I didn’t know…….

As a child, I was never allowed to call elderly people, teachers or pastors by their first name only. Respect was shown for their age or position by some presumed or real title…….Maas this or Miss that, or Aunty Jane or Uncle John or Pastor so and so. I didn’t know that in other cultures it wasn’t like that.

I didn’t know that their could be a vast amount of and or prolonged periods of sunshine in winter, I further didn’t know that clothes if hung to dry in this sunlight would never get dried.

I didn’t know that airlines if over booked would ‘pay’ passengers to give up their seats, provided they volunteered. Now I know why some people always lurked by the counters, now I know. And please note….it seems best to volunteer as you dont want to be dragged from your seat.

I didn’t know for a very long time that things could not fill the void and emptiness that can exist inside of us. I also didn’t know that every single human being longs for, lives for and desires validation; until you ask a question and you end up listening to a narrative at least five minutes long about related and unrelated matters.

I didn’t know that love could or would hurt…..until my heart itself got broken. Even then I didn’t know it was love that was breaking my heart, I thought it was hate. I didn’t know puppy love was real, until I got my own dogs and saw how much they loved me. I had no choice but to love them back……..kinda how God loves me so much that I can’t help but love him in return.

I didn’t know men felt shame………or struggled to be brave.

I remember as a child being fascinated with these ‘words’….’Yogoslavia, Mississippi, Philadelphia, Vancouver, Amsterdam, Czechoslovakia’………as a little girl these were just words. I have always loved words…. I just didn’t know that for a very long time. I also didn’t know that I would ever get to visit some of these places.

I didn’t know that my worth was not pegged to anything. I didn’t know I was enough right now in this skin, with this body and face…….and I didn’t know that for a very long time. Even now I still struggle, but each time I just catch the thought and come back.

And there are many other things I still dont know……….

 

Drugs of Choice

If you are like me, I am sure you have said this a lot …….. “how could you?” “I dont understand”………..well maybe you don’t.

I had a brief conversation with my co-worker today about coffee addiction and I got to thinking…..  Are we all addicted to something?

Coffee, TV, Talking, Chocolate, Sex, Prescription medicines, Heroin,cocaine, Food, books, Smokes, Coca cola /pepsi, Marijuana, Gambling, Violence, Gadgets, worrying, work, planning and perfecting ……….

I mean real addiction. Like you suffer from withdrawal syndrome…… you have headaches, twitches, mood swings……..like you probably need rehab centres, like if you had to choose between your life, family and this ‘thing’ you would think twice or have to think long and hard about it……..but you would never disclose that to anyone, not even to God are you willing to admit that. After all, its your little secret!!!!

Is anyone addicted to Jesus this way? 

Do disorders create addictions? OCD and ADD come to mind. So I got to thinking…..what am I addicted to?

Food????- no I don’t think so. I eat only to survive.

Coffee– hardly……I drink it because it is offered. I never choose to drink coffee. My mom however is way different.

Conversations – now I have to think hard about this one. It might just be the one…..

Gadgets- well I couldn’t survive without my phone. Although I don’t use it if I am watching a favorite movie, during church, during my devotions, when I am on the bus or train or walking, neither do I practice to be on it when I am having a face to face. I think the latter is quite rude.

Gambling and Violence– I take some pretty big risks, and do some difficult and crazy things but they are usually calculated and far from reckless. So yes I do gamble, but I don’t play games of chance, except participate in some random raffles or sweepstakes. And violence not me, coward man keep sound bones.

Work– helloooooo, that is merely a necessary contraption and especially because my career is not my calling.

Drugs (prescription and otherwise) -well so far so good. My prayer is for courage to not conform to the desires of the world or my natural tendencies and thus to not numb pain.

Sex– never have been and hope to never be.

Worrying– yes man that’s a biggie. Who among us doesn’t worry? But we must learn not to become worry freaks.  A perennial struggle.

Planning and perfecting– yes especially us females. We want to do everything perfectly. But excellence isn’t perfection. And whilst there are no substitutes for planning, we must be flexible and open. Further more, Proverbs 16 v 9 tells us to plan our course but know that he direct our steps.

So yes we may have drugs of choice and it may not be so much what we do, but why we do it.

 

 

 

Rules Vs Principles

RULES                                                                      PRINCIPLES

The Ten Commandments     ………………… ………Love God and Love Neighbour

Do not drink and drive………………………………….Drink Responsibly

Gown and Black Tie affair…………………………….Dress elegantly

Drink eight glasses of water………………………….Make sure you are hydrated daily

It will be sunny today…………………………………….Weather will be good today

Christians do not marry Muslims…………………Do not be unequally yoked.

