1/12/18 Morning Musing: We Damage His Name…

After reading another story about another woman being sexually assaulted by a man and it not coming to public knowledge for decades and hearing her disparaged and minimized because she “waited too long” or because it was “decades ago”…I just can’t be quiet any longer. (This time, it was Andy Savage of Highpoint Church in Tennessee.) It’s late and my heart hurts so be patient with me as I try to make coherent points.

I can not understand how “waiting so long” is supposed to negate the victim’s reliability or the truth. People in power have gotten away with abuse of the ones without that power forever…and unfortunately, it is also true in churches. But unlike outside of the church, we Christians should be held to a different standard…not because we are better than anyone else…not by a long shot. We should be held to a higher standard because we have intimate understanding of Jesus’ example of giving a voice to the voiceless…of bringing justice to the marginalized…and giving dignity to the broken or hurting. This intimate knowledge of our God and his heart means that we can not continue to ignore injustice and abuse of power while representing our Lord accurately because each time we do, we aren’t just lying…we aren’t just hurting the individuals being denied justice…we are also damaging the name of our God.

We damage his name when we continue to turn a blind eye to abuse.

We damage his name when we refuse to see other people…other image-bearers…as valuable.

We damage his name when we give racism or sexism (or any other ism) a pass by remaining quiet when we know we should be speaking up.

We damage his name when we refuse to enter into honest and respectful dialogue about topics that matter. (This contributes to the trend of people seeing the church as obsolete.)

We damage his name when we defend abusers and judge victims based on whether or not we align with them politically, denominationally, etc. (Yes, I just went there.)

We damage his name when we push for male leaders in church to receive funds for their ministry, appropriate pay and title, and continuing education while denying it for their female counter-parts.

We damage his name when we beat people up with our religion instead of listening to them and loving them.

We damage his name when we applaud what is wicked and criticize what is good.

We damage his name when we deny others the freedom that we simultaneously demand for ourselves.

We damage his name when we judge others instead of remembering how we have been forgiven.

We damage his name when we mistreat each other in the name of “witnessing.”

We damage his name when we abandon the needy, weak, marginalized, aged, or hurting.

We damage his name when we refuse to own our sins and, instead, justify our ugly behaviors or minimize them by using more palatable wording so that we can feel better about ourselves.

I could go on and on forever with this. At some point, we must quit tolerating the abuse of power. If we are the ones with power, God’s blessings are not limited…there is no need to try to hoard it. If we are the abusers, yes there is forgiveness…the gospel is not too small for any sin…but that doesn’t mean that accountability is void. If we are the survivors…and hear me on this…please hear me…our pain is not to be wasted! It can become a beautiful place that will allow us to minister to others and understand the hurts of others if we allow it. If we are the ones without power, our God is the God Who Sees us (El Roi) so he clearly sees the power-mongers and they will be held accountable.

How are you doing with this? Did any of these points make you wince a little or bring a specific incident to mind? Is there some way that you can pursue a more truthful and authentic way of living this out? Is there someone that you feel you should apologize to? Is there forgiveness that you can extend to someone regardless of whether or not they have asked for it?

My prayer for us tonight is that we would simply love each other better. I am praying that instead of constantly grappling for power or position or status or whatever, that we would see the truth of what is important and life-giving and pursue it with abandon. I am praying that we would try to squeeze every bit of living out of this life while we have it instead of pursuing the things that lead to our physical, emotional, and spiritual death. I am praying that we would also learn how to receive love when offered by others.

Much love friends,

Beks

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7/8/16 Morning Musing: Judging a Book By it’s Cover

In the last hour, I learned of the shootings that happened back home in Dallas last night (on top of recent ones in Orlando, Baton Rouge, and Falcoln Heights.) I’m heart-broken for the victims and their families. I’m heart-broken over the violence. But most of all, I am heart-broken over the very large number of people who are embracing hatred as an ideal. Racism (any bigotry really) is hatred wrapped up in laziness…it is judging someone by one characteristic that can be observed hastily and from a distance (lazy!) There is no investment in this type of judgement…no conversation is had…no learning about the other person…no identifying what you might have in common…no understanding that, at our core, we all need and crave the same things.   

