All That’s Left is Love

On a day like Remembrance Day it is easy to make general statements about loving your enemy. As if we can all do it at the drop of a hat. Recently though, I have come face to face with what it means to love someone who has done so much to destroy everything that was good about life. And I find myself, for the first time ever, asking myself –

“Can I really still love that person?”

It kills me, it terrifies me, it breaks me in a way I never thought possible.

My thoughts fall into a terrible pit of hate and seething anger. My fists clench and my knuckles turn white. I wonder if I will ever be able to let go. When I sit by myself, I stew, and stir.

And so I don’t sit by myself.

And God meets me there. Somewhere, in the terrible mess of life. He sits down next to me – and he pushes me, just a little. To take one step, and then another. He puts my friends around me to keep me afloat on a sea of love and affirmation. They are the physical representation of good for me. They show me, as messed up as it is, there is good, there is light in darkness. The world doesn’t aspire to evil, it’s just broken. And so, I come face to face with my enemy.

My enemy isn’t the person, it’s my own hate.

Can I love myself? In the depth of my anger? If I love my enemy – if I love so much that my hate melts – all that’s left is love. Love is all that can survive. It has too.

 

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Let it Out

It’s been a terrible fall. I can’t sugar coat it, or pretend otherwise. Personally and as a member of community I have had to deal with a lot of tough things. I have been asked if I’m alright more times than I can count. I was definitely handled with kid gloves when my grandfather passed away. People extended me a lot of grace and were just so … kind. Most recently, as a member of the Tyndale University College and Seminary community, I have again had to deal with grief and the passing of a student who took his own life. It seems that the pain will never end, that the smiles are just so far away.

And yet. We persist. We move on, we laugh again.

I have really come to understand recently just how important it is to have people around you. People you can talk to and spill everything. I have always been a big fan of community, I have always had good friends. But now, I see why it’s so important. Why we need each other. Why we were created not as solitary beings, but as people who yearn for love and friendship. I have seen what happens to you when you don’t surround yourself with people who genuinely care about your well-being. You think you can take care of it, that you’re strong enough, that you’ll be able to work through it. But the truth is you can’t.

You just can’t.

If I didn’t have friends to call and listen to me cry and vent and laugh and everything in between, I may have lost my sanity this year. Fall 2013 will not be a season of my life that I look back fondly on. But it will be a time that I thank God that I didn’t turn inward, but rather that I let it out. If you’re struggling, if you’re hurting… please find someone. Find them and talk to them, trust them and share with them. We need each other more than we care to admit.

Peace in Our Time

On the brink of war a leader of men proclaimed “Peace in our time”. His delusion was grand and his promise of hope quickly lost. Our world and our people have the persistent ability to hate and fight with one another. We struggle to live rightly with one another, because we struggle to live rightly with ourselves. The human condition is broken from the outset, some might call it sin, others call it flaws, but we claw and clamour for what isn’t ours, we give into that basest of our inner sicknesses. We have but “three score and ten” to get it right, and yet it seems we stir and twist in the wind pushing forward our selfish ambition to have more, to be more, to raise ourselves up above the muck and mire. Ours is but a short time to be the best and to have the most, we reason with error. But when looked at from a distant perspective, this “pale blue dot” we all reside on is just a speck of dust in a grand ocean of space. On this blue and green marble hanging in air, where sinners and saints alike have lived and died when can we proclaim without sense of tragic irony “peace in our time.”? Maybe for the briefest of moments, when soldiers lay down arms to celebrate holy days, or when the world for a moment mourns with itself the tragedy of natural disaster. We can celebrate the lives of well lived people, but even they would be the first to remind us they were far from perfect. But even in these smallest of respites, these fractions of time where hope is but a glimpse in a foggy mirror, we know that the moment is fleeting. We know that war looms and hate is just under the surface. Dream with me of a time when men will be more than men, and women more than women. Dream with me of a time when we all look not only to the needs of ourselves, but the needs of others. Maybe there is a way to this day and maybe there is a guide. If there was someone who showed us how to look at ourselves from a universal perspective. Who told us that we were made for so much more than this, that when we consider this celestial orb we see ourselves from a vantage point like no other. Who reminds us that we only have each other, and should we choose to hurt rather than love, endanger rather than protect, harm rather than save; we only destroy that which we fleetingly have, our humanity.  Maybe if we lived like this guide we could turn and with one voice say, “peace in our time.”