You must get an A+………………………………………..Do your very best

No jeans, minis, short shorts allowed…………..Wear appropriate work attire

Tyres must be changed each season…………….Vehicles must be maintained regularly.

You must be home by 9 pm…………………………..Get home at a reasonable time.

Tithe 10%………………………………………………………..Give generously, as the spirit leads

No slurping or slumping at the dinner table…Practice proper dining etiquette

Rules puts us in straitjackets and imposes on our freewill. However, without some boundary there will be chaos and disarray. We need rules, they are a protection.

Principles force us to think and choose. Rules cannot exist for every possible human action or situation- some things just cannot be put in a rule book.  

We all play judge, but we also all stand accused. God himself is the final arbiter and only legitimate Judge.

A Strange Coincidence

Self- help books, motivational speeches, human resources literature, professional development workshops, mentors, seminars, Psychologist’s prescriptions…..all culminate in one place, The BIBLE. Come with me on this journey-if you will.

  • Do not respond to something in anger or when in an emotional state…….Proverbs 15 v 1 and 28, James 1 v 19-20
  • Only way to deal with pain is to go through it……..dont numb it; admit to it, feel it, accept it and deal with it…… this too shall pass…..Never give up. 1 Corinthians 10 v 13, Matthew 5 v 4, 2 Corinthians 4 v 16-18, Romans 8 v 28
  • Fear is crippling….courage doesn’t mean you are not afraid…………….1 Peter 3 v 13-14, 17, Galatians 5 v 17-18
  • Your word is your bond….. Ecclesiastes 5 v 4, Matthew 5 v 37 and James 5 v 12 and Psalms 15 v 4 (this one is sticky isn’t it?)
  • Life is just for living …..Ecclesiastes 9 v 7-10
  • Life is unfair…….Ecclesiastes 9 v 11-12
  • Set realistic goals and expectations….prioritize and have work-life balance…… Proverbs 23 v 4-5, Ecclesiastes 3 v 1-9, Exodus 18 v 13-24, Mark 6 v 31-32
  • Don’t be too hard on self……..exercise self-compassion…..Romans 7 v 14-20
  • Criticizing, complaining, condemning and comparing……the four monsters….Karma is real…..Matthew 7 v 1-6, Matthew 7 v 12 and Galatians 6 v 7-10
  • If you numb pain, you also numb the virtues and the benefits that accrue to you as a result of feeling pain…. and you wont feel compassion for yourself or for others either.John 16 v 31, Romans 5 v 3-5, James 1 v 2-4 and 12 also 1 Peter 5 v 6-10
  • Good leadership embraces humility, courage, vulnerability, transparency……check out the life of Jesus, Moses, David, Joshua, Joseph, King Hezekiah….
  • Happiness in not directly aligned to the amount of stuff we have………Luke 12 v 15 and Mark 8 v 36-37, 1 Timothy 6 v 6-10
  • Forgive……let it go….do not be vindictive……Matthew 5 v 38-42, Romans 12 v 17-21, Colossians 3 v 13-15
  • Your intentions and motives make the action…….Hebrews 4 v 12-13, 1 Samuel 16 v 7
  • Give, give , give……be kind….Acts 20 v 35, 2 Corinthians 9 v 7, Proverbs 19 v 17
  • Exercise empathy…….. 1 John 3 v 17, Hebrews 10 v 24, 1 Thessalonians 5 v 14-15

Its just startling that this is free advice……and yet we search  and search and spend so much to access it otherwise. This best-selling book is compacted with practical wisdom and life-saving grace and more often than not, is free of cost.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to do courage and remove fear…….

1. Showing up for the first day of a new school or a new job…..

2. Grabbing a bus schedule and taking the bus, by yourself to someplace you don’t know

3. Having your 10 year old girl commute daily to her new school in a town 40 miles from home, even though she is leaving home for the first time.