What repulses me the most about this is that so many of the people on either side of this conflict claim to be Christians. Let’s be clear, racism (bigotry) is in direct conflict with the gospel:

“But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” ‭Colossians‬ ‭3:8-14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

So, instead of choosing sides…instead of assuming character traits based on someone’s appearance or activities…instead of deciding which side different people are on…instead of fueling the inferno that leads to pain, death, and hell…let’s choose to love…let’s choose to put in effort…let’s choose to move toward those who are different from ourselves (and maybe, just maybe learn something other than our own limited perspective)…let’s choose to serve others…let’s choose to seek to understand…let’s choose peace…let’s choose grace…let’s choose forgiveness…let’s choose life…let’s choose to deny ourselves an easy, lazy, hateful, and evil way out…let’s choose to all be on the same side. And let that side be one where we are all humans…unique, gifted, valued, and loved deeply by God.  

I don’t think that God does things by mistake. So, isn’t it interesting that Jesus came as a member of one of the smaller and most-hated people groups in the world’s history? Isn’t it interesting that nowhere in the Bible does it say that Jesus came for all people except __________? Isn’t it interesting that God made such a diverse humanity to live here together? Imagine what we could do…what amazing things we could accomplish…what a different future we could create…if we would quit having temper tantrums about people being created differently from ourselves.  

My prayer today is that we would take a minute with the people we interact with…that we would make fewer assumptions about them, and instead, actually learn about them. I am praying that we would be people who invest in others, search for value in individuals, and that we would love…love when we are uncomfortable…love when we feel unheard or misunderstood…love when justice has been defied…love when we are hurting…love when everyone around us is choosing hate. Lord, let us be one people who reflect you through love.

Much love friends,

Bekah

5/2/16 Morning Musing: Owning Your Own Stuff

They were sitting in our dining room yelling at each other across the table while Stan and I watched them…studied them to get a feel for how they handled disagreements. My conclusion was that they battled against each other instead of with each other. When we got everyone settled down again, they each continued to get riled over the most trivial things until there was another explosion of venom from each of them. “Alright, this isn’t productive. Let’s take a step back for a minute.” But they kept yelling and trying to get the last word in. “You may be alright with disrespecting each other but I won’t have you disrespect me so each of you needs to back down now.” That got their attention. They sulked for a bit. We talked through a plan with them and they were thankful and shocked when we said that we would be willing to meet with them again. But the real test came when they went back home and didn’t have any referees present to call out the penalties…when they had to choose between saving their marriage or saving face. They chose to save face.

This was hard for me…I had to let them choose…even if their choice was wrong…even if their choice was going to harm them…even if their choice would have lasting repercussions for their kids. I have been through this with people before and while I can do my best to advise them and love them well, I can’t want their health more than they do. I can’t own it for them. (I’ve tried that before and absolutely failed…failed the person I was trying to help and completely depleted myself as well.) Their success or failure would be completely their own…although I suspect they would each find someone to blame.

So, how are you doing with this? Is there someone in your life that is struggling with something? Can you help them without taking ownership of their problems? It’s a hard line to walk…caring deeply and loving well without protecting the other person from the hurts that could lead to learning and change. Are you personally struggling with something right now? Is it possible that you are trying to hand ownership off to someone else? A potential scape goat to blame if things don’t work out the way that you want? Are you looking for someone else to be more invested in your recovery than you are? How can you find that elusive place of seeking out help and resources but still maintaining ownership of your situation?  

My prayer today is that we would love deeply while seeking wisdom. That we would remain clear about our own limitations (physical or psychological) and that we would learn to honor those limitations. We can’t be all things to all people…we weren’t designed to be…and if we were, it would only diminish others…so it wouldn’t be very loving. I’m praying that we would also have clarity about our own stuff…that we would fully invest in these lives that we live and not squander the blessings by believing that they are obstacles.  

Much love friends,

Beks

9/29/15 Morning Musing: Messy

My lovely niece, Abigail, received something worrisome the other day in the mail. Without going into too much detail, it was a bill from an institution for a late cancellation fee. The problem? That same institution was the reason for the late cancellation. I helped her write an appeal letter and they denied it and said that they don’t make exceptions at all (Then what is the point of the appeal process? It’s like someone telling you “No…but ask me again.” and when you do…”No!” That drives me crazy…I digress.)  

