― G.K. Chesterton
God’s purpose for your life will always be connected to people.
We think our purpose is about the big thing. The job. The calling. The degree.
The big thing is people. All people. Our purpose is to love them. All people. It’s not easy. It’s not easy to love the men hanging around the gas station with his hand out for spare change.
It’s not easy loving the man who boasts about having several children but hasn’t seen them in years.
The pastor who falls from grace, the father who didn’t love you, the noisy neighbor or the quiet neighbor with noisy dogs.
People aren’t easy to love. We’re a mess. But we are why Jesus came. We are why He died and rose again. People were his mission. We are God’s purpose.
When we’re arguing over 2nd Amendment rights and Roe V Wade may we not forget that our purpose isn’t to shout louder than the other side. It isn’t to take our toys and go away mad. To be connected to people we must be present. We must listen with our hearts as much as our ears. Because that is God’s purpose for all who say they’re his followers.
How does this look in your life?
What’s your biggest challenge in connecting to people?
The above image and others are available as free downloads on Unsplash.
Our limits tell us important things about ourselves.
They help us draw lines for margin.
They pave the way for vulnerability.
They show us what we aren’t able to do and that
can be just as important as what we are able to do.
I had tech issue I needed help resolving. Whenever I’ve taken my Mac into Apple I’ve usually felt exposed. This time was no different.
The problem was with some software. Gus, the tech support guy, asked where the program was on my laptop. Where? Uh…I don’t know. Found out again!
I went to my default answer which is “I just know how to make things look pretty. I don’t know how it works.” (Big smile to tech people)
The thing is, I learned something. I’m a little bit smarter about how this program works and in not installing updates so quickly.
Limitations are frustrating. Sometimes humiliating. These words from Emily remind us of the opportunity for growth they present. And growth is rarely without discomfort.
How have your limitations helped you be vulnerable?
What have you learned about yourself from your limitations?
The above photo is available as a free download from me for you on Unsplash.
We grow where we’re loved.- Bob Goff
We are away at a conference this week so I thought it might be a good time to share some quotes, photographs, and small bites of words from me.
I think I’ve established that I don’t have a green thumb. Any plant that survives with us does so on its own. I appreciate having nature around me but I tend to ignore it. I can’t say I love the plants. But, I don’t think my lack of love is what causes their doom.
In our work with men struggling through life, we’ve seen the effects of people living but not being loved. Some have felt the physical impact of abuse. More experienced abuse from words, and a general lack of attention and nurturing. Their emotional growth was stifled. Some are wary that anyone could care without ulterior motives. Some have perfected the art of numbing.
We know that premature babies benefit from being held. Some hospitals have volunteers that come and rock the babies because they need to be held more than one person can provide Being held in a loving embrace provides something that can’t be measured in a study or on a scale.
It doesn’t just work for babies. Human touch makes a positive difference.
We live in an age where hugs aren’t always acceptable. There are boundaries we need to recognize. Not everyone welcomes a hug. But a gentle hand on a shoulder or even a fist bump provides a human connection that, I believe, communicates caring.
Reaching out takes little effort and gives so much. Goff’s words are true. We grow where we are loved.
The photographs I’m including are available free to download from my little space on Unsplash. This link will take you to my collection of images.
There are two songs competing in my head:
Please, release me let me go
I will not let you go
The first song is one I remember from, I think, one of those old K-Tell commercials advertising records (if you remember those). Those are the only words I know from the country song.
The other lyrics are from a song very familiar to me. Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody seems to have garnered a popularity that extends far beyond it’s 70’s release. There are two voices singing in a tug-of-war. One pleading to be let go and the other defiantly proclaiming he will not let go.
It’s a familiar internal battle. Anger at the silliest of things, things I can’t change or control, mount in my head. Somewhere in the distant corners of my mind are soothing words saying “release and let it go“. Often those sage words can’t be heard over my pride until I’m nearly undone.
I get ridiculously peeved at the morning traffic. Or at the traffic lights! Frustration over internal bureaucracy seems more justified but, again, my ire will not change what is.
And so the duel goes, day after day until I can sit in calm and give rational thought to my actions.
Losing my cool over congested traffic is not useful nor helpful. I need to follow the words of the first song and practice releasing and letting go.
Things that seem unjust or without merit are harder. Letting go isn’t always the answer but neither is letting them get to me in ways that cause me to lash out in angry words. I need to find a way to use my voice in helpful ways to create beneficial change. Or at least contribute to the conversation.
I’m not a quiet kind of person. For some crazy reason, I think my opinion matters. The key is to release my words with grace. And then to let them go with equal amounts of grace. If I can do that, the anger and frustration will also be released. And that’s what I really want to let go.
I’ve never been a bird person. The thought of one perching on my arms makes me cringe. And worse, I don’t like them flying low overhead as some of the gulls do at the beach. They are so accustomed to people they will swoop low hoping for a french fry or Frito.
The parrots are the colorful ones. They wear their striking colors well on their large frame. On occasion, we’ll see someone walking along the beach with one on their arm or handle of the stroller. Most often, however, we see them in the aviary at the zoo.
The aviary is filled with other colorful variety of birds: parakeets, like we had when I was a kid and lorikeets, are the most popular in the aviary.
It’s the wild parrots I’ve come to love. I don’t know their proper name. I call them wild because they fly over our backyard and all of Ft. Lauderdale. You can hear them before you see them. Their green color blends in with the trees making them invisible. It’s only their squawking that gives up their location.
They are the ordinary ones. One looks just like the next plain green one. Not one of them stands out from the others. They sound alike and look alike.
Yet, for some reason, when these noisy birds do a flyover, I smile. My eyes immediately scan the sky looking for their direction. Even against a bright blue sky, you can make out their green form. I’m never quick enough to snap a photo so I keep it in my mind’s eye.
This is where I’m seeing God: in the ordinary and the plain.
It’s easy to see God in the extraordinary. It’s where we look first. We call them miracles and we can get so busy looking for them that we forget He’s in the every day too.
I see God when kindness is shown in a simple thank-you. I see him when people work together rather than against. God is in the hugs after Sunday church and the text from a friend.
Like the wild parrots who blend in with the scenery, I sometimes miss God’s gentleness. I’m waiting for the big show. But God isn’t a big show kind of being. He chooses the forgotten. He sits with the broken. God listens to the old.
He is all around us and everywhere. God’s not noisy like the parrots but if you’re listening and looking you will see him.
Where do you see God today?
The best part of our ministry with men seeking to change their lives is sharing with them this upside down theology of Christ. It’s explaining why a day described in movies and art as violent and bloody and is called Good.
We take them through Holy Week observing the Last Supper, participating in a prayer Labyrinth and giving them an opportunity to nail their pain to the cross. All of this we do in the knowledge that we are Easter people.
Good Friday is not celebrated with dancing and cheers but with tears and lament. We know Sunday is coming. We know that rejoicing lays ahead.
But today. let’s remember the sacrifice made for us. Let’s remember how bad is made good.
Tornadoes have struck. They have become the announcement of spring.
Living one day at a time;
On one of our cross-country road trips, we ended up on a red dirt road in nowhere Arizona without a sign in sight. Why would there be a road sign when what we were driving on barely qualified as a road?