4. Attending a new church even once per month and then sitting to fellowship with total strangers.

5. Apologizing sincerely….after you confess face to face or via text message, to a lie or a hurtful comment.

6. Asking for a raise or promotion at work

7. Speaking up in a meeting- any meeting;  be it at work, at a PTA, at Alpha or at Toastmasters

8. Remaining silent even though your lips are twitching

9. Taking your friends to meet your Dad who you barely know yourself , and then all stay at your stepmother’s house.

10. Saying No………

11. Doing a Pap smear, a BSE, mammograms, MRIs, STI tests, or just going to the doctor for birth control. An abortion…….

12. Telling your friends of your break-up……AGAIN

13. Resigning from a permanent post…..or leaving a job without another one in sight (……..be careful here)

14. Saying “I don’t know”

15. Going to the gym for the first time

16. Initiating sex

17. Offering forgiveness and being kind

18. Taking your boyfriend home

19. Countering/Disagreeing with the boss

20. Putting on a bathing suit

21. Talking to a friend who is grieving some loss

22. Lending money

23. Saying ” I Love You” every single time

24. Getting baptized

25. Going on a blind date or any first date ( without your friends tagging along)

26. Blogging- or approaching a publisher about a book you are writing

27. Confronting anyone

28. Leaving your parents nest

29. A man crying

30. Having a conversation about sex with a child

31. Telling family you are sick…………doing a surgery

32. Telling a friend they are wrong or their child is sick or rude

33. Going to an interview

34. Giving feedback, accepting criticism

35. Going it alone……like migrating without family.

36. Trying to get pregnant……getting pregnant after a miscarriage

37. Parenting

38. Loving ……even an animal

39. Asking for help, and offering to help

40. Getting married…..getting divorced

41. Grieving………Burying a relative

42. Learning to drive…..

43. Living alone

44. Taking the subway at 5 am by yourself, in Chicago…..( do not throw caution to the wind with this one)

45. AA meetings or enrollment at a Rehab center

46. Starting Chemotherapy and Radiation

47. Doing a photo shoot, and consenting to your pictures being posted to the photographers website.

48. Dancing

49. Dating Naked ( the show)

This list is by no means exhaustive …..and remember Jesus did ask for the cup to pass three times, if it were God’s will. The moment I discovered that was an AHA moment for me, and it likewise made clearer Hebrews 4 v 15-16……

Kids will be kids 

We cared only about a few things- playing, playing and playing some more; then we slept, well, because all that play made you tired and truly not much to do after dark and ate (and we didn’t have McDonalds). Baths were also not what they are today. We played with each other, toys were not optional just not an entitlement neither were they pervasive so we made our own toys and boy did we improvise. Necessity is the mother of invention for real. Church was not optional either, and neither was an effort made for it to be fun. Time and place for everything…….we learnt that very quickly.

Hence, while I was at church yesterday I started noticing the kids. They are just like we were. Church is not optional for them either, but with children’s ministry as an adult, I think church is fun. I can’t speak for the kids, or can I? And yes they played and played and played ………just because that’s what kids do. These kids really do not get to engage with other kids like that, much anyway. So yes, they learn to make the most of the time- even if it’s at church.  And eating, well that seemed to be an inconvenience, a waste of good play time, thrusted upon us/them via force or blackmail. As kids we knew the consequences of ‘romping’ in church.  We had many other opportunities anyway…..although we would have, if given the chance. And as it regarded eating of vegetables and soups……aside from the one or two boll weevil, I quote Henry Kissinger ” the absence of alternatives clears the mind marvelously” How does that work now? Do these kids love their veggies and soups?

Today kids are sent to all kinds of lessons: swimming, music, art, self-defense, soccer, other sports, dance, extra academic classes etc. Poor kids, hardly anytime to play. Play for us, taught us to become social beings at no financial cost to our parents……Back home, I see this restriction on child’s play quietly creeping in and while I know safety is a big issue we need not make it an excuse; apparently too keeping the kids clean, isolated and untainted is a badge of honour. But as adults we hardly speak the same language as kids, you would think we know that.

Kids will be kids- even if they have all the video games and toys in the world. Of course, I noticed yesterday too the occasional boy- no surprise here, glued to some screen playing some game which at a glance seems violent, of course. Now when we went to church, the only thing we took was a bible- whether you could read it or not, and couple icy mints. Have we ever thought how culpable we are, in all the school shootings and random killings???…..after all, without play, kids do not learn much about healthy competition, fair play, conflict and anger resolution. Connecting has to be taught even though we are born connected. Now I must add this caveat, I have met parents who have migrated just because they want their kids to play…… I do not for a minute, dispel the fact that in some places, kids are just not safe if they are allowed to go out and play. I hear gruesome tales about organ harvesting, ransom kidnappings and many other horror stories.

Parents love to say these modern day kids are different…..no doubt being born in the 21st  centrury means a whole lot of ‘rights’ and exposure. But is it the kids fault when they exploit all the boundaries or live outside the boundaries? After all, I see them doing the same things we did and pushing the limits too, just like we did…..just that they get pass we didn’t….. ask yourself then who or what has changed? For all I know, rights come with responsibilities and exposure requires shades and sunscreen. Kids who run amok, kids who are always happy, always told yes, always get their way, do not become courageous or functional adults. Parents are not called to be perfect, kids pay closer attention than you think…..they need to see mistakes and vulnerability and then they need to see how you pick yourself up and find solutions…..after all they are not born into and will not live in a perfect world.