The other day, I received a call from a woman who is in a dangerous relationship. She is living in a shelter with her daughter and she was considering returning to her home with her husband. She had made a clear expectation of what she would require from him in order to feel safe enough to return home and he had not met that expectation. But she was itching to go home…she didn’t like the inconvenience and she had started blurring the boundaries for safety she had drawn in her own mind.  
Last week, Michaela was upset about a poor performance on a test in school and was getting pink-faced and blurry-eyed about it. I held her and comforted her but she was struggling with her own disappointment in herself.
Interestingly, I told each lady the same thing: “The best thing you can do right now, is be obedient to God right now.” (Yes, I recycle my advice…ha!) This was on the tip of my tongue with each lady because it is what I have personally been hearing from God for some time now. I’m reading a book called “Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry” and at the very beginning, she draws an analogy: 
 “But one of the things I know for sure is that those who are looking to us for spiritual sustenance need us first and foremost to be spiritual seekers ourselves. They need us to keep searching for the bread of life that feeds our own souls so that we can guide them to places of sustenance for their own souls. Then, rather than offering the cold stone of past devotionals, regurgitated apologetics or someone else’s musings about the spiritual life, we will have bread to offer that is warm from the oven of our intimacy with God.”
Other than the words about “musings” bothering me (Ha!) this really resonated with me. How many times have I been struggling with something only to find that, what I am offered by those trying to help me, are simply platitudes…cliches? That has never lightened my burden. It has only added weight to the load that I was already carrying (and of course allowed them to wash their hands of the situation without entering into the mess) because it requires mental energy and time to address the “truth” that was just shared with me. For example, when I was going through treatment from the poisoning aftermath, there were those who made that hell all the more difficult with comments like, “If you think more positively, you’ll get better.” (translation: you are in charge of how you feel so you are choosing to be sick.) “Your treatment seems too extreme, I think you should find a new doctor.” (translation: if I undermine your doctor or treatment, then I can believe that what you are experiencing is not as severe as you let on.) (or my favorite “The pain is probably all in your mind.” (translation: crazy, whacko, nut job! You are already struggling with this…let me just add a good dose of self-doubt to the mix and see what happens.) Bottom line? They were making it clear to me that they were not safe people for me.
What is the point? I’m getting there. I think that we are called to be an assistance to the wounded who are around us…help carry the burden with them…enter in…get messy. But before we can do that well, we have to be willing to sit in our own mess and be real with God. We have to shut up and hear what he is telling us so that we can share that truth with other people when we enter into their broken places with them. To do otherwise is a disservice and only adds to their burden.
So how are you doing with this? Do people turn to you for help? What are you offering them? Warm bread or stale cracker? Who do you turn to when you need wise counsel? How can we do this better? How are we showing Jesus to the world?  

My prayer today is that we would invest more in our people and in our time with God. I’m praying that we would get comfortable being uncomfortable and messy and that we would love God deeply, be loved by God deeply, and respond in the only appropriate way: by loving people deeply.
Much love friends,
Beks

3/31/15 Morning Musing – Prophesy and Hamster Wheels?

Exhortation…Pastor/Shepherd…Teacher…Prophesy…seriously?  I only fully understood the meaning of one of these and these were what the test said my Spiritual Gifts were.  Well, that must be a mistake.  I should take a different test.  Same answers.  Hmmmm…must be my state of mind at the time…I’ll take the tests at a different time of day and when I’m in a different mood.  Same answers.  *Sigh*  Ok…ok…I will study up on these and figure out what they mean (since they supposedly add up to mean…well…me.)  Exhortation seemed to mean cheer-leader…that bugged me.  Pastor…ummmm…not interested in that job!  Shepherd…I live in Flower Mound?  Teacher…done that…I get that one…and I really liked it.  Prophesy…ummmm…as in “the end of the world is near!”??????  

Needless to say, I was seriously disappointed in the results of the test (ahem…many tests.)  Like I said, I understood teacher.  I felt fulfilled and joyful when interacting with those wacky middle-school students.  I so deeply enjoyed it when a lightbulb would go off in their minds and I could see their expressions go from confused to happy and craving more knowledge.  But the other gifts…those were a bit of a mystery.  Many sources kept defining these incredibly complicated qualities with one or two words:  Exhortation = encourager.  Pastor/Shepherd = parent (the descriptions all sounded this way to me.)  Prophesy = counselor.  So, I went deeper.  Turns out, these short descriptions don’t even come close.  

