Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Why I Went To Chick-Fil-A- A Story of Love

Why I went to Chick fil A---A Story of Love


So, like many, I have not been to Chick-fil -A in a while now.  I have not gone to the restaurant since its scandal and allegations of anti-gay goings-on. 

I recently did a funeral for a friend’s father.  I wanted to send something, but often feel like the traditional flowers, while beautiful and thoughtful, would not serve a greater purpose.  I like to send food and give food to people.  Everyone needs food.  I was reminded of my friend’s son, a young boy, who is a very picky eater.  Most of the time he will only eat chicken chunks from guess where…Chick Fil A!  I knew most of the other food was taken of, sandwiches, sides and desserts.  I thought it best I make sure this little boy had want he would want to eat.   After all, he had just lost his Grandpa.  So, I ordered a tray of chicken chunks.  I went in, paid for them, even though it was a struggle for me.  My sister was shocked when she learned I was going to get these.  But I said to her, “love is always the right answer.”

In this case, my love for this little boy needed to override my need to support an issue of injustice.  It certainly does not mean I will patron Chick-Fil-A regularly.  What it means, is that for this moment, God was telling me to take care of this little boy who was grieving.  I am sure this little boy has no idea what an issue it was for me to buy these chicken chunks for him.  However, I know, that for a moment while enjoying his favorite food, he was comforted as he mourned.  And I was certainly glad I listened to that small inner voice that told me to take care of this boy and his needs first. 

I think we get so caught up in our issues or even justice issues that sometimes we forget that the whole reason we are fighting for the issue is for love.  Ironic, hugh?  That I would actually deny myself an opportunity to extend love because I was fighting for the right to love? 

I think the lesson I learned in this was that we need to take each moment, moment by moment.  In every moment we have the opportunity to find love or extend love.  My prayer is that I can live a life aware enough and awake enough that I continually ask myself if I am acting in love.  Everyday.  In all things.  Love.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Faithful Lover Never Gives Up on Us

“The faithful lover never gives up on us.”
This faithful lover never gives up on us.
However long we live,
We could never wish for a better friend than God,
Who even in this life
Grants us a far greater peace
Than we are able to desire.
Teresa of Avila

I was driving the other day and heard John Legend’s “All of Me” on the radio.  It is one of the best love songs I’ve heard in a long time.  The chorus is:
“'Cause all of me, Loves all of you
 Love your curves and all your edges, All your perfect imperfections
 Give your all to me, I'll give my all to you
 You're my end and my beginning, Even when I lose I'm winning
 'Cause I give you all of me
 And you give me all of you, oh”

All your “PERFECT IMPERFECTIONS”…what a great line!  And that IS love!
I started thinking about my husband and the fact that we have been married now for nearly 11 years.  11 years may not seem that long to some, but for me, it seems rather unbelievable!  I picked up the phone and called him and said, “you know we have been married for 11 years?  I am glad it is you.  You are worth it.”  He knew just what I meant.  It hasn’t always been easy.  There have been times I have wanted to pack my s#$% and run.  There have been times I wanted to pack his s#$% and put it on the porch!  In the end, though, I always come back to the fact that he is worth it.  Our family and what we have built is worth it.  And, the truth is, I am worth it.  Each argument or challenging circumstance has been an opportunity for me to grow.

Marianne Williamson says that every relationship is a maximum growing opportunity, an opportunity for you to grow deeper spiritually and essentially closer to God.  I have noticed over the last several years how my shortcomings and struggles I have with my husband often mirror the challenges I have in my own spiritual life.  (this proves that most of the issues we have or had can point back to me…if my husband reads this, I may lose any standing for any future argument).  In all seriousness, this is the truth. Not that he is free from saying something hurtful, or doing something dumb, but really, my reaction to it is where real growing possibilities reveal themselves.  And truly, in the end, our relationship grows stronger and our bond that much greater.

