink in you realize that you can't just leave it with is now yours to carry as well.

Last night was one of the strangest nights I've had in a long time. Everything seemed to be going wrong, and not just for me, for everyone around me. Finally when it came time to sit back and relax I was approached with a situation. I had two choices: ignore it and go about my business or involve myself...whatever that may lead to. With fear and timidity I chose the latter. I was a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on, having no idea that the story I was about to hear would break my heart and cause me to take on the burden along with the one experiencing it.

I began to put myself in her shoes and feel the pain of what the world can do to people. I experienced the loneliness of a girl who was beaten by the world and, without hope, joined with them in her own dehumanization. I felt the grief and hurt of living a life with no knowledge of a loving, compassionate God to hold and carry me with my wounds.

It was painful and emotionally exhausting as I wept over a life that is not my own. A life that is completely lost, broken, confused, and hopeless. Not hopeless from my perspective but hopeless from hers. You do not make the decisions that she has made and live the life that she lives without a complete lack of hope for anything more beautiful, more loving, or more redeeming to come. I wanted to share with her that love exists, peace exists.

I wanted to say to her over and over:

You do not have to live like do NOT have to live like this...YOU DO NOT HAVE TO LIVE LIKE THIS!

There is so much more to this much more that is good and lovely and fulfilling.

Lord, please give me the courage and boldness to show Your courageous and bold love!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Marks of a Christian: Thoughts on Romans 12:9-21

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.

We should not be insincere in our love, expecting much and giving little. Hating what is evil and clinging to what is good seems easy, but it’s hard to recognize evil for what it truly is when it often wears a mask that seems so flawless. Good is transparent, not hiding anything, but many times we judge its transparency because we are uncomfortable with it. We want the image of perfection not realizing that it is merely a mask hiding the face of evil.

Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

Love one another as you do your own family. In the same way that you serve and give to the Lord, you should serve and give to others, making it a lifestyle rather than an occasional act of goodness. Rejoice in the hope that we have as Christians: the hope of resurrection and new life in Christ; life that is restored to its original condition which is holy and blameless! Be patient in times of trial keeping this very hope in mind. Remain in prayer and provide for all of the needs of your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

This simple statement has so many implications that we do not always want to recognize. To actually follow through with this requires the ultimate humility and selflessness. Rather than focusing on what you do or do not deserve versus what they do or do not deserve you are thinking about what Christ says about how you should treat them no matter what anyone deserves. I think that it is the hardest thing for us to put aside our ‘rights’ for the sake of following the way of Christ.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.

We are to be of the same mind and that mind is not to be focused on the things the world tells us it should be: money, houses, cars, jobs, status, power, privilege. But, we are to associate with the humble, the hurting, the sick, the weak, the poor, those who are considered to be lepers to this American Dream that we all pursue. Those are the ones we are supposed to associate ourselves with, not the rich and mighty, the strong and the powerful. We need to humble ourselves to a servant hood that acts rather than boasting in an intellect that merely speaks. Our hands should be dirty with love, selflessness, and compassion. Our opinions mean very little to those in need.

Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay” says the Lord. Therefore If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Do we follow this in action and in thought? Do our spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and political beliefs truly reflect this teaching? Repay NO ONE evil for evil: does Christ not teach us to no longer say an eye for an eye, but to turn our cheeks? Have regard for good things in the sight of ALL men: if we truly followed this statement we would not dehumanize people the way we do so often; people would be thought of as human beings who are fallen and need grace and forgiveness rather than just being “the enemy”. We are NOT to avenge ourselves because vengeance belongs to the Lord: what does this say about the death penalty? It definitely makes you re-think what you believe concerning things like that and why you believe them. Why do people still say things like, “We need to just bomb the entire Middle East”? How can we say things like that and claim to worship the God who told us to feed and clothe our enemies? Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good: this has probably always been easy to most of us because of our clear cut definitions of good and evil, I mean, we may not be perfect but we would certainly never do or support anything that is evil. It’s such a strong word that we tend to push it aside because in our minds we feel that we could never stoop to something low enough to be called evil, but Scripture makes it clear that there is the way of Christ, which is good, and the way of the world, which is evil. If the way of Christ is outlined out for us with words such as love, patience, serving, humility, peace, goodness, kindness, giving, compassion, forgiveness, and mercy, then anything other than that would have to be considered the way of the world. We will be held accountable for our ignorance concerning the way we love (or do not love) others. We need to think about Christ’s mission above our own and learn to live like we have experienced the love of Christ in our lives.