Exhortation is not simply an encourager: (an encourager doesn’t have to understand or identify with the encouragee (is that a word?))  It is the ability to counsel or challenge others toward a healthy relationship with Jesus and is often utilized to motivate people to make God-honoring choices. Exhorters regard trials as opportunities for growth and sympathize with the suffering Christian, but see the pain through the lens of God’s sovereignty rather than through the lens of suffering.  Exhorters express love through availability. (Ok…yep…that is me…add feels a deep need to feed people and you would see my picture with this definition!)

Pastor/ Shepherd is not simply two very different job titles, as it turns out:  Apparently, the word pastor is related to pasture and the Greek word for it means “herdsman.”  So, like actual shepherds, these people have a great need for long-term relationships and will sacrificially give themselves to other people in such a way that they are built-up in their faith.  They are concerned with the health, growth, and well-being of those that they are committed to.  (Ok…yeah, that one sounds like me too…I don’t just want relationships…I need them…and I get a bit protective of those people…but I’m more comfortable with the word shepherd than I am with the word pastor…so we’ll just go with that one.)

Prophesy, as it turns out, is not just for nut-jobs:  Apparently, it is a deep-rooted calling to expose sin…not for the sake of punishment…in order to lead to restoration in relationship with God and to bring unity to people.  (Ok, yeah…that is absolutely my heartbeat!)  Also, people with this gift are quick to repent of their own sin when confronted with it but can be crushed by this too because they see the depravity in that sin.  (Yes!  That is me!  When I realize I have wronged someone…even just a little…I am devastated by it and have a hard time getting past it.  (Just ask Stan.  I know it sometimes wears him out!))

So, what in the world is the point of me writing about this?  Well first, some of you may not be familiar with your spiritual gifts and I would encourage you to investigate them and learn about them.  (You can google free online spiritual gift tests…I really like the one at churchgrowth.org…good descriptions that also touch on your potential pitfalls and strengths.)  Next, I would urge you to look at what areas of your life feel the most fulfilling and see if there is any overlap between that and the results of your tests.  Why?  Because that is where you will be the most energized, the most effective, and the most…”you.”  I have gone through long periods of time where I didn’t feel like “me.”  I felt almost like a visitor in my life.  But last year, when I started musing…I became more “me” than I have ever been.  (I didn’t do any of this intentionally…I just felt like I should start writing…although I had no agenda and have never been a skilled writer…so I did.)  I feel closer to God and am more energized by this aspect of my life than any other.  Since I started writing, I have had countless conversations, lunches, and meetings with people I didn’t know before…because I was able to somehow touch some part of them through this…it is uncanny and still blows my mind every time it happens.  It is encouraging to see ability in me to bring about something positive for other people and it not wear me down to a nub because it is so exhausting…if anything, it energizes and excites me.  Finally, I would ask you to invest in your giftedness.  Find some way to give space and time to explore your giftedness so you can see yourself and God more clearly.  (Know that anything you sacrifice in pursuing this will be worthwhile because this is your actual calling…your purpose.  I never have enough time but I am spending about 1.5 to 3 hours per day writing.  I don’t miss whatever I was doing before because whatever it was is so much less valuable to me than this.  I will also say that it has freed me up to say no to more things as well because I know where my purpose is so, I consequently, also know where it is not.  Other things aren’t bad…they just aren’t MY things.)

 So, how are you doing with this?  Do you know what your giftedness is?  Are you using it?  Do you know how to implement it in your life?  How can you bring truth, healing, and love to others through your gifts?  What might you need to sacrifice in order to be obedient in this area?

My prayer today is that we would not just go through life aimlessly, running along like a hamster on a wheel, without a purpose…but that we would determine where our gifts and passions intersect so that we can be tools in the hands of an amazingly loving and creative God.  Much love friends,

Beks

3/25/15 Morning Musing:  Super-Heroes Don’t Always Wear Capes.

I was blown away!  This man was making such a generous gesture…I know it wasn’t purely selfless…but it certainly was generous and the reason it spoke so clearly to me…it was to benefit my kids.  (If you ever want to love a mother well…just be kind to her children.)

