From March 1998
“It hurts like hell; and then, one day, it doesn’t.”
-Ari Eastman’s mother.
From I PROMISED YOU
I WOULDN’T WRITE THIS.
Learning to love again takes everything you’ve got. You have to relearn trust, transparency, touch, and to risk speaking truth. You have to remember love is more giving than taking; that people are not perfect; that flaws and faults always come with the territory.
“11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” [1 Corinthians 13:11. NKJV]
Learning to love again is a matter of maturity, fortitude, and determination. It does not “just happen.” It is a decision based on ongoing healing and forming new relationships. It is time to take a chance with new experiences that confirm trustworthiness. It is involves making a commitment to dropping your protective shields and allowing another to know you more fully. It is an adult thing to do. Children simply get mad or sullen, but only for a time. Some adults I have known never move beyond. They wallow in hurt, spite, and revenge. They never forgive, or forget. Somehow, they fester vile to feed their anger; what they do not realize is that this venom is slowly poisoning them from within, like a cancer. Let it go!
To overcome your fear and bitterness, your isolation, you will need to awaken these 4 qualities—
- Trust (risk). We live in community, not separation.
- Faith. More likely than not relying on God is a much better idea than stubborn independence.
- Heart. Activating your passions, your emotions, and fear are worth the risk. Learn to feel again.
- Commitment. Make a decision to commit is stepping out of your comfort zone. You will have to do it sooner or later. To NOT decide, to NOT commit is a decision to die.
Failure to embrace these 4 qualities will leave you in emotional and relational limbo, encased in the darkness of your soul. It will take work to emerge from your cocoon a new butterfly rather than rotting within a decaying caterpillar shell.
Learning to love again will take real effort on your part. Do not love simply as a response to someone else’s love for you. Initiate love from within. Sponges in the ocean have little more function than to suck up the impurities around them. You are not a sponge.
Again, love is a give and take, not the other way around. You must be proactive, not passive.
This concludes our series Learning to love, maybe again or for the first time. Where would like us to go next?
Awaiting with baited breath,
What are the different kinds of love? The ancient Greeks had at least six words (categories) for love—
EROS, or sexual passion. Not always a safe form of love at that; often considered dangerous loss of control.
PHILIA, or deep friendship. Denoting deep comradery, loyalty, and sacrifice for the other.
LUDUS, or playful love. As between children or young lovers. Or cheerful banter in a local pub.
AGAPE, or love for everyone. Selfless love, extended to all people and even distant strangers.
PRAGMA, or longstanding love. The deep-understanding that develops between married couples. It conveys the compromises we make over time to make a relationship work. Patience. Forgiveness.
PHILAUTIA, or love of self. Describes a love that can be an unhealthy self-obsessed narcissism, OR, a love wherein you are secure in yourself, enabling you to have a greater capacity to love others.
As with much of Western Philosophy, compound concepts are grouped under a single word. Thus, the above may be helpful for your understanding, but if we simply recall the numerous relationships we have, it should be obvious that love takes on many shapes. In each love shape the feelings are different, the expressions are different. So also are the degrees of commitment.
Love cannot be discussed solely in a conceptual realm. We need to drag it down to earth, to more human surroundings. When we start talking about love at this level, it forces us to become eminently practical. It is not erroneous to say that to understand love one must first love. So if we are to have any meaningful discussion on love, it truly helps to be in love— with a spouse, a partner, a child, a friend, even a dog. Hopefully, the “other” is reciprocating in some manner which feeds your soul.
So if you want to get into this discussion, ponder the different people you love. How is each love different? How would you describe each feeling? Each different expression? If they all feel the same then something is wrong. If you are expressing your love for your wife the same as you express your love for your car, believe me, something is terribly wrong.
NEXT DISCUSSION: Why does love even exist?!?
Let’s make love an action verb,
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. ~ Matthew 1:18-24
This historical description of the events surrounding Jesus’ birth have been recorded in the Christian Bible for anyone to read. But the WHY of Christmas is a much more panoramic story. It starts with the beginning of time itself. Time, along with this fantastic universe were brought into being for us. That’s right—us. And the Lord God Creator said it was good.
In the early days of our livelihood, life was idyllic, if not busy. God had set our ancestors with the task of naming the animals; a.k.a.- imbuing them with their core characteristics. Busy, busy. Then there was that first garden to plant, till, and harvest. More busy. Forget about clothes. Who had the time anyway!
We did, however, find the time to cross the one line God had drawn in the sand—Do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The rest is history.
Why did Jesus become human? To become one of us. To suffer the punishment we deserved for crossing the line with God. And in so doing we can be reinstated in a relationship with our Creator.