Wrestling Match

A coworker asked me today about my thoughts on the church, and by church he meant the thing you go to on Sunday. Not the big ‘C’ Church that is the body of Christ. He wanted to know what the purpose of the church is today. He was really getting the heart of a deep problem inherent in the system.  The problem being, that in large churches the forum for open discussion and learning is almost non-existent. He contends that in small house churches the opportunity for evangelism and growth is so much higher, and I agree whole-heatedly. And of our tithes, if it were in a small setting you could see where your money is going to have a Kingdom impact, and know you were a part of something God was doing, not just a rounding error in a multi-million dollar budget. I’m not trying to criticize the large churches out there. I belong to one, and I believe within those systems there are redeemable things. But my coworkers point stands. A question for all involved in church ministry is, “is the system broken, and have we lost our way?”

When a system is broken there is one question you must ask. How broken?

Is it repairable? Or do we need to abolish it? This is the wrestling match I am currently struggling with. I want to believe our churches are repairable. I want to believe God works in and through us, in spite of us. But I also know that sometimes you get sent out into the desert for 40 years, or the temple gets torn down. Systems come and go, but the truth of God remains. How we choose to interact with that truth in our time and culture will forever determine whether we are remembered as a generation that gave up, or a generation that persevered and reignited a broken and weary Church.

My Grandpa

This week saw the passing of my Grandfather. A man I greatly respected and admired. I made the remark at his funeral that he was the undisputed patriarch of the family, he lead us all, and he lead with grace. Grandpa knew how to make each of us feel special, unique and important. None of us lacked for affection from him. I will miss him.

Every now and then you have great people in your life, and every now and then you lose those great people. I rejoice knowing he lived a good and consistent life. He put God first, then his family, and finally his business. He never seemed to lose that order. As my Uncle rightly commented, my grandfather knew that if his relationship with God was right, the others would follow. It didn’t mean things would always be easy, in fact they weren’t, but knowing God was with him made it easier to endure. I hope to continue to learn from him, from his example and life. I couldn’t think of a better role model.

Thank you grandpa.

Private Sappiness

So I titled this Private Sappiness, but in doing so I am making it public.

Sometimes when I sit at my desk and I am doing work I like to listen to music. I have discovered Grooveshark and greatly appreciate it. And sometimes I get in a mood where I desire to listen to sappy music. Yes, it’s true. For example I love this rendition of Somewhere Out There by Troy and Abed.

Just read these lyrics:

Somewhere out there beneath the pale moonlight
Someone’s thinking of me and loving me tonight

Somewhere out there someone’s saying a prayer
That we’ll find one another in that big somewhere out there

And even though I know how very far apart we are
It helps to think we might be wishing on the same bright star

And when the night wind starts to sing a lonesome lullaby
It helps to think we’re sleeping underneath the same big sky

Somewhere out there if love can see us through
Then we’ll be together somewhere out there
Out where dreams come true

And even though I know how very far apart we are
It helps to think we might be wishing on the same bright star

And when the night wind starts to sing a lonesome lullaby
It helps to think we’re sleeping underneath the same big sky

Somewhere out there if love can see us through
Then we’ll be together somewhere out there
Out where dreams come true

Good stuff. I suggest you take a moment to let your inner sap out today. Find an 80’s love ballad and let a single tear roll down your cheek.

A Glimpse

I have talked before, and by before I mean a really long time ago, about how I think Heaven is not some ethereal place in the clouds. But rather, I think we are destined for a perfected form of creation. I take comfort in the words from Revelation, “Behold, I make all things new!” And every now and then I believe we get little glimpses into what that world will look like.

This weekend for instance, I had a great time with friends and family. Between games nights, a Fall Festival, lunch with my sis, and Breaking Bad finale parties, and everything else, I realized that this was a little glimpse. It is amazing to be surrounded by people who love me, and I love them. It is incredible to think that despite all the other crap that occurs in life, that I can count on them.

Sometimes it is easy to get down on things. Especially for me. A friend in high school nicknamed me Mr. Melancholy. But, when you see the little glimpses of a perfect world, where there is no worry, just joy, you need to hold onto them. You need to be thankful for them. They don’t come around all the time, and can be hard to perceive at other times. But ask yourself today, what glimpse of Heaven have I seen lately?