Archive | July, 2012

Using Social Media Passive Aggressively To Veil Our True Emotions, My Foot In The Mouth Disease, or Part 2: Love is Kind

27 Jul

Love is kind.

Try it! You won’t be sorry.

It seems obvious, doesn’t it? Love is kind? Of course it is. But it’s much harder to live it out, especially when you suffer from foot-in-the-mouth disease like I so often do. Sometimes I think my emotions have more of a reign on my tongue than they ought, and I want to stop myself from blurting out something that comes straight from my frustration or texting my confusion or emailing my pain.  Instead I act before I think and in turn have to go back to the person and apologize. It’s painful. It’s humbling. I’ve had to do it a lot lately. I’m not done yet.

Love is kind.  If I love people, than why can’t I be kind?

Love is kind. Even when I don’t feel like it.

 Love is kind when I’m not.  

When I screw up, because love is kind, I know my friends won’t ever get to the point where they won’t talk to me again.  I know that apologizing for the ways in which I wasn’t kind will likely be in my future and grace will need to be given to me due to the fact that I have a short term memory about what love is.

Love is kind but not on Facebook this week. I don’t know what is going on but a bunch of people are on the rampage. I’m not sure why everyone is getting so upset.  For a place that’s supposed to be about social connection, it’s more like social destruction. People are spouting political and ideological opinions and even those I agree with are starting to get a little vocal it’s definitely starting to get old.

 

Is it ever a good idea to have a political debate on Facebook? Is it ever loving to tell people you’re “friends” with that they are totally wrong, crazy, and off-base via the cowardly veil of social media? If we really want to have a political debate and talk about the issues rather than agreeing to digital finger pointing, why not do it in person? Are we too lazy to be kind?

It’s not kind to hate people, but it may be easier than loving them.

 

No where in 1 Corinthians does it say “Love is easy. It’s painless. It’s going to make you feel good all of the time. Most of the time when you love, you’re going to think that it’s so simple and fabulous that you’ll want to do it all of the time. Love is the road more traveled. It’s what everyone chooses all of the time.” Um, no. I wish it said that sometimes but it doesn’t. Kindness comes with a price.

People sometimes think I’m crazy when I say that loving people is harder than hating them. I think it’s easy to shift blame, let anger sit until it becomes bitterness, displace it, and let it grow until it manifests itself into  full-fledged yelling and pictures of your support or boycott of a fast food restaurant on your Facebook page. Or maybe it looks like a smear campaign of your least favorite political candidate. Or name calling. Or something worse.

But getting back to the point of this…love is supposed to be kind. I know I haven’t been as kind as I want to be this week. I’ve shifted blame, gotten mad, let my anger boil over into words I didn’t mean, passive aggressiveness, conversations I knew should not be had via phone, Facebook, texting, etc.

But guess what? Love is STILL kind.  Do you know how I know this? Because of stories like this where victims of tragedies can forgive people who tried to kill them.

I might not always be kind, but I’m so thankful that Love is.  And I’m thankful that God,  the lover of our souls, our creator and our sustainer invented love and kindness.

Proverbs 18:21 in The Message says: Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose.

Can we just remember that before we say something we don’t mean, post our opinion and broadcast it to 500 of our friends, get angry without realizing the deeper emotion behind it?

Are you hurting? Do you feel unheard? Are you lonely, bored, angry, tired, or hungry? I actually started asking myself these questions lately before I react and it’s helped. So I think twice more than I used to before reacting. And in moments I don’t, there is grace.

Thank God, there is grace.

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What Veruca Salt, That Guy Who Cut Me Off In Traffic, And My “I Want” Syndrome Have Taught Me About Love

23 Jul

Love is patient.

Wait until the clock strikes 12.

I’ve been reading a lot about love this week. It’s funny because at this prayer series we’re doing at church, we’re studying 1 Corinthians and I was asked to read 1 Corinthians 13 aloud to everyone in the group. I smirked.  This was a week after being inundated with everyone’s opinions about what “love” is everywhere I go. Through a new song from one of my favorite band’s (Stars), I’ve heard “Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It.” Or, from another song introduced to me by Love and Respect Now, I’ve been pondering the question, how do we not idolize romantic love or the thought of feeling known in community? (Another blog to come).