I had this under control.  My friend’s car battery was dead in the Kroger parking lot and I have a “dummy-proof” jumper cable kit.  (It labels exactly how to jump a car with pictures and everything so that you don’t do something stupid and electrocute yourself…perfect for a distractible gal like me!)  But before I got the first clamp on the dead battery, a man that I didn’t know walked up and began to help.  And then another man walked up and began to help.  And then another!  In under a minute, my friend’s mini-van was up and running and then all of the men just sort of disappeared…not in a mystical way…but they quietly left as suddenly as they had come to help.

“No, no.  That is a mistake.  I didn’t pay you that $800 yet.”  What?!  I sat there staring at him.  He is a man who struggles quite a bit financially (is currently working several jobs to support his family) yet, when I made an $800 error in his favor on a transaction, he very quickly pointed out the error and made sure that I didn’t give him credit for paying more than he had.

These three events all happened Monday afternoon.  Some of these people I know and some were strangers.  Except for one, I don’t really know much (if anything) about how they view God.  Yet, all three events were ways that God breathed life and love into me:  

– Finances…there aren’t many topics that people find more personal than finances.  How much money we have (or don’t have) affects almost every aspect of our lives and allows (or limits) the choices we get to make.  Finances impact us strongly because we are confronted with them several time per day.  There really isn’t much in our lives that isn’t touched by our current financial situation. 

– Kindness…I honestly had the battery-jumping under control.  I’ve done this before and, those of you who know me, know that I really pride myself on being an independent and strong woman who loves an opportunity to shock people by defying expected gender roles.  (For example, just this week, I worked on projects that required all of these tools:  a crochet hook, a power saw, 3-foot long bolt cutters, an impact drill, yarn, a sewing machine, multiple drill bits including several spade bits, and countless other things.)  All that to say, I get a lot of satisfaction out of being able to do things myself (kind of like a toddler.)  But when these men appeared out of nowhere to help jump my friend’s car, all I could think about was how kind they were to help…not because I needed the help…but because they were willing to offer it so readily.  (Think about it…there is no way they were all hanging out in the Kroger parking lot with nothing to do.  They were certainly all moving about through their busy day when they saw us and offered help.)  These men allowed themselves to put their days on hold just to offer kindness to a stranger.  

– Character and Honesty…I had made a large ($800) mistake in this man’s favor. (While this could be grouped with the first occurrence (finances), what touched me the most, was how this man’s character was unwavering.  That $800 would have meant a lot more to him that it did to me and he still went out of his way to correct my mistake.  (I’ve seen people sell their character cheaply…compromise their values for tiny monetary gain…it seems such a waste to me.)  “Your character will always go ahead of you and speak words – good or bad, words will be spoken.”  – Gladys Lawson

The point?  Well, first, as I have said many times:  What you do and think matters.  How you treat people matters.  AND when you have opportunities to invest in someone else, I think God multiplies your efforts.  None of these people were personally costed anything huge.  The first and last didn’t take money AWAY from anyone…it just didn’t GIVE them any additional money.  The second scenario only cost those men about 60 seconds…but the impact on me was huge because I was so touched that they were willing to stop their day…they SAW us and responded to a perceived need.  

All of this just gave me some hope about the state of people’s hearts.  In a world full of people who are always “looking out for number one,” it is nice to see kindness…and I would go so far as to say an abundance of kindness.  I think we can all contribute to this mission.  (Although Christians…please hear this…this is what it looks like to live out the gospel…it’s not just an event…the gospel is meant to be lived and shared through agape (selfless) love.)  You don’t have to change all the things you are doing, you just have to change your mindset while you are doing the things you do.  Look for opportunities to serve…to bless…to love well.

So, how are you doing with this?  Do you often get chances to bless others but find that you aren’t able to?  Is your schedule so packed tight that even if you were given a perfect opportunity to minister to someone, you wouldn’t be able seize that opportunity?  Are your finances so lacking in margin that you couldn’t minister to someone or…even worse…might be tempted to violate your conscience in order to make some gains?  How can you create more space in your time and finances in order to have those resources available for these spontaneous opportunities to love others well?  These things can be spontaneous or planned…or even both.  How are you loving others well in your life?

My prayer today is that we would seize opportunities to love well…that we would live outside of our own circumstances enough to see the circumstances of others…that in doing so, we would show Jesus to the world.  Much love friends,

Beks

1/30/15 Morning Musing: “Here’s To Not Being Exhausting!”

