My wife is very wise.
I’m lucky to have her.
She brought up a thought that was presented to her by a writer I greatly respect.
He said “if it doesn’t energise you then maybe it’s not for you.”
Writing hasn’t been energising me like it did. For a long while I loved getting to sit and process and consider what God was saying.
But now it’s a chore, a duty not a love. I don’t look forward to sitting and writing. Maybe, it’s time and space. Maybe life doesn’t allow for it.
Maybe that’s a copout.
I’m not sure but I do know that I’m struggling not just to write but to want to right. I want to want to write but I don’t right now.
So I’m going to take a break. I’m not going away for ever, but I won’t be back next week either.
I hope this space has been positive for you and will be again in the future.
But for now I think it’s time to let this space rest.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 -Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Love is a motive.
It’s not a feeling, is a why.
Love is why we are patient and kind.
Love is why we are not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
Love is why we don’t demand our own way.
You get it.
Choose today to be motivated by love. How do you know if it’s working?
Are you choosing to be patient and kind? Are you choosing not to be jealous or boastful…
Simple, not easy.
John 13:35 “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
In an unexpected turn for this blog I’ve decided to quote some bible verses. Edgy I know.
I’ve been mulling if my commitment to compassion is a problem. I’ve been wondering if my constant talking and championing this life of compassion is a bad idea.
My mullings however I’m going to guess are not what you would expect.
I’m not worried that it talks to much about doing and not enough about being or that it gives the idea that you can work or earn your way into heaven. I think I’m clear that this is the life God calls us to. That means you know God and know that He has a better way. You didn’t earn that connection with God, this is merely the result of connecting with our source.
I’m also not worried that this other centred life doesn’t allow for you as a person to grow. That since you spend all this time thinking about other people and loving them when do you get to connect with God and grow. I’ve talked lots about rest and more than that, I’m all about self-reflection.
Horrible, life altering, self-reflection. Looking into the darkest parts and seeing what’s really there.
What I do worry about is when I talk about doing compassion and invite people to do a compassion challenge it makes a differentiation I’m not sure I like. Not only does it say that compassion is something you do it makes it sound like a fad or a diet “come and try to compassionate life.”
That’s not what this is about.
I haven’t decided if I’m going to keep using the word or not, but don’t be mistaken.
When/if I say “living a life of compassion” what I’m asking is are you ready to be a mature disciple or not? Are you ready to be a mature Christian or not?
It’s not a fad.
What I’m asking is do you or do you not want to live the way God has called you to at all times? Are you ready to be a disciple? Are you ready to be the thing so many of us have said we are for most of our life?
I have observed something else in this world of ours. The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn’t always win the battle. The wise are often poor, and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don’t always lead successful lives. It is all decided by chance, by being at the right place at the right time.
Or as the King James would say
“…but time and chance hapeneth to them all.”
To a larger extent than many of us like to admit or even talk about we don’t believe this. This is not the way we work and not the way we process and understand our world.
And that’s not say that one’s actions don’t matter. Sow and reap still apply.
But it’s just as simple as we live.
The poor aren’t poor because they are dumb or lazy or just not quite as good as you or I are. But wow do we often live that way.
Because if someone was struggling simply because of massive societally and social injustice or “…time and chance…” and not their own doing shouldn’t we be doing something about that? Should we all be doing a lot of something about that?
People are complex.
There is a depth and intricacy that we so often don’t notice or have time to consider.
I think I say “people do dumb things” almost every day. Rarely do I stop and consider why. Rarely do I stop and wonder about the life and experience and circumstance that lead a person to do something that I consider dumb.
It’s easier to label than understand the whole person. The reason they are as they are, warts, scares, triumphs and excitement.
This week ask someone to tell you their story. Ask someone to share with you who they are. Someone you know but don’t know, maybe the person who you asked last week who they see you as.
Offer the opportunity for someone to be excited and brag about their success or be sullen and share they messiness.
Just listen and marvel in the wonder that makes us all who we are.
You are accountable for you.
I think when someone spends as much time as I do looking at the why and pondering the struggle there is some sense that I need to sort it first. I’ll get into this life once I understand why I haven’t. I think this happens a lot in leadership.
My home church doesn’t want to do compassion so I’ll start once I can get them moving.
The church isn’t supporting me (one of my personal favourites).
I don’t have people to do this with.
