Often life is hard, but God is always good

Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

Me and the Grinch

How_the_Grinch_Stole_Christmas_cover

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15: 9-12 NIV

I relate to the Grinch. Every Christmas season I re-read his story, published in 1957 by literary genius Theodore Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss). This year I was captivated by the original black and white illustration of the Grinch standing at the mouth of his cave, frowning down at Who-ville:

The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season! Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason. It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right. It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight. But I think the most likely reason of all may have been that his heart was two sizes too small.

But, whatever the reason, his heart or his shoes, he stood there on Christmas Eve, hating the Whos, staring down from his cave with a sour, Grinchy frown at the warm lighted windows below in their town.

grinch bluebirds

To me the Grinch’s cave, with its high vantage point,  isolation, and snowy environment, actually looks inviting. Sometimes, at Christmastime especially, I want to stay hidden away, protected from people – people who can hurt, disappoint or drain me.

I believe that the sanctuary of our personal cave serves as a place of re-setting and re-charging. We receive great benefit from times of solitude.

The Grinch, well, he took it too far, staying far away and hardening his heart.

It’s certain that warmth and light and love exist down in “Who-ville”, but there’s such a risk involved in leaving one’s Grinchy lair. If we are to be brave and venture out of its protection, we need a constant lifeline connecting us to the love of God.

His love has the power to keep us safe when we come out into the open to interact with others.

“…And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of the fullness of God.” Ephesians 4: 17b-19 NIV

grinch - bluebirds 2014

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

O Solo Mio – Loneliness

 

Loneliness

Photo Credit: Andi Jetaime

It wasn’t so long ago that I craved solitude – just give me an hour alone so that I could hear myself think. My place on the introvert-extrovert scale rests at about dead center, but as a stay at home mom, the constant verbal chatter of my children often pushed me into a desperate need for silence.

God sets the lonely in families. Psalm 68:6

When I was homeschooling my kids, activities like hiking with my binoculars at the ready to watch birds, swimming distance laps in the local pool, or reading engrossing fiction– all gave me that social break.

But now, it’s lonely time.

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Psalm 25:16.

Our second child is leaving home for college. The first one has been gone for almost 3 years. The youngest is busy with her senior year in high school and, as is proper, needs me less and less.

It’s time to transition to working outside the home, but I don’t belong to a workplace community yet. And so, the time I spend in the house is often too quiet.

This lonely feeling is an alert to pay attention to my interpersonal connections – to connect more deeply to the Lord who promises to be my truest friend.

A man of many companions may come to ruin but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24

And it’s time to reach out in friendship to my husband.

I will adjust.

It’s going to be all right.

 

 

He Broke the Mold When He Made Us

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

God broke the mold when He made me.

And He did the same with you!

What is so very difficult is to appreciate how He made us because we often de-value ourselves.

“Borrow Somebody’s Dreams” Photo Credit: Stefano Corso

I love birds, flowers, and nature. Weeds attack each spring, pushing up, uninvited, through the seams in my driveway. I can’t bear to spray them with chemicals, so I plunk down on my behind and painstakingly pull each interloper out one by one. My neighbor passed by and looked at me like I was crazy. Why not use his favorite brand of weed-killer? I just couldn’t do it.  His property is so well-manicured and I value and admire that.

But I have to be me.

I cry easily. If a friend confides in me about a problem, tears start leaking from my eyes. I hug and I pray and make phone calls later on to check in. My husband is a professional counselor and he doesn’t emote when faced with the crises of others; he is practical, level-headed, and unshakeable. I admire and respect what he offers.

But I have to be me.

I am a grandmother now and my precious granddaughter comes over each week. Last time, after we splashed in the little baby pool together, I fed her strawberries from the tiny patch growing by my back door.  Her other grandmother preserved all her children’s lovely clothes pressed and treasured between sheets of tissue paper. I enjoy the photos of special family events in which our granddaughter is dressed in heirloom garments. I admire that and am grateful.

But I have to be me.

When we look in the mirror, do we see our unique gifts and personality?

If we can’t appreciate them, let’s imagine our Heavenly Father standing behind us with His hand upon our shoulder, repeating these words from David’s psalm: “I created your inmost being; I knit you together in your mother’s womb… You are fearfully and wonderfully made because my works are wonderful.”  (Psalm 139, verses 13 and 14 re-phrased)

Be your wonderful self today.

How Important Is It? Foolish, Stupid Arguing

Photo Credit: Adam Arroyo

Photo Credit: Adam Arroyo

“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.” 2 Timothy 2:23

I confess to engaging in “foolish and stupid arguments”. Often. My lack of good judgement arises out of a mixture of pride in my own opinions and a lack of foresight about what will result from the argument.

Here’s a clear example of a “foolish” altercation I started recently: I didn’t approve of a decision made by a leader, so I went alone to confront her directly with my dissatisfaction, but when the argument became heated I stayed in the fray and kept repeating my discussion points.

I saw her eyes glaze over. I heard the frustration in her voice, but I didn’t back off. I felt my blood pressure rising and the heated flush creep up my neck and face, but I pushed on and argued (then yelled) which brought other leaders into the room to shush me. With calm hindsight, I was “foolish”, i.e. unwise and shortsighted.

I am fresh from a “stupid argument” too: My cat threw up on our family room step (wooden, not carpeted, thank the Lord). I had been first up to bed the night before and I thought our teen girls, or perhaps my husband, had seen the yuck and not cleaned it up – i.e. They had left it for me – the pet poop, pee and vomit patrol – a job expectation I especially resent.

Incensed, I wanted to keep the “evidence” on the step until our girls woke up so I would have a gross visual aid for my life lesson (“Clean it up when you see it. Do not leave it for Mom”).

I got “stupid” when my husband, disgusted by the vomit, insisted on washing it immediately. I blew a gasket because he was interfering with my educational moment. He was angry that I would even consider leaving such a unsanitary mess.

Wasn’t that a trivial argument?

In the Bible passage above, the Apostle Paul warned Timothy that these types of foolish and stupid arguments lead to quarreling – a serious type of dispute that is “marked by a temporary or permanent break in friendly relations” (www.dictionary.com).

I definitely don’t wish to break relationship with those I work with or live with. So how do I back off from this “I have to be right and prove it” attitude?

Before entering into a dispute – or continuing in one – I think I’ll ask myself, “Is this really important?” Or put another way, “Is it is trivial, senseless, pointless, not worthy of consideration?” (www.dictionary.com definition of “stupid”) “Is it unwise, short-sighted, trifling, and lacking in caution?” (www.dictionary.com definition of “foolish”)

To sum up, I am not advocating keeping perpetually silent and continually smiling no matter the interpersonal problem. However, I believe that disagreements that are kind and calm – and stay that way – work best to resolve conflicts.

“And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.” 2 Timothy 2: 24

Let’s keep in mind that in some cases, we just can’t make the other person calm down, hear us, understand us, or work with us, even when we are avoiding those pesky foolish or stupid arguments.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18

I stopped short of foolishness today. Score one for me!

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