I have a lot of back-story…a ton! I’ve shared a good portion of my story here: poisoning and the resulting bitterness, anger, and health damage from it, my personality flaws and how I developed some of them, my spiritual journey including some periods of crisis, all about my family who get named in nearly every post…all kinds of stuff. There is a lot to my story and to spend much time with me requires understanding of a lot of my story in order to not get offended (For example, with the brain damage, I forget things…people who are close to me have to deal with re-telling me stuff all the time…can you imagine how frustrating that is to them?!)

A few months back, I was dealing with something in the middle of being just…beat. I don’t remember exactly what the issue was but I needed to talk to someone who already knew me and my entire back story without me having to retell it all…I needed someone that would already understand the significance of what was going on. So, I called my girl, Lesley. We talked and came to some sort of reasonable decision together without me having to catch her up to speed on the weirdness that is me. At the end of our conversation, I told her about how I chose who to call for this issue and you know what her response was? “Well…Here’s to not being exhausting!” In my mind, I could see the smile on her face and maybe her even holding her glass up in the air in a toast. I have thought back on that conversation many times over the last few months and can’t help but get a goofy grin on my face every time.

Why in the world am I talking about that? Well, I think that my friend, my Lesley, models friendship in such a beautiful way…a way that many of us could stand to learn from. She invests in people and honestly wants to know their stories. This gal has very patiently taken the time to really get to know me on a bone-deep kind of level over the last several years. She shares some of her own story too (not everyone is quite as revealing about their “stuff” as I am *makes mock shocked face*) so I find her authenticity really refreshing. She is a compassionate encourager and an amazing combination of sweet (where you almost think it can’t be real…but it is) and spit-fire. I love the combination of tenderness and grit that she has. But most of all, when she is talking with me, she is completely present. She was tracking right along with me when I called her that day and didn’t miss a beat or an opportunity to encourage. She also was able to insert humor in just the right place to make the conversation not get too heavy.

I really do have a point here…I’m getting closer and closer to making it. I am wondering how you are doing in this area. Statistically, 9% of people feel that they do not have even one close friend…I’ve been there before…it’s a dark and scary place. So, my question is how are you doing with this? Do you feel like you have friends? Do you feel like you are a good friend to others? If you have struggled making friends, how open and authentic have you been with people? How present are you with them? Could you improve on your current relationships by going deeper with those people? **Warning! Don’t get all saran-wrap-clingy-crazy on people and just walk up to them and emotionally vomit on them…going deeper takes time…it’s a ramp…not a cliff…besides, crazy is best served in small portions so that it’s a bit more subtle…use finesse, so to speak…so that, by the time they realize you’re a total nutter, they are already hooked! 😉** If you don’t have close friends, what steps can you take toward entering into meaningful relationships? What investment can you make today?

My prayer today is that we would invest in relationships with people and that we would prioritize people over things in our lives. I am praying that we would be Jesus to the world around us and love each other well. I am praying that we would invest enough that it makes us able to say, “Here’s to not being exhausting!” Much love friends,

Beks

10/3/14 Morning Musing: Tap the Brakes, Babycakes!

I know this dad who loves his kids deeply…but doesn’t know how to relate to them very well. He has made huge efforts to do fun over-the-top things with them only to have the kids respond with luke-warm feelings at best and disinterest most of the time. The responses from the kids are disheartening to the dad and he withdraws a bit to lick his wounds. A month or so later, the process repeats itself. It’s leaving the kids disconnected from the dad and the dad feeling like a failure and frustrated with the kids for not wanting to do the fun things together.

I’ve thought about this many times…and I’ve never said a word to the dad because I don’t want to come off wrong…condescending or like I have a clue what I’m doing…and let’s face it, he didn’t ask for my opinion…but from the outside looking in, it’s easier to get perspective…my pride and emotions aren’t the ones being damaged more and more with each pass through the cycle. So, this morning, I am musing about it so that I can process what I am seeing.

I see two children who are checked out. They would rather interact with a video game or tv screen than with a human. (That part is not necessarily unusual in most homes unfortunately.) I see parents who love their kids deeply but who are willing to let the video game and tv be the main influencers of their kids 90% of the time. Then, the parents clue in to what is going on and make a huge effort to do something with the kids that will “wow” them. The kids know that this will fizzle out shortly (because it always has) and so they no longer respond to the over-the-top display of affection. This leaves the parents exasperated and frustrated and feeling like failures. The cycle repeats constantly and relationships are becoming more and more fractured.

