Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Walking Away From Fear

We are a strange people and that is the truth. We say variety is the spice of life, but we don’t often like people who are different than us. They make us uncomfortable. They make us squirm. They make us wonder if we’re doing something wrong. And so we judge. We say your way is wrong. Your way is stupid. Your way is going to hurt me. Your way is going to ruin this country. Maybe this comes out in glaring judgment, “You are wrong and what you are doing is bad.” Or maybe it comes out as criticism, “Why would he get that tattoo? That is not going to look good in forty years!” Or “Why does she let her kids run wild like that? She must be a bad parent.” Maybe this originates in the fear we let make a home inside us, or maybe this stems from jealousy. Still, it’s all judgment and it’s really, really sad. 

We have become a people who think because I disagree with you, I must hate you. This is horrible. Perhaps you and I disagree about politics, about our view of God, about which movies are the best, which music is best, about skinny jeans or wearing stocking hats all summer. But does that mean we must hate each other? Why? Why can’t your views of politics enrich mine and push me to dig deeper into why I carry my set of beliefs. Why can’t your different views of God push me get to know my God better. Why can’t I disagree with your view of gay marriage and yet still love you? Why can’t I disagree with your view of caring for the planet and yet still love you? Who made these rules that say I must hate you because. . . 

Hate is birthed out of fear and why have we chosen to live with fear as our favorite child, when Christ has told us there is no fear in love? From a purely selfish way of looking at it, wouldn’t we be happier, if we weren’t always afraid?

What if we choose to love instead? When we hear a news story that scares us, what if we decide to love instead? When neighbors move in next door who are different than us, what if we love them? What if we really believe God is who He is and does what He says He will do? “I keep the Lord in mind always. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken” (Psalm 16:8). If we believe in God, why aren’t we living these words?

What if we all tried to out love each other? I want to live in that world, in a world where we set aside our pride, our fear, our need to be right and get our own way, and just love each other first.

If we choose to live in fear, afraid of the world around us, afraid of the differences between us, then we don’t believe God. We’re calling him a liar and walking away from his truth.

“There is no fear in love; perfect love drives out all fear. So then, love has not been made perfect in anyone who is afraid, because fear has to do with punishment.” 1 John 4:18

I am deeply loved by God. You are deeply loved by God. God’s love is bigger then our differences.

Who you are I do not know, and yet perhaps I know something. I know that like me you wake up each morning to a day that you must somehow live, to a self that you must somehow be, and to a mystery that you cannot fathom if only the mystery of your own life. Thus, strangers though we are, at a certain level there is nothing about either of us that can be entirely irrelevant to each other. Frederick Buechner, The Alphabet of Grace

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Day I Was Mean

Yesterday was not my favorite day. I woke cranky and disagreeable and warned my husband it could be a dangerous day for him. Yesterday I felt angry inside and mad at everyone and everything. This is super fun for my family. Except no.

It was a beautiful and weirdly warm day in Boise, so I stopped my complaining about the inability to cross country ski long enough to ride my bike to our favorite cafe for lunch with Kevin and Rebecca. They are brave. During lunch Rebecca commented, “You’re really disagreeable today.” Whatever! On the ride home, the wind had really picked up, which was great because I had one extra thing to be mad about. Riding into the wind is way down the list of my favorite things.

By late afternoon I was coming out of the fog of mean feelings and was grateful nothing catastrophic had occurred. No big fights. No horrible words I would later regret. But here’s what was missing in my day. I didn’t throw myself on the mercy of Jesus and ask for help escaping the stranglehold of anger filling me. Sometimes, when I’m in that hard place I think, “I should ask God for help and just throw all these awful feelings to Him.” But then pride jumps up and blocks my path, and I decide I’m not ready to let go of the mad. I really wish it weren't like this. I wish I could say I was a more mature person, a more mature follower of Jesus. Maybe following Jesus is just one long walk of baby steps, spent teetering along and grabbing onto His hand.

I want to get to a place where I fall on my face before my God who loves me in all my crankiness and mean thoughts. I want my first response to be falling face down, crying out in confession and humility, begging God to help me, to take the hardness from my heart and fill me with patience and forgiveness and faith that these mean and cranky feelings are temporary and not who I really am.

I am praying 1 Peter 4:8, “Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sin.” Today, I’m praying these words over myself. That I will love and forgive myself, knowing my Jesus loves me intensely and forgives me always. Even when pride won’t allow me to grab onto him, he loves me still. And today is a new day.