Not one of us is perfect.  If we enter into relationships, any relationship, with an idea that the other is perfect, not only will we be horribly disappointed, but we will miss our opportunity to grow. We can walk away from a relationship (some, it might be healthiest to do so), and just say that person has issues, etc. etc., or ask ourselves why this relationship seems difficult for us.  Perhaps asking ourselves how we contribute to the problem or the tension is how we grow, or ask how we can better serve the other person to help them recognize their own divinity.

I firmly believe that our personal relationships mirror our relationship with God.  When we hold people high in their God-given beauty, thankful for them and exercise our ability to love them fully, perfectly in their imperfection, we grow closer to God and are living in the truth and ways taught by Jesus.  God, the faithful lover, never gives up on us.  Let us not be so quick to give up on each other.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Love of a Lifetime

They've been married for 53 years.  They had 2 children together, 2 grandchildren.  They traveled the country in their early years, following dreams and vocations.  They served God together, lovingly & willingly.  I remember watching them years back, how they would hug and hang on to each other, as if they did not know where one ended and the other began. 

I am sure it wasn't always easy, after all, she never did quite understand his membership with the NRA.  They certainly had their differences.  But always, it was a dedicated, unmatched love that kept them strong and moving forward.

We celebrated the life of my father-in-law, Steve, this past weekend.  He transitioned from this world into another a few weeks ago.  I choose to use the word transition (definition: the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another) rather than “die” (definition:  a person, animal, or plant that stops living), because I in no way believe he has stopped living.  Rather, I believe he has changed form.  This is a result of my faith in an afterlife…or alternate realm or state of being.  I believe he is very much alive.

As Steve’s neurological condition worsened over the last year, I watch my mother-in-law love in such a way that overwhelms me.  I watched and studied her…how she guided him and loved ON him.  I don’t know if there were ever days when he did not know HER, but I know there days he did not know me.  I am certain if he had a moment where he was confused by WHO she was, never would he have been confused by WHAT she was…she was pure love at its finest.

Sonnie allowed Steve to keep living with dignity, when it could have been otherwise.  Rather than having him cared by others, she chose to do the caring (which is not an easy job to say the least).  Never, not once, did we ever hear her complain.  She never said she was tired.  She never even seemed frustrated

I know Sonnie has an incredible faith.  I know she is no stranger to prayer.  I am sure she prayed a lot over the last few years.  Perhaps she knows that in order to LOVE greatly you need to tap into the source of LOVE.    What I do know, is that I am grateful for the example of what it is to really love someone.  Love is not always easy.  In fact, it is those acts of love in the most difficult circumstances that are the most profound.  LOVE BOLDLY, LOVE FIERCELY, LOVE in the difficult times.  Your life, the life of others and this world will transform before you, if you dare.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Immorality of Morality

Lately I have been thinking a lot about morality.

Specifically, what defines a person’s morality? What makes them a good or bad person?

I can’t give a definitive answer for what makes a person moral, but let me reflect on a few of the things that people assume defines morality.

Three things resonate with me as examples of things people use to define someone else’s morality: education, virginity, and cleanliness.

When it comes to education, people assume that the more highly educated someone is, the more moral that person must be. This also works in the opposite direction, with lower education meaning the person is less moral.

If someone has a Master’s degree or PhD, people give that person a higher moral standing that someone who doesn’t have those degrees. The “uneducated” in our world are often considered to be somehow less human, and therefore less able to be a moral or good person.

Gandhi never had a formal education; Rosa Parks never completed anything higher than high school; Mother Theresa only ever received some minimal home-schooling. No college, no degrees, no “formal” education – and yet no one would question the morality these three displayed during their lives.

On the flip side, some of the world’s greatest atrocities and mishaps have been perpetrated by very smart people. Many of the doctors and leaders of the holocaust were considered to be some of the brightest scientists and men in the entire world. Those responsible for the engineering failures that led to BP oil disaster had numerous PhD’s and had risen to the tops of their respective fields.

Education does not define morality or the character of the person.

The second example is that of virginity. One’s virginity is often intrinsically tied to the person’s ability to be moral or “good.” This is mostly problematic for women. If a woman loses her virginity, she is often defined as having lost her “purity.” She has become “ruined” by many Christian standards and is now less fit for marriage than women who have not had sex.

