Category Archives: Community and Relationships

Coming Clean

The first step in forgiveness is the willingness to forgive. – Marianne Williamson

 Forgiveness

If you could see me as I am writing this, you would be looking at a previous World Champion of Grudge-Holders.  Oh, I do come by it honestly.  You see, I am a human being, a person just like you, and as such, I tend to cling to complaints, seize slights, and take tabs on transgressions.  I have since become better (I think) at letting go of the perceived wrongdoings of others, but only after I came around to asking others to forgive me.  Yes, you read that right.  I had to first ask forgiveness for my own faults before I could truly begin to forgive those who had hurt me, whether these “crimes” against me were committed knowingly or unknowingly.

I have a wonderful friend, a very classy lady indeed.  At one time, early in our relationship, I developed a tremendous jealousy, not about her as a friend, but of her as a competitor.  She is absolutely beautiful, she can sing like an angel, she can dance with elegance, she can write songs, plays, and prose.  She has an adoring husband and a spectacular home.  She had the whole enchilada, and I had a cheese taco.  One day, and I cannot tell you the catalyst or cause, I knew that I needed to confess my feelings to her, and I needed to do it that day! After choir practice that evening at church, I ran to catch up to her in the parking lot.  I revealed my enviousness to her, and asked her to forgive me for my bitter attitude.  She replied that she had no idea that I ever felt anything like this resentment, and she forgave me.  She forgave me!  It was as if a mammoth millstone had been removed from my mind.  Today, we are even better friends.   She is still beautiful, graceful, and elegant, and I am still me – and I am forgiven.

Sometimes, we are called to forgive a wrong done to us knowingly by another.

Sometimes, we are called to forgive a wrong done to us of which the culprit is unaware.

Sometimes, we are called to ask for forgiveness for something we have done.

Sometimes, we are called to ask for forgiveness for something we have done of which the victim is unaware.

Sometimes, we are called to forgive ourselves.

Most of us need time to work through pain and loss. We can find all manner of reasons for postponing forgiveness. One of these reasons is waiting for the wrongdoers to repent before we forgive them. Yet such a delay causes us to forfeit the peace and happiness that could be ours. – James E. Faust

Your history is history.  How you react to it can make you better or it can make you bitter.  The future is up to you – what is your choice?

Because I Believe

Because I Believe…

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A recent college class assignment required me to write my philosophy of early childhood education.  That task is not as easy as it sounds.  Putting my beliefs and values on display for everyone to see and judge?  It is a pretty scary thought, and an even scarier undertaking.

Until…

…Until I realized that putting my beliefs and values on display for everyone to see and judge is something I do every day!   The people I hold most dear, the objects I attach value to, the opportunities I take or do not take advantage of – all of these factors tell about my beliefs.

And if they don’t, then I am living a lie.

My philosophy of early childhood education actually parallels my life beliefs very closely.  I am sharing my own project, and I encourage you to try this for yourself.  Think about those ideals, habits, objects, and relationships that are most important to you and that define who you are.  Then, see if you are living your beliefs out in your life.

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“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words.  Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior.  Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits.  Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values.  Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.”                                    

-Mahatma Ghandi

Don’t be afraid to live out loud!

Non-Judgment Day

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What if, for just one day, everyone went about their day without judging someone else?

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy.

That is not our business, and in fact, it is nobody’s business.  What we are asked to do is love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy if anything can.

-Thomas Merton

I have numerous friends from a multitude of backgrounds, beliefs, and baggages.

  • Friends who are single, married, divorced, widowed, and co-habiting
  • Friends who are new parents, single parents, parents of one, parents of a plethora, empty-nesters, and childless
  • Friends who are a variety of skin tones
  • Friends who are hunters and friends who are vegan
  • Friends who are students, lawyers, doctors, homemakers, teachers, activists, dancers, pastors, and preachers
  • Friends who live in the United States of America, Canada, Ireland, Thailand, Italy, Australia, Ghana
  • Friends who are nine and friends who are ninety
  • Friends who are straight and friends who are gay
  • Friends who say “you”, friends who say “you’uns”, and friends who say “y’all”
  • Friends who are overweight and friends who are underweight
  • Friends who have no idea why I am their friend (but I am anyway!)

Is it possible to have too many friends?

I am not positive if members of this multitude are my friends because they know I do not judge them, or if I do not judge them because they are my friends.  I do know that it really doesn’t matter.

Loving others is not a one-time decision.  It’s a lifestyle.  – Chip Ingram

If I want to be loved as I am, I have to be willing to love others as they are. – Louise Hay

Jesus loved the Samaritan woman as she was.  (John 4:1-42)

Jesus loved the rich young ruler as he was.  (Luke 18:18-29)

Jesus loved the cheating woman as she was.  (John 8:1-11)

Jesus loved the crooked tax collector as he was.  (Luke 19:10-10)

Jesus even loves me as I am.  How can I do less?

