This is a great summary. Are you willing to share which of the 4 horsemen you default to?
In honour of Valentines Day, I want to share a CS Lewis quote. I find this insight to be a good reminder of why love is worth risking.
I hope you are able to extend and receive love this week.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything & your heart will certainly be wrung & possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one…but in that casket it will change. It will become unbreakable, irredeemable.”
I like good news. Somebody I want to meet up with actually commits to a plan. A surprise cheque (or check for my American friends) that arrives in the mail. Final grades above 90%… or above 65% if I was in trouble and that’s what it took to pass the class.
What’s the last good news you received?
What about good advice? You should… You need to… Why don’t you do… You have to… Good advice can be helpful but it also can be annoying, worse if it’s unsolicited.
I’ve got some good news for you. It’s a bit technical but that’s what makes it so good.
When the apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Christian church in Rome – we’re talking first century AD – he noted the problem we all face:
“…all have sinned and
fall short of the glory of God,”
Now you might not buy into the idea of sin* or even God but just hang on for moment. Paul is saying, we’ve all got a past we’re not proud of and even now, as best as we can do, isn’t good enough; it’s all tainted. Even if you only count the last six of the commandments. we’ve all missed the mark at least once if not several times. (Note that the problem runs very deep – the commandment to not kill includes contempt and the one about adultery includes even lusting after (objectifying) another person.) This sin stuff, it’s messy. It unleashes death, killing us slowly from the inside out. Anyway, the point is, this is our continuous state.
But wait, didn’t I say something about good news? That’s not very good news at all. Well, Paul was simply stating the problem so he could tell us about the solution:
as a gift by His grace
through the redemption
which is in Christ Jesus…”
That phrase, being justified, is a Present Passive Participle. The what? This is the technical part. Being justified is a continuous expression related to the verb just before it – have sinned and fall short.
Being justified takes care of the past, the present and the future, too.
But what does it mean to be justified?
It’s a legal phrase. It’s one of the metaphors for talking about how God has done everything to reconcile us to his heart. The key is it’s not just simply forgiveness, although that’s included, it’s not a not guilty declaration, or an acquittal.
Because of what Christ Jesus has done, justification means that you and I, despite our past, our regrets, our shame, it’s as we never did the deed.
So that you can know, without a sliver of doubt, that you have the full love and acceptance of your heavenly Father who created you.
That’s good news.
* Sin has to do with alienation from God, from creation, and from one another. It breaks our relationships, hinders our fellowship, and ruins our stewardship of the earth.
Have you ever cheated on your partner? I suspect that when you consider that question, regardless of your answer, you were probably thinking some kind of sex. The Biblical view is cheating begins with lusting for someone. (At this time someone will ask, “Isn’t it okay to lust after my partner?” Desire is healthy and normal. Lust is when you objectify someone and use them in your imagination or real life to satisfy yourself. Do you think it’s okay to lust?) Cheating starts long before you make physical contact.
Recently, I found an article that made this more clear. You can read the whole article, “3 Betrayals That DESTROY Relationships (And Aren’t Infidelity),” but here are the highlights.
Emotional cheating – having a friend that you are close to doesn’t mean you’re cheating. Here’s the test: “Would your partner would be upset by the things you’ve shared or would be uncomfortable watching the interaction?”
Conditional love – “Couples don’t feel supported when one partner keeps a foot out of the relationship… Couples that unconditionally love each other live by the motto, “baby, when you hurt, the world stops and I listen.””
Emotional withdrawal – “Emotional withdrawal can be something big, like choosing a work meeting over a family funeral, or it can be as small as turning away when your partner needs emotional support.”
The good news is, this cheating can be overcome. It will take an honest look at what you are doing in your relationship. Your partner will have to do the same. If cheating exists, it will take commitment, work, and honesty to bring healing into your lives.
Do you like year-end top ten lists? You know: top ten movies, top ten songs, top ten sports moments, top ten fails, and so on. I think they appeal to us because we like to reminisce and because we like having life compartmentalized into ranked lists. The thing about all these things we list is, they are fleeting; enjoyable but typically inconsequential.
Recently, I had a few days of blahness which often leads me to be introspective which in turn leads to depression. One of the ways I care for myself when that happens is practicing gratitude. That led me to think about a personal top ten list – who and what have been transformational in my life? So… here’s my list, but instead of ranking my top ten I went sequentially – when the impact was made in my life.
