Oh, the randomness...

Just my thoughts on life, love, and the pursuit of Jesus.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Better Way

Song lyrics are life-defining for me. Sometimes I think music means more to me than it should but regardless, here are some lyrics that sum up beliefs of mine better than I could do on my own. :)

I'm a living sunset
Lightning in my bones
Push me to the edge
But my will is stone

'Cause I believe in a better way!

Fools will be fools
And wise will be wise
But i will look this world
Straight in the eyes

I believe in a better way!
I believe in a better way!

What good is a man
Who won't take a stand
What good is a cynic
With no better plan

I believe in a better way!
I believe in a better way!

Reality is sharp
It cuts at me like a knife
Everyone i know
Is in the fight of their life

I believe in a better way!

Take your face out of your hands
And clear your eyes
You have a right to your dreams
And don't be denied

I believe in a better way!I believe in a better way!I believe in a better way!

Ben Harper, Better Way

Monday, December 15, 2008

Love begets Love

This is something I’ve really been thinking about, and so you’re welcome to dive into my new theory with me. But I apologize in advance – it can be rough the first time you dialogue through a new theory!

As I sit here typing this, at my desk, I am surrounded my reminders of the people I love. A picture of Ruthie and Ember and I in Nashville is to my right, me/Tom/the Relevant crew is up to my left, and Kim surrounds me on both sides. My family is also here as are the most precious girls in the world, my college roomies. And then on the wall behind me is the collage of senior pictures of my beloved LifeLine girls. It’s so crazy – for in a few months they will no longer be in my youth group, but will officially be becoming adults and they will finally, simply, be my friends.

Love is such a multi-faceted word. It summarizes the deep knowledge and intimacy with another person, and the choosing to honor, respect, and trust them no matter what. And sometimes it’s really easy to love people, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes people disappoint us, let us down, hurt our feelings, leave us out, forget to call back, hang out with our friends but without us, etc. etc. I know I’ve been that friend that has forgotten to call back, or who has disappointed those I love most, and the list goes on. That’s why love is a risky choice – there are no guarantees that it will be pain-free. In fact, in many ways one could argue that it will definitely be pain-full at times, but that there is still such beauty in the pain.

Anyway, I’ve always grown up a very curious person, always absorbing the environment around me more than people realize. I’m such a sponge – I soak everything in and carry it around in this over-worked brain of mine until there is a time I need to pull it out and examine it. One thing that I’ve always really enjoyed watching are relationships: romantic ones, parent to child ones, teacher/student ones, Christian ones, etc. And it seems to me that there is always this common denominator that with love comes a tendency to control. That there is a fear of love leaving, and when we sense that, we reach out and grab tighter and we punish or don’t give love when we feel we’re not receiving it.

I think that’s a bad model. A terrible one. First off, it teaches that love can be controlled, even worse that it SHOULD be controlled. I don’t agree with that at all. Love is a choice. It’s a daily choice, sometimes hourly. :) It cannot be controlled. It should not be tamed, it should not be controlled – it needs to be free to express itself. It needs to be free to not choose to love back. Secondly, it’s selfish. And oh boy, have I selfishly done this in the past: when I don’t feel loved back, it’s easy to then withhold love. To emotionally punish. But all that does is hurt the person, hurt myself, and hurt my relationship with God.

So instead, I’ve been working through and testing this new theory of mine: that love begets love. That even in the heat of an argument, a loving response will not only calm things down but it will also be so powerful that it must elicit a response of love. I just more and more am convinced that love begets love. That love is such a powerful force, that nothing is outside the redemption of God’s love, his perfect love. And that it is that love that we are called to emulate. And it is this love that repairs fragmented relationships, nurtures a healthy self-esteem, heals past wounds…it is this love that shows Christ to the world.

So in my life, what does that look like? Well, it looks to me like serving others well. It looks like loving my girls enough that I confront them on dangerous life patterns, and that no matter what they throw at me that I love them through it. That when they pull away, I don’t retaliate and do the same. It means loving my mom through the hardest times and not punishing her in the same ways she punishes the rest of our family. It means loving J well, and simply pouring out an abundance of love – not to get the same love back, but simply out of a desire to love well. I do think that ‘romantic’ love is the toughest challenge of all – I think it’s the relationship that for most of us it’s the hardest to be selfless. But once again, my theory would say that instead of focusing on taking and making sure “my needs are met”, that out of giving an abundance of love to someone that they can’t help but also give an abundance of love back.

So hopefully this all makes sense. It’s just something that’s been on my mind and I had to get down on paper. Er…computer. :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Abundant Life

Sorry, all my faithful blog readers :), that I’ve been gone so long.

I’ve been thinking a lot about so many things, yet struggling to find the time to write them all down. So today I’m going to focus on the idea of ‘abundant living’.

This has been borne out of many conversations over the past 2 weeks – at work, at church, and with friends/family. What does it truly mean to have abundant life in Jesus?

I’m pretty sure it comes down to the heart and to character. Some people would say that for a woman, an abundant life in Jesus happens when she is married, has children to serve, and leads a Bible Study group at church. (how cliche is that?) And for a guy, perhaps it’s found in a stable career, a loving wife to pack lunches every day, and children to provide for.

But I disagree. I believe that those things can happen IN an abundant life, but that they don’t dictate an abundant life.

Rather, I believe that abundant life comes down to things such as:
1) Do you find yourself in communion and relationship with Jesus?
2) Are you constantly pursuing growth and forward motion, instead of settling for complacency?
3) Are you as happy alone as you are with people? Or for some of us (hello, introverts!) are you as happy with people as you are alone?
4) Do you find joy in the smallest things and the helping of people?

For me, it comes down to characteristics more than circumstances.

I know many people who are married who certainly do not have an abundant life, and wonder why on earth they don’t. They wonder what it will take. I know others who are married who are going through tough things with jobs and children and infertility and disease, who have an abundant life because of their heart and character and outlook.

I suppose this is on my mind because I’m struggling with some ‘career’ stuff. And work is a big part of my life…and a part of me feels a need to prove that I’m doing OK by having a job I love. By knowing I’m right where God wants me AND why he wants me there.

Yet right now, I don't feel that. I don't feel as though I have any clarity. And for some people surrounding me, it might say to them that my life isn't 'full' if I don't have a good sense of future direction.

However, I don’t believe this. And I don't believe that lack of clear career direction should stop me from having an abundant life. In fact, I believe that many times joyful abundance comes out of lack, ironically enough. I’m choosing to find abundance in doing a job well done, learning through the ‘place’ God has me in, serving my high school girls well, and loving my bf well.

So maybe in summary I’m saying that attitude has a big impact on living an abundant life?

Would love your thoughts…