Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Appeaser


Photo: marcolm at FreeDigitalPhotos.net               


The setting on the thermostat is an ongoing battle in our house. My husband is consistently warmer than I am, and wants the setting much cooler than my comfort zone. I appease him, most of the time, except this morning. The house was a chilly 62 degrees. Sometime during the night, he turned off the heater even though the outside temperature was below fifty. 

During the ensuing discussion, I was less than charitable in both thoughts and words.

This was actually an indication of a deeper personal issue. My parents raised me to put the needs, and comfort of others first. Then, my abusive first husband forced this to the extreme. Thanks to therapy, I found a better balance, but as every woman knows, society still demands we play the part of the appeasers. If we want to make others happy, we need to be solicitous of their feelings and needs, always. Add in motherhood and we take this even further. 

I do have days when I imagine what it would be like to do something I wanted, without weighing everyone's opinions and needs first. But that would be selfish, right? 

When struggling with an issue, my first impulse is always to turn to my devotions. My first reading this morning: “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” John 13:34. 

Interesting coincidence. 

After reading the accompanying meditation, I realized Jesus loved us enough not only to die for us, but also to tell us the truth. It is the deception that causes most of my anger, not putting others needs before mine.  

In order to appease others, especially my husband, I tell small lies, saying, “Sure, I’d love to,” when in reality I am fuming because I never speak up and suggest a compromise. Instead, I appease, swallow my preferences, and feed the volcano. 

Sound familiar?

I need to love others, as Jesus did, patiently and unselfishly with charity and honesty, and not merely to merely appease someone else.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

When Church Hurts


Photo by Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net 


Sometimes church hurts. People, even those who claim to be followers of Christ, hurt others, even fellow worshippers. A study of the Acts of the Apostles shows great discord in the early church after the Resurrection. Staunch Jewish converts demanded strict adherence to their customs, particularly circumcision. Gentile converts balked, having a different viewpoint. Greek converts complained their widows were not receiving the same considerations as those of other ethnic backgrounds. Others of Jewish heritage decried the conversion of Gentiles, wanting the Christian church to remain only among Jewish converts. 

We can certainly imagine those discussions were not always conducted with Christ like charity. Sounds like similar rifts today between Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists and non-denominational fundamentalist churches. Even members lash out against each other over interpretation of scripture. 

Somewhere in all of this, the combatants forget the greatest commandment, “Love God above all things, with your whole heart and mind.” 

Love God above your sense of righteousness, your interpretation of scripture, and your judgment of the holiness of others. Love God, and let that love show in your actions, and then your words.
The second great commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love the woman sitting next to you, the one whose lifestyle you vehemently disapprove. Love the screaming child acting in a way none of yours would ever behave. Love the preacher who has proven he is all too human. Love those who criticize you. 

My church deeply hurt me, to the point I looked elsewhere for a church home. After years of searching, God led me back. That first Sunday, I sat in my pew alone, depressed and hurt. I watched families worshiping together, remembered the family I had lost, remembered the cruelty of fellow members. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Where There Is Hatred...




Lately it seems there is a lot of hatred floating around from both political parties, from anti-religious groups, and groups claiming to be religious. During these hateful exchanges, they forget every life is precious, every life deserves a chance, every life deserves respect. The words to this famous prayer set a good example of behavior, whether you profess faith in God or not. Do not return hate with more hate. It has to stop somewhere.

These words came to my mind during my devotions this morning in response to something that has been heavy on my heart recently. I don't always behave this way, but I plan to pray this prayer every morning, noon, and night. Hopefully, the words will become ingrained enough in my heart and mind to become action, not just words. As the old song says, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” And I challenge you to do the same.

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Odd Ones




Writers are an odd lot. We don’t think like most folk. A chat group with writers is an adventure, even for a fellow writer. Thinking out of the box is one way to describe it, but parameters outside of the universe might be a better description.

Simple statements, or observations, spontaneously explode into scenes, characterizations, and mini-plots, and this is just when chatting. Even I roll my eyes at some of the far fetched, but insanely funny, rabbit holes we follow.

Yes, it’s true. Thriller/suspense writers have an odd collection of files that could garner the attention of Homeland Security. Writers can remember every interesting conversation we’ve overheard, but forget to put coffee in the coffee pot, and stare blankly at the clear water pouring out, wondering what happened.

It isn’t that we are not intelligent, or forgetful. We are distracted. While making coffee, one or two story lines fill our minds. We see the scene playing out, which keeps us from seeing other things, like the task at hand.

“You talk like a writer.” I have always wondered what that means, exactly. I don’t quite understand how my choice of words is that much different from non-writers. Then, as most of my friends are fellow authors, our pattern of speech and word choices just seem normal to me, but obviously not to others.

We all have that faraway look in our eyes when a story idea hits. My husband has stopped asking me what I am thinking. Family just continues conversation, knowing I’ll join back in, eventually.
Yes, I do carry a note pad and pen with me everywhere, and I have prayed for red lights so I could write down an idea. I would like to have some kind of recorder, but I would still need pen and paper. Dissecting different ways of sneaking into a building, or killing someone, spoken aloud into a recorder while having lunch at McDonalds might not be in my best interest. Then, on second thought, it might be fun — until the SWAT team shows up.