Mom – in a time when being a single mother was unacceptable, when there were few supports, when employment opportunities were limited, my mom, single, 25, trying to go
to school, chose to have me and keep me. My mom was all about adventures and experiences. Before I started school, the two of us went on a huge camping adventure across western Canada. She stood up for me against abusive teachers and she let me fend for myself when she saw me struggle but not overcome by situations. She was a good mom. The weekend she passed away, I was with her right up until the end. It still hurts that she’s gone.
Adopted – I never knew my bio dad. For several years, it was just me and my mom. I used to make up stories about my “dad” and the adventures we would have. Eventually, my mom met a good man and they decided to get married. I was seven years old. It wasn’t until a handful of years later that I found out he adopted me. It’s significant to be accepted!
Sisters – after my mom and dad got married, I was tremendously blessed with two
sisters. I can say that now because I am looking back on this with an attitude of gratitude which colours my memories. (Ha ha) Honestly, there were some challenging moments – I had to change diapers and still haven’t recovered from that trauma. I suspect my sisters can also testify that I wasn’t the best brother. Even so, I love my sisters. Even though I am the oldest and the favourite, I look up to them because they are talented and brilliant women.
Marriage – I could write two or three blogs about how I became married. In a nutshell, I met this wonderful woman, we became good friends, she took advantage of me with her feminine charms, I loved her anyway, we became married. We have been given the gift of three children and now we have three grand babies. She remains my best friend, my partner in crime (the legal kind) and the person I enjoy going on adventures with. When she really laughs my heart swells with joy. The beauty of her singing can move me to tears. It’s really cool how creative she is. These days she’s making soap and lip balm.
Children – we have been blessed with three children. I was present for the delivery of each child which was both terrifying and so filled with love and joy. They are all out of the house now. Two are in post-secondary and one is a fantastic mom. All three are very talented – they get that from their mom. Our oldest boy is taking a fine arts program. He can work in several mediums and puts all his effort into making something unique. Our daughter has her hands full with babies but she sings like her mom and recently she has begun song writing. Our baby boy just started college. He’s a writer and story creator. I’m very proud of them.
Baptism and Ministry – after the babies came, I was soul searching. I was essentially an atheist but various small steps happened that eventually led me to accept God’s acceptance of me. I committed my life to the Way, the Truth, and the Life and was baptized. It’s been a wonderful journey thus far and there’s so much more on the horizon.
Not long after I made my choice to be a Christian, I experienced a call into ministry. I was
happily working in the computer systems arena and good at it. One sabbath during worship, the sermon was on Paul and his work spreading the Good News. We were sitting in the noisy section but suddenly, everything went quiet like someone pressed the mute button, and I heard a voice say, “That’s what I want you to do.” Then the noise came back. That began my journey into ministry, a return to university and now full-time pastoral ministry.
Grandchildren – The highlight of my week is when I get to spend time with our GBs. Each one is delightful in their unique way. A huge, life-changing, event with our grandchildren was shortly after GB1 was born. I have already told the story of our miracle grandson. Check it out.
Velveteen Rabbit – two years ago this very day, a young adult came into our lives and we were changed forever. For various reasons, I can’t say much about her but she gave me
permission to share her picture. At first, she was just someone we walked with in her pain. Along the way, she took a part of our hearts. I hope she always remembers who she is to us. Our prayer for her is that she will continue to experience healing and will allow herself to be loved into all she was created to be. The blue comfy chair is always there; the door is always open.
Noreen M – when she was in grade 11, Noreen came to our lives and said that more needed to be done for youth mental health. We agreed and together we developed The Butterfly Effect, a youth emotional health workshop. Since then, we’ve transitioned into COME2LIFE. Noreen challenges me and she helps me be even more cool and unconventional! One day I hope to learn from her how to take a decent selfie.
Honourable Mentions – Yes, this is a little cheat – like using your third wish to ask for more wishes – but I just want to give a nod to the many people who have been big in my life. Good friends, men and women who helped me in my faith journey, people whose presence was and often is an oasis of grace and acceptance. I hope that as I am in your life, you know who you are, how you are valued, and what you mean to me.