I know a mother, a wealthy family; whose kids do not get gifts just because it’s a holiday or a special occasion. They have a scoring system with merit and demerits, for their kids. They earn their gifts when a maximum number of points are earned. I cast no stones here….. and this goes both ways. For on Valentines Day, the mom does not demand a gift from them, she merely asks. This is then usually made, not bought……ingenious way to teach them creativity and improvising, right!… and vacations are sometimes to locations where poverty and need, can be seen first-hand.

No one they say is born courageous nor prejudiced. That is true…..just look at how kids interact with each other. Our play mates came from a wide crossection- from sore foot this, picky head and lice head that, tiefing John’s son, prostituting Jane’s daughter, holier than thou Mary Janes, one room Annie and flush toilet Jack- we didn’t care, although I know our parents were concerned somewhat. Are kids born obedient and humble? Or are those taught too? What I know is that discipline is a necessary tool in parenting…..and don’t even bother to counter with the argument that you don’t want your kids to hate you. Yes they will, but when you allow them to self- destruct, they will at that time for sure. I have seen grown men and women who punish their parents (overtly and covertly) in so many ways, for just that. Remember what happened to Eli, the high priest who didn’t scowl his two sons and just look at what is said at Exodus 34 v 6-7……..Discipline is a loving gesture, and must not be viewed in the warped way we currently do, of course I am not talking about physical or verbal abuse.

A friend of mine a couple years ago told me that whenever she is having a hard time parenting she just call on her child-less friends. I read in a magazine days ago, of an author who does the same thing. Her reason is similar, she says those friends are sane and well rested…….I found this to be wisdom and vulnerability at the core…….to trust your parenting decisions to those who can least empathize. But apparently it works…….I have a cousin who does the same thing too, come to think of it. Childless myself- I oft refrain from offering parenting advice…..who am I to know? After all, the first thing I am usually told is “you are not qualified to offer me advice here”…. not in so many words of course. The other thing is, people love to ascribe blame and devolve themselves of responsibility when things go wrong- we love easy targets. Either way when I somehow get to be in the line of fire, I either listen or put in my two cents……after all it still takes a village.

Empathy vs Sympathy 

As I was about to board the bus yesterday, a paraplegic joined me……I respectfully, stood back to allow her to enter before me….but she would not have it. “You go first” she said. I did exactly that, and then I thought to myself, “what exactly was she saying to me” ….or should I take her response at face value. All those sitting in the section reserved for her, vacated the seats and found other spots….there is just something about us when we see the weakness in others. It evokes compassion and connection. I dare not think whether we would oblige if there were no clear signs indicating that the elderly, mothers with babies and those with disabilities get priority to those seats. So I got to thinking about our actions and our intentions.

1. The Pity Party- I know many people, myself included, who host these at one time or another, whether in the past or right now as we speak. We somehow get some satisfaction from having others feel sorry for us or worse than that, we want to feel good by making others feel bad. I have seen it in marriages, in friendships, at work, in churches just about everywhere people are. I just hate them, Oh I hate them, and that’s why I gracefully went ahead of this kind young lady because she was in my mind telling me that she was not hosting that party yesterday. I loved her for that. Maybe it’s because it was Valentines Day and she had her red roses and boyfriend with her, I really don’t know but that for me was a courageous act on her part and I adore her for it. That aside, it led me to see the real person in her- she was in her boots, with her make up on and her hair out. She was deeply engaged in her conversation with her guy, they kissed, touched each other and a smile never left her face. She is alive, she is living …….I wish we could be like that more often. It reminds me of just how much we should focus on the gifts we have and never on, never-enough.

2. The Laws- so we know that persons with disability are treated with care by this society. Buildings and modes of transport must be wheel chair accessible, schools must have special equipment, policies and rooms to accommodate them, there has to be equal opportunity for them in workplaces, and the tax laws give special deductions and incentives for those so afflicted. Society makes sure they are not forgotten nor marginalized. After all, today we are healthy, bouncing around and kicking up dust, but we never know what an hour or a day brings. People with disabilities are not always born that way.

3. Charities- they abound. I have seen some really innovative ones. Those that provide just socks, those that provide cooked meals, some pay for transportation, women’s rights, homeless and dispossessed, education, the environment ……the world would be filled with darkness without the philanthropists, without the givers and we don’t have to manage and fund foundations to help…..

So let’s practice more empathy……the world needs that much more than sympathy.