Lifegroup Love

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This also stands as my definition of my Lifegroup.  A Lifegroup is a small gathering of people that meet weekly for Bible study, prayer, and fellowship.  I am involved with a wonderful group of fellow believers that I am happy to also call my friends.

       Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work.  If one falls down, his friend can help him up.  But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!  Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?  Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

                                                                                                     Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

I can only imagine how strong the cord would be made of two dozen strands, like my Lifegroup family.

Proverbs 17:17 says a friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.  I have experienced each of these extremes in my circle of friends.  I Corinthians 12:26 reads if one part suffers, every part with it suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. We have celebrated marriages and births, and we have mourned deaths and divorce.  My Lifegroup has carried me through some low times, such as when my brother attempted suicide, an extended bout with unemployment, health issues, and depression, and through other hard times, such as my difficulties with college and wanting to give up.  They have not only encouraged me through these times, but they also let me know when I am screwing up without making me feel like a screw-up.  Proverbs 27:17 teaches that as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.  I know that I have received some excellent sharpening through sharing with my friends.

These are the words of Jesus to His disciples:

“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”                                                                                                            Matthew 18:19-20

I know that I feel His Presence when I am in the presence of the loving and caring members of my beloved Lifegroup.

I would like to encourage each of us to do as the writer of Hebrews 13:1 prompts:  Keep on loving one another as brothers.  I am grateful for each and every one of my friends and my family.  Thank you for being my Lifegroup.

Fearfully and wonderfully made…

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  Psalm 139:14

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A few months ago, I learned that I have three compressed discs, two in my neck and one in my lower back. There are a host of other issues that are also going on health-wise with me, that it turns out are likely interrelated. I have discovered that our amazing bodies are created in such intricate, interdependendent, and interwoven ways that I honestly never really gave thought to until very recently.

Having a compressed disc in one’s neck is linked to many ailments, including headaches/migraines, neck pain (obviously!), arthritis, muscle strain and spasms, pinched nerves, carpal tunnel syndrome, TMJ, fibromyalgia, fatigue, numbness in hands, and low back pain. I have endured many of these issues over the years without knowing why they were happening, just that they were happening.

Having a compressed disc in the lower back can cause back pain (again, so obvious!), sciatica, leg pain, and nerve damage, along with contributing to bowel issues, like IBS. IBS and similar digestive issues can increase the instance of weight problems, like unexplained weight gain or weight loss.  Both of these compressed disc areas can interfere with sleep, with energy levels, with mood disorders, and so on.

As I was thinking about all of this new information, and being thankful that I am able to get treatment for these issues in my body, I was reminded of 1 Corinthians 12:13-27, where Paul compares the human body to the Body of Christ.

Unity and Diversity in the Body

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”  On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

 

The suffering of one part affects all of the other parts! We need to care for one another as a part of the same Body. It is so easy to say, “I really don’t give preferential treatment to myself over others,” when in reality we do. We sometimes claim that, “I care for others, I just don’t care about myself,” which is also a wrong attitude. We are all important pieces of the whole. All the parts of the Body need special care and treatment, and all the parts of the Body are lessened when one part is ignored, hurting, in need, or glossed over.

Do this. Search out the hurting parts. They are interconnected with the Body. Befriend them, encourage them, help them heal. Search out the rejoicing parts. Befriend them, encourage them, celebrate with them. Get connected, get healthy, get real, get loved.

Get it?

No Small Kindness

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”-Jesus

“Treat others like you want to be treated.”-Lou Holtz

“If you treat people right they will treat you right… ninety percent of the time.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt

Many of us have heard these sayings, or similar sayings, over and over again.  We are told that our relationships with family, with friends, with co-workers, with fellow shoppers, will be fine and dandy if we just do this one little thing.  Now, I am not to going to argue with Jesus that He was wrong.  What is wrong is our perception of this advice.  When we confront someone about a perceived shortcoming on his or her part, we back up our actions with “Well, I would want someone to tell me what I did wrong.”  That is not true.  I know that, although I would want to know that I did something in an incorrect way, I want to be told gently and lovingly, not made to feel inferior or unintelligent.  Most of the time, when one takes the aforementioned stance, he or she knows, even if only sub-consciously, that there was a better way to communicate.

“The way you see people is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is what they become.” –Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

This advice from Goethe is a good reminder that all of our actions towards others have an impact, whether positive or negative.  To put this slant to practice in the workplace, here is a suggestion.  Remember that each staff person is someone’s daughter or son.  How would you want someone in your position of authority to deal with your son or daughter?  Many of the staff members are possibly parents or grandparents.  How would you want others to treat your own mom, dad, grandparents?  Looking at the issue of relationships, especially in the workplace, it is much more compassionate to use the “How do I want my family treated” aspect than the “I would want to know…” scenario.

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My final piece of advice on this matter is actually quite wise advice from another.

“Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.” -Og Mandino