Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

Beloved

Wednesday, June 24th, 2020

We must see this clearly, or we will miss the point of our life in Christ. Christ’s followers today receive the same calling and commission. If we miss this, it will have consequences. Rather than be witnesses to Christ in the way we love God, others, and ourselves, we will begin to think that Jesus came to make us nicer or a little more thoughtful, the kind of people who remember birthdays and select more personal Christmas gifts. Rather than tell others about God’s grace or offer mercy, we will believe that living a Christian life is about feeling forgiven of our sins. Rather than telling others about the habit-changing, bondage-breaking, turnaround-making power Jesus can have in our lives, we will cultivate a relationship with Christ that is so personal that we never share it with anyone else. Rather than speaking out and working for justice with those who hold position and power in our community and society, we will spend our time telling the already convinced how much better the world would be if it were not exactly as it is. Rather than offering acts of solace to those who grieve, comfort to the sick, or kindness of conversation with prisoners or returning citizens, we will simply offer thanks that we are not in such predicaments ourselves.

Jesus takes us on a journey so that he can deploy us on a mission. He offers his love to us so that we will share it with the world. He does this because he loves us. The first disciples knew they were beloved, not only because of what Jesus did for them, but because Jesus believed in them when he called them to go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. He knew what they could do for him. Jesus believed in them more than they believed in themselves. He saw more potential in them than they ever thought possible in their lives. He forgave them for what they were not, just as he celebrated all that they were. All of this is what is at the heart of being beloved by another. When we are beloved, we gain the confidence another has in us and make it our own. That confidence transforms how we think of ourselves. It guides the journey that, in the end, leads to who we become. Such love, once extended, is what stirs up a new sense of possibility in our lives.

This is the love God has for you, and the belief God holds in you. We must have faith that God believes in us, in our ability to love our neighbor, to treat ourselves properly in this life, and to worship the Lord with our heart, mind, soul, and strength.

— Tom Berlin, Reckless Love, p. 136-137

Photo: Rhein River from Burg Rheinstein, Germany, July 1997

Learning Stories

Friday, April 10th, 2020

I found curiosity a much more loving posture than judgment. I also came to understand that when I am curious about someone, they often feel valued. It is easy to care about people after you know their story and hard to judge them.

I think that is what Jesus had in mind for us. Knowing people’s stories ignites the caring God desires for us to extend. An easy way to love others is to start with a question. Listen to their story. Don’t rush in with solutions or advice or offer up your latest big idea. Be inquisitive and attend to what people offer you. Rome was not built in a day and trust is not built in a minute.

–Tom Berlin, Reckless Love, p. 105-106

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, April 2, 2020

Loving Like Christ

Tuesday, March 24th, 2020

With this experience with Christ, we discover we too can love lavishly, and that love covers a multitude of sins in the world. We discover that the more we forgive others, the more love fills our hearts and crowds out old hurts and resentments. More and more sin’s power over us is repealed and the power of love is displayed. While it is sometimes unwise to drop all boundaries with someone who may hurt us again, lavish love allows us to forgive a person from a distance so that we no longer feel anger or contempt or repetitively re-experience our wound on the movie screen in our mind. Jesus’ call to forgive overcomes the injury and helps us heal. Love lavishly and we are not tempted to use words of contempt or spread unkind stories about another person. This call to constant love is not a dreamer’s verse. It is a description of what it means to follow Christ and live out the lavish love he told his disciples would be the basis and norm of their new life.

— Tom Berlin, Reckless Love, p. 60

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 22, 2020

Love as an Offering

Saturday, October 19th, 2019

To love is not to possess the other person or to consume all their attention and love. To love is to offer the other person joy and a balm for their suffering. This capacity is what we have to learn to cultivate.

— Thich Nhat Hanh, How to Love, p. 95

Photo: L. M. Montgomery’s Cavendish Home, Prince Edward Island, September 23, 2019

Expectations

Monday, August 19th, 2019

Expectations are resentments under construction.

— Anne Lamott, Almost Everything, p. 168

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, August 17, 2019

Pride

Thursday, June 27th, 2019

Often, our pride stands in the way of our asking for help. In true love there is no place for pride. To love each other means to trust each other. If you don’t tell the person you love of your suffering, it means you don’t love this person enough to trust her. You have to realize that this person is the best person to help you. We need to be able to get help from the person we love.

— Thich Nhat Hanh, How to Love, p. 54

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, February 20, 2017

True Relationship

Friday, April 19th, 2019

Yet even though “Love God and love others” is a good summary of the law, this statement is still a law, and Christians are not called to live according to the law. Instead, we are invited to live within a relationship based on love. While God does want us to love Him and love others, we cannot do this until we know that we are loved unconditionally. And once we know we are loved by God, love for Him and for others flows naturally from Him through us as we live within that love. This only makes sense, for no relationship can be built on law. True relationships are always and only built on love.

— J. D. Myers, Nothing But the Blood of Jesus, p. 76

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, April 8, 2019

Maintaining Curiosity

Saturday, April 13th, 2019

A great foundation for loving others is maintaining a level of curiosity; we can always learn more about those we are close to.

— Sharon Salzberg, Real Love, p. 292

Photo: Bull Run Regional Park, Virginia, April 8, 2019

Fully Authentic

Friday, April 12th, 2019

Many people think that having someone close to you come out clouds your vision, but in reality it clarifies it. It redefines words for you. It rewrites false stories. It renovates your religion. It forces you to understand sexuality not as some detached issue but as what it is — human beings; in this case, those you know and love dearly. This is the gift relationship gives you. That proximity we get to people will always show us what we couldn’t see any other way. When you are faced with the reality of having an LGBTQ family member or close friend, it forces you to hold up your theology to see what it’s really made of. And when this happens, some of it gets confirmed, some of it gets shifted, and some of it gets blown up. I’d already done my homework. I’d studied. I’d prayed through it. I’d already reconciled so many of my feelings on gender identity and sexual orientation before this moment, so I knew without blinking that I didn’t have to choose between loving God and loving my brother — and he didn’t have to choose between being gay and being adored by God.

One of the things you learn when you walk down the path of being an ally is that people aren’t LGBTQ based on the consent you give or don’t give to them, the approval you provide or withhold. That’s not how gender identity and sexual orientation work. Your acceptance doesn’t give people permission to be anything. It simply allows them to be fully authentic in your presence and to feel loved as they are. It secures people in those places where they should feel fully secured: in their families and friendships and workplaces and churches. If you don’t think you have LGBTQ family members, coworkers, classmates, and friends right now, you may want to ask yourself if that’s because you’ve created an environment in which they would be afraid to share it even if they were. It might be that your words and manner have already told people that they’re not safe to be honest with you. As our society thankfully becomes less and less hostile to the LGBTQ community and as people begin to gradually feel safer in authenticity, more children will come out and more families will have a new reality to reckon with. Those families will continue to seek spiritually and they will continue to need and deserve to be in faith communities where they are fully welcomed. It is one of the reasons the table needs to be made bigger.

— John Pavlovitz, A Bigger Table, p. 17-18

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, April 8, 2019

Nourished by Joy

Monday, March 18th, 2019

Learn to nourish yourself and the other person with joy. Are you able to make the other person smile? Are you able to increase her confidence and enthusiasm? If you’re not able to do these small things for her, how can you say you love her? Sometimes a kind word is enough to help someone blossom like a flower.

— Thich Nhat Hanh, How to Love, p. 43

Photo: Zweibrücken Rose Garden, Germany, June 2003