How about you? Do you have a personal top ten list; people, achievements, favourite movies, best experiences? Who or what are at the top of your list?
My partner and I recently had a chance to teach a class on marriage survival. It was a great experience. Then just the other day, I found this article: 12 Things Happy Couples Do Every Single Day.
I’m not sure about trying to follow a list of items to do every day. That might make your relationship a bit formulaic. Still, this is a good list of loving actions that will help your relationship be healthier and stronger. Here are a few highlights:
Find ways to brighten your partner’s day!
How about you? What do you and your partner do to keep joy alive and nurture the love you have?
In an article I was reading, I stumbled across a statement by psychiatrist Amy Banks, author of Wired to Connect: The Surprising Link Between Brain Science and Strong, Healthy Relationships. I haven’t read her book nor do I know anything about her. However, what she said about relationships resonated with me and I think you might be intrigued by it, too.
What she says is that “true love is first and foremost about creating a mutual connection, evidenced by five hallmarks of a “healthy relationship.”” Here they are:
What do you think? Would you agree? How have you experienced this in your relationships?
I recently heard an apparently true story about a man urgently needing to catch a plane home from a business trip. He was desperate to get home because his toddler grandson lay in a coma, the victim of terrible child abuse at the hands of his mom’s live in boyfriend. The little boy wasn’t going to live; he was to be disconnected from life support. After he died, his organs would be donated so others might live. The man wanted to get home to see his grandson one more time.
While he was on the way to the Los Angeles airport, his wife called Southwestern airlines to find the fastest flight home. As she bought the ticket she explained their desperate situation. Unfortunately, her husband ran into delay after delay – a traffic jam on the freeway, a congested airport, delays in security.
When the man finally reached the gate for his flight, he realized he was 15 minutes late, he was sure the plane had left.
An airline employee at the gate approached him and asked his name and if he was the one trying to get home to his grandson. The man confirmed who he was.
Then the man at the gate said:
“Well, I’m the pilot and the plane isn’t going anywhere without me.
And I’m not going anywhere without you.”
That story reminds me of one of my most favourite Bible passages:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.
You believe in God; believe also in me.
My Father’s house has many rooms;
if that were not so, would I have told you
that I am going there to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come back and take you to be with me
that you also may be where I am.”
(John 14:1-3 New International Version)
Jesus’ promise is loaded with hope, love and acceptance. He is making this promise to his friends who, in just hours while he is in his greatest struggle, will desert him, betray him, deny him. He’s saying, despite all your failures, hang on to me, hang on to me because I want you to be with me. It’s a promise we can personally claim today. Isn’t that pretty outrageous grace?
Because Jesus’ promise can be counted on, we know that he will prepare those places and he will return. The Bible vividly describes this event – Jesus will arrive with all his angels, the dead in Christ will be resurrected, the living in Christ will be transformed and all will be gathered by the angels – he will take us to be with him.
I hear Jesus’ promise echo to you and to me in the pilot’s words:
“I’m the pilot and the angels aren’t going anywhere without me.
And I’m not
Do you know your love language? Do you know what love languages are? I’m a fan of the love language concept and I’ve shared it with others. Maybe check them out and discover what is your language.
Recently I received an email from them with some examples and I think they will be a blessing to you. This is quoted directly from their email.
WORDS OF AFFIRMATION:
Compliments sometimes mean extra when given in the presence of others. Make sure to let your loved ones know how much you care for them in front of other people, too!
ACTS OF SERVICE:
What if you switch the way you think about nagging: instead of being annoyed, learn to hear it as, “This is a task that is really important to me, and I will feel so loved when it is completed.” Use nagging as a simple reminder from your partner to love him or her better!
Give your partner a gift every day for a week. Whether extremely creative or sweetly simple, the flow of gifts will make an impact and will create a week to be remembered by both of you!
Instead of asking your loved one, “How was your day?” ask a fresh question, like, “What was the best part of your day?” “What was a success you had today?” or “What did you struggle with today?” Make sure to create enough time to truly listen and care.
Research has shown that babies who are held, hugged, and kissed develop more healthily than those who are neglected. But people never outgrow their need for physical affection! Remember to hug your loved ones this week.
What do you think? Can you speak these love languages? Have you ever taken an assessment to determine your own love language? If so, what is your primary language?