Losing one’s virginity seems to be a permanent stain in the eyes of many Christians. You can never “regain” your virginity, and so there is always something impure about you.

We can debate whether we think it’s okay to have sex before marriage or not, but this should not be the defining factor for someone’s morality either way. People are more than their sexuality. They are more than whatever some people deem sinful.

Virginity does not define morality or the character of the person.

The last example is cleanliness. Mainly, the hygiene of the person we are interacting with.

We as Christians are conditioned (whether we know it or not) to associate cleanliness with morality. Many metaphors in the Bible relate a good person to a clean person. In the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) many sins needed a cleaning ritual to be forgiven. Sins are often referred to as being “washed away.” Jesus’ sacrifice made us as “white as (clean) snow.”

If your sins are forgiven, you are “clean.”

We have carried these metaphors with us into the church today. Who would you assume is a more moral person of these two: a man who walked into a church in a full suit on Sunday morning, or one who came in with sweatpants on and unkempt hair? Whether you care to admit it or not, you would rather the man in the suit be in your church than the unclean man. We associate the unclean man with being less moral, and are afraid that he might make us “dirty” too.

Cleanliness does not define morality or the character of the person.

What we must admit is that we should not, and really cannot, try to define someone morality and character based on some outside and ancillary factor.

We really are in no place to define someone’s morality at all.

We can simply get to know the person in front of us as a whole person.

Our deeds help define us.

Not education. Not virginity. Not cleanliness. 

Besides, it is in the outcasts where we can most find God. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Love Fiercely

Don’t waste your time or energy hating the “hater”. Use your energy to love the wounded…

There is a revolution going on…A love revolution. Can you feel it? Are you ready for it? I know I am. When I ask if you are ready for it, this is what I mean…We are so programmed to distrust each other that when someone does something kind for us, we immediately question their motivation. Are you ready and able to just accept some love? Sometimes, I wonder what people say about me after I have done something kind. (I am not so delusional & optimistic that I do not realize this happens.) Sometimes, these negative thoughts keep me from doing the very thing my heart is telling me to do. Then, I find myself making excuses and justifying why kind is not the way to go in that situation ---“It is not safe for me do to it”, or “they’ll think I want something in return”, etc.

The truth is, kind is always the way to go. Love is always the best option. I have tried other ways, but they simply do not hold the power and blessings that love holds.

Social networking has taken on this new platform for wild rants at the expense of others. I am sad when I see people posting such hurtful and critical remarks about other people. I have, at times, considered leaving the world of Facebook so I do not have to witness such bullying, (and, by the way, I am talking about ADULTS, because we all know kids are guilty of this.) People post the most horrific things on famous figures whether it is the president, or a celebrity, and worse yet, their neighbor. I’ve learned to not look at the comments others make. It makes me too sad. I have thought about leaving social media all together because of this. But, I know I should not. Because, I know it exists. But what am I going to do about it? Well, I could go off on my own rant and tell people about themselves…which, is just as bad. Or, I can tell the wounded how much I value and love them.   I have decided on the latter. I have decided to start my own “love bombing” campaign. So, when I know someone has been hurt, I will do my best to tell them all the wonderful things about them. All the things that make them so wonderfully unique and a value to this world (because everyone has something, I am SURE of it). This is my new personal crusade. Won’t you join me? Love a little more today. Love a little harder. Love fiercely and intentionally. Love like YOU ARE LOVE, because you ARE.

It is through your love, by our collective love, things will change. Love will win.

From the book “Wonder” by RJ Palacio (a wonderful book I encourage everyone to read, especially parents and kids of preteens):

“…but what I want you, my students, to take away from your middle-school experience is the sure knowledge that, in the future you make for yourselves, anything is possible. If every single person in this room made it a rule that wherever you are, whenever you can, you will try to act a little kinder than is necessary---the world really would be a better place. And if you do this, if you are just a little kinder than is necessary, someone else, somewhere, someday, may recognize in you, in every single one of you, the face of God.”