February is always a fun season. You get to see all sorts of pink Valentines stuff that no one really needs, unless it’s the heart shaped Reese’s candy. It’s a season of love, the end of the winter season is around the corner and we remember being in class and getting those great little paper notes. Love is so much more than this, it can often just be seen as the romantic, but the reality is that love is so much more than feelings toward another person, it is an action and one that should be our first choice.
I’m struck by how little love there is around us.
I love the changing of the seasons. Sure, it’s just the weather shifting but I love the way it marks the end of one thing and the beginning of another. I think our lives constantly go through the changing of seasons. We enter one phase while experiencing the growth of another. Each season brings with it new challenges and new joys, and there is always an opportunity for each of us. As I continue with this series on living a thankful life, I want to take a look today at the importance of understanding the power of the past and how having gratitude can change our future.
Hey there. It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve written here. Life decided to get all sorts of crazy. I feel like this has been the year of tests for all of us. I got called back to work, and really haven’t been excited to head back when there are still so many unknowns about this pandemic. We all then, also face personal choices and issues that come up in our lives. In all of these moments, life gets really tough. We don’t know how to react, what to feel, or how we can’t make it out.
The thing I keep clinging on to and the thing that keeps my head above water is this; joy.
I love rainstorms. There’s just something about the feeling of sitting inside and looking out of a window while rain is pouring that gives me a cozy feeling. It’s currently raining here, as it often does in the summers, and it’s giving me moments to think. I actually have a lot of time to think, just like most of you, in the midst of this wild ride of a year. What I love about rain is that during the storm, things can get crazy. Lightning, thunder, wind; it all goes from zero to ten quickly. The best part is, is that after the rain, the sun comes out and new life springs up.
The rhythms of life often move in the same way. We find ourselves in the midst of trouble, conflicts ranging all over the place and it can get pretty disheartening. What always amazes me though, is that after these moments of chaos, peace comes in, and growth is evident.
Well, it’s been a bit of a challenging past two weeks. We’ve seen a lot of great first steps towards justice and choosing to recognize that there is still a deep problem in the world.
How is it hard to choose to support and lift up the voices who are unheard? For my fellow believers, how are we not at the forefront of loving others?
We must all continue to look at ourselves and see how we can be a positive voice for the unheard. What I have seen is what happens time and time again; we are choosing to look for other narratives because the current makes us uncomfortable. It’s easier to look at a small issue, rather than address the hundreds of years’ worth of hate and prejudice.
“I can’t breathe”
These were the words that came from a man who moments later was murdered. A black man. Another black man. I’m heartbroken to continually see black men and women murdered and abused simply because of their skin. I’m heartbroken to see the lack of response to clear and conscious acts of racism in our country. It seems like we have more outrage of wearing a mask than protecting the lives of the people around us, who are clearly being oppressed.
This must stop.
When is enough, enough?
At what point will we see this as a systemic issue that needs to be addressed?
Stop ignoring and choosing not to hear these stories; speak out, stand up.
I was thinking back to about a year ago when I was listening to Reggie Joiner speak at Orange Conference. He made a statement that stuck with me, and popped into my head the other day. He said this, “On his way to save everyone, Jesus stopped to save someone.” I love that. In the context of what he was talking about was the story of Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was a man that no one liked, and he wasn’t really likable. Despite what he had done, he wanted to listen to the teachings of Jesus, and Jesus called him to be greater. God sent his son to save everyone and he started by saving someone.
I’ve been talking about love a lot recently. Most of my posts have centered around the idea of how to love others and how to love ourselves the way Jesus loves. The idea for me was sparked during a conference I went to over the spring of last year, the Orange Conference, its’ main theme being “it’s personal.” One of the speakers was Bob Goff, and of course, if you know anything about him, he’s all about loving people. This spark made me look at the way I live. How do I love others like Jesus? What does that look like? What steps can I take towards loving in his radical ways? The answer seems to be right in front of me, in front of all of us. We want to be better people. We want to make positive changes and influence in the lives of the people we come across. So, what do we do?
We do what Jesus did, we call out the greatness in others.
Have you ever been in a season of new? The past year of Danielle and I’s life has been filled with new. Since we got married last September, we thought it would be great to do all the things. From moving to job changes and doing life together, it’s been a wild journey. Everything is new, and new often means that fear begins to creep in. This is a perfect concoction for anxiety, isn’t anxiety just the best? I’ve talked about it on here before, but I’ve dealt with anxiety for a long time. The hard part was is that I was never really open about that fact, I tried to put on a face that I had it all put together, but the truth was, inside I was letting fear rule me. There were situations in high school that made me feel like if I didn’t have it all figured out I wasn’t enough. That led into college where everyone seemed smarter than me, and I would feel inferior to ask for help. I had been in a church job where if I wasn’t “cool” enough or got enough attention, I was seen as someone who wasn’t cut out for ministry or that I didn’t have enough “woo.”
I don’t say this to gain sympathy from you, reader. I simply talk about this because there was a moment during that college phase that helped me realize that the root of anxiety is fear, and fear is a punk.
“He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
‘You have answered correctly,’ Jesus replied. ‘Do this and you will live.’
What does it look like to truly follow Christ? I think so many times for us we wonder if what we are doing is the right thing, if we are allowed to do or say different types of things, or if we can associate with certain people. We need to stop. We need to break free of the mindset that faith is a set of rules. Faith with Christ is a relationship, an authentic relationship shared with the creator of all things. It’s so easy in the church world mindset that we have to follow a certain list of rules in order to be allowed in the club. Following Christ is not about earning enough gold stars to go to heaven, it’s about a relationship of love with the king of kings. This can be difficult. We live in a modern age where following Christ can be pushed to the side. We have endless entertainment and can post pictures of our bible on Instagram without ever actually reading it. The crazy thing is, this has been a struggle since Jesus came onto the scene. No they didn’t have hours of shows to stream on Netflix or some Jesus and coffee aesthetic to keep up with on Instagram. What they had was the core of the struggle, what does it look like to truly follow Christ?