Whatever the reason we are struggling, understood or not, the why doesn’t end out accountability.
A home church wondering why everyone doesn’t want to do compassion doesn’t mean those who are wondering why can just wonder and not be in action.
A person in a church that isn’t supporting their life of compassion doesn’t get a pass to not live the way they are called to live.
If people don’t come along side it admittedly sucks but its your call. You’re accountable for you.
Thinking about the why is helpful and the struggle has meaning but when it’s all over you knew the life you were called to live and you either did or didn’t.
I talked yesterday about the why because it’s a struggle I don’t think I’ll ever get past.
I spend a lot of time thinking about compassion and talking about it with people. Amazing, loving people that use all the right words and understand all the right ideas but whose lives just don’t line up.
It’s like looking in a mirror and seeing my younger self.
Before this goes too far I’m not sure I’ve come all that far. Maybe that’s why I struggle with the why. Despite all my efforts and time I don’t know why I don’t live it out more. I don’t know why I can’t make my priorities line up with my words more. I don’t know why I can’t be who I say I am, at least not as often as I want.
Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe it’s not a mirror of my younger self but a reflection of now that it hurts to see.
But maybe this struggle with why is important. Maybe this internal struggle with why I can’t be the person I want and can’t understand why other people don’t see the value in trying is important.
Maybe I’d be a really terrible Christian to meet if I didn’t struggle with this why. If I didn’t have to push and grind my way to being the person I think I’m called to. If I didn’t think about the discontent between who I am and who I want to be. If I didn’t often talk to people who just didn’t see what I was seeing despite all the same information.
If I can’t understand or empathize with a person who doesn’t know who they are or why the do what they do how I can I share God with those who don’t know Him?
And if I can’t connect with and love and value people who I know love the same God I do but with a different understanding how will I ever love those who disagree.
Maybe why I struggle with myself and others is because I can’t be who God wants me to be without the lived experience.
Over and over I come back to the question of why.
Why bother with compassion?
Why isn’t it just easier?
Why doesn’t everyone else see this?
Why do so many Christians truly seeking God not see it?
Why did it take so long for me as a Christian to learn and understand what appears to be fundamental to the life God wants for me?
Why do we stop at loving those in the church?
Why do the ideas resonate with people but the actions not follow?
Why do people say they value this but then not act?
Why don’t I make more time for this?
Why won’t I prioritize it?
Why after realizing I’m not prioritizing it and being frustrated that others don’t see this won’t I still prioritize compassion?
Why can’t I go back?
Why can’t I just be the way I was?
I wish I knew. I suspect often you do to.
Take time this week to talk with someone you interact with often, even better if they aren’t a Christian, and ask them who they see you as? That’ the challenge this week.
It’s a part of our plan to reflect. The hope of this activity is two fold.
First it allows you to see yourself in a way many of us can’t. It helps if it’s a person you know but don’t maybe “know” if you know what I mean. If I ask someone I’m close with they will filter my actions and words. They will look at what I do and then fit that to the person I talk about or say I want to be.
“Phil’s a generous guy so it’s odd that he wasn’t’ generous. He’s still a generous guy that was just a little blip.”
Someone who doesn’t know me as well might not know that it’s a goal of mine to be generous. They may see me as selfish or who knows but not generous at all. They won’t give me a break or talk away inconsistencies. They will share who I am.
They can see a truer reality of who I am.
The people how know me can help me be the person I want to be and support me as I change but I can’t change what I don’t know I need to. This will help.
Second and far more important, it’s an opportunity to talk. You’ll no doubt be asked why. You can talk about how you want be consistent and are working hard not to be that stereotypical hypocrite Christian. You want to be a person who is open and honest and lives it out.
It’s a chance to share God with someone. A chance to be open and vulnerable about the struggle to be a Christian but also the value and what a world full of people living with others at the center could be.
It’s almost like you could share some good news with them…
How’d it go?
Still too much stuff? Me too.
I put together a bad of clothes I never wear to donate and invited some friends to come by and eat my food and drink my drinks.
But on Thursday I put on a brand new shirt I got for Christmas and some new pants as I was getting ready for volleyball. I was so excited about my new sports clothes.
And Quinn vomited all over them.
And I was so mad.
And I was so disappointed.
And I am still so tied to my possessions.
And I still care too much about my stuff.
I may need to do this week’s challenge again.