Or, another idea of love from one of my favorite ministries, The Living Room:

“Love is more than words spoken from our mouths. It must be lived out in the patterns and actions of our lives.”

According to the Bible, to love means to be patient. I find that interesting that it’s mentioned as the first characteristic of love. Maybe because patience is so difficult for us?

Patient is: “bearing provocation, annoyance, misfortune, delay, hardship, pain, etc., with fortitude and calm and without complaint, anger, or the like.”

Two of my favorite kids wait in anticipation for a wedding ceremony their father is performing to begin.

Wow, I can honestly say I haven’t figured this out yet. At all. I want what I want and I want it now. I want people to know me, I want things to work the way I want, I want my boyfriend to read my mind, I want work to be fulfilling, I want to live happily ever after, I want my friends to think I’m awesome, I … I want, I want, I want. And NOW.  (On bad days, I’m kind of like that girl from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory who wants the golden goose.) My “I wants” have become insatiable of late… More food, sleep, time with loved ones, meaningful moments, recognition at work.

Waiting isn’t easy, as I’ve mentioned here before. It’s tough and most of the time, I fail at it. But I’m learning. Last week in traffic I didn’t swear at all when I got cut off! It was a small victory, considering a few weeks ago I actually made my hand into fist and almost raised it yelling something about picking a lane and the fact that driving a Ferarri under 60 on the freeway should be illegal.

Who would want to hang out with this girl? Thus, learning patience is a top priority.

So what about this patience? What does it look like? Here’s what I think:

-It looks like waiting for an unfulfilled dream even if you doubt you can muster even a little seed of hope.

-It looks like being patient with a child that has overwhelmed you, when you’re tired beyond belief.

-It looks like trusting that although you might not be in your dream job, you can keep praying and actively looking without just jumping into something else without cause.

-It is not putting the cart before the horse in romantic love, letting a relationship grow and develop. Trusting that with patience, much will be revealed at the perfect time.

-It’s about not trying to have control, but instead giving ample time to those who might not go as fast whether that be in traffic or in life.

-Patience means hearing someone else out, not interrupting, not needing to be first. Having it not be all about me and instead letting others shine even when I have the bright idea first.

-Patience is sacrificial. It might mean not getting your own way. It could look like delayed gratification (another area I struggle with) or believing that something good could come out of the time spent.

-Patience could mean acceptance that things have not gone the way you’ve planned. Getting back up when you’ve fallen and trying again, knowing that you’re not quite there yet, but you’re getting closer.

-For me right now, patience means knowing that I don’t have all of the answers and that question marks are okay for now. It’s being aware of the fact that I’m in limbo in some areas. It’s not trying to force a false sense of closeness or intimacy with friends, family, community, or in close relationships, but instead letting them play out and being present to a greater reality that I am not in control.

If patience is an action, I may have a lot to learn. So in those moments when I feel the need to control or give up or move too fast or break down, I stop. I ask the question, am I being patient right now? And I remember that I’ve grown in this. There is grace for me. I’m not perfect. I don’t have to somehow master patience. But I can move closer to trust. And to a God who knows me and my impatience and loves me anyway.

What about you? Do you think love is patient? How has this played out in your life recently?  Feel free to leave a comment. 🙂 I’ll be continuing this series on what love is in the coming days.

Grappling With Grief In Light Of The Tragedy In Aurora

20 Jul

As I open Facebook, I see pictures of middle school and college friends sharing first days with their newborns, and otheres bringing back their babies from the hospital. I see new marriages being celebrated. Engagements, happy moments.  Just hours ago, I congratulated them all, thanking God for being so miraculous and amazing. I am laughing at how, one friend I’d met the first day I moved into my dorm, once seriously and chronically addicted to a game we coined “The Bean Game,” could now be in charge of a human life. Oh, how God loves us…

I’m seeing my boyfriend tonight for the first time in a week. I look forward to these reunions, life is good. I’m thankful…

It’s Friday. My favorite day of the week. We get free bagels and donuts and the only thought in my mind is how I’m going to secure an Old Fashioned donut for one of my bosses who gets bummed if they run out before he gets there. I’d better hurry…

I’m wondering when and how my friends are going to coordinate our schedules in order to see “The Dark Knight Rises” in IMAX…

I’m in the elevator going up from the mail room where I grabbed my other boss’s Wall Street Journal. I don’t read the headlines.  And that’s when I get a text…

“Did you hear about Colorado?”