I understand the lure of letting the tv or video games or whatever dominate your child’s attention because, let’s face it, there is a lot to do and not enough time to do it. (My current to do list is 3 pages long! I get it!) The thing is, there is not one single thing on that list that is more important than any relationship you have in your life. What if, instead of big overtures, we spent precious little moments with those we love. If the goal is to connect, why not steal away moments alone with the child to ask them about their lives (and…here is the hard part…not offer advice unless it is asked for.) Ask questions that get them talking about what they are interested in. Talk about the gifts and talents that you see in them and ask them if they see them too, how they are developing those talents, and how those talents play into their future. Ask them about their friends, what characteristics their friends have that they admire and why. If you show someone every day that you are invested in them, the walls come down. If you are only showing them investment every once in a while, well…it’s easy to defend against that…and make no mistake…it is defense for them even if it is intended to be fun…because they know your interest in them will go away again…it isn’t sustainable in the large doses because life is going to steal your attention away again…and that hurts.

So how are you doing with this? Do you have a relationship in your life that is waning because of a lack of daily (or at least regular) investment? Is there some way that you could invest on a small but regular basis…something sustainable? Who are you meant to go deeper with? Are you? If you aren’t, how can you let them know that you want to develop a healthier, more stable relationship with them?

My prayer this morning is that we would reduce our to-do lists by putting names on them instead of activities. I’m praying that we would focus on the people God has blessed us with and that they would feel loved and seen and valued…and consequently, that we would show them one more glimpse of God’s character. Much love friends,

Beks

4/8/14 Morning Musing: Stranger Danger!

Saturday evening, Stan and I were able to enjoy a wonderful and unexpected date night together. We were supposed to go out with friends, but illness caused the friends to cancel and we already had babysitting scheduled…so we decided to use a gift card that we had and go to Mi Dia’s. They were out of reservations so we had to take our chances with a walk-in which meant when we got there we had to wait about 45 minutes. We were in no hurry and just were enjoying time together so we figured…no problem. In true Bekah-fashion, I struck up conversation with a couple that was also waiting for a table. (My mom still says to this day that I have “never met a stranger.”) After about 20 minutes, our table became available and the other couple was still going to be waiting about another half hour. I asked the host if our table would seat 4 and he said yes so I invited the couple to sit with us. Everyone was in shock: the host, the couple, and everyone who witnessed it. Realizing I had made a faux-pas, I told them to ignore me and not to allow me into bullying them out of their date night…that I hoped that they enjoyed their dinner and good night. A few minutes after Stan and I were seated, the couple sheepishly approached us and asked if they could still join us until their table was ready. Of course we both scooted over and enthusiastically invited them to sit down. We had a lovely conversation for the next half hour and got to know each other. By the time their table was ready, we had exchanged information and decided to get together in the future. Right before they left, the woman told me that the host had commented about us inviting them to eat with us: that he had never, in all his time working there, seen a couple who had been waiting for 45 minutes just invite strangers to dine with them…that he thought that was maybe the nicest thing he had ever seen happen in the restaurant. My first thought in response to the host’s comments was “That is so tragic!”

I think that is tragic because I don’t think that being nice to strangers should be unusual. I think it is tragic because I think that we don’t do “community” well. I think it is tragic because we don’t invest in others the way we ought to. I think it is tragic because I believe we are surrounded by people who are screaming out in their quietness that they are alone, and lonely, and dying in their silence for someone to care about them…for someone to see them…to see that they exist and that they matter. I think that in our pursuit of our own happiness and comfort, we seem to think that it somehow means the exclusion of the happiness and comfort of others. It doesn’t.

After that couple left to go to their own table, Stan and I were both energized and animated. We were thrilled to have gotten to invest in another couple (this couple was newly engaged and…in case you don’t know it already…we run the marriage ministry at our church.) We asked them to tell their story and encouraged them as they move forward. It was lovely and I think God was there in the middle of the conversation. I kept telling Stan “I was made for this! This right here! I was made for this!” We couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces…and it wasn’t just because of the margaritas…it was because we were doing what God wanted us to be doing and it felt amazing.

So, my question is this: Why don’t we do community better? Everyone likes having friends…why don’t we make the effort to be friends more often? Why is is so insanely weird to be kind to strangers? What is holding us back from knowing and being known?