October 2008


Entry written and posted on Monday, March 10, 2008…

                

“Take Time to Realize”

 

I am quite certain I know what I need.

 

I am quite certain I know what I want.

 

I know what I can no longer tolerate.

 

I have grown in patience.

 

The questions have only multiplied.

 

“This world will never be what I expected, and if I don’t belong…”

 

I have never felt as powerless as I do now.

 

Fairy tales are weapons of mass destruction.

 

So are pride and secrecy.

 

A simple “hello” will go miles.

 

A smile can bridge oceans.

 

A cold shoulder is the equivalent of a nuclear missile.

 

Even when you are sitting alone in your room, your effect carries past your walls.

 

No man is an island, but every woman is.

 

To know and to reach and to have are entirely different things.

 

Have I made you think?

 

********

 

I’m amused by the fact that this entry of loosely connected thoughts still makes sense to me months after I wrote it, but not in the same way it made sense before though. It does make me think… I still know what I need and what I want, and that’s comforting. Answer those two questions and the world seems to come into focus just a bit more than before… Do you know what you need? Do you know what you want?

 

*******

Currently Listening to “Breathing” by Lifehouse

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Here’s a scenario that happens often. A young couple is meeting for a cup of coffee. Boy is sitting in the coffee shop waiting for Girl to arrive and when she finally does she says hi and sits down with a long, loud “siiiiggghhh.” She takes a deep breath and makes a contorted looking puppydog face that’s supposed to communicate sadness in a cute and endearing way (only to end up looking like she’s smelling something very foul.) Now Boy has one of two options. He can ignore all these “silent” communications and move on as if he didn’t notice this grand display or he can take the bait and ask what’s wrong. If he ignores it, then he risks being branded an insensitive jerk, a heartless fiend, a shallow and callous human being, or any other form of highliy dramaticized condemning description. The conversation that ensues goes something like this:

Boy: What’s wrong?

Girl: Oh, nothing…

Now at this point, he can either take her on her word or he can press on following the age-old stereotype that when a girl says nothing’s wrong she really means that she’s about to burst into a torrential onslaught of tears.

Boy: Are you sure nothing’s wrong?

Girl: Yes, everything’s fine. Nothing’s wrong. Why would you think something’s wrong?

Boy: Ok, well if you say–

Girl: (interrupting) Well since you asked, I’ve had the worst day!!! First…

I’d like to say that this is the only situation in which we’re faced with disregarding people’s words and looking past them to get to the truth, but it’s not. We have been conditioned to read into things and search for meanings in all communications, whether they’re just normal exchanges between family members or friends, or we’re watching a news broadcast, or reading a magazine. The notion that our words don’t fully convey our meanings or what is in our hearts has permeated throughout all aspects of life. Because if we could really take people on their word then why are people so wary of politicians and what they say? Why is it so hard to get a straight answer to a simple question? Why does “nothing’s wrong” mean “keep asking me till I tell you?”

Perhaps this is why almost 2000 years ago we were given the instructions “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one” (Matthew 5:37).

If we said what we meant and were always clear, if we took people’s words for what they are and trusted that they are speaking the truth in their minds and hearts then perhaps life would be just a little more peaceful.

An answer for our darkest times…

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

At times life can seem like nothing but a string of decisions that bring us from one moment to the next. Before going to sleep you decide when you want to wake and you set your alarm. You decide when to have lunch and where to have lunch. You can drive or you can walk. The day is passed deciding between this and that. Even the most minute actions require a decision. I had to make decision to pause before writing this sentence and take a sip of my tea (something I am never aware of until I pause to acknowledge it.) Then you decide to go to sleep and the day ends… only to begin again. Sleep is simply like pushing the pause button on the decision making process. Below I offer up to you, dear reader, a few passages that relate to this train of thought that I’d like for you to read before I continue… 

Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.” Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:1-10).”

Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?’ So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ And he answered and said to Him, ‘Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.’ Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.’ But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Mark 10:17-22).

“Do I dare
Disturb the universe?  
In a minute there is time  
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.”

From “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot

The first two passages from the Bible tell us the stories of two men who had lived their lives in distinctly different manners. Zacchaeus is a corrupt tax collector who has been using his position to enrich himself unfairly at the expense of others, while the rich youth has lived is entire life following the word of God and following the commandments. The one thing they had in common was their wealth. Yet one comes across Jesus Christ and decides to give up his worldly possessions and give to the poor and restore those he has wronged in order to follow Christ, and the other meets Christ and presents Him with all his righteousness but when faced with giving up his possessions, he cannot.

Both had made decisions for their entire lives that brought them to this point, the sinner and the righteous man, and in one instant, with one decision, they effectively switched places. This is where Eliot’s words ring so true. There is space in one minute, in one moment for life altering decisions to be made. There is also space for them to be revised, taken back, rewritten, reworded. And the beauty of the decision making moment is that one is never more clear, more sure, more steadfast than in the moment when the declaration is made. The moments before and after could be full of questions and doubt, but the decision making moment is made of solid gold.