“Not really. Something about a shooting but no details.” I reply, sadly blaze.  I listened to podcasts, don’t have a TV, and hadn’t checked Google News yet.

And then it all changes. I go the news for the first time. Aurora, Colorado. 12 dead. 58 injured. Midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.” Wait, what? Aurora? Colorado? Aurora Mall?! THE Aurora Mall?

I was born in Aurora, Colorado. I lived there for 8 years. It’s likely I went to the Aurora Mall every week of my life or close to it until we moved to Chicago when I was in the third grade. It’s a pretty normal suburban town.  I have fond, idyllic memories of Aurora, Colorado. I swallow. Tears welling, throat closing.

This time, it feels closer to home because it IS my home.

I look at the Twitter feed, find old friends who lived in Colorado to see their FB statuses. I start crying at my desk. Too close to home.  They were just going to see a movie. They thought it was special effects. I don’t think I know anyone personally, but still. It’s my hometown.

And then suddenly I don’t understand. It doesn’t make sense. I have questions. God, where are you in this? Will we ever know? Why is this world so broken? How is this happening?  The same God who allows people to come into this world…how could He allow people to leave it when they just wanted to go to the movies with their friends and families? Is that the wrong question?  Why would someone murder people in cold blood at the movies? What do I do with my questions? Why is this happening again?

As I’m thinking of this, moments from February come rushing back when a 15 year old freshman decided to jump off his high school’s roof in the town where I worked at the high school where one of my good friends teach and where kids from my church attend.  A high school, which I was at for a career fair just days after the tragedy.  A high school were this kind of thing doesn’t happen. But maybe I should stop saying that, because it does. And it is. More and more.

Then come moments from September 11th when my boyfriend at the time lived 4 blocks from the World Trade Center and I couldn’t contact him for a few hours.  For days after we were all trying to make sense of it. Why? How? Who would do such a thing? This is America. How is it things like this keep happening?

I realize bad things happen. They have since the beginning of time when there was sin. We live in a fallen world. But that doesn’t console me today when I read about a young woman who was studying to be a broadcast journalist who just wanted to go to the movies.

It doesn’t help me when I see pictures of people standing outside of my brother’s high school, wondering where their missing kids are.

People will blame. People will grasp. And at the end of the day, all I can do is keep asking my questions and keep hoping beyond hope that the God of this universe will console. He is bigger than this and he sees outside of time. He will meet us in our need. He will protect and love us and be the place we go when we have questions, when we have grief. When we wonder what is happening in this world.

I settle upon Psalm 34:

I will extol the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are attentive to their cry;
16 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to blot out their name from the earth.

17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

19 The righteous person may have many troubles,
but the Lord delivers him from them all;
20 he protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken.

21 Evil will slay the wicked;
the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord will rescue his servants;
no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.

And there it is.

I don’t pretend to understand. I just want to hope.

I just want to hug my family and friends.

I just want to remember Aurora the way it was.

And I just want people to be able to go to the movies without worrying that their lives will become one.

 

The Kiss That Changed Her

1 Jul

I submitted this story to a writing contest and got “Runner Up.” I wanted to post it on here, so my regular readers could enjoy!

The Kiss That Changed Her

Her seventeenth summer, as she pinpointed later, signified the transition from girl to woman. So desperate to give away the last piece of her childhood, she fully and defiantly embraced what the world had been telling her about boys and decided to kiss one she didn’t know. She chose her catalytic moment and her companion carefully. He was a nice Jewish boy from New Jersey while she was a WASP from the suburbs of a Midwestern city. He was taking AP Spanish and a slew of other smart sounding classes in the fall and they bonded over milkshakes at a local soda fountain on the Fourth of July. She met him at a summer program where kids from all walks of life became students in various artistic disciplines. He was smart and had a radiant smile that completely cemented in her a strict requirement of straight teeth for the rest of her dating career, long after he was a distant memory. He was sweet and smooth. She was awkward and unsure but loved the attention.