Why is it this way? I don’t know. Make something up. Most people don’t even believe this much. So we’ve turned the celebration of Jesus’ birth into a cultural economic bonanza for marketing and consumerism. Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas celebrations. I love giving gifts. [Ok, I love receiving them too.]
So I will celebrate in the Christmas spirit right alongside the rest of our culture! But I will also celebrate a more quiet one (or maybe not so quiet), remembering the great gift that God the Creator gave us, Jesus Christ: the way back to Him.
Gary & Starr
We all want to make a difference. Some of us want to make a difference exclusively for ourselves: more money, nicer house, vacation home, BMW 7 series. Nothing wrong with that— except for the “exclusively” part.
Some of us want to make a difference on a local playing field—literally; coaching a sport, serving the elderly, providing meals for the injured, etc. We care about our friends & neighbors.
Fewer of us want to make a difference in the world arena. We become the shakers & movers of world change. We may hold public office and be in the public eye or we may operate under-the-radar, making a difference on the sly. But we keep the world safer and less prone to self-destruct.
The challenge of this EMPulse is obvious. In what ways are you making a difference in your neighborhood, your community, and the world? Notice the question was not Are you making a difference? Why? Because you are not the one who should provide the answer. The people around you should respond. As for making a difference in the world, giving from your bounty (not from whatever is left at the end of the month) should be a priority. But have you ever sought an audience with Theresa May, Michel Temer, Justin Trudeau, Enrique Peña Nieto or Xi Jinping? Some of us need to do that to make a difference.
Kent Julian, on his BLOG Dream to Do, suggests 7 traits of people who make a difference—
- Hard (& smart) worker
- Consistency and Perseverance
- Lifelong Learner
- Delivers the good
If you show evidence of any of these character traits, then you should already be making a difference. Add significant time in Prayer to that list and you become a lethal weapon in the hands of God.
If you do not exhibit any of these traits, why don’t you? Are you afraid of something, or self-absorbed? Or is personal gain that central to your life? Really?!? Isn’t making a difference worth a little sacrifice?
Do you really want to hear our Lord say to you “Depart from me, I never knew you… .” (Matthew 7:23).
We all need to make sure we are making a difference somewhere.
Honor God, honor people.., make a difference,
Many genuine Christians in this postChristian era still do not comprehend the extent to which the influence of the Christian message has lost its hearing in Western Culture. The mighty dollar is the new God of choice. Power is the new religion; whatever it takes to stay alive or succeed is the practice of faith.
Christianity has lost sway over people’s lives, government decisions, and general morality. What genuine Christianity is flourishing here is doing so outside the mainstream cultural inclinations. But we are not at odds with our culture; we have been subsumed within its values so fully that we are barely noticeable; unless, of course, one of us tries some lame-brained stunt to get noticed in the name of Jesus. Thus do we verify our culture’s judgment that we are irrelevant to anything that matters.
We are still sleeping when it comes to understanding what normal people genuinely think of us; if they think of us at all. To be fair, though, some of us are waking up to the reality that we are in the minority; at least in American culture (referring to the US). Most Christians in the USA still need to come to grips with the realities of the cultural changes and blurring-of-the-lines that has taken place. Do you want to know what people think of us?!? Ask them. Take time to build rich relationships with people around you who never, EVER go to church. Do you want the truth, or do you want to stay asleep…, in a permanent daze?
Let’s wake up and get involved in the lives of those who sit just on the fringes of our lives, who need Jesus.
Honor God, honor people.., make a difference,
A good friend of mine once said, “Life is painful. If you haven’t realized that yet you haven’t lived long enough.”
Life changes. So also do our perceptions of who we are and what we are yet to accomplish.
For example, when I was in my 20s I had a clear sense of calling—
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19, (NIV)
With great energy and enthusiasm I plunged into the depths of our world’s myriad throngs, making one mistake after another. I was so intent on proclaiming that I have spent a lifetime relearning how to communicate our faith so those who need our Lord can understand it. The message is the same, but its transference is now attuned to the culture, experiences, and nuances of those who hear it.
Today, Our Lord Christ reminds me that He is the One who fulfills our faith. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders (us) and the sin that so easily entangles (us). And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2, (NIV)
Christ Jesus will be the One who will draw all the peoples of the world to Himself. He will fulfill the Great Commission given to us. Nonetheless, we are the ones who are called to not loose heart, to stay the course, to throw off everything that hinders, and the sin that entangles, and to keep our focus on our Lord. If we tilt our glance to one side or the other we may believe that we are no longer in the race. I assure you, we are.
Of a truth, I must admit to some discouragement and weariness along the way. Sometimes I’ve just wanted to throw in the towel and say, enough! All I hear back from God is, “Really! That’s interesting.”
Get the point? You are not the one who gets to decide when your calling, your race, is over. Do not mess with the God Who made you. It’s way too dangerous.
Honor God, honor people.., make a difference,