For example, you may spend 30 minutes trying to decide what to eat for lunch, but the moment you decide you want the pizza and order that pizza, you are probably more certain of wanting that pizza than you are of anything else in the world at that moment.

So was the case of Zacchaeus and the rich young man. In their decision making moments, they were both so firm in their minds and hearts that Christ declared that salvation came to the house of the former and the latter left with great sorrow in his heart because he cared for his possessions too much to give them up to leave them behind and follow Him.

And so is the case with us. We hear a sermon, or read a passage in the Bible, or have a discussion and we feel renewed and we declare that from this moment on, our lives will be dedicated to our Lord and to His righteousness. Then moments pass by and there are revisions and more decisions and we forget… but that does not take the sincerity away from the moment when we were moved to reach out to Him. It just makes me think that perhaps one of the things that will help us on our way up to the summit is to make every moment the deciding moment. If during every second of every day you are continuously deciding to follow our Lord and His righteousness then every moment will be made of the solid faith and conviction. Every moment will bring you closer to God and His everlasting love and joy.

Entry Posted on Wednesday, February 20, 2008…

The Aspiration Statement

“But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. You have heard that it was said ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of you Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethern only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:39-48)

The Entry posted on Sunday, February 24, 2008…

“The Thing I Treasure Most in Life Cannot be Taken Away”

I tend to think in song lyrics quite often when I’m not focusing on anything in particular. The words will shoot through my mind and trigger thoughts and the thoughts will trigger more lyrics and the cycle keeps going until I choose to actively pursue one thought. The lyric that has now transformed into the title of this entry flew across my mind when I was in the car with my parents this afternoon on a trip to the lovely warehouse giant Costco.”The thing I treasure most in life cannot be taken away…”

That’s the line that booms the most as David Draiman sings the chorus to Disturbed’s spirited “I’m Alive.” Of course Draiman is singing about his music, but to me the words resonate in a different direction. They brought to mind a conversation I had with an individual I used to call a friend, but eventually our inability to see eye-to-eye on some fundamental issues pushed me to the point where I had to walk away from the friendship. I do not write that sentence with ease. I find it nearly impossible to leave someone I have come to care about no matter how much that individual may hurt me, but with him, I had to stand my ground.He is an atheist and I live by my faith. My faith is who I am in so many ways. But that difference didn’t stop me from becoming his friend. Whenever he would marvel about my caring nature I’d explain to him that I am the way I am because of what I believe. He never agreed and we would argue to no avail about it. One day I was explaining to him the Christian ideal of an endless love that gives more than what is asked, a love that stands insult and then turns the other cheek to face injury. I explained to him why I was ready to drop everything on a moment’s notice to do what someone asks of me.

So in response to that he looked me dead in the eye and asked, “Would you take off your cross and not wear it around me if I asked?”

Without hesitating for a second I found myself literally scoffing at him and practically yelling “No!” incredulously.

He thought he had won some battle of wits, but it just really became clear how little he listened. How could I remove the source of the love from around my neck? My cross is the very source of what I was telling him. If you destroy a tree’s roots, it cannot stand. If you take the cross and the faith away from the girl, she cannot love.

*******

Months from writing this entry I look back on it and think that simply yelling “No!” to the question I was asked about taking off the cross I wear around my neck was just not enough. I don’t know what would have been enough, but I do know that what was said in the Epistle to the Hebrews now comes to my mind: “You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin” (Hebrews 12:4). Draiman manages to hit the nail on the head with his lyrics which echo this verse. He writes and sings “You’ll never take me alive…” If he can sing with such passion and fervor about his music then how pitiful am I for simply saying “No!” when asked to remove the cross from around my neck as a show of my love. I thought I had done well then, but now I know there was so much more to say and so much more to do.

Perhaps I can take a lesson from the rock star…

i love you much(most beautiful darling)

more than anyone on the earth and i
like you better than everything in the sky

-sunlight and singing welcome your coming

although winter may be everywhere
with such a silence and such a darkness
noone can quite begin to guess

(except my life)the true time of year-

and if what calls itself a world should have
the luck to hear such singing(or glimpse such
sunlight as will leap higher than high
through gayer than gayest someone’s heart at your each

nearness)everyone certainly would(my
most beautiful darling)believe in nothing but love

– e.e. cummings

*******

I first posted this poem on my blog on Good Friday of this year. I could not find the words to express just how I felt in the face of God’s limitless love, compassion and mercy. I did not possess the grace of expression David the prophet and the king did, and although e.e. cummings has an exceptionally unique style, he captured just what I wanted to say to our Savior. I like sharing this poem because to me it reads like a prayer of praise and love. Sometimes, “I love You” just doesn’t feel like it’s enough. Why do I love You? How do I love You? It’s all up there in that poem. If you didn’t see it on the first read, I urge you to go back and read it over again.