It started with a movie screening. The entire group of students in their program went to the local mall, off of the university campus where they were living to see the latest summer blockbuster. Something about little green men. She didn’t pay much attention because she was too busy plotting how her life would change forever with one Kiss. To be sure, she was idealistic. To a fault. He had shown interest. She related well to him and yearned to see his smile up close. After careful maneuvering and plotting with a new friend eager to see some relational fireworks before the real show that evening, somehow she was sitting next to him. Would their hands brush? Would he notice her playing with her hair and smiling out of the corner of her mouth? Would their eyes lock? Would he have enough gumption for a seventeen year old to make his move? She wondered this throughout the movie, not really watching it, instead sneaking short glances at him. His eyes crinkled when he smiled, making him look like an old happy man. His dimples came out, a surprise moon cresting on the horizon. His eyes laughed. He smelled like Old Spice deodorant and whatever cologne seventeen year old boys employ to gain the attention of young girls. It was working. He had her attention.

It wasn’t until later, when they finally found some time alone to escape to the local Burger King where it was rumored that people got robbed where she really got to know him and decided that by the fireworks she would have her Kiss and her Change. He made small talk. She didn’t know much about him but his JCC shirt intrigued her. She wondered why the East Coast had JCC’s and wondered why she didn’t see them in the suburbs where protestant churches were on every street corner. By the time they made it to the soda fountain next door, he had flirted but didn’t make an attempt to hold her hand. Conversation flowed. He smiled easily. Any minute now.

When they arrived back at the soccer field where the requisite Fourth of July BBQ was taking place there was only one option for both of them: Soccer. She hadn’t played since she was ten. She hoped it wouldn’t show. He was a natural, moving in and out of the opposing players as a knife slides through hot butter. His technique, impressive. Her interest, piqued. They played for hours until it was time for a photo. A picture together made these few moments a memory. Time for charbroiled hot dogs, potato salad, and Coke. Too many people, not intimate enough. Night was falling soon.

It wasn’t until they made their way to the lake fill for the fireworks when she knew the Kiss might actually be a realistic possibility. She procured a blanket and lingered back, keeping him well within her sites. What a plotter she was for seventeen! He took the bait and caught up. They were both sweaty but the cool air off the lake was washing away any signs of finished soccer games. They were a world away. Suddenly it was just the two of them. The rest of the gang had gone ahead. He didn’t want to be with them and surely she did not, although in her cocky seventeen year old mind played out a fantasy. Suddenly having all the girls see her with him would have allowed her to finally put to rest her fears of inadequacy with all the boys back at her suburban high school. But who needed high school when she was playing the role of “student” living out life at a university near a lakeshore on the Fourth of July when fireworks were about to begin?

He sat down gingerly, a momentary blip in his confidence. She saw it and breathed for the first time all day. Was he as nervous as she was? As cute as he portrayed himself to be, he must have kissed a lot of girls, right? No matter, she was on a mission. She sat down next to him. Too close? Too close. She moved away immediately, nervous. His hand was next to hers. There were murmurs in the crowd as one firecracker popped, echoing above the lake sending streams of light streaking across their faces. The anticipation was killing the crowd. A wave of cheers. His pointer finger brushed the top of her hand. Electricity. She stopped breathing. Was this really happening? Just as she had planned? No. Way. She wasn’t that girl. Things like this didn’t happen to her. How? Music. Someone turned on a radio. John Phillips Sousa. As the piccolo played, her heart raced along, in synch. He looked at her. She stole a look, expecting to see the side of his face. Her palms were sweaty. He kept his eyes fixed on her. It was getting darker by the moment. She couldn’t quite determine the emotion behind his warm brown eyes. Excited? To kiss her? Really? He leaned in closer, revealing that boyish grin. She couldn’t help but smile back. Intoxicating. Little girl no more. The moment she had been waiting for.

The fireworks began.

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